Luke Joeckel, LT, Texas A&M
Joeckel seems like the safe bet now that the Chiefs are out of the QB market after trading a 2013 second-round pick and 2014 conditional mid-rounder to the 49ers for Alex Smith.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith is the top quarterback in a weak class that also includes USC's Matt Barkley, FSU's E.J. Manuel, Syracuse's Ryan Nassib and NC State's Mike Glennon.
3. Oakland Raiders
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Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
An explosive 3-technique tackle in the mold of Warren Sapp, Floyd is flying up draft boards due to his size, athleticism and relatively few red flags compared to his 2013 peers.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
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Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Chip Kelly wants to play a 3-4 defense and knows just what kind of player Jordan can be. A perfect fit both schematically and in terms of familiarity with the coaching staff.
5. Detroit Lions
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Eric Fisher, LT, Central Michigan
There may not be much of a talent gap between Fisher and Texas A&M's projected No. 1 pick Luke Joeckel. Fisher is a plug and play left tackle from Day One.
6. Cleveland Browns
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Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The consensus top cornerback in the draft is the best player on the board for the Browns, who could also make a surprise splash by reaching for a quarterback to compete with Brandon Weeden.
7. Arizona Cardinals
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Matt Barkley, QB, USC
The Cardinals have been fans of Barkley throughout the draft evaluation process. Even with the acquisition of Carson Palmer, Arizona could still use a quarterback of the future to build on.
8. Buffalo Bills
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Ezekiel Ansah, DE-LB, BYU
"Ziggy" is long-striding up draft boards after showing elite athleticism at the Combine and Senior Bowl. Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib, who started for new Bills coach Doug Marrone, is also an option at either No. 8 or in the second round at No. 41.
9. New York Jets
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Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
"Keke" is a boom or bust edge-rush prospect who has shown more potential than production to date. But Mingo's upside provides the J-E-T-S good value if they are sold on sticking with Mark Sanchez rather than taking a shot at a QB at No. 9.
10. Tennessee Titans
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Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Hall of Fame guards Mike Munchak and Bruce Matthews are now the Titans' head coach and O-line coach, respectively. If anyone knows Warmack's value, it's those two.
11. San Diego Chargers
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Lane Johnson, LT, Oklahoma
There may not be much of a talent gap between Texas A&M's projected No. 1 pick Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan's Eric Fisher and Johnson. As a result, the former high school quarterback may not be around when the Bolts are on the clock.
12. Miami Dolphins
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Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Two of the better guard prospects of the past decade are in this year's draft, in Alabama's Chance Warmack and Cooper, whose quick feet and overall athleticism are rare for an interior lineman.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The latest in a long line of Seminole corners, the X-man looks the part and would fill a need for the Buccaneers, who remain players in the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes.
14. Carolina Panthers
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Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
A heart condition discovered during medical screenings at the Combine has caused Star's shine to fade. But the Panthers would pounce on this top-5 talent if he fell.
15. New Orleans Saints
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Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Another health risk with top-5 potential, Jones' spinal stenosis has scared off some teams. On tape, Jones is the top 3-4 outside linebacker and a perfect fit for the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams
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Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The St. Louis native has the size and swagger to be the type of distruptive D-lineman coach Jeff Fisher loves.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
One of the potential surprises come draft night, Eifert could be selected much higher than expected due to his status as the clear-cut top tight end available.
18. Dallas Cowboys
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D.J. Fluker, RT, Alabama
The big man is a mauler at right tackle and likely could kick inside to guard with similar results. The Boys need O-line help and Fluker would certainly provide that.
19. New York Giants
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Alec Ogletree, MLB, Georgia
A pre-Combine DUI has teams scratching their heads regarding the knucklehead factor with Ogletree, the top middle linebacker in a solid class of inside backers.
20. Chicago Bears
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Manti Te'o, MLB, Notre Dame
Brian Urlacher's replacement going to the heart of Fighting Irish territory? That's too good to be true. But still not as hard to believe as the Te'o tale of internet love gone wrong.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
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Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The top safety in the class has a wide range of landing spots, starting in the early teens and going into the twentysomethings. Cincy is a club where team need meets prospect value.
22. St. Louis Rams
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Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The pick acquired as part of last year's blockbuster Robert Griffin III trade with the Redskins should be used to add a downfield weapon for Rams former No. 1 overall pick quarterback Sam Bradford.
23. Minnesota Vikings
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Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
One of the fastest players and fastest risers in this year's draft, Austin made Geno Smith look good. The triple-threat would slide right into Percy Harvin's old role in Minny.
24. Indianapolis Colts
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Menelik Watson, RT, Florida State
Protecting Andrew Luck is priority No. 1 for the Colts. Watson is raw but possesses the type of frame and feet expected from a former college basketball player turned O-tackle.
25. Minnesota Vikings
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Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Once thought to be a potential top 5-10 pick, Werner's stock has taken a dip because the Berlin-born pass rusher can't dip his hips. What Werner lacks in fluid athleticism he makes up for in effort.
26. Green Bay Packers
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Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy has become a trendy pick for the Pack. But finding a desperate trade partner looking to get back into the first round (looking at you Buffalo, J-Ville, Philly...) or taking best available big seem like more realistic options.
27. Houston Texans
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EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
Another likely trade destination for a team looking to snag one of the QBs in the late first round. Manuel, Syracuse's Ryan Nassib and possibly even USC's Matt Barkley could prompt a flurry of late-round movement.
28. Denver Broncos
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Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The longer the predraft process goes on, the better Trufant looks. If the draft were held in late May, he might be picked in the teens. Denver would love to pick off a polished cornerback this late in the round.
29. New England Patriots
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Robert Woods, WR, USC
Although he was overshadowed by Biletnikoff Award-winning Trojan teammate Marqise Lee (No. 9), Woods is still a top-flight playmaker in his own right.
30. Atlanta Falcons
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Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Once thought of as the "next Von Miller," at least in terms of draft stock, Moore has taken a tumble down the board, going from top-10 to back-half of the first.
31. San Francisco 49ers
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Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
The "Eastern Block" is a 6'8" monster who could be a long-term replacement option to the aging warrior Justin Smith at end in the Niners' dominant 3-4 scheme.
32. Baltimore Ravens
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Matt Elam, S, Florida
An underrated hammer who can catch the ball if it's thrown his way, Elam is a sneaky good player who might slip to the second round but is well worth the final pick of the first round's prime time show on Thursday night, April 25.
See where Baltimore, San Francisco fall in Athlon Sports’ list
Baltimore won the Super Bowl, but as it relates to Athlon Sports’ early ranking of NFL teams for next season, not ALL of the spoils go to the victor. San Francisco, who came up short against the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night in New Orleans, comes in at No. 1, while the newly crowned world champions slot in at No. 4.
Note: 2012 Record includes playoffs, if applicable.
Baltimore, San Fran top our list of teams most likely to play in New York City in 2014
Even though the celebration in Baltimore will go on throughout the week and beyond, it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2013 season, right? With that in mind, here’s Athlon Sports’ early look at which teams could be playing in Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium in New York City on Feb. 2, 2014.
By the way, the temperature in the Big Apple as of game time on Sunday night was a brisk 31 degrees. Whichever two teams do make it to next season’s Super Bowl will want to be sure and pack their cold-weather gear.
After nearly half a century of Super Bowls, who makes up the All-Time Team?
In selecting an all-time Super Bowl team, it is important to establish clear criteria. While there is nothing more subjective than all-time teams, the criteria certainly includes individual performance, but performance that leads to team success carries more weight. Multiple game appearances help, so longevity counts too.
All-time Super Bowl Team:
Joe Montana, QB, San Francisco
This is one of a couple of positions where there is no argument. With four Super Bowl wins, Montana has a career passer rating of 127.8, the best ever. Joe Cool tossed 11 touchdown passes to six different receivers with no interceptions. During his Super Bowl career, he threw 28 passes on third down, completing 19 of them for 14 first downs and one touchdown. There has been no one better in the big game.
Notables: John Elway, Denver; Tom Brady, New England; Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh; Kurt Warner, St. Louis and Arizona
Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh
There is no shortage of candidates at running back. Harris rushed for 354 yards in Pittsburgh’s four Super wins in the 1970s and had another 114 yards receiving. In the four games, Harris had 18 touches on third down resulting in 10 first downs and three touchdowns. And Harris is the only runner with more than 100 carries in history.
Roger Craig, RB, San Francisco
In three Super Bowls for San Francisco, all wins, Craig amassed 413 yards from scrimmage with four touchdowns, including 101 yards receiving in Super Bowl XXIII.
Notables: Larry Csonka, Miami; Emmitt Smith, Dallas; Terrell Davis, Denver; John Riggins, Washington; Marcus Allen, LA Raiders
Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco
Rice is another no-brainer. Let’s see: most Super Bowl receptions in a career (33), most yards receiving in a career (589) and game (215), most yards from scrimmage in a career (604), the only player to score three TDs in a game twice. Oh, and he earned an MVP. And 77 of his receiving yards and a touchdown came at age 40 for Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh
Fans who saw him in the Super Bowl probably remember flying, acrobatic catches. But Swann meant more to the Steelers than just a couple of circus catches. He is second all-time with 364 receiving yards, all coming in three Super Bowls. In his first Super Bowl appearance with the Steelers, Swann was limited to punt return duty.
Notables: Deion Branch, New England; John Stallworth, Pittsburgh; Andre Reed, Buffalo; Isaac Bruce, St. Louis; Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Jay Novacek, TE, Dallas
One of quarterback Troy Aikman’s favorite clutch targets, Novacek scored the first Dallas touchdown in Super Bowls XXVII and XXX. In three wins he totaled 148 yards and two scores on 17 catches.
Notables: Shannon Sharpe, Denver and Baltimore; Marv Fleming, Green Bay and Miami
Jon Kolb, LT, Pittsburgh
The only constant along the Pittsburgh offensive line during their run of four Super Bowls in the 1970s, Kolb led the way for Franco Harris’ running and protected Terry Bradshaw in the passing game.
Notables: Mark Tuinei, Dallas; Matt Light, New England
Nate Newton, LG, Dallas
Emmitt Smith became the all-time leading NFL rusher thanks in large — and we do mean large — part to Newton. In Newton’s three Super Bowls, the Cowboys scored 52, 30 and 27 points.
Notable: Bob Kuechenberg, Miami; Russ Grimm, Washington
Jim Langer, C, Miami
Langer anchored the line during Miami’s back-to-back titles in the 1970s. In Super Bowl VIII, Miami rushed 53 times for 196 yards, most of it straight up the middle with bruiser Larry Csonka.
Notables: Ray Mansfield, Pittsburgh; Mike Webster, Pittsburgh
Joe Andruzzi, RG, New England
In three New England wins, the Patriots rushed for 372 yards, and Andruzzi helped protect MVP Tom Brady allowing him to stay comfortable in the pocket.
Notables: Jerry Kramer, Green Bay; Gerry Mullins, Pittsburgh; Larry Little, Miami
Erik Williams, RT, Dallas
The heart and soul of the Cowboys’ offensive machine was the offensive line. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were the beneficiaries.
Notables: Forrest Gregg, Green Bay; Norm Evans, Miami
Charles Haley, DE, Dallas/San Francisco
Haley was more of an outside linebacker in the 3-4 with San Francisco. He is the only player to win five Super Bowls.
L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
An integral part of the Steel Curtain, Greenwood made gold shoes famous, and made life miserable for quarterbacks Roger Staubach, Fran Tarkenton and Vince Ferragamo.
Notables: Richard Seymour, New England; Reggie White, Green Bay; Dwight White, Pittsburgh, Willie Davis, Green Bay
Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh
As the heart of the front of the Steel Curtain, Greene intimidated quarterbacks, running backs and offensive linemen. In four Super wins, opponents averaged less than 100 yards rushing against Pittsburgh.
