16. St. Louis Rams – Chance Warmack, Guard, Alabama
Once considered the top guard in the draft, Warmack has fallen back a bit which is splendid news for the Rams. Warmack is still a top guard and is far better than anything St. Louis has at the moment, and his stock falling ever so slightly means the chances the Rams get the guy they want increases. Warmack would provide much needed protection for Sam Bradford and drafting him would show that the Rams are serious about winning a Super Bowl in the near future.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Damontre Moore, DE/Texas A&M
An outside the box pick here is Tavon Austin, as with only Emmanuel Sanders as they only real receiving threat the Austin could be of service. If Todd Haley is serious about running that stupid dink-and-dunk offense, no one is better suited for it than the speedy Austin. But Moore has fallen causality to a terrible combine. He was atrocious in the drills he ran in comparison to how much he’d been talked up leading into the combine. But unlike Star Lotulelei who was a top 3 pick in some mocks, Moore’s bad combine is a fixable project and one that the Steelers would love to be in charge of.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
Dallas needs a safety that can hold down ground between Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne and Kenny Vaccaro seems to be the guy. The Cowboys are reportedly high on him and they did nothing in free agency to suggest they won’t be taking him in April’s draft. Safety is a real need for Dallas and the younger they can get on defense, the longer they can be one of the better defenses in the NFC.
19. New York Giants – Manti Te’o, ILB/Notre Dame
Someone is going to spend a first round pick on Te’o and each week it’s a different team. Maybe this is so when the draft actually arrives, no one take Te’o, but as much fun as it is to hate on his fake girlfriend and his bad 40-time, Te’o isn’t that bad of a prospect. He was slow at the combine, but he’s got football speed and that’s something more valuable than a linebacker being able to quickly run 40-yards. Te’o will be a side-to-side player, not a straight line player and he fills a major hole for the Giants that they can’t fill on the open market.
20. Chicago Bears – Tavon Austin, WR/West Virginia
The Bears need to acknowledge that the Devin Hester/Johnny Knox days are over. It was a nice experiment and their heart was in the right place but the need for a speed receiver has made itself known again. With Hester going through a complete mental breakdown over how he feels about the Bears and Knox being forced into retirement, Austin makes more sense than ever for Chicago. Not only can he return the ball, but he’s a cheaper, younger version of Percy Harvin, as he’ll be able to run out of the backfield as easily as he can be a dangerous slot threat for Jay Cutler.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – D.J. Fluker, OT/Alabama
I’d love to see the Bengals take a chance on Keenan Allen here and pair him with A.J. Green, but Andy Dalton needs protection before he adds more weapons to his offense. Fluker would be an Alabama lineman replacing an Alabama lineman who ended up being a bust so it’s easy to see why Cincinnati would be hesitant to take Fluker. But there’s not running back worth taking this high and if it’s not Allen, it’s going to be Fluker.
Keenan Allen used to be penciled in here, but his knee is scaring teams off and he’s likely going to fall way back in the first round and may not be worth taking even at No. 22 overall. But DeAndre Hopkins is a guy quickly rising on draft boards, and after some convincing, I’m drinking the Kool-Aid. Hopkins is tall, he’s dangerous and he can provide Sam Bradford with the deep threat he needs. Plus, without Danny Amendola in town Bradford needs a target to throw to and Hopkins could be the first piece of a new, younger and explosive offense for the Rams.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State
Werner used to be a top 3 draft pick but his stock has absolutely plummeted due to the fact that he’s viewed as simply a “great” player and not an “elite” player after thee combine. But while the Vikings need a wide receiver, they’ve afforded themselves an opportunity to get take two positions of need in the first round and there’s no doubt that defensive end is one of them. Brian Robison isn’t going to carry the defensive line on his own and Jared Allen isn’t getting any younger. Minnesota could go defensive tackle here, but they’re getting top 15 value at No. 23 overall in Werner and that’s too good to pass up.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Menelik Watson, OT/Florida State
Watson has cracked the first round in many mock drafts, and when you do that this close to the draft the probability that you actually get drafted in the first round is pretty high. The Colts could make a run on offensive lineman this year as after seeing how good Andrew Luck was in his rookie year, Indy is going to want to make sure he’s protected for a long time.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) – Keenan Allen, WR/Cal
The Vikings are going to take Keenan Allen in the 2013 NFL Draft, the only question is do they take him before or after the No. 23 overall pick. Werner won’t make it past the Colts but Allen will and taking him here would be maximizing the Percy Harvin trade as much as possible. Allen is the deep threat the Vikings need and can develop into a Randy Moss-type threat where he streaks the field and bails out Christian Ponder (or Matt Cassel) in tight spots. He’s also going to lean from Greg Jennings which isn’t the worst idea in the world.
