2013 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: The Latest Expert Predictions
It's crunch time.
In just six days, every NFL team will converge on Radio City Music Hall in New York City and spend three days selecting the next crop of players that will hopefully make their respective team a playoff contender.
The event is one of biggest spectacles of the NFL each year, and it's definitely a highly anticipated and hotly debated weekend.
Who's going at what spot and to which team? Which team will make the right moves and who will "win" draft day? Which picks will blow up on the teams that make them?
Draft experts across the country spend months predicting these moves and picks. These guys dissect every possible angle to come up with their picture of draft day. Here is a roundup of the first round from four respected draft experts, along with my pick for each team.
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Placing the franchise tag on Branden Albert left the Chiefs with three options that factor into this pick. They could play Joeckel at right tackle in 2013 with the goal of moving him to the left side next year; they could start Joeckel on the left side immediately to reduce the adjustment pains he could experience in shifting next year and have Albert hold down right tackle; or they could continue to entertain trade offers for Albert and try to recoup some value they traded away in the deal for Alex Smith. In any event, given the way the board sets up, my belief is they'll take the top tackle in the draft because it fills a current hole for 2013, and could fill a significant roster void in 2014. Given that their second-biggest need is an interior linebacker, they'll go with a tackle here and deal with that later.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
With Branden Albert's future up in the air, the best bet for the Chiefs is to get a left tackle who can step in now, or perhaps a year from now after Albert plays out his franchise tender. Joeckel is a plug-and-play prospect with 39 career starts at the highest levels of college football.Stats and Info: Chiefs quarterbacks were sacked or under duress on 35.3 percent of their drop backs against five or more pass-rushers last season, the third-highest rate in the NFL. Joeckel was not responsible for any sacks against the blitz last season.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
Seems all but destined that the Chiefs will nab a tackle at the top of the draft (if they can't trade down anyway). So it comes down to Fisher or Joeckel. I'll take Fisher since he's more athletic and has bigger upside.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
Andy Reid opts to rebuild the Chiefs' offense behind the most athletic offensive tackle in the draft. Fisher could play immediately on the right side or give the team flexibility to trade left tackle Branden Albert to fill other roster needs.
My pick: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
It's pretty safe to assume that the Kansas City Chiefs are going to take an offensive tackle here. All four experts agree on that point.
I'm taking Joeckel, too, as I love his build, athleticism and fundamentals. Even though he's an underclassman, he's the most NFL-ready tackle prospect.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dion Jordan, OLB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
The Jaguars have been saddled with a deficient pass rush for years now, and I think they will take advantage of the opportunity to take a high-ceiling 4-3 defensive end who, yes, needs some development, but should still give them impact in 2013. Cornerback is another need, and the question at quarterback persists, but the Jags can't afford to draft a quarterback at this draft slot who might be behind Blaine Gabbert on the developmental curve. They need a player that can fill an immediate void.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
The Jags would be perfectly content to stay home and take Jordan, whose rare combination of length and versatility against the pass make him a perfect fit for the Leo position in Jacksonville's new defensive scheme.
Stats and Info: The Jaguars' defense averaged a sack every 32.9 drop backs using standard pressure, worst in the NFL. All 4.5 of Ansah's sacks last season came when BYU did not blitz, including two sacks when he was one of just three pass-rushers.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Jags GM David Caldwell says he's got his list of potential picks down to two players. Maybe one is a quarterback, but I really don't think that's the case. My best guesses are Jordan and Ziggy Ansah and I think Jordan's versatility gives him the nod here.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
General manager David Caldwell could declare the Blaine Gabbert experiment an epic disaster by selecting Smith as the new face of the franchise.
My pick: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
In their draft history, the Jaguars have taken two quarterbacks in the first round, Byron Leftwich in 2003 and Blaine Gabbert in 2011. Neither have panned out, and I don't think Jacksonville goes the quarterback route on Thursday.
Jacksonville absolutely needs an upgrade with its pass-rush. Jordan offers rare athleticism and tons of versatility.
3. Oakland Raiders: Shariff Floyd, DT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders are in desperate need of young talent on the defensive line after a season in which they were far too often gashed by the run. Floyd is a dynamic young player, has played inside and on the edge and uses great leverage and power to drive blockers back and blow up plays. Given that it's not set exactly which base defense the Raiders will operate out of primarily in 2013, adding versatile defensive line talent also adds scheme flexibility. Floyd is young, and while very good already, provides a high-ceiling building block for a team in need of those types of players.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
Four individual players had more sacks as part of a standard pass rush than the Raiders had as a team (12). Though Floyd had only three sacks, Florida's defense had nine players with at least two sacks, tied for third most in the country.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Honestly, Oakland could go in any direction with this pick. Their roster is stripped bare and they just need talent. Floyd's disruptive at the point of attack and can help them start building a defensive line that will be a nightmare for quarterbacks moving forward.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Raiders' defense needs impact players along the front line. Floyd is an explosive interior defender who can play the one- or three-technique in a four-man front.
