2013 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting Surprise Picks for Each Team
In addition to an actual mock draft, this one also includes a potential surprise pick, which focuses on another player who could land at that specific spot.
These surprise picks don't come out of left field; rather, they actually make sense for the selecting team.
So check out the article and get a glimpse of two possibilities for each team selecting in the first round.
No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs
Pick: Geno Smith, quarterback, West Virginia
The Kansas City Chiefs desperately need a long-term answer at quarterback. It's this need that makes West Virginia's Geno Smith a likely selection. While some parts of his game need improvement, he has all the tools to succeed at the next level.
Surprise Pick: Star Lotulelei, defensive lineman, Utah
Kansas City used a first-round pick on Dontari Poe last season, but they still have needs along the defensive line. Former first-rounders Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey haven't made much of an impact. Utah's Star Lotulelei has the quickness and tenacity to cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses.
No. 2 Jacksonville Jaguars
Pick: Jarvis Jones, linebacker, Georgia
The Jacksonville Jaguars must come out of this offseason with a legitimate pass-rush threat. Georgia's Jarvis Jones is the most talented and proven pass-rusher. His ability to employ speed and power rushes makes it difficult for offenses to keep him out of the backfield.
Surprise Pick: Bjoern Werner, defensive end, Florida State
Jacksonville runs a 4-3 defense, so selecting Jones would mean that it would have to draw up different packages to use his pass-rushing ability. Most of Jones' experience has come at the outside linebacker spot in a 3-4 alignment.
This is why someone like Florida State's Bjoern Werner could receive consideration from the Jaguars. Werner is a bit undersized, but the majority of his experience has come at defensive end. His quickness, use of hands and the ability to bend around the edge make Werner a talented pass-rusher.
No. 3 Oakland Raiders
Pick: Star Lotulelei, defensive tackle, Utah
What the Oakland Raiders need the most is an impact player, and it doesn't matter where he lines up. Utah's Star Lotulelei is a powerful player who constantly makes plays behind the line of scrimmage. His addition to the Raiders' defensive line would give them a young stud to build around.
Surprise Pick: Dee Milliner, cornerback, Alabama
Oakland's secondary struggled to hold its own against the rest of the NFL. This group gave up more than 230 yards a game. That number could've been much higher if the Raiders didn't play teams with poor passing games like the Kansas City Chiefs (twice) and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The poor play of the secondary means that someone like Alabama's Dee Milliner should get consideration from the Raiders. Milliner is a physical cornerback who has the potential to develop into a lockdown corner.
His addition would be an immediate upgrade for the Raiders.
No. 4 Philadelphia Eagles
Pick: Taylor Lewan, offensive tackle, Michigan
The Philadelphia Eagles' problems along the offensive line were a major factor in their disappointing 2012 season. A lot of it had to do with injuries to the majority of the starters, but Philadelphia still needs to address this position in the next draft.
Michigan's Taylor Lewan is the top-rated offensive tackle on my board. He's a more complete player than someone like Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel, which is why he gets the nod here.
Surprise Pick: Tyler Wilson, quarterback, Arkansas
The new coaching staff in Philadelphia is going to have a lot of say on the direction of the quarterback position. It's highly unlikely that Michael Vick returns, but that still leaves Nick Foles in place. Foles showed some promise in limited playing time this season.
If the new staff isn't sold on Foles, it could make a push for a talented prospect like Tyler Wilson. I have Wilson rated as a second-round prospect, but his natural talent means there's chance he shoots up the board.
No. 5 Detroit Lions
Pick: Damontre Moore, defensive end, Texas A&M
The Detroit Lions have a big decision to make regarding defensive end Cliff Avril. He's scheduled to become a free agent, and it's unlikely the Lions will be willing to use the franchise tag on him again. This means that finding a replacement will be on top of Detroit's list.
Texas A&M's Damontre Moore has the quickness, length and balance to generate pressure on the quarterback. He's still a little raw, but he showed this past season that he has the potential to be a top-notch pass-rusher at the next level.
