17. Dallas Cowboys: Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
The Dallas Cowboys need to rebuild the right side of their offensive line, so drafting a versatile offensive lineman with the polish to start immediately is exactly what they need with their first-round pick. They could get that from Alabama’s Barrett Jones.
Jones, a two-time consecutive All-American offensive lineman at two different positions, has played all five spots on Alabama’s offensive line over the course of his career. He is best suited to play on the interior line at the next level, where he could be an immediate upgrade for the Cowboys at either right guard or center, but could also play at right tackle if needed.
18. New Orleans Saints: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
The New Orleans Saints’ starting defensive ends, Cameron Jordan and Will Smith, are both very solid against the run, but neither is a truly dynamic pass-rusher. The Saints could really benefit by adding a pass-rushing specialist who can rotate in, and that could make LSU’s Barkevious Mingo an attractive choice to them.
Mingo is a boom-or-bust prospect who struggles in run defense and had a disappointing junior season, but he is a very explosive athlete with the potential to be a terrific pass-rusher. He is not a great fit for a 4-3 scheme, but has potential to be an impactful rusher in any scheme, and his in-state ties could lure the Saints to him.
19. Minnesota Vikings: Robert Woods, WR, USC (Jr.) (SCOUTING REPORT)
The Minnesota Vikings are in desperate need of wide receivers, so unless one of the top two defensive tackles is still available when they are on the clock, they could be the team to select the draft’s first wideout. The best all-around wide receiver in the class is USC’s Robert Woods, who could become an immediate go-to target for Christian Ponder, who has struggled this year without a steady complement of receivers to work with.
Woods does not have the prototypical size and speed of a top wide receiver prospect, but is a terrific route-runner with great hands. He may not burn opposing cornerbacks with his speed, but more importantly, he can consistently get open and has the open-field quickness to make plays after the catch, which he consistently makes.
20. New York Giants: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State (R-So.)
The New York Giants pass defense has struggled much more than expected this season, and is a big reason why the defending Super Bowl champions are almost certainly going to miss going back to make the playoffs. The Giants need to improve at cornerback, where their personnel has been very unreliable this season, and Ohio State’s Bradley Roby is as good as any player available in this scenario.
Roby became a big playmaker at cornerback for the Buckeyes in his sophomore season, and with great speed, ball skills, physicality and tackling ability, his skill set should translate well to the next level. If he declares as an underclassman, he is good value at the end of the top 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State (Jr.)
The Cincinnati Bengals need to add playmakers to their secondary. North Carolina State’s David Amerson, a big defensive back with great athleticism and ball skills, could be the player they need.
Amerson tends to be overaggressive in coverage, but he has a tremendous nose for the ball. He has a great combination of size and athletic range, which gives him the potential to transition to free safety as well, where he could fill a major need for the Bengals.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins): Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame (Jr.)
The St. Louis Rams still need to add more weapons to their offense. If they have a chance to select the draft’s best offensive playmaker, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, with their second first-round pick, it would be a great addition to give their offense more explosiveness.
A prototype tight end with great size and athleticism, Eifert is a vertical receiving threat and also an adequate blocker. He is better than any wide receiver in the draft class, and could help the Rams’ offense as a downfield playmaker and provide help in run blocking.
23. Chicago Bears: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Chicago Bears could truly use an upgrade at any and every position on their offensive line. Alabama guard Chance Warmack is the best offensive lineman available in this scenario, and is terrific value late in the first round.
Warmack could be an immediate upgrade for the Bears at either guard spot. He is a massive, powerful guard who is dominant in the ground game, and also has very good feet for his size, allowing him to move well and pick up blitzers as both a run and pass blocker.
24. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU (Jr.)
As one of the league’s oldest players at 37 years old and having missed nearly the entire regular season this year with a torn triceps, legendary inside linebacker Ray Lewis’ future is unclear going forward over the next few seasons. Outside of Lewis, the Ravens don’t have much talent to fill their two inside linebacker spots, so they need to search for another long-term option at the position.