My pick: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd's versatility on the defensive line and absolute athleticism will make him a beast for years to come. He's the right choice for the Oakland Raiders here, as he'll solidify the front four instantly.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
There are two realities the Eagles must face in evaluating their future at quarterback. One is that Michael Vick, while an intriguing fit under Chip Kelly, isn't a long-term solution, even if we're optimistic. Two, there's no such thing as a useful free-agent market of starting quarterbacks in this league. If you have a great quarterback, or even a pretty good one, you're going to lock him up. In drafting Smith, the Eagles are in a good position to develop an athletic, talented thrower to succeed specifically in Kelly's offense, but without the requirement that he must start from day one. I don't like the idea of Smith as a Week 1 starter in 2013 -- but for a roster that's already in a good position to compete this season, he could be a great fit for the franchise in 2014, and most importantly, a great fit for the coach.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
Of all the teams in the top five overall, the Eagles did the best job in free agency and are most free to take the best available player for their schemes. The D-line isn't a pressing need, but Lotulelei is a top-five talent and would give the Eagles another solid 3-4 end and some flexibility in their new 3-4 hybrid scheme.
Stats and Info: The Eagles' offensive line allowed 120 sacks or tackles for loss last year, the most in the league. Fisher anchored a Central Michigan line that allowed 78 last season, or eight fewer than Alabama's well-publicized offensive line, albeit against lesser competition.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Bruce Arians can prop up his offensive line all he wants, but that doesn't make his offensive line any good. Levi Brown's currently slated to start at left tackle and Joeckel would likely present an immediate upgrade. With the Aggies anchor slipping a few spots Arizona hops other contenders to make a play for him.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Chip Kelly understands the importance of protecting the passer, which is why drafting Joeckel makes complete sense in this scenario.
My pick: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
For the first time, I'm going to pick outside the four draft experts, although I am going to follow the lead of two and take an offensive tackle.
With Luke Joeckel off the board already, Fisher is the next best option and he's a definite game changer from Week 1.
5. Detroit Lions: Lane Johnson, OT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Lions can plug a leaky pass defense in two ways. They could target a needed pass-rusher here, or they could go after the best cornerback in the draft if he's available. If Ansah is off the board, Detroit can sprint to the podium with the assurance that it has upgraded at cornerback, which is the second-biggest need for this team. Milliner is ready to start and succeed early, and defensive line depth in this draft should have the Lions confident they can add pass-rushing value in Round 2.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
The Lions need to fill the hole left by the retirement of longtime OT Jeff Backus, and Fisher is the best natural pass-blocker in the class. He would be a huge asset as Detroit tries to keep franchise QB Matthew Stafford upright.
Stats and Info: The Lions allowed a league-worst 86.2 Total QBR on passes outside the numbers last season, with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions. Milliner and his Alabama teammates allowed five touchdowns and 13 interceptions outside the hash marks last season.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
The Lions two biggest areas of need are offensive line and cornerback. But, uh, that's kind of been the case for a while. And now they need to replenish what was once a strength: defensive end. Grabbing Ansah will help mitigate the damage of losing Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch in the offseason.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The Lions could use a pass rusher and a cornerback, but the need to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford makes offensive tackle a bigger priority at this point.
My pick: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The run on offensive tackles will continue here because it's, quite honestly, a huge need for the Detroit Lions. The Lions would have been happy with Dee Milliner here too, but keeping quarterback Matthew Stafford clean is a huge priority.
6. Cleveland Browns: Dee Milliner, CB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Dion Jordan, OLB, Oregon
Really like this fit. I've noted before that the Browns had one of the worst pass rushes in the league last year. Jordan is a long, explosive pass-rusher with freakish athleticism and an ability to operate effectively in space. This is a guy you want to unleash in a 3-4. I think between getting him on the field and Jabaal Sheard making strides, the Browns can take a big step forward up front.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Cleveland allowed 22 touchdowns to opposing wide receivers last season, tied for second most in the NFL. Alabama's opponents completed 52.4 percent of their passes with five touchdowns and 15 interceptions when targeting wide receivers last season.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Lane Johnson, OT Oklahoma
In a mock trade with Cleveland, Brinson has the Miami Dolphins moving up to this pick.
Miami lost Jake Long and can't go into 2013 with Jonathan Martin starting at left tackle and though Johnson isn't a prototypical left tackle, he is an athletic freak. Since they have plenty of ammunition to make a move up and since they need to make sure Ryan Tannehill actually has time to throw to Mike Wallace and the rest of the receivers they acquired, they find a willing trade partner in Cleveland.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
The Browns desperately need a quality cover corner to pair with Joe Haden on the perimeter. Milliner, who has the size, speed and athleticism to blanket top receivers in space, is the premier cornerback in the 2013 class.
My pick: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
When a player like Dee Milliner is available and cornerback is a huge need for your football team, it's a perfect match. The Browns should run to the podium with Milliner's name in hand.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
It's true the Cardinals saw their offensive line improve over the second half of 2012. But they also just acquired Carson Palmer, who has all the maneuverability of a Brink's truck. They need to be able to form a pocket on a consistent basis in 2013, and that means even if Fisher is off the board here, they could still look to a tackle such as Lane Johnson. They also have a need at guard, so the presence of Fisher could allow them to move someone inside. Yes, they have other needs, but keeping Palmer upright should be the top priority.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Scenario 1: Offensive line is the most pressing need for Arizona, and Johnson has the athleticism and a high enough ceiling that he could eventually become the best tackle to come out of this class.
Stats and Info: Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked every 11.7 drop backs last season, the worst rate in the NFL. Oklahoma allowed a sack every 36.7 drop backs last season, and Johnson was responsible for just two of Oklahoma's 15 sacks allowed.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
In a mock trade with Arizona, Brinson has the Philadelphia Eagles selecting here.
