17. Pittsburgh Steelers- WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)
Last week, I said it was close between Jarvis Jones and Cordarrelle Patterson for the Steelers. Well, this week Jones isn’t available so Patterson is the pick. They are reportedly very interested in him and he would replace Mike Wallace. While they have a need at rush linebacker, they also reportedly are high on both Jason Worilds and Chris Carter and don’t want to take a collegiate defensive end in the first round and convert him into a rush linebacker. That hurts Tank Carradine’s chances.
TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)- I actually think Eifert is more likely than Carradine. Eifert would give them insurance for Heath Miller, who tore his ACL, and another offensive weapon.
RLB Tank Carradine (Florida State)- I won’t rule Carradine out.
18. Dallas Cowboys- G Chance Warmack (Alabama)
The Cowboys made two head scratching decisions at guard last off-season, signing Nate Livings to a 5 year deal to play left guard and signing Mackenzy Bernadeau to a 4 year deal to play right guard. Livings was one of the worst guards in the league in 2011, while Bernadeau was an inexperienced former 7th round pick that no one else saw as a starter. Livings actually played well this season, but Bernadeau played as expected. There’s been some talk of Bernadeau moving to center, though I don’t know how much that will help. Either way, they need a new starter at right guard. Warmack is too good to pass on at this point.
OT DJ Fluker (Alabama)- I don’t think they’d pass on Warmack, but DJ Fluker would fill a need at right tackle. They’re reportedly not that interested in him though.
19. New York Giants- OT DJ Fluker (Alabama)
DJ Fluker is a rising prospect right now, with some saying he could go as high as 7th to Arizona. I don’t have him that high and I think it would be ridiculous to use a top-10 pick on a pure right tackle in an off-season where Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston, and Andre Smith are still available and Sebastian Vollmer and Phil Loadholt had to take less than they were expected to get. However, I don’t see the Giants passing on him at 19. They’re known to be very interested in him and he’d fill a huge hole at right tackle.
DE Tank Carradine (Florida State)- The Giants are always interested in adding pass rushers.
20. Chicago Bears- TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame)
The Bears already signed Martellus Bennett this off-season, but according to Draft Insider Tony Pauline, that won’t preclude the Bears from taking a tight end at #20. Tyler Eifert is a rising prospect right now with a good chance to go in the top-20. He’s the consensus top tight end and could be seen as the best available player here for the Bears. While Bennett is more of an inline tight end, Eifert can move all around the formation and would allow the Bears to use a bunch of two-tight end sets and creative looks. Jay Cutler will be really happy (or as happy as Jay Cutler can be) with this off-season if the Bears add Eifert here after adding Bennett, Jermon Bushrod, and offensive minded Head Coach Marc Trestman.
MLB Arthur Jones (Kansas State)- Jones would fill a big need at middle linebacker and he’d be a perfect fit for their cover 2 scheme.
21. Cincinnati Bengals- S Eric Reid (LSU)
The Taylor Mays experiment didn’t last long. The Bengals were forced to move Nate Clements from cornerback to safety to play alongside Reggie Nelson and they also re-signed Chris Crocker mid-season and he saw some playing time. They can’t rely on that long term. Both Crocker and Clements are free agents and are heading into their age 33 and 34 seasons respectively. They need a new starter next to Nelson.
The Bengals tend to lock onto position by round and address their biggest needs first. Safety would qualify this year. While Jonathan Cyprien will probably overall be seen as a better prospect than Eric Reid and Matt Elam, the Bengals prefer big school kids so they’ll probably have Reid and Elam higher on their board than Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien. They’ve worked both out privately and it was tough to choose between them here, but Reid has the size defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer prefers in a defensive back.
S Matt Elam (Florida)- Elam is their other option. Safety is big far their biggest need.
22. St. Louis Rams- WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson)
After losing Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson in free agency, the Rams are now missing 2 of their top-3 receivers from last year and it wasn’t a strong receiving corps to begin with. They’ve added Jared Cook and Chris Givens, their leading receiver last year, could be headed for big things in his 2nd year in the league. However, Brian Quick is still incredibly raw, though they haven’t given up on him. Austin Pettis, meanwhile, is only a backup caliber player. They also have just 5 receivers on the roster as of this writing and two of them have never caught a pass in the NFL. Just like Quick last year, Hopkins had a last minute workout with the Rams this year that reportedly went very, very well.
WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee)- Justin Hunter is the other receiver option.
G Justin Pugh (Syracuse)- This would also help their offense.
S Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International)- Cyprien would fill a big need, but don’t they have to take an offensive player with one of these picks?
23. Minnesota Vikings- MLB Manti Te’o (Notre Dame)
The Vikings obviously have a need at wide receiver, but they pick at 25 in two more picks and it’s unlikely the Colts take a receiver at 24 so they’ll probably wait until that pick to take a receiver. With pick 23, I expect them to address defense, especially the front 7. Te’o is still expected to go in the 1st round when all is said and done and the Vikings appear to be the team most comfortable with him. He’d fill a massive need at middle linebacker.
MLB Arthur Brown (Kansas State)- It’s between Te’o and Brown for them right now.
DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)- They’re known to be interested in Williams, but I think he’s only an option if both linebackers are gone.
WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee)- Maybe they want to take their receiver here instead of 25.
24. Atlanta Falcons (TRADE)- CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State)
The Falcons are rumored to be interested in moving up from 30. It’d make sense given their recent history, just two years after moving up 21 spots in the 1st round for Julio Jones. If Rhodes falls into this part of the first round, they’ll be working the phones and the Colts, who are without a 2nd round pick, make sense as a trade partner. They wouldn’t be able to recoup their 2nd round pick (the trade value chart says the Falcons would have to give up their 3rd rounder), but they’d still add a valuable asset.
After cutting Dunta Robinson, cornerback becomes a big need for the Falcons. Asante Samuel just turned 32 and might only be with the Falcons for one more season and Brent Grimes is gone. Rhodes could step in as an immediate starter opposite Samuel and allow Robert McClain to remain on the slot, where he was very good last season.
3-4 DE Margus Hunt (SMU)- I believe Margus Hunt is the Colts’ target. He should be available at 30 though.
RLB Tank Carradine (Florida State)- Carradine is also an option for the Colts and, to an extent, the Falcons.
25. Minnesota Vikings- WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee)
Even after adding Greg Jennings, the Vikings still need another wide receiver opposite him. Besides, Jennings is turning 30 this season and might not be worth his contract once he’s into year 4 or 5 so they need to think about developing a long term #1. They’ll probably take one with one of their two 1st round picks. At the end of the day, even after trading Harvin, they’ll end up with a better receiving corps in 2013 than 2012 and have an extra 1st rounder to spare.
DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina)- It’s a deep wide receiver year so maybe they wait until the 2nd round to address the need.
26. Green Bay Packers- 3-4 DE Datone Jones (UCLA)
The Packers’ defensive line got absolutely no pass rush in 2011. They used a 2nd round pick in 2012 on Jerel Worthy to help them out there, but that might not be enough. They still ranked just 30th in pass rush efficiency in 2012 as only Clay Matthews could get consistent pressure. They could use a 2nd pick on a pass rushing defensive lineman for their 3 man defensive line.
3-4 DE Margus Hunt (SMU)- Hunt is their other defensive line option.
OT Justin Pugh (Syracuse)- Pugh’s versatility could be very attractive to the Packers if they want to address the offense and go with a lineman.
27. Houston Texans- OT Menelik Watson (Florida State)
The Texans lost the right side of their offensive line last off-season. They drafted a right guard in the mid rounds last year and could take right tackle this year. Derek Newton and Ryan Harris split snaps there last season, but Newton struggled and Harris, the better of the two, is still an unsigned free agent. Lance Zierlein of the Houston Chronicle, who admits he is not a big fan of Watson, believes the Texans love him and that he’s going to go in the top-27 picks. He’s a project, but he’d obvious be a natural fit for their zone blocking scheme and fill a need, so the intrigue is understandable, even though I side more with Zierlein on Watson’s long term projection.
MLB Arthur Brown (Kansas State)- With the top-4 receivers off the board, the Texans don’t have many other options, but they could address the linebacker position.
