Matt Kalil was the No. 4 overall pick of the NFL draft and a huge difference-maker for the Minnesota Vikings last year.
The 2013 NFL draft is a chance for every team to land players who can make an immediate, positive impact. The first round, in particular, is when teams hope to land instant starters, though we know it doesn't always work out the way teams envision it will.
That said, it's fun to see which players make the most sense on paper, which is what this mock draft will focus on. Certain selections will be highlighted with italics for more in-depth analysis.
1. Kansas City Chiefs—OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
The Chiefs have a loaded defense that will likely play much better under new management in 2013 than it did last season. With Alex Smith behind center, the offense should be an efficient machine too. The best thing this team can do to facilitate Smith's success is to draft an elite left tackle, and Joeckel is the best left tackle in this year's draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars—DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
The Jaguars were a hopeless squad in 2012, winning just two games. The team's pass-rushers only managed to scrounge 20 total sacks all year long, which was less than J.J. Watt tallied all by himself—with torn ligaments in his elbow, no less.
New head coach Gus Bradley will be installing the same defense he ran while he was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. This system requires a couple of dynamic pass-rushers, and the Jaguars don't currently have any of those hiding on their roster at this time.
Ansah is a physical freak who possesses excellent size (6'5" and 271 pounds), speed (4.63-second 40), explosive quickness and a ferocious attitude. He doesn't have much experience, but that's not a negative quality—he'll just be easier to mold.
3. Oakland Raiders—DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
The Raiders are a team under construction. General manager Reggie McKenzie is rebuilding from the ground up, and he needs to restock his defensive line. Floyd projects as a dominant three-technique defensive tackle, and he'll be a player McKenzie can build around in the years to come.
4. Philadelphia Eagles—OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon
Jordan is a player who enters the NFL a bit underdeveloped physically, but he's like a pup who just needs to keep growing to become the dominant beast he was created to be. This young man is lightning quick, and at 6'6" and 248 pounds, his frame is easily capable of adding another 15-20 pounds of raw muscle and power.
5. Detroit Lions—OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
Detroit will be thrilled if Fisher is still on the board here at No. 5. Jeff Backus retired, leaving a vacancy on the team's offensive line. Riley Reiff was fantastic last year, but he needs to stay on the right side. Fisher is a natural left tackle who will ensure Matthew Stafford stays healthy in 2013 and beyond.
6. Cleveland Browns—CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
Milliner to the Browns seems almost inevitable at this point. The team added Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant to its front seven—solidifying that unit in a major way—and unless a quarterback is Cleveland's target, Milliner makes the most sense.
A big, physical cornerback at 6'0 and 201 pounds, Milliner also possesses elite speed (4.37-second 40) and excellent ball skills. In addition to his significant skills as a cover corner, he is also a willing and capable run defender who isn't afraid to mix it up with the big boys.
Adding him to the starting lineup to play opposite Joe Haden would give new defensive coordinator Ray Horton two phenomenal cornerbacks to lock down the sidelines. This, in turn, would allow Horton to be more aggressive and creative when dialing up his blitz packages.
7. Arizona Cardinals—OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Arizona allowed 58 sacks last year—easily the most by any team in the NFL. Now, with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer starting for the Cardinals in 2013, it's more imperative than ever to bring in help on the offensive line. Palmer isn't a mobile quarterback, and Johnson would do wonders for the team's ability to operate its offense.
8. Buffalo Bills—QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Bills cannot enter the 2013 season with Kevin Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson as the two starting options at the quarterback position. Smith's strong arm and athleticism make him a perfect fit to play in Buffalo, and given a few years to develop, he and Ryan Tannehill could be competing for the AFC title.
9. New York Jets—OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
It seems most fans expect New York to draft a pass-rusher, which would make some sense for the Jets. That said, the team's offensive line must get better, or it won't matter who lines up behind center. Warmack is a dominant guard who would instantly improve the team's running game—an element of the team's offense that suffered badly last year.
10. Tennessee Titans—DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
Lotulelei was recently medically cleared by a third party, per ESPN's Chris Mortensen, via Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com. He was a "standout" at his pro day, per ESPN's Joe Schad, and it will be an absolute shock to see him fall out of the top 10 on draft day. The Titans can't go wrong upgrading their defensive line here.
11. San Diego Chargers—WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Although Patterson's game lacks polish, his raw skills warrant a high first-round grade. Philip Rivers needs protection, but he also needs better weapons to throw to on Sundays. Adding an explosive weapon like Patterson would open up the entire offense—especially if Antonio Gates can stay healthy next season.
12. Miami Dolphins—DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
The Dolphins could be looking at a cornerback here, but the team also needs a pass-rusher to play opposite Cameron Wake. Werner has a quick first step, and he possesses an impressive repertoire of moves on the outside. Adding him would help the team's secondary, as pressure forces mistakes.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers—CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
With Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron roaming the secondary at the safety positions, the Bucs must now focus on bringing in capable cornerbacks. Rhodes is a big cornerback with excellent speed, and his ability to lock down big receivers one-on-one will greatly improve what was the NFL's worst pass defense last year.
14. Carolina Panthers—S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
Carolina can't succeed on defense with the safeties currently on its roster. Charles Godfrey and Haruki Nakamura are not starting-caliber players, and the Panthers would be wise to take one of the top safeties in this year's draft. Vaccaro is the best, and adding him to play behind Luke Kuechly would give the Panthers a huge boost.
