17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The Steelers could go in a bunch of directions with this pick. OLB and ILB are huge needs as they will look to replace James Harrison and Larry Foote. At the end of the day, the Steelers will look to add someone that can replace the production of Harrison. Pressuring Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco is key to success in this division and it was evident this season that the aging Steelers defense couldn’t do that with consistency. Jones is a steal at 17 and if he checks out medically, there’s little chance he makes it down this far.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
The futures of Josh Brent and Jay Ratliff are major question marks at this point. If Ratliff is back, the Cowboys need a big body to plug in next to him. Hankins slides a bit with his tendency to run hot and cold but there’s no doubt that he’s a solid value at No. 18.
19. New York Giants – Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Classic Jerry Reese selection. Jones gives Perry Fewell the flexibility to kick inside on passing downs and an able body to play the run off the edge. Jones exploded onto the scene after a solid senior season and an impressive showing at the Senior Bowl. This one has Jerry Reese written all over it as he continues to collect DL.
20. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Marc Trestman will have his work cut out for him in assembling something that represents an NFL caliber offensive line. For too many years, the Bears have been hampered by the play of their offensive line. It’s time to get aggressive in re-working this unit. Finding a free agent option at tackle would be nice but spending big bucks on a Jake Long type may not be the wisest use of cap room. Cooper’s selection here gives them someone that can step in immediately at guard.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Kenny Vaccaro, SS, Texas
Teaming Vaccaro and Reggie Nelson would give the Bengals a formidable backend. Re-signing Thomas Howard and moving Vontaze Burfict inside might be the best option. That leaves them without a SLB but they can find someone in free agency to fill in or go with the oft injured Dontay Moch. Passing on Vaccaro here would not be a good idea as he slides right into their lap and fills a major need.
22. St. Louis Rams (f/Washington) – D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Word is that Fluker won’t make it out of the top 20 picks, meaning someone must think his floor is Chicago. While I can buy that one, I think the Bears would have to take Cooper over Fluker. The Rams, on the other hand, have a serious need at RT. This pick leaves Rodger Saffold at LT but solves their OL issues with Warmack and Fluker reuniting in St. Louis.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Arthur Brown, ILB/OLB, Kansas St.
Wide Receiver is a huge need for the Vikings. Outside of Percy Harvin they have nothing at the position, especially if they can’t bring back Jerome Simpson. That said, the Vikings have little in terms of linebacker talent outside of Chad Greenway. Arthur Brown gives them some versatility to play any of the three LB spots.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Jerraud Powers and Darius Butler are free agents leaving Vontae Davis and Cassius Vaughn as the only options at the position. Outside of Davis, I don’t see a No. 2 option on the roster, leaving the fast rising Trufant a logical option at No. 24. The Colts spot could be a hot one for trade action as they look to recoup their lost 2nd round pick with the Vontae Davis trade.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
This may be a bit of a reach but the Seahawks haven’t been afraid to reach in the past. Short can be a flat out dominant, penetrating DT when is switch is on. He was unblockable in the Senior Bowl game and had a solid week of practice. He’s exactly what the Seahawks are looking for in their defense and gives them some much needed interior pass rush.
26. Green Bay Packers – Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
After watching San Francisco torch the Packers it became apparent that the middle of the defense has to be upgraded. I like the Pack taking a TE but its clear that’s a luxury they can’t afford with so many defensive needs.
27. Houston Texans – DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
DeAndre Hopkins could walk into a perfect position in Houston as he’ll be able to learn from Andre Johnson. Hopkins is a solid route runner that is dangerous if he gets behind the defense. He isn’t a burner but his ability to shield defenders with his body and prowess as a pass catcher should have him coming off the board before the end of round one.
28. Denver Broncos – Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
Keith Brooking has seen his better days as a starter. Joe Mays lost the starting gig to Brooking and won’t be back. This pick makes a ton of sense as the Broncos haven’t had a leader on the inside of their defense since Al Wilson manned the middle. It’s a good situation for Te’o as he steps into a strong locker room. Best case scenario for Te’o.
29. New England Patriots – Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
I really can’t see the Patriots ponying up the money to re-sign Wes Welker, not Bill’s style. With Welker, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman heading towards free agency, the Pats are relatively broke at the WR position. Keenan Allen offers some major upside to take Tom Brady into retirement. Allen is a RB with the ball in his hands and was hampered his entire career by poor QB play.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
It doesn’t sound like Tony Gonzalez is going to be back with the team next season. At 37, it’s no surprise as he watch one of the top TE’s in the history of the game walk away. The offense is opened up so much with an effective TE working the middle. This could be the steal of the draft if Ertz falls to the 30th pick and should be a slam dunk by the Falcons.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
The San Francisco secondary was exposed (completely) by Joe Flacco and the Ravens. The ‘Niners may boast one of the strongest rosters top to bottom and can afford to take a shot on Ryan who many believe is a second rounder. He’s one of my personal favorites in the draft as he offers playmaking ability and is solid in run support. I prefer him to Johnthan Banks and I think some teams will be with me on that one.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The lack of athleticism in the middle almost cost Baltimore a Super Bowl. Ray Ray is done, which will be a huge loss in terms of leadership but not on the field play. Ray and Dannell Ellerbe were abused in pass coverage, exposing a giant weakness on this defense.
Ogletree has top 20 talent and is a top 10 athlete but a combination of off the field issues with lack of physicality could have him fall into the laps of the Ravens. Good news for the Super Bowl champs as he fits their need to a tee.
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