With less than a month before the 2013 NFL draft, the picture is beginning to come into focus.
It's almost impossible to accurately predict how each of the 32 picks of the first round will go, but you can at least see how many teams' draft plans are shaking out.
Considering all of the quarterbacks who have switched teams, it's clear scouts and general managers aren't convinced by this year's crop of signal-callers. More than likely, the teams that were sure to draft a QB a month or two ago will be looking in different areas.
Here is a mock of the first round, with the best picks italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It's hard seeing the Kansas City Chiefs going with anybody but Luke Joeckel. Despite what was a disastrous 2012, there are plenty of reasons for hope in 2013. Getting Alex Smith was a smart move because he'll help the team win right now and is a much more sure thing than Geno Smith would be. Now it's just a matter of giving him the pass protection.
Joeckel should be able to do just that. He's a beast in terms of size. At 6'6" and 306 pounds, he's exactly what you'd look for in a franchise left tackle. Joeckel is both a competent run- and pass-blocker. One of the things that has felled many top tackle prospects is a lack of footwork. That doesn't appear to be the case with Joeckel, though. He's very athletic for his size.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Jaguars were atrocious in terms of getting after the passer last year as they were last in the league in sacks. Dion Jordan is the pass-rusher with the highest ceiling. He's a freak athlete and could turn into the best player to come out of this year's draft.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Sharif Floyd will be a major force on the interior of the line. He's got very good strength and is very athletic for his size, as evidenced by him playing a little bit at defensive end in college. The Raiders could use a quarterback, but there's no sense in Oakland taking one with the third overall pick.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Right behind Joeckel on the tackle rankings is Eric Fisher. Some mock drafts might even have Fisher going first overall. While they are both great prospects, Fisher just doesn't look to quite be the same caliber. His strength doesn't look to match that of Joeckel.
5. Detroit Lions: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ezekiel Ansah doesn't have a ton of experience playing the sport of football, so it's incredible to see how far he's come already. He should be great in the NFL because he's a fantastic athlete, combining both strength and speed. There is the risk he could flame out as he fails to develop the moves necessary to overwhelm offensive linemen. The reward, though, is too good to pass up.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Cleveland Browns would be a nightmare for opposing offenses if they get Dee Milliner. Putting Milliner together with Joe Haden would make Cleveland's secondary the most promising in the league. Getting impact corners will put the Browns at a major advantage considering the emphasis on the passing game.
Right now, it's hard to see where Milliner will go wrong in the pros. He's got the necessary speed and has already established himself as a fantastic cover guy. That speed was a concern, but he blew people away with his 40 at the combine. It's hard to see a significant flaw in him. Like most talented secondary players, Milliner can get himself out of position by gambling a little bit. Other than that, he's about the perfect cover corner.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
By acquiring Carson Palmer (h/t ESPN.com), the Cardinals have eliminated their immediate need for a quarterback. Now Arizona can focus on repairing its offensive line. Lane Johnson is a very good blocker, but his footwork will need some help when he hits the league.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Kevin Kolb is not the kind of quarterback who will inspire a ton of confidence in Buffalo (h/t ESPN.com). The Bills will still need to take care of the long-term QB need. Geno Smith has been very good leading up to the draft. This could be a very good situation for him as he sits on the bench, learning the NFL before making his first start. It could be very similar to how the Cincinnati Bengals handled Palmer during his rookie season.
9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, OLB Georgia
Jarvis Jones could be a massive steal at No. 9. His health issues have largely been discounted, letting his on-field talent shine through. Jones is very skilled against the pass and can move up to stop the run. There's very little not to like about him.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Chance Warmack will be one of the best players from this draft. He has about as much as you could ask for from a prospect. Guards aren't valued very highly, so he'll slip to somewhere near the 10th pick, maybe even later. Warmack will be a good pass-blocker, and he's also athletic enough to get past the line of scrimmage and open up some holes for his running back.
11. San Diego Chargers: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Shaun Phillips is still a free agent, so the San Diego Chargers could use an outside linebacker. Upgrading the offensive line should be the top priority, but taking a player like Barkevious Mingo would be going for the best available while filling a need in the team.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes is bound to be a great corner. He loves physicality, which will get him in trouble at times by picking up needless penalties. More often than not, though, Rhodes will be able to bump receivers at the line and affect their routes. He would be a great addition for the Miami Dolphins.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already upgraded their secondary by signing Dashon Goldson. Getting a corner in the draft would be great, but if Rhodes and Milliner are both off the board, it's better to wait. Star Lotulelei is the best run-stuffer in the draft. He'd be great in strengthening the Bucs' defensive line.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Sheldon Richardson's got everything you look for in a defensive tackle. The only worry is that he's only had one real productive season in college. Can he find that motor on every down, or at least the majority of the game? It's worth it for the Carolina Panthers to see with the 14th pick.
15. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
All the best pass-rushers are off the board, but the New Orleans Saints still have plenty of options. Kenny Vaccaro is the most distinguished safety on the board. He's skilled both against the run and pass. He's a good value pick in the middle of the first round as well.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Rams shouldn't wait on Jonathan Cooper to fall to No. 22. They need to grab him as soon as they can. Much like Warmack, Cooper is getting undervalued by some by virtue of him being an offensive guard.
Sam Bradford regressed in 2011 but found his groove in 2012 and looks every bit the franchise quarterback St. Louis drafted. Now it's important to start building around him. The team could use help on the line and at wideout. Cooper is one of the few players in this draft you'd feel absolutely confident in drafting. He's not overly strong, but his athleticism and footwork are great for someone of his size. Versatility is also a big plus as Cooper can play any of the interior positions on the line.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
With Mike Wallace, the Steelers lost their best deep threat. Pittsburgh always looked ready to see him go, so it's had plenty of time to weigh the alternatives. While the defense is aging, Cordarrelle Patterson is a smart choice here.
Patterson is a burner. That much was evident when he ran a 4.42 at the combine. It's not world-class speed, but it's more than enough to get by NFL defenders. Physicality is also one of his positives, but it can be a double-edged sword. You like that he won't shy away from contact. Patterson could, however, get flagged for some silly offensive pass interference penalties. Route-running is also another area of concern, but that can be finely tuned with the right coaching. Patterson is the best of what is a lackluster group of wide receivers.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Dallas Cowboys are in need of another defensive tackle as they shift to the 4-3 defense. Sylvester Williams is an ideal fit here. He's a big, strong guy who can overpower opposing offensive linemen. The only question is whether he can find the consistency necessary to have a long, productive career.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, New York Giants
The Giants have had one of the best pass-rushes in the league over the last few years, but New York is in need of a rebuild, especially after letting Osi Umenyiora go to the Atlanta Falcons (h/t Jay Glazer of FOX Sports). Bjoern Werner isn't a freak athlete like some of the other defensive ends in the draft, but he's got enough talent to immediately help the Giants.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, ILB Notre Dame
Brian Urlacher's no longer a Chicago Bear, leaving a big void on the defense. You could see Alec Ogletree moving to the outside after spending much of his time in Georgia in the inside. Olgetree is a great athlete, but whether or not he's strong enough for the inside is up for debate.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andre Smith did great last season for the Bengals, but bringing him back to Cincinnati only makes sense for the right price. Of course, the team could just draft D.J. Fluker, who could slot right in at right tackle. He's not athletic enough for left tackle, but that's not a huge concern considering the Bengals already have Andrew Whitworth.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Rams lost a slot receiver in Danny Amendola. Getting Tavon Austin would be a like-for-like substitution for St. Louis. Austin has flashed some great speed. His frame does make you wonder if he can handle the rigors of an NFL season.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Percy Harvin leaving only accentuated the Minnesota Vikings' need for a wide receiver. It's not a great draft for that, but Keenan Allen would be a good pick. He's not a great athlete, but he's fast and skilled enough to be a solid NFL receiver.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Damontre Moore is not a fantastic athlete and has fallen down draft boards as a result. He's a little too lean and could benefit by adding some bulk. His potential might not be through the roof; however, Moore should have a solid career.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
The Vikings are a little soft in the interior of their defense. Kawann Short is not a tall player, but he's extremely thick. He can be a very good run-stuffer. Aside from being simply one-dimensional, Short can also make plays a couple of yards away and use his great length to swat down passes at the line of scrimmage.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tight end isn't a pressing need for the Green Bay Packers, but Tyler Eifert will be too good to pass up. He's the best receiver among the various tight ends available. Eifert always seems to put himself in a great position to make a catch on even the more difficult of receptions.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins could very well be the best route-runner in the draft. The problem is his physical tools don't offer the same kind of upside as the other top wideouts. With Andre Johnson on the other side, Hopkins should flourish being the second option for Matt Schaub.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
One of the few weaknesses of the Denver Broncos defense is the defensive line. It's less a weakness and more of just being good while the rest of the unit is very good. Johnathan Hankins will be a competent run defender. What's also good about Hankins is that his athleticism means he can also rush the passer.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Desmond Trufant has the pedigree, athleticism and size necessary to succeed in the NFL. He would be a great pick for a New England Patriots team that got torched in the playoffs. Trufant just needs to become a little more physical in the secondary.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Signing Umenyiora was a great addition this offseason. At the end of the first round, the Falcons weren't going to be able to find a top-end pass-rusher. Johnthan Banks is a skilled, if unpolished, corner. He's got the proverbial nose for the ball and is always eager to make the big play. That can get him in trouble at times because he'll gamble and take bad angles.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
There very well might not be a stronger player in the draft than Jesse Williams. Whether or not he can overpower blockers is not a concern. What is a worry is whether he can evolve his game beyond relying on his great strength. Williams can't be successful as a one-trick pony.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
There won't be bigger shoes to fill next year than in Baltimore. Pity the man who must replace Ray Lewis. Kevin Minter has the highest upside of the inside linebackers in the draft. He might not be as ready as Manti Te'o, but in a few years, he will have surpassed Te'o as his potential comes good.
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