Every Team’s Top Target in the 2013 NFL Draft
Every Team's Top Target in the 2013 NFL Draft
With 30 teams already enjoying the offseason, the 2013 NFL Draft is quickly becoming a focal point throughout the league.
Especially with the Senior Bowl now in the rear view mirror, projecting prospects and their draft stock will soon become the hot topic throughout the NFL blogosphere. Mock drafts will run amuck as speculation consumes the entire football community. In essence, it’s draft season and that’s going to be what matters most once Super Bowl XLVII has come and gone.
With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the top target that each team has their sights set on at this early point of the draft season. It may not be a logical option at their slot in the draft order, but these prospects are who the teams likely see as the best case scenario for them this upcoming April. Please, remember that rational is an afterthought in this process.
Keep in mind that these are just the top target projections for each team based on position in the draft and need. Just because one player is mentioned while another isn’t doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s better; rather it just means that the other player wasn’t necessarily a top target for any particular team early in the round. There will be a few noteworthy names that you won’t see on this list, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t expect them to go in the first round.
Here’s the rundown on each team’s top target heading into April’s draft.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Best Player Available
Where do I begin? The Chiefs have so many holes to fill that there’s no particular player that seems to fit at No. 1 better than any other. Although Luke Joeckel is the consensus No. 1 overall player in the draft, Kansas City already has a capable left tackle on the roster in Brandon Albert. Meanwhile, picking a quarterback like Geno Smith might be too much of a reach considering that he’s far from a sure thing. Considering that there’s no clear-cut candidate at the top of the draft, the Chiefs might be better off just trading away the No. 1 slot and stockpiling draft picks.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Best Player Available
Much like the Chiefs, the Jaguars have so many holes to fill at this point that they just need to go for a player who is going to contribute immediately. It doesn’t matter who or what position they play; the Jaguars just need a proven difference-maker who’s ready to see the field on Day 1. Whether they go quarterback with Smith or defensive end with Damontre Moore, Jacksonville desperately needs to add an impact player.
3. Oakland Raiders – Star Lotulelei
Plain and simple, the Raiders need an impact player. If they were to draft Lotulelei, that would be exactly what they would get. The mammoth defensive tackle has the talent and athleticism to play across the defensive line and will eat up blockers all season long. By bringing in a player of Lotulelei’s caliber, the Raiders immediately have a significantly better defense in 2013.
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Joeckel
A new era has begun in Philadelphia, and one of the best ways to rebuild an offense is by adding a cornerstone left tackle to the mix. Especially with new head coach Chip Kelly likely to implement a spread offense, the need for an elite blindside protector has never been greater. The only problem is that Joeckel might not make it to No. 4, which could force the Eagles to trade up or just cross their fingers and hope he falls.
5. Detroit Lions – Jarvis Jones
Moore would also be a terrific pick up at this spot for the Lions, but I can’t imagine Jones falling any further down the board than this. He’s a sack machine who routinely dominants blockers no matter how many he has on him. It’s a questionable fit considering that Detroit runs a 4-3 defense as compared to the 3-4 that Jones ran in college, but it worked out pretty well for the Broncos with Von Miller right?
6. Cleveland Browns – Damontre Moore
With a new regime in place, the Browns will be looking to step in a different direction moving forward. Quarterback could very well be an option in the first round (again), but Cleveland will likely focus on improving on the defensive side of the ball. Even with a rising player like Jabaal Sheard at defensive end, bringing a phenomenal talent like Moore to the mix would do wonders for their pass rush and coverage.
7. Arizona Cardinals – Luke Joeckel
Not that Joeckel would ever fall this far, but the Cardinals would kill to finally have some real talent on their offensive line. One of the biggest problems with their current group of quarterbacks is that they have no time to throw. Since they get used to being under pressure, they develop happy feet and can’t find a rhythm. If they had a blocker with the talent that Joeckel possesses, they could begin to the process of rehabilitating their passers.
8. Buffalo Bills – Ryan Nassib
It’s no secret that the Bills are in need of a new quarterback after another inconsistent year from Ryan Fitzpatrick. With former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone now at the helm, Buffalo will likely set their sights on Nassib as their head honcho hopes to pick up where he left off with the Orange. He might not be a Top 10 talent, but if he is Marrone’s man then that’s where he’ll go.
9. New York Jets – Best Quarterback Available
There’s no beating around the bush anymore. The Jets need to address the quarterback situation in a big way this offseason before they let another campaign go to waste because of Mark Sanchez’ inept play. And no, Greg McElroy also isn’t the answer. Whether it’s via the draft or free agency, something needs to chance for the Gang Green at quarterback. Another USC quarterback maybe?