LSU’s Kevin Minter is an all-around playmaker who is an attacker in run defense and a very good athlete who can blitz the quarterback and also drops into coverage effectively. Grooming Minter as an eventual replacement for Lewis, while having him line up next to Lewis until then, could be a very good plan for both the immediate and long-term future of the Ravens defense.
25. Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
The Indianapolis Colts’ interior offensive line is a mess, and must be upgraded both for the purpose of better protecting young quarterback Andrew Luck and lead blocking for the ground game.
North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper has great size and power, combined with the best feet of any guard prospect in the draft class. He is very good as both a pass and run blocker, and would be a great addition to a struggling unit.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri (Jr.)
The Green Bay Packers have a solid group of interior defensive linemen, but the group lacks an explosive interior pass-rusher to truly complement B.J. Raji in their two-man nickel pass defense fronts.
Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson is the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the draft class, and would be great value late in the first round. The offensive line is the Packers’ biggest need for the 2013 NFL draft, but any available lineman would be a reach at this point, while Richardson could end up being a steal and a difference-maker.
27. Denver Broncos: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The Denver Broncos need to upgrade at defensive tackle. Specifically, they need a big, powerful nose tackle who can improve their interior run defense.
Georgia’s John Jenkins would be a perfect fit, as he is a massive, 350-pound-plus nose tackle who is a dominant run stopper. But even at such a massive size, he has the quickness to be a three-down lineman and provide a bigger bull-rushing lineman to complement Derek Wolfe as an interior pass-rusher.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU (Jr.)
Having released Ray Edwards earlier this season, the Atlanta Falcons are likely to be in the market for another pass-rushing defensive end, a player who can bring an explosive burst and rotate on all three downs with John Abraham and Kroy Biermann.
LSU’s Sam Montgomery could be exactly that, and is great value late in the first round. Montgomery is a skilled edge rusher, but is also sound against the run, and could strengthen a defensive line that is among the weaker areas of the Falcons’ roster.
29. Seattle Seahawks: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson (Jr.)
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson has exceeded all expectations and taken the NFL by storm right away, but the Seahawks can help him get even better by adding a true deep threat at the wide receiver position. Wilson has shown this year that he can make plays deep down the field, but does not yet have a consistent downfield threat.
Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins can be that receiver. Hopkins has a great burst and very good downfield speed, and while he does not get the attention of some other wideouts still available on the board, he may be the best deep threat in the draft class.
30. Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee (Jr.)
The Houston Texans have one elite wide receiver in Andre Johnson, but have yet to find a productive playmaker who can draw pressure and coverages away from Johnson on the other side of the field. The Texans will likely be in the market for a big, fast wide receiver who opposing defenses will have to take seriously, and Tennessee’s Justin Hunter has the potential to be that player.
Hunter has the most upside of any wide receiver in the draft class. He is an inconsistent performer, but when he is at his best, he is an explosive playmaker with great athletic ability and the ability to make even very challenging catches.
31. New England Patriots: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia (SCOUTING REPORT)
The New England Patriots are already thin on depth at wide receiver. If Wes Welker leaves this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, a new slot receiver will be needed.
With terrific speed, quickness and route-running, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin is a terrific playmaker and would be a perfect fit to replace Welker. The Patriots already have the NFL’s most explosive passing offense, and Austin’s ability to make plays in the open field and gain yards after the catch could potentially make them even better next season even if they lose Welker.
32. San Francisco 49ers: Sylvester Williams, DT/DE, North Carolina
The San Francisco 49ers have an elite defensive front seven, but the one piece they lack is a true anchoring nose tackle in the middle. Sylvester Williams isn’t a true nose tackle, but the 49ers could make a strong defensive front even stronger by adding him into the mix.
At 320 pounds, Williams has enough size to line up as a nose tackle, while he has explosive quickness and interior pass-rush ability that make him an option to play a rotational role at defensive end in the three-man front as well. Williams could be an asset both in improving the defensive line’s pass-rush and making them stronger against the run.