The first round of the draft is always tough to project, but there is usually a consensus as to who will be drafted in the top ten. The draft really becomes unpredictable once we leave the top ten, however. There are always surprises in the middle of the first round. Some teams will fall in love with a prospect not expected to be taken in the first round, and others will draft someone not because of a need, but because he's far and away the best player on the board.
While it's difficult to predict what teams will be thinking in the first round, it is reasonable to narrow each team down to a handful of players that they may consider when they go on the clock in the first round. That's what we'll do here by giving you an idea of who your team may have high on their boards Thursday night.
Kansas City should be in good position to take either their offensive line or defensive front seven from being good, to being potentially elite. Drafting either offensive guard David DeCastro or linebacker Luke Kuechly wouldn't be the "sexy" choice, but would likely solidify their respective positions for at least a decade. Defensive tackle Dontari Poe could be a developmental prospect on the defensive line, but there is some question as to just where he would fit in a 3-4 defense.
12. Seattle Seahawks
If they're still available, it's hard to envision Quinton Coples or Melvin Ingram falling past Seattle. Coples' character questions aren't likely to concern Pete Carroll as much as they will some other coaches, so it's likely he could be the pick here. Adding offensive tackle Riley Reiff would give Seattle solid young left and right tackles for the future.
Possibilities: OG David DeCastro, OT Riley Reiff, OT/OG Cordy Glenn
Arizona has plenty of needs, which will allow for them to take the best available offensive lineman on the board. They'll likely be looking to upgrade their offensive line, and if David DeCastro is available he'd clearly be the best player on the board. They may also consider Riley Reiff or Cordy Glenn, who would help solidify they somewhat shaky offensive tackle situation.
14. Dallas Cowboys
With the amount of smokescreens Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have sent out over the past two weeks, it's difficult to determine who Dallas is actually interested in here. Since they've addressed both cornerback and offensive guard during free agency, the obvious choice would be safety Mark Barron. David DeCastro would still be an upgrade here, and both Melvin Ingram and Courtney Upshaw would give Dallas the option to part ways with the disgruntled Anthony Spencer.
Quinton Coples 15. Philadelphia Eagles
Possibilities: DE Quinton Coples, DT Dontari Poe, LB Luke Kuechly
Philadelphia will likely be praying that defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will fall all the way to their pick, but that doesn't seem likely anymore. Fortunately, the Eagles' defensive line coach Jim Washburn has made a living out of turning underachieving defensive line prospects into pro bowl talents. There should be several of those types of players for Philadelphia to choose from. Quinton Coples is a top ten talent with plenty of character concerns, and it's likely Washburn could see a lot of Albert Haynesworth in Dontari Poe. If the Eagles prefer a safer pick, it'd be difficult to find a player with a higher floor than Luke Kuechly.
16. New York Jets
The Jets priorities in this draft have to be adding pass rushers on defense and weapons on offense. Courtney Upshaw tends to be the consensus pick here, but recently there have been questions raised about his ability to get to the quarterback. New York may go with either Nick Perry or Whitney Mercilus, who are both better athletes. It will be tough to pass up on Michael Floyd here, who would provide Mark Sanchez with a good weapon on the outside.
There's a chance that the Bengals look to add another wide receiver here in the first round, but it's more likely that they'll be looking to the defensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers is likely to go in the top half of the first round, but he's still on the board here there is a distinct possibility he'll be a Bengal. Cincinnati should figure to have their choice of cornerbacks here as well, whether it's Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick.
18. San Diego Chargers
Possibilities: DE/OLB Nick Perry, CB Stephon Gilmore, S Mark Barron
San Diego is getting older at outside linebacker and in the secondary. Quentin Jammer needs to be moved to safety, so drafting Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick would be good options here. If the Chargers were to look at safety first, Mark Barron may still be on the board. Although he's hinted at a preference to play as a defensive end, Nick Perry would fit well as a linebacker in San Diego's defense.
19. Chicago Bears
Possibilities: OT Jonathon Martin, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, DE/LB Whitney Mercilus
The Bears will be hoping that offensive tackle Cordy Glenn or wide receiver Malcom Floyd somehow fall to them, but as it stands that doesn't appear like it will happen. Instead they can add Jonathon Martin to start at offensive tackle. Dre Kirkpatrick would fill a more marginal need at cornerback but would still upgrade their defense. Pairing Whitney Mercilus with Julius Peppers would have the potential to be a deadly pass rush.
20. Tennessee Titans
Possibilities: DE Nick Perry, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Mark Barron
The Titans' roster doesn't have many glaring holes, but there are not many positions that couldn't be upgraded. Adding a pass rusher like Nick Perry would be their primary need, but the secondary needs help too. Dre Kirkpatrick can play cornerback or safety, and Mark Barron could be a day one starter at safety. Tennessee has also desperately sought a new center in free agency, but they've come up empty thus far, so center Peter Konz is also a possibility here.