10. Tennessee Titans – Bjoern Werner
Plain and simple, the Titans need to revamp their pass rush. Derrick Morgan and Kameron Wimbley, their leaders in sacks this past season, totaled 12.5 on the year. That’s not going to cut it for a defense that is anything but solid in the secondary. If they’re going to improve on the defensive side of the ball and take some of the pressure off of Jake Locker, they need to get to the quarterback more in 2013. Adding Werner would immediately upgrade the pass rush as well as the run defense.
11. San Diego Chargers – Eric Fisher
The decisions of both Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan killed the Chargers’ plan for the 2013 NFL Draft. San Diego needs a new left tackle badly, but isn’t in a position to get Joeckel. Meanwhile, No. 11 might be a little high for Fisher. Still, you have to assume that if Fisher is who they need to get better, they might as well take him here instead of trading down and risking him going elsewhere.
12. Miami Dolphins – Cordarrelle Patterson
After they traded away Brandon Marshall last season, the Dolphins were left with little for rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill to work with at wide receiver. Although Brian Hartline was a pleasant surprise, Miami needs to equip Tannehill with a larger, more-lethal arsenal of weapons to work with heading into his sophomore campaign. Bringing a guy like Patterson into the mix immediately makes the Miami passing attack something worth worrying about.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dee Milliner
If Milliner makes it past the Lions at No. 5, the Buccaneers might just be in the position to watch the Alabama alumnus fall into their laps. The top cornerback in the 2013 class, Milliner would immediately provide support to a Tampa Bay defense that struggled in the passing game last year. With Ronde Barber likely on his way out in the next year or two, the Buccaneers would benefit greatly from letting a young cornerback learn under the grizzled veteran.
14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson
The Panthers need a dynamic playmaker on the defensive line who can occupy blockers for Luke Kuechly and keep their run defense from being the mockery that it has been over the last two seasons. Carolina would get all of that and more from Richardson, who put up the type of numbers in 2012 that you just don’t see from a defensive tackle. He’s the type of player that makes plays all over the field, and he’d be another excellent building block for the Panthers defense.
15. New Orleans Saints – Ezekiel Ansah
With Will Smith on the decline and Cameron Jordan proving that he isn’t a consistent threat to sack the quarterback, the Saints are in desperate need of some help in the pass-rush department. Especially with their struggling secondary, adding some pressure up front would do wonders for the New Orleans defense. Ansah is raw, but has the potential to develop into a freakish pass rusher with time and experience.
16. St. Louis Rams – D.J. Fluker
Ever since the Rams drafted Sam Bradford, one of their most glaring areas of weakness has been the offensive line. They’ve been unable to keep their franchise passer healthy as defenses routinely plow him into the turf. On top of that, the tread on Steven Jackson’s tires is wearing thin with all of the hits that he takes on a weekly basis. Fluker is a mauler who would step in and do wonders at the right tackle spot. Bradford and Jackson would both be very pleased with that pick.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Barkevious Mingo
The Steelers are in need of some youth on their defense as James Harrison appears to be on his way out of the Steel City. While they have some talent along the front seven, they’re in need of some extra athleticism and Mingo brings a boatload of that to the table. If there’s one team that can find a way to get the most out of Mingo’s talents, it’s Pittsburgh.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Chance Warmack
More than likely, Warmack will be off the board by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. Don’t think for a second that they won’t be trying to move up and put themselves in position to get him, though. Warmack is a mauler in the middle and brings a ferocious feel to the line. With him at guard, the Dallas blocking would immediately upgrade tenfold, meaning that Tony Romo would have more pass blocking and DeMarco Murray would have more holes to run through.
19. New York Giants – Johnthan Banks
No matter how many high draft picks they use at the cornerback spot, the Giants never seem to get what they want from their secondary. With Prince Amukamara struggling and the rest of the unit constantly on the injured list, New York could again go to the cornerback well in hopes of landing a consistent starter who they can build around. Banks isn’t the best the class has to offer, but he can be a Day 1 starter and has the tools to succeed in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears – Lane Johnson
Year after year, the Bears fail to keep Jay Cutler upright and off of the turf. Their pass blocking has been a huge area of concern, and it’s time they took some extra measures like adding Johnson to ensure that the protection is better come 2013. When Cutler isn’t healthy, the Bears are awful. When he is healthy, they consistently land in the win column. I wonder which one is in their best interests?
