Playmakers are always an exciting selection during the NFL draft.
As for 2013, there are definitely going to be a few selected in Round 1 this April.
It's also a rather weak quarterback draft by comparison to 2012, so that only increases the demand for big-time receivers, sack masters and guys that constantly generate turnovers.
Just as we saw in Super Bowl XLVII, turnovers and big plays significantly impacted the result. And in the end a game-changer is a distinct competitive advantage on Sundays and Mondays.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
The Chiefs obviously need a quarterback.
And although free agency is an option, Geno Smith in the draft also suffices. His decision making alone will pay dividends and Kansas City can begin to rebuild under center.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Jacksonville recorded a dismal 20 sacks in 2012 and only 12 interceptions. The Jaguars also gave up a 63.7 completion percentage and an average of 4.1 yards per rushing attempt.
As expected, the defense must find a playmaker and Jarvis Jones is an excellent pick.
For one, the immediate development of Von Miller gives promise to a rush linebacker in a 4-3 front. Secondly, Jones possesses just as much potential as he accounted for 28 sacks, nine forced fumbles and six defended passes the past two seasons.
With the athleticism to quickly close running lanes, fill gaps and track down from the backside, Jacksonville will get better against the run. Jones will also apply constant quarterback pressure and is capable of jamming tight ends and receivers at the line.
By forcing fumbles and accumulating sacks, the Jaguars get an important upgrade in their front seven.
3, Oakland Raiders: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
Oakland managed just 25 sacks in 2012 and allowed an average of 4.3 yards per rush.
Bjoern Werner, though, is a complete defender capable of controlling the edge, getting pressure and knocking down quick passes. His instincts immediately get the Raiders' front seven back on track.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
They kicked off the annual deluge of offseason roster moves Wednesday by releasing tackle Demetress Bell.
Bell's release did not come as a surprise. Signed to replace the injured Jason Peters, Bell was a terrible fit and started in only five games. The Eagles trimmed $9.6 million from their 2013 salary cap by cutting Bell.
Joeckel's reliability as a pass-blocker and athleticism to extend running lanes takes Philly's offense to the explosive level we expect.
5. Detroit Lions: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Roughly one week ago the Lions released veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, per Adam Schefter of ESPN:
So, selecting Joeckel's defensive teammate in Damontre Moore refills the void in Detroit's front seven. Moore is a technically sound defender against the run and will be a great complement to Ndamukong Suh.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
With a promising front seven in place, Cleveland really bolsters its defense with Dee Milliner.
He's acutely aware in coverage and isn't afraid to bolt downhill to help against the run. The Browns need a complement to Joe Haden in the secondary, and Milliner helps Cleveland generate more turnovers and defend better inside the red zone.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Arizona can certainly reach for a quarterback here or trade up to potentially land Geno Smith.
But with a solid group of playmaking receivers, more dependable pass protection is required. Chance Warmack is a force on the interior and he'll polish running lanes to create balance. In short, the Cardinals then present a more respectable play-action and the passing attack improves.
8. Buffalo Bills: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Buffalo allowed an average of five yards per rush in 2012 and recorded a mere 12 interceptions. This is because of an underachieving defensive line at controlling the trenches.
Nevertheless, Dion Jordan is an excellent pass-rusher opposite Mario Williams, and possesses the size and quickness to dominate the run. As a result, Buffalo gets more pressure, closes better against the run and forces more turnovers.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
Along with aging linebackers, the Jets have to field a more consistent pass rush and run defense.
Barkevious Mingo obviously brings the youth, but also the versatility to contribute as a defensive end. His acceleration and lateral agility will squeeze the edges and dart into the backfield to fast quarterback pressure.
Just don't anticipate him getting asked to drop into coverage that often from the beginning.
10. Tennessee Titans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Without question the Titans have to defend better against the run; however, the front seven proved to apply solid pressure in 2012 with 39 sacks.
Unfortunately the coverage gave up 31 passing touchdowns. Thus enter Johnthan Banks, who is capable of shutting down in man coverage and reacting fast in zone. Not to mention his field awareness will help against the run.
11. San Diego Chargers: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
San Diego isn't going to get its offense back on track without reliable pass protection.
Well, Eric Fisher is the perfect answer.
Given his size, Fisher is a great athlete and moves quickly from side to side. Having excellent balance and a base when pass-blocking, Fisher will wall off the edge against some of pro football's best rushers.
12. Miami Dolphins: Keenan Allen, WR (California)
A big deep-threat receiver is one missing piece to the Miami Dolphins' offensive puzzle.
Keenan Allen brings the size and explosive leap to the position, and Ryan Tannehill will develop even faster. Miami already has solid receiving targets in play with Davone Bess and tight end Anthony Fasano, so getting Allen nearly completes the offense.
Against weak coverage teams the Dolphins hold a competitive edge inside the red zone and when backed up near their goal line. Having caught 98 passes for 1,343 yards in 2011, Allen was expected to echo that performance in 2012.
Unfortunately, he was injured in late October, per Connor Byrne of the Daily Californian:
Allen apparently injured his left PCL during an onside kick against Utah last week, and will be sidelined for 2-3 weeks.
Allen is still the draft's top receiver, though, because he runs fluid routes and is reliable over the middle and in traffic. Miami has to get more from its passing game in 2013 for a playoff run, so taking Allen ensures more opportunities to score touchdowns when needed.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Star Lotulelei dropping this far is surprising, but there's plenty of other talent worthy of the top 10 as well. So, Tampa Bay gets a gem at No. 13 overall.
Despite the Bucs' success against the run in 2012, they didn't have much of a pass rush. Lotulelei will draw double-teams to free up the edge defenders and the improved rush takes pressure off the suspect coverage.
The end results are more generated turnovers and fewer passing touchdowns given up.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
Carolina needs to get more physical against the run, and Sheldon Richardson is a great fit.
Richardson will be surrounded by other solid front seven players in Luke Kuechly and Charles Johnson, so more playmaking opportunities occur. Additionally, Richardson's pass-rushing skill set is an awesome counterbalance for the Panthers in a pass-first division.
15. New Orleans Saints: Johnathan Hankins, DT (Ohio State)
New Orleans desperately must find a way to improve against the run for next season.
Giving up 5.2 yards per rush, the Saints' inability to control up front cost them against physical offenses. Adding Johnathan Hankins easily solves this issue, because the guy has a knack for getting into the backfield.
And that consistency will draw double-teams, which allows the edge defenders to apply better quarterback pressure.
16. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
The NFC West is an extremely physical division. So, the Rams have to get a physical offensive lineman.
Jonathan Cooper is just that, because he steamrolls downfield to extend running lanes and possesses reliable awareness when pass-blocking. St. Louis becomes a more balanced offense and an NFC playoff contender.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Pittsburgh is old in the front seven and must find youth to replenish age.
Ezekiel Ansah is a dynamic edge player who can contribute at defensive end or outside linebacker. The Steelers also uncharacteristically lacked their typical pass rush in 2012. So, adding a stud defender of Ansah's size and athleticism bodes well for making a postseason run.
18. Dallas Cowboys: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
Failing in the trenches defensively again cost Dallas another shot at the postseason.
Selecting a defensive tackle in John Jenkins, though, will quickly turn the Cowboys around. Jenkins' size will clog running lanes across the line and will draw double-teams. He's also a better interior pass-rusher than given credit, which is a great complement to DeMarcus Ware.
19. New York Giants: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
Eli Manning had the luxury of excellent pass protection throughout 2012.
The Giants, however, are also aging up front and still face excellent pass-rushers within the NFC East. Drafting Lane Johnson takes care of the future for Manning's protection and we'll see the ground game return to its effective dependability.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Yes, the Bears need a new offensive line, but Jay Cutler also needs a playmaking tight end.
Last season Chicago ranked No. 24 in red-zone touchdown percentage (50 percent) and still finished 10-6. Most definitely was that early success largely from the defense, but the offense did average 4.2 yards per rushing attempt as well.
So, selecting Tyler Eifert brings in a big target for Cutler and will astronomically improve the Bears' red-zone offense. Eifert has proven to beat double coverage and gained 1,488 receiving yards between 2011 and 2012 with Tommy Rees and Everett Golson as his quarterbacks.
He is an awesome complement to Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and Eifert will always face man-to-man. Count his run-blocking ability and the Bears offense will move more efficiently next season.
The issue was not scoring touchdowns when in scoring position. Eifert changes all that as he completes the receiving corps.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Kenny Vacccaro, Safety (Texas)
The Bengals may have ranked No. 8 in overall third down defense, but they were third in the AFC North.
Unsurprisingly, that came back to bite Cincinnati in the postseason.
Fortunately the Bengals do field a sound pass rush and run defense to build on next season. Selecting Kenny Vaccaro brings the needed youth to the secondary, but also a guy capable of playing fast at the intermediate level and not allowing many yards after the catch.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
The next pick for St. Louis in Round 1 significantly boosts the offense.
Cordarrelle Patterson has deep-threat potential and is a red-zone advantage courtesy of excellent leaping ability. With Cooper polishing running lanes, play-action becomes relevant and Patterson never faces double coverage.
Plus, the more Patterson can stretch defenses, the better St. Louis establishes more consistent ball control and balance.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Terrance Williams: WR (Baylor)
Upgrading the passing attack is needed for the Vikings. A fast and explosive receiver in Terrance Williams is a perfect fit, because he'll enhance the production of Adrian Peterson.