Russell Maryland, DT, Dallas
The offense received much of the credit, but Dallas recorded eight interceptions and held teams to less than four yards a carry in their three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s. Maryland was a load up front in all three games.
Notables: Jethro Pugh, Dallas; Manny Fernandez, Miami, Alan Page, Minnesota
Jack Lambert, MLB, Pittsburgh
Lambert was in the middle of all things defensively for the Steelers. Pittsburgh would not have been 4-0 without him.
Notables: Ray Nitschke, Green Bay; Nick Buoniconti, Miami
Jack Ham, OLB, Pittsburgh
Equally adept at covering the pass as playing the run, Ham excelled as Lambert’s wing man.
Keena Turner, OLB, San Francisco
Turner joins the Steelers’ pair as the only linebacker to claim a 4-0 record. In those four games teams rushed for less than 67 yards a game against the Niners. That made life easier for Joe Montana and company.
Notables: Tedy Bruschi, New England; Mike Vrabel, New England; Rod Martin, Oakland; James Harrison, Pittsburgh
Herb Adderley, CB, Green Bay/Dallas
Adderley was a member of Green Bay’s first two title teams, returning an interception 60 yards for a score in Super Bowl II. He played in two more for Dallas, winning one and losing one.
Mel Blount, CB, Pittsburgh
Blount played for four winners, and contributed with interceptions in both IX and XIII.
Notables: Ty Law, New England; Larry Brown, Dallas; Deion Sanders, San Francisco/Dallas; Tracy Porter, New Orleans
Jake Scott, SS, Miami
Scott intercepted Billy Kilmer twice in the Miami’s hard-fought 14-7 win in Super Bowl VII, earning MVP honors.
Notables: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh; Charlie Waters, Dallas; Willie Wood, Green Bay; Mike Wagner, Pittsburgh
Ronnie Lott, FS, San Francisco
Instrumental in the Niners’ four Super Bowl wins, Lott played corner in the first two wins before moving to safety. None of his nine postseason interceptions came in the Super Bowl, probably because quarterbacks avoided him.
Notables: Cliff Harris, Dallas; Dick Anderson, Miami
Desmond Howard, KR/PR, Green Bay
Earned MVP honors in Super Bowl XXXI with a kick return for a touchdown, but also had two punt returns of more than 30 yards.
Devin Hester, KR/PR, Chicago
His 92-yard kick return set the tone for the Bears, but the offense couldn’t deliver a win.
Adam Vinatieri, K, New England/Indianapolis
Never has there been a more clutch kicker in the Super Bowl.
Larry Seiple, P, Miami
Always a threat to take off and run (also played some tight end), Seiple kept the Redskins and Vikings bottled up in VII and VIII.
Chuck Noll, Head Coach, Pittsburgh
An easy choice, Noll is the only coach to win four. He won with defense, running and passing. His Pittsburgh teams were complete and dominant.
Notables: Vince Lombardi, Green Bay; Bill Belichick, New England; Bill Walsh, San Francisco, Tom Coughlin, NY Giants; Jimmy Johnson, Dallas
Athlon’s list of the worst teams to play for the Lombardi Trophy
While the Super Bowl annually pits the champion of the AFC conference versus the winner of the NFC, that doesn’t necessarily mean the best two teams end up playing in the biggest game of the season. Here is Athlon Sports’ list of the worst teams to ever play in a Super Bowl in the game’s 46-year history. It probably goes without saying that each of these teams ended up on the short end of the scoreboard, right?
The Falcons' Tony Gonzalez has established himself as the best tight end of all-time.
Few positions in football have evolved as much as the tight end — which has morphed from that of old school glorified sixth offensive lineman to modern giant slot receiver. Keeping that role reversal in mind, we rank the 25 greatest tight ends in NFL history.
Highlighting the most important, intriguing and bizarre stats of the weekend.
NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.
Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from the NFL Divisonal Playoff games: