"Captivating" is one way to describe the 2013 NFL draft.
Because of the breadth of talent that exists within the offensive and defensive lines, this regular season will be emphasized more regarding the immediate point of attack.
For as explosive as some offenses are at tossing the rock, pass-rushers have taken advantage of the increased sack opportunities. So, to counteract a defense's aggressiveness, anticipate the ground game to make a more emphatic return in the fall.
Include the dominance of running backs Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin and Alfred Morris and the line of scrimmage is gradually taking back over. Meaning: a more physical game up front as opposed to high-powered attacks.
And that only enhances the marketability of teams needing to address the trenches as well.
Note: Highlighted players in italics.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, Tackle (Texas A&M)
Kansas City has an improved passing game, but its greatest advantage remains with Jamaal Charles on the ground. Taking Luke Joeckel at No. 1 overall simply emphasizes a tougher ground attack to control the line of scrimmage.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT (Florida)
Jacksonville's biggest vulnerability was failing to stuff the run throughout 2012. Going with Sharrif Floyd, though, will give Jaguars' linebackers cleaner reads to filling lanes. Floyd's tenacity will eat blocks up front and penetrate the backfield to disrupt developing plays.
3. Oakland Raiders: Dee Milliner, CB (Alabama)
Dee Milliner brings the immediate potential to blanket his side of the field and assist with perimeter run support. Oakland desperately needs more reliable coverage in an offensively improved AFC West, so the addition of Milliner steers the Raiders defense in the correct direction.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, Tackle (Central Michigan)
The most potential of any prospect in the 2013 draft sits with Eric Fisher of Central Michigan.
For one, he's just as talented as Luke Joeckel and is worthy of the top pick for Kansas City. But with Joeckel going there, Fisher slips to Philadelphia at No. 4.
Combine between 2011 and 2012 Chippewas quarterback Ryan Radcliff was only sacked 30 times in 25 games. Clearly Fisher's ability to consistently seal the edge and anchor the pocket allowed for excellent protection.
At the same time, Central Michigan averaged 4.77 rushing yards per attempt last season (ranked No. 39 in the country). The Eagles provide an explosive two-back tandem in LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, and Fisher's addition only bolsters this aspect.
Factor his smooth footwork and base when pass-blocking and Philly's offense receives a major upgrade.
5. Detroit Lions: Bjoern Werner, DE (Florida State)
The all-encompassed talent of Bjoern Werner suits well for Detroit. He can rush the passer as an exterior complement to Ndamukong Suh, but also control the edge versus the run. And when facing offenses that utilize quicker passes, Werner's instincts to knock down attempts are an advantage: 17 defended passes between 2011 and 2012.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE (Oregon)
Although Milliner is no long available the Browns help themselves with Dion Jordan. Possessing the agility, size and explosiveness to pass rush and force running backs lateral, Cleveland's front seven dominates the point of attack. Factor in the addition of Paul Kruger per Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun and the Browns generate more turnovers in 2013.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, Guard (Alabama)
Arizona ranked last in rushing offense and gave up the most sacks last season. Therefore, it's imperative the Cardinals select Chance Warmack. Building from the inside out is the key here, because Warmack's ability to effectively run and pass-block will create open lanes and a comfortable pocket to field a balanced offense.
8. Buffalo Bills: Geno Smith, QB (West Virginia)
Buffalo features the rushing threat in C.J. Spiller to smack defenses inside and off tackle. Picking Geno Smith just adds balance, because the Bills now have a consistent decision-maker under center. Plus Smith won't have to be solely relied on as Spiller's presence will keep opponents occupied.
9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE (BYU)
Rex Ryan's defense needs that next impact player capable of taking over games. Well, don't look past Ezekiel Ansah, who wrecked opponents all season, including the 2013 Senior Bowl. He may have only one dominant college campaign of note, but Ansah's raw athleticism and production will quickly turn Gang Green's front seven around.
10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB (Florida State)
Tennessee is on the cusp of crashing the AFC postseason in 2013. With a decent pass rush the Titans must get Xavier Rhodes to field better coverage. He will isolate in Cover 2 and 3; however, Rhodes' size and power becomes a competitive advantage for press coverage and helping versus the run.
11. San Diego Chargers: Lane Johnson, Tackle (Oklahoma)
The Bolts won't sniff the postseason without providing Philip Rivers better pass protection. Fortunately, the draft offers a deep selection of stout offensive linemen and Lane Johnson is perfect for San Diego. His agility and short-area quickness bodes well against the faster pass-rushers, not to mention Johnson will reach the second level to extend running lanes.
12. Miami Dolphins: Desmond Trufant, CB (Washington)
Miami's biggest vulnerability throughout 2012 was failing to suffocate in coverage. It ranked No. 27 against the pass and managed just 10 picks despite a strong pass rush.
Even worse, cornerback Sean Smith leaped to Kansas City, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The good news is the potential of Washington's Desmond Trufant. In four seasons for the Huskies he defended 38 passes, recorded 195 tackles and snagged six interceptions.
At the combine he blazed to 4.38 seconds on the 40-yard dash and 3.85 seconds on the 20-yard shuttle. Displaying the acceleration and body control to maintain quickness when changing direction, Trufant's ideal impact will be pressing in Cover 1 and 2.
The Dolphins are capable of making a playoff run and immediately addressing the pass defense increases their odds.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Star Lotulelei, DT (Utah)
Tampa Bay watched defensive tackle Michael Bennett jump across the states to Seattle in free agency (via Seahawks.com). Immediately replenishing that role for talented depth is Star Lotulelei who did take part in Utah's pro day as reported by NFL.com's Gil Brandt. The Buccaneers then get a more reliably consistent pass rush, which is needed to compete in the pass-happy NFC South.
14. Carolina Panthers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety (Texas)
Carolina's defense is filled with immense potential. That said, the Panthers have to generate more turnovers in the secondary. Kenny Vaccaro will impact this area, because his lateral quickness and coverage skills blanket one-on-one and react impressively well in zone.
15. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, LB (LSU)
As long as New Orleans drafts for defense then it doesn't matter who the Saints get in Round 1. Barkevious Mingo comes in here as an attractive selection to enhance the front seven. His assignment discipline constricts nicely against the run and Mingo will get quarterback pressure when needed.
16. St. Louis Rams: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (Tennessee)
Cordarrelle Patterson is the perfect answer for the Rams. Lining up a dependable playmaker out wide for Sam Bradford will press any coverage on its heels. In turn, St. Louis faces fewer defenders in the box to establish the run.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, LB (Georgia)
Quarterback pressure remains the backbone of Pittsburgh's defense. And 2012 was not typically dominant. Jarvis Jones then enters the Steelers' equation to wreck backfields and create turnover opportunities. Unfolding from this are additional possessions provided to the offense, as well as solid field position.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, Guard (North Carolina)
Dallas struggled to win games it needed last year because the ground game did not produce. Regardless of the running backs, establishing up front all starts with the offensive line. The Cowboys take Jonathan Cooper at No. 18 overall to solidify polished lanes at the snap. Additionally, Cooper's impact will allow Big D to pull him outside for sweeps, tosses, counters and quarterback roll outs.
19. New York Giants: Sheldon Richardson, DT (Missouri)
New York needs to revamp up front. With Chris Canty switching conferences to Baltimore and Osi Umenyiora just moving to the Falcons (via Jay Glazer of FOX Sports), Big Blue refills the defensive line with Sheldon Richardson. His knack for interfering with the backfield will establish a force within the trenches. He'll also get plenty of single block situations with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul also part of the defensive line.
20. Chicago Bears: D.J. Fluker, OT (Alabama)
The talent around Jay Cutler continues to grow. Initially this offseason were the acquisitions of Jermon Bushrod and Martellus Bennett, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Landing D.J. Fluker simply gives depth to the line, and his run-blocking skill set keep Matt Forte and Michael Bush rolling. Ultimately, the Bears now field a better play-action threat and Fluker's size is feasible to contribute as a guard if needed.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Matt Elam, Safety (Florida)
Without a shell of coverage at each level the Bengals won't threaten anyone in January. Featuring Matt Elam, though, paints a different picture. His instincts to find the ball will increase turnovers and his overall athleticism is capable of locking down man-to-man at the intermediate level. He'll also benefit Cincinnati when expected to react in Cover 2 and 3 situations.
22. St. Louis Rams (via WAS): Alec Ogletree, LB (Georgia)
A minute weakness for the Rams in 2012 was allowing 4.3 yards per rush. This warrants the drafting of Alec Ogletree to complete the defensive front. With two productive linebackers in James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Ogletree's acceleration to fill lanes and shell in coverage inflates St. Louis' ability to control the line.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Tavon Austin, WR (West Virginia)
A fresh new look will be featured in Minnesota's receiving corps. Percy Harvin is gone as he was traded to Seattle, per Jay Glazer. Then Green Bay's Greg Jennings came aboard through free agency (via ESPN.com's Adam Schefter). The next move occurs with Tavon Austin in the draft. Providing a plethora of versatility on offense and special teams, Austin's complete impact takes the Vikings offense to an unforeseen level.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Damontre Moore, DE (Texas A&M)
Indianapolis made the playoffs at 11-5 after going 2-14 in 2011. Even more impressive, the Colts pulled this off without a reliable defense.
