17 Pittsburgh Steelers-Manti Te’o ILB Notre Dame
The Steelers are another team that is in desperate need of a left tackle that will find the lack of top end talent frustrating. Instead, they can turn to helping an aging defense. Ansah is exactly the type of young, athletic, explosive talent that could help move Pittsburgh’s defense back up to their aggressive best, but he’s also very raw, and the Steelers might not be willing to take that chance. Te’o could also be a very solid ILB to take over for the aging Timmons. The Steelers are also used to dealing with their fair share of off-field scandals.
18 Dallas Cowboys-Jonathan Cooper, OG North Carolina
The Cowboys would have really wanted Warmack at this spot, but need to adjust. They could really use offensive tackle help, but there is nobody with the exception of DJ Fluker or Lane Johnston, both of which I believe are reaches here. Drafting Jesse Williams is less likely if they re-sign Jay Ratliff, but the Cowboys could really use somebody inside to punch up the run defense. Assuming that Ratliff stays, the Cowboys could turn to Cooper, who is an athletic guard that can open up some running lanes for DeMarco and keep Romo off his back.
19. New York Giants-Ezekiel Ansah, DE BYU
The Giants always like to load up on their defensive line; that’s even when their line is strong. This year has been a real down year for the Giants defense in terms of production in both the run and pass game. Ansah is an athletic, physical pass-rusher who has room to put on plenty of weight and could turn into a dynamic player at the end of his first season, similar to the type of production the Giants got from Jason Pierre-Paul when he was a raw specimen.
20. Chicago Bears-Larry Warford, OG Kentucky
The Bears are another team that has continuously failed to address their offensive line issues. With Jay Culter, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall, they have the skill players who put together a dynamic offense. They just need to give them time to make plays. Warford isn’t a household name, but he proved during the Senior Bowl that he has the aggressiveness and athleticism to be a very strong player at the next level. He could do wonders for the Bears offense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals-Alec Ogletree, LB Georgia
The Bengals could really use some help in their linebacker corps or take a pass-rushing talent like Montgomery. However, I think that Ogletree will be the selection here once workouts are over. He’s versatile and a sure tackler. He hits like a truck and has really improved his coverage ability. He could be a great addition to a Bengals linebacker corps that has many high-profile college players who have yet to really produce in the NFL.
22. St. Louis Rams-Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
Now the Rams can address their offensive tackle position after helping their secondary early on. This could be DJ Fluker, but I think that if Cordy Glenn fell to the second round, Fluker is likely to do the same. Lane Johnson proved at the Senior Bowl that he can handle the left side, but he also has the physicality to lock in at right tackle early on. Either way, he’s talented enough to keep Bradford off his back, which is the Rams’ key concern.
23. Minnesota Vikings-DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
Christian Ponder has had a subpar sophomore season, but I think a lot of that has to do with his lack of receiving options. Percy Harvin was constantly hurt, and he’s not a number one wide receiver to begin with. DeAndre Hopkins is a big receiver who can make plays downfield. I think he’ll separate himself from the pack once offseason workouts begin.
24. Indianapolis Colts-Jesse Williams, DT Alabama
The Colts identity has really changed under Chuck Pagano, but he needs more talent on the defensive side of the ball to take their performance up a notch. Running a 3-4 scheme, they could take a big nose tackle prospect like John Jenkins, but I think they go with the more consistent Williams. He doesn’t have the flash that Jenkins has, but he’s still a strong competitor and a space-eater on defense.
25. Seattle Seahawks-Shariff Floyd, DT Florida
The Seahawks have a pretty fearsome defense already, but they could use another body in the middle to help occupy blockers and stop up the run. Floyd is a borderline first round pick right now, but I love the way he uses his hands to keep blockers off of him, and I think he has the explosion to be a real playmaker at the next level. I know the Seahawks want a pass-rusher, so Sam Montgomery is an option, but I think you can find a guy to rush the passer later in drafts.
26. Green Bay Packers-Barrett Jones, OG/C Alabama
The Packers could go with a tight end here if they let Finely go, like many expect. However, I still think that they have some glaring holes on the offensive line. Jones is a versatile lineman who can plug and play at a number of positions along the interior of the line. It will help the Green Bay offense more than a first round tight end would.
27. Houston Texans-Kevin Minter, ILB LSU
For years I’ve been saying that the Texans could use a slot receiver to help take some pressure off of Andre Johnson. However, they don’t appear willing to take one in the first round. So Minter is the next best thing. He’s an instinctual linebacker and the kind of solid presence that allows playmakers to take chances off the edge, knowing that the middle is under control. After watching the Patriots running game carve up Houston, this may be the smartest pick they can make.
28. Denver Broncos-Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
Peyton Manning has completely changed the Broncos offense, but everybody knows that he loves having a tight end to throw to. Jacob Tamme and Joel Dressen were fine this year, but not good enough to be true assets. Eifert is a well-rounded player who can give Manning a security blanket underneath while also helping in the running game.
29. New England Patriots-Xavier Rhodes, CB FSU
The Patriots acquired Talib, but their pass defense still needs some work. Rhodes is the type of large, physical corner that teams love. He plays full out on every play, loving to blow up runners in the backfield. Similarly, he has the footspeed to stay with receivers in the open field. He could turn into a very solid player for the Pats.
30. Atlanta Falcons-Dion Jordan, DE/OLB Oregon
The Falcons don’t get a lot of pressure off the edge and could use a player like Jordan. Tony Gonzalez is also such a huge part of the offense and will absolutely need to be replaced. However, I think at this spot, the upside of Jordan trumps the possibility of adding Ertz. Jordan has the frame to put on much more weigh that will enable him to hold up as a 4-3 DE.
31. San Francisco 49ers-Sam Montgomery, DE LSU
The 49ers have a strong defense, but every team that builds a strong defense always loads up early in the draft. If the 49ers don’t re-sign Goldson, they are going to have a massive hole at safety, but if a guy like Montgomery falls here than I find it hard to believe that Harbaugh won’t jump. Just another dynamic piece on a strong defense.
32. Baltimore Ravens-Cordarelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
This pick might not make a lot of sense on the surface, but I don’t see the Ravens bringing back Boldin. If they don’t franchise Joe Flacco than this pick could also be a QB, but as it stands, I think the Ravens will really need another weapon out wide to help get more out of Flacco if Boldin leaves. Patterson is very raw, but is quite possibly the most explosive receiver in this draft.
Rest of the Bills Draft
2. Ryan Nassib, QB Syracuse
I still think this pick should be EJ Manuel because his upside trumps that of almost any other quarterback in the draft. However, the Bills and Nassib connection has been stated to death and makes some sense. He’s a smart quarterback that could easily compare to Andy Dalton at the next level. He may never be able to carry a team on his back, but he can be a game manager who has occasional big games.
3. Cobi Hamilton, WR Arkansas
I think the Bills might address the receiver position in free agency and then take a receiver later in the draft, but assuming they don’t, getting Hamilton here would be great value. At 6’2” 200 pounds, he has the size that Nix wants in a receiver. He also showed well at the Senior Bowl, able to catch the ball underneath and get behind the defense with some underrated speed. He gets lost in the shuffle a bit, but he’s a very talented player.
4. Jon Bostic, ILB Florida
Linebacker is another position where the Bills are likely to add multiple players. I think the draft will be used for adding intriguing talent around the free agent additions. Pettine will went aggressive and athletic players, so Bostic fits the bill perfectly. He’s a physical linebacker who loves to come up to the line of scrimmage and lay somebody out.
5. Kwame Geathers, NT Georgia
A gigantic body, who might actually be better than John Jenkins. He’s athletic for his size and very powerful. He may never be more than a rotational player because he would likely only be used when the Bills go to a three-man front, but he can be extremely effective in that role.
6. Ty Powell, OLB Harding
Powell’s recent performance may have played him into the 5th round conversation, but this is a guy I really like. He has incredible versatility all over the defensive side of the ball and has consistently shown well above-average athleticism. Unlike most players who have a knack for rushing the passer, Powell actually has some skills in coverage as well. A very high upside pick here.