The day is finally here that the draft is finally upon us. At 8 p.m. on Thursday night, the 2012 NFL Draft will officially commence.
The Indianapolis Colts will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick, but how will the rest of the draft play out? Read through the following mock draft for my final projections on which players each team will select.
The day is finally here that the draft is finally upon us. At 8 p.m. on Thursday night, the 2012 NFL Draft will officially commence.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 1
To the surprise of absolutely no one who has been following this year’s draft, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson confirmed on Tuesday that they would select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck.
The Colts need a franchise quarterback to replace Peyton Manning, and Luck is one of the best quarterback prospects ever coming out of college. He certainly has huge shoes to fill in Indianapolis, but few quarterbacks have ever been as prepared to take on such a challenge as a rookie as Luck will be.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 3
Trade: The St. Louis Rams traded the No. 2 overall selection to the Washington Redskins for the No. 6 overall selection, No. 37 overall selection and the Redskins’ first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.
With the Colts drafting Luck, the Redskins are set to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, the player who they specifically traded up to the No. 2 overall pick for.
During his pre-draft press conference, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan all but confirmed that the Redskins were selecting Griffin, contingent only upon the Colts not selecting him.
Griffin is a tremendous athlete with a big arm, and the intelligence and intangibles to be the franchise quarterback that the Redskins have lacked for decades.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 4
While even the most casual of draft followers can be confident about what will happen with the top two picks on Thursday night, no one can be quite sure what will happen next.
In my last mock draft, I projected that the Vikings would trade down with the Miami Dolphins, who would move up to select Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. However, it seems that the Dolphins are not going to trade up to assure the opportunity to draft him, sentiments parlayed strongly today by Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman continues to talk trading down, but the way he continues to publicly push trade talk leads me to believe that he may be trying to drum up trade business more than anything. If the Vikings cannot trade down, then the selection will come between USC left tackle Matt Kalil, LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, as reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
As I have said all along, Kalil should be an easy choice. He is an elite left tackle, and the Vikings have a desperate need at the position. That said, the fact that the Vikings have moved away from locking up Kalil in the first place by entertaining trades tells me that they will look in another direction.
The Vikings have definite interest in Claiborne, and need to upgrade at cornerback. While passing up Kalil is a huge mistake, the Vikings at least get the best defensive player in the draft and a lockdown cover corner by making this choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 7
Talk of the Browns trading down continues to be rumored, but I only see that happening if a team trades up to No. 3 overall to select Alabama running back Trent Richardson.
I strongly believe the Browns have targeted Richardson and plan to select him at No. 4 overall. Browns general manager Tom Heckert said the team is looking for “guys who can score points.” That makes Richardson the ideal selection for them. The Browns need to upgrade at the running back position, and Richardson is an impact runner who can help them score points.
The other player the Browns are believed to be interested in Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon, but Richardson should get the nod over him.
Trading down is a definite option with teams potentially being interested in Richardson and USC left tackle Matt Kalil, but I doubt they pass up Richardson. I also strongly doubt that the Browns make the mistake of drafting Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 2
Projected Trade: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the No. 5 overall selection to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for the No. 10 and No. 41 overall selections.
The reports of Matt Kalil falling to the Buffalo Bills at No. 10 overall, or even falling out of the top 10, are exaggerated. Kalil is an elite prospect with the potential to be an All-Pro left tackle, and with the demand for players at that position, I expect him to be selected within the top five picks.
With the Vikings passing upon Kalil, the Bills should work the phones to move up and select him. The Bills desperately need to upgrade at offensive tackle, and general manager Buddy Nix said he wants a “difference-maker.” They would certainly get that in Kalil.
Meanwhile, having missed out on their top two targets in Claiborne and Richardson, the Buccaneers are in a prime position to trade down. The Buccaneers could pick up another early second-round pick while staying in the top 10, while the Bills move up to get a star at their position of greatest need. This deal is a win-win for both sides.
If the Buccaneers stay put, expect the pick here to be Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. The Buccaneers desperately need to upgrade their linebacker corps, and Kuechly is a terrific prospect who could step in and contribute right away.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 9
With Kalil, Richardson and Claiborne all off of the board, the Rams will most likely attempt to trade out of this position.
Without a team ready to offer a deal worth taking, the Rams’ decision should come between Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon or Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. While Jason La Canfora of NFL.com has reported that the Rams are believed to be strongly considering Cox, I think the Rams will end up selecting the prime receiving target they need in Blackmon.
Blackmon is the best wide receiver in this draft class, and can be the legitimate go-to weapon in the passing game that the Rams need to provide Sam Bradford with. While Cox also addresses an area of need, Blackmon will be tough for them to pass up.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 6
Projected Trade: The Jacksonville Jaguars trade the No. 7 overall selection to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 10 and No. 68 overall selections.
It is well-known that the Jacksonville Jaguars want to trade down, and will be aggressively pursuing suitors to trade up. The top suitor to trade up could be a team that already traded down, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers are in serious need of help at the linebacker position, and having picked up an extra second-round pick in the earlier trade, they can afford to give up their third-round pick to get the best 4-3 linebacker prospect in the draft class, Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.
With the Carolina Panthers interested in Kuechly at No. 9 overall, the Buccaneers will need to move back up to assure the chance to select him. Meanwhile, the Jaguars want to trade down, and should especially be looking to with Justin Blackmon off the board.
This is a trade that makes sense for both sides, as the Buccaneers get a great player to address their biggest need, while the Jaguars move down and pick up an extra draft selection.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 54
The Dolphins may be smartening up about Ryan Tannehill, and realizing that he is a reach as a top 10 overall draft pick. They realize that they do not need to trade up, and according to Jay Glazer, they may not even be convinced anymore that they will draft him.
That said, I will be very surprised if the Dolphins pass up the chance to draft him with him still being available. The Dolphins are in serious need of a quarterback, and can bring in a rising quarterback prospect who played at Texas A&M under the Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
If the Dolphins truly have realized that Tannehill is not worth a top-10 pick, then the pick here should be South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, who would fill their need of a hybrid pass-rusher who can line up across from Cameron Wake. I think that the Dolphins will still take a chance on upgrading at the quarterback position, and draft Tannehill.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 14
This pick goes back to an earlier projection from Mock Drafts Nos. 3-5. With Kuechly off of the board, the Panthers will have to look in another direction, but should still be looking to bring in one of the top defensive players available. North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples fits the bill.
