Round 1 Cont.
17. Atlanta Falcons: Bjoern Werner DE (Florida State)
(Trade w/Pittsburgh: Swap 1st Round picks (#31 overall and #17 overall), Atlanta sends 2nd Round pick (#60), 5th Round pick (#163), and 7th Round pick (#236) to complete deal)
Although the Falcons signed Osi Umenyiora, they could still stand to acquire another defensive end to replace John Abraham. G.M. Thomas Dmitroff has traded up before, and Atlanta must find a way to bolster their pass-rush. Although the German-born Werner (6’3″ 266 lbs.) is relatively new to the game football, he continued to improve his pass-rushing skills as he logged 18.0 tackles for loss and 13.0 sacks from his defensive end position last season. Werner is a 3-down player who has the tools to be a solid defensive end at the professional level.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson DT (Missouri)
Not only is soon to be 32 year-old Jay Ratliff facing a D.U.I. charge he picked up last year, but his backup Josh Brent could be headed to prison for an extended period after he killed his teammate Jerry Brown in a D.U.I. Manslaughter accident back in December. With Cowboys transitioning to a 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin, they will need some athletic depth in the trenches. 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.
19. New York Giants: Tyler Eifert TE (Notre Dame)
The Giants need to find a tight end who can stay healthy enough for Eli Manning, and Tyler Eifert could be a perfect fit in Round 1. 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.
20. Chicago Bears: Chance Warmack OG (Alabama)
The combination of James Brown, Lance Louis, Gabe Carimi, and Chilo Rachal did not cut the mustard this year, and center Roberto Garza will be a Free Agent in 2014. Chicago’s pass-protectors gave up 44.0 sacks last year, and it would be wise to protect their franchise quarterback in the form of Jay Cutler. If Chance Warmack falls all the way to the Bears at #20 overall, I would have a hard time believing that Chicago’s 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.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Menelik Watson OT (Florida State)
It definitely helps the Bengals that the free agent market is littered with right tackles, because there is still a chance that veteran Andre Smith could return to the team. If Smith does in fact leave before the draft, then Cincinnati will need a new right tackle. The English-born Watson was a former basketball player and boxer before he took up football recently at a junior college and then Florida State. Although he is raw in terms of his overall technique, the 6’5″ 310 lb. Watson has the upside and strength to develop into a stellar right tackle in a year or two.
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 on either Day 1 or Day 2 of the draft. The 6’2″ 311 lb. Cooper could instantly step in and shore up the interior of the Rams’ offensive line, and he would be a solid value pick at #22 overall. Cooper was a 4-year starter with the Tar Heels (48 games), possesses tremendous agility for an interior offensive lineman. His quickness allows him to be a dangerous blocker when he gets to the second-level, and I am sure that his presence would be a welcome sight to the Rams’ signal-caller.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Alec Ogletree ILB/OLB (Georgia)
The Vikings could decide to go for a defensive tackle at #23, but it definitely would not hurt Minnesota to upgrade their linebacker corps. 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 1 interception. I should also add that the former Bulldog linebacker did all of this in 10 games, because he was suspended for Georgia’s first four at the beginning of last year. At least to me, Ogletree is worthy of a Top 12-15 selection based on his talent, but his stock will likely fall due to his off-field issues.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Desmond Trufant CB (Washington)
The Colts’ secondary only registered a combined 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 spring. 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. (2009-2013: 4 interceptions and 23 passes defended). Trufant has impressed scouts during The Senior Bowl practices, and might even sneak into the top 20 overall.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams DT (North Carolina)
The Vikings could stand to use more depth at defensive tackle, and could definitely look in that direction in Round 1. Minnesota’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 he should contribute well as a gap-shooting defensive tackle in addition to a gap-clogging one.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Tank Carradine DE/OLB (Florida State)
(Trade w/Green Bay: Swap 1st Round picks (#32 overall) and (#26 overall), Baltimore sends 3rd Round pick (#94) to complete deal)
Baltimore lost Jarrett Johnson after the 2011 season to San Diego, Paul Kruger left for Cleveland last month, 2010 2nd round pick Sergio Kindle was a bust, and Terrell Suggs will enter his 11th season this fall. The Ravens could elect to shore up their pass-rush earlier than some expect on “Draft Weekend,” and it would not shock me if Cornellius “Tank” Carradine (6’4″ 276 lbs.) is high on Ozzie Newsome’s draft board. After one year as a rotational defensive end, Carradine burst on the scene last fall and racked up 80 tackles, 11.0 sacks, and 13.0 tackles for loss until he went down with an ACL tear against Florida late last season. Knee injury aside, I’m sure that the Ravens would be happy to add a pass-rusher like “Tank” to their roster.
27. Houston Texans: Arthur Brown ILB (Kansas State)
With limited depth at the position, the Texans should try to find an inside linebacker to pair with Brian Cushing for years to come. 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 pro scouts. 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.
28. Denver Broncos: Jonathan Cyprien SS (Florida International)
Denver is in “win now” mode with veteran Peyton Manning at the helm, and the Broncos probably want to shore up their secondary if they want to make another deep playoff run. Jonathan Cyprien’s stock seems to be rising fast, and there is good reason for that as the Florida International strong safety shined during Senior Bowl week, and enjoyed a solid 2012 season with the Golden Panthers (93 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 4 interceptions). Although Cyprien is not as agile as Matt Elam is in pass-coverage, he does possess decent size (6′ 217 lbs.), and can definitely hold his own near the line of scrimmage in run support.
29. Philadelphia Eagles: E.J. Manuel QB (Florida State)
(Trade w/New England: Sends 1st Round pick (29th overall) to Philadelphia for 2nd Round pick (#35) and 4th Round pick (#101) to complete deal)
My guess is that Philadelphia will try to find a quarterback at some point on “Draft Weekend,” and the Eagles might be interested in the athletic E.J. Manuel. Manuel replaced Christian Ponder at Florida State, and he eventually led the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl victory as a senior (263 for 387, 3,392 yards, 23 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 4 rushing touchdowns). In addition to his large frame (6’4″ 237 lbs.), Manuel possesses a good deal of athletic ability as a runner, and thrower on the run. While Manuel’s decision-making under duress leaves much to be desired (vs. Florida last year) I still believe that he will be on the Eagles’ wish list of quarterback prospects.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Keenan Allen WR (California)
(Trade w/Atlanta: Swap 1st Round picks (#31 overall and #17 overall), Atlanta sends 2nd Round pick (#60), 5th Round pick (#163), and 7th Round pick (#236) to complete deal)
Although Pittsburgh matched New England’s offer for Emmanuel Sanders last week, their offense still needs depth and a play-maker at the wide receiver position. Poor Pro Day 40 time aside, Keenan Allen was one of the Pac-12’s best receivers (2011: 98 catches, 1,343 yards and 6 touchdowns, 2012: 61 catches, 737 yards, and 6 touchdowns) over the last two seasons. Allen is a threat to stretch an opposing defense vertically and horizontally, runs precise routes, works well outside the numbers and in the slot, and possesses a large and physical frame (6’2″ 206 lbs.) to make him a threat in the red zone. I for one would love to see the Steelers take Allen, and I believe that he would be a terrific compliment to Brown and Sanders.
31. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Nassib QB (Syracuse)
(Trade w/San Francisco: Swap 1st Round picks (#31 overall) and (#8 overall), San Francisco sends two 2nd Round picks (#34 & #61) to Buffalo in exchange for 5th Round pick (#143) to complete deal)
Even though the franchise signed Kevin Kolb, I am sure that Buffalo’s brass does not view him as the team’s long-term answer at the position. Nassib (6’2″ 227 lbs.) was Doug Marrone’s starting signal-caller at Syracuse for three years, and improved each and every season with the Orange in the areas of: completions, completion percentage, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. Last year was Nassib’s most productive, and threw for 3,753 yards and 26 touchdowns for the Orange.
32. Green Bay Packers: DeAndre Hopkins WR (Clemson)
(Trade w/Baltimore: Swap 1st Round picks (#32 overall) and (#26 overall), Baltimore sends 3rd Round pick (#94) to complete deal)
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. While some “hotel mess-capades” back in February could hurt Hopkins’ draft stock, his play at Clemson will likely make him a 1st/2nd Round pick. After he put up 72 catches for 978 yards and 5 touchdowns as a sophomore, 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. Hopkins is well-built (6’1″ 200 lbs.), possesses solid hands, is a good route-runner, and would definitely help to fill the void left by Greg Jennings.