Not every NFL team gets what it wants in the annual draft, but the 2013 event is shaping up to be a no-lose situation for many franchises in Round 1.
With the exception of quarterback, this crop of talented prospects is loaded with depth at virtually every position. Even if front offices don't address their most pressing needs based on their positioning, odds are they will still pick up an outstanding player in the top-32.
The following mock of the first round highlights the best possible picks for each team, specifically focusing on selections that are liable to stir the most debate.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14): Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Thanks to the recent trade for former San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith, selecting a quarterback is out of the question. Joeckel is the best player on the board, and will immediately fill in at left tackle to protect Smith's blindside while also helping RB Jamaal Charles more easily get to the edge.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14): Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Another controversy-free selection here. New head coach Gus Bradley is enthusiastic and defensive-minded. Floyd has great speed and athleticism for his size. He will be able to line up anywhere on the Jags' defensive front and make an impact.
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
This isn't necessarily controversial, especially considering the Raiders' situation at the position. Carson Palmer is due to make $13 million in 2013, and Terrelle Pryor is far from a surefire face of the franchise. Smith ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, and could easily provide a spark for this floundering team with his combination of athleticism and football IQ.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12): Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon
This may be considered a little high by some, but the connection to new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is the deal-breaker. Barkevious Mingo is an even rawer prospect at this slot, and Jarvis Jones' spinal stenosis will likely scare the Eagles away.
5. Detroit Lions (4-12): Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions' secondary desperately needs help, and Milliner is there to save the day. He will fill in immediately as the No. 1 option. In a division filled with big-time receivers, a lot will be asked of the former Crimson Tide standout early. Thankfully, he'd have the opportunity to line up opposite Calvin Johnson in practice. Welcome to the NFL, rookie.
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11): Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Spinal stenosis is still a concern, but as Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, Jones checked out just fine at the combine:
I saw a lot of doctors (Saturday) and they weren’t too concerned about what they saw...They thought I was fine. I don’t know how the coaches feel about taking me, but I think I’m fine. I heard a lot of good news today, so I'm excited.
Jones should be excited, because a clean bill of health is all that's really keeping him from being selected near the top of the draft. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has Jones as his No. 1 player on the most recent big board, which was updated after the combine.
Despite the fact that Jones didn't even work out, the former Bulldogs star still garners that type of status from Kiper. Against the very best competition college football has to offer, Jones racked up 85 tackles and 14.5 sacks in 2012.
The Browns need a difference-maker on defense, and the new regime is very unlikely to trade back to acquire more assets. Jones' condition hasn't really been a concern in his four years at Georgia, and he would be an absolute force in defensive coordinator Ray Horton's attacking 3-4 scheme.
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11): Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The worst offensive line in football last season gets a massive upgrade. Rumors logged by NFL.com's Chris Wesseling suggest USC quarterback Matt Barkley is a strong candidate to be chosen here. The Cardinals would be better off waiting until 2014 to find a long-term QB answer. It's worth seeing how Kevin Kolb plays with better protection, given the heavy investment in him.
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Many believe that Hunter's Volunteer teammate Cordarrelle Patterson should be the first receiver off the board. However, it was a quietly impressive day at the NFL Scouting Combine for Hunter.
As Kevin Weidl of Scouts Inc. noted afterwards, Hunter's numbers across the board compared very favorably to those of Atlanta Falcons star Julio Jones in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap and broad jump.
There are also similarities between the two in the sense that Jones was considered a bit of a liability at catching the ball coming out of Alabama. So far, that hasn't really been the case in the pros, and Hunter showed no signs of butterfingers in the drills in front of scouts.
Another red flag is Hunter's torn ACL that he suffered at the beginning of 2011. It certainly didn't seem to bother him in his junior year at Tennessee, as he racked up 1083 yards receiving on 73 receptions and nine touchdowns.
If the Bills could stick the 6'4", 196-pound Hunter opposite Stevie Johnson, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick may suddenly start looking like a man worthy of $62 million.
9. New York Jets (6-10): Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
As unpolished as Mingo is, he has too much upside to fall out of the top-10. Rex Ryan will love to plug him into his 3-4 defense at outside linebacker. Especially with cuts to veterans Calvin Pace and Bart Scott, the position is a need even if the Jets do sign them back to less lucrative contracts.
