There are just a few days until the 2013 NFL draft—scheduled for April 25-27—and the talk about which college stars would land where has the football world buzzing.
As the draft approaches, each team is trying to find the smartest fit for their franchise, and this is how the entire first round will shake out.
Highlighted players are italicized.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Andy Reid will look to start his tenure as new Kansas City Chiefs head coach off on the right foot, and the safest and smartest fundamental pick for the team will be Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jacksonville Jaguars are not sold on former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert, and with the chance to take a prospect with as much raw talent as West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, the franchise should draft a star it can build a perennial contender around.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Oakland Raiders have serious needs across the board, but the loss of defensive tackles Desmond Bryant (free agency) and Richard Seymour (released) has forced the team’s hand on draft day. The perfect fit would be Florida DT Sharrif Floyd.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Philadelphia Eagles new head coach Chip Kelly will be looking to make a splash in his first NFL draft. With Kelly’s familiarity to former Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan (former Ducks coach), this pick would come naturally for a defense looking for a 3-4 outside linebacker.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions have spent the offseason upgrading the already impressive offense by adding running back Reggie Bush, but on draft day, it will be time to address the serious needs on the defensive side of the ball.
After ranking 14th in the NFL against the pass last year—allowed 223.1 yards per game—it’s clear that Detroit needs some serious help in the secondary.
That’s where former Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner would be the natural fit.
Milliner is a tough cornerback that can shut down an opponent’s top receiver using an elite mix of size, speed and strength. If the Lions make the smart move and draft the CB, the team will see an instant impact next season.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Cleveland Browns will continue to make wholesale changes throughout this draft, and the addition of another pass rusher to complement free-agent acquisition Paul Kruger is a smart long-term move for the franchise. With BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah likely still on the board, this is the smartest move for the Browns.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Now that the need at quarterback has been addressed—the Arizona Cardinals traded for Carson Palmer during the offseason—the focus has shifted to protecting the QB. That will result in Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher going at No. 7.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
While the addition of Kevin Kolb to an awful quarterback competition may be a viable option for some members of the Buffalo Bills organization, the hope that Geno Smith will be here at No. 8 will be shattered when the Jacksonville Jaguars take him at No. 2.
The resulting panic will lead to Matt Barkley being selected by the Bills, reminiscent of Christian Ponder and the Vikings in 2011.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The New York Jets' first of two first-round picks should be on the best player available, and while LSU outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo is a rough prospect, his upside makes him one of the most valuable players in this draft class.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Tennessee Titans are one of the organizations that will be looking to stick with the basic fundamentals of football and get better in the trenches with their first-round pick. If Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is there at No. 10 and since he's been cleared medically, he would be a great fit for Tennessee.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The need to protect Philip Rivers is a top priority for the San Diego Chargers, and with the loss of guard Louis Vasquez via free agency, the chance to draft a long-term replacement and potential star like Alabama interior lineman Chance Warmack is too ideal to pass on.
12. Miami Dolphins: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
After watching former No. 1 overall pick and offensive tackle Jake Long sign with the St. Louis Rams via free agency, the Miami Dolphins’ need for a replacement is obvious. If Oklahoma lineman Lane Johnson is on the board at No. 12, he will be the right choice for Miami.
13. New York Jets (via Buccaneers): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The New York Jets acquired this pick from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cornerback Darrelle Revis (h/t ESPN), and in the ultimate twist of fate, Gang Green should use the pick to select Florida State defensive back Xavier Rhodes as his replacement.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Carolina Panthers were 14th against the run last year—allowing 110.1 yards on the ground per game—and Ron Rivera will get back to basics by selecting Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to clog the middle.
15. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
After one of the wildest seasons in the history of the New Orleans Saints franchise, the need for help on the defensive side of the ball has forced the franchise to get back to basics. That’s what happens when the team ranks 31st against the pass and 32nd against the run.
With the need for a game changer that can step on the field and be effective from Day 1 and make an instant impact, the Saints should be looking to draft a pass-rushing defensive end prospect like Florida State’s Bjoern Werner.
Werner has the size, speed and strength to be a force in the NFL, but with only a few years experience playing football, he is a rough prospect. There is no question that taking Werner is a risk, but New Orleans must draft a star and he has the ability to be that kind of player.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The St. Louis Rams have made it clear that Sam Bradford is the quarterback of the future, but the franchise must show him some love by drafting a weapon at wide receiver that can become a game changer. There are questions associated with Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, but the raw skill of the wide receiver make the risk worth the reward.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
There is no doubting the impact that veteran Troy Polamalu has made on the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary over the years, but Father Time has been catching up to him. The team must start thinking long-term replacement, and a prospect like Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro would be the team’s ideal selection.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
The Dallas Cowboys need to get better running the ball and protecting Tony Romo, and that comes from better play on the interior of the offensive line. If Jerry Jones wants a chance to win in 2013, he must take North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper if he is there at No. 18.
19. New York Giants: Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
The New York Giants have become masters of turning talented pass rushers that are rough around the edges into elite players in the NFL. If Texas A&M versatile defender Damontre Moore is available at No. 19, there is no question that this would be the team’s best option.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Chicago Bears need a replacement both on and off the field for veteran leader Brian Urlacher, and there is no better player that fits the needs of the team more than Notre Dame middle linebacker Manti Te'o.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Cincinnati Bengals should be looking for a complement to star wide receiver A.J. Green, and with a talented prospect like West Virginia’s Tavon Austin likely available and fitting the team’s need, this is the smartest long-term move for the Bengals.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): John Cyprien, S, FIU
The St. Louis Rams will address the need for a wide receiver with their first first-round pick, and the team will solve its second biggest issue at No. 22 when the franchise selects star safety John Cyprien of FIU.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
The Minnesota Vikings traded wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks and signed free agent Greg Jennings, but the need for depth and skill at the position is still there. The hope from the franchise will be that Cal’s Keenan Allen is the long-term answer the franchise needs.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Last year in the first round, the Indianapolis Colts made a huge splash with Andrew Luck, and while no one expects that again in 2013, the addition of an elite cornerback like Desmond Trufant of Washington would be the help the team needs on defense.
The Colts were awful against the pass last year—ranking 21st in the NFL and allowing 236.8 yards per game—and a game changer like Trufant could step in and change the culture of the secondary.
There is no question that Indianapolis would have to draft some serious help for the rookie in the defensive backfield, but Trufant has the talent to help the Colts turn back into the perennial contenders they were with Peyton Manning under center.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
After snagging this pick in the deal for Percy Harvin, the need for need for a long-term replacement at middle linebacker will have the Minnesota Vikings selecting Georgia’s Alec Ogletree.
26. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The best and most important player on the Green Bay Packers is Aaron Rodgers and protecting him should be a top priority. The franchise must take the best offensive lineman available with its first-round pick, and that will be Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker.
27. Houston Texans: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Houston Texans have missed the elite pass-rushing ability of an outside linebacker since Mario Williams signed with Buffalo, but the team has the chance to change that this year. With a potential star like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones falling in the draft and looking to prove everyone wrong, the team may get one of the biggest steals of 2013.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
One of the top offseason needs for the Denver Broncos is through the middle of the defensive line. If Ohio State defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins falls all the way to No. 28, John Fox and the coaching staff will have the perfect fit for their scheme.
29. New England Patriots: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
While Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are still relatively effective running the ball, the New England Patriots should add Alabama’s Eddie Lacy to that mix and make one of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the NFL.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez may have come back for one more season, but the lack of a long-term plan at tight end is a major flaw with the Atlanta Falcons. Drafting the best TE available at No. 30 should be a no-brainer, and that should be Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The San Francisco 49ers are already one of the most talented teams on the defensive side of the ball, but with an incredibly talented defensive tackle like Alabama’s Jesse Williams likely on the board at No. 31, this will be a natural fit.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
After losing interior linebackers Ray Lewis (retired) and Dannell Ellerbe (free agency) this offseason, the need for a middle linebacker is the team’s most glaring weakness. If Kansas State star Arthur Brown is available, this is the smart choice for the Baltimore Ravens.
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