16. St. Louis Rams – Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/Tennessee
Patterson is projected to be one of the best offensive skill players in the draft, but he’s starting to slip a bit after a stunning Pro Day from Tavon Austin and a general need for help on either offensive or defensive line at the top of the draft. But the Rams have had their eye on Patterson for some time now and he’s exactly what they need moving forward. The defense is one of the best young units in the league, but the trick is getting the offense up to snuff and getting Sam Bradford a tall deep threat is the way to go.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Bjoern Werner, DE/Florida State
The Steelers all of a sudden need a wide receiver but if Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin are off the board, Pittsburgh will go back to focusing on rejuvenating an aging offensive line. Werner is a speedy pass rusher who can give the Steelers an edge rushing presence they’ll need moving forward. Werner will fit nicely on the line especially given the fact that the Steelers have shown an interest in moving Ziggy Hood to nose tackle, and for some reason teams like the Steelers always get lucky and have players like Werner fall to them.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Sheldon Richardson, DT/Missouri
When it comes to Richardson, scouts are absolutely high on him and he’s got a lot of evidence to back up all the hype. He’s got a lighting fast first step and can penetrate backfields like some of the top defensive tackles in the NFL. He’s fluctuating in value right now, but all signs are pointing to Richardson seeing his value take a jump as we get closer to the draft. The Cowboys need to beef up their front line and Richardson will be something running backs don’t want to deal with on Sunday’s.
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 – Alec Ogletree, ILB/Georgia
The Bears have officially parted ways with legendary linebacker Brian Urlacher, which means that they have a massive hole to fill in the middle of their defense. Ogletree is regarded as one of the best linebacker prospects in the draft and is arguably the best interior linebacker in the draft class. The Bears need a tough, speedy leader in the middle of the defense and despite the character questions, Ogletree is too talented to pass up.
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.
There are two certainties in the NFL Draft: the St. Louis Rams will take both Cordarrelle Patterson and Kenny Vaccaro is they’re available when they go on the clock. Right now it’s looking like Patterson will need to be taken first, and while it’s not a guarantee that Vaccaro will make it past the Dallas Cowboys, Vaccaro being added to that young and upstart Rams defense is something that will only continue to make the NFC West the nest division in football.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Sylvester Williams, DT/North Caolina
Williams ia s guy who has been bouncing around in mock drafts, but now that the Vikings have two first round picks, he’ll likely find his way back to being a late first-round pick. Minnesota could take a look at Damontre Moore, but character issues will likely scare them off of drafting him despite the dual position ability he brings. But the Vikings have two defensive ends right now capable of doing the job and if Williams is plugged into the middle, the Vikings may be able to stretch out Jared Allen’s career. It also fits with the tradition the Vikings have of starting mature and talented defensive tackles named Williams.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Damontre Moore, DE/Texas A&M
The Colts could look at offensive line help here, but the more likely option is taking a defensive end to give Chuck Pagano’s squad a pass rushing presence. But Moore has fallen causality to a terrible combine and some character issues, which has sunk his once top-10 status. 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 Colts would love to be in charge of.
25. Minnesota Vikings (from Seattle Seahawks) – DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Clemson
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 Christian Ponder with a young target he needs opposite Greg Jennings. Besides, if Hopkins is selected between the Vikings picks, Keenan Allen is a decent consolation prize.
26. Green Bay Packers– Tyler Eifert, TE/Notre Dame
Green Bay needs help up front, but another way to help Aaron Rodgers would be to get him a capable tight end for the future. Jermichael Finely is sticking around for now it seems, but he’s not a long term option anymore as animosity grows. Eifert gives Rodgers his Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham, and that makes him even more dangerous than he was before. Menelik Watson and other offensive lineman will be available on the second day for the Packers to flirt with, but Eifert won’t be and if they want to help Rodgers, they’ll get him a giant tight end.
27. Houston Texans - Keenan Allen, WR/Cal
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. Allen 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. His knees are drawing concern, but if they check out he’ll be a steal for the Texans at 27th overall.
28. Denver Broncos – Tank Carradine, DE/Florida State
The kid was a lock for the first-round but suffered a late season ACL tear that threw his NFL future into a tailspin. But according to reports, Carradine’s recovery is ahead of schedule, and advances in medical science have given teams confidence when it comes to leaning on players coming off of ACL injuries. Denver lost Elvis Dumervil and will be looking for a replacement in the draft. If Carradine is indeed ahead of schedule, he’ll be an amazing pick for Denver this late in the first round. Tremendously insane upside is the proper way to describe Carradine’s status.
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 – Kawann Short, DT/Purdue
Kawann Short is not only one of the best available players at this point in the draft, but he fits the mind set the 49ers have been in since Jim Harbaugh took over. The Niners are built to win now, and while Desmond Trufant would be a brilliant pick (if he was available), Short gives the Niners even more depth at defensive tackle and allows them to not have to worry about retaining guys who have contracts running out or who are getting older than they’d like. Plus for those clamoring for Datone Jones here, remember that the NIners have the second pick of the second round and Jones will likely be there for them to take.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Matt Elam, S/Florida
He hits hard and lets you know it too, he fits right in with Baltimore’s style of defense. Elam was mocked to the Ravens a few times before, but the notion was they’d wait for Ed Reed to retire before drafting a safety like Elam. Well, Reed is as good as retired as a Raven, being that he plays for the Houston Texans now, and Elam is once again a sexy option at the end of the first round. He’ll fit right in with where the Ravens want to go on defense and help make one of the best defenses in the NFL last year even better in 2013.