Honestly I could have Philly going four different ways with this pick. Part of me wants to give them an athletic guard, part of me wants to give them Geno with a move down and part of me wants them to take a pass-rusher. But I think they'll see serious value in Lotulelei as a guy who can wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Cardinals' trade for Carson Palmer, which likely took them out of the quarterback market in the first round, made rebuilding the offensive line a priority. Cooper is an athletic freak with the talent and skill to become a perennial Pro Bowler early in his career.
My pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
I believe the Cardinals would rather have an offensive tackle here, but the earlier run on tackles extinguished the available targets that could be taken this high.
Since the offensive line is a pressing need, Arizona will slide over and take a top guard in Jonathan Cooper.
8. Buffalo Bills: Chance Warmack, OG
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Bills actually have a good foundation on the offensive line. They should feel pretty good about four of their five starters up front. Unfortunately, they lost left guard Andy Levitre to the Titans in free agency, which could really hurt, particularly for a run game that should be strong. Cooper is a great guard, a player capable of challenging for a trip to Hawaii as a rookie. Given the situation at QB, the Bills should take advantage of the opportunity to fill the biggest void they have up front.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Warmack is physically dominant and would fill the hole left by the departure of Andy Levitre. It's not a sexy pick, but Warmack is perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect at any position and would help protect free-agent acquisition Kevin Kolb, who had trouble staying healthy behind Arizona's suspect offensive line last season.
Stats and Info: Buffalo used five different right guards last season, tied for the second most in the NFL. Warmack played every game on an Alabama offensive line that averaged 6.5 yards per carry on designed run plays between the tackles last season.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
I don't believe Kevin Kolb is the answer any more than you (or the Bills, for that matter) do. But as I've written before, adding Kolb means they can be a little more aggressive in their strategy of acquiring a quarterback. And that means not suffering the opportunity cost of grabbing someone to protect their quarterback.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
The loss of Andy Levitre via free agency could force GM Buddy Nix to solidify the offensive line with Warmack. Not only would the Alabama standout fortify the Bills' ground attack, but he could help keep Kevin Kolb upright in the pocket.
My pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Every expert has the Buffalo Bills taking an offensive guard with this pick, and it's a decision between Johnathan Cooper and Chance Warmack. Since Cooper went the pick before in my mock, Warmack is the answer here.
When the Bills take Warmack, their offensive line will be in good shape. That's a good feeling after the first round of the draft.
9. New York Jets: Barkevious Mingo, OLB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
This is a pick I'm sticking with, because I really like the fit. The Jets need an athletic difference-maker on the edge for Rex Ryan. I've said before the interior of the defensive line should be a strength with Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, but the Jets need edge speed. Mingo is a freak athlete and could become a star under Ryan's tutelage.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
This turn of events is the perfect storm for a Jets team likely to part ways with disgruntled CB Darrelle Revis. Filling a major need with an elite player at this pick would be a slam dunk.
Stats and Info: The Jets' defense ranked 23rd in the league with a sack every 17.8 drop backs last season, and hasn't had a player record more than six sacks in a season since 2009. Mingo recorded 28 total pressures last season (QB hurries and knockdowns), tied for the second most in the SEC.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Gah. What don't the Jets need? A lot truly depends the Darrelle Revis situation but until we see/hear how Revis looks in offseason workouts, it's tough to project the trade actually happening. For now they can have Mingo, who Rex Ryan can move around on his defense.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
Rex Ryan needs an explosive pass rusher off the edge around whom he can build his aggressive blitz scheme. Though Jordan logged just 14.5 career sacks in his Oregon career, he displayed the speed and athleticism to wreak havoc on opponents as a designated pass rusher.
My pick: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Barkevious Mingo really fits well into the Jets' system, and any time a team with all the needs that the Jets have can add an explosive pass-rusher that likes to hit anything and everything, well, that's a great idea.
10. Tennessee Titans: Star Lotulelei, DT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Adding Warmack simply provides an immediate upgrade on the interior of your offensive line. One of the more dominating run blockers to enter the draft in years, Warmack is what I'd call a "no excuses" addition to your team. If your running back isn't better running behind Warmack, it might be time for a new back. The Titans were much better in pass-blocking than run-blocking last year. Given the situation at QB, the run game needs to become more reliable. Warmack makes a difference.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
The Titans need a player along the defensive front who can disrupt and make life easier for DEs Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan, and getting Floyd here would be a good value.
Stats and Info: The Titans were one of three teams (along with the Bears and Seahawks) that failed to get at least 700 plays out of an offensive guard in 2012. Cooper hasn't missed a game since his freshman year, appearing in 46 straight games to finish his UNC career.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Yes they landed Andy Levitre in free agency. But that shouldn't stop the Titans from rebuilding their line. If they grab Warmack they'll have a stacked until that could actually provide some blocking for Chris Johnson -- and, um, Shonne Greene??? -- in 2013.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans' defense has been weak in the middle since Albert Haynesworth departed years ago. Lotulelei is a disruptive force with the strength and power to own the point of attack between the tackles.
My pick: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Titans could go in a couple of directions at pick No. 10. The team's two obvious needs are offensive guard and defensive tackle.
The offensive guard talent is off the board by now, but Lotulelei's star is rising and the Titans' need at the position makes this a good fit for the No. 2 tackle in the draft.
11. San Diego Chargers: Jarvis Jones, OLB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
There's nothing more important for the Chargers than finding their future at left tackle. A good player who is only going to get better, Johnson can become the successor to Jared Gaither. Injuries along the offensive line have really diminished the offense over the past couple of seasons, and Philip Rivers has taken a step back because of it. Johnson, a former junior college quarterback, is a pretty gifted athlete for his size, and has been a star during the evaluation process.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The absolute best-case scenario for the Chargers -- who can't really afford to trade up -- is to see Johnson fall to this spot. However, should they put together a package, this pick could be part of an offer that gets them up to No. 6.
Stats and Info: The Chargers were one of two teams to average fewer than 2.0 yards before contact per rush last year (Steelers). On rushes between the left guard and left tackle (where Warmack played), Alabama averaged 4.2 yards before first contact and gained at least 10 yards once every 5.5 rushes.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
Everyone wants to talk about the Bolts lack of an offensive line and I don't disagree one bit. But who are they taking at 11 if the top-five talents are off the board? San Diego's got a need at cornerback too, and adding Milliner at this position is solid value.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Barkevious Mingo, OLB, LSU
Mingo is not a finished product at this point, but his combination of speed and quickness gives him a chance to develop into a double-digit sack producer as a pro.
My pick: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
The San Diego Chargers desperately need an offensive lineman, but the top five have already been taken and the next option, D.J. Fluker, shouldn't be taken at No. 11.
The Chargers are aging at outside linebacker, and not only does Jarvis Jones bring the versatility of being able to play both inside and outside, but he can get to the quarterback and has excellent tackling skills.
12. Miami Dolphins: Xavier Rhodes, CB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Dolphins will shift second-year man Jonathan Martin to left tackle in the absence of Jake Long, but it leaves a pretty big talent deficiency at right tackle, and in Fluker they get a player who is ready to step in immediately. The Dolphins have made personnel upgrades in their passing game, but they don't want the problem to become protection or an inability to run the ball and create short-yardage situations where they can open up the playbook. They do need another pass-rusher, but Fluker makes sense.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
If Miami opts to stay home, Rhodes' length and top-end speed would make him a fit in the Dolphins' press-man coverage schemes.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
In a mock trade with Miami, Brinson has the Cleveland Browns moving down to this pick.
Cleveland probably feels a little foiled by having San Diego grab Milliner just ahead of them, but it's not the worst in the world. They can still grab one of the other talented cornerbacks in this draft class.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Rhodes easily slides into the role vacated by Sean Smith during the offseason. The Florida State standout is a sticky press corner with exceptional size, strength and speed.
My pick: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Xavier Rhodes brings a lot of physicality to the table at a position which typically requires speed and agility, both of which Rhodes has.
Rhodes is a big, press corner that can also hit when asked to do so. Miami needs a cornerback, and Rhodes is the best available.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Desmond Trufant, CB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
This isn't the top need for the Bucs, but now that Lotulelei has been cleared medically, he becomes a steal at this spot on the board. Cornerback is a need, but the drop off from Milliner to the best available option is enough where the Bucs miss out on some board value if they take one here. You simply can't have enough depth on the defensive line, and Lotulelei is one of those rare defensive tackles with the potential to become dominant.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The Bucs would likely prefer to use this pick to address a glaring hole at cornerback. There is talk about trading this pick as part of a package for Revis, and I'm also hearing buzz about potential interest in Rhodes.
Stats and Info: The Buccaneers' pass defense allowed an NFL-high 17 passing plays of at least 30 yards outside the numbers, 15 of which were thrown to wide receivers. No team allowed more receiving yards per game to wide receivers than Tampa Bay (203.7).
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Cornerback run! Seeing three selected back-to-back feels a little weird, but that's how things work in the draft world. My gut says the Jets end up owning this pick but (they could still go in the same direction) but if they don't, Tampa clearly has a need at cornerback to fill.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
The Buccaneers would love to get a big, athletic corner at this point. Still, Ansah would upgrade the pass rush and give Greg Schiano a high-motor defender to build around.
My pick: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
It was way too easy to throw against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. Even if the Bucs pull off a deal for cornerback Darrelle Revis, grabbing a corner like Trufant is necessary.
14. Carolina Panthers: Sheldon Richardson, DT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Panthers were a bad run defense in 2012, and that's even after they drafted Luke Kuechly to hold down the middle. Well, your run defense isn't going to get better just because you get consistent tackling at linebacker. If you can't keep the blockers away from those linebackers, you're in trouble. Richardson can occupy blocks given his initial burst and his ability to read, identify and make tackles against the run himself. The Panthers need to come out of this draft with some help for the interior of their D-line.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Scenario 1: The Panthers are lacking a penetrating 3-technique who can get into the offensive backfield, and Richardson fits the bill with his explosiveness and playmaking ability.
Stats and Info: The Panthers recorded only nine tackles for loss from defensive linemen last season. Only the Cowboys' defensive line (seven) had fewer. Richardson had 10 run stuffs last year (tackles for negative or no-gain rushes).
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Reasonable chance Austin's off the board by the time Carolina picks, but if he isn't, I love the idea of pairing him with Cam Newton, letting him learn under Steve Smith and turning his offensive explosiveness and versatility loose on the NFC South. The Panthers have a ton of needs but having shied away from ignoring defensive tackle in the draft during the first round the last two years. It worked out pretty well in the form of Newton and Luke Kuechly.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Ron Rivera wants to upgrade the middle of the Panthers' defense after watching the unit struggle against the run in 2012. Richardson is a high-motor interior defender with the athleticism to create disruption at the point of attack.
My pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The only two spots on the Carolina Panthers defense that don't need immediate help are defensive end and linebacker. The Panthers will take Richardson here to slow down opposing rushers just enough so their stellar linebacker corps can be even more effective.
