Round 1 Cont.
17. Minnesota Vikings: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri)
(Trade w/ Pittsburgh: Swap 1st Round picks (#25 overall and #17 overall), Minnesota sends 3rd Round pick (#83 overall) and 4th Round pick (#102 overall) to Pittsburgh to complete deal)
Armed with two 1st Round picks, Minnesota should be in the market to find veteran Kevin Williams’ replacement. If a talented player like Sheldon Richardson falls in Round 1, I could definitely see the Vikings’ brass making a move to acquire him. After two years at the junior college level, and one year in a non-starter role with the Tigers, the agile and powerful Richardson (6’3″ 295 lbs.) burst on the scene in 2012 when he racked up 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks over Missouri’s 11 games.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama)
If Chance Warmack falls all the way to Dallas at #18, I would have a hard time believing that the Cowboys’ brass would pass on him. Warmack (6’2″ 317 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. If Dallas’ brass are serious about upgrading their ground attack (2012: 21st in Total Rushing Yards 1,687), the selection of a run-blocking Guard like Warmack would be a great start.
19. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker OT (Alabama)
The Giants could stand to use an upgrade at Right Tackle as David Diehl and Sean Locklear are entering their mid-30’s. 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. A starter of 36 games during his three years with the Crimson Tide, Fluker is one of the more experienced offensive tackles in this year’s draft class. Keeping Eli Manning healthy is a high priority, and the addition of a massive yet athletic right tackle should help do just that.
20. Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert TE (Notre Dame)
Both Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis are gone, so the Bears might consider taking a tight end on Day 1 or Day 2 of the Draft. Although Eifert’s 2012 stats were not particularly mind-blowing (50 catches, 685 yards, 4 touchdowns), anyone who watched him could see that Notre Dame’s quarterback situation was less-than helpful. Furthermore, Eifert has a tremendous amount of athleticism for such a big-bodied pass-catcher (6’5″ 250 lbs.), and showed a large amount of improvement as a blocker last year too.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Alec Ogletree ILB/OLB (Georgia)
A former safety, Ogletree possesses an incredible mix of size and speed (6’2″ 242 lbs.), and led the Bulldogs this past year in tackles with 111, and registered 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks to go along with 6 passes defended and 1 interception. I should also add that the former Bulldog linebacker did all of this in 10 games, because 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. Although Ogletree’s stock will take a hit due to character issues, but the Bengals have gambled before and won on talented prospects with past problems (i.e. Vontaze Burfict).
22. St. Louis Rams: Jonathan Cooper OG/C (North Carolina)
If St. Louis wants Sam Bradford to flourish, they would be wise to upgrade the interior of their offensive line early and often in this year’s Draft. The 6’2″ 311 lb. Cooper could instantly step in and challenge any of the guards who suited up for the Rams last year for a starting spot. Cooper was a 4-year starter with the Tar Heels (48 games), possesses tremendous agility for an offensive lineman, and I am sure that his presence would be a welcome sight to the Rams’ signal-caller.
23. Minnesota Vikings: DeAndre Hopkins WR (Clemson)
The Vikings could decide to go for a defensive tackle at #23, but I believe that G.M Rick Spielman will try to find a wide receiver with the first of his two 1st Round picks. I believe that Minnesota’s brass might be intrigued to take the speedy yet physical DeAndre Hopkins (6’1″ 200 lbs.) at some point in Round 1. Although he shared the wide receiver spotlight with his teammate Sammy Watkins, all Hopkins did at Clemson was produce during his three-year college career. After an incredibly productive sophomore season which saw him catch 72 passes for 978 yards and 5 touchdowns, Hopkins improved to the tune of 82 catches for 1,405 yards and 9 touchdowns this past year as the Tigers won the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant CB (Washington)
The Colts’ secondary only registered 12 interceptions during the 2012 season. In addition to that, Indianapolis could use either another starter at the cornerback position, and an eventual replacement for Antoine Bethea at free safety if he leaves via free agency next year. 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 passes defended over said span). Trufant has impressed scouts during The Senior Bowl practices, and could see his stock continue to soar over the coming weeks.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Arthur Brown ILB (Kansas State)
(Trade w/ Minnesota: Swap 1st Round picks (#25 overall and #17 overall), Minnesota sends 3rd Round pick (#83 overall) and 4th Round pick (#102 overall) to Pittsburgh to complete deal)
Outside of Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers’ situation at inside linebacker is a mess, and Pittsburgh’s brass seem to be very interested in Arthur Brown. At his pro day workout, Brown measured in at a stout 6′ 241 lbs., and erased concerns about his overall weight and speed in front of multiple members of the Steelers’ staff. Since he transferred from the University of Miami (FL) to Kansas State two years ago, Arthur emerged as one of the best players in the Big XII. Overall, Brown recorded 101 and 100 tackles during his Junior and Senior campaigns to go along with 16.0 combined tackles for loss, and 3 interceptions.
26. Green Bay Packers: Keenan Allen WR (California)
The Packers lost Donald Driver and Greg Jennings this offseason, and could stand to use another wide receiver to team with Jordy Nelson and James Jones. Poor Pro Day 40 time not withstanding, Keenan Allen enjoyed a terrific career with the Golden Bears (totaled 1,343 yards receiving during 2011, and 737 during 9 games last season), and was one of the Pac-12’s best receivers over said span. Allen is a threat to stretch an opposing defense vertically and horizontally, can run precise routes, and possesses a large and physical frame (6’2″ 206 lbs.) to make him a solid fit with a wide receiver-needy team like the Packers.
27. Houston Texans: Datone Jones DE (UCLA)
The Texans need some depth along their defensive line, and Antonio Smith is getting a bit “long in the tooth.” Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips values versatility when it comes to his defensive linemen, and Datone Jones could be a solid selection late in Round 1. A three-year starter with the Bruins, Jones (6’4″ 283 lbs.) registered career highs in tackles (62), sacks (6.5), and tackles for loss (19.5) as the Bruins captured the Pac-12 South title. Armed with experience in 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, Datone would make Houston’s defense even more dangerous in the trenches against the run and the pass.
28. Denver Broncos: Eddie Lacy RB (Alabama)
Denver is in “win now” mode with veteran Peyton Manning at the helm, and they should be interested in finding him as many weapons as possible to succeed. While Ronnie Hillman is a solid 3rd down back, the Broncos must find someone to take over the “every down” load for veterans Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno. The 5’11” 231 lb. bruiser stepped into the starring role in the Tide’s backfield last season and registered 204 carries, 1,322 yards, 17 touchdowns. While he is not the most adept pass-catcher, Lacy still added 22 catches, 189 yards, 2 touchdowns to his stat line in 2012 too.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Matt Barkley QB (Southern Cal)
(Trade w/ New England: Jacksonville sends 2nd Round pick (#33 overall) and 4th Round pick (#98 overall) to New England for 1st Round pick (29th overall) to complete deal)
If the Jaguars are done with the “Blaine Gabbert Experience,” then they might want to target a Quarterback on Day 1 or Day 2 of the Draft. I believe that Matt Barkley’s stock will rise once he comes back from his shoulder surgery, and teams begin to look at more film of him and his successful collegiate career as a whole (246 for 387, 3,273 yards, 63.6%, 36 touchdowns & 15 interceptions was a “down year” in 2012). Although Barkley might not be considered the most mobile of quarterbacks, he ran a Pro-Style system at Southern Cal, possesses a strong enough arm to make every throw on the field, and does so in an accurate fashion.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Tank Carradine DE (Florida State)
Although the Falcons signed Osi Umenyiora, they could still stand to acquire another defensive end to replace John Abraham. Tank Carradine (6’4″ 276 lbs.) might have sustained an ACL injury in late-November, but he was in the midst of a career year with the Seminoles beforehand. After one year as a rotational defensive end, Carradine burst on the scene after Brandon Jenkins went down with a foot injury during the Seminoles’ opening game last year. Until Tank went down with his knee injury, he had racked up 80 tackles, 11.0 sacks, and 13.0 tackles for loss, and formed a lethal pass-rushing duo with Bjoern Werner.
31. Carolina Panthers: Sylvester Williams DT (North Carolina)
(Trade w/ San Francisco: Swap 1st Round picks (#31 overall and #15 overall), San Francisco sends 2nd Round pick (#61 overall) and 3rd Round pick (#74 overall) to Carolina to complete deal)
Although the Panthers’ defense improved this past year, issues still exist along the interior of their defensive line. Carolina’s run defense could be helped by an impact player like 3-technique prospect Sylvester Williams of North Carolina. A 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 tackles for loss, and 6.0 sacks. For a big guy, Williams possesses some deceptive speed and can contribute as a gap-shooting defensive tackle in addition to a gap-clogging one.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam SS (Florida)
With Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed no longer in Baltimore, the Ravens need to shore up their free and strong safety positions. 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. Elam (5’10” 208 lbs.) improved off of his solid sophomore season (78 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 2 interceptions), and racked up 76 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 4 interceptions as he helped lead Florida to a Sugar Bowl berth.