Pick 1: Kansas City Chiefs
2012 was a horrible season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Aside from finishing the year 2-14 and playing the most head-scratchingly inept football many have seen in years, the organization was rocked by LB Jovan Belcher’s tragic murder-suicide.
OC Brian Daboll was an absolute mess, and his former workhorse from 2010 in Cleveland—RB Peyton Hillis—once again proved himself a diva. The QB play, by the sheer looks of it, rivaled the worst we have seen in the NFL since Max Hall was under center for the Arizona Cardinals. Star WR Dwayne Bowe wanted out very badly.
It is hard imagine this team being in position to take the best player available in the 2013 draft, but the Chiefs are. And they certainly no longer have the roster or staff of an AFC West bottom-dweller.
New HC Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey came in and sewed up a lot of holes. The QB in Alex Smith, the retention of Bowe, adding two good corners in Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith and slapping a franchise tag on malcontent LT Branden Albert.
Andy Reid wants all his options open in this draft, including a trade-down scenario, which the club would certainly view as optimal. However, this is unlikely, given no clear-cut No.1 overall prospect in 2013 a team would feel the need to trade up for.
Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
-You get the idea in addressing Dorsey that he isn’t the type to like getting hamstrung by disgruntled players at key positions.
Pick 2: Jacksonville Jaguars
What a difference a year makes.
The Jags are coming into the 2013 season with a whole new face organizationally, and an impressive one. Between new HC Gus Bradley and new GM David Caldwell, the new Jaguars leadership is a no-nonsense bunch, to say the least.
QB Blaine Gabbert showed marked signs of progression coming into the 2012 preseason and through its four games, but did not come on as expected during the season. RB Maurice Jones-Drew was lost early in the year, and one of the lone bright spots was the relative emergence of WR Cecil Shorts.
David Caldwell seemed like the only GM amongst 2013’s new crop at the NFL combine to not to advocate a best-player-available strategy for the 2013 draft. The Jags will be drafting based on need.
The organization has basically purged the secondary, including Aaron Ross, who described his year in Jacksonville as a “nice, paid vacation to Florida.” The Jaguars need a quarterback, they need a special edge rusher, defensive backs and defensive linemen. Oh, and an offensive tackle.
The Jaguars have needs all over the place.
Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
-The Leo end is the position that Gus Bradley seems most focused on addressing, and Jordan’s versatility and athletic upside project as a possibly dominating player at such a key spot in his defense.
Pick 3: Oakland Raiders
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie wants out of this pick badly.
The first season in Oakland post-Al Davis started out with only a third-round compensatory pick in the draft, and went on to see HC Dennis Allen’s new defense shredded in every aspect of the game.
DT Desmond Bryant was a bright spot along the defensive line who was lost to Cleveland and LB Philip Wheeler was another big offseason departure to Miami. Oakland did manage to ship out a slug in DT Tommy Kelly who will be headed to New England to do his best Albert Haynesworth impersonation.
The secondary is depleted, and the offensive line is, at best, a development in progress outside of LT Jared Veldheer. With so many needs to fill—in a draft that is so deep through the first 100 or so players—McKenzie wants more picks in that territory, and would entertain any trade offers.
As it stands, the Raiders don’t have a second-round pick, and if they can’t trade out, they have to make this one really count.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
-Ansah has the ability to put his hand in the dirt and also play in space, which is exactly what Coach Allen wants. The Raiders have a huge presence annually at the Senior Bowl, a week in which Ansah struggled during practice but shined in the game versus the very talented North squad offensive line that was coached by the Raiders staff.
Pick 4: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles imploded in 2012.
Injuries to the offensive line turned QB Mike Vick into a $100 million turnover machine and HC Andy Reid just appeared sick and tired of it all through the process.
With new HC Chip Kelly comes hope for a new, fast-paced and high-flying attack that may resemble the spread offense that has electrified PAC-12 crowds in recent years.
