The recent game of quarterback musical chairs featuring Oakland, Arizona and Buffalo has shaken up the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft a bit, and could signal how the league's personnel people view this year's class of signal-callers, particularly West Virginia's Geno Smith.
Some, perhaps focusing on need, have Smith rated as a top-10 pick, while at least one noted draft expert rated him as a fourth- or fifth-round selection.
The truth, as with most things, probably lies somewhere in between, but one thing we do know is that "need" is regarded as the worst talent evaluator there is in NFL circles.
The Raiders, of course, acquired the unproven Matt Flynn from Seattle and then shipped the underachieving Carson Palmer to the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the other quarterback-hungry team with a top-10 selection -- the Bills -- signed ex-Arizona pilot Kevin Kolb.
None of those quarterbacks is going to conjure up visions of Joe Montana in his prime and none is likely going to be the answer for their respective tortured cities. What they do offer, however, is the ability to actually take the exchange from center and that gives their teams options.
If no one is enamored with Smith or any of the other top quarterbacks in the process, they can move in a different direction.
So, with that in mind, here are the results as The Sports Network rolls out its latest mock draft:
1. Kansas City Chiefs - Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M - With Alex Smith and his new caddy, Chase Daniel, officially on board for new coach Andy Reid, the only real choices here are trading down with a team enamored by Geno Smith or deciding between Joeckel, the Aggies' left tackle who projects as a Matt Kalil-like stalwart and Central Michigan's Eric Fisher, a Joe Staley-type with a bigger upside. Joeckel remains the safest selection.
Previous Pick: Joeckel
2. Jacksonville Jaguars - Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon - Jacksonville is a true wild card in this draft. The Jaguars may be the least talented team in the NFL and need help at nearly every position. Moreover a new brain trust has taken over, led by general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley. A lot of the talk in Jacksonville has centered on disappointing quarterback Blaine Gabbert and whether Caldwell is ready to cut bait on the former Missouri star just two years into his NFL career. Bradley, though, is a defensive- minded coach and needs to address the Jags' paltry pass rush, specifically off the edges. Jordan has emerged from the pack as the best prospect off the edge.
Previous Pick: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
3. Oakland Raiders - Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah - Flynn isn't going to generate a ton of excitement, but his presence will enable the Raiders to stop thinking about Smith and center on a pair of far bigger prospects, defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd or Lotulelei. If the doctors keep giving Lotulelei a clean bill of health, he's the choice. Star is a strong, physical player who fits in playing multiple techniques and should develop into a solid player early in his career. His left ventricle was pumping at below-normal levels at the NFL Scouting Combine, but everything has checked out fine since.
Previous Pick: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan - The Eagles want Jordan, but his stock continues to rise so they will settle for Fisher, one of the few can't-miss talents in this draft.
Previous Pick: Jordan
5. Detroit Lions - Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma - The Lions need to solve their tackle situation because right tackle Gosder Cherilus left for Indianapolis in free agency and veteran left tackle Jeff Backus called it quits after a solid 12-year career. With 2012 first-rounder Riley Reiff better suited for the right side, Detroit would jump on Fisher if he somehow lasted to the fifth overall selection. Oklahoma's Johnson, although probably not worthy of being picked that high, has been moving and could be in play here.
Previous Pick: Fisher
6. Cleveland Browns - Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama - New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton ran the 3-4 in Arizona, and Cleveland has been active in free agency fortifying the front seven, inking edge pass rusher Paul Kruger from Baltimore as well as ex-Raiders defensive tackle Desmond Bryant and former Cardinal linebacker Quentin Groves. Milliner is the kind of player who could team with Joe Haden to give Horton two top-tier corners and the ability to get exotic with his defensive play-calling.
Previous Pick: Milliner
7. Arizona Cardinals - Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama - Arizona's draft prospects changed markedly when the team acquired Palmer from the Raiders. Palmer may be on the downside on his career and is certainly not the Pro Bowl player he once was in Cincinnati, but he is a massive upgrade on the terrible triumvirate of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindley which eventually cost Ken Whisenhunt his job in the desert. Palmer may not be the long-term answer in Glendale, but he's a nice stop-gap and one whom will enable the Cards to look past reaching for a signal-caller. New head coach Bruce Arians is known for developing young quarterbacks and will certainly get a developmental one at some point, but rebuilding perhaps the worst offensive line in football trumps that as a priority. The Cards would prefer a tackle, but with the big three off the board, Warmack, perhaps the best player in the draft, should be the selection.
Previous Pick: Matt Barkley, QB, USC
8. Buffalo Bills - Ryan Nassib, QB, Syracuse - The Bills haven't reached double-digit wins since 1999. Since the turn of the century, Buffalo's high water mark was 9-7 in 2004, three years after bottoming out at 3-13 in '01. With Ryan Fitzpatrick at the controls as its starting quarterback from 2009-12, Buffalo won six, four, six and six games. With Fitz now gone and Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson as the only in-house options at quarterback, new coach Doug Marrone will reach for what's familiar, his old college quarterback, Ryan Nassib. The former Syracuse star has the big arm and may have a bright future in a few years but shouldn't be in the conversation this early.
Previous Pick: Nassib
9. New York Jets - Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia - Those back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game in the 2009 and 2010 NFL seasons are just distant memories for the Jets, a team which enters this draft process as one of the least talented in football. The popular theory is that Mark Sanchez will get one final chance to prove he can be the answer at quarterback, but with Smith falling, New York will take the leap.
Previous Pick: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia
10. Tennessee Titans - Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida - The Titans addressed their most glaring holes in free agency by signing highly regarded guard Andy Levitre from Buffalo, inking strong safety Bernard Pollard from the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, and getting running back Chris Johnson and young quarterback Jake Locker backups by convincing Shonn Greene and Fitzpatrick to leave the AFC East behind. Tennessee stills need to give Levitre more help on the interior of the offensive line and fortify the defensive line, so Floyd wins out over North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper because he has the slightly higher ceiling.
Previous Pick: Floyd
11. San Diego Chargers - Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina - The Chargers' offensive line is in shambles and Cooper is the best prospect left. The UNC guard is a a perfect choice for San Diego, which lost Louis Vasquez to AFC West rival Denver during free agency.
Previous Pick: Warmack
12. Miami Dolphins - Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State - The perception in South Florida is the Dolphins have gone all-in in an attempt to make things tough on the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The Dolphins certainly made the biggest splash early free agency, signing two of the best players available in speedy wide receiver Mike Wallace and Super Bowl-winning linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. They continued the spending spree from there by bringing in wide receiver Brandon Gibson and tight end Dustin Keller on the offensive side of the ball, along with linebacker Phillip Wheeler and cornerback Brent Grimes to help the defense. Here's the bad news, though: Miami had to release linebackers Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby and lost a solid tight end in Anthony Fasano. The 'Phins also must replace their starting left tackle, Jake Long, their best cover corner, Sean Smith, and a very versatile running back in Reggie Bush. Rhodes could replace Smith and give Miami a terrific tandem if Grimes proves to be healthy.
Previous Pick: Johnson
13. Tampa Bay Bucs (Trade to New York Jets for cornerback Darrelle Revis) - Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU - The Bucs have been the lead horse in the Revis race since day one and things will get done here, putting the Jets on the clock again. New York needs a 3-4 edge pass rusher and Ansah is a rangy Jason Pierre-Paul type who will make Rex Ryan salivate.
Previous Pick: Rhodes for Tampa Bay
14. Carolina Panthers - Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri - The Panthers need to sure up their run defense and Richardson is a boom-or-bust kind of guy. When the motor is on, he looks like a top-five pick, so he's a good gamble here as a need pick.
Previous Pick: Lotulelei
15. New Orleans Saints - Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia - Poor 40-yard dash times will send Jones crashing out of the top 10, but the Saints, who are switching to a 3-4, need edge players and Jones could be a Terrell Suggs-like steal.
Previous Pick: Ansah
16. St. Louis Rams - Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia - The Rams shored up left tackle with the signing of Jake Long but lost Danny Amendola, making receiver even more of a need pick. Cal's Keenan Allen is the most NFL-ready pass catcher, but slow 40 times have hindered him. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson is the top vertical threat and Austin is the slot star but is undersized. The Rams will pick the biggest playmaker and that's Austin.
Previous Pick: Patterson
17. Pittsburgh Steelers - Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee - There is plenty of work to be done in Pittsburgh as age has slowly crept up on the Steelers. Pittsburgh has moved on from former NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, will likely replace veteran nose tackle Casey Hampton and really can't count on oft-injured safety Troy Polamalu. That said, with Mike Wallace in Miami and fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders likely to end up in New England after signing a one-year offer sheet as a restricted free agent, the Steelers need to get something outside and lean toward Patterson, a raw, rangy big-play threat who needs to focus more
Previous Pick: Richardson
18. Dallas Cowboys - Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina - The 'Boys are hamstrung by salary cap woes, so getting help with this pick is paramount, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. Williams edges out Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson and Alabama OT D.J. Fluker as the best option.
Previous Pick: Cooper
19. New York Giants - Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State - When the Giants have succeeded, it has been all about the pass rush, and that part of their game derailed in 2012. Werner was a top five-level prospect earlier in this process, but his closing speed has scared some teams off of him. He has the motor to excel in the NFL, though, and Werner is a solid fit with Big Blue as the replacement for Osi Umenyiora.
Previous Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
20. Chicago Bears - Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame - The Brian Urlacher era is over in the Second City and taking Te'o, would accomplish a couple of things. It gives Chicago an heir apparent and keeps him away from NFC North rival Minnesota.
Previous Pick - Fluker
21. Cincinnati Bengals - Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas - The re-signing of defensive end Michael Johnson and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga helped solidify the front seven for Cincinnati, making safety the biggest position of need, and Vaccaro is the best one available, a player who has the ideal combination of size and athleticism to roam from sideline to sideline in coverage.
Previous Pick: Matt Elam, S, Florida
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins) - Matt Elam, S, Florida - The Rams could continue carpet-bombing the receiver spot or look for Steven Jackson's replacement at running back, but their need at safety is just too great and Elam is the safer choice over rising Florida International star Jonathan Cyprien.
Previous Pick: Austin
23. Minnesota Vikings - Johnathan Banks, CB, Mississippi State - Greg Jennings' presence makes receiver less of an issue in Minneapolis, but the release of Antoine Winfield labels cornerback a priority and the Vikings reportedly love Banks, a player they project as a starter early on. He could team with Chris Cook and Josh Robinson in Minnesota to give the Vikings three solid young corners, something you need in a division in which Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler play quarterback.
Previous Pick: Banks
24. Indianapolis Colts - Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU - Chuck Pagano needs to continue to build up his 3-4 defense in Indy and needs edge players because Robert Mathis is aging and the team moved on from Dwight Freeney. Mingo was once thought of as a top-10 pick, so getting him here is nice value.
Previous Pick: Mingo
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle) - Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia - This is Minnesota's pick acquired in the Percy Harvin deal. The Vikings let their middle linebacker in 2012, the mediocre Jasper Brinkley, walk to Arizona, so they need a mike. Minny general manager Rick Spielman has already hit big on Notre Dame prospects in back-to-back years (tight end Kyle Rudolph and safety Harrison Smith) and would love Te'o, but Ogletree will be a nice consolation prize, a far more athletic player who is better-suited for the Vikings' somewhat antiquated Tampa-2 base scheme.
Previous Pick: Te'o
26. Green Bay Packers - Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State - The Packers could go running back (Alabama's Eddie Lacy), but it's hard to imagine Ted Thompson valuing that position. Improving a mediocre offensive line is the far more likely option and Watson, who played right tackle with the Seminoles, has the athleticism to project on the left side. He's been racing up the charts and his versatility is a fit here.
Previous Pick: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
27. Houston Texans - DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson - Even before they released veteran Kevin Walter, the Texans badly needed a complement to Andre Johnson. Keenan Allen's lack of speed will turn the team toward Hopkins, who is more of a vertical threat, which is what Houston is looking for.
Previous Pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
28. Denver Broncos - Margus Hunt, DE, SMU - The Elvis Dumervil fax fiasco put defensive end in play for the Broncos and the 6-foot-8, 280-pound Hunt is the type of raw talent you gamble with late in the first round. Most project him as a 3-4 end, but Hunt certainly has the size and frame to hold up as a base end in a 4-3 also.
Previous Pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
29. New England Patriots - Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington - Although the Patriots got Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington back in free agency, snaring a possible starter at corner this late is hard to pass up on.
Previous Pick: Robert Woods, WR, USC
30. Atlanta Falcons - Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State - The Falcons replaced the aging but always productive John Abraham with Umenyiora, a talented but far less consistent player. Meanwhile Troy Biermann is a high-motor player on the other side who is probably best-suited for fewer reps. They could put Carradine in the picture, a player on the rise after ACL surgery.
Previous Pick: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
31. San Francisco 49ers - Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame - Yeah, they have Vernon Davis, but Delanie Walker left in free agency, so why not develop a left coast alternative to the Rob Gronkowski-Aaron Hernandez tandem that has somewhat revolutionized offensive football.
Previous Pick: Trufant
32. Baltimore Ravens - Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU - With Ray Lewis retiring and Dannell Ellerbe exiting to Miami, Baltimore badly needs an inside linebacker and Minter is a solid tackler who can hit the ground running in the NFL.
Previous Pick: Te'o
33. Jacksonville Jaguars - Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
34. San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City) - Jesse Williams, NT, Alabama
35. Philadelphia Eagles - EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
36. Detroit Lions - Keenan Allen, WR, California
37. Cincinnati Bengals (from Oakland) - Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
38. Arizona Cardinals - Matt Barkley, QB, USC
39. New York Jets - Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
40. Tennessee Titans - Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
41. Buffalo Bills - Terron Armstead, OT, Arkansas Pine-Bluff
42. Miami Dolphins - Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
44. Carolina Panthers - Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
45. San Diego Chargers - D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
46. St. Louis Rams - Eric Reid, S, LSU
47. Dallas Cowboys - Justin Pugh, OG/OT, Syracuse
48. Pittsburgh Steelers - Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn
49. New York Giants - Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
50. Chicago Bears - Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
51. Washington Redskins - Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State
52. Minnesota Vikings - Robert Woods, WR, USC
53. Cincinnati Bengals - Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
54. Miami Dolphins (from Indianapolis) - Kyle Long, OG/OT, Oregon
55. Green Bay Packers - John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
56. Seattle Seahawks - Chase Thomas, LB Stanford
57. Houston Texans - Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
58. Denver Broncos - Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State
59. New England Patriots - D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina
60. Atlanta Falcons - Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
61. San Francisco 49ers - D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
62. Baltimore Ravens - Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Cleveland exercised its second-round pick in last year's supplemental draft.
New Orleans forfeited its second-round pick due to the Bountygate scandal.