The focus around the NFL has shifted toward the draft in recent weeks as free agency slowed down following a hectic flurry of signings in the early going. Each team's biggest remaining void will now likely have to be filled by a talented rookie.
While the evaluation of draft prospects has come a long way over the years, it remains an inexact science. That's why there are still seemingly can't-miss players who bust out and unheralded ones who go on to become productive players.
In order to win the first round, teams must find a young player with the right balance of current ability and future potential. With that in mind, here's an updated mock draft of Round 1. A deeper dive is taken into picks that should provide great value and are denoted by italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The draft is now less than two weeks away, and the offensive tackle debate rages on. Joeckel and Eric Fisher have battled throughout the process. For now, the advantage sticks with the Texas A&M star.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Tyson Alualu continues to develop into a key contributor along the Jacksonville defensive line. He would be even more effective if he had a high-upside rusher like Jordan playing next to him on the edge.
3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Oakland needs to focus on the future. No single move is going to turn the team around despite its repeated efforts. Taking a chance on Smith and giving him some time to develop would be a solid move.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd is the type of player every defensive line needs to succeed: somebody who can take on multiple blockers and stuff the run on a consistent basis. He also possesses a lot of untapped talent.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Last year, the Lions selected tackle Riley Reiff in the first round. The best move the Lions could make would be to take Fisher with the fifth pick, slot him in at left tackle, play Reiff on the right side and hope to solidify the line for a decade.
Fisher is in the conversation for the top pick. But if the Chiefs ultimately go with Joeckel, there's a good chance the Central Michigan product will make it to the Lions. Given the chance, they can't pass up on a golden opportunity to protect Matthew Stafford.
The Lions offense has the potential to put up some monster numbers with Stafford, Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson. A weak offensive line could easily derail those plans. So it's important to upgrade, and adding Fisher is the perfect way to do it.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns need more playmakers on defense. Milliner fits the category. He's somebody who can pick off a pass and take it 70 yards the other way while also featuring the cover skills to defend top wideouts.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Arizona can continue to switch quarterbacks, but they will all struggle to find a comfort zone until the offensive line improves. Johnson is capable of stepping right into the lineup in an anchor role.
8. Buffalo Bills: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Patterson represents exactly what the Bills need on the outside: a wideout who can stretch the field using his speed, which will open up the running game and the underneath routes for Stevie Johnson.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
While the Jets could go several different directions with this pick due to their numerous needs, finding a pass-rusher should be atop the list. Ansah is versatile enough to fit the scheme, making him a good fit.
10. Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Taking a guard inside the top 10 means two things. He's a special player and the draft lacks top-end prospects. Both are true in this case. Warmack would provide stability to the Titans' line.
11. San Diego Chargers: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Since the top offensive tackles are off the board, the two options for San Diego at this spot are rush linebacker and defensive tackle. Given the players available at each spot, Lotulelei is the way to go.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes would go a long way in shoring up a secondary that ranked 27th against the pass last season. He's a well-rounded corner who should have no problem stepping right in to make an instant impact.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The Buccaneers need more pass-rushing options after being unable to put consistent pressure on the quarterback last season. There are still multiple solid options available, but Werner is the best fit.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Richardson to the Panthers has been in place for awhile. It would be an ideal landing spot for him, he should be on the board and Carolina would have to reach to fill its other key needs.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
It's tough to imagine Jones slipping through the teens. One team in that range is going to take a chance that he will be able to replicate his college success at the next level. The Saints shouldn't let him go by.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Rams need playmakers on both sides of the ball; there's no doubt about that. But it would be hard to pass on a promising prospect like Cooper, who would also fill one of the team's needs.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
There was a time earlier in the draft process when Moore was talked about inside the top three. He's faded since then, which is more do to the high number of rushers capable of going in Round 1 than his ability, and he would be a very nice pickup for the Steelers.
Based on talent alone, Moore is definitely a top-10 prospect. Questions remain about his ability to make a smooth transition to the next level, though. If teams thought he could match his potential right out of the gate, he would go higher.
It will probably take some time for him to reach that level. That wouldn't be a major concern for the Steelers, though. They could work him in at a more reasonable pace, allowing the versatile edge-rusher to develop into the dominant force he can be in the future.
18. Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Fluker isn't the type of player who would excite the Cowboys' frustrated fanbase. That said, Dallas needs to upgrade its line in order to receive more reliable play from Tony Romo and the offense.
19. New York Giants: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
New York getting Mingo at No. 19 shows what type of draft this is. He could easily go inside the top 10, but certainly, prospects will be forced to drop because there are so many on the same general level.
20. Chicago Bears: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Julius Peppers and Henry Melton give the Bears two terrific building blocks for their defense line. It would give Jones a great chance to succeed as a rookie, giving Chicago a top pass rush.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Safety is one of the few positions where depth is tough to come by. It makes a player like Vaccaro a little more valuable overall, and the Bengals would be wise to grab him at this spot.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WSH): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Given their lack of receiving depth, this pick should definitely be a wideout. There are three or four different options, but Austin's ability to create mismatches in the slot would be the best for St. Louis.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Since Minnesota no longer has Percy Harvin, it probably hopes Austin will fall one more spot. If not, Allen would still give Christian Ponder another target to help build the passing game.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The versatile Okafor would bring plenty of potential to Indianapolis. The coaching staff would need to work with him to showcase his ability more often, but the flashes of upside are enough to take a chance.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Finding some depth for the defensive line would serve the Vikings well here. Hunt is a player with a nonstop motor that would fit right in across from Jared Allen or as part of a rotation.
26. Green Bay Packers: Alec Ogletree, OLB, Georgia
Even though the Green Bay defense did illustrate signs of progress last season, there's still work to do. Adding a sideline-to-sideline outside linebacker like Ogletree would continue the process.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The story doesn't change for the Texans and it won't until draft day, barring a marquee trade. They need to select a wide receiver with this selection, and Hopkins is the top one left on the board.
28. Denver Broncos: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
There are a couple different spots on defense the Broncos could use this pick on. Elam makes the most sense given his ability to make an impact right away and the position scarcity at safety.
29. New England Patriots: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
There are more questions than usual about New England's offense, but the team's main draft focus should remain the defense. The unit continues to give up far too many yards, especially through the air, and it offsets the progress of Tom Brady and Co.
While Aqib Talib should do his part on one side of the field, the Patriots don't have a reliable second option. That's where Trufant comes in. Even if the Washington star doesn't step right into the lineup, it wouldn't a surprise to see him grab the spot by season's end.
Trufant is the type of corner who should thrive in today's NFL. He's willing to get right up on the line of scrimmage and play physical. It makes up for his lack of natural speed. The Patriots need more players like that on the outside of the defensive backfield.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
While this would be viewed as a pick for the future given the presence of Tony Gonzalez, the Patriots have shown how effective sets with two tight ends can be. Eifert will find a way to play.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
Finding more depth at corner should be among San Francisco's draft priorities. While it could be accomplished later, Banks would present solid value here and would help quicker than a mid-rounder.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Te'o didn't impress scouts during the draft process, but his college production should still warrant selection in the first round. The Ravens certainly need another inside linebacker.
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