15. New Orleans Saints—OLB Barkevious Mingo, LSU
Every 3-4 defense needs pass-rushers. Without them, this scheme isn't worth much. The Saints need to bring in pass-rushers to make Rob Ryan's first year as the team's defensive coordinator a success, and Mingo would be an excellent addition.
16. St. Louis Rams—WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
Austin is the best slot receiver to enter the NFL via college in many years. He possesses world-class speed (4.34-second 40), outrageous open-field skills and can take a quick screen or slant 80 yards for a touchdown on any given play.
In addition to his skills as a slot receiver, Austin is an exceptional punt returner who can turn the tide of a game in less than 10 seconds. He's also an explosive runner who will keep NFL defenses off-balance on reverses and jet sweeps.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers—DE Datone Jones, UCLA
At 6'4" and 283 pounds, Jones projects as a 3-4 defensive end who will not only hold up well against the run but who will also wreak havoc in opposing backfields on passing downs. He'd be a big upgrade over Ziggy Hood and would give the Steelers front seven a big boost.
18. Dallas Cowboys—OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Tony Romo recently received a massive extension from Jerry Jones (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter). Jones would now be wise to use his first-round pick on an offensive linemen to protect his latest big investment. Cooper is a terrific pass-blocker at the guard position, and, if needed, he can also slide over to center.
19. New York Giants—OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama
The Giants can't continue to pretend there's no problem on the offensive line. Eli Manning was harassed to no end last year, and both he and the team's offense suffered as a result. Adding a dominant right tackle like Fluker would be an excellent start to fix this issue.
20. Chicago Bears—ILB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
Chicago must get younger and faster on defense. Adding the speedy, athletic Ogletree to slide into the starting lineup at the inside linebacker position would be a smart way to begin this process.
21. Cincinnati Bengals—S Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
The Bengals retained Michael Johnson and re-signed Rey Maualuga this offseason, which means the team's front seven will build on last year's momentous success. The secondary, however, still needs help. Adding a skilled safety like Cyprien to play opposite Reggie Nelson would give the Bengals a complete defense capable of shutting down opponents' passing games as well as their rushing attacks.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins)—OLB Arthur Brown, Kansas State
The Rams face Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick twice a year. Not only do these two quarterbacks have the ability to beat teams with their arms and legs, but they also have excellent running backs behind them. The Rams must get faster and more athletic on defense, and adding Brown to play on the weak side would be an excellent way to do so.
23. Minnesota Vikings—DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
Minnesota would be smart to upgrade its defensive line. Kevin Williams is aging and becoming less effective every year, and he'd benefit from playing next to a young stud in the middle. Richardson is a disruptive, penetrating defensive tackle who would give the Vikings a big boost up front.
24. Indianapolis Colts—CB Desmond Trufant, Washington
As good as Andrew Luck and his offense will be in 2013, the team must improve on defense as well. Trufant is an excellent cover corner with fluid hips and enough speed to hang with the quickest, fastest receivers in the league, and he'd improve the team's secondary from Day 1.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks)—WR Keenan Allen, California
A nagging knee injury has caused Allen's stock to fall the past few months, and when he finally did run at his pro day, he didn't run fast. That doesn't mean he isn't still one of the top receivers in this year's draft class, however, and his after-the-catch abilities mesh perfectly with Christian Ponder's skill set.
26. Green Bay Packers—DT Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
Green Bay gave up 4.5 yards per carry last year to opposing running backs, and the San Francisco 49ers ate their defense for a snack in the playoffs. The Packers must improve the depth and talent on the defensive line, and Williams is a player who would be a big help up front.
27. Houston Texans—WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
It seems like every mock draft on the web projects a wide receiver to the Texans, but there's a good reason for this: Houston doesn't have a single receiver capable of scaring NFL defenses besides Andre Johnson. Hopkins is an underrated receiver who can stretch the field as well as do the tough work underneath.
28. Denver Broncos—DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
It's no secret the Broncos and Elvis Dumervil recently had a messy divorce. This development left a big vacancy on the team's defensive roster, and it's one Denver needs to fill via the draft. Moore is a skilled pass-rusher who would be able to fill that void.
29. New England Patriots—CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
The Patriots must continue to sign talented cornerbacks or continue suffering through mediocre seasons on the defensive side of the ball. Banks is a talented cover corner with a knack for making big plays on the ball, and he'd be a terrific addition to the team's secondary.
30. Atlanta Falcons—TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
Tony Gonzalez is back, but that shouldn't stop Atlanta from investing in the future. Eifert has the best hands of any receiver in this year's draft, and he has the size, speed and athleticism to burn defenses in the middle of the field.
31. San Francisco 49ers—S Eric Reid, LSU
Since the 49ers lost Dashon Goldson, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Trent Baalke will look for his replacement in the draft. Reid is a player much like Goldson who features great size, athleticism and speed.
32. Baltimore Ravens—ILB Kevin Minter, LSU
With the departure of Ray Lewis, who retired after Super Bowl XLVII, and Dannell Ellerbe, who signed with the Dolphins, the Ravens suddenly have a huge need at inside linebacker. Minter isn't as hyped as Manti Te'o or Ogletree, but he has just as much game. He'll be an instant starter for John Harbaugh's Ravens in 2013.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!