Another piece of the puzzle fell into place on Monday. With free agency looming, the deadline for team to use the franchise tag on a player with an expiring contract passed, answering plenty of questions and opening the door for even more scenarios for the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs made the biggest splash of the day, signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a long-term extension and placing the franchise tag on left tackle Branden Albert. Both players were scheduled to hit the open market, which made Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel the common choice for the Chiefs in mock drafts. Now, the pick is wide open again.
The No. 1 pick is more of a mystery than ever
While Joeckel has been the common choice in mock drafts, the Chiefs could now go a number of different directions with the No. 1 overall pick. Kansas City has its quarterback and has secured its left tackle as well, so neither Joeckel or West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith makes a ton of sense.
With the futures of Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson in question, however, the defensive line could be an option. Utah's Star Lotulelei, Missouri's Sheldon Richardson and Florida's Sharrif Floyd will all likely get consideration with the first pick. In my latest mock draft, Richardson was who I slotted to Kansas City. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner is another name that has surfaced as a possibility. With the Chiefs' need at cornerback, it wouldn't be a shock. But Milliner isn't a special enough prospect to be the first player ever drafted No. 1 overall at his position.
The other big option on the table is for the Chiefs to trade the pick. This is a buyer's market, though. The 2013 draft is not considered to be top heavy, but it has depth, so teams aren't going to be too willing to give up picks. The Chiefs have to hope someone falls in love with Smith between now and April. With the Jaguars, Raiders and Eagles all potentially looking at the West Virginia quarterback, a team like the Cardinals, Bills or even the Jets could try to jump up and grab him.
Monday was not a good day for Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher
The offensive tackles in this draft class have received a ton of praise in recent weeks, with Joeckel being viewed as a potential No. 1 pick and Fisher getting some play in the top five. With Jake Long and Andre Smith not receiving the franchise tag, the offensive tackle market got even better in free agency. Will teams with a need at tackle spend a top-10 pick on the position, or plug a guy in from the free-agent market?
The defensive line is valuable
The Bengals, Dolphins and Bears are among the teams that elected to use the franchise tag on a talented defensive lineman, proving again the worth that position has on the football field. While much has been made about the value of offensive linemen in recent years, the behavior of teams still suggests that finding premium talent on the defensive line is more difficult and holds more importance. That's why the Bengals brought back Michael Johnson and the Bears and Dolphins retained their defensive tackles.
What does that mean for this draft? Well, a lot of the best prospects in this year's class come on the defensive line. Defensive tackle is an especially strong position this year, with as many as three prospects worthy of top-10 selection. The defensive line should dominate the top of this draft.
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