The 2013 NFL draft is just days away (April 25-27), and the excitement over where star players will land and what each team’s best-case scenario will be has become the talk of the league.
Each franchise will be looking to make improvements during the draft, and each of the following selections would be the perfect scenario for every pick in the first round.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
The Kansas City Chiefs have the easiest pick in the 2013 draft, as Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel fits a long-term area of need and is the consensus No. 1 overall selection. Even new head coach Andy Reid can’t screw this up.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
The Jacksonville Jaguars invested a first-round pick on Blaine Gabbert in 2011, but with mediocre play in his two years in the NFL, the franchise should look to make a seismic splash on draft day by taking the best quarterback available this season, West Virginia’s Geno Smith.
3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Oakland Raiders are looking to change the culture of their franchise, and in the first round, the team must take a player with the right attitude, work ethic and skill set to become a star in any system the coaching staff will run over the next five-to-10 years.
That’s where Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd steps in and becomes the defensive leader and game-changer the organization has been desperate to find for years.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
The Philadelphia Eagles transition to a 3-4 defensive scheme under new head coach Chip Kelly calls for an elite pass-rushing outside linebacker. If Oregon’s Dion Jordan is there at No. 4, Kelly and the Eagles will have no problem selecting his former player.
5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Detroit Lions had serious issues in the secondary in 2012—ranked 14th overall allowing 223.1 yards per game—but the addition of a potential shut-down cornerback like Alabama’s Dee Milliner should be a no-brainer at No. 5.
6. Cleveland Browns: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU
After addressing the lack of a pass rush by signing free-agent outside linebacker Paul Kruger, the Cleveland Browns will once again address their biggest offseason need by drafting promising defensive end Ezekiel Ansah.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Arizona Cardinals' top offseason priority was improving at quarterback. Once the team traded for veteran Carson Palmer, the franchise’s biggest need became protecting that investment, and they will address it by selecting Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher.
8. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Buffalo Bills will hope that Geno Smith falls to No. 8 overall, but when he is selected much earlier, the team should take the next best QB in the 2013 class—USC’s Matt Barkley—as the future of the franchise.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
The New York Jets should be taking the best pure football player available at No. 9. With that in mind, the best prospect that should be on the board would be LSU’s outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Despite a heart condition discovered at the NFL Scouting Combine, the Tennessee Titans need serious help at defensive tackle. If the team clears Utah’s Star Lotulelei medically, he would be a game-changer in Tennessee.
11. San Diego Chargers: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The San Diego Chargers lost guard Louis Vasquez via free agency, and with the need for a viable replacement, the franchise will be forced to draft his replacement with the best interior lineman in the 2013 draft class, Alabama’s Chance Warmack.
12. Miami Dolphins: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Miami Dolphins made a serious splash this offseason via free agency, but while the team made strides forward, there were several losses that must be addressed.
The biggest was watching former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long leave and sign with the St. Louis Rams. Now the Dolphins must address that need with the No. 12 overall pick in 2013.
After a rush on offensive tackles in the top 10, the best player available that could slide in as a starter at either right or left tackle would be Oklahoma standout Lane Johnson.
13. New York Jets (via Buccaneers): Damontre Moore, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
After making a trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis (h/t Adam Schefter), the New York Jets will stay on the defensive side of the ball and take Texas A&M pass-rusher Damontre Moore. The former college star will be the perfect complement to the team’s pick at No. 9, Barkevious Mingo.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Carolina Panthers struggled at times defensively against the pass and the run in 2012, and head coach Ron Rivera realizes that he must improve in the trenches to make a difference. That’s why the team will select Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to make an instant impact.