Surprise Pick: Luke Joeckel, offensive tackle, Texas A&M
Even though the Lions used a first-round pick on Riley Reiff last season, they could still add talent along the offensive line. Adding Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel would allow Reiff to shift to right tackle, a position that might better fit his abilities.
Detroit's strength is its passing game featuring Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. For those two to remain productive, the Lions must ensure Stafford has enough time to locate open targets. Joeckel would immediately help the Lions reach that goal.
No. 6 Cleveland Browns
Pick: Dion Jordan, defensive end, Oregon
The Cleveland Browns have gotten solid production from Jabaal Sheard, but he isn't capable of being the only pass-rush threat on the roster. Oregon's Dion Jordan has the length and quickness needed to rush the passer.
His long arms and quick hands help him keep clean as he pursues the quarterback. Jordan also features a non-stop motor that always keeps him in contention to make a play on the ball.
Surprise Pick: Chance Warmack, guard, Alabama
Cleveland invested a ton in Trent Richardson when it made him the No. 3 overall pick. The Browns would be wise to continue to put the pieces in place to ensure he succeeds. Alabama's Chance Warmack is one of the top overall prospects in this draft.
He's an explosive athlete who generates a push in the running game and helps protect the quarterback. Warmack has the potential to quickly become the best guard in the NFL in a few short years.
No. 7 Arizona Cardinals
Pick: Luke Joeckel, offensive tackle, Texas A&M
Landing an offensive lineman like Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel would be a dream come true for the Arizona Cardinals. This is a team that had the worst offensive line in the NFL, surrendering a league-high 58 sacks this past season.
So much attention was paid to the Cardinals' issues at quarterback, but the offensive line didn't help the situation. There might not be a quarterback in the league capable of thriving behind this group.
Surprise Pick: Matt Barkley, quarterback, USC
USC's Matt Barkley will be one of the more interesting story lines of the 2013 draft. There was one point when he seemed to be a lock to be the top quarterback selected. However, an inconsistent senior season has raised plenty of question marks.
Still, Arizona's need to upgrade the talent at quarterback could prompt it to draft Barkley. He has the experience and leadership to make an impact from Day 1.
No. 8 Buffalo Bills
Pick: Manti Te'o, linebacker, Notre Dame
Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is a versatile linebacker who makes plays against the run and pass. His ability to make plays from sideline to sideline could help the Buffalo Bills defense.
Buffalo has plenty of talent on defense, but it lacks that personality capable of inspiring the entire unit. Te'o has the athletic and leadership ability to fill that role.
Surprise Pick: Mike Glennon, quarterback, N.C. State
Bills general manager Buddy Nix has been vocal about the team's need at quarterback. He appears determined to come out of this draft with a quarterback who can be developed into a franchise player.
N.C. State's Mike Glennon has the physical talents needed to succeed in the NFL. However, there are more than a few questions about his game, which makes it tough to feel great about selecting him in the first round.
No. 9 New York Jets
Pick: Bjoern Werner, defensive end/outside linebacker, Florida State
The New York Jets defense needs someone capable of generating pressure on the quarterback. This past season, their outside linebackers only managed 6.5 sacks. Florida State's Bjoern Werner is the type of player capable of filling this need.
Werner has a quick first step, good closing speed and the commitment to keeping his pads low. His best attribute is his ability to flatten out around the edge and generate pressure on the quarterback. Adding him to the mix could help the Jets defense regain its dominance.
Surprise Pick: Matt Barkley, quarterback, USC
Mark Sanchez's time with the Jets has already started to run out. However, it'd be a major surprise if they replaced him with another USC quarterback. Matt Barkley is in the running to become the second quarterback off the board, which would put him in the mix for the Jets.
While this pick would be a surprise, the Jets would be making a mistake passing on Barkley just because of the USC tie between him and Sanchez. The new general manager must make his own evaluation based on talent.
No. 10 Tennessee Titans
Pick: Chance Warmack, guard, Alabama
Titans head coach Mike Munchak is a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who knows the importance of that group. This past season, his offensive line struggled to protect the quarterback and open running lanes.
Alabama's Chance Warmack would bring the toughness and athleticism this unit needs. He's the type of player who'll consistently open huge running lanes and keep pressure away from the quarterback.
Surprise Pick: Johnthan Banks, cornerback, Mississippi State
Tennessee's secondary allowed nearly 250 yards a game through the air. This is why someone like Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks should be on its radar. Banks' toughness and aggressive style would fit the way the Titans want to play.
No. 11 San Diego Chargers
Pick: Dee Milliner, cornerback, Alabama
I originally had Texas A&M's Jake Matthews ticketed for this spot, but his decision to return to school shakes up the draft. The San Diego Chargers could use depth at the cornerback spot. That's because Quentin Jammer doesn't expect to be back with the team next season.
Alabama's Dee Milliner is a big, physical cornerback who has the ability to develop into a shut-down corner. The Chargers defense was the strong point of the team this past season, and the next head coach would be wise to build off that.
Surprise Pick: Keenan Allen, wide receiver, California
San Diego's wide receiver corps is an inconsistent and injury-prone group. The top player on the roster is Malcom Floyd, but he has not played a full 16-game season since 2009. California's Keenan Allen is capable of providing stability to the position.
Like Floyd, Allen has good size and bulk for the position. He does a great job using his body to box out defenders. Allen isn't afraid of contact and is very effective over the middle.
Philip Rivers' arm strength would also allow the Chargers to take advantage of Allen's big-play ability.
No. 12 Miami Dolphins
Pick: Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle, North Carolina
Randy Starks had a very productive season for the Miami Dolphins, but he's one of several pending free agents on the roster. Miami is going to have a tough decision to make when it comes to re-signing Starks, Sean Smith and Brian Hartline.
North Carolina's Sylvester Williams would be an excellent option to replace Starks. He has a rare combination of size, quickness and strength. This natural ability allows him to stuff the run and generate pressure in the backfield.
Williams is the type of player who can disrupt the timing of an offense.
Surprise Pick: Barkevious Mingo, defensive end, LSU
Miami needs to find someone who can rush the passer. Cameron Wake had another terrific season, but the next best pass-rusher was Jared Odrick, who registered only five sacks.
LSU's Barkevious Mingo boasts the quickness off the edge to generate pressure on the quarterback. He's still a little raw, but he has the upside to develop into a player similar to Wake.
No. 13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Pick: Johnthan Banks, cornerback, Mississippi State
The Tampa Bay defense ranked last in the NFL, allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game. They entered the season feeling that the combination of Aqib Talib and Eric Wright would be enough to solidify the cornerback position. However, Talib was eventually traded, and Wright was a major disappointment.
Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks has the all-around skill set to make an immediate impact. His hard-nosed style of play is something Greg Schiano will appreciate. That Banks can also fit in a zone- or man-based system also increases his value.
Surprise Pick: Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle, North Carolina
Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller did a good job this season, but a team can never have enough depth along the defensive line. North Carolina's Sylvester Williams is a disruptive player who would help the Buccaneers defense become more disruptive.
It's also important to point out that McCoy is coming off the only strong season of his career. He has a ton of talent, but injuries have taken their toll. Tampa Bay would be wise to have a backup plan in place.
No. 14 Carolina Panthers
Pick: Sheldon Richardson, defensive line, Missouri
Missouri's Sheldon Richardson is a versatile defender who excels at making plays behind the line of scrimmage. His quickness allows him to shoot gaps and create pressure on the quarterback, while his strong anchor helps him hold up against the run.
The Carolina Panthers need to improve the talent along the defensive line. Richardson would give them another threat to complement Charles Johnson.
A trio of Richardson, Johnson and Luke Kuechly is an excellent young base for a defense.
Surprise Pick: Keenan Allen, wide receiver, California
Cam Newton is the face of the Panthers' franchise and its best chance to win a Super Bowl. This means Carolina must remain committed to surrounding him with the talent needed to succeed. California's Keenan Allen would be a great piece to develop alongside Newton.
Carolina needs to focus attention on the wide receiver position because Steve Smith can't play forever. His game is so dependent on his speed, and the older players get, the more speed they begin to lose.
No. 15 New Orleans Saints
Pick: Barkevious Mingo, defensive end, LSU
For the New Orleans Saints to get back to the playoffs, they need the defense to increase its production. This begins up front with generating pressure on the quarterback. The likes of Will Smith and Cameron Jordan haven't been enough to change the outcome of the game.