Defensively, new DC Billy Davis will bring a multiple front that will predominantly give a 3-4 look, even in 4-3 under packages. The addition of OLB Connor Barwin gives an immediate boost to the outside rush, but the Eagles are a defense built on 4-3 personnel.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
-The Eagles take the best defensive player in the draft, and lock up a weapon who can line up at any position in any front inside of the five-technique.
Pick 5: Detroit Lions
The Lions are a better team than their horrible 2012 performance would indicate, and there aren’t many educated NFL fans who would argue that.
What can’t be argued is the state of the offensive line. Recently and historically, the unit has been mediocre at best for years. Riley Reiff was taken in the 2012 draft, and showed signs of improvement through his rookie season. The former “cornerstone” of the line, Jeff Backus, was becoming a liability.
The team has a premium product in Matt Stafford that can run an explosive offense, and they need to keep him upright. The Lions have lost RT Gosder Cherilus to the Indianapolis Colts, who grossly overpaid for both Cherilus and Green Bay LB Erik Walden.
Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
-Like the Raiders, the Lions—who also coached at the Senior Bowl—take the star player of the opposing squad. It worked for Mike Shanahan in 2012 when the Redskins took Kirk Cousins and Alfred Morris.
Pick 6: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns appeared to be a loser once again in the 2013 offseason as the team was spurned by HC Chip Kelly and made what appeared to be a “second-choice hire” in former Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski.
Browns fans were elated, however, at Chuzinski’s immediate endearing of himself to the media and fan base. Things got even better through two lucky breaks, landing the best candidates in football to man their offensive and defensive coordinator positions in Norv Turner and Ray Horton, respectively.
The additions of OLB Paul Kruger and DT Desmond Bryant build strongly upon a nasty front seven being coached by a man who can dial up a blitz. The Browns will have to decide whether they address the glaring need at cornerback opposite Joe Haden at this point, or wait until later as numerous high-upside CBs will be available in later rounds.
Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
-The Browns get their defensive backfield completely whipped into shape in a division that faces A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, Torrey Smith and the like twice year.
Pick 7: Arizona Cardinals
New Cardinals GM Steve Keim is a personnel man who is transitioning into being a full-blown general manager. Keim was known previously under former GM Rod Graves as the head of all things scouting while Graves admittedly didn’t watch much film or take integral part in player evaluation.
The Cardinals have addressed their dire QB situation in acquiring Carson Palmer, who will be more than serviceable in a Bruce Arians offense. Palmer still has a big arm and can still stretch the field with good accuracy. At least if he’s given time—something the Cardinals offensive line hasn’t done recently.
Nate Potter and Bobby Massie were rookies in 2012 who came along during the season, but LT Levi Brown is grossly overpaid, and in the best-case scenario, could just move down to guard.
Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
-Steve Keim is an offensive line guy and an evaluation guy. Lane Johnson ran a better 40 time than Anquan Boldin, a higher vertical than A.J. Green and a better long jump than Stevan Ridley.
Pick 8: Buffalo Bills
Buffalo fans have reason for hope coming into 2013 that resonates somewhat in the memories of seasons past.
New HC Doug Marrone brings with him from Syracuse OC Nathaniel Hackett and a conceptual variation of the West Coast offense that closely resembles Todd Marinovich’s K-gun Bills offense of the early 1990s.
It is no secret that the Bills need a quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been given the boot, and the man who signed his $59 million extension just two years ago, GM Buddy Nix, has even said as much publicly. The Bills need a quarterback, but do they take one here?
Nix has said for years that he envisions WR Stevie Johnson in a slot role. Andre Reed revolutionized the slot role in this offense, and a dynamic player like WR Cordarrelle Patterson on the outside could serve in numerous ways.
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
-The Bills have brought in every QB prospect under the sun, and obviously know that Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib already understands their system completely. The addition of Kevin Kolb gives enough insurance to feel comfortable seeing who may fall to them in the early-second at QB, or worst case—they could trade up into the late first.
TRADE-PICK 9: San Francisco 49ers (FROM NEW YORK JETS)
The audience is gasping and people are wondering what HC Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have up their sleeve this time.
The 2012 season that ended in an NFC Championship started with an entirely different shocking first-round draft move. The 49ers reached for Illinois WR A.J. Jenkins, a player who was not a factor for the 49ers during their run.
The 49ers have more picks in this draft than they have the ability to sign onto the active roster at 14, and they will be active traders, either moving up or packaging deals for picks in 2014. The 49ers see their chance here to move up and select a player that will serve multiple roles in a burgeoning offensive powerhouse.
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
-Trent Baalke knows the importance of making big moves, and the whole city of San Francisco knows the importance of a trustworthy and capable return specialist. Tavon Austin as a chess piece in the Colin Kaepernick offense with developing players such as LaMichael James and Michael Crabtree signs, seals and delivers the unit’s continuing sustainability.
Pick 10: Tennessee Titans
The Titans are officially entering the 2013 season as QB Jake Locker’s team—for better or for worse. For the first time in his career, the third-year signal-caller will have an undisputed first crack at living up to his status as an early first-round selection.
The interior of the offensive line was addressed in the best of all possible ways with the addition of stud OG Andy Levitre from the Bills. Titans HC Mike Munchack, a former offensive guard himself, surely understands the value of great guard play, but this addition most likely takes elite OG prospects Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper off the board.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd brings an explosive presence and a lightning-quick interior bull rush to the Titans defensive line.
Pick 11: San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have an all-new lease on life under new GM Tom Telesco and new HC Mike McCoy.
The problem is, they still have the same roster.
The Chargers are a team that has missed their window. QB Philip Rivers is not getting any younger. First-round RB Ryan Mathews is showing serious signs of being a bust. WR Vincent Jackson is long gone and the players who were supposed to replace him in the receiving game didn’t. TE Antonio Gates, a former dominating presence, seems to have entered the witness relocation program and an awful offensive line has only gotten more vulnerable.
And that’s only the offensive side of the ball.
D.J. Fluker, RT, Alabama
-With the top three tackles off the board, the Chargers pull the trigger on Fluker—an incredible hulk of a run blocker who needs development in pass protection.
Pick 12: Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins have had some losses to free agency on the offensive side of the ball that start with RB Reggie Bush and LT Jake Long, leaving a huge hole at offensive tackle.
Miami took LT Jonathan Martin of Stanford in last year’s NFL draft, and by all indications, Martin did quite a bit to shed the “soft” label he had coming out of college during his rookie season. At least enough so for the Dolphins to posture like they are perfectly happy having Martin protect second-year QB Ryan Tannehill’s blind side at the left tackle.
If D.J. Fluker were on the board, he would be the pick, but since he is not, GM Jeff Ireland realizes there are other “developmental” RT prospects that can be had in the second round—where the Dolphins have two picks—rather than reaching on Menelik Watson of Florida State.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
-Warmack is an NFL starter the minute he walks in the building, and likely the best prospect in the entire 2013 NFL draft as a package. He has shown the athleticism to execute the zone-blocking assignments of required in a Joe Philbin offense and hold up as an ultra-sturdy pass protector.
Pick 13: New York Jets (From Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
New Jets GM John Idzik walked into a real dump in the Jets front office. Former GM Mike Tannenbaum was a mess and his fingerprints are all over the horrible roster and cap situation the organization finds themselves strapped with.
Idzik has spent 22 years in NFL front offices, and is known for being a hard-nosed, pencil-pushing negotiator. This picked was gained via the trade of star CB Darrelle Revis to the Bucs, and opens up the door for a virtual roster overhaul with young, viable players that can be had for four years on extremely cheap contracts while the organization develops its new identity.
Having traded their ninth overall pick to San Francisco for their late first-rounder, plus two more in the Top 93, the stage is set to target the depth of the draft through the second and third rounds—gathering developmental offensive line and pass-rush talent.