Like former Panthers star Julius Peppers, Coples is a big, athletic defensive end from North Carolina. The Panthers really need to upgrade at the defensive end spot across from Charles Johnson, and Coples can be the playmaker on the front line that they need.
Coples’s stock is in question due to questionable work ethic, but he is a very talented defensive end who would really make sense for the Panthers. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Panthers met with Coples for a second visit on Monday, a strong sign that they are interested in selecting him.
The Panthers have other options here as well, but they really must address the defense with their top pick. Two Alabama players, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw and strong safety Mark Barron, could both be in play, as could Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 15
Projected Trade: The Jacksonville Jaguars trade the No. 10 and No. 101 overall selections to the Philadelphia Eagles for the No. 15 and No. 51 overall selections.
For the third and final time in the draft, I expect the No. 10 overall pick to exchange hands once again. The Jaguars are likely looking to trade down farther than the top 10, while the Eagles are rumored to be interested in trading up for Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, according to Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net.
The Eagles are looking for an impact player at the defensive tackle position. Cox is a quick, explosive defensive tackle who can be a big upgrade on the defensive line.
Cox is rising in the draft, and would be unlikely to still be available at No. 15. Meanwhile, the Eagles have two second-round draft picks and few major needs, so they can afford to give up a second-round pick to move up and draft the player they truly covet, while the Jaguars will continue to add to their collection of draft choices.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 18
General manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel, in their time with the Patriots and with the Chiefs, have always placed an emphasis personnel-wise on defensive linemen. Memphis’ Dontari Poe, the only true nose tackle worthy of a selection in the early rounds of this draft, could end up being the anchor they need in the middle of their three-man defensive front.
Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw is a terrific value outside of the top 10, so the Chiefs could also draft him as the best player available and an upgrade at pass-rusher. That said, outside linebacker is not a pressing need and nose tackle is, so they should fill their need and select Poe.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 8
Projected Trade: The Seattle Seahawks trade the No. 12 overall selection to the New York Jets for the No. 16 and No. 77 overall selections.
The New York Jets are rumored to be very interested in South Carolina pass-rusher Melvin Ingram, and are willing to trade up for a chance to select him. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks may be looking to trade down with their sights set on drafting Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower. (Credit to Tony Pauline for these rumors.)
That makes this trade a perfect match for both sides. With Ingram sliding down the board, he is great value and would only cost the Jets a third-round pick to move up four spots. With the Arizona Cardinals a serious threat to select him at No. 13, trading up makes sense, while the Seahawks could be looking to trade down with no obvious choice available.
The Jets really need to add a pass-rushing threat at the outside linebacker position, and Ingram is the best in this draft. This would be a trade well worth making.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 21
Projected Trade: The Arizona Cardinals trade the No. 13 overall selection to the San Diego Chargers in exchange for the No. 18, No. 78 and No. 110 overall selections.
The Arizona Cardinals are in a good position to trade down, and without a second-round pick, they will likely do so given the opportunity. The Cardinals are in the market for offensive line help, and with the top offensive linemen sliding down the board, they are in position to trade down and still make a high-quality selection.
Meanwhile, the Chargers are reportedly very interested in Alabama strong safety Mark Barron, and may have to move ahead of the Dallas Cowboys sitting at No. 14 overall to select him. This makes this deal a perfect match for both teams.
The Chargers have one of the NFL’s best free safeties in Eric Weddle, but are in need of a strong safety. Barron’s stock has been rising in a big way the past few weeks, and has now become a player that teams are looking to trade up for.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said to “mark it down” that Barron will off the board before the Dallas Cowboys pick at No. 14 overall. What Schefter says usually ends up being accurate, and this is how I see his prophecy coming true.
If the Cardinals stay put at No. 13, watch out for Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd to be a wild-card choice at this selection. Larry Fitzgerald told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that he wants the Cardinals to draft Floyd “badly.”
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 10
Three of the Cowboys’ rumored top targets—Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Memphis nose tackle Dontari Poe and Alabama strong safety Mark Barron—are all off the board. That said, the Cowboys should be plenty content with selecting Stanford guard David DeCastro.
The Cowboys brought DeCastro in for a visit and have much reason to be interested in him. He is the best offensive lineman in this draft class not named Kalil, and the Cowboys really need to upgrade their interior offensive line. DeCastro is a potential All-Pro guard who would fit in well along the Cowboys line and contribute immediately.
Alabama outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw, who told ESPN Dallas that he would “love to play” for the Cowboys, is also a possible selection. He is the best player available, and would be an upgrade at outside linebacker. That said, DeCastro gets the nod here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 31
The Jacksonville Jaguars are reportedly very interested in Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill, according to Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. After trading down twice into a more reasonable range to select him, they will pounce upon the receiver they covet.
The Jaguars need another playmaker at wide receiver. Hill is a big, fast deep threat who could be the playmaker they need. Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd is the more highly rated wide receiver, but Hill could be the apple of the Jaguars’ eye.
The Jaguars could also add a much-needed pass-rusher by selecting USC defensive end Nick Perry. That said, I expect them to target Hill if they trade down to this point in the first round.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 5
While the Seahawks may be targeting Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower in a trade down, by no means should Hightower be the first linebacker selected from Alabama. Courtney Upshaw would be a steal in the middle of the first round, and would also be a great fit for the Seahawks.
Upshaw is a versatile defensive player who could be a big upgrade at outside linebacker, but also has the size and athleticism to line up as a defensive end on pass-rushing down. Upshaw is well-rounded, and a big playmaker.
The Seahawks need help at both outside linebacker and defensive end, so Upshaw’s versatility to play either position in their 4-3 defense makes him a very attractive choice. They should not pass upon him.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 29
Trade: The Cincinnati Bengals received this draft pick from the Oakland Raiders during the 2011 season as part of a package in exchange for quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Bengals will be hoping that between Barron, DeCastro and Upshaw, one of them is still available at No. 17 overall. With all of them off the board, but Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd still available, the Bengals could set their sights on adding another weapon to their offense.
Many believe that Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd will end up as a top 10 draft selection, so he would be considered great value in the latter half of the first round. Having lost Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell via free agency, the Bengals are in the market for another big, athletic wideout to line up across from A.J. Green, and Floyd would be a perfect fit.
Floyd’s stock could slide due to off-field concerns, but the Bengals have not previously shied away from players with troubled pasts. With two first-round picks, I think the Bengals would capitalize upon Floyd’s value and make their offense even more explosive.
If the Bengals decide to address a position of greater need, either South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore or Georgia guard Cordy Glenn would make great sense here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 11
If Upshaw or Floyd falls to this selection, the Cardinals are likely to abandon the notion of drafting an offensive lineman in the first round, and draft based on value. However, they still have great options here, even with both of those players off the board. They need to upgrade at left tackle, and both Stanford’s Jonathan Martin and Iowa’s Riley Reiff are still available.
Either player is good value in the middle of the first round and has the potential to be the franchise left tackle they need, but the Cardinals have visited with Martin and he is rated slightly higher, so he gets the nod here.
Martin is the more polished player of the two offensive tackles, and more ready to take over at left tackle right away, which the Cardinals would benefit from. He would be a great choice for the Cardinals at this spot.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 19
There has been talk that Stephon Gilmore could rise up the draft board all the way into the top 10 picks, but in this scenario, I do not see such a meteoric rise happening for him. That said, he is good value at No. 19 overall for the Bears, who need to upgrade at cornerback.
The Bears have many needs to address, but cornerback is one of their biggest needs. Gilmore was a productive defensive back in the SEC who covers well and has great ball skills, and would be a big upgrade.
Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is also an option here, as are Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff and Georgia guard Cordy Glenn, for the Bears could use help on the offensive line. That said, I do not see them passing upon Gilmore.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 14
The Tennessee Titans will either be looking for defensive line help or a cornerback with this draft pick. While the Titans may be most interested in upgrading on the defensive line, there is better value at cornerback, which is the team’s most pressing need following the loss of Cortland Finnegan via free agency.
Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick is the best player available on the draft board, and he is a big, physical cornerback who could be a very good replacement for Finnegan. If the Titans decide to go for a pass-rusher, USC defensive end Nick Perry would make sense here, but Kirkpatrick is the best choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 17
The Bengals lost both of their starting guards from last season via free agency. They signed veterans Jacob Bell and Travelle Wharton as replacement, but they could seriously use a young upgrade, and Georgia’s Cordy Glenn is great value.
Glenn is a massive, powerful offensive lineman with very good versatility. He lacks the footwork to play left tackle, the position he played at Georgia, at the next level, but is a good athlete for a guard.
With no other choices that make great sense for need and value, Glenn should be an easy selection.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 12
Trade: The Cleveland Browns acquired this draft pick from the Atlanta Falcons as part of a package in exchange for the sixth overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft.
The Browns have a major void at right tackle, and Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff is the best player available on the board. This is the pick that should happen here for the Browns.
Reiff is a good fit to play on the right side, and could also have versatility to kick inside to guard, which is also an area of need for the Browns. Reiff is a physical, athletic offensive lineman who is very good value late in the first round.
Rumors from Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net state that the Browns will target the best available wide receiver with this pick, so Baylor’s Kendall Wright or South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery would also make sense. However, Reiff should not be passed up here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 23
This scenario is far from ideal for the Detroit Lions, with all of the top offensive linemen and cornerbacks off of the board. This will likely lead them to addressing the pass rush at No. 23 overall by selecting USC’s Nick Perry, one of the best players available on the draft board.
The Lions have a terrific pass-rusher in Cliff Avril, but he was signed to a franchise tag and has yet to sign a long-term contract, leaving his future with the team for 2013 in jeopardy. Their other starting defensive end, Kyle Vanden Bosch, is 34.
There is definitely room for another defensive end, and Perry’s value is worth it here. As a raw talent with high potential, he would be in a good situation where he would not have to start right away, but be able to develop for a year as the coaching staff hones his potential.
Alabama linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus are other possible options here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 20
Like the Detroit Lions, the Steelers are in the market for offensive line or cornerback help, but the board did not fall their way. This should have them looking at value at another position, and Alabama inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower would be a good choice for them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a solid starting duo of inside linebackers in Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote, but the release of long-time starter James Farrior makes inside linebacker a potential position that the Steelers will address early in the draft.
With the value off the board at offensive line and cornerback, the Steelers may look to trade out of the first round, but Hightower makes sense if they stay put. He is a big, athletic and hard-hitting linebacker who is a terrific fit for the Steelers’ 3-4 scheme as an inside linebacker.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 16
Outside of the top two picks, the only other first-round selection that has been the same in all eight of my mock drafts is the Broncos selecting Michigan State defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
The Denver Broncos have a lingering need to address at defensive tackle, and Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy is the best player available on the draft board, so this is an easy match to make between the two parties.
Worthy’s draft stock was hurt by his inconsistency and questionable motor during his college career, but he has the potential to be a game-changer as a defensive tackle. He is strong and explosive and would be a great fit for the Broncos’ defensive front.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Miami running back Lamar Miller could also be in play here, but Worthy is the best choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 24
While the Texans have a very good young pair of outside linebackers in Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin, I believe that the Texans may not be left quite content after losing their most talented pass-rusher, Mario Williams, to free agency. That is why I think the Texans will draft one of the best players available and address that position by selecting Illinois pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus.
Mercilus was a one-year wonder at Illinois, but he is an athletic hybrid who is a good fit to transition to playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
The other direction in which the Texans could go with this pick is wide receiver, and they will be hard-pressed to pass up two of the best three overall players available in South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery and Baylor’s Kendall Wright. According to Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, the Texans will also consider selecting Stanford tight end Coby Fleener. That said, I stick with my initial instinct and have them drafting Mercilus here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 43
Trade: The New England Patriots acquired this draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft, along with the 56th overall selection in that draft, from the New Orleans Saints in exchange for the 27th overall selection in that draft.
The Patriots are a team of value when it comes to the draft, but Boise State outside linebacker Shea McClellin would be a terrific fit for their pass-rushing needs. With the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens, who hold the next two draft picks, both being potential suitors for McClellin, the Patriots should snap him up here.
McClellin is a very good fit to play outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme, but has shown the overall ability to play the position in a 4-3 as well. McClellin is good against the run as well as the pass, tackles well in space and can drop into coverage very well for a converting defensive lineman.
LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers is also a potential choice here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 59
Harrison Smith’s stock has been rising in a big way leading up to the draft, due to how weak the safety class is behind him. With the Green Bay Packers’ release of injured strong safety Nick Collins on Wednesday, they are now in serious need of a strong safety, and could target Smith in the first round.
Smith is a definite reach in the first round, but he is a well-rounded safety who will not be available in the second round. Knowing that he could be selected by even the end of the first round, the Packers will likely stay put and take Smith if he is their target.
The Packers could also use a big upgrade at the 5-technique defensive end position, so LSU’s Michael Brockers would make sense here. Wisconsin center Peter Konz is also an option.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 27
The Ravens re-signed center Matt Birk to a three-year contract, but at 35 years old, he is unlikely to play all three seasons. The time is now to find an heir apparent at center, and Wisconsin’s Peter Konz is a very good value and a perfect fit late in the first round.
Konz could start right away by being plugged in to fill the void at left guard left by the free-agent departure of Ben Grubbs, while being groomed into the team’s center of the future.
The Ravens could also look to add a 5-technique defensive end in LSU’s Michael Brockers given the loss of Cory Redding via free agency. The Ravens are also in the market for a hybrid pass-rusher, so Syracuse’s Chandler Jones is also an option, but if Konz is available, it will be a big surprise if they pass upon him.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 139
49ers general manager Trent Baalke said the team has identified a target that they expect to be on the board at No. 30 overall. Meanwhile, Tony Pauline of draftinsiders.net says that his sources tell him that the 49ers will be deciding between their highest-rated offensive guard and Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill.
Pauline believes that the player in Baalke’s sights is Midwestern State guard Amini Silatolu. The 49ers are only reported to have visited personally with one guard, which should be the position area they are addressing, so this choice makes sense.
I would like to believe this is not the case. Silatolu is a raw project from Division II, and is a major reach as a first-round pick. That said, he fits the style of guards that the 49ers have coveted in recent years, and the stars seem to be aligned toward this being their choice.
Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler is also a possible choice here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 41
The Patriots could use another difference-maker on their defensive front, a player who can line up next to Vince Wilfork as a defensive tackle in the four-man front and as a 5-technique defensive end in the three-man front. With LSU’s Michael Brockers falling farther than expected to the end of the first round, he could be that answer for the Patriots.
Brockers became immediately overrated when he declared for the 2012 draft, but he has fallen behind the top defensive tackles in the draft class. That said, most expect him to be selected within the top 30 picks, and he would be considered good value for the Patriots at No. 31 overall.
Brockers is an explosive athlete with great size for a defensive tackle, making him a good candidate for the versatile defensive lineman the Patriots will be looking for. The Patriots have expressed significant interest in Brockers, according to NEPatriotsDraft.com.
Other potential choices for the Patriots could be Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson and North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 25
The New York Giants are known to draft for value over need. Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright is the best player available, but the Giants could also benefit by adding a slot receiver, so he makes sense as the final pick of the first round.
The Giants have a terrific starting duo at the wide receiver position in Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, but the team should add another receiver in this draft with the departure of Mario Manningham. Wright is the perfect fit to be the Giants’ next slot receiver.
No other receiver on the Giants had more than nine receptions or 94 yards last season. Jerrel Jernigan has potential as a slot receiver, but he did not have a single reception last season, which shows that the Giants could certainly find a better option than him.
The Giants could also use an upgrade at offensive tackle and have been linked to Mississippi’s Bobby Massie, but if they are drafting on value, then he should not be the choice as he is a first-round reach. Stanford tight end Coby Fleener is also a possible choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 28
After passing upon Fletcher Cox in favor of Justin Blackmon in the first round, the Rams will have to pass upon South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, the best player available on the board, and select their defensive tackle.
Penn State’s Devon Still is a good value to start off the second round, a disruptive presence who can be a solid starter next to Kendall Langford on a revamped interior defensive line. Clemson’s Brandon Thompson, a very good penetrating defensive tackle, is also an option at this selection.
North Carolina outside linebacker Zach Brown and Miami running back Lamar Miller should also be in play, but I expect the Rams will draft a defensive tackle with their first second-round selection.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 65
For a rookie quarterback, familiarity certainly helps. Fleener was Andrew Luck’s go-to receiving target at Stanford, and he would fill the Colts’ need of a receiving tight end. He is a reach early in the second round, but considering that he could end up being a late first-round choice, the Colts will need to select him here if they want to be sure of a chance to draft him.
Trading down would also be a good option, as the Colts could use more picks to fill more need. Clemson defensive lineman Brandon Thompson and Syracuse hybrid pass-rusher Chandler Jones could also be in play.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 22
After choosing a cornerback in the first round, the Vikings should be deciding between wide receiver and offensive tackle with their second-round draft selection. South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is a steal in the second round, and would be tough for the Vikings to pass up.
The Vikings need a big, vertical downfield playmaker, and that is exactly what Jeffery is. Jeffery’s stock has slid after a disappointing junior season, but he may be more talented than any other receiver in this draft class. He would be a great addition for the Vikings.
Ohio State left tackle Mike Adams, who would also have been a first-round pick if not for his own concerns, is definitely in play here as well. The Vikings really need to upgrade at left tackle, but I do not see them passing upon Jeffery here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 30
The Buccaneers would most likely draft Alabama running back Trent Richardson if he is available at their original selection of No. 5 overall, but having missed out on the opportunity to select him, they will likely set their sights upon Miami’s Lamar Miller in the second round.
Miami’s Lamar Miller is a talented running back with a very impressive combination of size and speed, and he is the best player available. Miller would be a terrific complement to LeGarrette Blount in the Buccaneers backfield.
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson would also make sense, but Miller should get the nod here if he is available. North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins could also be in play, although the Buccaneers will probably opt against drafting another troubled cornerback considering they are already dealing with Aqib Talib’s off-field issues.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 47
According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Browns remain interested in Brandon Weeden. Drafting him at No. 22 overall is a possibility, but if he is available at No. 37 overall, it will come as a big surprise if they pass him up.
By drafting Weeden in the second round, the Browns can bring in a talented quarterback to compete with Colt McCoy for the starting quarterback job while developing him for the future. That said, they do not make a pressing commitment to Weeden, allowing the Browns to make a run at Matt Barkley or another quarterback in next year’s draft if neither McCoy nor Weeden looks to be the long-term franchise quarterback.
Another potential target for the Browns here would be North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who they could team up to start across from Joe Haden, reuniting what was once a dominant cornerback duo at Florida. That said, I do not believe the Browns will pass up on Weeden here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 46
The Jacksonville Jaguars have two major needs to address in the first two rounds of the draft: wide receiver and defensive end. After taking Stephen Hill in round one, the Jaguars should choose between the three best remaining pass-rushers here in Marshall’s Vinny Curry, Clemson’s Andre Branch or Syracuse’s Chandler Jones.
All three players are talented pass-rushers whose run defense could use work, and all are smaller defensive ends who could be best suited for a hybrid role. That said, the Jaguars will likely be choosing one of them, and I give the edge to Curry, who I rate the highest of the three.
Curry was a very productive defensive end for Marshall and would be an upgrade at the position for the Jaguars. He is the best suited of the trio to line up with his hand in the dirt, and also the best of the three against the run.
North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins and North Carolina outside linebacker Zach Brown could also be considered here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 34
The Rams need a playmaker in the linebacker corps, and North Carolina’s Zach Brown certainly has the potential to be that player. He is a highly athletic linebacker and rangy playmaker, and is good value worth taking a shot on with their second pick of the second round.
Brown is a tremendous athlete who needs to become a more consistent tackler, but he has the upside to be an impact player as a strong-side or weak-side linebacker. His athleticism gives him the ability to cover the new breed of athletic tight ends, a very important capability for outside linebackers in today’s NFL.
The Browns have many options with this selection. Other possibilities include Virginia Tech running back David Wilson, Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Nebraska outside linebacker Lavonte David.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 26
After upgrading at defensive end in the first round, the Panthers should continue their revamp of their defensive line. The Panthers need to upgrade at defensive tackle, and Clemson’s Brandon Thompson is the best player available, so this is an easy match.
Thompson is a explosive penetrator who can be the disruptive force and solid run stopper that the Panthers lacked on their interior defensive line last season.
Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David and North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins also make sense here, but Thompson should be the pick.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 84
The Buccaneers have brought in numerous defensive ends for pre-draft visits, so it appears that they are looking to draft another player at that position. One of those defensive ends is Syracuse’s Chandler Jones, who could be their target with the second-round pick they acquired by trading down.
Jones has been a fast riser in recent weeks, with many believing he will end up being a first-round pick. He was not particularly productive at Syracuse, but he is a long, athletic defensive end with high upside.
The best pick here would be North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, but the Buccaneers already have Aqib Talib’s problems to deal with, so I cannot see them drafting another cornerback with serious character concerns. Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin and Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams could also be in the mix here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 48
After drafting their quarterback in the first round, the Dolphins should be in the market for a pass-rusher with this selection, especially with a run on pass-rushers continuing from the late first-round up to this pick. Clemson’s Andre Branch fits the bill.
Branch is an athletic edge rusher who can be the playmaker that the Dolphins need to line up as a defensive end and outside linebacker across from Cameron Wake in their hybrid defense. Branch is easily the top pass-rusher still available, so he should be the choice here.
Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams, LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner are all possible selections here as well.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 33
The Seattle Seahawks could use a quick, shifty running back to complement power back Marshawn Lynch. Virginia Tech’s David Wilson would be a very good fit, and he is the best player available, so this pick makes sense all around for the Seahawks.
Wilson is known for his speed and agility, but he is a tough back who can bounce off defenders as well. He is a good value in the middle of the second round.
North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins is also a possible choice here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 45
The Chiefs filled a major need at right tackle by signing Eric Winston to a four-year contract, but they could use an upgrade over Ryan Lilja at left guard. Therefore, addressing the offensive line by selecting Iowa State’s mammoth offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele would make sense here.
The Chiefs brought in Osemele for a visit, a sign that they are interested in him. He is a good value in the second round to address an area of need.
Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner could also be options here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 52
The Cowboys are projected to miss out on drafting 5-technique defensive end prospect Fletcher Cox with their first-round pick, so they could look to address the position in the second round. Connecticut’s Kendall Reyes would be a solid choice who is a good fit to transition to the 5-technique.
Reyes was not dominant in college, but he is a very athletic 299-pounder who could be a better player at the next level by projecting well in the Cowboys’ three-man front.
North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Oklahoma outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis are also possible choices here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 37
The Eagles already made one big move to add a playmaker to their linebacker corps this offseason by acquiring middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans from the Texans, but they need a playmaker at outside linebacker. Nebraska’s Lavonte David fits the bill.
David is undersized, but he is instinctive and a very good athlete. David could add the speed, coverage ability and sound tackling that the Eagles need in their linebacking corps.
Having traded Asante Samuel, a cornerback in either North Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins or Georgia’s Brandon Boykin are also possible choices. Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams is also a potential choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 40
Al Toon was once a star wide receiver for the New York Jets. He had an eight-year career that included three consecutive All-Pro selections from 1986 to 1988. 20 years since Toon has last played with the Jets, his son could be drafted by the same franchise.
The Jets could really use another playmaker at the wide receiver position, and Toon is the best wideout available. He is good value in the middle of the second round.
Boise State running back Doug Martin and Ohio State offensive tackle Mike Adams would also be good choices here, but they really should add a weapon to the passing game in the first two rounds.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 36
Trade: The New England Patriots received this selection from the Oakland Raiders in the 2011 NFL draft as part of a package in exchange for their third- and fourth-round picks in that draft.
One man that is known to be in Urban Meyer’s “circle of trust” in the coaching world is Bill Belichick. Belichick has previously drafted former Meyer players from his time at Florida who fell in the draft due to off-field troubles, including tight end Aaron Hernandez and inside linebacker Brandon Spikes, and the next could be Janoris Jenkins.
Janoris Jenkins has a history of off-field troubles that led him to be dismissed from Florida, but that was not until Will Muschamp took over as Gators’ head coach. Meyer kept Jenkins around for his talent, and Janoris went as far as to say that he would have been “still playing for the Gators” in 2011 if Meyer was still head coach, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
If Belichick asks Meyer for his advice once again with Jenkins, and Meyer gives him a good review, then chances are good that the Patriots will take a chance on Jenkins, whose talent would make him a first-round pick if it were not for his off-field problems. The Patriots need help at cornerback, and Jenkins could be the No. 1 cornerback they have lacked for years if they can keep him out of trouble.