26. Green Bay Packers– Eddie Lacy, RB/Alabama
The only knock on the Packers offense over the years has been the utter absence of a running game and the Alabama hammer can fix that right up. Running back is one of the most popular skill positions for fans to pull for and Lacy will help make the Packers offense even more dangerous than it already is. Besides, if you think Alex Green and Cedric Benson are the answer at running back for the Packers, please review the Packers 2012 running game and then check out how well Lacy ran in a devastating offense with the Crimson Tide. Lacy is rising on draft boards, and after losing out on running backs in free agency, the Packers may decide to get one at any cost in the draft.
27. Houston Texans - Justin Hunter, WR/Tennessee
Chad Johnson wants to make an NFL comeback with the Houston Texans so he can provide them with a deep threat compliment to Andre Johnson. Johnson may be insane for assuming that the Texans would want him, but he’s onto something when it comes to getting Andre Johnson a deep threat partner. Hunter is big and he’s raw but he could be a guy that pays off for Houston and could even save Matt Schaub’s job is all goes well.
28. Denver Broncos – Kawann Short, DT/Purdue
Kawann Short is not only one of the best available players at this point in the draft, but he fits John Fox’s history of drafting defensive tackles in the first round. The Broncos are built to win now, and while Desmond Trufant would be a brilliant pick, by the time he’s getting solid playing time, his rookie contract will have expired and he may get pricey. Short fills a need up front and makes the Broncos run defense even better than it already is.
29. New England Patriots – Desmond Trufant, CB/Washington
I really wanted to put Tyrann Mathieu here because that reeks of a bill Belichick move, but Trufant is a far better prospect and he may have more longevity than Mathieu does. Plus, Belichick is the kind of guy that will grab him right when teams start remembering about Mathieu in the third round. They brought back Aqib Talib, but the patriots need to get a secondary that is unstoppable and Trufant not only adds insurance incase Talib implodes, but he adds depth as well.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Sam Montgomery, DE/LSU
Montgomery has drifted in and out of the first round, but the Falcons may end up taking a chance on him late in the first round just because he does harbor a lot of talent that Atlanta needs at defensive end. John Abraham left in free agency and the Falcons need to get a younger edge rusher to put pressure on passers. Montgomery isn’t a top tier guy, but there are worse options out there and he’s far from being a reach at this point.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Sylvester Williams, DT/Missouri
Ian Williams isn’t a bad player by any means but he’s likely not going to be a great player without some hard work. The 49ers don’t have many holes on their roster but when Justin Smith was injured last year, the defensive line struggled. Glenn Dorsey’s addition helps and adding Sylvester Williams would possibly give the Niners one of the toughest defensive lines in the NFL — which is the last thing opponents want to imagine for 2013.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Alec Ogletree, LB/Georgia
Baltimore has a need to fill with Ray Lewis retiring and it won’t be Manti Te’o. John Harbaugh was clearly not impressed with Te’o at the combine and his situation is still a little too weird. Alec Ogletree was grilled about his DUI at the combine but it’s wouldn’t be the first time the Ravens looked past off-field issues in order to allow a middle linebacker to thrive for them. The idea of Manti Te’o somehow working his way into the first round is cute, but Ogletree has way more talent and upside and make much more sense.