17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jarvis Jones’ draft stock is not what it once was, but nonetheless, he has the skill set to be one of the best players to come out of the 2013 NFL draft. The Georgia outside linebacker’s slide should stop at the Pittsburgh Steelers, where Jones would be a tremendous fit to replace James Harrison and spark the Steelers’ pass-rush.
While Jones is not the most explosive pass-rusher in the draft class, he is better than his measurables would indicate. He is an instinctive player who finds ways to the backfield and has a playmaking knack, and was a consistent difference-maker on the field at Georgia. His ability to both rush off the edge and set the edge make him a potential three-down asset as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
As the Cowboys switch to a Tampa 2 defensive scheme, they should be in the market for another interior penetrator at defensive tackle who can bring pressure up the middle while also improve the Cowboys’ interior run-defense. They could get that out of Florida’s Sharrif Floyd.
Floyd is a great athlete for a defensive tackle, but also strong and powerful at the point of attack. He can add a difference-maker to the Cowboys’ interior line, and is great value at the No. 18 overall selection.
19. New York Giants: Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, DE, Florida State
The New York Giants pass-rush started to lose its luster last season. Following Osi Umenyiora’s departure and with 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 ends. The Giants could afford to bring Carradine along slowly in 2013 — potentially starting his season on the Physically Unable to Perform list — while grooming 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
After officially moving on from the Brian Urlacher era, the Chicago Bears got to work in rebuilding their linebacker corps with free-agent additions of D.J. Williams and James Anderson. Even so, the Bears should still be in the market for a long-term cog with the potential to continue the team’s great historic legacy of middle linebackers.
LSU’s Kevin Minter is the best all-around middle linebacker in the draft class. He is an instinctive playmaker who is consistently around the football, tackles soundly and is effective in both blitzing and coverage.
The Bears need to find a new leader for their linebacker corps in the post-Urlacher era, and if Minter is still available with their first-round pick, he should be the guy.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State
Re-signing Rey Maualuga made it less likely that the Cincinnati Bengals will draft a linebacker with one of their first picks, but if Kansas State’s Arthur Brown is still available at the No. 21 overall pick, it would not be any surprise to see the Bengals add another playmaker to continue their rebuilding effort at linebacker.
An athletic linebacker who is good at attacking the run but is also effective in coverage, Brown has the versatility to play all three linebacker spots in the 4-3 defense. That makes him a good fit to play alongside Vontaze Burfict and Maualuga, as all three linebackers could rotate between spots.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins): Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
There is a good shot that Alabama guard Chance Warmack could be off the board even before the St. Louis Rams’ draft pick at No. 16 overall, so getting him with their second first-round pick would be an ideal scenario.
Warmack could slide due to the lack of value typically assigned to guards as first-round picks, but he is among the best overall players in the draft class. He is a massive, powerful road-grading run-blocker with good athleticism and is also an effective pass-protector. He could be an immediate upgrade at guard, where the Rams most need to upgrade their offensive line.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Minnesota Vikings need to add size to their wide receiver group, and they also need to add the dynamic playmaking ability they lost when they traded Percy Harvin. The Vikings can address both of those voids within the receiving group by selecting Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson.
Patterson is a game-changer with the ball in his hands. He is great at extending plays in the open field with his speed and quickness, but is also a big receiver who can make plays outside.
Paired opposite Greg Jennings, the Vikings would finally be able to give Christian Ponder the weapons he needs in the passing game. Adding Patterson, they would get a player who can impact the game in many different ways, not only as a receiver but who can also be used as a dynamic rushing threat and kickoff returner.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Even with the signing of Ricky Jean-Francois this offseason, the Indianapolis Colts should be in the market for a 5-technique defensive end, especially one who can improve their interior pass-rush. UCLA’s Datone Jones is a prospect with huge upside for his combination of size and athleticism, and he projects very well to playing 5-technique defensive end in a three-man front.
Jones did not always play like a first-rounder at UCLA, but he has rare quickness for a 6’4”, 283-pound defensive end. He is an explosive playmaker who can both an asset not only as an interior pass-rusher, but also as a run defender.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks): 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. 25 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.”
