There is no Andrew Luck. No RGIII. Not even a Matt Kalil or Trent Richardson. So without any "elite" prospects this season, projecting the draft should be easy, right? Actually the opposite. Although it's a weaker class at the top from a year ago, it makes the first round much more interesting.
With a 2-14 record, the Chiefs have the first overall pick for the first time in franchise history. And with an abysmal offensive display in 2012, quarterback will be the top need for the Chiefs this offseason.
In the 2008 NFL Draft, the Dolphins top need was at quarterback, but with the No. 1 overall selection, Miami decided to go with the "safe" pick (left tackle Jake Long), passing on Matt Ryan.
Fast-forward to the present and the
With free agency on the nearby radar, the direction each team will take in the 2013 NFL Draft should become clearer over the coming weeks.
1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS -- ERIC FISHER, OT, CENTRAL MICHIGAN
Most are projecting Geno Smith or Luke Joeckel to the Chiefs with the No. 1 overall pick, but Eric Fisher is just as likely a possibility here. Following up his strong performance in Mobile, Fisher pushed the envelope even further with an excellent few days in Indianapolis at the 2013 NFL Combine.
New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley will be on the lookout for a versatile pass rusher that he can plug into the "Leo" pass rusher position in his defense. Jordan has some questions about his durability and bulk, but his versatility and athleticism makes him worthy of this selection.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS -- SHARRIF FLOYD, DT, FLORIDA
The Raiders need help in several areas, most importantly at quarterback, but do they reach for one with this pick or are they content with Carson Palmer and Terrelle Pryor for the short-term? With Richard Seymour and others set to hit free agency, Oakland needs to get stronger on the defensive line, drafting Floyd would be a great start.
4. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -- LUKE JOECKEL, OT, TEXAS A&M
Just like other positions on the Eagles depth chart, offensive tackle looked to be a strength, but injuries have really taken a toll on this team. Although Jason Peters injury situation will be a factor in Philadelphia choosing a tackle, Joeckel has the chance to grow into one of the NFL's most consistent blockers.
5. DETROIT LIONS -- DEE MILLINER, CB, ALABAMA
What is the Lions' greatest need, defensive end or cornerback? The answer is debatable, but if they decide to lean towards the secondary, Milliner would be a great fit with his tough, instinctive ability to blanket opposing receivers.
6. CLEVELAND BROWNS -- BARKEVIOUS MINGO, DE/LB, LSU
With the Browns transitioning to a hybrid 3-4 defensive scheme under new coordinator Ray Horton, there is a more-than-good chance that this pick is defense. Mingo doesn't have a strong resume, but his skill-set and athletic upside pushes his value up draft boards.
7. ARIZONA CARDINALS -- GENO SMITH, QB, WEST VIRGINIA
With a new general manager and head coach in Phoenix, the Cardinals are a wildcard at this pick, especially with
8. BUFFALO BILLS -- CORDARRELLE PATTERSON, WR, TENNESSEE
With new head coach Doug Marrone in Buffalo, his former Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib makes a lot of sense for the Bills, but this pick is just too early for him. The Bills need help on defense, but they also need to find an explosive weapon to pair with Stevie Williams and Patterson can be that guy.
9. NEW YORK JETS -- EZEKIEL ANSAH, DE/LB, BYU
The Jets need a lot of help in several areas, mostly on offense, including the quarterback position. But the Jets have struggled to put pressure on the opponents' backfield and Ansah provides position versatility to line up all over the defensive front-seven.
10. TENNESSEE TITANS -- CHANCE WARMACK, OG, ALABAMA
As a former offensive lineman who was drafted in the top-10, Titans head coach Mike Munchak will undoubtedly be impressed with Warmack and with the future of both their starting guards (LeRoy Harris, Steve Hutchinson) in doubt, the Tide guard make sense here.
11. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -- LANE JOHNSON, OT, OKLAHOMA
The Chargers have questions at both tackle spots and while they hope Jared Gaither is part of the solution, his durability remains to be a concern. Johnson has steadily climbed draft boards over the past eight months and won't last long in the first round with his natural skill-set.
12. MIAMI DOLPHINS -- SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, TEXAS A&M
The Dolphins have needs in the secondary and on the offensive line, but even with 2012 Pro Bowl defensive tackle Randy Starks franchise-tagged, with Sheldon Richardson still on the board, the Dolphins might have a tough time passing on the athletic big man.
13. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS -- XAVIER RHODES, CB, FLORIDA STATE
The Buccaneers need to continue and rebuild the defense and might not return either of their starting cornerbacks from last season. Rhodes has imposing size for the position and plays with the aggressiveness and quickness to be a true bump-and-run corner in the NFL.
14. CAROLINA PANTHERS -- STAR LOTULELEI, DT, UTAH
The interior of the Panthers' defensive line has been a question mark since Kris Jenkins left in 2007 and, ironically, Carolina hasn't invested a top-50 draft pick on a defensive tackle since Jenkins over a decade ago. Floyd is an athletic, fiery player who is still developing in several areas, but his pro potential is off-the-charts.
15. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -- JARVIS JONES, OLB, GEORGIA
The Saints are transitioning to a 3-4 defensive scheme and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will bang the table for the Saints to draft a pass rusher here. Jones is a natural fit as a stand-up pass rusher and although he has some flaws, his ability to disrupt the pocket is a coveted attribute.
