In the business world, you can make a pretty darn good living as a consultant, which seems to be a fancy title for "someone who makes a lot of money to give advice."
Thus, I've decided to play consultant for all of those NFL teams with a first-round pick in 2013 (sorry, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and (spoiler alert!) Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fans) by making a selection for each of those teams.
In a year without a clear-cut No. 1 overall guy, few elite players and a quarterback class weaker than two dips of a tea bag, NFL teams could likely use all the advice they can get. I'm here to help.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
I'm not going to lie, I really have no idea how the top of the draft will play out. I can't remember a year with this much uncertainty at the top. But if I were to put myself in Andy Reid's shoes, I would want to make sure that I nailed this pick, so I want a safe option. I don't think there is a safer player in this draft than Joeckel, who fills a need for the Chiefs as well.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
There's a part of me that thinks this is a reach—as Jordan's production at Oregon wasn't elite—but in the right system, his blend of size, speed and athleticism could really wreak havoc. Gus Bradley's system is the perfect system for Jordan to do just that.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
After trading for quarterback Matt Flynn last week, I would be shocked if the Raiders selected West Virginia signal-caller Geno Smith here. The Raiders have enough holes to fill at a number of other positions, but Floyd seems like the best blend of value and need at this selection.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
With a solid pro day behind him that has erased most of his health concerns, I think it is safe to return Lotulelei to top-five status.
If I was Chip Kelly, I would want to rebuild the Eagles through the trenches. With a new 3-4 scheme in place, a player like Lotulelei—who is versatile enough to play the nose or defensive end in the 3-4 and can also fit into a 4-3 system—would be the perfect addition to the defensive line.
The combination of he and Fletcher Cox would give the Eagles a formidable line for years to come. Lotulelei is an impact player who is a beast against the run and can collapse the pocket against the pass. We may be excited to see Kelly's up-tempo offense in the NFL, but he's smart enough to know that games are still won in the trenches.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
If Fisher is available here, I doubt that the Lions will let him slip past them. Dee Milliner is this draft's top corner, but he isn't the sort of elite game-changer that warrants a top-five selection. Protecting Matt Stafford has to take precedence for Detroit.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
After bringing in Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves via free agency this offseason, the Browns don't need to focus on outside linebacker with this pick. If Milliner drops outside of the top five, I'd be very surprised if the Browns didn't snatch him up.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
After trading for Carson Palmer and signing him to a two-year, $16 million deal, the Cardinals would be operating the most expensive smoke screen I've ever seen if the team ended up drafting a quarterback with this pick. Plus, Palmer isn't exactly mobile, so the left tackle position is undoubtedly this team's biggest need.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
After cutting Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason, addressing the quarterback position became priority No. 1. After signing Kevin Kolb, well...it still is.
If I were the Bills, my plan after signing Kolb would be to use him as a one-year solution and look to draft quarterback in the second or third round, but I truly believe that if Smith is here at No. 8, the team will select him.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
This pick could also be Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, but I think the Jets will look at Mingo's superior size and athleticism and go with the LSU product to solve their edge-rushing woes.
10. Tennessee Titans: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
With Andy Levitre signed at guard and with Ansah still available, I think this has to be the pick. Yes, the team could target Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper to give the team the best pair of guards in the league, but with the team already needing help at defensive end, they can't pass up a physical marvel like Ansah. His upside is off the charts.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
If you've seen King Dunlap play, you know the Chargers still need to upgrade at tackle. Unfortunately, with the top three tackles off the board at this point, the Chargers must turn to other positions of need in order to get value with this selection. With the team needing help at guard as well, the Chargers will get the best one of the best guard prospect in recent memory in Warmack.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Dolphins will be disappointed that one of the top three tackles doesn't drop to them here, but they'll recover once they select the tall and athletic Rhodes to fill another major need.
13. New York Jets (via Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Yes, a trade! Woot, woot!
At some point, Darrelle Revis is going to be traded, and that trade will involve the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will also involve the Jets getting a whole lot in return, at least according to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports:
The way things are going, that may be a reality. While Jets owner Woody Johnson has said he is open to trading Revis or any player to help improve the team, interest in Revis has been limited to Tampa Bay as a serious bidder.
The Buccaneers are not only willing to trade a combination of a first-, third- and sixth-round picks for Revis, they are also willing to pay the corner in the area of $15-16 million per year on a long-term contract.
Now I know what you're thinking: The Jets trade Revis and draft a guard? You have two guards going within the top 13 picks? Really, guy?
