The 2013 NFL draft is just two weeks away, making this an ideal time to take a look at just how the first round might shake out on Thursday, April 25.
There are plenty of players that have all but locked up a spot amongst the top 32 selections, but there are also many more crossing their fingers and hoping to get picked on Day 1.
Let’s take a peek at how things may go down and highlight some ideal prospects for each franchise with a first-round pick in 2013.
*Highlighted players are italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
There are a number of suitable options on the board for the Chiefs to select No. 1 overall, but no one better fits the needs of the organization than Joeckel. He looks like a future All-Pro left tackle that will ensure that newly acquired QB Alex Smith has adequate protection and a chance to succeed.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Lotulelei is cleared to play and his heart issue should no longer be of concern, making him a slam-dunk selection for the Jags. This team struggled to rush the passer and had a mediocre ground defense, two areas in which the Utah product would be an immediate upgrade.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
With Tommy Kelly released and Richard Seymour out of the picture, the Raiders desperately need to bolster their defensive line with a potential star. Floyd is a high-upside defensive tackle that can not only help stuff the run, but can also act as a disruptor in the backfield as well.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
Fisher grades right up there with Joeckel as a left tackle prospect, so the Eagles are getting a steal if he’s available at No. 4. Offensive line was a huge problem in Philly last year, so GM Howie Roseman should have no qualms pulling the trigger on a franchise left tackle.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
Milliner is the best defensive back in this class and is capable of locking down his man in one-on-one coverage or shutting down half the field in zone. Considering the amount of elite receivers and prolific quarterbacks in the NFC North, Detroit needs to make this pick if it is to compete for the divisional crown in 2013.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
If the Browns front office sees Jordan on the board at No. 6, it would be downright insane of it not to immediately select him.
The Oregon product is the best pass-rusher in this draft class and is going to give the AFC North offensive coordinators nightmares. He can get into the backfield from the line of scrimmage when he’s down in a stance, or start standing up from the edge and fly past any potential blocker.
With the Ducks, the coaching staff even utilized him in coverage at times, largely due to his immense speed and high football I.Q.
Jordan is a star in the making and could be one of the best, most feared defenders in the league in just a few years.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Arizona’s acquisition of Carson Palmer is an upgrade at the quarterback position, but won’t look that way unless he’s able to remain upright and has adequate time to throw.
One way to do that is to keep those defenders honest via the running game. A guard like Warmack would greatly aid this team’s ability to gain yards and generate scores on the ground.
The former ‘Bama star is arguably the best guard to come out of college in years and the mauler is well worth a top-10 pick for his sound blocking skills and gifted footwork.
In addition to clearing lanes for the backs, Warmack not only will be able to stop power rushers in their tracks, but also has the agility to move with the speed rushers and pancake them to the turf.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The WVU standout is one of the most promising players at his position in this class. Although he doesn’t grade out as a franchise signal-caller in the way that Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck did last year, he could eventually work his way up to that level.
He’s a great decision-maker that doesn’t force bad throws, but rather uses what the defense gives him to make plays all over the field. There’s certainly some fine-tuning left to do, but this young man could compete for the starting job from Day 1 if the Bills select him.