15. New Orleans Saints: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The New Orleans Saints were the worst defensive team in the NFL last season, but the possible addition of a rough defensive end prospect like Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is the kind of project that could turn into one of the biggest steals of this draft.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
It is clear that Sam Bradford is the St. Louis Rams' long-term answer at quarterback, so adding weapons around him to make his job easier is the right move for the franchise. While there are questions associated with Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, his talent is undeniable.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The Pittsburgh Steelers understand that safety Troy Polamalu will not be the teams answer for very much longer, and the chance to draft a talented prospect like Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro that can learn under the Pro-Bowl defensive back would be a dream for the franchise.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G/C, North Carolina
The Dallas Cowboys have to make strides to improve both the rushing and passing attacks, and the best way to make a drastic change would be by drafting an interior lineman that can make an instant impact like North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper.
19. New York Giants: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The New York Giants continued to struggle in the secondary in 2012, and while there are several other areas of need as well, the talent of former Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes will be too much for the team to pass on at No. 19 overall.
20. Chicago Bears: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Chicago Bears are obviously experiencing serious turnover at middle linebacker—allowing Brian Urlacher to walk via free agency—and with the need for a new leader on defense, the natural fit for a replacement would be Notre Dame’s Manti Te'o.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Cincinnati Bengals should be looking for a player to be a complement to star wide receiver A.J. Green, and if West Virginia’s all-around offensive threat Tavon Austin falls all the way to No. 21, the Bengals will steal Percy Harvin-lite.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Redskins): John Cyprien, S, FIU
The St. Louis Rams have solid cornerbacks, but the lack of elite play from the safety positions last year has the team’s second first-round pick already mapped out. If FIU’s John Cyprien is still on the board, the talented prospect will be the perfect fit for Jeff Fisher and the Rams.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
Of all the team’s that must find a great pick in the first round, the Minnesota Vikings already have a team full of talent and could become a legitimate threat in the NFC North if both picks pan out as predicted.
After trading wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for a plethora of picks—including the No. 25 overall pick in 2013—and signing free agent Greg Jennings, the turbulent offseason at wide receiver for Minnesota is far from over.
Expect the franchise to add another WR in the first round, with Cal’s Keenan Allen having the raw skill and talent to become the long-term solution for the Vikings.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Indianapolis Colts were 21st in the NFL last season allowing 236.8 yards per game, but the addition of a potential star like former Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant is the kind of long-term solution the franchise is looking for in the secondary.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seahawks): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The Minnesota Vikings need a long-term answer at middle linebacker, and when Georgia standout and natural-born leader Alec Ogletree falls to No. 25, this pick will be one of the easiest in this draft.
26. Green Bay Packers: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The need to protect quarterback Aaron Rodgers should be the Packers' top offseason priority, and the Green Bay Packers should select Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker if he falls to the latter stages of the first round.
27. Houston Texans: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Houston Texans already have an impressive pass rush led by defensive end J.J. Watt, but since the departure of Mario Williams, the team has lacked an elite outside linebacker. If Georgia’s Jarvis Jones falls this far, the Texans will be the luckiest team of 2013.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The Denver Broncos spent the offseason upgrading the offense—adding wide receiver Wes Welker and guard Louis Vasquez—but on draft day, the team will start addressing its defensive needs by selecting defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins from Ohio State.
29. New England Patriots: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
While the New England Patriots have several solid running backs on the roster already, the addition of Alabama’s Eddie Lacy to the tandem of Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen would give the franchise a running game as equally as impressive as its passing attack.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Despite Tony Gonzalez returning to the team for one more season, the Atlanta Falcons must think long term and draft his eventual replacement. Atlanta should take the best TE available at No. 30, and that will likely be Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
The San Francisco 49ers lost the Super Bowl, but with several smart offseason moves and the possible selection of defensive tackle Jesse Williams of Alabama at No. 31, the team would be even better than it was in 2012.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
The loss of both Ray Lewis (retired) and Dannell Ellerbe (free agency) has left an undeniable void at inside linebacker for the defending champion Baltimore Ravens. With the final pick of the first round, the franchise will select the best all-around MLB, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown.