1. Kansas City Chiefs:
Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
This pick now looks like it will be between Joeckel and Eric Fisher and the preference is for Joeckel. Branden Albert is on the trading block according to sources and the Chiefs are going to work out Joeckel privately to see if he is ready for the demands and pressure of the NFL. He has the potential to be an elite protector and should give Alex Smith enough time to show if he was worth the high price the Chiefs paid for him. This pick is pretty common knowledge at this point and may even be announced before the Draft.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars:
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to trade a first-round pick for cornerback Darrelle Revis. The deal would make the Bucs a dangerous team defensively in 2013.
Revis seems destined to dealt by the New York Jets and Tampa appears his most likely destination. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal cites a report from Sports Illustrated's Peter King, stating the Buccaneers are willing to trade their first-round pick for the star cover man.
He is certainly worth that to Tampa Bay's defense. Revis can turn a solid group into a unit that will frighten opponents in the new season.
In 2012, the Buccaneers were the stingiest run defense in the NFL. They yielded a mere 82.5 yards per game on the ground.
Yet the defense still ranked 23rd in points and 29th in yards surrendered. The chief problem was a pass defense that ranked bottom of the league.
A handful of positions in the world of sports—center field for the Yankees, tailback at USC—test every individual who plays them against some of the giants in the history of the game. One such position is middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
Now, there will be a new would-be star in that role for the first time in 13 years. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Brian Urlacher and the team have broken off contract talks, and the career Windy City icon has played his last game in a Bear uniform.
With the end of the Urlacher era, it’s time to reflect on the Chicago career of the most successful and popular Bear of this century. Even in the lofty company of Bear MLBs, number 54 stacks up remarkably well.
The New York Jets are finally fixing their weak pass rush, after signing free-agent linebacker Antwan Barnes. Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News reported the details of Barnes' signing. Frankly it is a bargain deal for Gang Green, paying him only $900,000 initially and then $1.2 million each of the next two years.
For a modest sum, head coach Rex Ryan is getting the kind of pure pass-rusher his defense has lacked for too long. Since Ryan arrived in New York in 2009, the Jets have failed to exceed 40 sacks in a season and no one defender has posted double-digits in quarterback takedowns.
Whether he has operated a 3-4, 4-3 or a hybrid blend of both fronts, Ryan hasn't been able to produce a standout pass-rush threat. He hasn't had the right athletes at the edges of his defense.
Barnes has the potential to emerge as the outside rush ace Ryan needs to make his schemes more effective. He is a natural rush linebacker with the initial quickness and agility to routinely collapse the edges of a pass-pocket.
The New England Patriots should waste no time signing recently released defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Having seen one of their own major starts, Wes Welker, move to the Denver Broncos, the Patriots should return the favor by signing the man who notched 63.5 sacks as a Bronco.
More than just superficial payback, the Patriots need a player with Dumervil's qualities to boost their defense. He is exactly the kind of hybrid rush end, crucial to head coach Bill Belichick's multiple defensive schemes.
Belichick loves to blend his fronts, mixing in elements of both the 4-3 and 3-4. This box of tricks relies on a pass-rusher able to act as both a defensive end and a standup outside linebacker.
Belichick hasn't really found this key player since Willie McGinest retired. Tully Banta-Cain performed the role for a while, but was only mildly successful. Mike Vrabel excelled at the position in 2007, tallying 14 sacks.