As the 2013 NFL draft approaches, rumors have naturally picked up in the National Football League.
Some of them appear to be legitimate, some of them appear to be smoke. Judging what is legitimate and what is smoke is always a process.
But one thing's for sure: There figure to be plenty of trades in the draft this year, as several rebuilding teams move down to acquire additional draft picks, while some prime championship contenders look to add a couple more pieces to boost them to glory.
Here's a look at my take on how the 2013 NFL draft will go down, complete with some draft-day trades that figure to shake up the first round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
After trading for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, the next step is for the Chiefs to grab an offensive tackle who can protect Smith's blind side as he looks to pass to Dwayne Bowe and company. Luke Joeckel is widely considered to be the best offensive tackle in the draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
Dion Jordan is the perfect player to fill the "Leo" position in Jacksonville, exhibiting the athleticism and versatility to be an asset rushing the passer, stopping the run and covering the pass.
3. New York Jets (via Raiders): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
With a great need at cornerback after the trade of Darrelle Revis, the Jets trade up to nab the best corner in the draft, Alabama's Dee Milliner. Milliner is one of the few corners in the class who has the potential to start right away and make an impact in the NFL.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
There have been reports that the Eagles are one of five teams in the top 12 that have made calls about possibly trading down. But there have also been reports that the Eagles like Star Lotulelei a lot and he's been medically cleared by Philadelphia.
5. Detroit Lions: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Quarterback Matthew Stafford needs more protection on the line. The athletic Eric Fisher has impressed throughout the draft process, and he would be a nice pick here for the Lions.
6. San Diego Chargers (via Browns): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
With Dee Milliner already off the board, the Browns decide to trade back as the Chargers recognize a need at offensive tackle and move ahead of the Cardinals for a chance to draft Oklahoma's Lane Johnson. It's an instant upgrade at left tackle and could help quarterback Philip Rivers rebound.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
With the top three offensive tackles selected, the Cardinals can go a different route and address the interior of the line. Jonathan Cooper possesses the versatility to play both guard and center, allowing Arizona to mix and match.
8. Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Bills have a need at guard. While there have been murmurs that they may draft Ryan Nassib at No. 8 overall, I could see them addressing the line and then drafting a quarterback in the second round.
9. Oakland Raiders (via Jets): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net recently referenced a source that said the Raiders could draft Sharrif Floyd, an offensive tackle or Star Lotulelei. With Floyd left on the board, Oakland finds its defensive tackle of the future. Floyd has all the makings of a complete defensive tackle at the next level.
10. Tennessee Titans: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
The Titans have a need for a pass-rusher at defensive end. Ezekiel Ansah may be raw, but he's been compared to the New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul in terms of explosiveness and athleticism. WIth some work, he could be a star in the pros.
11. Cleveland Browns (via Chargers): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
No one currently under center for the Browns is the future of the franchise. If the strong-armed, mobile Geno Smith is available here, he's worth a gamble. He's the only quarterback I could see the Browns spending a first-round pick on, and he may just pay off.
12. San Francisco 49ers (via Dolphins): Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
There's been a lot of buzz about the Dolphins possibly trading down and the 49ers possibly trading up. This would be a match made in heaven. The 49ers would be able to replace the recently-departed Dashon Goldson with the best safety in the class and the Dolphins would receive multiple draft picks to address multiple positions. Plus, stealing Vaccaro away from NFC West opponent St. Louis would make this an even better pick.
13. New York Jets (via Buccaneers): Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The Jets may be a bumbling, stumbling franchise right now, but adding Milliner—plus an explosive pass-rusher in Barkevious Mingo—would surely liven things up in New York. This would be a coup for the Jets.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Equipped with the athleticism, length and agility to make a difference in the NFL, Sheldon Richardson is not only one of the top prospects in the 2013 class, but he also fills a need for the Panthers. Plus, veteran receiver Steve Smith even said he would be a good pick back in February.
15. New Orleans Saints: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones may not be the fastest or most explosive pass-rusher in the draft, but he showed the versatility, quickness and ability to create leverage at Georgia to be a productive player in the NFL. The Saints need a pass-rusher.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
After losing underrated slot receiver Danny Amendola during the offseason—not to mention Brandon Gibson—the Rams need to give quarterback Sam Bradford some weapons. Austin, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds at the combine, makes a whole lot of sense in the slot for St. Louis.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
After losing veteran deep threat Mike Wallace to the Dolphins in the offseason, the Steelers can't hide the fact that they need a speedy playmaker. Cordarrelle Patterson—with some work—can be that guy in Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Sylvester Williams has been mocked to the Cowboys on numerous occasions during the draft process for a reason. He makes a lot of sense in Dallas' new Tampa 2 system, possessing the size, strength and motor to be a high-impact player in the pros.
19. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The loss of Martellus Bennett to the Chicago Bears in the offseason leaves a void at tight end. Tyler Eifert's combination of athleticism, hands and route-running could make him an instant starter right away.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Bears need a successor to Brian Urlacher. You can't deny the whispers that Manti Te'o won't make it past the first round. I'm a bit concerned about his second-level speed, but he is one of the best downhill tacklers in the class.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Andy Dalton has shown signs of being the Bengals' franchise quarterback moving forward, but he's also been inconsistent. Bolstering the offensive line (particularly at tackle) would be a step in the right direction. Fluker possesses the length and lateral agility to be a legit starter in the NFL.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
With Kenny Vaccaro off the board, the Rams could go with Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien to fill a void at safety. Cyprien is not only one of the hardest hitters in the class, but he's also displayed the range and smarts to be a strong cover safety. He's a nice Plan B for St. Louis.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Vikings have a need at cornerback after the departure of cornerback Antoine Winfield. Desmond Trufant is one of my favorite defensive backs in the class. In addition to his size, athleticism, coverage skills and toughness, his pedigree bears noting (the brother of NFL cornerbacks Marcus and Isaiah). When you have quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler in your division, the secondary is vitally important.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
As the Colts switch to a new defensive scheme, the versatile Datone Jones makes sense. Jones possesses an intriguing combination of length, quickness and power. He ranked third among defensive ends in the 20-yard shuttle at the combine (designed to test a prospect's lateral agility and explosiveness).
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The more I watch DeAndre Hopkins on film, the more I like him. He doesn't possess elite speed, but he's an excellent route-runner who simply knows how to separate from defenders. The Vikings signed veteran Greg Jennings in the offseason, but adding someone who can stretch the field like Hopkins would be a wise move, given the Vikings traded away Percy Harvin.
26. Green Bay Packers: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
After releasing veteran Charles Woodson in the offseason, the Packers need help at safety. Matt Elam is a smart, instinctual player who has a knack for making big plays in critical moments. Some scouts reportedly like Elam more than Vaccaro.
27. Houston Texans: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
There was a time when Keenan Allen was considered the No. 1 receiver in the class by some. Not anymore. There are reportedly concerns about his character. But, at No. 27 overall, he's worth the gamble for the Texans as they look for a complement opposite star Andre Johnson. Allen's combination of height, leaping ability and route running makes him a first-round prospect in my mind.
28. Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
I'm surprised by Bjoern Werner's drop in stock. Yes, he doesn't possess elite explosiveness, but there is a lot to like about the Florida State product, including his pass-rushing repertoire, anticipation off the line and football IQ. I think the Broncos nab a steal here to help a pass rush missing the recently departed Elvis Dumervil.
29. New England Patriots: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Jamar Taylor has the athleticism, physicality and toughness to strengthen New England's secondary. His name has been gaining steam leading up to the draft. After the Patriots' troubles defending the pass last season, a cornerback makes sense.
30. Atlanta Falcons: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Mike Mayock of NFL.com recently ranked D.J. Hayden as the No. 1 corner in the class, ahead of Dee Milliner. I wouldn't go that far, but I do believe in the hype. His combination of coverage skills, playmaking ability, quickness, agility and toughness could make him a steal here. The Falcons need a corner after losing Brent Grimes to free agency.
31. Miami Dolphins (via 49ers): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
It's not out of the question that the Dolphins still end up with a decent cornerback prospect like Xavier Rhodes, despite moving down in the draft. Rhodes has dropped a bit on some draft boards, more indicative of corners like Jamar Taylor and D.J. Hayden moving up than his actual ability. Rhodes is a physical corner with the size to compete against the bigger receivers in the NFL. He adds talent to a secondary that will once again have to go up against Mr. Tom Brady.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
After losing Ray Lewis to retirement and Dannell Ellerbe to free agency, the Ravens have a clear need at inside linebacker. Kevin Minter's range, tackling ability, instincts and football IQ project him to be a solid starter in the NFL.