Even though the 2013 NFL draft wasn't considered top heavy in terms of talent, plenty of NFL teams came away with at least one starter on Day 1. Shoot, some teams even managed to come away with two starters on Day 1.
Organizations approached this year's draft with a different mentality. They didn't think about where they picked the talent; they only cared about who they selected. Value didn't necessarily go out this window, it was just weighed differently than in years past.
However, at the end of the day, the most talented players still rose to the top.
Let's take a look at all 32 first-round selections as I try to predict their statistics for the 2013 season.
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't use this year's No. 1 overall selection on a franchise right tackle. So trading current left tackle Branden Albert seems to be the next logical step on the Chiefs' offseason to-do list.
The eventual trade will allow Fisher to stay at his most natural position. Not to mention, Andy Reid now has a blindside protector that fits in his offensive scheme perfectly. Reid prefers an athletic, elite pass-protector that can move well in space.
Fisher should have a nice, long stay in Kansas City. He has the potential to be a mainstay on the Chiefs offensive line for the next 10 years. He reminds me a lot of St. Louis Rams left tackle Jake Long.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at left tackle, 4 quarterback sacks allowed
Despite the fact Eugene Monroe is already manning the left side of the offensive line for the Jacksonville Jaguars, general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley decided to draft Texas A&M standout Luke Joeckel.
Whether you liked the pick or not, he was the right choice. The right side of the Jaguars offensive line was a major liability in pass protection last season, so Joeckel's presence should prove to be an instant upgrade.
It's hard to tell whether this will happen in the near future or down the line, but I fully expect Joeckel to transition to the left side someday.
Bradley is doing the right thing by building his ballclub through the offensive and defensive lines first.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at right tackle, 5 quarterback sacks allowed
For the past few years, defensive end Cameron Wake has been single-handedly manufacturing the Miami Dolphins pass rush. Former first-round pick Jared Odrick has been a complete disappointment in every sense of the word, so general manager Jeff Ireland decided it was time to finally give Wake the help he needed.
Ireland knew there was no way one of the draft's top pass-rushers would fall to him at No. 12, so he had to find a way to move and snag the best one available. Based on the fact that the Raiders needed as much help as they could get, he called them up and offered them draft selections in later rounds to swap positions.
Oakland took the bait, and the Dolphins had their man.
Look for Dion Jordan to be a situational pass-rusher at both defensive end and outside linebacker. In my opinion, he was the second-most talented edge-rusher in this year's draft.
2013 Projected Statistics: 48 total tackles, 6.5 quarterback sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Three offensive tackles in the top five, folks—that doesn't happen very often. Even though the quote, unquote best two tackles were off the board, head coach Chip Kelly couldn't have been more happy with the player he selected.
It was widely believed that the Eagles would have taken Lane Johnson even if Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel were still on the board. Johnson is arguably the most agile of the three tackles, and Kelly loves a nimble offensive lineman, making the fit absolutely perfect.
The former Oklahoma Sooner will be given the opportunity to start at left tackle right away. Jason Peters is returning from two serious injuries, and he will provide a decent level of competition. The job won't be handed to Johnson, but all signs point to him being Philadelphia's franchise left tackle for years to come.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at left tackle, 7 quarterback sacks allowed
What's not to like about Ezekiel Ansah and his upside? He is a player who possesses tremendous pass-rushing ability as a stand-up pass-rusher in the 3-4.
But what about his ability to stick his hand in the dirt and rush the passer in a 4-3?
That's the biggest unknown right now. He only started nine games in college, and he has little football knowledge when it comes to the X's and O's side of the ball. This fact was well noted prior to the draft. Which means right now I'm having a hard time projecting how he will do statistically in a 4-3.
It will definitely take some time and patience before he catches on, so it would be wise not to expect a whole lot in his first year. My projections may be a little on the high side, but I'm hoping the light bulb comes on for this kid sooner rather than later.
2013 Projected Statistics: 42 total tackles, 4 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble
Prior to this year's draft, there was no edge-rusher that I liked more than Barkevious Mingo. I feel as if he is the complete package. He's a rare athlete who possesses tremendous speed around the corner. Not to mention, there is not another pass-rusher that gets off the ball the way Mingo does.
You couple all of those things with the fact he will be coached by Ray Horton, and one could make a strong argument that Mingo will be the best all-around defender among this rookie class. Sure, he needs to work on his run defense, but playing the run won't be his main focus in Year 1. His primary focus will be rushing the passer.
I have a feeling the Browns will use Mingo the way the 49ers used Aldon Smith in his first year.
2013 Projected Statistics: 67 total tackles, 9 quarterback sacks, 3 forced fumbles
Honestly, could the Arizona Cardinals offensive line have been any worse last year? They arguably played better as a whole down the stretch last season, but that doesn't make up for their porous play during Week's 1 through 8.
The atrocious play on the offensive line led to the Cardinals selecting Jonathan Cooper with the seventh pick overall. Cooper is a versatile guard who spent his collegiate career at left guard, but he is seen as versatile enough to play both guard positions.
As it stands right now, he will be slotted to play left guard while Daryn Colledge plays right guard. Regardless of Cooper's initial positioning, I like the fact that general manager Steve Keim was willing to draft a guard in the top 10.
Any offensive line coach knows that the interior of the offensive line is just as important as the edge.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at left guard, 3 quarterback sacks allowed
When Rams general manager Les Snead said he was bound and determined to get quarterback Sam Bradford some offensive help, he wasn't kidding. In two years' time, he has managed to bolster St. Louis' receiving corp by adding Brian Quick, Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Jared Cook.
Of those five names, Austin is arguably the most valued. I say that only because the Rams gave up the most to get him. Sure, Cook cost the Rams a lot of money, but he didn't cost them additional draft picks that could have helped bolster the roster.
Despite costing the team draft selections, one would be at fault to criticize the Rams for making such a bold move. Ever since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce left, they haven't had a legitimate playmaker that put stress on a defense.
Let's see if Austin can prove his worth right out of the gates in 2013.
2013 Projected Statistics: 64 catches, 737 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns
Unfortunately for Dee Milliner, he will always be associated with Darrelle Revis and his greatness. The No. 9 overall pick wasn't the selection the Jets received in return for Revis, but Milliner was the player they drafted to replace him.
Milliner is a fine corner who has above-average skills. He plays the ball well when it is in the air, and he has good swivel in his hips, but let's face it, he may not ever be the player Revis was. Jets fans need to be okay with that. Very few ever reach an All-Pro level like No. 24.
New York will need to coach Milliner up on Rex Ryan's man-coverage scheme. He played a lot of zone three-deep at Alabama, which means there will be a bit of a learning curve. In my projections, I feel as if the rookie will have an average season with the hopes of him taking that next step in 2014.
2013 Projected Statistics: 54 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended
Not only did three offensive tackles go in the top five, but two offensive guards went inside the top 10. Many reacted to this by calling this year's draft a very conservative draft, but in all reality, it was just not very top heavy at certain skill positions.
Not to mention, half of the teams inside the top 10 were yearning for offensive line help. The Tennessee Titans were one of those five teams who needed interior offensive line help. They did sign some key players for depth purposes in free agency, but let's be honest, Rob Turner isn't on the same level as Chance Warmack.
Warmack will bring a nasty streak to the Titans, especially in the run game, which severely needed more of that nasty streak during the 2012 season. The former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive guard will start from Day 1 at right guard.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at right guard, 2 quarterback sacks allowed
Like the Tennessee Titans, the San Diego Chargers were another team desperate for offensive line help. In 2012, they graded out below average in run-blocking and pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.
Prior to the draft, D.J. Fluker was gaining steam as a potential top-15 pick. The San Diego Chargers knew a talent of his nature wouldn't be there in the second round, quickly prompting them to use their Day 1 selection on the second-team All-American.
The 6'5", 339-pound right tackle is slotted to open the season as the Chargers' starter. Some analysts believe he is better suited to play guard in the NFL, but I have a feeling San Diego will give him every opportunity to play tackle.
Sealing off both edges of the offensive line should help quarterback Philip Rivers return to Pro Bowl form.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at right tackle, 5 quarterback sacks allowed
Even though the Raiders moved down nine spots in the draft, they were still able to draft the player they had their eye on from the get-go. It's no secret that Oakland is talent-depleted at almost every position, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the team took a player who will help shore up a leaky secondary.
Pro Football Focus' analysts graded the Raiders secondary as the 13th-worst unit in all of football last season. If you look at the numbers and factor in the players they lost in the secondary, the trend was bound to head south in 2013.
Hayden has a ton of raw ability, but he needs to be coached up before he can be on the same level as a Dee Milliner. With that said, I feel like he's a player who will turn heads right out of the gate.
He will be given opportunity to succeed, so expect a strong season from the rookie out of Houston.
2013 Projected Statistics: 61 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 10 passes defended
The New York Jets' second selection of the first round raised a few eyebrows. Not because defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson isn't a strong player, but some believe he doesn't have a starting spot on the Jets defensive line.
However, I beg to differ. I have a strong feeling that Rex Ryan will insert the 6'3", 294-pounder at nose tackle. This move means Richardson will have to put on some additional weight from now until the start of the season, but it could ultimately work.
If this ends up being the case, the Jets will have one of the best defensive lines in all of football. Aside from Richardson manning the nose, Quinton Coples will be the starter at left defensive end and Muhammad Wilkerson will be the starter at right defensive tackle.
Despite the backlash, this move gets an A+ from me.
2013 Projected Statistics: 56 total tackles, 3 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble
Who would have thought defensive tackle Star Lotulelei would fall all the way to No. 14? I know his heart condition gave NFL organizations a scare at the NFL Scouting Combine, but after a medical recheck, Lotulelei was cleared of all prior concerns.
Despite the clean bill of health, it was apparent some NFL teams didn't want to deal with the fact that the heart issue could return later on. His fall led to the Carolina Panthers sprinting to the podium to turn in their selection card on draft day.
Lotulelei will play the nose in the Panthers' 4-3 defense.
When you put him next to the club's second-round pick in Kawann Short, Carolina's weak spot from a year ago has now turned into a strength. The first-team All-Pac-12 selection should experience immediate success and push for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2013.
2013 Projected Statistics: 66 total tackles, 5 quarterback sacks, 0 forced fumbles
When Sean Payton returned from his year-long suspension, he didn't waste any time in firing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo's defense mightily underachieved in 2012, which ultimately led to the Saints finishing below .500 for the first time since 2007.
After firing Spags, Payton brought in the flamboyant Rob Ryan. The hire meant New Orleans would be switching from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Much like his brother, Rex Ryan, Rob enjoys having a rangy safety who can cover a lot of ground on the back end.
With Kenny Vaccaro sitting there for the Saints' taking at No. 15 overall, the pick was a no-brainer. Vaccaro was never much of a ball hawk at Texas, but he is a player who's seemingly always around the ball.
Expect Vaccaro to do a variety of things during his first year in New Orleans. Not only does he have the ability to come up and play the run, but he can also play man coverage on a tight end if need be.
2013 Projected Statistics: 70 total tackles, 1 interception, 4 passes defended
Even though the Buffalo Bills signed quarterback Kevin Kolb to a two-year deal prior to the draft, they wasted no time in selecting their future franchise quarterback.
EJ Manuel was regarded by some as a mid-round player who needed time to develop.
Manuel has all the skills you look for in an elite-level quarterback. He has a powerful arm, great mobility and a very quick release. But his decision-making and overall field vision have come under question several times.
Head coach Doug Marrone has some work to do here, but if he can get Manuel to put it all together, Buffalo's future is bright. I don't believe the former Florida State quarterback will sit all year. My projections below are based on him making the final 12 starts for the Bills in 2013.
2013 Projected Statistics: 2,710 yards passing, 14 touchdowns, 10 interceptions
Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was believed to be a top-10 draft selection come April. However, a medical red flag forced some teams to take him off their board completely.
As a member of the USC football team in 2009, Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is a fancy name for the narrowing of a person's spinal cord.
USC's doctors wouldn't clear him to play, so Jones transferred to the University of Georgia. As a member of the Bulldogs, he never experienced any spinal issues and went on to play at a very high level.
Jones believes the injury will not affect him at the pro level either. And, apparently, the Pittsburgh Steelers agree. They were able to snag a top-10 talent at No. 17 overall.
2013 Projected Statistics: 48 total tackles, 7 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble
Coming into the 2013 NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers had more draft selections than any other team. But it was a foregone conclusion that there was no way 13 new players would stick on an already-stacked 53-man roster.
That led fans and media members alike to speculate that, at some point, the 49ers would package together a few picks and target a player they had very high on their draft board. This notion rang true on Day 1 of the draft when the 49ers moved up 13 spots to select safety Eric Reid.
Reid was recruited by Jim Harbaugh out of high school to come play football at Stanford, but Reid opted to stay in the South and attend LSU. However, Harbaugh kept a close eye on the All-American safety prospect all throughout his collegiate career.
Reid is a similar player to Dashon Goldson in terms of physical skill, but overall, he is a much smarter player. And Harbaugh loves that about him. The 6'1", 213-pound safety will take over for Goldson and start on the back end of the 49ers defense right away.
2013 Projected Statistics: 96 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended
Over the last two years, the New York Giants offensive line has started to show its age. David Diehl and Chris Snee are no longer the players they once were. The rapid decline has forced general manager Jerry Reese to take immediate action.
Of the seven picks the Giants had in this year's draft, they used two of them on offensive linemen. One of the two included first-round offensive tackle Justin Pugh. Pugh is a player who is sound in his technique, has good feet and is an extremely hard worker.
He was viewed as more of a late first-round selection by draft analysts, but the Giants knew they needed to take him with the 19th pick because he wouldn't have been there in the second round. Pugh will play right tackle in the NFL and will probably stay there for the entirety of his career.
Personally, I like the selection a lot because it fills a major hole with a quality player.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at right tackle, 6 quarterback sacks allowed
Even though draftniks around the web viewed the Bears' Round 1 selection as a reach, I have no problem with the pick. Sure, Kyle Long was probably a late Day 1 guy or an early Day 2 guy, but the Bears needed offensive line help in the worst way, and he was the best offensive lineman available.
Much like Justin Pugh for the Giants, it's doubtful Long would have been available when Chicago picked in the second round.
In college, he played both guard and tackle, yet he is expected to only play guard in the NFL. Chicago can insert him immediately at left guard for Matt Slauson.
Long may never become an All-Pro player, but he will be a quality starter for 10-plus years in the league. He has a mean streak in him, and he will outwork the opposition play in and play out.
2013 Projected Statistics: 16 starts at left guard, 4 quarterback sacks allowed
With the safety position being viewed as the Cincinnati Bengals' No. 1 need on draft day, it was believed prior to the draft that they would select one with the 21st pick. In surprising fashion, they opted for Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert instead.
Even though the Bengals drafted Jermaine Gresham in 2010, they felt Eifert could help add a new dimension to their offense.
The offensive philosophy appears to be changing right before our eyes. One should expect offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to deploy more 12 personnel sets in 2013. Not only will Cincinnati use more 12 personnel sets, it will move Eifert around to exploit mismatches. These mismatches could primarily come in the slot and split out wide.
Quarterback Andy Dalton should be happy, as he was just given another playmaking three-down tight end.
2013 Projected Statistics: 42 catches, 511 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns
After cutting cornerback Dunta Robinson and losing out on Brent Grimes to the Miami Dolphins, the Atlanta Falcons secondary quickly became the team's biggest weakness. Which meant general manager Thomas Dimitroff was bound and determined to replenish it early and often in the draft.
Before scoring Robert Alford in the second round, he made an even bigger score in the first round when he drafted Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Trufant appears to be the perfect fit for Mike Nolan's defense. He excels in man coverage, he rarely allows separation and he shows good change of direction skills on the fly.
I project Trufant will have one of the better rookie seasons of all the corners because I feel he is the most pro-ready. Not to mention, he comes from a strong NFL bloodline (older brother Marcus also plays in the NFL).
2013 Projected Statistics: 45 total tackles, 3 interceptions, 11 passes defended
The first of three first-round selections for the Minnesota Vikings was Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Floyd was another player who was pegged by the media to go inside the top 10, but he ultimately fell because scouts didn't feel as if his skill on tape matched up with the hype.
Overall, I can't say I disagree with this notion. Weeks before the draft, I felt like Floyd's tape was average at times, and his production was middle of the road. I will admit he made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage, but he rarely got to the quarterback in pass-rushing situations.
He has all the tools necessary to become a more consistent player, but it will take time and coaching. Depending on what happens with Kevin Williams, Floyd may only be used as a sub-package player his rookie year.
In my opinion, this would be the right move.
2013 Projected Statistics: 39 total tackles, 2 quarterback sacks, 0 forced fumbles
After converting to the 3-4 last year, the Indianapolis Colts were in desperate need of pass-rushing help. Dwight Freeney never made a smooth transition to outside linebacker, so general manager Ryan Grigson decided to draft his replacement in this year's draft.
Bjoern Werner played defensive end in Florida State's 4-3 defense, yet scouts projected him as more of a 3-4 outside linebacker because of his size.
Even though Werner is 266 pounds, he closes very well on the ball and is stout at the point of attack. Moreover, he uses his hands well and sheds blocks with ease. The only thing he really lacks is elite speed off the edge.
In the pros, he won't ever be a 10-sack type of player, but he will be disruptive and put pressure on the quarterback. Indianapolis got great value by selecting Werner with the 24th pick.
2013 Projected Statistics: 43 total tackles, 5 quarterback sacks, 2 forced fumbles
When the Minnesota Vikings cut Antoine Winfield, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that they would spend either a Day 1 or Day 2 pick on a cornerback. I personally felt they would use a Day 2 pick on the position, but the organization felt cornerback Xavier Rhodes was just too good to pass up at No. 25.
If Tampa Bay had kept the 13th pick and not traded for Darrelle Revis, it would have surely selected Rhodes, according to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, proving the Vikings drafted a top-15 player at No. 25 overall.
Rhodes played right cornerback at Florida State, so it only seems natural he will start the year as the team's starting right cornerback. The Vikings defensive line will provide a strong pass rush and give him plenty of opportunities to make plays on the ball.
I could easily see him having a rookie season that compares to Casey Hayward's 2012 rookie campaign.
2013 Projected Statistics: 73 total tackles, 4 interceptions, 13 passes defended
In recent years, the Green Bay Packers have used numerous Day 1 and Day 2 selections on defensive linemen. Names like B.J. Raji, Jerel Worthy and Mike Neal come to mind off the top of my head. Yet it's safe to say they haven't been 100 percent happy with the three names mentioned above.
Their lack of production led to the Green Bay Packers selecting UCLA defensive end Datone Jones in the first round of this year's draft. Jones will give the Packers something they have been lacking on the defensive line: versatility.
Over the course of his collegiate career, Jones showed the ability to play multiple spots along the defensive line while maintaining productivity. He will come in and immediately compete for the staring job at right defensive end.
My projections below are based on the belief that he will win the starting job at defensive end.
2013 Projected Statistics: 47 total tackles, 3 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumbles
Ever since the Houston Texans drafted Andre Johnson in 2003, they have seemingly lacked a threat opposite him. Houston has tried to draft mid-round talent to pair with Johnson, but it simply hasn't worked out. Jacoby Jones is now in Baltimore, and DeVier Posey is still a bit of an unknown.
With head coach Gary Kubiak looking to expand the offense in 2013, Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was just too good to pass up at the end of Round 1.
At the collegiate level, Hopkins was able to consistently gain separation, run good routes and make plays downfield. But let's not forget, he hasn't exactly been able to shake the injury bug in recent years.
Hopkins should come in a contribute right away. He will help draw coverage off of Johnson—something the Texans have been trying to figure out how do to for years.
2013 Projected Statistics: 50 catches, 664 yards receiving, 4 touchdowns
The Denver Broncos have one of the best offenses and defenses in football. They have stout pieces in Von Miller, Robert Ayers and Champ Bailey, yet they need to get stronger on the interior of their defensive line.
Terrance Knighton was a nice addition in free agency, but that wasn't enough. The Broncos were still yearning for more, which makes the selection of defensive tackle Sylvester Williams a natural fit at No. 28 overall.
Williams has a quick first step, he is fast for a defensive tackle and he turns out a lot of splash plays. Splash plays were something the Broncos lacked last year outside of Miller, so Denver's coaching staff is hoping Williams' game makes a smooth transition to the pro level.
My projections are based on the first-round pick starting at left defensive tackle.
2013 Projected Statistics: 42 total tackles, 2.5 quarterback sacks, 0 forced fumbles
Outside of Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings lacked playmakers in 2012. After Percy Harvin went out with a sprained ankle against the Seattle Seahawks, their offense became one-dimensional. So it was essential that general manager Rick Spielman add talent during the offseason.
The Greg Jennings signing was a step in the right direction, but Spielman wasn't quite done. He decided to gather up a few picks and ship them off to New England for another playmaker at the wide receiver position.
Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was a bit of a one-year wonder in the SEC, but he did enough in that one year to garner first-round consideration. Minnesota felt like Patterson gave quarterback Christian Ponder the deep threat he was desperately seeking.
Patterson should end up being a great fit as the X receiver in the Vikings offense.
2013 Projected Statistics: 54 catches, 592 yards receiving, 3 touchdowns
When the Falcons wanted to jump up to the No. 22 spot, Les Snead and Jeff Fisher were willing to move back because they felt like their guy would still be there at No. 30. And boy were they right. Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree was a pre-draft favorite of the Rams, so they were targeting him all along with their second first-round selection.
St. Louis has seemingly ignored the outside linebacker position for years now, which made the Ogletree pick a perfect fit. Even though he played inside linebacker at Georgia, the Rams felt his size, speed and athletic ability was better suited on the outside in their defense.
With Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick in the NFC West, Ogletree will be asked to track and contain both players to the best of his ability. Moreover, I could also see St. Louis use him as a blitzer off the edge.
2013 Projected Statistics: 78 total tackles, 3 quarterback sacks, 1 forced fumble
After moving back in the first round, the Dallas Cowboys seemed to be targeting interior offensive line help, presumably at center and offensive guard. Unfortunately for them, all of the quality Day 1 interior offensive linemen had already been selected prior to the 31st pick.
So what did they do? They panicked and reached for a player who had no business going in the first round.
By no means do I think Travis Frederick is a bad player; I just think he would have been available two rounds later.
Dallas was looking to replace Phil Costa in the worst way. Costa will battle with Frederick for the starting center spot, but he'll probably lose out for the simple fact that Jerry Jones wants the newly signed rookie on the field.
I often wonder if Jones has become the new Al Davis...
2013 Projected Statistics: 8 starts at center, 3 quarterback sacks allowed
There's no better way to say it than this: Matt Elam to the Baltimore Ravens at the end of Round 1 was an absolute steal.
After letting go of Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, it was expected that the Ravens would make a play for one of the draft's top safeties.
Elam will step in right away and handle the duties at strong safety while Michael Huff does his thing at free safety. The University of Florida product is a very instinctive player who plays fast and physical—three traits Baltimore looks for in a potential safety.
I fully expect Elam to be one of the higher-graded safeties by season's end. To me, he looked like one of the most pro-ready safeties in this year's draft class.
2013 Projected Statistics: 82 total tackles, 2 interceptions, 7 passes defended