17. Pittsburgh Steelers – DT Johnathan Hankins, Ohio St.*
Pittsburgh’s propensity for Ohio State products has recently led them to draft players such as Santonio Holmes, Cameron Heyward, and Mike Adams with high picks. This season, they must begin to replenish defensive line talent by finding successors to Casey Hampton, Ziggy Hood, and Brett Keisel.
18. Dallas Cowboys – OT Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
Recent media rumors surrounding Dallas’ organization have primarily revolved around rebuilding the team with a greater emphasis placed on effective salary cap management: one player Dallas may be ready to move on from is right tackle Doug Free. Johnson could fit on the right side.
19. New York Giants – DE Ezekiel Ansah, Brigham Young
Ansah remains a highly logical pick for New York: defensive coordinator Perry Fewell may be able to scheme Ansah into a star by shifting him between multiple rush positions within the defensive front seven; improved technique and awareness are required but potentially attainable.
20. Chicago Bears – LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia*
Chicago must rebuild their offensive line, but at this point the only strong value remaining is offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, whose zone-blocking style may not fit the Bears’ oiffense. They should investigate alternative options rather than reach for a player such as D.J. Fluker,
21. Cincinnati Bengals – DE Sam Montgomery, Louisiana St.*
With right end Michael Johnson set to become a free agent and no consistent pass rushing presence opposite Carlos Dunlap, landing an established defensive end such as Montgomery would be a coup for Cincinnati’s front office this late in the draft’s first round.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins) – OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama*
St. Louis may be forced to overdraft an offensive lineman at this point; given their blocking scheme, Fluker makes more sense than Jonathan Cooper. The Rams have enough picks to make a slight reach at this point in order to secure an improvement over Barry Richardson at right tackle.
23. Minnesota Vikings – WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia
With Percy Harvin’s contract situation still in limbo, Minnesota may be forced to consider the possibility of a life without their star receiver; one way to solve the dilemma would be to line up a similar successor in advance. Austin could be creatively integrated into the offense either way.
24. Indianapolis Colts – DT John Jenkins, Georgia
Jenkins probably won’t last this long on draft day, but a series of close calls cost him a handful of draft spots in this projection; Indianapolis’ defense was largely unsuccessful all season, especially in terms of run defense, where they ranked 29th among the league’s teams.
25. Seattle Seahawks – OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
Seattle has the luxury of drafting the best player available at this point: impressive left guard Jonathan Cooper.
26. Green Bay Packers – TE Zach Ertz, Stanford*
The Packers are well-equipped to reload at tight end this offseason; with mercurial tight end Jermichael Finley likely on his way out of town, Green Bay may be able to choose between Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. Ertz may get the nod via superior pre-draft workouts.
27. Houston Texans – WR Robert Woods, Southern California*
Robert Woods would provide the Texans with the complimentary receiver they’ve been lacking for years. Houston tried their hand at addressing the position last year by adding DeVier Posey (third round) and Keshawn Martin (fourth), but that shouldn’t prevent them from looking for a top talent.
28. Denver Broncos – CB Jordan Poyer, Oregon St.
One way for Denver to maintain consistent production in its defensive secondary would be to draft instinctive, competitive cornerback Jordan Poyer, whose fluid hips could provide the Broncos with a replacement for Tracy Porter, who missed most of 2012 and is set to become a free agent.
29. New England Patriots – CB Johnthan Banks, Mississippi St.
Banks was considered a potential high first-round pick not long ago, but his stock appears to have been slipping lately due to concerns surrounding his 2012 tape. Nonetheless, he would fit well in New England’s increasingly physical, man coverage-oriented secondary.
30. Atlanta Falcons – DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida*
The Falcons could look at a defensive end such as Texas’ Alex Okafor, but Floyd has been a hot name as of late; he could likely step into a starting role early in Atlanta, where the Falcons lack a consistent starter opposite swing defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.
31. Baltimore Ravens – DT Jesse Williams, Alabama
Ravens fans may be hoping for a sexier pick such as Oregon’s Dion Jordan; however, with Dean Pees still coordinating Baltimore’s defense, size and the ability to two-gap are crucial. Williams could play a little bit of left end (replacing Arthur Jones) or nose tackle (replacing Terrence Cody/Ma’ake Kemoeatu.)
32. San Francisco 49ers – CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida St.*
The 49ers are arguably the league’s most complete team, but they could nonetheless use an additional member of the secondary. 2005 draftee Carlos Rogers showed signs of rapid deterioration this season, allowing 70.8% of targets to be completed, compared to 53.4% in 2011.