Each year in the NFL draft, players with the talent to be selected early on will fall to a later pick for a variety of reasons.
Last year, Doug Martin, David DeCastro and Dont'a Hightower all fell either past their earlier projections or where they finished in terms of 2012 NFL production, and made the teams that selected them look like geniuses when the other shoe dropped after the completion of the 2012 NFL regular season.
This year, the 2013 NFL draft will likely have much of the same designation for some players, especially with this year's crop of talent devoid of any elite offensive skill position players and with many teams not wanting to reach for a QB.
Conversely, there's more defensive line talent in the first round than ever before, and teams will have the ability to choose between three or four options at any given position along the defensive line—even franchises that sit late in the first round will have that capability.
Players are going to get overlooked—it never fails to happen.
Note: Players that qualify under the "overlooked" category will be characterized like THIS*.
1. Kansas City Chiefs — OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A
The Chiefs won't overlook Joeckel, and they would be wise to make him one of their bookend tackles for the next 10 years or so with this pick. Popular consensus dictates that Kansas City take a QB to revitalize the franchise, but an offensive tackle like Joeckel would be a quality (if unflashy) selection to start the Andy Reid era off right.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars — DE Damontre Moore, Texas A
Moore has an extremely high ceiling as a pass rusher, something the Jaguars need more of in bulk fashion. With his high motor and athleticism sure to be on full display at the NFL combine, it appears the Jags will have a choice of whatever defender they think best fits in Jacksonville.
3. Oakland Raiders — DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Without Moore on the board, Werner is the next best pass-rusher of the lot and is arguably more ready to play than the man taken right in front of him. You never know what kind of move Oakland will make once draft day gets closer, but Werner is a stud who can start right away along the defensive line.
4. Philadelphia Eagles — OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Fisher continues to rise up draft boards after a standout performance at the Senior Bowl. He lands here because Chip Kelly needs an offensive tackle, especially after the team cut ties with Demetress Bell on Wednesday. Fisher has four years of college experience and has two more opportunities to wow scouts. No. 4 is the highest that he will go, but there're plenty of teams in the 8-15 range that will snatch him up if he falls that far.
5. Detroit Lions — CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
The Lions could use this pick for OLB Jarvis Jones or OLB Alec Ogletree, but Milliner is as close to a sure thing as there is in this draft. He gave the Notre Dame receivers fits in the National Championship game, and there're enough holes on the Detroit defense that management could justify nearly any position player that provides an immediate impact.
6. Cleveland Browns — DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Mingo is the best pass-rusher on the board, and the Browns are in need of a spark on the defensive side of the ball. With Milliner gone, Mingo makes the most sense here, unless the Browns want to take a chance on Star Lotulelei.
7. Arizona Cardinals — QB Geno Smith, West Virginia*
Smith automatically qualifies as a candidate to be overlooked in the draft, specifically because there are those that don't feel he is worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.
Although the tendency to place a Robert Griffin III label on the West Virginia QB is certainly there, the way he cooled off down the stretch of the 2012 season brought some issues to light that have started to cloud his status as the clear-cut choice as the No. 1 QB.
The way rookie QBs performed in 2012 in the NFL might make Smith a Top 5 pick, but avoiding crippling a franchise might make teams more hesitant to draft him based on potential alone (Jacksonville can attest to that with Blaine Gabbert).
With all that in mind, I'm leaning on the side of caution when it comes to Smith and placing him here with the Cardinals. It's a great fit for both sides, but it would still be an overlook in the minds of scouts and draft experts.
8. Buffalo Bills — QB Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson had a great showing at the pro day, and there are some (Draftek and B/R's own Scott Carasik included) that feel Wilson should be a higher selection than Smith:
Scott Carasik @CarasikS
The more I think about it, the more I believe Tyler Wilson, not Geno Smith goes #1 overall. However, Geno shouldn't make it past 3.2013-2-5 18:51:38
That being said, Wilson is a great fit with the Bills if the team decides to address the defense in Round 2, as they can be patient with him during his first season while giving Ryan Fitzpatrick one more chance.
9. New York Jets — DT Star Lotulelei, Utah*
If Lotulelei drops to No. 9, it would be an absolute steal for the Jets. He's the highest graded player on Scout Inc's Big Board, and it would be a major drop if he got out of the top three picks in this year's draft.
With the position so loaded and teams at the top of the first round confident they can make a splash with a DT early in Round 2, don't be surprised to see Lotulelei drop past some teams at the top and down near the Jets and Tennessee Titans.
10. Tennessee Titans — DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
The Titans might wrangle a trade for Lotulelei if they see him drop past No. 7, but if not, they could find a similar talent in Richardson, who had 75 tackles for the Tigers in 2012. Tennessee was horrendous against the run in 2012, and Richardson would be a good player to help reverse that trend.
11. San Diego Chargers — OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
The Chargers' most pressing need is along the offensive line, and with Joeckel and Fisher both off the board, Warmack is easily the best lineman left on the board. D.J. Fluker and Lane Johnson could be in play here at No. 11, but Warmack is the better, safer pick.
12. Miami Dolphins — DE Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jordan continues to shoot up draft boards, and some mocks have him going as high as No. 6 to the Cleveland Browns. The versatile defensive lineman would be a great pass-rushing find for the Fins, but they could also choose to give Ryan Tannehill an impact WR with this pick.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
If the board looks this way when Tampa Bay picks, I think the choice is between whichever corner best suits what the TB scouts have decided upon. Rhodes is a big, physical corner that would help ease the transition period if CB Ronde Barber decides to retire.
14. Carolina Panthers — WR Terrance Williams, Baylor
Williams makes a ton of sense for the Panthers here, mainly because he's a big, physical target that also has 4.4 caliber speed. Playing in a spread offense with Baylor in college, he'd fit right in with Carolina's read-option looks and wide formations around QB Cam Newton.
15. New Orleans Saints — DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
Switching to the 3-4 base defense, the Saints will need new players along the defensive line. Hankins (6'3", 317 pounds) provides the versatility to be on the field as a DE in the 3-4 and also as a DT in the nickel package. There's a number of DT's that New Orleans could target, but Hankins is physical and gets good push against the run—one of NO's biggest weaknesses in 2012.
16. St. Louis Rams — SS Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Some have the Rams taking an offensive skill player here, but I think the team needs of safety and offensive lineman will well outweigh taking someone flashy at No. 16. Vaccaro might be a stretch here, but he's a hard-hitting safety with decent coverage skills, and is listed by many as the best safety in this draft. Jeff Fisher would have the makings of an impressive secondary with Vaccaro on board.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers — DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The defensive line looked sluggish at times in 2012, and Ansah is a pure athleticism guy who can get to the passer and be molded into a run-stopper. His raw gifts make him a bit of a gamble in the first round, but Pittsburgh usually does plenty of homework on its draft picks and would have a nice piece going forward with Ansah.
18. Dallas Cowboys — DT Kawann Short, Purdue
Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff are likely gone, the 'Boys are switching back to the 4-3 base defense and this is a position the team will undoubtedly address in free agency. Short and say, Henry Melton, would be a nice tandem as Dallas tries to rebuild its defensive line for the switch.
19. New York Giants — TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
Martellus Bennett is iffy to return, and the Giants chose to ignore TE in the 2012 draft. Ertz has been a high-riser on draft boards after an impressive second half of the 2012 season, and would be a quality security blanket for Eli Manning in a year or so.
20. Chicago Bears — OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Johnson, like Fisher, made some heads turn at the Senior Bowl. A former QB that made the switch to OL at Oklahoma, Johnson has some raw athleticism that made him an impact player protecting QB Landry Jones. Jay Cutler was running for his life in 2012, and Johnson would help that issue go away in Chicago.
21. Cincinnati Bengals — OLB Jarvis Jones, Georgia*
Jones is the biggest overlook in the first round, and that's fine with the Bengals, who picked up Vontaze Burfict in last year's draft period after no one wanted to take a chance on the OLB.
Injury concerns stemming from his time at USC are still floating around, but on the surface, Jones is a dominating player at times and is rated as one of the best overall prospects in this year's class.
