The 2012 NFL draft has had a consensus No. 1 overall pick for an entire year already. Despite the lack of uncertainty at the top, the remainder of the selections will provide the excitement that football addicts require to tide them over until the fall.
The draft will be heavy on quarterbacks with Matt Barkley, Landry Jones and Robert Griffin III close behind Andrew Luck. Considering the proliferation of passing offenses over the last few years, plenty of these signal-callers will hear their name on Thursday night.
Also, note that the structured pay scale in place will allow teams to draft a little more creatively than before. Teams will not be limited to selecting offensive tackles and quarterbacks with their top pick now that the investment is somewhat limited.
No suspense here. The consensus best quarterbacking prospect of the last decade begins his NFL journey with the Indianapolis Colts.
The Colts must now determine how to handle the awkward transition from Peyton Manning to Luck. If Indianapolis' front office doesn't believe they can compete in the next year or two, they need to trade Manning to give Luck a chance.
The St. Louis Rams need to add weapons around Sam Bradford in order for him to mature into a consistent quarterback. Alshon Jeffery is the type of jump-ball receiver that helps ease a young quarterback's growing pains.
There are other holes on the roster that could be addressed here. The Rams are last against the run but any defensive tackle here would be a reach.
The Minnesota Vikings will (and should) consider either Matt Kalil or Jonathan Martin here but the correct choice is Morris Claiborne. The Vikings must consider the offenses they face a total of six times a year.
Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler are premier quarterbacks in a league heavily favored towards the passing game. Most recently successful teams have an elite playmaker in the secondary like Charles Woodson, Troy Polamalu or Ed Reed.
The Carolina Panthers will add another weapon to Cam Newton's arsenal and an heir apparent to Steve Smith.
Newton will appreciate Justin Blackmon's ability to conform himself to a pass and create big plays. At least for the next year or two, Carolina will be able to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally, creating a lot of space to cover for a defense.
Mike Shanahan is acutely aware that he does not have a quarterback. With Dan Snyder as his boss, he also understands that he can't delay finding one because his clock is ticking.
Landry Jones will take this spot with a great finish to the season but Matt Barkley's consistency (33 touchdowns against seven interceptions) will prove too valuable a commodity. Andy Dalton has shown the Cincinnati Bengals the type of immediate impact that an efficient rookie quarterback can have for a team.
Matt Moore has looked great during stretches of the Miami Dolphins' three-game winning streak but nobody believes he is the long-term answer. The new coaching staff will hitch its job security to Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones.
Miami is a more talented team than they have shown this year and are only a few pieces away from competing. Running back is a concern but it is too early to grab Alabama Crimson Tide running back Trent Richardson.
The Jacksonville Jaguars invested a first-round pick in quarterback Blaine Gabbert and need to keep him upright to have a chance at succeeding.
If either of the first two wide receivers fall to this spot, Jacksonville will happily grab whichever one is available. There should be some consideration of Michael Floyd but it will be too early and Kalil can anchor the line for the next decade.
An obvious pick would be Stanford Cardinal offensive tackle Jonathan Martin but the Arizona Cardinals should select Trent Richardson instead.
The easiest way to take the pressure off of the ridiculous investment made in Kevin Kolb would be to provide him a running game. Trent Richardson has an explosive burst and the power to instantly alter the Cardinals' reliance on Larry Fitzgerald.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have spent quite a few picks on the defensive line and now must turn to the secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick will provide a physical presence and allow the team to gracefully transition from the Ronde Barber era.
The Bucs should have a conversation about bringing in Michael Floyd. Additionally, they will avoid University of North Alabama product Janoris Jenkins because of the off-the-field issues of Aqib Talib.
Quinton Coples can provide a big, nasty pass rush opposite Chris Clemons. The Seattle Seahawks will finally have a legitimate strength in comparison to other teams.
Coples is 6'6" and 272 pounds but Pete Carroll will have to provide the proper motivation. His potential is high enough that Carroll will have no problem putting in the effort.
Luke Kuechly can fill an immediate need for the San Diego Chargers at inside linebacker. The Chargers have struggled mightily against the run while Kuechly has amassed 365 tackles the last two years.
The Chargers will have to rely on offensive tackle Marcus McNeill to rebound because Takeo Spike's age makes inside linebacker the most pressing issue on the roster.
The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled under the "Dream Team" label that the backup quarterback placed on them. A lot of that has to do with their lack of an offensive line.
The Eagles must protect $100 million man Michael Vick and Riley Reiff can bring stability to the line. He is a little more dependable than Jonathan Martin and can be plugged in right away.
The Kansas City Chiefs have their own investment in Matt Cassel that needs to be protected. Big tackle Jonathan Martin will go a long way towards keeping Cassel on the field.
The Chiefs have the wide receivers, tight end and running back necessary to be a successful offense. An improved offensive line would go a long way toward realizing that reality.
With only one true potential playmaker left on the board at wide receiver, the Cleveland Browns will jump at the selection of Michael Floyd.
The Browns will have one more first-round pick and will address other needs there. Cleveland may look at Robert Griffin III or Mark Barron in this slot as well.
The Tennessee Titans paid a large sum of money to running back Chris Johnson. His limited production is probably not a result of poor offensive line play but the Titans can eliminate that excuse.
The Titans will select the top interior lineman in Stanford Cardinal offensive guard David DeCastro. This move will put public pressure on Johnson to regain his form.
The New York Jets are in desperate need of a shot in the arm for their pass rush. Melvin Ingram has the explosive ability off the edge to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Courtney Upshaw is another possibility but the Jets will find Ingram's quickness too persuasive.
Former Florida Gator Janoris Jenkins has had some off-the-field issues in the past but his talent is immense. He could be the next great cover corner for the Denver Broncos, who must replace Champ Bailey soon.
The Broncos may try to move up and grab a top quarterback or settle for Robert Griffin III here.
The Buffalo Bills will find Marcell Dareus' running mate in Devon Still. The two should provide a stout interior defensive line for years to come.
With the premier offensive tackles and wide receivers already gone, the Bills would be wise to build a real advantage along their defensive line. Michigan State's Jerel Worthy could also make a late charge up the draft board as well.
The Oakland Raiders better be happy with Carson Palmer for the ransom the team paid for him. The Cincinnati Bengals will be all too thrilled to grab Alfonzo Dennard here.
The Bengals can pair him with Leon Hall (who will hopefully be fully recovered) for a devastating set of corners. Dennard isn't as electric as the other two corners previously taken but will be solid from his first day in Cincinnati.
The New York Giants must deal with DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy so a solid linebacking corps is necessary. Enter Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
Te'o will provide size on the inside and is capable of taking over a leadership role on the defense. The defensive line still has more than a few quality years left and an upgrade behind them will keep the Giants defense near the top of the league.
The Dallas Cowboys are making a late charge and will probably not be drafting this high. However, if Dallas can select Cordy Glenn, it will provide the team with a serious upgrade along the offensive line.
Glenn has the size to play anywhere along the line but would be ideal on the interior. Romo has had problems staying healthy and Glenn may be the best band-aid available.
The Cincinnati Bengals will continue their run on Big Ten defensive players and add Michigan State product Jerel Worthy. Some had Worthy projected as a top-10 pick earlier this year and he may end up being a steal this late in the draft.
Worthy has been picking up steam as the season has progressed. If he can carry the motivation of a slow start this year to next season, he will have an instant impact at the next level.
The Atlanta Falcons do not have a first-round selection after trading the farm for Julio Jones. The Cleveland Browns will continue the rebuilding process and grab Robert Griffin III in this spot.
The Browns still need a quarterback but the No. 14 would have been a bit too high for Griffin. Mike Holmgren has found his dynamic duo in Michael Floyd and Griffin.
The Pittsburgh Steelers really need to draft an offensive lineman but any of the available candidates would be a reach. Don't be shocked if they trade down a few more spots and pick up an extra selection.
However, the Steelers also need to inject some youth into the defense and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson would be a stout addition in the middle.
The New Orleans Saints originally held this pick but parted with it last year to draft Mark Ingram. Knowing the way Bill Belichick drafts, it wouldn't be surprising if the New England Patriots traded out of this spot.
Just in case, the Pats will select Mark Barron. New England released both of their safeties earlier this season and desperately need to address the position.
Again, it is doubtful that Bill Belichick keeps both first-round picks but he may understand that it is time to stockpile some defensive talent. Therefore, the New England Patriots will draft Ronnell Lewis.
The Pats have had a resurgent pass rush this year thanks to Andre Carter but he is an aging veteran. Additionally, Lewis will give Belichick the flexibility to return to the 3-4 defense he prefers.
Matt Schaub's injury means the Houston Texans will probably be drafting higher and might be able to grab one of the better defensive ends in that slot. However, Kendall Reyes would provide Wade Phillips with a versatile option along the defensive line.
The Texans may also reach for a safety here or trade down and pick one up later.
The Detroit Lions upgraded their linebacking corps last summer but the addition of Stephen Tulloch may only be a one-year union. Tulloch has indicated he would like to return but the Lions have many decisions to make and must pay Calvin Johnson soon.
Therefore, Courtney Upshaw will be a great pick at this point in the draft. He can provide much of what Tulloch does and will allow DeAndre Levy to stay outside.
Lance Briggs has been unhappy with the Chicago Bears' front office for years and may have finally worn out his welcome. The veteran linebacker still has decent trade value despite his advanced age (31).
The Bears will then turn to one of the most talented linebackers in the draft, Vontaze Burfict, to fill the void. Although he projects more as an inside 'backer, his speed will allow him to make an impact on the outside.
Also, he would provide insurance if Brian Urlacher's injury history arises again.
The Baltimore Ravens released safety-valve Todd Heap last offseason. Joe Flacco needs a tight end he can rely on and Dwayne Allen would provide just that.
However, the smartest play for the Ravens may be to trade up and grab either Courtney Upshaw or Vontaze Burfict.
If the San Francisco 49ers can re-sign Braylon Edwards, this pick may look different. Yet, the 49ers need to find more weapons for quarterback Alex Smith.
As the best receiver left on the board, Jim Harbaugh will roll the dice with Jeff Fuller. He isn't the biggest name in the draft but will be able to provide solid production opposite Michael Crabtree.
The Green Bay Packers have a few deficiencies that could be addressed in this spot, namely the offensive line or linebacking corps. Yet, the addition of an explosive running back like Lamar Miller will put the offense in an entirely different category.
Obviously, the offense is doing just fine but it can't hurt to ease some of the burden on Aaron Rodgers.