With a stout running game already in place and a handful of decent receivers, Smith would have the tools to succeed early with this team.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Ziggy is the pass-rusher that the Jets need to start rebuilding their roster around. He’s also serviceable against the run and that makes him well worth a top-10 selection.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Until the Tennessee secondary gets better at covering opposing wideouts, the Titans are going to remain in the league’s basement. Rhodes is a great cornerback prospect that can go stride-for-stride with anyone in the NFL and make plays on the ball.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
Johnson will keep QB Philip Rivers unhurried and put the team in position to make big plays in the passing game. This left tackle prospect represents a major upgrade on the O-line and could help the Chargers get back in contention for the AFC West.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
Miami made numerous upgrades to its roster this offseason, but could still use another good coverage corner. Trufant is a solid man-to-man option who will limit big plays and keep his mark limited in production.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
The Bucs can stuff the run just fine, but they have to get some heat on the quarterback if they are going to contend for a playoff spot in 2013. Werner will have this unit atop the league again in rushing defense, while also upping the sack totals and hurries.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Carolina wasn’t able to stop many teams from throwing all over the field last year, so improving the secondary in the middle of the first round would be a wise decision. Vaccaro is the top safety in the class and will be able to make plays to help get this defense off the field.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
Mingo can hold the edge and get into the backfield, which is exactly what the Saints need to improve their historically atrocious defense. If he’s stopping plays before they get started, New Orleans and its elite offense will have more opportunities to put points on the board and win games.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
Patterson may just be the missing piece for St. Louis’ playoff chances. The big wide receiver is oozing upside and could be the No. 1 receiver in the offense in short order. There are concerns about his separation ability and route-running skills, but the reward definitely outweighs the risk.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
The Steelers need a 3-4 OLB that can knife his way into the backfield and put some pressure on the quarterback. On top of that Jones, is a great run-stopper and superb athlete who would bolster this team’s depleted linebacking corps.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
The Cowboys doled out a massive contract extension to its starting QB that takes a ton of hits and has practically no run support, so the organization clearly needs to upgrade the O-line. Cooper is a mauler that will not only allow the Dallas backs to gain yardage, but also keep Romo from getting battered throughout the course of a game.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
The Big Blue’s defensive line was a mess in 2012, a large reason why the defending champions weren’t able to even make the playoffs. Richardson’s presence as a run-stopper will allow the pass-rushers more opportunities to actually do their job.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
Ogletree is a freakish athlete with a few character concerns, making Chicago an ideal landing spot in the latter-middle portion of the first round. He’s a run-stuffing extraordinaire with the speed to make plays from sideline to sideline in a hurry.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Elam will help reduce opponent completion percentage against the Bengals while also supporting stout support against the run. He’s a complete player to have anchoring a defense and should be the second safety off the board after Vaccaro.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington): Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
Unlike most teams, the Rams have had no issues getting to the quarterback. However, they were often gashed by the run in 2012, making a strong, tough, brick-wall defender like Brown a no-brainer here.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
Adrian Peterson had the best season of his career and one of the best in NFL history despite stacked boxes and mediocre QB play. If he’s going to repeat that performance, he’ll need to get some defenders out of the box. That’s going to be tough to achieve unless the Vikings add a home run threat like Austin to replace Percy Harvin.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Moore is a balanced defensive lineman that can either hold the edge and contain the run or work his way behind the line to attack the quarterback. The Colts direly need his versatility as part of their up-and-coming defensive unit.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Short will draw attention away from the other pass-rushers along Minnesota’s 4-3 D-line. He’s capable of getting into the backfield and disrupting plays when left in single coverage.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
It was easy to run against the Packers in 2012, but that will change if Williams is clogging the lanes at Lambeau Field next season. This behemoth is the definition of a run-stopper and will draw plenty of double teams.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR (Clemson)
Houston prides itself on a balanced offensive attack, but teams began focusing on only Andre Johnson in the receiving game. Adding Hopkins would give QB Matt Schaub another weapon in addition to Johnson, Arian Foster and Owen Daniels.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Elvis Dumervil’s release leaves an opening for the Broncos to bring in a rookie pass-rusher to complement the elite young defenders already in their front seven. He may not be an every down lineman just yet, but watch out for this Longhorns product in passing situations.
29. New England Patriots: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
With the Tom Brady era winding down in New England, the Pats need to give the future Hall of Famer all the weapons they can afford this season. Allen is a high-upside prospect that could conceivably assume the role of a No. 1 receiver in the offense in no time.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Williams is a talented DT that plays with an edge and brings some much-needed toughness to the Falcons' lackluster front seven. Atlanta has the talent to make another deep postseason run, so a player with intangibles like Williams makes perfect sense.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, S (Florida International)
The Niners possess a plethora of picks in the upcoming draft, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see them move around the board later this month. However, if they stand pat, Cyprien is a great selection. The safety refuses to give up big plays and is great in coverage.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)
Te’o shouldn’t be expected to replace the great Ray Lewis, but the Fighting Irish star could help ease the Ravens’ loss. He’s an elite tackler that finds himself near every play and is also trustworthy and dangerous as a defender in the short passing game.
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