17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Wide receiver is probably a position the Steelers will look to improve, but it’s not exactly frightening now that Emmanuel Sanders has returned on a one-year deal. But looking at the board, it would be hard for a defensive end of Bjoern Werner’s caliber to slip any further down the first round. The Steelers have to get younger on defense, and the edge rush is a very good place to start. The possibility of taking safety Kenny Vaccaro is also something to look out for here. But ultimately, the defensive front gets addressed. Even though Werner’s may be a little out of the Pittsburgh mold, he’s a three-down end who can make an impact for years to come.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Cowboys could certainly add a big D-lineman here at No. 18, but Kenny Vaccarro from Texas is someone who could revamp the back four. Will Allen and Barry Church are currently slated to start, so there’s a good chance another DB will be brought in to compete for a starting job. Vaccaro has the size and physicality to enforce Dallas’s secondary. His ability to play the slot only adds to his value.
19. New York Giants – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The Giants have to build up what has become a depleted pass rush. Datone Jones out of UCLA provides New York with an excellent blend of strength and versatility at No. 19. Jones is a guy who can minimize the loss of Osi Umenyiora and unclear future of Justin Tuck. He explodes past the line of scrimmage and packs a punch. His style would provide a lot of intrigue, especially next to Jason Pierre-Paul.
20. Chicago Bears – Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Moving on from Brian Urlacher shows that the Bears are looking to get younger at the linebacker position. What better way to do so than by drafting Arthur Brown out of Kansas State. Brown has been flying under the radar through the draft process, but is one of the best tackling linebackers in this draft. His instincts make up for his lack of size, and his football IQ makes him a favorite to carry the torch for Chicago moving forward.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Bengals have re-signed Rey Maualuga and worked out a deal with ex-Steeler James Harrison, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. While the team is likely to add an inside linebacker later, offensive tackle may be the best value at pick 21. According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, the Bengals are now looking for a more affordable and younger alternative instead of re-signing right tackle Andre Smith. A powerful run-bocker, Fluker may just fit the bill for what Cincinnati is looking for.
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) – Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Rams will have to address the safety position sooner or later. Pick 22 may just be the spot, and Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien should be waiting. Cyprien has risen up draft boards since the Senior Bowl and would bring a new attitude the St. Louis secondary. He’s built to hit but is also quite nimble in coverage. He plays the ball well and should be able to carve out a starting job before long. Some team will land Cyprien by the end of Round 1. It could be the Rams.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings sent Percy Harvin packing and must find a way to address his absence via the draft. And with Cordarelle Patterson regarded as the draft’s biggest boom-or-bust receiver, Minnesota gets a steal at pick 23. Patterson’s combination of size and speed, plus his field vision, cannot be taught. Patterson, along with the newly acquired Greg Jennings, offers the Vikings a revitalized vertical game. If Christian Ponder can utilize his new weapons, even Adrian Peterson would benefit.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
Colts have some issues when it comes to defensive end. Dwight Freeney isn’t coming back to Indianapolis and there’s not much firepower left to replace him. Ricky Jean-Francois is a nice rotational addition, but the jury is still out on whether he’s a long-term answer. Florida State’s Cornellius Carradine would be a likely top-10 pick if it weren’t for a torn ACL suffered in November. He’s a strong and polished pass-rusher who looks the part. With that type of value here at pick 24, it’d be hard for the Colts to say no.
25. Minnesota Vikings (via Seattle Seahawks) – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Sylvester Williams is just the type of defensive tackle Minnesota is in the market for. He’s quick and can push the pocket, and even play some nose. Building the inside of the defense should be one of the Vikings’ top priorities, and Williams meets the requirements. What better way to reconfigure what was once known as the “Williams Wall” than to add another namesake?
26. Green Bay Packers – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Jermichael Finley has one year left on his contract, which puts the Packers in a vulnerable spot. Grooming another tight end in the meantime give Green Bay some insurance as well as negotiation leverage. That insurance is Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. Eifert is a well-built pass-catcher who can be an asset in the vertical game as well as in the run game. In other words, Aaron Rodgers gets a target that can change the dynamics of the offense without Greg Jennings.
27. Houston Texans – Robert Woods, WR, USC
Expect the Texans to target a wide receiver in Round 1 to place across from Andre Johnson. And if that comes to fruition, USC’s Robert Woods would be a great fit for what Texans are cooking on offense. Across from Andre Johnson, Woods would be that possession receiver who can keep defenses honest. The Texans haven’t exactly had a No. 2 receiver in year’s past, but Woods is one. A very gifted route-runner, Woods adaptable play would really open up Houston’s offense and allow Arian Foster to be unleashed.
28. Denver Broncos – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Alec Ogletree is one of the most polarizing prospects in this draft. He’s got mid-first talent, but has some off-the-field concerns and isn’t the biggest linebacker around. Still, he’s a handful to stop and a former safety. Ogletree may be a little bit outside the box here, although he’s a truly explosive athlete who can cover with the best of them. While safety is an option here with Mike Adams and Rahim Moore the expected starters for 2013, Ogletree and his value fills another need at linebacker. According to Jeff Legwold of The Canon City Daily Record, defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio was in Georgia recently to take a look at No. 9.
29. New England Patriots – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Instead of trading out of Round 1 to collect more picks, the Patriots get lucky here and have Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins fall into their lap. Now that the Emmanuel Sanders sweepstakes has reached its fizzling end, it would be a shock to see New England not draft a receiver early. Hopkins familiarity in the spread, his tight route-running and change of direction is hard to ignore. The Patriots get an excellent possession receiver here who can move the chains for Tom Brady. Outside the numbers is where the Patriots could use a true starter. With Brandon Lloyd gone, Hopkins has the size and physicality to thrive in that same role.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
It was a possibility that the Falcons went defensive end here. But with Osi Umenyiora signed, GM Thomas Dimitroff goes with Washington’s Desmond Trufant. A four-year starter at cornerback, Trufant has the speed and cover skills to lessen the loss Brent Grimes. Trufant’s playing style really fits Atlanta’s secondary well. He’s got the size and physicality, along with zone coverage abilities. He’s a very savvy DB who can fit any scheme, but his ability to read plays in open space and jump in front of passes fits what the Falcons are trying to do.
31. St. Louis Rams (via San Francisco 49ers) – Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Rams take advantage of this late-first by taking running back Eddie Lacy – the first Round 1 tailback the team has drafted since Steven Jackson. While this draft may not have a clear-cut first-round rusher, it’s been eons since a back was not taken in Round 1. Whether it makes sense value-wise or not, it’s something that must be taken into account. Another possibility here is wide reciever, but head coach Jeff Fisher has confidence in Brian Quick and that may another outside target slightly redundant. Currently last year’s seventh-round pick Daryl Richardson is leading the ground game in St. Louis with 2012 second-rounder Isaiah Pead not far behind. Neither has really taken the reins yet, which may open the door for another runner. Lacy would add some muscle – the other two backs are under 200 pounds – and a mean streak to the Rams’ backfield. He made a pre-draft visit as well, per Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Eric Reid, S, Louisiana State
Linebacker, wide receiver and offensive tackle are all possible here, but GM Ozzie Newsome goes ahead and drafts LSU safety Eric Reid. The hole left by Ed Reed won’t be easy to fill, but the Tigers’ Reid has the range and size to do so. Many are sleeping on him, and they shouldn’t be. Reid is a physical free safety option who can make plays all over the field. He is the most applicable prospect to replace Ed Reed in this draft.