1. Kansas City Chiefs – OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Chiefs can’t afford RT Eric Winston and a franchised Branden Albert, so they released Winston. Albert could be moved to right tackle, leaving left tackle for Joekel. However the competition shakes down, the Chiefs know they must protect QB Alex Smith first.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jacksonville’s sacks from 2008 through 2012 are 29, 13, 26, 31, and 20. Need I say more?
3. Oakland Raiders – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Raiders lost Desmond Bryant in free agency, released Tommy Kelly (signed with New England), and Richard Seymour is a free agent. Oakland needs pass rush help, but not as badly as they need to fortify the interior line.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
The D-line has been gutted with the losses of DTs Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, and Derek Landri in free agency. Lotulelei has been cleared medically, so his stock should put him back near the top of the draft.
5. Detroit Lions – DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The best way to defend the pass is to not let the quarterback get a pass off. Losing top sack artist DE Cliff Avril in free agency subtracts 9.5 sacks from a defense that produced just 33 last year.
6. Cleveland Browns – CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
By adding OLB Paul Kruger to play opposite of sack leader Jabaal Sheard (seven in 2012), Cleveland’s defense can select Milliner to pair with Joe Haden for potentially two shutdown corners.
7. Arizona Cardinals – OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
By trading for QB Carson Palmer, the Cardinals are in position to win now. They won’t do much winning if they don’t protect Palmer. With a fortified O-line and revamped defense, Arizona has a chance to compete in the NFC.
8. Buffalo Bills – QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
Anyone who believes QB Kevin Kolb solves Buffalo’s quarterback problem is obviously in a chemically enhanced state of mind. The Bills have set the stage to bring Smith along slowly if they don’t feel he’s ready from day one.
9. New York Jets – OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
New York will build on their strength and add more bite to a defense that had just 30 sacks. Mingo joining D-linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Quentin Coples could make the Jets defense really good for a long time.
10. Tennessee Titans – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
Tennessee replaced the interior offensive line through free agency by signing center Robert Turner and OGs Andy Levitre and Chris Spencer. With Rhodes available, the Titans add a cover corner to their secondary.
11. San Diego Chargers – OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
New head coach Mike McCoy knows QB Philip Rivers very well and believes Rivers is a great player when he gets protection. Three offensive linemen from free agency plus Cooper should give Rivers the protection he needs.
12. Miami Dolphins – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Miami was prepared to let OT Jake Long walk away during free agency, but his departure still leaves a void. The Dolphins hope Johnson will protect QB Ryan Tannehill’s blind side for the next 10 years.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Will the Buccaneers keep this pick or package it for New York Jets CB Darrelle Revis? If the Buccaneers stay at 13, Tampa Bay staying within the region and selecting Werner makes sense.
14. Carolina Panthers – DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Mediocre isn’t going to cut it for the Panthers defense. There’s star power in LB Luke Kuechly and DEs Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. Richardson would be the dirty-work player in the trenches Carolina needs.
15. New Orleans Saints – DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
The key to any great 3-4 defense is an immovable nose tackle that occupies double, and sometimes triple, teams. With his size and strength, Williams can do that.
16. St. Louis Rams – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Hard to believe that a slot receiver could go this high in the draft, but Austin’s stock continues to rise. He is a perfect fit for the Rams after the team lost four complementary receivers in free agency.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
Pittsburgh needs to get back to playing Steelers football. And that means a physical, imposing ground game. Warmack alongside center Maurkice Pouncey and RG David DeCastro would form a physical interior O-line.
18. Dallas Cowboys – OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
Dallas can’t rid themselves of RT Doug Free fast enough. They recently asked Free to take a pay cut. The next step would be to cut Free from the roster and give his job to Fluker.
19. New York Giants – MLB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Defensive tackle upgrades came in free agency by signing Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson. Now the defense needs a tackling machine behind them. The versatile Ogletree fits the bill.
20. Chicago Bears – ILB Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Declining to bring back face-of-the-franchise LB Brian Urlacher shows the Bears’ desire to overhaul the position. Expectations would be high for Te’o due to the Bears’ history of iconic middle linebackers.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Finally the Bengals give Jones a parachute to stop his freefall. Cincinnati has really taken advantage of selecting players other teams were scared of. Whether it’s his slow 40-time or his spinal stenosis, the Bengals take a chance on Jones.
22. St. Louis Rams – S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Losing Craig Dahl in free agency creates a void, while Quintin Mikell being 32 years old creates urgency. Vaccaro likely starts on opening day.
23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
The second worst pass offense found their replacement for WR Percy Harvin in Greg Jennings, but it’s going to take more than just the former Green Bay Packer to make defenses think twice about putting eight defenders in the box to stop RB Adrian Peterson.
24. Indianapolis Colts – DE Margus Hunt, Southern Methodist
A defense that had 32 sacks takes a gamble on the raw freak of nature in hopes they can turn the Estonian athlete into an explosive game-plan wrecker.
25. Minnesota Vikings – DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
It’s been a while since the Vikings had a pair of Williams anchoring the defensive line. Version 2.0 might not last long together, but Kevin will pass on some valuable tips to help Sylvester reach his potential.
26. Green Bay Packers – WR Keenan Allen, California
Forty times are overrated. The Packers don’t care that Allen ran a 4.7 40-yard dash during his pro day because they realize that Allen is a baller. Green Bay has enough players that can stretch the field. Allen can come in and move the chains.
27. Houston Texans – CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State
Two embarrassing losses to the New England Patriots proved again that in today’s game, a team needs at least three good cornerbacks. 640 gross passing yards and seven touchdowns allowed in two games were found at the crime scenes.
28. Denver Broncos – CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
Cornerback Champ Bailey was exposed in the playoffs. He will go down in history as an all-time great, but he’s no longer a shutdown corner. Trufant will learn from the best before taking over.
29. New England Patriots – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
CB Alfonzo Dennard’s punishment won’t cost him playing time after receiving two years of probation and 30 days in jail starting March 1, 2014. But CB Aqib Talib is signed to a one year deal. Banks will be in line to replace Talib by next season.
30. Atlanta Falcons – DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
Don’t think the pass rush was taken care of after signing DE Osi Umenyiora. The Falcons can use an upgrade at the other end. Montgomery can contribute as a situational pass rusher and be Umenyiora’s apprentice.
31. San Francisco 49ers – DT Kawann Short, Purdue
San Francisco has experienced a 2-for-1 loss in free agency watching NT Issac Sopoaga and DE Ricky Jean-Francois leave while bringing in DE Glenn Dorsey. But will the 49ers stay put or trade up?
32. Baltimore Ravens – MLB Kevin Minter, LSU
The reigning Super Bowl Champions are recovering in free agency with some solid additions after losing several key players. The newest Raven is LB Rolando McClain. Minter would man the remaining inside linebacker spot.
Washington has been handcuffed by the league’s $18 million penalty for manipulating the salary cap, preventing them from being active in free agency. Improving the 28th-ranked defense should be a priority, but they might find more depth than starters without a first-round selection.
The Seahawks don’t have any significant holes and had an outstanding free agency with three high-profile additions. They already traded some draft picks to acquire WR Percy Harvin. It wouldn’t be surprising if they packaged more selections to move up in the draft to pursue players they targeted. With 10 selections, Seattle has chips they can cash in.
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