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
With Jermichael Finley returning to Green Bay next season, tight end is not a major position of need for the Packers. That said, chances are good he will not be back after the 2013 season, the Packers could use another weapon in their passing offense and Eifert’s value is tough to pass up late in Round 1.
Eifert is a very good all-around tight end prospect, a dynamic downfield receiving weapon with great size, athleticism and catching ability. Drafting him would allow the Packers to use more of a two-tight end set following the loss of Greg Jennings at wide receiver, and he is arguably the best prospect available on the board.
27. Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Houston Texans need a legitimate No. 2 option at wide receiver opposite Andre Johnson. Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins would be a very good fit, and good value late in Round 1.
Hopkins is a very skilled receiver who runs great routes, has great hands, is physical and goes up and gets the football. He has good size and athleticism, and would give Matt Schaub another go-to receiving weapon while helping to draw multiple coverages away from Johnson with a reliable intermediate target who does a great job of getting open.
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 is great value late in the first round, and could be the physical run-stopper the Broncos need to lead their defensive front seven.
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 will make 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.
PROJECTED TRADE: The New England Patriots trade the No. 29 overall selections to the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 35 and No. 101 overall selections.
29. Philadelphia Eagles (from New England Patriots): E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
The New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are notorious draft trading partners, and while that may no longer be the case with a new head coach in Philadelphia, this is a trade that would make sense for both parties.
Assuming the Patriots end up with restricted free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, their third-round pick will go to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which would leave the Patriots with no picks in Rounds 3-6. The Patriots would be smart to trade down to pick up an additional draft choice, while the Eagles have multiple options if they move up.
The Eagles need to continue rebuilding their secondary, and there is a lot of talent available on the board at cornerback and safety who would be worth trading up to select. An even more likely reason for them to trade up, however, would be to draft Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel.
If there is one quarterback in this draft worth taking a chance on for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, it would be Manuel, who would be a good fit for Kelly’s offense as a big, athletic quarterback who can run the read option effectively. His stock is on the rise to where a team could easily jump ahead of them at the top of Round 2 to draft Manuel, making a move up to secure Manuel a real possibility if the Eagles see him as the right fit at quarterback.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The loss of Brent Grimes leaves the Falcons very thin at the cornerback position. Washington’s Desmond Trufant would be a good choice, as a rising prospect with the potential to be the No. 1 cornerback the Falcons need to replace Grimes, start opposite Samuel and give them a real playmaker at the cornerback position.
Trufant is a quickly-rising prospect with good size, athleticism, physical play and coverage instincts, and is the best in zone coverage among the top cornerbacks available.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The San Francisco 49ers need to continue rebuilding their secondary, and with a run on cornerbacks starting late in Round 1, they should use their late first-round pick to select the best cornerback available in Boise State’s Jamar Taylor.
A physical cornerback who excels in press man coverage, Taylor would be a very good fit and upgrade in the 49ers’ defensive scheme.
PROJECTED TRADE: The Baltimore Ravens trade the No. 32 overall selection to the Buffalo Bills for the No. 41, No. 105 and No. 143 overall selections.
32. Buffalo Bills (from Baltimore Ravens): Robert Woods, WR, USC
The Baltimore Ravens are a prime suspect to trade down in this situation, with no clear-cut first-round selection on the board and a chance to trade down and get better value on a player in Round 2. Meanwhile, having traded down earlier in the draft, the Buffalo Bills would be smart to move up and secure their chance to select USC’s Robert Woods.
The Bills need to add another playmaker at wide receiver, and Woods is great value at the end of Round 1 while adding him to pair with Barkley would be keeping a highly-effective combination together while helping to accelerate Barkley’s acclimation to the offense.
Woods is a very good wide receiver who runs terrific routes, has great hands, is physical and gets open consistently. He is a very good fit to pair opposite Steve Johnson as a possession receiver who has the open-field running ability to be a playmaker in his own right.