33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Datone Jones DE (UCLA)
Although the Jason Babin signing helped towards the end of last year, Jacksonville’s brass would be wise to bolster their pass-rush at some point in next week’s draft. The Jaguars ranked dead last in the league with a total of 20.0 sacks last fall, and their defense could not create consistent pressure off of the edges. 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 Jacksonville’s defense even more dangerous in the trenches against the run and the pass.
34. Buffalo Bills: Matt Elam SS (Florida)
(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)
Although the Bills kept Jairus Byrd, they were only able to sign him with the franchise tag. In addition, Buffalo also lost George Wilson back in March so the defense could stand to use some depth at safety. Elam 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 former Gator (5’10” 208 lbs.) improved off of his solid 2011 campaign (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 to lead Florida to a Sugar Bowl berth last year.
35. New England Patriots: Johnthan Banks CB/FS (Mississippi State)
(Trade w/Philadelphia: New England sends 1st Round pick (29th overall) to Philadelphia for 2nd Round pick (#35) and 4th Round pick (#101 overall) to complete deal)
New England could stand to use more depth in their secondary. Aqib Talib is only signed through this season, and the team might want to find an insurance policy if he leaves. Banks, The 2012 Jim Thorpe Award winner, possesses a tall and lanky frame (6’2″ 185 lbs.), and has shown the ability to make plays on the football even as a zone-scheme guy (16 career interceptions). Banks can also mix it up in the run-game (125 Tackles the last two seasons), and even has the skill-set to play the free safety position (he started at the position as a freshman in college). Johnthan’s 40 time at The Combine though (4.62) could drop him into Round 2, but I’m sure the Patriots would be thrilled to add him to their roster.
36. Detroit Lions: Alex Okafor DE (Texas)
Detroit will likely need some serious help at defensive end position if they want to create any pressure off of the edges in future seasons. Cliff Avril left for a new deal in Seattle, and Kyle Vanden Bosch was just recently released too. Thus, a slip by Alex Okafor could definitely benefit a team like the Lions. Last year, Alex racked up 68 tackles, 18.0 tackles for loss, and 12.5 sacks over 13 games, and did so with his talented pass-rushing mate Jackson Jeffcoat sidelined for most of the year with a pectoral injury. Equipped with a nice burst upfield for a bigger guy (6’4″ 264 lbs.), Okafor could make the Lions’ pass-rush even more potent.
37. Cincinnati Bengals: Giovani Bernard RB (North Carolina)
The Bengals need a running back to compliment BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Giovani Bernard could be a terrific value pick at the beginning of Round 2. Bernard (5’8″ 202 lbs.) was not only awesome on the ground for the Tar Heels over his career (2011-2012: 2,481 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns), but he was also a weapon in the passing game too (2011-2012: 92 catches for 852 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2011 and 2012). “Every-down backs” are not easy to find, and although the position has been devalued somewhat in recent seasons Bernard could be a solid fit with Cincinnati.
38. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley QB (Southern California)
Even if Carson Palmer has a season or two left in him, Arizona would be wise to invest a mid-Round draft pick in a quarterback. I believe that Matt Barkley’s stock will settle in somewhere in the late-1st/early 2nd round, 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 can do so in an accurate fashion.
39. New York Jets: Jesse Williams NT (Alabama)
I am sure that Rex Ryan misses the days when he had Haloti Ngata on his defense in Baltimore. It is always a big help for a 3-4 defense to have a stout, and immovable nose tackle. Thus, Ryan might want to use an early round pick on a nose tackle like Jesse Williams from Alabama. The Australian gap-clogger (6’3″ 320 lbs.) enjoyed a very productive 2012 season (37 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.0 sack), and could be just the space-eater that the Jets could utilize as a 0-technique.
40. Tennessee Titans: Justin Pugh OG/OT (Syracuse)
The Titans need help at offensive guard, and Round 2 could be a perfect place for the franchise to address the issue. If Justin Pugh did not have “T-Rex” arms (32″), he would have a chance to be a 1st Round lock. The 6’4″ 307 lb. tackle started for three years for the Orange in college, and was named 1st team All-Big East during his final two years at Syracuse. Regardless of whether or not he switches positions, Pugh has the athletic ability and the foot speed of a pro-caliber tackle, and he would definitely provide value as a “swing guy” on game-days if he has to kick to the outside from his guard spot.
41. Buffalo Bills: Justin Hunter WR (Tennessee)
Buffalo could stand to use another wide receiver to pair with Stevie Johnson, and Justin Hunter could definitely be an option for the Bills at #41 overall. Hunter was primed for a breakout season in 2011 until a knee injury derailed him three games into the year. I guess the injury did not faze Hunter too much, because the 6’4″ 196 lb. pass-catcher recorded 73 catches for 1,083 yards and 9 Touchdowns in 2012, and was a far most consistent and productive pass-catcher than his teammate Cordarrelle Patterson. In fact, I believe that Hunter is a better receiver than his former Volunteer teammates Cordarrelle Patterson and Da’Rick Rogers, and he has the tools to be a solid pass-catcher at the professional level.
42. Cleveland Browns: Jamar Taylor CB (Boise State)
(Trade w/Miami: Swap 1st Round picks (#6 overall) and (#12 overall), Miami sends 2nd Round pick (#42) to complete deal)
Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator Ray Horton will probably want to add another cornerback to the roster. So if they pass on one in Round 1, it wouldn’t shock me if they went after one on Day 2 of the draft. Jamar Taylor, who enjoyed a terrific workout at The Combine (4.39 40 yard dash, 22 bench press reps,), was a very productive player during his career at Boise State and has the ball-skills to be a factor at the pro level (2012: 51 tackles, 4 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles). In addition, Taylor possesses solid size (5’11” 192 lbs.) and speed to make him a fringe 1st Round candidate.
43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Margus Hunt DE (Southern Methodist)
I believe that Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers would find a way to incorporate the raw yet athletic Estonian into their defensive front if he falls to them in Round 2. The 6’8″ 277 lb. defensive end picked up football after he arrived at S.M.U. as a member of the track-team, and has improved each and every season at the collegiate level. In 2012, Hunt registered 31 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 8.0 sacks to go along with 2 forced fumbles and an Interception for the Mustangs. Hunt also shined as a kick blocker too, and he managed to record 17 blocked kicks during his collegiate career.
44. Carolina Panthers: Kawann Short DT (Purdue)
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 Kawann Short of Purdue. The 6’3″ 299 lb. Short had a terrific year on an otherwise mediocre Boilermaker defense. Overall, Kawann registered 42 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, and 6.0 sacks from the interior of the defensive line. Short has the short-area quickness to make plays and gap=shoot, and would be a solid value pick in the middle of the 2nd round.
45. Green Bay Packers: Eddie Lacy RB (Alabama)
(Trade w/San Diego: Swap 2nd Round picks (#45 overall and #55 overall), Green Bay sends 3rd Round pick (#88) to San Diego in exchange for a 5th Round pick (#110) and a 6th Round pick (#179) to complete deal)
If Eddie Lacy’s poor Pro Day showing knocks him down into Round 2, a franchise with running back needs like the Packers could trade up to acquire the former Alabama star. 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, and can definitely chip in as a pass-receiver in the screen game.
46. St. Louis Rams: Robert Woods WR (Southern Cal)
Danny Amendola is now a Patriot, and the Rams could try to find his replacement on Day 2 in the form of Robert Woods. The 6′ 201 lb. Woods was assumed to have a monster 2012 season after he caught 111 passes for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2011. Unfortunately, injuries struck and Woods was relegated to the #2 wide receiver role behind the explosive Marqise Lee. Down year aside, Woods still caught 76 balls for 846 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012, and he could definitely be a real steal in Round 2 if he recovers well from his ankle injury.
47. Dallas Cowboys: Larry Warford OG (Kentucky)
The Cowboys would be wise to protect Tony Romo, and it would serve their front office well to upgrade the interior of the team’s offensive line. Warford, a 6’3″ 332 lb. road-grader, was a three-year starter with the Wildcats and emerged as one of the S.E.C.’s best interior offensive linemen in addition to Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and Dallas Thomas. Warford would be a solid value pick in the middle of Round 2, and would fill an enormous need for Dallas and their offense.