The 2013 NFL Draft is less than a month away (April 25-27), and while the excitement around the big weekend has the entire football world buzzing, each team should be going for the best player available that fits a position of need.
There are plenty of first-round gems this year, and while most feel this is a lackluster quarterback class, the depth at the other positions will result in a wild first day of the draft.
All of the following selections are each team’s best option come draft day.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs traded for Alex Smith to fill the need at quarterback, and the void at left tackle should be the team’s primary need heading into the draft. Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel is the perfect fit for KC.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Jacksonville Jaguars were flat-out awful last season, and with the idea of taking the best player available, the team will take Oregon pass-rushing specialist Dion Jordan with the hopes that he can be a difference-maker in the NFL.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The loss of defensive tackles Desmond Bryant and Richard Seymour in the offseason has exposed the team’s biggest need on draft day. Florida’s Sharrif Floyd will be the kind of player the franchise is looking for as the new starting DT.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Philadelphia Eagles need major improvements everywhere, but the team’s transition to a 3-4 defense breeds the need for an elite pass rushing outside linebacker. Georgia’s Jarvis Jones is the kind of risk/reward player that could become a game changer for the team.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions had one of the best offenses in the league and a defensive front seven that was viable, but the lack of any elite talent in the secondary caused most of the issues last season. Picking a guaranteed game-changer like Alabama’s Dee Milliner is the right move for the franchise.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Cleveland Browns should just be trying to get fundamentally better in every facet of the game by selecting the best players available in this draft. At No. 6 overall, the Browns will have the chance to draft promising pass-rushing sensation Ezekiel Ansah from BYU.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Now that the Arizona Cardinals have Carson Palmer as the team’s starting QB (h/t ESPN), the Cardinals’ primary need will be to protect him with a franchise left tackle like Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.
8. Buffalo Bills: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There are still questions around promising defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and his heart condition (h/t ESPN), but the Buffalo Bills need for serious help on the defensive line will have the team taking the risk as long as they feel comfortable with the medical findings.
9. New York Jets: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The New York Jets are scheduled to have the worst quarterback competition in history between Mark Sanchez and David Garrard (h/t New York Daily News), but the realization that the duo is awful will force the New York Jets to select West Virginia’s Geno Smith instead.
10. Tennessee Titans: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Tennessee Titans need serious help on both offense and defense, but when an elite pass-rusher like LSU’s Barkevious Mingo falls to No. 10, the franchise should take the rough prospect and develop him into a star.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Of all the teams that find the ideal player at a position of need, the San Diego Chargers could find the best fit of all with Alabama’s Chance Warmack replacing star guard Louis Vasquez, who departed in free agency (h/t ESPN).
12. Miami Dolphins: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The departure of franchise left tackle Jake Long (h/t ESPN) has left a void for the Miami Dolphins that must be filled immediately. Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson will be the perfect long-term replacement.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The secondary needs for the Tampa Buccaneers are obvious—hence the reason the team is hunting for Darrelle Revis (h/t Pro Football Talk)—and the addition of a top-flight safety like Kenny Vaccaro from Texas would begin the rebuilding process.
14. Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera knows that games are won and lost in the trenches, and with that in mind, the team will take one of the best all-around offensive linemen in the draft, North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper.
15. New Orleans Saints: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The need for the league’s worst defense to improve is Sean Payton’s main concern this offseason, and the selection of a talented defensive tackle like Sheldon Richardson of Missouri will be the cog the line desperately needs.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The St. Louis Rams need serious help at the wide receiver position, and a raw prospect like Cordarrelle Patterson with the potential to be a star in the NFL will be a selection worth the first-round risk.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The Pittsburgh Steelers need an elite pass-rusher off the edge and need to get younger fast, and that should have Texas A&M star Damontre Moore filling both needs with one well-played first-round selection.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Dallas Cowboys should be looking for offensive line help with their first-round pick, but when most of the top players are already taken, the team will likely take a gamble by selecting the most dynamic offensive weapon on the board, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin.
19. New York Giants: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The need for a defensive end opposite Jason Pierre-Paul should be the New York Giants’ top priority in the 2013 draft, and when Florida State prospect Bjoern Werner falls to the team at No. 19, the selection will be easy.
20. Chicago Bears: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
The Chicago Bears have a giant void at the middle linebacker position now that Brian Urlacher is no longer with the team (h/t NFL.com), but the Bears must think long-term with a potential game-changer like Kansas State’s Arthur Brown.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The Cincinnati Bengals have several areas of need that must be addressed on both offense and defense, but if talented defensive tackle Jesse Williams falls to the team at No. 21, this should be a no-brainer.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The second of two first-round picks for the St. Louis Rams, the team will address its other biggest flaw from 2012, the secondary. With Florida State standout Xavier Rhodes’ ability to play both safety and cornerback, he could become the staple of the St. Louis secondary for years to come.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Minnesota Vikings signed free agent Greg Jennings this offseason (h/t Vikings.com) and traded Percy Harvin (h/t FOX Sports), but the turnover won’t cease during the draft. Cal’s Keenan Allen is too talented to fall past a team that needs a long-term solution at wide receiver like the Vikings.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Indianapolis Colts were abysmal in the secondary last season, and after the drastic improvements on offense last season with Andrew Luck, it’s time to draft a game-changer on defense. Cornerback Desmond Trufant will be the perfect fit.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
The Minnesota Vikings traded one of the faces of their franchise in Percy Harvin to Seattle (h/t FOX Sports), and in return, the first-round pick they received will be used on the new face of the defense, middle linebacker Manti Te’o.
26. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Green Bay Packers have to make protecting star quarterback Aaron Rodgers the top offseason priority, and drafting a future franchise left tackle like Alabama’s D.J. Fluker is a smart move.
27. Houston Texans: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Despite the skill of the Houston Texans defensive line and star end J.J. Watt, the lack of depth through the linebacker group should force the team to address the need via Georgia inside linebacker Alec Ogletree if he falls to No. 27.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Denver Broncos and head coach John Fox will likely be looking to continue the rebuilding process for their defensive line, and the addition of Ohio State standout tackle Johnathan Hankins is the perfect move.
29. New England Patriots: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The New England Patriots continue their carousel at wide receiver, but they need a long-term answer that can become Tom Brady’s favorite target over time. The ideal fit for the Patriots would be Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Despite having veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez back for another season (h/t ESPN), the Atlanta Falcons have to start thinking long term. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is the perfect fit for the team’s scheme and need.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Despite signing Nnamdi Asomugha in the offseason (h/t 49ers.com), the San Francisco 49ers secondary needs a long-term solution at cornerback, and the answer will be Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The departure of middle linebackers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe (h/t NFL.com) have left a void too big to ignore. The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens will find solace in LSU’s Kevin Minter.