It's hard to imagine him dropping this far in the draft, but I have a feeling most teams will be concerned with their defensive lines and offensive lines before they will be worried about taking an OLB, hence the drop. If he does fall to the Bengals, it makes the defense look even more promising for 2013.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) — OG Johnathan Cooper, North Carolina
With Warmack off the board, St. Louis elects to go after Cooper, clearly the next-best guard in the draft. He had a fine career at UNC and would be a good plug player right away as St. Louis begins to reap the benefits of the RG3 trade in 2013.
23. Minnesota Vikings — WR Keenan Allen, California-Berkeley
If Williams gets past the Panthers, the Vikings will pick him up without any hesitation. However, Allen is a good receiver that many have rated as the best in the class, and his combine appearance will help solidify where he lands in the early rounds.
24. Indianapolis Colts — RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama
I know the Colts love Vick Ballard, and rightly so, but Lacy would make Donald Brown expendable and form one of the best young backfields in all of the NFL. Most good teams employ two RBs, and Lacy would do just that for Andrew Luck and company.
Still, it's an unpopular thought process with so many other needs—specifically along the D-line. I could see the Colts trading this pick away and waiting for their preferred target drop later down in the selection process.
25. Seattle Seahawks — WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson is explosive on the outside, and adding him to an offense that lacks a clear big-play threat is downright scary. He's raw, but his pure talent is enough to gamble on—just like Bruce Irvin and Bobby Wagner in 2012.
26. Green Bay Packers — S Matt Elam, Florida
The Packers could choose to go RB with this pick or to upgrade along the offensive line, but there're holes in the secondary, too. Charles Woodson could be on his way out, and Elam is the kind of safety that will provide depth and youth to a team that had a down year on defense last season.
27. Houston Texans — WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
The pick here is going to be a receiver, and Patton is one of the receivers that falls right in the range in which Houston is going to pick. Robert Woods, Markus Wheaton and Justin Hunter are all options at this stage of the board, but Patton has separated himself some after a great Senior Bowl.
28. Denver Broncos — DT Johnathan Jenkins, Georgia*
Jenkins might be the best DT that no one is talking about. However, concerns about his work ethic and character have been making the rounds after he was ineligible to participate in the Bulldogs' bowl game this year.
Still, Denver needs help along that line, and Jenkins is the perfect fit. At 6'4" and close to 360 pounds, Jenkins is a force that will fit right in with whatever team decides to make him their selection. He might get overlooked for some of the bigger names, but Jenkins is a sure-fire first round pick.
29. New England Patriots — WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
The only way this pick will change for me is if the Patriots end up trading down or if Austin isn't there when they select. With Wes Welker due for free agency, Julian Edelman injured for most of 2012 and Danny Woodhead seemingly unlikely to return, Austin steps in as the new-age slotback that Tom Brady will quickly love throwing the ball to.
30. Atlanta Falcons — TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez hasn't decided his fate for 2013. Either way, the Falcons need to find his replacement. Eifert is a pass-catching stud from Notre Dame, and he'll benefit from early playing time or the tutelage of Gonzalez—whatever the Hall of Famer decides is a win-win for the Falcons.
31. San Francisco 49ers — S Eric Reid, LSU
Dashon Goldson is reportedly asking for a monster deal (h/t ESPN), and the 49ers might not be so keen to oblige after a rough postseason for the secondary. Reid could be a good fit for the Niners, especially if they decide to part ways with Goldson.
32. Baltimore Ravens — ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame*
For whatever reason, Te'o seems poised to slip this year. The personal saga aside, he didn't look like a first-rounder against Alabama as the Tide offensive line ate him up in certain spots.
In other spots, he failed to make tackles against the Alabama backfield, and overall, he didn't look like the same player that led countless goal line stands during the Irish's 12-0 start to the season.
Still, with the Ravens needing a replacement for Ray Lewis and Te'o still a top-tier prospect, this looks like a match made in NFL heaven. If Te'o falls this far, he'll be a big steal, and will also finish out the first round as one of the most overlooked prospects in the class.
Other Notable Overlooks
DE Sam Montgomery, LSU
DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
LB Kevin Minter, LSU
OL Barrett Jones, Alabama