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Manti Te’o
It’s becoming obvious that Rey Maualuga is no longer getting the job done in the middle for the Bengals. Cincinnati got a nice surprise in undrafted rookie Vontaze Burfict, but that doesn’t mean that they’re anywhere near set at the linebacker spot. Especially with a team that’s had a history of troubled players, bringing in a bipolar situation like Te’o could be beneficial for both parties – on and off the field.
22. Washington Redskins – Tony Jefferson
Seeing as the Redskins don’t have a first-round pick – it was traded to the Rams so that D.C. could move up to get RG3 – Washington won’t be picking until the late second round. Even though they could have used one of the safeties that would have been available at No. 22, they’ll have to wait until No. 54 to upgrade their pitiful pair of safeties. Someone like Jefferson could be an option at that spot.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Terrance Williams
Even if the Vikings do smooth things over with Percy Harvin, they will still need to put even more chips into the wide receiver basket if they want Christian Ponder to realize his potential. Throughout the 2012 campaign, the second-year quarterback didn’t have enough options to throw to, which forced the Minnesota offense to be one-dimensional. By adding a player like Williams, the Vikings would have a legitimate playmaker across from Harvin who could take the pressure off of the running game.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Lane Johnson
All throughout this past season, Andrew Luck took a pounding as the offensive line struggled to keep opposing pass rushes away from him. In 2013, the Colts need to be sure that their prized possession is better taken care of. Adding a blocker like Johnson would bring some stability to the offensive line while allowing the Colts to bench Winston Justice. The only problem is that Johnson will likely be off the board by then, which could force Indianapolis to reach on a lesser prospect.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Keenan Allen
Throughout his 2012 rookie season, quarterback Russell Wilson carried the Seahawks as they shocked the entire NFL world with an 11-5 finish and berth in the playoffs. The more impressive part about it, though, is that he did it without a true No. 1 receiver to throw to. Sidney Rice hasn’t been the same since 2009 and Golden Tate is best when serving in a No. 2 role. The addition of Allen would give him a dynamic pass-catcher to throw to, which would only mean Seattle would be even deadlier in 2013.
26. Green Bay Packers – Giovani Bernard
You know when a player named DuJuan Harris is your starter at season’s end, there’s a problem. The Packers need a running game, and they need it now if they ever hope to make a return trip to the Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers can’t carry this offense, especially with a subpar offensive line. However, if they were to add a dynamic runner like Bernard to the mix, the ground game might actually become relevant in Green Bay.
27. Houston Texans – Robert Woods
Unfortunately for Matt Schaub and the Texans’ passing game, Andre Johnson isn’t getting any younger and continues to show signs of slowing down. There’s no denying that he still has a few good years left in him, but Houston needs to start getting a contingency plan in place for when the veteran finally gets too worn down. Woods is a proven playmaker who wreaks havoc with the ball in his hands. If given a few years to learn under Johnson, Woods could develop into one of the NFL’s top receiving threats.
28. Denver Broncos – Johnthan Banks
As we saw in the AFC Championship Game, Champ Bailey isn’t getting any younger. He can still play at an elite level, but he’s starting to become a liability against faster wide receivers. As for Tracy Porter, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Broncos move on without him sooner rather than later. That’s why landing a starting-caliber cornerback will be a top priority this offseason for Denver. Banks might be gone by this point, but it doesn’t hurt to hope that he slides.
29. New England Patriots – Robert Woods
Despite Tom Brady being, well, Tom Brady, the elite quarterback could use some extra weapons in the passing game. Wes Welker is dependable, but could be on the move this offseason. Brandon Lloyd is inconsistent and might not be a long-term answer for the Patriots. From there, the depth chart gets a little scarce in the way of talent, which is why a player like Woods would be a huge grab for New England and their offensive attack.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Zach Ertz
It seems inevitable that future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez is headed for retirement. Once he’s gone, that means that the Falcons will have to find someone who can replace that production from the tight end spot. Although it’s unlikely that anyone in the 2013 draft class has the talent to pick up where Gonzalez left off, Ertz could definitely ease the pain of his departure.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Sharrif Floyd
The 49ers defense is already dynamic, but there’s no telling how much longer Justin Smith can handle the physical torture of the NFL. The veteran is starting to show signs of wearing, which could force San Francisco to reload in April. Floyd is an outstanding defensive line prospect who can play all along the line and does a great job of making an impact against both the run and pass.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Arthur Brown
The loss of Ray Lewis at season’s end is going to one of the toughest that any one team is going to have to overcome this offseason. Although the Ravens have a capable replacement in Dannell Ellerbe already on the roster, Baltimore could still benefit greatly from adding another talented inside linebacker like Brown. There are several options who could contribute immediately, and the Ravens are going to need that Day 1 production once Lewis hangs it up.