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10): Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
A heart condition has created cause for concern about Lotulelei, who was hyped for much of the 2012 college football season as the best defensive tackle prospect. It's worth the risk for Tennessee, though, because the Titans couldn't stop the run or the pass last season. Lotulelei is a dynamic player who will command double-teams immediately and thus be an asset to the rest of the unit.
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9): Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The former quarterback definitely has the football IQ to play in the league, but his athleticism is what stands out the most. QB Phillip Rivers has endured two turnover-plagued campaigns without a playoff appearance, and Johnson gives him insurance up front.
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that former Steelers WR Mike Wallace is the Dolphins' top free-agent target. Even if that falls through, Miami could use another playmaker on the outside to build toward a prolific offense. It will be necessary to get past AFC East rival New England for the foreseeable future.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9): Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Forming a safety tandem of Mark Barron and Vaccaro would give the Bucs much-needed insurance in their secondary, which was last against the pass in 2012. The former Longhorn is a force against the run and has excellent coverage skills. GM Mark Dominik can address the CB position in Round 2.
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9): Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are sack machines on the edge, but the Panthers could use some help on the interior to stymie the opposition's running game. Richardson is extremely quick off the ball and has the fitness to play a ton of snaps early on in Carolina's rotation.
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9): Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Jonathan Vilma counts $8.6 against the cap in 2013, and the Saints are transitioning to a 3-4 defensive outfit under Rob Ryan—the same look that got Vilma shipped from the New York Jets.
Ogletree brings plenty of concerns off the field, including a DUI arrest recently that had teams persistently questioning him about it at the combine (h/t Pro Football Talk).
There was also the four-game suspension in his final year with the Bulldogs. But on a defense that features Jarvis Jones and several other NFL prospects, the linebacker managed to lead the team in tackles.
With ideal sideline-to-sideline speed and incredible versatility, there is sure to be a starting spot available for Ogletree in New Orleans assuming he can stay out of trouble. This was a unit that was the worst in the league last year, and is in desperate need of sure tacklers.
Even if it is determined that Ogletree is a better fit on the outside, he would be a big improvement over the current personnel and would allow Curtis Lofton to continue playing inside.
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Brian Schottenheimer is more partial to a power rushing attack, and Warmack is a massive guard who is athletic enough to push to the second level. To stand out as the clear-cut best player on such a stacked Crimson Tide offensive line shows how special Warmack is. He is arguably the best player in the draft, but his position slides him down to No. 16, where the Rams would get wonderful value.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8): Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Rashard Mendenhall essentially has both feet out the door already as a free agent, and between Issac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and the release of Chris Rainey, the Steelers' 30th-ranked rushing offense doesn't look as though it will improve by much.
Despite how easy it is to get a running back at good value in the later rounds, Lacy makes a lot of sense for Pittsburgh. His 231-pound frame is capable of absorbing the punishment of an every-down back, and would allow some of the pressure to be taken off of QB Ben Roethlisberger.
Lacy was a star at Alabama and routinely shredded some of the country's top defenses. Although it may be looked at as a negative that he shared time with freshman stud T.J. Yeldon, that should be viewed as a positive.
Think about it: He watched two prolific running backs in front of him in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson and got some light work as he continued to develop. Then, the split with Yeldon allowed Lacy to not put as much mileage on his legs as many top backs coming out of college.
In other words, Lacy is fresher than most bruising backs, and would be a huge asset to the Steelers even in his maiden NFL campaign.
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-8): Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Imagine if Ansah—all 6'5", 271 pounds of him, with that 4.63 40-yard dash speed—even begins to scratch the surface of his potential in 2013. Quarterbacks would have nightmares trying to handle Ansah, Jay Ratliff on the inside and DeMarcus Ware on the other edge of the Cowboys' new Tampa 2 look under Monte Kiffin.
19. New York Giants (9-7): Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
As is unusual for the G-Men, getting a defensive end has suddenly become a need. The Giants ranked just 22nd in the NFL with 33 sacks in 2012, and Werner is a highly regarded prospect who could form an incredible trio with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
20. Chicago Bears (10-6): Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Getting a tight end with strong familiarity with the West Coast offense wouldn't be the worst move for Chicago. Ertz needs to improve his blocking, but has demonstrated the ability to stretch the field and run exceptional routes. He could easily become an instant favorite target of QB Jay Cutler, and be an effective diversion to draw safeties away from star WR Brandon Marshall.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): Keenan Allen, WR, California
With DE Michael Johnson getting the franchise tag, it would be a good idea for Cincinnati to take a swing at a No. 2 receiver to place opposite A.J. Green. If Andy Dalton is indeed the answer under center, he needs as many weapons as possible. Allen is a deep threat that is also very dangerous after the catch, and would be a better option than Marvin Jones
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Sam Bradford could use another playmaker, and Eifert's receiving ability gives him an excellent chance to contribute right away. Schottenheimer called the plays for the Jets when Dustin Keller got his career off to a promising beginning, and the same could very well happen for Eifert.
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6): DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The fact that Hopkins was able to outshine ACC preseason Player of the Year Sammy Watkins speaks volumes about how good he is. As B/R's draft expert Matt Miller notes, Hopkins only had one season to focus on football only. That resulted in 82 catches, 1405 yards and a whopping 18 touchdowns. Especially with Percy Harvin possibly leaving town, this is a great choice for Minnesota.
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5): Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
No quarterback got pummeled as much as 2012 No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck did this past season. Cooper is a wonderful pass protector with uncommon agility for his position, and he will also be an asset on bubble screen plays to speedy WR T.Y. Hilton and even perhaps LaVon Brazill.
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5): Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
So many railed against Seattle's draft picks last year, particularly when Bruce Irvin was selected in the first round. The Seahawks also took Russell Wilson in the third round. Each turned out to be fantastic additions, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the front office go bold once again.
Chris Clemons led the team in sacks, but tore his ACL during the postseason, which will in all likelihood keep him out to start 2013. That makes defensive end a sudden need, and considering Hunt's potential, this would be a great chance to take late in Round 1.
Hunt has some of the biggest upside of anyone in the entire draft. At 6'8" and 277 pounds, his strength alone should turn him into an instant force. Seattle has an outstanding defensive front with rare size and athleticism, and Hunt would be a logical addition.
26. Green Bay Packers (11-5): Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
A flat-out playmaker who made 17 solo tackles in the Tigers' loss to Florida, Minter made the most of his only season in the starting lineup in Baton Rouge. The Packers badly need help on defense, and Minter should be vying for a starting job come Week 1.
27. Houston Texans (12-4): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Mountaineer star was his typically electric self at the combine, and put up 225 pounds on the bench press 14 times. That shows that he has the explosive strength to beat press coverage at the NFL level, and his versatility would make the Texans' offense nearly unstoppable.
28. Denver Broncos (13-3): Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes is 6'1" and 210 pounds, which would give the Broncos a physical presence on the outside opposite the aging Champ Bailey. Tracy Porter was only signed for one year, and absent hardly any other needs, Denver would be wise to take a flier on Rhodes. If his press coverage prowess translates to the next level, it will be even harder for opponents to suppress the Broncos' dynamic pass rush.
29. New England Patriots (12-4): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The prospective combination of Vince Wilfork and Williams on the interior of the Pats' defensive line is tantalizing. Wilfork is simply massive, while Williams can blow by defenders in the blink of an eye. That should lead to a better pass rush and consequently a much better pass defense in 2013.
30. Atlanta Falcons (13-3): Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Especially now that John Abraham has been released, the Falcons are in dire need of a pass-rusher. Jones is one of the more underrated players at this stacked position, and with Ertz and Eifert already off the board to possibly replace Tony Gonzalez, this seems like a logical choice.
31. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1): Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Niners' corners were exposed against the strong offenses they faced in the postseason. Trufant is a great pick here because of his 4.38 speed in the 40-yard dash, great ball skills and physicality to hold his own on the outside or in the slot.
32. Baltimore Ravens (10-6): Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
Many consider Brown to be too undersized to play inside linebacker, but he's just one inch shorter and one pound heavier than the man he would be replacing, Ray Lewis. It didn't turn out too badly for the future Hall of Famer. Brown plays bigger than his size and has the range, fundamentals from a tackling standpoint and coverage skills to make an immediate impact in Baltimore.
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