There are always a number of intriguing picks during Round 1 of the NFL draft and 2013 will be no exception.
It's quite a fascinating year as well because pro football remains a league driven by electrifying talent and big plays. So, naturally, the most appealing of draft prospects should be quarterbacks and receivers right?
Not entirely, because the top-heavy talent doesn't run as deep compared to the offensive and defensive lines.
Still, the best prospects directly involved with the passing game positions gain marketability as the demand for playmakers remains intact.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
This is not a surprise selection by any means. Kansas City has the opportunity to take the best prospect in the draft and significantly bolster its offense. Luke Joeckel enhances the pass protection while also creating polished running lanes for Jamaal Charles.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Good news has come about regarding Star Lotulelei. Per ESPN.com's Joe Schad he was cleared last week:
The NFL has been told "it is safe" for Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei "to participate in professional athletics without restrictions," according to a letter provided to teams that was written by Dr. Josef Stehlik of University of Utah Cardiology.
Jacksonville's run defense requires a boost, not to mention the pass rush and Lotulelei helps address each aspect.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
The Raiders ranked No. 20 in pass defense, gave up 28 passing touchdowns and a 66 completion percentage last season. Clearly the coverage must improve, otherwise 2013 will be another frustrating campaign for the Silver and Black.
And although the Raiders have just three picks in the first five rounds, the overall talent of Dee Milliner is tough to pass up. Milliner will immediately contribute at locking down half the field in Cover 1 and 3, as well as proving to be physically imposing in Cover 2.
Given that he defended 22 passes and recorded 54 tackles last season, Milliner allows few completions his direction and even fewer yards after the catch. Oakland also gets run support from Milliner because he possesses the explosiveness to beat blocks and react quickly.
With the AFC West fielding an even stronger passing attack this year, Oakland has to amp up its secondary. Neglecting to do so only puts the Raiders at greater risk against the deep ball because opponents will establish the run to set up play action.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
As one of the draft's top offensive line prospects, Eric Fisher immediately takes care of Philadelphia's dire need of pass protection. In addition, courtesy of explosive running backs, the Eagles' ground game finds another level with Fisher extending lanes. Balance is then consistently established and Philly cuts back on turnovers and sacks allowed.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Bjoern Werner is the perfect fit for Detroit because he's a prototypical 4-3 defensive end capable of applying pressure and controlling the edge against the run. With Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley working the interior, Werner produces mostly against single-block situations.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Despite Dee Milliner off the board, Cleveland helps its vulnerable pass defense by adding to the front seven. Dion Jordan's ability to slip blocks and crash the backfield enhances the pass rush, which then forces more ill-advised throws. As a result, more turnovers are created and the Browns fare better in the field position battle.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
As long as Arizona goes offensive line, 2013 will be an improved campaign from 2012. Chance Warmack's physical play quickly creates safe running lanes and develops a comfortable pocket. The Cardinals have the receiving corps to make plays, so controlling more consistently up front allows the passing game to actually take flight.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
Geno Smith's decision-making, accuracy and quick arm suits Buffalo to a T. The Bills offer a running game to punch opponents inside, which draws up that extra defender into the box. In turn, play action takes over and Buffalo displays solid balance to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Rex Ryan and the Jets have to field a more reliable pass rush and run defense. That was the backbone of their two runs at the AFC title in 2009 and 2010. Unfortunately, however, the past two seasons have been virtually the opposite. So, landing Ezekiel Ansah helps improve each with his explosiveness and later agility.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Considering the NFL as a pass-oriented league, Tennessee must find upgraded coverage this draft season. Well, that comes in the form of Xavier Rhodes who will impact in pressing the line and zoning off in Cover 2. Factor in his ability to tackle and not only are fewer yards allowed after the catch, but Rhodes also contributes nicely versus the run.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
San Diego's offense will continue to struggle without reliable quarterback protection. Therefore, enter Lane Johnson and his impressive athleticism to wall the edge and give Philip Rivers time to survey. And as the Bolts' aerial assault improves, this sets up the ground game for Johnson to impact even more.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
The Dolphins ranked No. 27 in pass defense last season, not to mention they managed just 10 interceptions. This lack of impact is rather shocking as well, since the pass rush did record 42 sacks and the front seven only allowed four yards per carry.
Miami did, however, add Brent Grimes through the market as reported by Mike Garafolo of the USA Today. For certain we can count of Grimes blanketing half the field and isolating No. 1 targets man-to-man.
Still, this defense has to emphasize the coverage to become stronger postseason contenders. That continues with Washington's Desmond Trufant who defended 38 passes and compiled 195 tackles during his college career.
Like Milliner, Trufant brings the capability to shut down in Cover 1 and 3, while also getting physical in Cover 2. His straight-line speed and ball awareness forces more turnovers, and the Dolphins contend opponents tougher regarding the field position battle.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
Tampa Bay lacked a pass rush in a strong offensive division. Drafting Sharrif Floyd, though, generates interior quarterback pressure and complements the edge-rushers. In short, the Buccaneers assist their pass defense to blanket better on third down and inside the red zone.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
The Panthers, unlike Tampa Bay, had a sound pass rush in 2012. Carolina just needs to spruce up the secondary with Kenny Vaccaro to shield better in coverage. Possessing the body control to zone off at the intermediate level, Vaccaro's impact allows for the Cats to blitz linebackers a bit more. The end results will be an inflation of sacks and forced turnovers.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
Just imagine how much better New Orleans would be with a stronger defense. Drew Brees basically carried the Saints last year and the defense failed to stop anyone. That said, taking Barkevious Mingo gives a jolt to the front seven and helps New Orleans perform better along the line of scrimmage.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
St. Louis will increase its postseason odds by drafting a receiver capable of pressing any secondary on its heels.
