Apr 26, 2012; New York, NY, USA; A general view of the NFL shield logo before the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
The 78th annual NFL Player Selection Meeting will be held in two weeks at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City. As we draw near to the draft it becomes a bit easier to garner some insight on what could possibly be going on in the minds of the NFL GM’s. As pro days and private work outs begin to wind down it becomes more clear as to what each team is going to attempt to do in this year’s draft.
This year’s draft comes with much drama and intrigue. There is no number one pick that sports writers can seem to agree on. Some even go so far as to say that the Chiefs trade down from their first overall pick to acquire more picks in the draft. Another question being asked is how many quarterbacks will be taken in the first round? Not many teams seem to be in such dire need of a QB this year that they will overextend themselves and take Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib in the first round. Another big question is where will Manti Te’o land? Some experts have him falling all the way down to the Ravens with the last pick in the first round, some writers dont have him getting past the Bears, Vikings, or Giant’s middle picks.
Pick #1: Kansas City Chiefs
Feb 23, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Central Michigan offensive lineman Eric Fisher runs the 40 yard dash during the 2013 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
OT Eric Fisher – SCHOOL: Central Michigan
AGE: 22, HT: 6-8, WT: 305
Eric Fisher is a big, dominant, offensive tackle. He has a large wingspan that just swallows up pass rushers. He completely dominated in the MAC and did fantastic when he faced off against real competition outside of the MAC. He did very well in the Senior Bowl and his draft stock has been rising ever since. It would be really easy to put A&M OT Luke Joeckel or even Utah DT Star Lotulelei in this spot. The Chiefs have a lot of work to do but I feel with the addition of Quarterback Alex Smith from the 49ers the Chiefs should give it their best attempt to keep him upright so he can connect with Dwayne Bowe and company to help improve Kansas City’s abysmal passing game that was ranked dead last in then NFL last season. The reason that Fisher is here instead of Joeckel is because I feel that Fisher is an all around better athlete than Joeckel and has ultimately a higher potential than the A&M left tackle.
Pick #2: Jacksonville Jaguars
OLB Dion Jordan – SCHOOL: Oregon
Age: 22, HT: 6-6, WT: 248
This is an easy one. The Jags love defense. They’re just one of those teams who seem to try year in and year out to put a solid, tough nosed defense on the field. Last year did not go so well for the Jags in that regard. While they did have a defense that kept them in most games, they struggled greatly in one specific area. The pass rush. They were pretty abysmal on their pass rush last year, especially when applying pressure on non-blitzing downs. Dion Jordan would be a perfect fit here for the Jags. He is a freak athlete who I believe, when he’s healthy, is probably the best defender in this draft class. Jordan is one of those rare breeds of outside line backers who can just cause nightmares for offense coordinators when he’s not only disrupting the passer, but the running game as well. He has a great work ethic and an explosive first step that he can use to just blow past offensive linemen.
Pick #3: Oakland Raiders
DT Sharrif Floyd – SCHOOL: Florida
Age: 20, HT: 6-2, WT: 292
Oakland needs help on defense. Of all the top 5 teams I suspect that Oakland will be the one to trade out of their position due to salary cap restraints, but if they do stick around here I expect that the Raiders will address their issues on their defensive line and I believe that the best player coming out of college that would fit their scheme would be Floyd. He’s strong, has a constant motor that’s always running. He dominates inside with his explosive hands and incredibly quick feet for a guy his size. He has plenty of room to grow and with the right coaching could become one of the premier tackles in the league.
Pick #4: Philadelphia Eagles
OT Luke Joeckel – SCHOOL: Texas A&M
Age: 21, HT 6-6, WT 303
The Eagles could select a multitude of players here. They could easily select Geno Smith as a replacement for Michael Vick. Star Lotulelei is also a great choice here. He would fight right into their 3-4 scheme and big a big run stopping body up front for them. However the Eagles had a pretty good offseason revamping their defense and I feel their greatest bang for their buck could come from Luke Joeckel. (Or Fisher if Joeckel is taken first and he is still here on the board). He would greatly improve the offensive line of the Eagles, a team that allowed the most sacks in the league last year, and help keep Michael Vick upright and healthy. Joeckel, like Fisher, has elite talent and great hands and feet that help him absorb pass rushers and prevent sacks. He’s competed against some of the best defensive lines in College football in both the Big 12 and SEC and because of his experience there I feel that he would make an easy transition into the LT position on the Eagles offensive line. If the Eagles would rather go with veteran Jason Peters on the left side, Joeckel could easily play the right side while he waits for his opportunity to move over to his natural position. Peters is getting up there in age, and while he’s one of the best offensive tackles in the game, he is coming off of an injury plagued season and a fresh, new body on the offensive line would greatly benefit the Eagles, especially with someone with the talent that Joeckel has.