Defenses will be stacking the box against Peterson, so play-action from there will allow for big-play chances to Williams downfield. The outcome will then be fewer defenders loading the box against Peterson.
It won't occur as consistently with a deep receiving threat and Christian Ponder's mobility. Williams also average 16.2 yards per catch in 2011 with Kendall Wright part of Baylor's offense. So, the 2012 campaign was going to be a true challenge for Williams to maintain explosive consistency.
There, he averaged 18.9 yards per reception and scored 12 times on 97 snags.
By producing more with less talent around him, Williams proved to be a reliable No. 1 target. And his impact on Minnesota creates greater balance to move the chains efficiently.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Indianapolis has two aging edge defenders in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Sooner or later the Colts must address youth here and Alex Okafor fits nicely.
Because he possesses great strength and instincts, Okafor will produce at defensive end or outside 'backer. The Colts need a more impacting pass rush and certainly a tougher front against the run. Okafor helps with each area and brings the knack for controlling his gap at a solid rate.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sam Montgomery, DE (LSU)
“We need another pass rusher,” Carroll said. “We really do. That’s why we went out and got Jason (Jones) last year. And we’re going to have to double it up. We need a couple of guys.”
Well, enter Sam Montgomery, who has the speed and acceleration to dart off the edge and create backfield havoc. He'll be a strong add to the rotation and give Seattle a significant advantage in passing situations.
Given the collective talent on Seattle's defense, Montgomery will transition easily and develop more against the run.
26. Green Bay Packers: Barrett Jones, Center (Alabama)
The long-time Indianapolis Colts center announced his intention to retire after 14 seasons today during an appearance on 1070 The Fan.
“We’ll finish it with sunsets in Hawaii and call it a much better career than I would have anticipated,” Saturday said on the “Grady and Big Joe Show.”
This makes the need for a center much greater for Green Bay. Barrett Jones is a versatile lineman and Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times last regular season. Include Jones' skill set as a run-blocker and the Packers get more physical in 2013.
27. Houston Texans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Although the Texans gave up only a 53 completion percentage, they were torched against better quarterbacks in 2012. In the end, that cost Houston a deeper run in the playoffs.
On the other hand, that ineptitude also makes Xavier Rhodes more appealing. Presenting great size for a cornerback, Rhodes has the physical tools capable of pressing receivers at the line and squeezing the edge against the run.
He's not a turnover machine, but Rhodes' field awareness will blanket against the better passing offenses.
28. Denver Broncos: Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
For certain the Broncos would improve defensively by going with a corner or safety at No. 28 overall.
That said, Alec Ogletree provides a pass rush complement to Von Miller from the linebacker position. Ogletree is also well-versed against the pass, so the intermediate level will be sealed. Later in the draft Denver can address the secondary, as it's filled with solid mid-round prospects.
29. New England Patriots: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Once again the lack of a pass defense ruined the Patriots' hopes for another chance at a Super Bowl. Taking Matt Elam quickly assists New England's secondary, which was eviscerated by Joe Flacco despite rough weather conditions.
Elam possesses the wherewithal in coverage and isn't afraid to attack downhill against the run. His athleticism also helps for filling zones as the linebackers blitz. Combine his speed and instincts and the Pats see a great improvement from their secondary.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jesse Williams, DT (Alabama)
Atlanta must spruce up its run defense to make a Super Bowl run.
After allowing 4.8 yards per rush in the regular season, the Falcons gave up 4.7 per attempt in the postseason. Taking Jesse Williams at the back end of Round 1 simply turns Atlanta around for the better.
His toughness and brute force will stifle blockers at the line and constrict running lanes immediately. Williams is also a sound pass-rusher and brings the talent to win one-on-one-situations.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
It's quite easy to overlook a defensive tackle as a playmaker. But that's exactly what Kawann Short provides to the 49ers.
The man is a constant menace in the backfield for opponents, as Short amassed 45 tackles for loss, 19.5 sacks and 14 defended passes from 2010 through 2012. San Francisco isn't young along the defensive front either, because Justin Smith will be 34 years old next season and Isaac Sopoaga will be 32.
Short appears undersized for the position, but he possesses the quickness and tenacity to impact as a 3-4 defensive end or 4-3 defensive tackle. Plus, he is a physical player that dominated in a physical conference.
The transition to an NFL division in the NFC West suits nicely, as it's run by tough defenses. And the 49ers need Short to sustain their longevity as Super Bowl contenders.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Manti Te’o, LB (Notre Dame)
Next up is filling that void to keep the defense dominating. Manti Te'o is the perfect solution, because the Ravens have the talent around to speed up his development process.
Te'o also plays well with instincts and has immensely improved against the pass. He's quick to the point of attack within the box, and that limited role of responsibilities will make him effective inside.