It was way too easy to run on Carolina last season, and adding Richardson will help instantly.
15. New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones has lost a little juice lately because he wasn't impressive at his pro day, but we're still talking about a player who led the nation in sacks, and did it against the best competition in college football. He brings a relentless style and provides a perfect pass-rushing fit at outside linebacker for a defense that needs more talent up front. The Saints had one of the NFL's worst pass rushes last year, and Jones can help in that regard.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Don't be surprised to see the Saints look to move up if an elite pass-rusher begins to slide, even if Mingo is in the mix. Filling that need is important enough that New Orleans might potentially make a move if Jordan or Ansah should fall down the board.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
Tempted to give them a pass rusher here, but it'll be easier to upgrade their pass rush if they have a defensive line that can dominant other fronts. Richardson can step in and play all along the line, giving the Saints pass rushers some freedom.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones was considered the best pass rusher in the draft until a poor pro day performance raised concerns about his speed and athleticism. Ultimately, though, Jones' two-year run as a dominant defender in the SEC could prompt Sean Payton and Rob Ryan to pick him here, despite his unimpressive workout numbers.
My pick: Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, BYU
The New Orleans Saints would likely rather have Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo here at No. 15, but both are long gone. Ezekiel Ansah has a wide range of landing spots (anywhere from No. 2 to No. 20) and fills a huge area of need for the Saints.
16. St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin, WR
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Danny Amendola will be catching passes from Tom Brady in 2013, so the Rams can certainly afford to place a high priority on a slot weapon. Austin is one of the true home run threats in this draft, and while he's perfect to work in the slot, given his speed, route-running skills and soft hands, this is a player you can get creative with. The loss of Amendola leaves a void, but Austin could even be an upgrade.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Scenario 1: The buzz I'm hearing is that if Austin falls, he's the guy the Rams want here.
Scenario 2: With Austin off the board, the Rams jump on another offensive weapon. Patterson isn't as proven or polished as Austin, but he is bigger, stronger and has all kinds of upside with his ability in space. He's a boom-or-bust prospect, but if he lands here, St. Louis has a player who's special with the ball in his hands.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The popular pick is Austin, but he's already gone at this point, and with the several of the remaining top wideouts on the market, the Rams can gamble on that they'll get one of their guys at 22 while also improving their already impressive secondary here at 16.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
The loss of receiver Danny Amendola via free agency robbed quarterback Sam Bradford of his top target between the hashes. Austin is a terror with the ball in his hands; his ability to put the ball in the paint will quickly make him the No. 1 option in St. Louis.
My pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Even though two of the draft experts chose wide receivers other than Tavon Austin here, they listed Austin as already gone in their mock. Therefore, Austin would have been their pick had he been available.
Austin is available here in my mock, and the Rams are in dire need of a play-making receiver.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Really like this fit. Eifert gives the Steelers a different kind of matchup headache for defenses -- one that doesn't directly replace Mike Wallace, but adds a new dimension to the offense. In fact, he might do more to offset the loss of Wallace than another speed threat would because he allows them to diversify. Eifert has the speed to stretch the seam and also develop routes to the edges, and can't be effectively covered by anybody. He's too tall for corners and safeties, too fast for linebackers.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
Jones is a nice fit in the Steelers' scheme, which could send him after the quarterback without asking him to do more than he's capable of in other areas.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia
It'll be interesting to see exactly which direction Pittsburgh goes with this pick; the latest developments with Emmanual Sanders leave their decisions at wide receiver very much up in the air. Feels like there's value to be had later at wideout and Jones could be a steal thanks to falling because of his health.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Steelers' offense needs more juice after losing Mike Wallace in free agency. Patterson is an exceptional playmaker who could thrive in offensive coordinator Todd Haley's quick-rhythm passing game.
My pick: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Mike Wallace is gone from PIttsburgh and the Steelers need a receiver that can make plays all over the field. Cordarrelle Patterson is that guy.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, FS
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Cowboys currently have 31-year-old Jay Ratliff penciled in as one starting defensive tackle, and 30-year-old Jason Hatcher penciled in as the other. Ratliff played a total of six games in 2012. There might be other needs, but if the Cowboys can't put together a decent rotation on the interior of that defensive line, the conversion to a 4-3 is going to be a personnel mess. Enter Williams, an active, powerful, interior presence who can occupy blocks and give the Cowboys a much-needed jolt of youth up front.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
Vaccaro is falling in this scenario, and safety is a top need for the Cowboys. Vaccaro has the skill set to step in as a starter for a defense that's searching for a do-it-all player on the back end.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Jerry Jones can wax optimistically all he wants about Tony Romo's mobility negating a need for offensive line. I don't buy it. And with the Cowboys trying to renegotiate with Doug Free, it's clear they don't love their current setup. Fluker would add immediate ehlp in the run and pass game for Dallas.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
While the Cowboys could take an athletic defensive tackle to serve as an anchor for coordinator Monte Kiffin's new scheme, Vaccaro would be a sensible pick, based on the team's struggles at the position in recent years.
My pick: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
With a number of ways the Dallas Cowboys could go here, I believe they are able to not only fill a need, but they are also able to take the best player available here too in Kenny Vaccaro.
19. New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, OT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
The Giants certainly can't assume Terrell Thomas is going to be an effective starter in 2013, and even if they could, depth at cornerback would still be a priority. In Trufant, you get a player who will make your secondary better regardless of where the needs are, because Trufant can do it all. Slot or outside, man or zone, you're going to get an effective talent. Needs at linebacker can be addressed further down the board. Trufant makes sense here, and the value fits the slot.