Pick #5: Detroit Lions
Feb 26, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive end Dee Milliner catches a pass during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
CB Dee Milliner – SCHOOL: Alabama
Age: 21, HT: 5-11, WT: 201
For years the Lions have not managed to find an answer to their problems at corner back. Dee Milliner is the best CB in this draft class by far. He’s a huge body that can contend with some of the best WR in the league. He has quick hands at the line and can use his size to make good contact at the line of scrimmage. The best part of his game is his blazing speed. With his size and length he can keep up with the leagues fastest receivers on deep balls down the sidelines and over the middle. His great play at Alabama was overshadowed by the multitude of All-Americans that surrounded him on defense in 2011 and when it came time to rise to the occasion in 2012 Milliner did just that. He is a great pass defender, he defended 22 passes in the 2012 season. He’s also a fantastic tackler. He had 54 tackles in his All-American, All-SEC junior year. He would be a very stout defender for the Lions.
Pick #6: Cleveland Browns
OG Chance Warmack
Age: 21, HT: 6-2, WT: 317
This is a tough pick. With Dee Milliner off the board the Browns have very little opportunity to reach for another corner back at this point. What I think they do is they try to trade down and gain a handful of picks, mostly a second round pick (something that they currently lack). If they do decide to use their pick here, in the position they find themselves in, I see no reason that they wouldnt draft the player who is being labeled by some as one of, if not the best, offensive guard prospect to come out of the college game in recent memory. The browns could also take Geno Smith here too if they wish, but I feel that Warmack on their offensive line would be a great addition and really help fellow Crimson Tide alum bolster the running game of the Cleveland Browns. Warmack is an elite run blocker with great strength and powerful hips that can be used to push around some of the best tackles in the game.
Pick #7: Arizona Cardinals
OT Lane Johnson – SCHOOL: Oklahoma
Age: 22, HT: 6-6, WT: 303
Lane Johnson would be a great addition to the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. Johnson is a former tight end who was converted into a tackle before the 2011 season. He has excelled at his position only allowing 2 sacks last season. He does a great job at sealing the edge from pass rushers and also does a great job using his size and length to keep defenders at bay. He has the potential to actually be the best offensive tackle to come out of this draft if given the proper coaching.
Pick #8: Buffalo Bills
Feb 24, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith (13) throws a pass during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
QB Geno Smith
Age: 23. HT: 6-2, WT: 218
Living in Buffalo you know the Bills really need one thing: They need something explosive and exciting on offense. Most suspect that the Bills will try to wait and get Ryan Nassib later in the draft but if Geno Smith is here I dont know how the Bills could justify letting him go. He’s accurate, possesses great physical attributes and a great competitive streak that could really be a breath of fresh air to a Bills offense that, at times last season, was boring and stagnant in the passing game. If they dont get Geno Smith here I think they do wait for Nassib in the second round to reunite him with his College coach and possibly the best pick for them here would either be a replacement of Adam Levitre who left in the off seaon, or another wideout that Nassib can develop a report with. The obvious choice would be Tavon Austin.
Pick #9: New York Jets
DE Ziggy Ansah – SCHOOL: Brigham Young
Age:23, HT: 6-5, WT: 271
It wouldnt be any big surprise if the New York Jets took the best defensive player on the board. Ideally I think they would love to get their hands on Dee Milliner to replace the potential loss of Darrelle Revis. A lot of people are speculating that Revis will be moved by the Jets and if that is the case they need to revamp their secondary and Milliner would be the perfect guy. Well, as it stands Milliner isnt here and the Jets should address their pass rushing woes from last year and the best player on the board to do that is Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah. Ansah’s stock has been on the rise lately and people have him as a top 5 pick getting close to the big day. I feel that the teams that he would potentially go to would either be the Jags or Raiders, but the players I have those teams drafting meet more pressing needs on those teams. Ansah would be an absolute steal here for the Jets. He plays fast and hard running a 4.63 40-yard dash with 21 reps in the lifting drill. Ziggy delivers a good punch coming off of the edge.However, he does have a tendency to run out of gas, so if he is going to be effective the Jets are going to have to be very keen in how they use him. They cant let him run ragged and lose his effectiveness. Ansah is a player that you would draft based on pure talent. He hasnt been playing football very long, but he has managed to transform his body to fit the role that his coaches wanted him to be in. This is the kind of player that I expect a defensive minded coach like Rex Ryan would salivate over.