The fifth-rounder gained in the Revis trade is likely to be flipped for RB Chris Ivory of the Saints, which solidifies a solid backfield with new addition Mike Goodson and, of course, Bilal Powell, who came on at the end of 2012 as part of the platoon with now-Titan Shonn Greene.
Only one thing needs major addressing here, and the best player at the position has fallen to them as expected.
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
-The Jets instantly buy HC Rex Ryan one more year the minute they commit to a new, dynamic quarterback who will have some promising offensive surroundings.
Pick 14: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers proved in 2012 that if they want to win an NFC South championship, a few things are going to have to change.
A defense that is built around a fantastic linebacker corps needs addressing at both the front and the back ends. While the Panthers run defense showed improvement through the 2012 season from the Swiss-cheese front they put up in 2011, things are still far from settled in the trenches of Carolina.
New GM Dave Gettleman said at the NFL combine that his team would be taking the best available player in his first draft with the team, and it just so happens that the best available player happens to be at a position of huge need.
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
-Richardson brings a dominating game that makes the Panthers front seven into one of the league’s most athletic and versatile fronts almost instantly.
Pick 15: New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints have emerged from their “lost season” following the suspension of HC Sean Payton for his participation in the infamous bounty scandal.
The offense was not the problem in 2012, however. While Payton’s offensive mind was sorely missed, what was missed most was any sort of defense. Former DC Steve Spagnuolo came in and tried to install a very conceptual 4-3 look that called for true versatility and very few mental mistakes.
What happened was a disaster. The Saints were poor in every aspect of the defense, and consistently had athletes playing hesitantly and out of position. Anyone in attendance at training camp would say that the install did not go smoothly. Players were confused and were being asked to adapt to concepts that even the most seasoned veterans had never heard of before.
Enter former Cowboys DC Rob Ryan, who has not had much success in the NFL himself, to New Orleans. In transitioning back to the 3-4 and his “blitzkrieg” scheme, numerous players may find themselves in at least more familiar position—but the team needs some young, solid defenders in place.
There’s one player who the organization seems particularly interested in.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
-There are concerns about Jarvis Jones’ lack of explosive testing ability and his spinal stenosis condition, but what leaves no question is his absolutely menacing presence and motor on the football field.
Pick 16: Saint Louis Rams
Rams GM Les Snead is one of the brightest young minds in football, and has proven during his tenure in St. Louis that he is an NFL executive who displays great acumen for identifying value and driving tough bargains.
The Rams had one of the best drafts of any team in 2012, and in deploying their strategy, Snead showed that one of his personal theories for building involves addressing positions of need in “groups.” In 2012, it was CBs, with the additions of free agent Cortland Finnegan and rookies Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.
The Rams also addressed the WR position in drafting Brian Quick, a developmental talent, and Chris Givens, an immediate contributor as an over-the-top burner. Having lost WRs Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson to free agency in the 2013 offseason, the organization obviously still has a need at WR, and thankfully, they have to picks in the first round to possibly address it with at least one.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
-Snead gets the offensive line shored up next to free-agent addition Jake Long by adding a road-grading, powerful guard prospect tailor-made for the power inside-zone scheme.
Pick 17: Pittsburgh Steelers
It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a team that prefers building through the draft. It is also no secret the Steelers of 2013 are a team that needs to make some forward strides.
The Steelers have lost star WR Mike Wallace to Miami. They have a patchwork offensive line and an aging defense. TE Heath Miller had a wonderful resurgence in 2012, but is now coming off season-ending ACL surgery in 2012 and will be 31 in 2013. Rashard Mendenhall has left town, leaving the cupboard relatively bare at the running back position outside of a situational platoon including Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch and Isaac Redman.
With all these needs to address, the Steelers are pleased that the player who was their No. 1 target all along remains on the board at Pick 17.
Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
-Steelers HC Mike Tomlin was the only NFL head coach in at attendance at Texas pro day to get a glimpse at his possible future Troy Polamalu replacement.
TRADE-Pick 18: Atlanta Falcons (From Dallas Cowboys)
Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones sees that his needs at this point do not meet the value currently available on the board. In the least Jerry Jones-like move possible, he trades down to pick 30 with the Atlanta Falcons.
NFL fans and media alike know that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is no stranger to wheeling and dealing. We saw what the organization did to secure Julio Jones in 2011, and when the Falcons have their sights set on a player, they will make their move, given they have the ammo.
Dimitroff believes they do, according to Marc Sessler of NFL.com
“To have a full draft this year is good. It feels good. It feels solid. It feels like we’re going in with leverage. … We did what we did in free agency and re-signed people as well as having 11 picks, it’s a comforting feeling. At 30, the ability to move up and down is important for us.”
The reports of a possible trade-up option came directly on the heels of a visit by a very special player at a position of major need.
Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
-After working out Datone Jones at their facility, the Falcons take no chances on him being off the board at pick 30.
Pick 19: New York Giants
The Giants are team that never really got going in 2012 the way most expected they would eventually.
Due to losses in free agency, and holes in the roster along the offensive line, linebacking corps and secondary, GM Jerry Reese will be in position to address numerous needs. Prioritizing their order of importance to his organization is the task at hand.
Financially, the Giants are in position to get stuck between a rock and a hard place in what will be concurrent 2014 contract squabbles with both star WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, with no depth behind them outside of Rueben Randle.
DE Osi Umenyiora has gone to Atlanta. The offensive line is aging and declining, and they will be blocking for an inexperienced second-year RB in David Wilson, who was in Coughlin’s doghouse to start 2012 for fumbling. The linebacking corps has been getting burned by opposing TEs for two seasons and safety Kenny Phillips has gone to Philadelphia.
Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, FSU
-Reese has been known to snatch elite pass-rushers such as Jason Pierre-Paul when they fall to him in drafts. Carradine showed at his pro day—while running at what he told me was “85 percent”—that he is quickly recovering from his season-ending ACL surgery under the guidance of Adrian Peterson’s trainer. The Giants were not reportedly in attendance at Carradine’s pro day, but he did meet with the Giants while interviewing at the combine.
Pick 20: Chicago Bears
Bears GM Phil Emery chose new Bears HC Marc Trestman after one of the most exhaustive interview and search processes in recent history.
If Trestman’s demeanor and outlook on the state of the franchise serves as any indicator, Emery made a great decision. With Trestman, QB Jay Cutler will again be learning a new offense, but the pieces are in place—ironically, Trestman doesn’t like calling players “pieces”—to present a formidable and physical attack at the skill positions.
LB Brian Urlacher was insulted at the contract the Bears offered as a charity parting gift for his twilight years, calling it a slap in the face.
The player that has been the face of the Bears defense now has to be replaced, and huge continuing needs exist along the offensive line.
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
-The Bears don’t necessarily replace Brian Urlacher with Brown, but they gain the best ILB in the draft and a future Navorro Bowman-like player.
Pick 21: Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals enter the 2013 season with few glaring needs on either side of the ball. The defense is a growing into a juggernaut, with depth at many positions outside of linebacker and safety.
The offensive line is much improved and third-year QB Andy Dalton has proven himself to be, if nothing else, a more-than-serviceable NFL QB. The offensive complementary personnel could use upgrades at the TE and RB positions, but those types of players can be had later in the draft. The WRs on the Bengals roster outside of A.J. Green are young and promising.
Mohammed Sanu should see an increased role in 2013 while Marvin Jones and Andrew Hawkins both showed excellence in 2012. The issue facing Bengals owner Mike Brown is whether to take advantage of the depth at safety in the 2013 draft, or just pull the trigger now.
Jonathan Cyprien, FS, Florida International
-The Bengals seal off all areas of the defense by adding the best deep-patrolling safety in the draft who also happens to love contact in run support.
Pick 22: St. Louis Rams
In their second pick of the first round, the Rams will need to decide whether they address the wide receiver position now, or whether they wait until later rounds to gather up any bargain players like Chris Givens was in 2012.
The WR position is exceptionally deep in this draft, but not very heavy at the top. There are receivers like Marquise Goodwin, Cobi Hamilton, Terrance Williams, Chris Harper, Aaron Dobson, Markus Wheaton—the list goes on and on—that will likely be available in the third and even fourth rounds.
Safety and running back remain needs, and you can never have enough pass-rushers.
Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
-The fit isn’t exactly right, and the team has greater immediate needs, but drafting a future game-changing situational pass-rusher trumps all else given the current state of the NFC West.
Pick 23: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings have historically had mixed results when drafting two players in the first round, and GM Rick Spielman fully intends to be on the good side of history with his dual 2013 selections.
The second first-round pick comes as a result of Seattle trading for star WR Percy Harvin, who will be sorely missed in an anemic Minnesota passing offense that virtually crumbled in his absence during 2012.
Adrian Peterson is the best running back in football, possibly of all time. The offensive line is locked down with the retention of RT Phil Loadholt. The addition of former Packers WR Greg Jennings helps soothe the pain of losing Harvin, but the receiving unit lacks any depth behind him.
Christian Ponder may be a franchise QB, and that remains to be proven. What does not remain to be proven is that he can play at an absolutely pathetic level by NFL standards, and at some point in the draft, a spade will have to be called a spade, and QB will have to be addressed as insurance.
It is the most important position in football. Imagine how unstoppable a team with solid QB play and Adrian Peterson might be when Peterson alone can get you to the playoffs.
If for nothing else, to light a fire under Ponder and see how he responds to any real competition with his first-round pedigree.
Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
-Spielman holds off on bringing in any new QB blood to focus on a true position of need with one of the most fundamentally solid plug-and-play LBs in the 2013 draft.
Pick 24: Indianapolis Colts
The 2012 Colts were a turn-around team like no other in the NFL, going from first pick overall in the draft all the way to the playoffs on the arm of rookie QB Andrew Luck.
In GM Ryan Grigson’s second draft in Indianapolis, he does not have the luxury of drafting a possible future Hall of Famer right off the bat. The Colts have serious needs along the offensive line, and also have a big hole to fill with the loss of DE/OLB Dwight Freeney.
Grigson will think long and hard about FSU DE Bjoern Werner in this spot, but may wonder if taking Werner out of a 4-3 system may diminish his best trait, which is his explosive initial movement and first step upfield through engagement.
Kyle Long, OT/OG, Oregon
-What many will see as a reach, Grigson—an offensive lineman himself—will see as a bargain. Long comes with NFL pedigree, intense motor, high character, and the ability to play in both the guard and the tackle spots right off.
Pick 25: Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings will need to address the WR position, and will likely do so during the WR run, which is sure to occur sometime through the second and/or third rounds.
HC Leslie Frazier told me at the NFL combine that if it weren’t for the Senior Bowl, there is no way the Vikings would have ever traded up in 2012 to draft SS Harrison Smith, who has been a fantastic addition.
At this point, a few really good corners are still left on the board, and after losing CB Antoine Winfield to Seattle, the Vikings look back on their Senior Bowl experience from 2013 in further supplementing their secondary.
Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
-An absolute steal. Trufant may be the best CB in the draft and will contribute immediately.
Pick 26: Green Bay Packers
Whatever Green Bay’s plan is for the 2013 NFL draft, rest assured that GM Ted Thompson has covered every angle. Thompson and the Green Bay staff are among the hardest-working group of all NFL evaluators, and the managerial tree of executives that sprout from the Green Bay front office should serve as evidence.
The Packers can still upgrade their offensive line. They have a need at running back that remains unclear with the status of Cedric Benson up in the air and realistic hopes for DuJuan Harris who came on to end the 2012 season. The linebacker corps is an issue, and the defensive line lacks impact interior defensive players.
Brandon Williams, DT, Missouri Southern
-Ted Thompson pulls the trigger on a high-motor gap plugger to complement B.J. Raji inside.