LSU's Barkevious Mingo features the quick first step needed to consistently get after the quarterback. He'd immediately be the Saints' most dangerous pass-rusher. Mingo might need some time to develop, but he can easily play a similar role to Bruce Irvin's this season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Surprise Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, defensive end, BYU
BYU's Ezekiel Ansah is quickly becoming one of the hotter names entering the NFL draft. His quickness and fluid movements give him the potential to develop into a top-notch pass-rusher. He also does a good job anchoring against the run.
The Saints might see Ansah as a more complete, immediate-impact player than Mingo.
No. 16 St. Louis Rams
Pick: Keenan Allen, wide receiver, California
Over the past few years, the St. Louis Rams didn't commit many meaningful resources to upgrading the wide receiver position. The biggest move they made was selecting Brian Quick in the beginning of the second round last year.
While Quick has talent, California's Keenan Allen brings much more upside. His length, toughness and big-play ability give him the potential to develop into a true No. 1 wide receiver.
The Rams need to address this position if they ever hope for Sam Bradford to reach his full potential.
Surprise Pick: Khaseem Greene, linebacker, Rutgers
Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Rocky McIntosh are solid starters, but Rutgers' Khaseem Greene has the potential to be something special. Green has excellent quickness, a nasty streak and the ability to make impact plays.
The Rams' success surprised some people this season, and that had a lot to do with the play of the defense. Adding Greene would only increase the defense's ability to control the game.
No. 17 Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Khaseem Greene, linebacker, Rutgers
Khaseem Greene's versatility will make him very attractive to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is a linebacker capable of lining up at either inside spot or on the outside. His toughness and relentless pursuit will help Pittsburgh forget about aging stars like Larry Foote.
Pittsburgh's defense found a way to overcome some issues with age and injuries this season. However, it needs to add young talent on that side of the ball.
Surprise Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, safety, Texas
Troy Polamalu had another injury-plagued season, missing nine games. The Steelers defense doesn't perform the same way with him out of the lineup. Texas' Kenny Vaccaro brings the same type of tenacity and playmaking ability to the table.
His versatility makes him someone the Steelers can have on the field at the same time as Polamalu and Ryan Clark. However, his greatest value will come as the replacement for either player if out with an injury.
No. 18 Dallas Cowboys
Pick: Eric Fisher, offensive tackle, Central Michigan
Doug Free had his second straight poor season after signing a big-money contract. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys offense can't afford another season with Free as a starter. Central Michigan's Eric Fisher has the experience and talent to start from Day 1.
Fisher boasts a solid frame and the athleticism to hold up against speed-rushers. He also has a nasty streak that comes in handy when he fights to open running lanes. He is an excellent all-around player who'd be an immediate upgrade over Free.
Surprise Pick: Matt Barkley, quarterback, USC
Jerry Jones keeps saying that the team is committed to Tony Romo, but at some point he'll get fed up with all of Romo's mistakes. This might be the year Jones pulls the trigger on a quarterback to eventually replace Romo.
Matt Barkley is a smart and experienced quarterback. He'd be one of the few in this draft capable of replacing a long-term starter like Romo. This would be a risky move by Jones, but it might be time for this franchise to take some risks.
No. 19 New York Giants
Pick: Jonathan Cooper, guard, North Carolina
The first time the New York Giants won a Super Bowl with Eli Manning, the team was led by a powerful offensive line. Since then, the mainstays along the offensive line have slowly started to move on. The Giants could use an explosive blocker like North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper to regain the advantage up front.
New York has survived with Kevin Boothe playing left guard, but he's better suited for a role as a swing backup. Cooper has the talent needed to immediately replace Boothe in the lineup.
Adding Cooper would help running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson increase their production. Having a capable running game is important to Manning's success, as he plays his best when he can use play action.
Surprise Pick: Arthur Brown, linebacker, Kansas State
Chase Blackburn has done a good job holding down the fort at middle linebacker, but his upside is limited. Kansas State's Arthur Brown is a special type of athlete capable of making plays all over the field.
He's a bit undersized, but he makes up for that with his explosiveness and instincts. Brown will consistently make plays behind the line of scrimmage. That type of impact can change the whole attitude of a defense.
No. 20 Chicago Bears
Pick: Tyler Eifert, tight end, Notre Dame
In an article written by Football Outsiders' Vince Verhei on ESPN, Kellen Davis was identified as one of the five worst tight ends in the NFL. He continues to struggle catching the ball and isn't the type of blocker his size would suggest.
This is why the Chicago Bears need to focus on upgrading the tight end position this offseason. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert has the size and speed to be a major contributor in the passing game. He'll give Jay Cutler someone capable of attacking the seam.
Chicago desperately needs help along the offensive line, but there isn't a prospect left worthy of the 20th pick. It's possible Chicago will need to orchestrate a trade if it wants to land a difference-maker along the offensive line.
Surprise Pick: Tavon Austin, wide receiver, West Virginia
Major changes to the coaching staff might finally mean that Devin Hester's experiment as a wide receiver is over. Lovie Smith is one of the few people who continued to believe Hester would eventually develop into a top-notch wideout.
Chicago's offense this past season went directly through Brandon Marshall. He was able to record 89 more receptions and 1,141 more yards than the next-best receiver on the roster. This is why adding an explosive playmaker like West Virginia's Tavon Austin would make a lot of sense.
Austin is already the type of slot receiver Chicago has tried to force Hester into becoming.
No. 21 Cincinnati Bengals
Pick: Tony Jefferson, safety, Oklahoma
The Cincinnati Bengals defense got a solid year out of Chris Crocker, but he doesn't have a ton of upside. Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson has the athleticism to develop into a real difference-maker from the safety position.
Jefferson is a versatile defender capable of supporting the run and holding up in coverage. His speed gives him great range in the back end of the defense. He also is fluid enough to drop down into the slot.
Surprise Pick: Arthur Brown, linebacker, Kansas State
The Bengals got a surprise when Vontaze Burfict developed into one of the bigger steals of the offseason. However, he still has a spotty past that makes it tough to fully believe he'll stay out of trouble. Along with the the pending free agency of Rey Maualuga, that means Kansas State's Arthur Brown could be on the Bengals' radar.
Brown is an extremely explosive linebacker capable of making plays sideline to sideline. He could fit at either inside or outside linebacker. However, his limited size means that he's likely a better fit for an outside linebacker spot.
No. 22 St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, safety, Texas
The St. Louis Rams defense was a major reason this team had a better-than-expected season. Adding a playmaking safety like Texas' Kenny Vaccaro has the potential to take this unit to the next level. A secondary featuring Vaccaro, Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins and Quintin Mikell would be formidable.
Jeff Fisher used to play defensive back, so he knows how much of an impact can be gained from adding talent at that position.
Surprise Pick: Dallas Thomas, guard/tackle, Tennessee
St. Louis has more than a few holes along its offensive line. It could use an upgrade at both tackle positions and one guard spot. Tennessee's Dallas Thomas is versatile enough to fill whatever role the Rams need.
His best spot might be at guard, but he'd be able to hold his own at either tackle spot. Having someone who can fill multiple roles is a major plus for any franchise.
No. 23 Baltimore Ravens
Pick: Johnathan Hankins, defensive tackle, Ohio State
The Baltimore Ravens have consistently focused on selecting the best player available on their board. At this point, Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins has the most upside. He's a massive defensive lineman who also has some explosiveness.
He drops a little in this mock draft because I have questions about his motor and stamina. However, landing on a team that puts a ton of emphasis on defense might help him get the most out of his potential. He'd be a good fit at either the five-technique or nose tackle.
Surprise Pick: Alec Ogletree, linebacker, Georgia
Georgia's Alec Ogletree is someone who will move up many draft boards throughout the draft process. That's because his natural talent makes him built for the workouts and combine. Baltimore would be interested in Ogletree because of the recent news of Ray Lewis' retirement.
I grade Ogletree as a second-round prospect because of his rawness. At times, he's too hesitant and rarely uses his hands at the point of attack. However, players with his talent level always seem to rise on draft day.