Todd McShay, ESPN: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Giants aren't known for taking offensive linemen early, but Fluker would offer a boost up front with his balance, footwork and mauling presence in the running game.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
It all boils down to if they like Werner. If he's here at 19, Werner makes a ton of sense for the Giants. They've got Osi Umenyiora gone and Justin Tuck with one year left. Despite other needs, replenishing the pass rush should be a top priority as well.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
NFC East counterparts have routinely exposed the Giants' lack of speed, athleticism and playmaking ability at the linebacker position. Not only is Ogletree one of the most explosive athletes in the draft, but he is a natural playmaker with a knack for finding the football against the run or the pass.
My pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Adding D.J. Fluker allows the New York Giants to shift David Diehl back inside, and it gives the G-Men bookend tackles (Fluker and Will Beatty) to protect Eli Manning.
20. Chicago Bears: Alec Ogletree, LB
The Bears have added players at the linebacker position in free agency (D.J. Williams and James Anderson), but not long-term starters. And let's remember, Lance Briggs is 33 in November. If they want a reliable long-term solution, Te'o provides a great fit. Put all the drama, the combine 40 time and all the surrounding hoopla aside, and what you get in Te'o is a good football player. He's instinctive, makes tackles and is extremely effective when the defensive line provides coverage. If there's good value available here among one of the top handful of offensive lineman, that's another direction Chicago could go.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Bears QB Jay Cutler could use a weapon in the middle of the field, and Eifert could help new coach Marc Trestman exploit mismatches in the passing game with his size, ball skills and versatility.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Just because the Bears signed linebackers in free agency doesn't mean they're totally set at the position. Picking up the talented (but troubled) Ogletree gives them some depth at the position.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Yes, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are still in their prime, but now is the time to groom a young replacement for a key role down the road. Trufant is a classic nickel corner with instincts, awareness and ball skills.
My pick: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Alec Ogletree is too good to pass on here, even with the additions that the Chicago Bears have already made to their linebacking corps this offseason.
Ogletree dropped because of off-field issues, but the kid can play at any linebacker position. He's a high risk/high reward player.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Menelik Watson, OT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
The addition of Vontaze Burfict last year was a home run in terms of value, but the Bengals were still deficient in their linebacking corps, mainly because Rey Maualuga just wasn't that good, particularly in coverage. Ogletree can provide some coverage relief, but he'll also attack the line of scrimmage and make plays in the backfield. He can get caught over-pursuing, but that's a good problem to have. Marvin Lewis can bring the best out of him.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
Corner isn't a glaring need for Cincinnati, but Trufant would represent a good value at this point, and there is no such thing as too many good cover men for an NFL team.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
If the Bengals aren't going to bring back Andre Smith, they need to improve the line somehow, and grabbing the high-upside Watson does just that for them.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
If the as-yet-unresolved Andre Smith saga ends with his departure, the Bengals could fill the remaining void with this big, physical and rugged blocker.
My pick: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
Two of the draft experts picked an offensive tackle here, but only one was still available in my mock, so I have Menelik Watson going to Cincinnati.
Watson doesn't have a lot of experience, but what he lacks there he makes up for with huge upside.
22. St. Louis Rams: Eric Reid, FS
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas
The departure of Craig Dahl for San Francisco isn't what I'd call a personnel emergency, but there's not a lot left behind him. Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod are currently penciled in as the starters, so drafting Vaccaro guarantees you an upgrade at safety in a division where safeties are vital. San Francisco, Seattle and Arizona all can test you deep, and in a couple of cases, you need safeties who can fly up to make plays on QBs who are willing to run.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Scenario 1: Ideally, the Rams would like to see Vaccaro fall to this spot.
Scenario 2: With Vaccaro off the board, Lacy's strong running style could combine with Patterson's playmaking ability to give QB Sam Bradford some quality young talent to develop with.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
How can this pick not be a wide receiver? Sam Bradford needs weapons and Brian Quick needs some help, more so than just Jared Cook. I love Patterson and think he can explode in the right spot.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
Based on his impressive résumé tape in 2012, the Rams could view Lacy as a potential workhorse. The Alabama standout will answer questions about his speed and quickness at his pro day on April 11.
My pick: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
I didn't necessarily go with any of the four draft experts, but I followed suit with Mel Kiper and grabbed a safety in Eric Reid.
Reid will help not only in the secondary, but he can come down to the line of scrimmage and make plays there too.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings badly need a wide receiver after the Percy Harvin trade, and in Patterson they get maybe the highest-upside projection on the board at the position. Patterson needs work as a route-runner, but he's not just a straight-line deep threat on the edge. This is a guy you can move inside because he has the burst that can make him a tough cover, and he is electric with the ball in his hands -- something they'll miss in Harvin.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
There has been a lot of talk about Te'o in this spot, but if Ogletree should fall this far, the Vikings would have to jump on him. He is one of the best pound-for-pound athletes in the class, and has tremendous range against the run.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Minnesota could wait on a wideout until 25, but there are plenty of teams behind them that might want to try and move up with Indy to grab one of their top choices. Instead, they nab Keenan Allen, despite his sub-par pro day in Greensboro and let him develop beind Greg Jennings.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
Te'o's solid performance in his pro day workout confirmed he can excel as a tackle-to-tackle defender in the middle of a 4-3 scheme.
My pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Not only does picking defensive tackle Sylvester Williams here add depth to an aging defensive line in Minnesota, but it gives the Vikings a disruptive element in the middle of that line.
24. Indianapolis Colts: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Colts could go a few different ways here, but they really need to not fall in love with a certain need and see how the board breaks. If the value on the offensive line isn't there, I think Rhodes makes a lot of sense. The Colts were active in free agency, adding help in a handful of spots, but Rhodes has the chance to be the best cornerback on the roster after he gets a little seasoning. For a team that might feel it'll be playing from ahead more and more in the future, the secondary needs to be a priority.
Todd McShay, ESPN: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
The Colts play man-cover schemes, and Hayden's smooth movement skills and ability to manufacture turnovers would be a solid fit.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State
There's some downside to grabbing Tank -- mostly his ACL injury in 2012 -- but he's a player and he'd be much higher were it not for getting hurt. His versatility and ability to play in the 3-4 makes him a very nice selection for the aggressive Colts here.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
Moore's immaturity and lack of explosive athleticism could send him tumbling down draft boards. Indianapolis, which has a hard-nosed coach (Chuck Pagano) and a huge void at outside linebacker, could be the perfect landing spot.
My pick: Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, DE, Florida State
It may be a little early to grab Cornellius Carradine, who's coming off knee surgery, but this kid is an absolute steal here if he's healthy moving forward.
Taking Carradine adds some massive size to a unit that could desperately use it.
25. Minnesota Vikings: Keenan Allen, WR
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU
Either Ogletree or Te'o could be available here, but if you poll people around the league, you'll hear Minter's name as someone evaluators have right with those two, and even ahead of them in some cases. If the season started tomorrow, the Vikings might have journeyman Tyrone McKenzie at middle linebacker, so Minter gives them a player they can feel good about penciling into that spot in Week 1. He makes good reads, is a steady tackler and should be provided effective cover based on what the Vikings have up front.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
With a linebacker locked up earlier in the round, Williams would bring good value here.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Cannot say this enough: I don't like this pick. I just think it's bound to happen. Maybe it gets mocked too much to be true, but the Vikes have a ton of Golden Domers on their roster already and it would be a reasonably seamless fit.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Allen is not the quickest nor the most explosive receiver in the draft, but he is the most polished player at his position, possessing the skills to thrive as a No. 1 wideout in any offense. With Christian Ponder still refining his game as a pocket passer, the addition of Allen could help the Vikings' offense make significant strides in 2013.
My pick: Keenan Allen, WR, California
Two of the four draft experts agree with me here by taking wide receiver Keenan Allen, even if it doesn't say so above. Brinson had him going at No. 23.
Taking a wide receiver just makes sense with Percy Harvin gone.
26. Green Bay Packers: Tyler Eifert, TE
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
The Packers have lacked top-end reliability and explosiveness at running back, and that's what Lacy can give them. He ran behind a great line at Alabama, and he offers the best combination of power and open-field shiftiness in this draft. He's the guy in this class who can run with power but also break off some big runs. He also catches the ball well and can be a good safety valve for Aaron Rodgers.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse
The Packers have a need at offensive tackle, and Pugh is an underrated talent who played tackle in college and could help solidify the Green Bay offensive line. Watson and Oregon's Kyle Long could also be in play here.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Jonathan Cyprien, SS, Florida International
Green Bay's got to improve the back end of their secondary, and by sitting at the front end of teams that could help fire up a run at the safety position, they're in a good spot to grab some value here. Wouldn't be opposed with them selecting any number of defensive line prospects either.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Eric Reid, FS, LSU
Reid's stock has been on the rise since he impressed coaches and scouts with his athleticism and movement skills at LSU's Pro Day a few weeks ago. GM Ted Thompson could nab a Pro Bowl-caliber safety with the potential to make an immediate impact in the middle of the secondary.
My pick: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
I bucked the trend and not only disagreed with the four experts here, but I also didn't fill a glaring need for the Green Bay Packers.
How could I pass up on Tyler Eifert, though? He'll wait in the wings, as Jermichael Finley is in the final year of his contract, and the Packers could dial up some two tight end sets this season.
Houston Texans: Robert Woods, WR
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Andre Johnson is now officially old by the standards of the position, and although effective, he needs some help. The Texans need to find a reliable route-runner who can create space both underneath and down the field in their scheme, which offers a steady diet of play-action passes and demands that receivers can set up defenders. Woods has extremely reliable hands and is underrated in his ability to stretch defenses over the top.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Texans could stand to get an upgrade over Derek Newton at right tackle, and Watson's athleticism and movement skills would be a perfect fit in their zone-blocking scheme.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
Every mock on the planet has them taking a wide receiver, which means it probably won't be true. But they desperately need to add talent on the receiving end of things, so I'm gonna keep doing what I do here.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Gary Kubiak needs to find a receiver who can effectively complement Andre Johnson and add some balance to the Texans' passing game. Woods is a cerebral player with underrated skills as a route runner and playmaker.
My pick: Robert Woods, WR, USC
It's extremely easy to envision a wide receiver here, and Robert Woods is the best fit for the Houston Texans.
28. Denver Broncos: Bjorn Werner, DE
Mel Kiper, ESPN: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
Champ Bailey might still be locking up good receivers when I'm retired, but assuming he's not, the Broncos need to think about adding another corner. They should be playing from ahead plenty in 2013, and they'll need depth in the secondary. If not for a freak injury that nearly cost Hayden his career, we'd be talking about him as a challenger for the best cornerback on the board. His ceiling is that high. Now fully recovered, he's ready to impact a defense in 2013.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
Denver could use help along the defensive line, and Werner would fill that need with his production, strong hands and nonstop motor.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
Beefing up the line should be a priority for the Broncos and Williams can move around.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
John Fox loves having hard-hat-and-lunch-pail guys along the front line. Williams falls into that category, but he is also a disruptive playmaker who complements his rugged game with sneaky speed and quickness.