16. ST. LOUIS RAMS -- KENNY VACCARO, S, TEXAS
The Rams upgraded their cornerbacks last season through free agency (Cortland Finnegan) and the draft (Janoris Jenkins), but still need help at safety. In 2007 with the Titans, Jeff Fisher drafted a Texas safety in the top-20 (Michael Griffin), it wouldn't be surprising if it happens again in St. Louis this year.
17. PITTSBURGH STEELERS -- DAMONTRE MOORE, DE/OLB, TEXAS A&M
The Steelers need to get younger and faster on defense and will be looking or another pass rusher to add to the fold. Moore might be most natural as a pass rush linebacker and although he needs time to develop and get stronger, he has the motor that will work in Pittsburgh.
18. DALLAS COWBOYS -- JONATHAN COOPER, OG, NORTH CAROLINA
Will Jerry Jones really draft an offensive guard in the top-20 of the draft? Although it might seem like a longshot, Cooper is absolutely worth the pick and Dallas can't afford to pass on an interior lineman of his caliber, especially because he brings versatility at guard and center.
19. NEW YORK GIANTS -- BJOERN WERNER, DE, FLORIDA STATE
Stop me if you've heard this before -- the Giants select the top pass rusher left on the board with their first round pick. With Werner best suited for a four-man front, he could slip out of the top-15 picks, but would provide excellent value for the Giants here.
20. CHICAGO BEARS -- TYLER EIFERT, TE, NOTRE DAME
With larger needs at linebacker and offensive line, tight end might be a long shot here, but Chicago needs to upgrade the position at some point this off-season. A Midwest kid, Eifert is a reliable pass catcher who will fit well with what the Bears want to do on offense.
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS -- DJ FLUKER, OT, ALABAMA
With defensive end Michael Johnson receiving the franchise tag from the Bengals, right tackle Andre Smith is set to hit free agency unless Cincinnati locks him up. And with Smith looking to cash in, the Bengals might look to the draft to find a replacement, possibly replacing one Crimson Tide tackle with another.
22. ST. LOUIS RAMS (FROM WASHINGTON) -- TAVON AUSTIN, WR, WEST VIRGINIA
With Danny Amendola likely to test free agency, the Rams will be in the market for a speedy inside receiver. Austin has the speed and quickness to make plays at all levels of the field and can be a difference-maker for an offense that needs some life.
23. MINNESOTA VIKINGS -- DeANDRE HOPKINS, WR, CLEMSON
No one will mistake Christian Ponder for Peyton Manning, but the Vikings are currently connected to the former Florida State quarterback and need to add weapons to help him succeed. Although he won't "wow" athletically, Hopkins is a polished route runner and knows how to separate and create.
24. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -- JONATHAN HANKINS, DT, OHIO STATE
The Colts have done an admirable job on defense in their first season utilizing the 3-4 scheme, but need to add more bulk up front. Hankins has the natural size to be a space-eater in the middle, but also has experience on the outside, showing the versatility the NFL will love.
25. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -- DATONE JONES, DE, UCLA
The Seahawks have one of the better defensive fronts in the NFC, but it wouldn't be surprising to see them add some depth, especially at pass rusher. Jones has the versatility to line up inside, outside and standing up, providing a pass rush from several different angles.
26. GREEN BAY PACKERS -- ARTHUR BROWN, LB, KANSAS STATE
For most of the season, it seemed evident that the Packers needed to add more speed on defense and that was never more true than Green Bay's loss in the playoffs to San Francisco. Brown has a nose for the ball with the position versatility to play inside or outside in the Packers scheme.
27. HOUSTON TEXANS -- KEENAN ALLEN, WR, CALIFORNIA
The Texans drafted two receivers last season, but they still need to find an adequate weapon opposite Andre Johnson, who isn't getting any younger himself. Allen might slip a bit on draft day due to his knee injury, but he would be great value with this pick and projects as an impact NFL starter.
28. DENVER BRONCOS -- KAWANN SHORT, DT, PURDUE
The Broncos starting defensive tackles from a year ago (Justin Bannan, Kevin Vickerson) are both free agents and depth on the interior line must be addressed. Short doesn't play with the consistency to make him a higher selection, but he has a wide base and stays light on his feet for a 310-pounder.
29. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -- DESMOND TRUFANT, CB, WASHINGTON
The Patriots need to stop the bleeding in the secondary by adding more depth on the outside at cornerback. Trufant still needs some technique work, but he has the quickness, hips and experience that will be enticing to New England with this pick.
30. ATLANTA FALCONS -- CORNELLIUS CARRADINE, DE, FLORIDA STATE
While Tony Gonzalez's retirement decision could determine whether the Falcons look at tight end here, Atlanta needs to upgrade the defensive end position. While his November ACL tear is worrisome, Carradine might be worth the chance with this pick as long as his recovery process stays on track.
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -- JOHNTHAN BANKS, CB, MISSISSIPPI STATE
31. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS -- JOHNTHAN BANKS, CB, MISSISSIPPI STATE
San Francisco has one of the best defenses in the league, but some of their weaknesses in coverage were exposed in the 2012 NFL Playoffs. Banks is a tall, ballhawking corner with the potential to contribute early and often.
32. BALTIMORE RAVENS -- KEVIN MINTER, ILB, LSU
The Ravens are World Champions, but they also have needs all over their defense, including at middle linebacker where Ray Lewis leaves a gaping hole. Minter will never be the fastest athlete on the field, but he plays smart, alert football with a nose for the ball in the run game.