No. 24 Minnesota Vikings
Pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, wide receiver, Tennessee
The Minnesota Vikings need another playmaker in the passing game to complement Percy Harvin. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson might only have one year of experience against big-time competition, but he's an electrifying talent.
Patterson has a thick build and elite straight-line speed. He also does a good job making seamless cuts and creating in space. Tennessee used him in many different roles, which is something the Vikings are used to doing with Harvin.
Surprise Pick: Tavon Austin, wide receiver, West Virginia
West Virginia's Tavon Austin is equally as explosive as Patterson, but he lacks the same size and bulk. Austin more closely resembles Harvin, which is why this would be a surprise selection. Being a surprise doesn't mean it won't or can't happen.
The Vikings' passing game lacks playmakers, and if they feel that Austin is the best player available, they need to pull the trigger. It's tough to pass on a player with as much big-play potential.
No. 25 Indianapolis Colts
Pick: John Jenkins, nose tackle, Georgia
The Indianapolis Colts earned a playoff berth despite having one of the worst rush defenses in the league. Indianapolis must make upgrading the talent in the defensive front seven a priority. Georgia's John Jenkins has the size and anchor to make an immediate contribution.
I've dropped him a little in this mock draft because of his poor performance against Alabama. He has all the skills needed to be dominant, but he has some motor issues. Jenkins also has a tendency to raise his pad level, which allows blockers to get a push off the line.
Still, there just aren't many players with Jenkins' natural talent. With the right coaching, he could develop into one of the better run-stoppers in the NFL.
Surprise Pick: Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State
The Colts are finally starting to get good production out of Vontae Davis. He and Darius Butler have done a solid job in the secondary, but NFL teams need more than two solid cornerbacks.
Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is an athletic and physical defender with a ton of potential. He's the type of cornerback who loves to play close to the line of scrimmage and get his hands on the wide receiver. The Colts could use Davis and Rhodes on the outside with Butler in the slot.
No. 26 Seattle Seahawks
Pick: Tavon Austin, wide receiver, West Virginia
Russell Wilson's success this season has been remarkable, but the Seattle Seahawks still need to surround him with more playmakers. West Virginia's Tavon Austin is the type of player capable of making life easier on a quarterback.
Quickness and an ability to create in space allow Austin to turn a short pass into a big gainer. Wilson needs a receiver capable of creating big plays by himself; there might not be a better player in this draft to fill that role than Austin.
Surprise Pick: Jonathan Cooper, guard, North Carolina
Seattle's decision two years ago to select James Carpenter in the first round was met with a lot of criticism. After two injury-plagued seasons, the Seahawks might be regretting that selection. This could force them to look at another guard prospect like North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper.
Cooper is a balanced, explosive and athletic O-line prospect. He does a great job firing off the ball to open holes for the running game. Because of Seattle's focus on establishing a strong rushing attack, Cooper would be a perfect fit.
No. 27 Green Bay Packers
Pick: Arthur Brown, linebacker, Kansas State
The Green Bay Packers have dealt with injuries to the linebacker corps for the past several years. That and the inconsistent play of A.J. Hawk make adding a linebacker early in the 2013 draft a possibility. Kansas State's Arthur Brown is the type of explosive playmaker who would excel in the middle of a 3-4 defense.
Brown also does a good enough job rushing the passer that he could see some time on the outside. However, his greatest value is that he'd allow the Packers to finally cut ties with the overrated Hawk.
Surprise Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, defensive line, BYU
BYU's Ezekiel Ansah has the versatility to play defensive end in the Packers' 3-4 alignment. He has the strength and anchor to hold up against the run, as well as the quick initial burst to generate pressure off the edge.
The only reason this pick wouldn't make much sense is because the Packers added two five-technique ends last season. However, they've gotten inconsistent production from Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels.
No. 28 San Francisco 49ers
Pick: Will Sutton, defensive lineman, Arizona State
The San Francisco 49ers need to add depth and youth along the defensive line; Justin Smith and company can't play forever. Arizona State's Will Sutton has the skills needed to play either the five-technique or nose tackle in the 49ers' 3-4 alignment (nose tackle more on passing downs).
Sutton has a quick first step that allows him to explode into the line and push the pocket. That step also gives him the ability to shoot the gap and wreak havoc in the backfield. This is a player who could bring some versatility to the 49ers' defensive front.
Surprise Pick: Sharrif Floyd, defensive lineman, Florida
Florida's Sharrif Floyd shares Sutton's skill set. However, he has yet to show the consistency needed to reach his full potential. During his college career, Floyd was used inside as a three-technique and a defensive end.
He features a rare combination of size and quickness off the edge. This is why Florida allowed him to rush the passer from the edge. But Floyd could become a bust if he doesn't work to become a better player.
No. 29 Houston Texans
Pick: DeAndre Hopkins, wide receiver, Clemson
Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins burst onto the scene this season and put himself in the first-round discussion. His ability to step up when Clemson's top playmaker, Sammy Watkins, was suspended and injured showed Hopkins' will to win.
The Houston Texans desperately need another weapon in the passing game. Andre Johnson is the team's only real threat, and he's constantly double-teamed. Hopkins would force teams to roll coverage away from Johnson's side of the field.
Surprise Pick: Xavier Rhodes, cornerback, Florida State
Houston continues to get excellent production out of Johnathan Joseph, but Kareem Jackson has proven inconsistent. That combined with the up-and-down play of Brandon Harris make the cornerback position a need.
Florida State's Xavier Rhodes is a big-bodied cornerback who likes to play press coverage. This would fit nicely in Wade Phillips' defensive game plan. Adding Rhodes would allow Houston to bump Jackson inside to the slot.
No. 30 New England Patriots
Pick: Ezekiel Ansah, defensive end, BYU
The New England Patriots got good production this season from rookie defensive end Chandler Jones. However, that doesn't completely solve their pass-rush problems. BYU's Ezekiel Ansah is a natural pass-rusher who'll only get better over time.
He's also a balanced player capable of setting the edge against the run. His versatility is something Bill Belichick will instantly love, as it gives him the opportunity to change his system at any time.
Ansah's draft stock is on the rise, so it's possible that he's off the board by the time the Patriots are on the clock.
Surprise Pick: Stedman Bailey, wide receiver, West Virginia
New England's wide-receiving corps doesn't get a lot of attention because of tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. However, this group could use a young playmaker. Both Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd are starting to get a little older, so someone like West Virginia's Stedman Bailey would help.
Bailey's the type of disciplined route-runner who would quickly fit in with Tom Brady.
No. 31 Atlanta Falcons
Pick: Alex Okafor, defensive end, Texas
The Atlanta Falcons must focus attention on upgrading the team's pass rush this offseason. They've only gotten production from John Abraham this season, and he's starting to show signs of aging.
Texas' Alex Okafor would be an excellent candidate to line up opposite Abraham and eventually be his long-term replacement.
Some have pegged Okafor as an outside linebacker prospect, but he's much more effective from a three-point stance.
Surprise Pick: Sam Montgomery, defensive end, LSU
When the Falcons signed Ray Edwards, they were looking for a defensive end who could generate pressure and hold up against the run. Edwards was never able to make an impact with the Falcons, but someone like LSU's Sam Montgomery would.
Montgomery is one of the more balanced defensive ends in this draft. He doesn't have elite pass-rush ability, but it's enough to make a difference.
No. 32 Denver Broncos
Pick: Logan Ryan, cornerback, Rutgers
Rutgers' Logan Ryan is a long and athletic cornerback who'll be one of the faster risers through the draft process. His length allows him to get into a wide receiver's body and control his movements. This is why Ryan is so effective as a bump-and-run defender.
The Denver Broncos can't expect Champ Bailey to play forever, so adding a young talent like Ryan would be wise. Bringing in a long-term replacement now would allow Bailey to pass on some of his wisdom.
Surprise Pick: Sharrif Floyd, defensive tackle, Florida
Denver also needs to find another penetrator along the defensive line—more specifically, someone who can collapse the middle of the offensive line. Florida's Sharrif Floyd has the quickness and initial step to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Adding Floyd's interior pressure would be a perfect complement to edge rushers like Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
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