My pick: Bjorn Werner, DE, Florida State
The Denver Broncos get a heck of a deal here with Bjorn Werner falling to them in the first round. The Broncos need to fix a few things up front, and Werner can help with that and more.
29. New England Patriots: Jamar Taylor, CB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The presence of Brandon Lloyd provided at least some cover for what the Patriots like to do in the short and intermediate areas with their tight end duo, but now having filled the slot receiver position with Danny Amendola, they're definitely in the market for a receiver who provides a legitimate speed threat, someone who will keep safeties in fear of creeping up. The additions of Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins don't fill that void. Hunter has elite straight-line speed and is a potential touchdown on any play. He offers a constant threat.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Jones could offer help along the defensive front, giving the Patriots another versatile player who can line up at end opposite Chandler Jones and reduce inside to rush the passer in sub packages.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Robert Woods, WR, USC
Woods isn't a picture-perfect receiver when it comes to upside, but he's a stable prospect who can fill the void that Manny Sanders sticking with the Steelers created. The Pats have to get better in the secondary and at wideout. This addresses one need.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Hunt's combination of size, length and athleticism would make him an ideal fit in the Patriots' hybrid defense. He can play the five-technique in a 3-4 or align as a base end in a four-man front.
My pick: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The New England Patriots are going to take the best cornerback on the board in Jamar Taylor and with the way he's been shooting up draft boards lately, this may be a steal at No. 29.
30. Atlanta Falcons: Jonthan Banks, CB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Kyle Long, OL, Oregon
A very good athlete for his size, Long was asked to utilize a lot of short-area power and quickness at Oregon. He gives the Falcons some options. They have an immediate need at guard, and because Long has played both tackle and guard, he could step into the guard role and help the offensive line in 2013, then offer a future at either tackle position. The Falcons have been good talent evaluators, and Long is, above all, a guy with a lot of talent who can help now and into the future as they develop him.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Taylor would fill one of the few needs the Falcons have at this point. He is an underrated corner who fits their scheme with his ability to play both man and zone coverage.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
Atlanta handled left tackle, running back, and (to a degree) pass rush in free agency. They still need cornerback help, though, and Taylor can make an immediate impact for them.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
The addition of Osi Umenyiora gives the Falcons' pass rush some sizzle, but Mike Smith still needs a high-motor rusher on the opposite side to add some substance. Werner certainly fits the bill as an energetic rusher with a blue-collar game.
My pick: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
The Atlanta Falcons are in desperate need of a cornerback, and Johnthan Banks can step in and fill that need. He's a big corner who plays with more speed than he showed at the Combine.
31. San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Cyprien, S
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Margus Hunt, DE, SMU
Justin Smith will be 34 in September, and the 49ers need to think about adding versatile pass rush options. Pound for pound, Hunt is as good an athlete as you'll find in this draft, and the 49ers currently have a roster that allows them to draft for ceiling at this slot. Hunt could add a little bulk and could become a rotation player behind Smith this season, with the potential to become that rare kind of impact pass-rusher in a 3-4 scheme from the defensive end position.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Craig Dahl came in via free agency, but he's not the long-term answer. Cyprien has size and range and is a hitter, and if his recognition skills catch up to his physical tools, he will be a huge asset as a do-everything safety.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Matt Elam, SS, Florida
Seeing the Niners move up with their plethora of picks wouldn't be in the least bit surprising. But they've got holes in the secondary they can fill -- or, at the very least a future need at secondary -- and Elam's a ruthless, hard-hitting safety who could help out their defense quickly.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The loss of Delanie Walker makes it imperative for the 49ers to find a tight end with the athleticism and versatility to complement Vernon Davis. Eifert is a terrific pass catcher with the size to create mismatches between the hashes.
My pick: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The San Francisco 49ers still need help at safety, and Jonathan Cyprien is both strong and explosive with outstanding instincts.
32. Baltimore Ravens: Kevin Minter, LB
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
Ed Reed is now in Houston, but even with the addition of Michael Huff, the Ravens will still be looking for a versatile safety. Cyprien is an experienced player who can step in immediately. He's a smart player, takes good routes to the ball and is an effective tackler in space. This is a deep safety class, so the Ravens could certainly go another route here, particularly if one of the interior linebackers (Minter? Te'o?) is still around at this slot.
Todd McShay, ESPN: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The retirement of Ray Lewis leaves a huge void in the middle of the Raven's defense, and Te'o's overall skill set could help offset that loss.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
Minter's abilities as an inside linebacker and the value he presents at 32 only prove that you should never doubt Ozzie Newsome. The Ravens have a number of directions they could go here to help reload the defense.
Bucky Brooks, NFL Network: Matt Elam, FS, Florida
GM Ozzie Newsome has a knack for finding productive players at the end of the first round. Though Elam lacks ideal size for the safety position, he is a hard-nosed, physical player with excellent instincts.
My pick: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
How do you replace Ray Lewis at linebacker? Well that's just impossible. But Kevin Minter is a high-motor tackling monster that can give the Baltimore Ravens every ounce of effort in an attempt to fill Lewis's spot admirably.