Pick 27: Houston Texans
To get over the hump, Texans GM Rick Smith knows that his club needs to add a viable receiving threat opposite an aging Andre Johnson. The organization needs a return on the large investment it made in QB Matt Schaub.
The Texans also have needs along the offensive line, predominantly at guard and right tackle. A space-eating nose tackle would bring huge benefits to a defense looking for any possible way to get DE JJ Watt more involved, and depth at linebacker will need addressing as well.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
-Hopkins brings a skill set that translates perfectly to Houston’s game plan and would allow DeVier Posey, once healed, to start operating out of the slot where he could be a YAC monster.
Pick 28: Denver Broncos
The Broncos come into the 2013 season as a team built to win now, and in addressing this year’s draft, GM John Elway will do everything in his power to take immediate contributors.
The Broncos have lost Elvis Dumervil, leaving a hole at defensive end, and the secondary is in reasonably good shape, but aging. The offensive line will be in flux after 2013 depending on the contract staus of LT Ryan Clady and the team’s best running back is Willis McGahee who has a hall of fame laundry list of injury concerns and will be 32 in 2012 coming off an MCL tear.
Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
-The Broncos get an immediate impact player to bring inside pressure in an AFC West division that currently boasts very suspect offensive lines.
TRADE- Pick 29: Buffalo Bills (FROM NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS)
Patriots HC Bill Belichick wants more picks through the middle rounds of the 2013 draft, and currently only has five total to play with. Swapping this pick, plus one of their two seventh-rounders for Buffalo’s early second-round pick, plus a third or fourth-round selection, makes all the sense in the world.
Buffalo moves up and makes the move everyone imagined they were likely to at some point.
Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse
-The future of the Buffalo offense gets a two-to-three-year head start by bringing in an intriguing young talent who already knows the system.
Pick 30: Dallas Cowboys (From Atlanta Falcons)
Jerry Jones picks up the Falcons’ third-round pick and finds himself looking at a scenario that is very likely to occur once the 2013 draft reaches this point. The value to be had is at the DT and NT positions.
With the change in defensive philosophy to a Monte Kiffin Cover 2—a 4-3 defense—the Cowboys are in desperate need of bodies to bring pressure up the interior. The Tampa 2 is a system predicated on getting to the QB while usually bringing only four athletic down linemen.
As it stands, the Cowboys are in position to draft a player they would have been completely justified in selecting had they not traded down and gained the valuable extra pick.
Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
-Short is quick, functionally powerful and agile. He would flourish in the front and center of the Cowboys defense.
Pick 31: New York Jets (From San Francisco 49ers)
With Geno Smith now in tow, and a few extra picks to play with through the depth of the 2013 draft talent pool as a result of sliding all the way down in the first round from the ninth overall pick, the Jets are in position to take the best available player.
Luckily for the Jets, the best player currently available happens to be at a position of great need—and happens to be the best player at his position in the entire draft. With TE Dustin Keller gone to Miami, the Jets bring in a player to complement a decent receiving corps in Jeremy Kerley, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, who is a young QB’s best friend.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
-Just like that, the Jets are an all-new offense.
Pick 32: Baltimore Ravens
The Super Bowl Champion Ravens come into the 2013 NFL season an entirely new team, having lost much of the “heart” of their defense. Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis has retired while FS Ed Reed has taken his services to Houston.
OLB Paul Kruger was lost to the divisional rival Browns, but fans in Baltimore have learned to trust GM Ozzie Newsome, who seems to always have a plan. In losing Kruger, Newsome was able to scoop up free agent Elvis Dumervil—an absolutely perfect addition.
The offense needs a wide receiver after losing Anquan Boldin to San Francisco. Pundits may downplay the value of the position, but the reality is, no Anquan Boldin, no Super Bowl for Baltimore. Besides addressing depth in the defensive backfield and along the offensive line, the Ravens’ clear, serious needs are at the inside linebacker and wide receiver.
Robert Woods, WR, USC
-NFL front offices are much higher on Robert Woods than the draft media, it seems—and Newsome keeps moving along in a reloading process for 2013.