Round 1 cont.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dion Jordan DE/OLB (Oregon)
I’ve made my thoughts pretty clear on the “Steelers Need an OLB Upgrade” matter over the last few months. With Pittsburgh’s Outside Linebacker needs in mind, I will be very pleased if Dion Jordan or any one of the other top-tier pass-rusher falls to the Steelers at #17. As a Senior, Jordan put up 44 Tackles, 10.5 TFL’s, 5.0 Sacks, and Forced 3 Fumbles for the Ducks, and did so from all different spots on the field. Jordan was used on the line of scrimmage, off the line of scrimmage, and even in the slot for pass-coverage purposes, and the 6’6″ 243 lb. Linebacker was athletic enough to help in those capacities. If Jordan recovers well from his offseason shoulder surgery, G.M Kevin Colbert could be intrigued by his unique frame and skill-set.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Datone Jones DE (UCLA)
The Cowboys will be switching to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin. While Demarcus Ware will be manning one Defensive End spot, soon to be UFA Anthony Spencer, who is a better fit in a 3-4 scheme will likely be on his way out of town. If and when this happens, Dallas will need another Defensive End to pair with Ware, and UCLA’s Datone Jones could be just the player who fits what the Cowboys want to do. A three-year starter with the Bruins, Jones (6’4″ 280 lbs.) registered career highs in Tackles (62), Sacks (6.5), and TFL’s (19.5) as the Bruins captured the Pac-12 South title.
19. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker OT (Alabama)
The Giants could stand to use an upgrade at Right Tackle as David Diehl enters his 11th season, and Sean Locklear enters his 10th. Arguably the best “Right Tackle” prospect on the board is Alabama’s D.J. Fluker, and New York could definitely use the services of the 6’5″ 339 lb. road-grader. could be just the road-grader Detroit needs to kick-start their running game. A starter of 36 games during his three years with the Crimson Tide, Fluker is one of the more experienced Tackles in this year’s draft class. Keeping Eli Manning healthy is a high priority, and Fluker’s addition should help with that as well.
20. Chicago Bears: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama)
If Chance Warmack falls to Chicago, there is no way they can pass on him. The combination of James Brown, Lance Louis, Gabe Carimi, and Chilo Rachal did not cut the mustard this year, plus Center Roberto Garza will be a Free Agent in 2014. Chicago’s pass-protectors gave up 44.0 Sacks last year, and more help can be used at the Guard position. Warmack (6’2″ 322 lbs.) started 40 games during his collegiate career with the Crimson Tide, and is a fantastic road-grading mauler with some nice pass-protection skills to boot. Although some project Warmack to be a Top 10 pick, “true” Guards are usually never selected inside the Top 20.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree ILB/OLB (Georgia)
In need of a talented Linebacker to pair with Vontaze Burfict, I do not believe that the Bengals will pass on Alec Ogletree. A former Safety, Ogletree possesses an incredible mix of size and speed (6’3″ 232 lbs.), and led the Bulldogs this past year in Tackles with 111, and registered 11.5 TFL’s and 3.0 Sacks to go along with 6 PD’s and 1 Interception. I should also add that he did all of this in 10 games, as he spent the first four on the bench while he served a suspension. At least to me, Ogletree is worthy of a Top 12-15 selection based on talent. Unfortunately for him, he is likely to fall due to his character issues, most notably his recent D.U.I..
22. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper OG/C (North Carolina)
Due to the “RGIII” trade last year, the Rams have the luxury of possessing two 1st Round picks. In the event St. Louis’ brass keeps both of them, I could definitely see the Rams attempting to over-haul their Offensive Line with both of their selections. The 6’3″ 310 lb. Cooper could instantly step in and challenge any of the Guards who suited up for the Rams last year for a starting spot. A 4-year starter with the Tar Heels (48 Games), Cooper has positional versatility as a Center as well his presence would be a welcome sight to Sam Bradford who will need all of the protection he can get as he enters the prime of his career.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen WR (California)
The Vikings could decide to go for a Defensive Tackle this early, but I believe that G.M Rick Spielman will try to find a Wide Receiver in Round 1 of this year’s Draft. Plus, I cannot blame them if they decide to find more weapons to help out Christian Ponder and Adrian Peterson. Allen enjoyed a terrific career with the Golden Bears (totaled 1,343 Yards Receiving during 2011 and 737 during 9 games last year). Allen is a threat to stretch the Defense vertically and horizontally, and possesses a large and physical frame (6’3″ 210 lbs.) which can make him a solid fit with a Wide Receiver-needy team like Minnesota.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant CB (Washington)
The Colts’ Secondary only registered 12 Interceptions during the 2012 season, and depth is sorely needed at the Cornerback position. Desmond Trufant (5’11” 190 lbs.) was a three-year starter for the Huskies and emerged as the program’s “shut-down” guy during his time in Seattle also. (4 Interceptions and 23 PD’s over said span). Trufant has impressed scouts during The Senior Bowl practices, and could see his stock continue to rise over the coming weeks.