28. Denver Broncos- CB Jamar Taylor (Boise State)
Don’t ask me why, but reports suggest that the Broncos will target cornerbacks early in the draft, probably in the first round. They have Champ Bailey obviously and just signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Also, Tony Carter and Chris Harris played well last season. Finally, they have Omar Bolden, a 2012 4th round pick who only fell because of a knee injury he’s since recovered from. DRC was only signed to a one year deal and Bailey could be eventually moved to safety, but I don’t get why they’d use a premium pick on a cornerback when they already have 5 presumably locked into roster spots. Anyway, it’s not my call. If they’re interested in cornerbacks in the first round, Taylor makes a lot of sense. They’ve worked him out privately and they are reportedly smitten with him.
CB Desmond Trufant (Washington)- Trufant is the other cornerback option.
29. New England Patriots- CB Desmond Trufant (Washington)
Even after re-signing Aqib Talib and Kyle Arrington, the Patriots could still draft another cornerback. Trufant probably wouldn’t play much as a rookie, but Talib was only brought back on a one year deal and they could use better depth should injuries strike or if Alfonzo Dennard has to serve a suspension. Arrington belongs on the slot and should not be moved back outside even if injuries strike.
QB Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)- If someone wants to trade up into the 1st round to take Nassib, the Patriots are likely going to be a willing partner.
30. Indianapolis Colts (TRADE)- 3-4 DE Margus Hunt (SMU)
The Colts won 11 games last year despite replacement level talent all over the field, but they’ll have to play better to match that win total in 2013. Despite one of the easiest schedules in the league, they still had a negative points differential and the worst points differential in NFL history by an 11-win team. They won just 3 games against .500 or better teams and 2 games total by more than a touchdown (one of which was against the Jaguars). There’s a reason they couldn’t hang with the big boys in the post-season as the Ravens exploited their issues defensively and on the offensive line in their 24-9 victory.
However, they had a lot of cap space this off-season to add talent to a young and improving nucleus so I gave them a good chance to improve their level of play in 2013 and still make it back to the playoffs. That being said, I don’t like what they did with their cap space. It wasn’t just that they overpaid players; it’s the type of players they overpaid. If you’re going to overpay players, make sure they’re players who can have a big impact. I don’t know how much guys like LaRon Landry, Gosder Cherilus, Erik Walden, Ricky Jean-Francois, Greg Toler, and Donald Thomas will help this team (I did like the Thomas deal though, that wasn’t an overpay). They would have been better off signing two or three higher end free agents and filling other needs through the draft.
Now it’s unclear which position they still view as a major need and for that reason it’s unclear what they’ll do in the 1st round. Rush linebacker, offensive line, cornerback, and defensive line should all be considered, but they may not view them all as major needs. I’m giving them Hunt here because I think he’s one of the best available and because I think defensive line is their biggest need right now. Even after signing Jean-Francois, they need more youth there. Aubrayo Franklin, recently signed cheap, turns 33 this season at nose tackle, as does starting five-technique defensive end Cory Redding. They’ve worked Hunt out privately and he’s seen as a first round lock by several sources.
RLB Tank Carradine (Florida State)- As it did at 24, Carradine makes some sense to the Colts.
31. New York Jets (TRADE)- S Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International)
The Jets lost both of their starting safeties from 2012. They’ve brought in mediocre veteran Dawan Landry and they have a pair of 2012 late round picks, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, but they will still probably add a safety through the draft. Cyprien probably won’t make it out of the first round so he makes a lot of sense here for the Jets.
CB DJ Hayden (Houston)- Hayden also makes sense for the Jets, but it’s more likely he’s on the board at 34 than Cyprien.
32. Baltimore Ravens- MLB Arthur Brown (Kansas State)
Ray Lewis is obviously retired and while, Dannell Ellerbe played well in his absence, he’s gone as a free agent. Jameel McClain is a mediocre player who will be coming off a major injury in 2013 and even if he can lock down a starting spot, the Ravens run a base 3-4, so they need two starting linebackers. Middle linebacker will be a priority of their off-season.
S Matt Elam (Florida)- Elam would address their safety need.
QB Ryan Nassib (Syracuse)- The Ravens are another team that likes to trade down on draft day. A team could move up here to get Nassib.
Go on to 2nd round