If the Patriots do not feel like taking a risk, then Georgia’s Brandon Boykin is another cornerback option. However, I believe the Patriots would take Jenkins in this situation.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 68
Following the retirement of longtime left guard Kris Dielman, the Chargers need to add a guard early in this draft. Wisconsin’s Kevin Zeitler has limited upside, but he is a solid second-round pick who is a safe choice.
Zeitler could step in right away and start at guard, or provide depth behind young guards Tyronne Green and Louis Vazquez.
Ohio State’s Mike Adams should also definitely be in consideration here, as he could provide an immediate upgrade, but the Chargers may prefer to go with a safer choice in Zeitler than a risky pick with more upside in Adams. Either way, the Chargers should draft on the offensive line with this pick.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 32
If Mike Adams’s slide lasts this long, the Chicago Bears should have no hesitation in bringing this selection straight to the commissioner. The Bears drafted one starting offensive tackle last season in Gabe Carimi, but could use another to upgrade over J’Marcus Webb, and Adams is great value in the latter half of the second round.
It is very plausible that Adams could fall this far, given that he has red flags around his character and strength. That said, he is a talented offensive tackle with high upside, and should form a solid starting duo of tackles with Carimi, regardless of which side each tackle ends up starting on.
The Bears have many needs to address. Other potential choices here would be Clemson tight end Dwayne Allen and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner. That said, do not expect the Bears to pass upon Adams given the chance to draft him.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 39
Original Trade: The Philadelphia Eagles acquired this draft selection along with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in 2011 in exchange for quarterback Kevin Kolb.
In the pass-happy league that the NFL has become, a team can never have too many cornerbacks. That is why the Jaguars appear to be in the market for another cornerback even after signing free agent Aaron Ross, and Georgia’s Brandon Boykin would be a good choice.
Boykin is a smaller but very athletic cornerback who would be a natural fit to line up as a nickel corner, which is where the Jaguars would use him. He also has added value as a return specialist, where the Jaguars could utilize him.
Oregon running back LaMichael James and Georgia center Ben Jones could also be possible choices here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 50
The Titans will be looking to upgrade the defensive front with this pick, but any defensive lineman would be a reach at this point. Staying with the value of the draft, the Titans should focus on another need: center.
Ben Jones is the easily second-best center in the draft. He was very good against SEC defenses, and should be a solid starter in the NFL. Jones can be an upgrade at the position, and is solid value in the middle of the second round.
If the Titans are set on going defensive line with this pick, Michigan defensive tackle Mike Martin is a potential choice. Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner is also an option.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 74
After drafting two offensive players in the first round, the Bengals should be focused on defense in the second round. Specifically, the Bengals should be looking to upgrade the secondary.
The Bengals have many options available for defensive backs, a group that is very hard to project as many second-round talents such as Virginia Tech’s Jayron Hosley, Virginia’s Chase Minnifield and Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard are sliding due to red flags.
The defensive back I could see the Bengals targeting here is Montana’s Trumaine Johnson, who they have worked out privately according to reports. Johnson is a tall cornerback who lacks speed, but plays with physicality and could also project to safety.
Johnson’s potential and position versatility could draw the Bengals to select him. Other potential selections here are Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward, Oklahoma outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis and Boise State running back Doug Martin.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 58
The Detroit Lions need to upgrade at cornerback, and have many options available to them with this pick. However, if they choose to avoid the top cornerbacks with red flags around them, their best bet might be Vanderbilt’s Casey Hayward.
Hayward is an instinctive, playmaking cornerback who could be a very good fit in the Lions’ secondary. He may never be a standout, but he has the skills to be a solid No. 2 cornerback, and he can help the Lions in their secondary.
Other possible cornerback choices are Virginia’s Chase Minnifield and Iowa’s Shaun Prater. The Lions could also address the offensive line by selecting Mississippi offensive tackle Bobby Massie.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 49
With Tony Gonzalez potentially playing his final season in the NFL, and little behind him on the depth chart, the Falcons need to find a playmaking tight end to be Gonzalez’s heir apparent. Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ladarius Green would be a great fit.
Like Gonzalez, Green is a tall, athletic tight end with great receiving skills. He is not much of a blocker, which has him rated behind Clemson’s tight end Dwayne Allen, but I think the Falcons would go with Green’s downfield receiving ability and select him over Allen here.
Mississippi offensive tackle Bobby Massie and Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner are also possible choices here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 87
The Steelers offensive line has been a serious issue for years, and they really need to use their second-round pick to upgrade in that area. With Mississippi offensive tackle Bobby Massie still available, they should be expected to pounce upon the opportunity to select him.
Massie is a raw talent, but his stock has been on the rise, and he would be an upgrade at right tackle. According to Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, the Steelers are rumored to be interested in him, so selecting him would make sense here.
Miami guard Brandon Washington would also be a good choice and fit here. The Steelers could also address their need at cornerback by selecting Virginia Tech’s Jayron Hosley, but they should focus on offensive line here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 51
The Denver Broncos could use an upgrade at the running back position. Three of the best available prospects on the board play that position: Oregon’s LaMichael James, Boise State’s Doug Martin and Washington’s Chris Polk.
Any of the three would be a great addition, but the best fit would be the collegiate Bronco, Martin.
Martin is a very solid back with a good combination of size, speed and power, along with having great vision, and he would be a very good addition to the Broncos backfield.
After going defense with their first pick, the pick here will most likely be offense, and adding a running back like Martin is what makes sense, as he is good value late in the second round.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 62
The Houston Texans are looking for a big, athletic No. 2 wide receiver to start across from Andre Johnson. LSU’s Rueben Randle is a good value choice late in the second round who could fit the bill.
Randle is a solid all-around receiver who does not have exceptional skills, but could develop into a very good No. 2 wideout. It would really be a surprise to see the Texans go in any other direction with this choice.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 53
Ideally, the Green Bay Packers will be looking for a 5-technique defensive end, pass-rushing outside linebacker or center with this pick. However, there is not adequate value at any of those positions, and the Packers are unlikely to reach just to fill a need.
The Packers could also use another running back, given that Ryan Grant has yet to be brought back by the team. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Packers could have “genuine interest” in adding Washington’s Chris Polk to their backfield.
Polk is a tough, powerful back who also has speed and could be a solid addition to team up with James Starks and Alex Green as the Packers’ ball-carriers.
Oklahoma outside linebacker Ronnell Lewis and Nebraska defensive lineman Jared Crick could be potential choices here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 116
Ronnell Lewis told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Ray Lewis is his favorite player. If he falls to No. 60 overall, chances are good that he will have an opportunity to play alongside his idol.
The Ravens are in the market for another outside linebacker, having lost Jarret Johnson via free agency this offseason. Lewis fits the model for the hybrid pass-rusher that they need.
Lewis has some character and injury concerns that made it tough for Lewis to stay on the field at Oklahoma, but if the Ravens are willing to take a risk, they could end up with a steal. California inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley are other options here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 42
The 49ers could be in the market for another cornerback in this draft, and there is plenty of value on the board at the position. Virginia Tech’s Jayron Hosley is good value late in the second round.
Hosley is a small cornerback, and his stock could be on the decline after a positive drug test at the combine. That said, he is a skilled cover corner with very good ball skills, and a good fit to play the nickel, where he would likely play for the 49ers.
Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner and Oklahoma cornerback Jamell Fleming are also potential choices here.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 55
This could be a prime position for the New England Patriots to trade down, but they could also be very enticed by having Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner still on the board. The Patriots could use a versatile, athletic linebacker who could play the weak side in a 4-3 and inside in a 3-4. Wagner would fit the bill.
Wagner is a well-rounded linebacker who tackles well, can cover and is good value late in the second round. The Patriots would definitely consider offers to trade down at this point, but they know that if they want Wagner, they could not move down, as the Giants could elect to select him with the next pick if he were still on the board.
The Patriots could also add a running back and the best player available in Oregon’s LaMichael James, but they will most likely either draft Wagner or move down.
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 38
Dwayne Allen’s stock has slipped since a poor combine performance, but he remains the best tight end prospect in the draft class and should not fall into the third round. Allen is a terrific value with the last pick of the second round and fills a need at tight end for the Giants.
Allen does not have great downfield speed, but he is a well-rounded tight end who blocks well and is a reliable receiver.
Given that the Giants already drafted a wide receiver, they could decide to address the linebacker position by selecting Florida State’s Nigel Bradham or adding an explosive running back in Oregon’s LaMichael James. That said, they really should not pass up Allen here.
Note: There are only 31 picks in the second round. The Saints lost their second-round draft pick as a result of punishments handed down for the bounty scandal.
64. Indianapolis Colts: Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 60
After going offense with their first two selections, the Colts need to address the defense in the third round. Cornerback is a position of major need, and the value is on the board there, so that would be a logical position to address.
Jamell Fleming is a good fit for the Colts, and one of the top cornerbacks available. Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham and Oregon running back LaMichael James could also be in play here, and trading down might be their best option.
65. St. Louis Rams: LaMichael James, RB, Oregon
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 35
LaMichael James is a value selection in the third round for the Rams. They are looking for a speed back to complement Steven Jackson, and James is an explosive runner who would fit the bill.
He is great value in the third round. A cornerback such as Virginia’s Chase Minnifield would also make sense.
66. Minnesota Vikings: Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 138
After passing them up for two straight rounds, the Vikings have to reach on an offensive tackle in the third round. According to Tony Pauline of draftinsider.net, they are interested in Mitchell Schwartz, so he is a likely choice here. Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders could also be in the mix.
67. Cleveland Browns: Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 70
The Browns should probably be in the market for defense after going offense with their first three picks, but they will only go so long without drafting a wide receiver. Brian Quick is a big, athletic receiver with the upside to be a solid No. 2 wideout, and could give McCoy and Weeden a reliable target.
68. Jacksonville Jaguars (from Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Nigel Bradham, OLB, Florida State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 57
With their fourth pick of the draft, the Jaguars have flexibility of where to draft. That said, they could use a playmaker at outside linebacker, and Florida State’s Nigel Bradham is very good value in Round 3.
69. Washington Redskins: Brandon Washington, G, Miami
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 71
There are better players available at the cornerback position, another position of need for the Redskins, but there is much more depth in that area than on the offensive line, where they also need to upgrade. Therefore, versatile Miami guard Brandon Washington is the best choice here. Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield or Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater would also be a great choice.
70. Jacksonville Jaguars: Antonio Allen, SS, South Carolina
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 75
The Jaguars could use additional depth at the safety position, and in a weak class of safeties, South Carolina’s Antonio Allen becomes good value in the third round. The Jaguars have position flexibility, so other possible choices are Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner, Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield and Florida defensive lineman Jaye Howard.
71. Buffalo Bills: Josh Robinson, CB, UCF
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 73
The Buffalo Bills are looking for difference-makers, and looking to upgrade at the cornerback position. Robinson is a very fast cornerback who could fit both bills. North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones is also a potential choice.
72. Miami Dolphins: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 125
As the offensive tackle class is really getting run through early, the Dolphins will not wait any longer to find a potential starter at right tackle. Zebrie Sanders is the most-likely choice for them here at this position.
73. Miami Dolphins (from Panthers, Bears): George Iloka, FS, Boise State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 107
Trades: The Carolina Panthers traded this selection to the Chicago Bears for tight end Greg Olsen. The Bears traded this selection and a 2013 third-round selection to the Miami Dolphins for Brandon Marshall.
The Dolphins need to upgrade at safety, and could take a chance on George Iloka here. Iloka is a raw talent, but he has great measurables and big upside. Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner is another potential choice here.
74. Kansas City Chiefs: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 78
After a subpar and injury-shortened season from Matt Cassel last year, the Chiefs are in the market to draft a quarterback on Day 2. The Chiefs had a private workout with Kirk Cousins, so he is the most likely third-round choices. Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler and Arizona’s Nick Foles are also possible picks.
75. Seattle Seahawks: Sean Spence, OLB, Miami
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 64
The Seahawks could definitely use another playmaker at linebacker, and Sean Spence is a solid choice worth taking in the third round. Virginia cornerback Chase Minnifield could be another possibility.
76. Houston Texans (from Philadelphia Eagles): Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 129
Trade: The Philadelphia Eagles swapped third-round selections and traded their fourth-round selection with the Houston Texans for middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans.