25. Seattle Seahawks: Sylvester Williams DT (North Carolina)
With Alan Branch and Jason Jones set to become UFA’s this offseason, the Seahawks might try to add some depth along the interior of their Defensive Line. Pete Carroll shocked Draft pundits when he took Bruce Irvin at #15 overall last year, and he could go for an ultra-athletic Defensive Lineman again in Round 1 this year like Sylvester Williams of North Carolina. A former Junior College transfer, the massive Williams (6’3″ 313 lbs.) was a two-year starter with the Tar Heels, and finished last season with 42 Tackles, 13.5 TFL’s, and 6.0 Sacks. For a big guy, Williams possesses some deceptive speed and can contribute as a gap-shooting Tackle in addition to a gap-clogging one.
26. Green Bay Packers: Zach Ertz TE (Stanford)
Jermichael Finley is set to become a UFA in 2014, and has apparently had a stormy relationship with his All-Pro signal-caller Aaron Rodgers. The Packers could be in the market for a new Tight End soon, and what better way to please Rodgers than to replace his sometimes butter-fingered target in Finely, with one of college football’s best players at the position. After he played second-fiddle to Coby Fleener, Ertz stepped up huge in 2012 as he racked up 69 Catches for 898 Yards and 6 TD’s for the Cardinal. Ertz (6’6″ 252 lbs.) is a versatile prospect who has the potential to line up along the line of scrimmage, in the slot, or even in an H-Back role.
27. Houston Texans: Manti Te’o ILB (Notre Dame)
Houston’s Defense was never quite the same after Brian Cushing went down with an injury. Now with Bradie James set to hit the Free Agent market, the Texans would be wise to consider an Inside Linebacker early in the 2013 Draft. Issues with his “girlfriend” and the poor tape against Alabama could knock the Heisman Trophy runner-up down the draft board. But a team like Houston could benefit if he falls to them. Te’o did log over 100 Tackles in each of his final three years in South Bend, and improved his skills in pass coverage last year to boot. Where Te’o will inevitably go will be a mystery, but I do not see him falling past the Texans.
28. Denver Broncos: Johnthan Banks CB/FS (Mississippi State)
The Broncos’ Secondary was absolutely atrocious against the Ravens, and the team needs help at both Cornerback and Safety. Thus, if Johnthan Banks, the 2012 Jim Thorpe Award Winner, falls to Denver, they should really consider taking him. Banks possesses a big frame (6’1″ 185 lbs.), has shown the ability to make plays on the football even as a Zone-scheme guy (16 career Interceptions), can mix it up in the run-game (125 Tackles the last two seasons), and even has the skill-set to play Free Safety (he started at the position as a Freshman in college).
29. New England Patriots: Sam Montgomery DE (Louisiana State)
Let this one sink in New England fans. The Patriots’ leading Sack man from last year was Rob Ninkovich. The Defensive End finished with 8.0 on the entire year, and he will reach UFA status in 2014. If New England wants to get better on Defense they had better find a way to collapse the pocket from the outside. Montgomery (6’5″ 260 lbs.) established himself as one of the S.E.C.’s better pass-rushers over his career, and put up 13.0 TFL’s and 8.5 Sacks during the 2012 season. If Montgomery falls this far, I am sure that the Patriots would have no problem pairing him with 2012 1st Round pick Chandler Jones in pass-rushing situations.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tyler Eifert TE (Notre Dame)
Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez will be calling it quits soon enough, and the Falcons had better prepare for life without him. Luckily for them, they should be able to draft either Zach Ertz or Tyler Eifert late in Round 1. Although Eifert’s 2012 stats were not particularly mind-blowing (50 Catches, 685 Yards, 4 TD’s), anyone who watched him could see that his Quarterback situation was less-than helpful. Furthermore, Eifert has a tremendous amount of athleticism for such a big-bodied pass-catcher (6’5″ 252 lbs.), and showed a large amount of improvement as a blocker last year too.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Matt Elam SS (Florida)
Dashon Goldson is set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent this March and Donte Whiter is set to reach UFA status in 2014. The former Gator is a big-hitter who is not only speedy, but can line up in a number of different areas on the Defensive side of the ball. The Strong Safety (5’10” 202 lbs.) improved off of his solid Sophomore season (78 Tackles, 11.0 TFL’s, 2.0 Sacks, 2 Interceptions), and racked up 76 Tackles, 11.0 TFL’s, 2.0 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, and 4 Interceptions as he helped lead the Gators’ Defense to a Sugar Bowl berth.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter ILB (Louisiana State)
“Obstruction of Justice” Lewis has finally called it quits, and the Ravens will likely be in the market for his replacement this offseason. Baltimore tried unsuccessfully to acquire Dont’a Hightower last April, but lucky for them, a similar prospect like Kevin Minter could be available to take in Round 1 this year. Minter was a force in the middle for the Tigers over the last two seasons, and registered 130 Tackles, 15.0 TFL’s, and 4.0 Sacks over 13 games in 2012. The squat-framed, yet athletic Minter (6’1″ 245 lbs.) packs a wallop as a Tackler, and would fit in quite well on Baltimore’s physical Defense.