17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
The Pittsburgh Steelers need to make reinforcements at all three levels of their defense, but the greatest of those needs is to add a pass-rushing outside linebacker following the release of James Harrison. If Oregon’s Dion Jordan is still on the board in the second half of Round 1, the Steelers may not be able to pass him up.
Jordan’s game remains raw and he has had issues with a lingering shoulder injury, but he is an outstanding athlete whose best fit is as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He needs to become more developed in his pass-rush technique, but is an explosive athlete off the edge with huge upside.
The Steelers need to reinvigorate their pass-rush, and the long, athletic Jordan could be the player they need to do that.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Considering Florida’s Sharrif Floyd could be in play at the No. 1 overall pick, getting him at No. 18 overall would be terrific value for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys could really use an upgrade at defensive tackle as they switch to a four-man front in the Tampa 2 defense, and should not pass up Floyd here.
Floyd is an explosive athlete who can be an impact player as an interior penetrator. He is strong and a playmaker in run defense, while he can also give the team another interior pass-rushing threat alongside Jason Hatcher.
19. New York Giants: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
The New York Giants pass-rush started to lose its luster last season. With Osi Umenyiora an unrestricted free agent and Justin Tuck entering the last year of his contract, the New York Giants could very well target another pass-rushing defensive end to line up opposite Jason Pierre-Paul with their first-round pick.
Cornellius “Tank” Carradine’s stock is hurt by a torn ACL suffered in November, but assuming he can recover fully, he is one of the draft’s most talented pass-rushing defensive end. The Giants could afford to bring Carradine along slowly in 2013 — potentially starting his season on the Physically Unable to Perform list — but groom him as Tuck’s eventual replacement in the lineup in 2014.
Carradine is a well-rounded and explosive defensive end with star pass-rushing potential. Going forward, Pierre-Paul and Carradine could be one of the NFL’s elite pass-rushing combinations.
20. Chicago Bears: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
The Brian Urlacher era may have reached its end in Chicago, which leaves the Bears in need of a new middle linebacker. As the best middle linebacker in the draft class, LSU’s Kevin Minter would be a great choice to fill that void at the No. 20 overall pick.
Minter is a quick, instinctive playmaker who consistently makes plays on the ball all over the field. He does not wow athletically, but is an effective blitzer, can drop into coverage and is ready to take on a leadership role in the middle of an NFL defense.
The Bears need to find a new leader for their linebacker corps, and if Minter is still available with their first-round pick, he should be the guy.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
As right tackle Andre Smith remains unsigned more than a week into free agency, it looks like a realistic possibility that he may not return to the Cincinnati Bengals next season. If that is the case, the perfect fit to replace him would be D.J. Fluker.
There are many similarities between the two players: like Smith, Fluker is an Alabama prospect who is both a powerful run blocker and effective pass blocker on the right side of the line, with a good combination of length, bulk and athleticism.
Fluker may not be the choice Bengals fans want to see in the first round, but if the Bengals do not retain Smith or sign another free-agent right tackle, he would make a lot of sense as the No. 21 overall pick.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The St. Louis Rams could still use more playmakers on their offense, and with the loss of Danny Amendola to the New England Patriots, they also need a new slot receivers. Bringing both of those together, the Rams would make a great choice by adding a tremendous slot receiver and explosive offensive weapon in West Virginia’s Tavon Austin with one of their two first-round draft picks.
With a rare combination of open-field quickness and straight-line speed, Austin can turn any play into a big play. He is a truly dynamic offensive weapon who makes up for his lack of size with crisp route-running and the speed and moves to run away from defenders.
The Rams have made some key additions in free agency to help quarterback Sam Bradford by signing tight end Jared Cook and left tackle Jake Long, but adding Austin would give Bradford another fantastic weapon to work with.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
With one of their two first-round picks, the Minnesota Vikings should be in the market for an upgrade at defensive tackle. Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins is great value at the No. 23 overall pick, and could be exactly what they need on their interior defensive line.
Hankins is a big, powerful nose tackle with good quickness and penetration ability for his size. He can be both a space-eater and a disruptive force inside next to Kevin Williams, which the Vikings have not had since Pat Williams’ 2011 departure broke up the “Williams Wall.”
24. Indianapolis Colts: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
The Indianapolis Colts have already made a strong effort in free agency to build up their previously-shaky offensive line with the signings of former Patriots guard Donald Thomas as well as right tackle Gosder Cherilus, but this would be an absolute dream scenario for the Colts. If Chance Warmack falls to the No. 24 overall selection, the Colts should snap him up without hesitation.
The Alabama guard could fall due to the position he plays, but he is among the draft’s top overall prospects. A powerful mauler who has great technique and also very good movement skills for an interior lineman, he and Thomas could form a fantastic guard combination in Indianapolis for the next four seasons.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks): Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
After going defensive tackle two picks earlier, the Minnesota Vikings should be in the market for another wide receiver to start opposite Greg Jennings with the No. 25 overall pick, one of the picks they acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for star playmaker Percy Harvin. If available, Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson would be a great choice and value selection.
Like Harvin, Patterson is a game-changer with the ball in his hands. He is a big receiver who can stretch the field outside and make plays downfield, but like Harvin, he is a player who the Vikings can be creative with getting the ball into his hands, whether that is as an outside receiver, in the slot, as a runner out of the backfield or as a kick/punt returner.
The Vikings could really benefit from adding a bigger downfield weapon for quarterback Christian Ponder as well, and they can get that with Patterson.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Even if Jermichael Finley is back with the Green Bay Packers next season, he is entering the final season of his contract, and with the Packers already losing Greg Jennings and Tom Crabtree, the Packers could use another weapon in the passing game. Selecting Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert would be good value late in the first round, and would give the Packers another inside weapon at the tight end position.
The Packers’ offense utilizes many weapons throughout a game, and if the Packers are going to add a receiving threat early in the draft, adding the best receiving playmaker among tight ends in the 2013 draft class makes the most sense.
27. Houston Texans: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
The Houston Texans’ late collapse at the end of a promising season centered much around the deep passing plays they gave up in the secondary late in the season. The Texans need to add a playmaker to their secondary, and have a void at free safety following the departure of unrestricted free agent Glover Quin.
Eric Reid’s stock dropped after a subpar junior season, but he is still the most gifted safety in the draft class. Reid is a very good athlete who can both solidify and add a playmaker for the Texans in the secondary, especially in deep coverage. He is well worth a late first-round pick.
28. Denver Broncos: Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Denver Broncos should be looking to strengthen their interior run defense, and one way they can do that is by upgrading at middle linebacker. Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o has seen his stock slip in recent weeks, but he is great value late in the first round, and could be a great addition to the Broncos’ linebacker corps.
While he disappointed by coming into the combine smaller than expected at only 241 pounds, he is a sound run-stopper who fills holes well and makes plays in space. With overblown off-field issues aside, Te’o is one of the best players available at this point in the draft and worth a late first-round pick.
29. New England Patriots: Robert Woods, WR, USC
The New England Patriots signed Danny Amendola and Donald Jones in the first week of free agency, but have no other legitimate wideouts on the roster. After losing Wes Welker and releasing Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots have a major need for more playmakers in their receiving corps, and USC’s Robert Woods would be a terrific choice late in Round 1.
Woods is a very good all-around wideout who is a great fit for the Patriots’ offense. He is an exceptional route-runner who is great at making plays on the ball, and can line up both outside and inside. He could immediately become a go-to receiving option for quarterback Tom Brady.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Following the release of John Abraham, the Atlanta Falcons have a major need for a pass-rushing defensive end. The Falcons are likely to pursue one with their first-round draft pick, and could get good value late in the first round with Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore.
Moore’s stock is slipping due to in-season overhype of him as a prospect, but he remains among the best pass-rushers in the 2013 draft class. He is a skilled rusher off the edge who can be a productive, three-down defensive end at the next level.
In terms of both value and need, Moore makes sense at the No. 30 overall pick.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
With five selections in the first three rounds of the draft, the 49ers have a lot of flexibility with their picks this year, but one area they must address early and often is their secondary. The 49ers need to upgrade at cornerback, and would make a smart choice by selecting Boise State’s Jamar Taylor with their first pick.
A physical cornerback who excels in press man coverage, Taylor would be a very good fit and upgrade in the 49ers’ defensive scheme.
32. Baltimore Ravens: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Having traded Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens are in need of another wideout to take his place in the lineup. Fortunately for the Ravens, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins would be a good fit.
Like Boldin, Hopkins is a very skilled receiver who is physical, has great hands and goes after the football to get it in the air. He is not the most explosive receiver in the draft class, but he accelerates well, is a very good route-runner and has enough quickness to make plays in the open field.