33. Philadelphia Eagles: E.J. Manuel QB (Florida State)
(Trade w/Chicago: Swap 2nd Round picks (#33 overall) and (#35 overall), Philadelphia sends one 5th Round pick (#136) 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.
34. San Francisco 49ers: Eric Reid FS (Louisiana State)
Because Dashon Goldson left for Tampa Bay, and Donte Whitner will be a UFA next spring, the 49ers need depth and a future starter at safety. A big-hitting and larger framed safety (6’1″ 213 lbs.), Eric Reid proved willing to mix things up in the run-game and finished third on Bayou Bengals in tackles last year with 91, and he also managed to record 2 interceptions. While Reid must prove he is agile and athletic enough to stay with more athletic tight ends, he is definitely worth an early-2nd Round investment for a team like San Francisco.
35. Chicago Bears: Zach Ertz TE (Stanford)
(Trade w/Jacksonville: Chicago sends 1st Round pick (#20 overall) to Jacksonville for 2nd Round pick (#33 overall) and 3rd Round pick (#63) to complete deal)
(Trade w/Philadelphia: Swap 2nd Round picks (#33 overall) and (#35 overall), Philadelphia sends one 5th Round pick (#136) to complete deal)
I fully look for the Bears to trade down this year and acquire extra picks if Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper are no longer on the board, and they could find some willing partners in quarterback-needy teams like Jacksonville and Philadelphia. Now that Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis are gone, the Bears need help at the tight end position. After he played second-fiddle to Coby Fleener at Stanford, Ertz stepped up huge in 2012 and racked up 69 catches for 898 yards and 6 touchdowns. Ertz (6’5″ 249 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. If the former Cardinal tight end can improve his blocking, he will be a versatile and effective player at the professional level.
36. Detroit Lions: Menelik Watson OT (Florida State)
Gosder Cherulis left for Indianapolis as a free agent, and veteran Jeff Backus just recently retired. If the Lions want to rebuild their offensive line accordingly, they might be wise to target Menelik Watson if he falls into Round 2. 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, agility, and strength to develop into a stellar right tackle in a year or two.
37. Cincinnati Bengals: Eddie Lacy RB (Alabama)
The Bengals need a running back to compliment BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Eddie Lacy could be a fantastic pickup early in Round 2. 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 as the program captured yet another National Championship. 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. If Lacy stays healthy, Cincinnati will have a solid “1-2 Punch” between the rookie and “The Law Firm.”
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 to 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: Matt Elam SS (Florida)
The Jets secondary is a bit of a mess right now, and they could stand to use some depth at both cornerback and at the safety positions. With Yeremiah Bell in Arizona and LaRon Landry in Indianapolis, the Jets might want to consider shoring up the back-end of their defense with a player like Matt Elam of Florida. 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.
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. Baltimore Ravens: Margus Hunt DE (Southern Methodist)
If Margus Hunt of S.M.U. falls this far, I would have to believe that Ozzie Newsome would jump at the chance to inject his veteran defensive line with a little bit of youth and explosiveness. The 6’8″ 277 lb. Estonian 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. Due to his height, Hunt also shined as a kick blocker, and Margus managed to record 17 blocked kicks during his collegiate career.
42. Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin Minter ILB (Louisiana State)
(Trade w/Miami: Kansas City receives 2nd Round pick (#54 overall) in exchange for OT Branden Albert)
If Baltimore passes on Kevin Minter, he could fall all the way down into the middle of Round 2. The Chiefs however might be willing to scoop him up if he is available at #42 though. Minter was a force in the middle for the Tigers over the last two seasons, and registered 130 tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss, and 4.0 sacks in 2012. The squat-framed, yet athletic former Bayou Bengal (6′ 246 lbs.) packs a wallop as a tackler, has enough agility to potentially hold his own in pass-coverage, and projects well to develop into a solid inside linebacker in Kansas City’s 3-4 scheme.
43. Houston Texans: Arthur Brown ILB (Kansas State)
(Trade w/Tampa Bay: Swap 2nd Round picks (#43 overall) and (#57 overall), Houston sends one 3rd Round pick (#89) to Tampa Bay to complete deal)
If the Texans elect to pass on an inside linebacker in Round 1, look for them to acquire one in Round 2 or Round 3. With limited depth at the position, the Texans should try to find an someone 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.
44. Carolina Panthers: Keenan Allen WR (California)
If Keenan Allen’s stock drops due to his poor pro day and the rumors surrounding a positive drug test, a team like Carolina in Round 2 could definitely benefit if he falls to them. 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.
45. Cleveland Browns: Jamar Taylor CB (Boise State)
(Trade w/San Diego: Swap 1st Round picks (#6 overall) and (#11 overall), San Diego sends 2nd Round pick (#45) to Cleveland 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.
46. St. Louis Rams: Johnathan Franklin RB (UCLA)
The Rams need a replacement for Steven Jackson, and Johnathan Franklin could be a terrific value pick in the middle of Round 2. I’ve talked at length about Johnathan Franklin (5’10″ 205 lbs.) since the offseason began (here), and I believe he could be a solid “sleeper” prospect. The former Bruin set career highs in carries (282), rushing yards (1,734 yards), rushing touchdowns (15), catches (33), receiving yards (323 yards), and touchdown catches (2). While Franklin is not “elite” in any facet of the game, he does a solid job on the ground, as a pass-catcher, and should fit well in a zone-blocking scheme with his solid field-vision.
47. Dallas Cowboys: Alex Okafor DE (Texas)
A slip by Alex Okafor could definitely benefit a team like Dallas who is transitioning to a 4-3 base defense. 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 Cowboys’ pass-rush even more potent and spell veteran starters DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer.