The 2013 NFL may not be top heavy, but there isn't a huge discrepancy between the talent we'll see at the top and bottom of the first round.
While struggling teams selecting at the top will have a tough time landing a player who can provide the turnaround we saw RGIII and Andrew Luck provide last season, the depth of this draft will allow teams vying for a Super Bowl next season to land starters.
Let's take a look at how the first might shake out.
Note: Highlighted players italicized
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Fisher (OT, Central Michigan)
The Chiefs can't go wrong here taking Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher. Fisher has the potential to become the best left tackle in football. While most mocks have Joeckel being taking here, Andy Reid is going to have a tough time passing up on Fisher's upside.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
Blaine Gabbert is barely kicking off his NFL career, but with young quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III performing well immediately, the Jaguars have to be growing impatient.
This new-look Jags squad would benefit from a dual-threat playmaker like Smith bringing a new element to the offense. Like Gabbert, Smith was somewhat of a check-down Charlie in college, as ESPN's Steve Levy indicates:
Steve Levy @espnSteveLevy
as @michaelsmith will tell u tonite on @sportscenter 28% of geno smith's passes last seas were short of line of scrimmage, threw 112 screens2013-4-24 01:33:19
While Smith is a polarizing prospect, the Jaguars know that they don't have a future franchise QB on roster. Overdrafting a risky QB here would be unpopular, but a move they must consider.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
Reggie McKenzie is still in the process of getting rid of bad contracts and cutting off dead weight. There are holes galore in Oakland and while they could go a lot of ways here, taking a safe pick like Floyd at a position of need is a good next step in the rebuilding process.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel (OT, Texas A&M)
The Eagles should be clicking their heels here. Landing Luke Joeckel gives Chip Kelly an athletic lineman who can help in the up-tempo run and pass attack they'll be running in Philly.
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson (OT, Oklahoma)
The Lions could go a number of ways with this pick, but by drafting Johnson, they give themselves more options up front. Sliding Riley Reiff inside and putting Johnson at LT would kill two birds with one stone. The Lions have the foundation to become the best offense in football, and Johnson makes them even more dangerous.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
Don't get too caught up in Dee Milliner's medical issues. This doesn't seem like a Da'Quan Bowers situation and a draft-day disaster would be shocking. He's got the straight-line speed to run with anyone and his physical gifts will give the Browns a lot to work with as they look to add another piece to their underrated defense.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
It's hard to believe Larry Fitzgerald is going to be 30 next season. The Cardinals can't afford to squander the remaining years of their future Hall of Fame wideout. They took care of the gaping hole at QB by landing Carson Palmer. Warmack is the best offensive lineman available and while it's unconventional to take a guard this high, no prospect in the draft improves their offense more right away.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Matt Barkley started as a 14-year-old at Mater Dei and as a true freshman at USC. The stage has never looked too big for him and he's excelled at every level under immense pressure.
Let's not forget this is a QB who could have very well gone before RGIII if he entered the draft a season ago. Yes, he threw a career high 15 picks last season, but this notion that he's Jimmy Clausen is absurd.
No USC QB started all four years. No USC QB had to suffer through Lane Kiffin. No USC QB showed more loyalty to the program or took on as much of the offense as Barkley did at USC. Buffalo is the perfect place for him to land, and it won't take long for him to become the unquestioned leader of a team that needs direction.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo (DE/OLB, LSU)
The Jets need a sack artist who can make noise right away. Mingo is a risky pick, as he's touted as a pass-rusher, but only had 4.5 sacks his senior season and only 15 in his career. The Jets would be banking on talent vs. production, which is always cause for concern.
10. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Cooper (G, North Carolina)
Jobs are on the line. The best way to ensure Chris Johnson maximizes his potential and Jake Locker takes another step forward this season is to add some help up front. The early run on linemen makes Cooper the best offensive lineman on the board at this point.
11. San Diego Chargers: Ezekiel Ansah (DE/OLB, BYU)
Every team in the AFC West is getting better and the Chargers are in danger of being left behind. Ansah presents huge value here, and a disruptive edge rusher is something they've been sorely lacking since Shawne Merriman fell off.
12. Miami Dolphins: D.J. Fluker (OT, Alabama)
The Dolphins have done an excellent job of getting Ryan Tannehill the weapons he needs to succeed, now they just need to ensure he stays upright. In a perfect world one of the top three tackles falls into their lap here, but at 6'5" 339 pounds, Fluker is a mauler right tackle and a day-one starter.
13. New York Jets: Kenny Vacarro (S, Texas)
The Jets need to stop the bleeding they've sustained in the defensive backfield. Losing Darrelle Revis, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell makes this a top priority in this year's draft. Vacarro is a game-changer and somebody who will provide the impact plays they'll so desperately need.
14. Carolina Panthers: Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
The Panthers luck out here. Star Lotulelei is arguably the best defensive player in the draft. This is a similar scenario to the one the Lions faced when they saw Nick Fairley slip to them at No. 13 in 2011. Lotulelei has the rare ability to take over games as an interior defensive lineman. He's impossible to pass on here.
15. New Orleans Saints: Dion Jordan (DE/OLB, Oregon)
Dion Jordan is one of those guys with a lot of raw material to work with. What coach doesn't want a 6'6" pass rusher who runs a 4.6? Jordan's bust qualities as a tweener are overlooked if he's available this far down the draft. The Saints need a rush OLB and he fits the bill.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
The old Rams regime broke Sam Bradford. As a rookie, he took a dejected Rams franchise to the brink of the playoffs. Now, he's regressed into a shadow of his former self and the Rams have nobody to blame but themselves. Surrounding him with no help and no weapons, the Rams have stunted his growth significantly.
It's not time to pull the plug yet. A new coaching staff helped Bradford rebound a bit in 2012 and bringing in a dynamic playmaker like Tavon Austin would do wonders for the explosiveness of their offense.
A lot of speed wide receivers come out of college and try to outrun the NFL, but rarely are they effective. Austin is undersized and comparisons to Ted Ginn Jr., Dexter McCluster, Reggie Bush and DeSean Jackson are all valid for different reasons. Durability isn't as big of a concern as effectiveness, but if he's utilized the right way he's the home-run hitter the Rams are lacking.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
The Steelers have legends to "replace" on defense, but since the next James Harrison or Troy Polamalu isn't on the board here, Tyler Eifert makes a lot of sense. The offense needs a new Heath Miller to move to the chains and create plays in the red zone.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
Monte Kiffin is going to need another body up front. This is a spot it seems like the Cowboys are going to try to move up from, but they could do a lot worse than drafting Williams. He's a big-time upgrade for their run defense and would improve an already loaded roster.
19. New York Giants: Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
Having Xavier Rhodes opposite Prince Amukamara would give the Giants a rangy corner tandem that would create matchup problems for offenses. It's possible a corner as talented as Rhodes slips through the cracks and right into their hands at No. 19.
20. Chicago Bears: Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Sheldon Richardson is an animal. He's got rare physical tools and a mean streak that will have him drawing Ndamukong Suh comparisons. The Bears have elite weapons on offense. With Brian Urlacher leaving, a playmaker in the front seven is exactly what they need.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Eric Reid (S, LSU)
This is a pick Bengals fans have to hate. That small glimmer of hope that Kenny Vacarro will magically slip to them at No. 21 is going to be long gone by the time they're on the clock. They're going to be forced to take the best safety on the board and while he's not Vaccaro, Mike Zimmer should be able to transform him into a key cog in the Bengals' secondary.
22. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
Cordarrelle Patterson or Tavon Austin? How about both of them? Patterson is a raw prospect, but nobody is better with the ball in his hands. He's got a freakish ability to make defenders miss and one look at his highlight tape will have fans clamoring for him.
Patterson needs a team that can find a way to scheme to get him the ball. He doesn't know the intricacies of the position yet, but he's a dynamic and versatile threat who can take it for 6 every time he touches the ball.
He's got the size and athletic ability to become something special and the Rams would have two young assets in their wide receiver corp to make some noise in the loaded NFC West.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te'o (MLB, Notre Dame)
It's as though everyone has forgotten Te'o made a run at the Heisman. No, he didn't have his best performance in the National Championship and no, he didn't perform well at the combine. Still, the Vikings get a LB who makes plays all of the field and has an uncanny nose for the football.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones (DT/DE, UCLA)
Andrew Luck transformed the Colts into a playoff contender. In order for them to get to that next level, they need to start piecing together a championship defense. This is a franchise that knows it all starts up front on defense. Datone Jones doesn't have to be the next Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis to add value to the defense.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee)
The Vikings added Greg Jennings, but by no means is their quest to repair their humiliating wide receiver corp over. Christian Ponder isn't Peyton Manning. He can't get enough weapons around him and taking some of the pressure off of Adrian Peterson is critical to the longevity of this offense. Justin Hunter would be a No. 2 receiver from Day 1.
26. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
There are concerns about Eddie Lacy being a lazy player after a terrible pro day. Ted Thompson will need to evaluate just how warranted those concerns actually are, but the Packers shouldn't pass on the opportunity to plug their biggest hole. Lacy is a big back teams would have to account for. Landing here is a win-win for both parties, as Lacy wouldn't be the focal point of the offense.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson)
DeAndre Hopkins overshadowed Sammy Watkins last season. While he certainly wouldn't be overshadowing Andre Johnson, he's proven he can create space for a big-name No. 1 receiver. Hopkins would excel here as an afterthought for opposing defenses.
28. Denver Broncos: Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
The Broncos need to find a new counterpart to Von Miller. John Fox's Broncos are on the verge of becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league and Tank Carradine would give them yet another weapon in the front seven who can create chaos in the backfield.
29. New England Patriots: Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State)
The Patriots can't afford to allow their defense to be an afterthought. Werner is an intriguing prospect and the Patriots have a history of taking chances on foreign prospects with high upside.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
The Falcons are in dire need of a corner. Jamar Taylor is physical and while he doesn't have Dee Milliner's speed, he's well-coached and will be the perfect complement to Asante Samuel.
31. San Francisco 49ers: John Cyprien (S, Florida International)
It's hard to imagine the 49ers staying here, but if they do they'll need to address the biggest hole on their team. Dashon Goldson was too expensive to retain and the 49ers need to land a replacement. Cyprien isn't the ideal cover man the 49ers would like to land here, but that wasn't Dashon Goldson's greatest strength either. While a successor for Justin Smith is also a need, it's unlikely they'll pass on the chance to fill their biggest need by snagging the best available player here.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Alec Ogletree (ILB, Georgia)
The Ravens need a successor to Ray Lewis, and said successor is not Rolando McClain. Ogletree isn't going to seamlessly replace the greatest MLB in NFL history, but Ozzie Newsome has to start plugging holes after the mass exodus that took place in the offseason.