On the year Indy gave up 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, managed only 32 sacks and allowed an average of 374.3 total yards per game. It's a quick fix, though, especially with the selection of Damontre Moore.
From 2010 through 2012 for Texas A&M, the athletic playmaker logged 26.5 sacks, forced eight fumbles and collected 45 tackles for loss. Now a concern became known at the combine, because Moore put up an abysmal 12 reps on the bench press.
Still, he will build strength through development and already offers the jump at the snap to frustrate blockers. His ability to maintain a low center of gravity and explode in any direction will chase ball-carriers from the backside and squeeze the edge playside.
Include Moore's knack for hitting quarterbacks and Indy strengthens as AFC title contenders.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via SEA): Kawann Short, DT (Purdue)
Courtesy of the trade with Seattle, Minnesota received this pick also reported by Jay Glazer. In doing so, the Vikings spruce up the defensive line with Kawann Short to menace quarterbacks and plug gaps. After accounting for 45 tackles for loss between 2010 and 2012, Short's tenacity perfectly complements the presence of Jared Allen on the outside.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sylvester Williams, DT (North Carolina)
Causing pileups and creating traffic along the line is required for Green Bay to make a Super Bowl run. Fielding a strong pass rush to generate turnovers, the Packers need Sylvester Williams to stifle blockers up front and limit the extension of running lanes. Williams is also a decent rusher, so Clay Matthews will be complemented on the inside for passing situations.
27. Houston Texans: Johnthan Banks, CB (Mississippi State)
Signing Ed Reed was huge for the Texans (via Jason La Canfora). Pairing him with Johnthan Banks pits two excellent playmakers in Houston's secondary. Banks brings a knack for changing the field position after a turnover, as well as the quickness to react consistently in zone to reduce yards after the catch.
28. Denver Broncos: Alex Okafor, DE (Texas)
Von Miller lost complementary pass-rusher Elvis Dumveril to Baltimore in free agency, but gets a sidekick back in Alex Okafor. He's an explosive edge player that has a nose for pressure and the lateral body control to set the edge against the run.
29. New England Patriots: Jonathan Cyprien, Safety (Florida International)
According to Mike Jurecki of XTRA Sports 910 AM, Adrian Wilson joined New England. Despite his talent Wilson turns 34 years old next season and the Patriots' long-term solution is Jonathan Cyprien. His size alone will shield slot receivers and tight ends man-to-man, and Cyprien's field awareness will increase turnovers and prevent yards after the catch.
30. Atlanta Falcons: John Jenkins, DT (Georgia)
The Falcons recently showed their intent to remain Super Bowl contenders. Per Jay Glazer earlier this week, Atlanta acquired defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora from the market:
Jay Glazer @JayGlazer
Osi Umenyora is the newest Falcon as he has agreed to a 2 year deal3/28/2013, 12:27:03 AM
Coach Mike Smith and Co. cannot stop there, however. Atlanta gave up an average of 4.8 yards per carry in 2012 and amassed a disappointing 29 sacks. Umenyiora's presence certainly helps the cause, but more younger and talented depth is required to sustain longevity up front.
As a result, enter Georgia's John Jenkins who is a dominant force in the trenches.
He'll either take up blocks or instantly fill lanes versus the run, and apply better quarterback pressure than expected. Piling 50 tackles last season, Jenkins' impact won't be on the stat sheet.
A strong rusher, Jenkins will knife double-teams and win against one-on-one to collapse the pocket. The passer then is flushed outside and right to Umenyiora. This duo will crush it in 2013.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Tyler Eifert, TE (Notre Dame)
Playmaking tight end Delanie Walker jumped ship to Tennessee, according to Adam Schefter. San Francisco then elects for another well-established playmaker in Tyler Eifert. His threat in the passing game will derive attention from Vernon Davis, but also keep the 49ers balanced. Eifert's size and experience as a run-blocker gives the 'Niners an advantage for play-action and inside the red zone.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Arthur Brown, LB (Kansas State)
Arthur Brown's repertoire of abilities is just what Baltimore needs at linebacker. His immediate burst fills lanes at the snap and is capable of applying quarterback pressure. On the other hand, Brown supplies to wherewithal to zone off in coverage and make plays at the intermediate level.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!