This is where Cordarrelle Patterson enters the equation because he averaged 16.9 yards per catch last season and knows how to makes plays after the catch. Despite his one-hit wonder impact at the college level, Patterson's contributions to Tennessee were quite impressive in the SEC.
Plus the Rams have to present more explosiveness to NFC defenses. Outside of the NFC West the rest of the conference doesn't field stellar units. So, with a guy like Patterson, the Rams are able to match pace with more high-powered opponents and restrict a blitz package.
His potential to take slants, drags and crossing patterns quickly upfield will force the 'backers to briefly freeze at the snap. A by-product of this is more time for Sam Bradford to survey when dropping back, as well as polished running lanes for the ground attack.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
The Steelers immediately rebound on defense with Jarvis Jones. Holding a strong knack for accumulating sacks and forcing fumbles, Jones' talent assists Pittsburgh in generating more turnovers. Additional possessions for the offense then get the Steel City back into the playoff mix.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Tony Romo will be with the Cowboys for quite a while longer. So, to protect Dallas' long-term investment, Big D goes for Jonathan Cooper at No. 18 overall. He's a dynamic lineman capable of pulling outside for roll outs and bootlegs, as well as creating a bruising rushing attack to set up the pass.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
The Giants will remain on the outside of the postseason looking in unless the defensive line receives an upgrade. Although Cullen Jenkins was acquired (via NFL.com's Kimberly Jones), bringing Sheldon Richardson in for talent and depth is a great acquisition. His nose for disrupting the backfield alone acts as a reliable complement to Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
D.J. Williams was brought in per Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com, but also electing to take Alec Ogletree in the draft adds youth to the front seven. Ogletree's short-area quickness and reactionary skills will close running lanes and shell any receiving target at the intermediate level.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Cincinnati has proven capable of developing as an annual playoff team.
But making a deep run through January and contending for the AFC title won't happen without an upgraded secondary. Allowing a 61.8 completion percentage and recording just 14 picks last season warrants the selection of Matt Elam.
In 2012 the Bengals did record 51 sacks, so picture the impact of Elam with an extensive number of turnover opportunities. Andy Dalton and the offense will be provided with many more possessions, period.
As for Elam, he knows how to find the rock after defending 18 passes and compiling 154 tackles the past two campaigns. He'll benefit greatly in Cover 1 when given the exclusivity to read and react, but also possesses the lateral body control to menace receivers at the second level.
Either way, his wherewithal in coverage is a competitive advantage behind the strong pass rush.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
The Rams put another piece of their defensive puzzle together with Arthur Brown. Giving up 4.3 yards per rush in 2012, Brown's field awareness and lateral athleticism will stuff ball-carriers at the line. Additionally, his instincts in coverage counterbalance the threat of play action to assist the secondary.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
With Percy Harvin out via trade according to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, Minnesota's passing game receives another dynamic threat in Tavon Austin. His threat to widen coverage zones will occupy linebackers, which simply lengthens the running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
The Colts were a playoff team without getting much help defensively. But to remain postseason challengers, Indianapolis must snag Damontre Moore for the pass rush. Now fielding an improved pass defense, the Colts suffocate in coverage and Moore's knack for wrecking backfields increases turnovers.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Also from Jay Glazer, Minnesota acquired this pick from Seattle in the trade. The Vikings then give their front line of defense more talent and depth with Kawann Short. As a defender who constantly makes an appearance in the backfield, Short's impact derives attention from Jared Allen. Ultimately, Minnesota dominates the trenches and forces opponents into one-dimensional situations.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Already featuring a strong pass rush, Green Bay's next step defensively involves clogging lanes against the run. Fortunately, Sylvester Williams offers this and the talent to win versus one-on-one.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
Houston's offense is one more playmaker away from really pressing defenses back. DeAndre Hopkins is a great presence opposite of Andre Johnson because he'll out-jump against Cover 1 and rack up yards after the catch. And with him and Johnson attracting defenders, that only leaves fewer in the box to stop Arian Foster.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
The loss of Elvis Dumervil to Baltimore in free agency has created an opening in Denver's front. Filling that void comes easy, though, as Alex Okafor possesses the explosive burst to apply pressure and squeeze versus the run. Von Miller then sees increased production and the Broncos dominate the line even more.
29. New England Patriots: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
A deep-threat receiver for Tom Brady will sustain New England's offensive firepower. Keenan Allen has the leaping ability and talent to take advantage of single coverage. This impact opens up everything underneath. Include the Pats' ground game and defenses won't be able to bracket Allen in Cover 3, so he'll make more plays downfield.
Will Atlanta win the NFC next season?
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Atlanta's newfound defensive line begins with Osi Umenyiora who signed via Jay Glazer. The next part of the process involves Jesse Williams to plug gaps, eat blocks and apply interior quarterback pressure. With Umenyiora monitoring the outside, Williams' dominance inside gets the Falcons to control more up front and get off the field on third down.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
Giving up the big plays cost San Francisco quite a bit in 2012, more specifically in the Super Bowl. But that vulnerability gets minimized with Jonathan Cyprien. As a complete defender, Cyprien makes plays in Cover 1 and 2 by helping over the top. In Cover 3, however, he can roll down for a blitzing linebacker and/or shield a slot target one-on-one from immediately getting open.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)
Baltimore possesses the front seven personnel to stuff the run and apply quarterback pressure. Putting Manti Te'o into the mix simply addresses the interior for filling lanes and shelling consistently in coverage. And since he won't be required to venture much out of the box, Te'o's develops quickly in a limited role.