17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
This is one of the only picks in this draft I feel good about. Jarvis Jones is the most productive pass rusher in the draft. Sure he has questions about his neck, speed and arm length, but his game is tailor made for the Steelers. Jones can fill the shoes of James Harrison and give the Steelers pass rush prodution at a reduced price.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Cowboys are making the move to a new defensive front and need to add players that fit the new scheme. Richardson is an athletic specimen that can penetrate or pass rush on each play. Richardson has some off the field concerns, but his package of quickness and play-making ability is simply too much to pass up at this point in the draft. Look for Sylvester Williams here if Richardson is off the board.
19. New York Giants – DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
There’s a real possiblity that Fluker goes a lot higher on draft day, but if Miami pulls off the Branden Albert trade, there aren’t a lot of landing spots between 12 and 19. The Giants would be thrilled to pick up the massive road-grading RT. Many have questioned his ability to stick at RT, but I don’t. With his arm length and power, he will hold up just fine in the NFL.
20. Chicago Bears – Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Ogletree is perhaps the biggest boom/bust pick in this entire draft. His natural ability is unquestioned, as he possesses the speed and range to make plays all over the field. For a team that has an aging and rebuilding LB corp they could use the infusion of youth and speed. Ogletree can play both inside or outside linebacker, making him a great fit in the Bears defensive front seven.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Most people are projecting Jonathan Cyprien to the Bengals with this pick because he had a workout with Mike Zimmer earlier in the week. However, Reid is the better player and the Bengals have a history of picking players from big time colleges. Reid has a higher upside in my opinion and can play either safety position. He is a massive upgrade over Taylor Mays.
22. St. Louis Rams – Cordarelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
After getting the #1 safety in the draft at #16 the Rams are able to come back and get one of the top receivers in the draft. Patterson strikes me as a Jeff Fisher type receiver. A big-bodied, athletic freak that can stretch the field or take a shot pass and turn it into a home run. By adding Patterson the Rams have two big outside receivers to build around.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Vikings need defensive line help badly. All of their key contributors are free agents after the season and the ageless Kevin Williams needs replacing. Williams has a great story and can play a number of different scheme positions. Williams gives the Vikings some more athleticism on the interior of the defensive line.
24. Indianapolis Colts – DJ Hayden, CB, Houston
It’s been a fast rise up the board for Hayden. You have to be happy the way everything is playing out for the Cougar. He goes from near death on the field last fall to a first round draft choice. Haydens’ injury has been well documented, but on the field he is a silky smooth and explosive corner. He can play any scheme you want him to play and brings big time ball skills to the table.
25. Minnesota Vikings – Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
This pick might be the worst kept secret of the draft. Rick Speilman met with Manti Te’o prior to his pro day in South Bend and we all know how Speilman loves Notre Dame players. The Vikings need to find a middle linebacker and while Te’o has took his lumps the last few months, the kid can play football.
26. Green Bay Packers – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Eifert is a tough player to place in the first round, but it’s clear he will end up going on Thursday night. The Packers lost Greg Jennings and haven’t replaced his production. On top of that the perpetual disappoint that is Jermichael Finley is likely in his final season wearing the green and yellow. Eifert is one of the safest players in the draft, there is no doubt he is going to have an early impact. With Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball it’s scary.
27. Houston Texans – Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
People in Houston have been touting Justin Hunter for the past two weeks, making me think there is a lot of talk about Hunter down there. Andre Johnson just came out this week and demanded that the Texans get him some help in the draft. Hunter is as raw as they come, but if we look back on this thing in 5 years, he very well may be the best receiver picked. At 6’3″ and running a 4.4 forty, he is a match-up nightmare for opposing teams.
28. Denver Broncos – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
Faxgate cost the Broncos Elvis Dumervil and they have been unable to find his replacement so far. Not long ago it appeared that Werner was a top ten selection, but other players have passed him by, simply because he doesn’t provide as much flare. Werner isn’t flashy, but he is a solid, productive and has a great motor. Werner can play and make an impact in the league early on. He’s a natural 4-3 end, which fits the Broncos scheme.
29. New England Patriots – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
So everyone is projecting a corner or wide receiver here, since when does Bill Belichick follow conventional wisdom?. Just when you think Bill Belichick is going to do one thing he does the exact opposite. I was told early in the off-season that the DE position was a priority for the Patriots this off-season. If you look at all the moves they have made since the season ended, DE is the one position they have yet to address. Datone Jones is a Patriots type player through and through. He absolutely loves the game of football. A hard-worker that is aware of his strength and weaknesses. Jones has a god gifted frame that allows him to play 4-3 DE and 3-Tech. If you get the chance to talk with Datone, it’s amazing how detailed oriented he is. He was in Foxboro last Monday and his visit went “awesome”. The Patriots have worked him out and interviewed him multiple times. The value at CB and WR can be found in the 2nd and 3rd round, while the Patriots will be hard pressed to find a DE as good as Jones when they pick next. If Jones is on the board at #29, I have a feeling he is going to be the selection.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
If not for a major knee injury in November we are talking about a top 15 selection. There are a lot of rumors about Atlanta wanting to trade up and while most are focusing on CB, I think they are trying to trade up for a pass rusher like Carradine. The Falcons have worked out Carradine privately and there are rumblings that they are hot on his trail. They can come back in the 2nd round and get their cornerback help.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Desmond Trufant
The 49ers have the most flexibility in the draft. they can stand pat and take the best player available or move up to pick the player they really want. At this point in the draft Desmond Trufant is the top player left on the board. While CB isn’t the biggest need on the 49ers roster, they need depth at the position, in a pass happy league. With another selection at the top of the second round they have free reign to do whatever they want.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Elam, SAF, Florida
Ed Reed is no longer in the Baltimore and they need to find a long term replacement. Elam is a perfect fit for Baltimore’s type of defense. He’s only 5’9″, but he is rocked up and a physical presence. Elam was asked to play a number of different roles in Florida’s secondary. From covering slot receivers, to playing in the deep third of the field, he can do most things. Baltimore will stay true to their board and take the best player available on their board.