The Houston Texans need to upgrade at nose tackle, so they could take a shot on Alameda Ta’amu here. He is a reach as a third-round selection, but in a weak class of nose tackles, he is likely to be selected in that round.
77. Seattle Seahawks (from New York Jets): Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 44
Chase Minnifield is likely to slide on draft night due to injury concerns, as he is coming off of microfracture knee surgery. That said, he is great value in the middle of the third round, and the Seahawks could use another cornerback. They should take a chance on him with this pick.
78. Arizona Cardinals (from San Diego Chargers): Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 66
The Cardinals should be looking to add a wide receiver in this draft, and taking a chance on Ryan Broyles would make sense with this choice. Broyles is coming off of a torn ACL, but he is a skilled wideout who could end up being a very good player. Arizona’s Juron Criner is another receiving option.
79. Chicago Bears: Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 67
The Chicago Bears need to upgrade at tight end, and Georgia’s Orson Charles is good value in the middle of the third round. He is a playmaker at the position who is slipping due to character concerns, but he is worth taking a chance on here. West Virginia pass-rusher Bruce Irvin is another possibility here.
80. Arizona Cardinals: Bruce Irvin, OLB, West Virginia
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 118
Bruce Irvin’s stock is falling due to character concerns, and he is a situational pass-rushing specialist who will not be able to play on rushing downs. That said, the Cardinals could use exactly that type of player at the outside linebacker position, so they could take a chance on him here. Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater could be a choice here as well.
81. Dallas Cowboys: Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 56
The Cowboys need to add defensive backs in this draft. Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater is the best player available, so he makes sense here. Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and LSU safety Brandon Taylor are also options.
82. Tennessee Titans: Mike Martin, DT, Michigan
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 98
The Titans need to address the defensive line here after not doing so with their first two picks. The Titans could use help at defensive tackle, and Michigan’s Mike Martin is a tough, physical interior lineman who would fit well. Virginia defensive end Cam Johnson could be another option.
83. Cincinnati Bengals: Keenan Robinson, OLB, Texas
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 86
Having traded away Keith Rivers, the Bengals should be in the market for another outside linebacker. The Bengals look for outside linebackers, so Texas’s Keenan Robinson would be a good fit in the third round. Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and LSU strong safety Brandon Taylor are other potential options.
84. Atlanta Falcons: Mychal Kendricks, ILB, California
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 114
The Falcons should be in the market to add another inside linebacker following the free agent departure of Curtis Lofton. Coming off of a tremendous combine showing, Kendricks is a potential second-round choice, so he would be a good pick late in the third round. Undersized but talented.
85. Detroit Lions: Brandon Brooks, G, Miami (Ohio)
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 92
The Detroit Lions need to address the offensive line, but they are known to draft for value over need. That said, Brooks is the best offensive lineman available, and would be a good choice in the late third round to upgrade at guard. Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard would also make sense.
86. Pittsburgh Steelers: Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 61
Alfonzo Dennard’s stock is plummeting following his arrest for assault on a police officer, but he is a talented cornerback who the Steelers should not let pass late in the third round. The Steelers need to add a cornerback, and he is worth taking the risk at this point.
87. Denver Broncos: Juron Criner, WR, Arizona
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 63
The Denver Broncos will probably look to add at least one wide receiver in this draft, and Juron Criner is the best player available, so this pick makes great sense. Wisconsin free safety Aaron Henry and Colorado guard Ryan Miller would also make sense.
88. Philadelphia Eagles (from Houston Texans): Nick Foles, QB, Arizona
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 69
One pick after Juron Criner was selected by the Broncos, the Eagles could draft his college quarterback. The Eagles are in the market for a backup quarterback, and they have had a private workout with Foles. Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler could also be in play. The Eagles could also opt for Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Dwight Bentley.
89. New Orleans Saints: Dwight Bentley, CB, Louisiana-Lafayette
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 101
The Saints are in the market to draft a cornerback, and with all the cornerbacks who have come off the board in the third round, they would be smart to select Dwight Bentley here, who is easily the best cornerback available. Nebraska defensive tackle Jared Crick could also be in play here.
90. Green Bay Packers: Jared Crick, DE/DT, Nebraska
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 82
The Packers need to find a 5-technique defensive end in this draft, and have options here between Florida’s Jaye Howard and Nebraska’s Jared Crick. Either would be a good choice, but I think they would lean toward the more polished Crick.
91. Baltimore Ravens: Jaye Howard, DE, Florida
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 80
The Ravens could use another 5-technique defensive end following the free agent departure of Cory Redding, and Florida’s Jaye Howard is good fit and value late in the third round. Missouri tight end Michael Egnew or Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu could also be potential choices.
92. San Francisco 49ers: Tommy Streeter, WR, Miami
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 85
The 49ers are looking for a big, fast wideout that they can develop as a deep threat this season behind Randy Moss. Tommy Streeter could be their choice in the third round. Streeter is an unpolished receiver, but the 49ers could afford to bring in a developmental prospect here, and Streeter has a tremendous combination of size and speed. North Carolina’s Dwight Jones is another potential receiver choice.
93. Denver Broncos (from New England Patriots): Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 117
Projected Trade: The New England Patriots trade the No. 93 overall selection to the Denver Broncos for the No. 108 and No. 137 selections.
After not trading down from any of their first four picks, the Patriots will likely be looking to trade down unless an obvious choice falls into their laps, which none did. Meanwhile, the Broncos are in the market for a backup quarterback for Peyton Manning, and could be willing to trade up to assure they get Brock Osweiler. This deal makes sense on both ends.
94. New York Giants: Ryan Miller, G/OT, Colorado
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 137
The New York Giants should be looking to add on the offensive line, and Colorado’s Ryan Miller would be a logical choice at the end of the third round. Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis and Utah State running back Robert Turbin could be other potential choices.
95. Oakland Raiders: Tony Bergstrom, G/OT, Utah
Overall Prospect Rank: No. 94
The Raiders need to work toward rebuilding their offensive line, and Tony Bergstrom is the best lineman available. Bergstrom is best suited to play guard, but could play right tackle as well. Troy offensive lineman James Brown and Auburn offensive tackle Brandon Mosley could also be possibilities, as could Oklahoma linebacer Travis Lewis.
Thanks for reading!
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