The first round of the NFL draft is where each team should address their biggest needs. This year’s draft will be no different, as teams will be searching for the guy that fits best and can quickly make a big impact.
Here is who each team should pick in order to fill holes in their depth chart.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Chiefs need to protect their newest investment, Alex Smith. They were able to franchise tag Branden Albert at the offensive tackle position, but he has been upset and is missing offseason workouts because he “wants commitment” (h/t ESPN.com).
Regardless of how the situation ends with Albert, Luke Joeckel would still be an excellent addition to this team and would improve the offensive line.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
There was simply no pass rush for the Jaguars in 2012, and they struggled mightily because of it. They ranked dead last in the league in sacks, getting only 20 all year. That simply isn’t acceptable.
Dion Jordan is an absolute beast in the pass rush and could be the star player on the defense this team has needed for so long. At 6’6’’ and 248 pounds, he uses his strength and long arms to separate from linemen and get to the passer.
In a few years, Jordan could be the best pass-rusher in the league.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders need to work on adding pieces to the defensive line, and that all starts at the defensive tackle position.
Sharrif Floyd from Florida is a rare breed at defensive tackle, as he can stop the run as well as the pass. He’s a versatile lineman that can move around the line if needed. If the Raiders are serious at bringing in an impact player on the D-line, you can’t get much better than Floyd.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Both Nick Foles and Michael Vick were hammered last season. They were under constant pressure due to an inconsistent line that dealt with a lot of injuries. The line allowed 48 sacks last season, despite having a mobile quarterback in Vick playing the majority of the games. Luckily, this draft class is filled with solid pieces on the O-line.
Eric Fisher is the second-best offensive tackle in this draft next to Joeckel. He may be a big guy, weighing in at 306 pounds, but he is athletic and is quick to get off the snap. He’s capable of going up against athletic defensive ends and holding his own against them.
With Chip Kelly coming in, someone is going to need to protect the passer. With the fast style of offense he will likely bring, they can’t have their quarterback getting hurt and slowing down.
5. Detroit Lions: Ziggy Ansah, DE, Brigham Young
With Cliff Avril gone and Kyle Vanden Bosch aging, the Lions are going to be losing a lot of pass-rushing ability. They will need to bring in someone else to make this defense as intimidating as it has been for the past few seasons.
Ziggy Ansah would be a solid fit, as he loves to get to the quarterback. He’s incredibly athletic and has a long frame that he uses to his advantage to get around offensive linemen. He works hard and gives it his all when on the field, although that sometimes causes him to tire easily.
Bringing in Ansah would be a smart choice to solidify the pass rush.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns are in a difficult division with some very talented quarterbacks. They clearly need to add depth to their secondary in order to stay competitive in the AFC North.
Dee Milliner is a very impressive corner that can be physical with receivers. He does a great job in coverage and rarely gets burned. The Browns already have Joe Haden, but they will need another impact corner.
7. Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Cardinals appear to be going with Carson Palmer as their starting quarterback. But Palmer won’t be able to do too much if he gets hit on every snap.
In order to add some protection, they will need to bring in Jonathan Cooper at guard. He’s a strong and athletic prospect at the position and has impressive mobility which helps him as a pulling guard. They need to find someone that can keep Palmer upright if they don’t want to be a laughingstock in 2013.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
In today’s pass-heavy league, the quarterback position is more important than anything. Currently, the Bills don’t have a starting quarterback, even with Kevin Kolb. Geno Smith is the best quarterback in this thin class of QBs. If the Bills picked him up, he would easily start over Kolb and give this team a chance to win some games.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Jets’ offense wasn’t the only ugly thing last season. They were unable to get to the quarterback, racking up only 30 sacks on the season.
Barkevious Mingo is a frightening pass-rusher, and that’s precisely what the Jets need at this point.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Even though the Titans brought in Andy Levitre, they still need help in the interior of the offensive line. Chance Warmack is an impressive big guard that keeps attached to his man. He does a great job against the bull rush and rarely lets someone get into the backfield. A combination of Levitre and Warmack would be a dream come true for Chris Johnson.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Now that Louis Vasquez is gone, the Chargers need to do something about it. They struggled as a team offensively last season, and they can’t afford letting Philip Rivers get tossed around in 2013. Lane Johnson would not only fill that hole, but he would likely be an improvement.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Which position is the deepest in the draft this year?
The Dolphins got burned in the secondary last year, ranking 27th in pass defense. That needs to be fixed quickly, since they play Tom Brady twice a year. Desmond Trufant is an exceptional prospect at cornerback, and the Dolphins shouldn’t hesitate to pick him up.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
If the Dolphins got burned last season, the Bucs got absolutely torched. They ranked dead last in pass defense, allowing nearly 300 yards a game through the air. Kenny Vaccaro could come in at safety and replace the aging Ronde Barber while improving this abysmal pass defense.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Panthers have a lot of talent on defense, but they need an anchor. Lotulelei was one of the top draft prospects before a heart issue kept him out of combine workouts. Fortunately, he is fine, but his draft stock took a hit.
The Panthers won’t complain, however, as they will be getting a steal with the 14th pick.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Saints need something on defense. They ranked last in rush defense and second to last in pass defense. An edge-rusher would be a big help, and Jarvis Jones could be that. Issues with his neck/spine have caused some concern, but he’s worth the risk with a struggling defense like the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Sam Bradford didn’t have anyone to throw to last season, and the team struggled mightily because of it. Cordarrelle Patterson is the most impressive receiver in this year’s draft. The Rams should bring him in so that Bradford can make some plays.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cornellius Carradine, OLB, Florida State
Without James Harrison, the Steelers lose a big piece of their identity.
This defense needs to be injected with some youth, and Tank Carradine is the man for the job. He’s very explosive off the line and can get into the pocket in a flash.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Both sides of the line are holes for the Cowboys. With Sheldon Richardson available, the Cowboys should go for it. They need an anchor, and Richardson can be just that thanks to his ability to blow up a play in the backfield.
19. New York Giants, Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Now that Osi Umenyiora is gone, the Giants need to replace one of the best players on their team from the past few seasons.
Bjoern Werner was a monster on the Seminoles, able to defend against the run as well as get to the passer. That kind of versatility is exactly what the Giants need if they want to get back into the playoffs.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, MLB, Kansas State
The Bears just lost their franchise player in Brian Urlacher. It’s no small feat replacing a player like him. Arthur Brown was an impressive player in college and that should translate to the NFL thanks to his speed and overall aggressiveness.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn’t get it done for the Bengals. They’re one more weapon away from being an elite offense and making a deep playoff run. Eddie Lacy was the best running back in the NCAA in 2012, and that aggressive style of play makes him a great fit with the Bengals.
22. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cyprien, S, FIU
There are plenty of holes on the Rams depth chart, but luckily another draft pick in the trade to the Redskins from last season gives them a chance to fill a couple.
Safety was an issue, and Jonathan Cyprien is a heavy hitter at the position. An impact player at the safety position does wonders for a defense, and the Rams would love to see Cyprien available with this pick.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Without Percy Harvin, the Vikings will need another receiver. Even though they were able to bring in Greg Jennings, they could still use another weapon. Tavon Austin is a ridiculously fast receiver that would thrive in a slot position.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts certainly were busy in free agency, filling a lot of holes. They could still use a third corner, however, to go with Vontae Davis and Greg Toler.
Xavier Rhodes is an excellent corner that thrives in press coverage. He uses his big size to his advantage and doesn’t struggle against big and physical receivers. With a couple years of development, Rhodes could be the top corner for the Colts.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The NFC North has three great quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. The Vikings need to strengthen their secondary to make a run at the NFC North title. Johnthan Banks is an exciting option at corner. He’s listed at 6’2’’ and uses his length to his advantage against big receivers that like to go for jump balls.
It’s a stretch to say he could go against Megatron, but he might be able to in a few years.
26. Green Bay Packers: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
A.J. Hawk was a bit of a disappointment last season. This team needs to add some impact players in the middle of the 3-4 defense. Alec Ogletree was a top-tier prospect before off-the-field issues dropped his draft stock. The Packers have a great coaching staff that would refocus the talented linebacker and breed him into a great defensive player.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen
Matt Schaub needs another receiver to throw to besides Andre Johnson. Keenan Allen isn’t a pure speed receiver, but he has great all-around skills. He’s great at staying low and making cuts while running routes. Allen could learn a thing or two under Johnson, and that’s good news for this offense.
28. Denver Broncos: Eric Reid, S, LSU
The Broncos got burned more than a few times last season and need to fix that with a solid safety. Eric Reid may not be a big hitter, but he’s very solid in coverage. He does a good job at figuring out where the ball is going and can make big plays on defense.
29. New England Patriots, Datone Jones, DE
The Patriots need a versatile defensive lineman that can do it all. Datone Jones is exactly that. He’s a defensive end but plays the run like a defensive tackle and rushes the passer like a 3-4 linebacker.
Jones would thrive in the Patriots’ defensive scheme.
30. Atlanta Falcons, Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The Falcons replaced John Abraham with Umenyiora, but another pass-rusher certainly wouldn’t hurt this team. Alex Okafor is yet another pass-rusher in a draft filled with them. He’s an athletic player that would mesh well with a 4-3 defense.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
With just a few pieces missing, the 49ers are one of the best teams in football right now. That being said, they could certainly use a nose tackle. Sylvester Williams can fill that gap with his bull rush and makes plays in the running game.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida
The Ravens lost a lot of players in the defense and have a lot of needs to address. With Ed Reed gone, they need an impact safety. Matt Elam was a big hitter at Florida and loved to blitz and blow plays up.
With Ray Lewis gone, they need someone to bring some emotion on this team, and Elam had no problem doing that in college.