Answer No. 1: Yes, I think they will. The Jets could use an upgrade at the position, and I believe Cooper is the best player on the board at any position. Answers No. 2 and 3: Don't be surprised to see a guard go within the top-10 picks. Seriously, Warmack and Cooper are that highly regarded.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Just check out this tweet from Jason La Canfora of CBS today:
Chance Warmack had very impressive visit with Lions. Not out of the question at all Detroit looks at the guard with that 5th overall pick— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 9, 2013
Sure, that might be a smoke screen from the Lions, but the fact that it's a believable smoke screen should tell you all you need to know. Cooper to the Jets, if the board falls in this manner and Revis is finally traded to the Bucs, makes a ton of sense.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
I've been mocking Richardson to the Panthers for about a month now. If this doesn't happen, I'm going to be mildly annoyed. It's the perfect fit, after all.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones is going to drop, but he won't drop that far. It's rare to find players who so often play in an opponent's backfield, and the fact that he did so in the SEC is further proof that this kid can flat-out play. This is a great pick for the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Goodbye, Danny Amendola. You aren't really going to be missed if the Rams pair the recently signed tight end Jared Cook with the explosive Patterson. Quarterback Sam Bradford will be going from throwing to a top option that is best suited for the slot to a matchup nightmare at tight end along with the athletic Patterson on the outside. I'd call that an upgrade.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
With the top 3-4 pass-rushers already gone, the Steelers will gladly select Vaccaro to upgrade an aging secondary.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Cowboys will be shaking their fists at Pittsburgh for selecting Vaccaro, but Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray will surely be okay with the team selecting a mauler like Fluker to man the right tackle position.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With players like Rhodes and Vaccaro off the board, I think the Giants will simply take the best player available. With that player being a dominant 4-3 end like Werner, I think the Giants will be quite pleased with this selection.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
With Brian Urlacher moving on, drafting a dynamic talent like Ogletree to fill in at linebacker makes sense for the Bears. Sure, Ogletree comes with some character concerns, but his potential makes him a worthy gamble.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, S, Florida
That whooshing sound you just heard was Elam sprinting past you and absolutely crushing a wide receiver. Needing a strong safety badly, the Bengals will gladly draft that whooshing sound.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
After signing Jake Long to play left tackle and with both Vaccaro and Elam off the board, the next major need is upgrading the linebacker position. Some may clamor for Te'o here, but I think Brown is the better outside linebacker prospect, and he will be a household name soon enough for his instinctive, aggressive style of play.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Sometimes, a player seems to fit a team so well that it's hard to imagine that team not making the selection. This is the case for Austin and the Vikings.
Of course, there are two ways to think of Austin. If you only picture him as a slot receiver, the Vikings probably have bigger needs. But if you think of him as a versatile weapon and replacement for Percy Harvin, who was traded to the Seattle Seahawks earlier this offseason, then Austin is the perfect fit.
The Vikings have an entire package of plays already available for Austin, who has a similar skill-set to Harvin and can make plays in the passing or running game. With wide receiver Greg Jennings now in town and with league MVP Adrian Peterson, the Vikings will have a trio of weapons that will give opposing defenses nightmares next season.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Colts probably have bigger needs, but Trufant is an excellent value here and you can never have too many good corners in a passing league. Trufant may yet climb up my board, but for now, I see him dropping to a Colts team that will be quite pleased to nab him.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
This pick was received from Seattle in the Harvin trade. With a lot of depth at defensive tackle at this point in the draft, the Vikings should address a major need and add the powerful Williams with this pick.
26. Green Bay Packers: Johnathan Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The most glaring need for Green Bay is an upgrade at the defensive end position, and there are plenty of options for them to choose from here. I like Jenkins as a nice fit for the team.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Like Austin to the Vikings, this is another pick that just makes too much sense. Finally, years and years of searching for Andre Johnson's running mate at wide receiver can come to an end.
28. Denver Broncos: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State
With Elvis Dumervil off to the Baltimore Ravens, defensive end remains the top need on a solid Broncos' roster. Following an ACL tear last November, Carradine will drop, but he really gets after the quarterback and the Broncos won't need to operate a fax machine to draft him.
29. New England Patriots: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Even after re-signing Aqib Talib, the Patriots need to upgrade the secondary. Had the team possessed some depth at corner last season, perhaps they would have advanced past the Ravens in the AFC Championship game...perhaps.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Remember when some folks thought Moore was a top-10 pick? Now, he might drop out of the first round altogether. Still, I think he has first-round talent (and he proved it on the field, if not in his workouts), and the Falcons will be getting excellent value here.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid, S, LSU
After Dashon Goldson signed with Tampa Bay this offseason, the Niners need to hone in on the free safety position. Some folks might see Reid as a Round 2 value, but I think he's the perfect fit for San Fran.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, Notre Dame, LB
Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe are out, Elvis Dumervil is in and middle linebacker is the most pressing among a long list of needs after this postseason. After a solid pro day, Te'o is a solid fit for the Ravens and will close the first round out on a juicy note.
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