Pick #10: Tennessee Titans
Nov 10, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) during the game against the Washington Huskies at CenturyLink Field. Washington defeated Utah 34-15. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
DT Star Lotulelei – SCHOOL: Utah
Age: 23, HT:6-2, WT:311
The Titans are in desperate need for a big body in the middle of their defensive front that can take some of the pressure off of their talented defensive ends. Star Lotuleli or Sherrif Floyd would both fit the bill here. If Lotuleli is here for the Titans I doubt they would hesitate to jump all over him. He is a big, strong, very talented defensive lineman who can swallow up rush attempts up the middle and cause headaches for opposing team’s interior lines. He could have left the Utes in 2011 but he decided to stay another season and he just flat out dominated. His tackles for loss and sack totals went up and solidified him as a surefire top 10 draft prospect. The Titans could really use some of that production in the middle of their defensive front as they were 24th in the league last season at stopping the run. The reason that Loutelei falls so low for me is because of a pressing heart condition that was discovered at the NFL Combine. Doctors discovered that Loutelei’s heart was not pumping enough blood as a normal heart does. He has been cleared by doctors to compete and enter the NFL, but that should be something to watch to see if the condition develops and further. He also has a pretty fantastic beard. Who wouldnt want a guy with an awesome beard in their organization?
Pick #11: San Diego Chargers
OG Jonathan Cooper – SCHOOL: North Carolina
Age: 23, HT: 6-2, WT: 311
Ultimately the Chargers would love for one of two things to happen. One would be Lane Johnson falling to them at 11. The second would be somehow trading up to get Chance Warmack. If neither of those things manage to happen then I think that the best move for them to make would be to pick up North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. Cooper was red-shirted his first year at UNC, but his first official year he worked his way into a starting position and was a starter on their offensive line his whole career there. He is a very powerful, very compact blocker that knows his assignments and doesnt miss all too often on his blocks. He isnt as dominant a pass blocker as Warmack, but He would greatly improve the Chargers power-run game. The Chargers boasted one of the worst rushing games between the tackles last year averaging an abysmal 2.0 yards per carry before contact.
Pick #12: Miami Dolphins
CB Xavier Rhodes – SCHOOL: Florida State
Age: 22, HT: 6-1, WT: 210
Xavier Rhodes is a powerful press corner that likes to cling to receivers and take away any room to make a catch. His big frame allows him to dominate the smaller receivers coming off the line, delaying the routes and timing with the QB. He has great speed to close on the ball and good, quick hands to deflect or catch passes coming his way. The Dolphins are in desperate need of either an offensive lineman to replace the departure of Pro-Bowl LT Jake Long, or a corner back to help rebuild a secondary that has lost both of its starting corner backs in the past year. Unless one of the already taken offensive linemen fall to here, Rhodes seems like the guy. I doubt that they reach on D.J. Fluker here at 12. Perhaps they try to trade up with Cleveland and try to get one of the better linemen there. Or possibly they can trade down a little further and hope that Fluker is there. At this position I think that Rhodes is a great addition to help mend that deteriorating secondary.
Pick #13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tyler Eifert – SCHOOL: Notre Dame
Jan 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert (80) catches a pass defended by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Dee Milliner (28) during the first half of the 2013 BCS Championship game at Sun Life Stadium. Elfert was ruled out of bounds on the play. Mandatory Credit: Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
Age: 22, HT: 6-5, WT: 250
Its no secret that the Buccaneers want to move up to get a cornerback for a secondary that was not very good last year to say the least. There is also a lot of rumors going that the Bucs would be looking to trade their pick for a package that involved Darrelle Revis. If Rhodes falls to here, I’m sure that they would be happy to pick him up and rebuild the secondary around him. On the offensive side the team should be pretty solid. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams lined up as your receivers if the Bucs did decide to go with Eifert here he would get plenty of looks over the middle. He has strong hands and a good presence over the middle with defenders around him. He takes great pride in running good routes and has great footwork that he uses to gain separation from defenders. He led the Fighting Irish with 50 catches last season and would pair well with Josh Freeman throwing to him.
Pick #14: Carolina Panthers
DT Sheldon Richardson – SCHOOL: Missouri
Age: 24, HT: 6-2, WT: 294
Ideally the Panthers would want to bolster their defensive line. Sheldon Richardson could easily fill the void that they have there. Richardson just eats up blocks on the inside and makes a ton of plays in the backfield. He is a good run stopper with quick feet that he can use to get to a running back before the back can reach the second level. He had a whopping 75 tackles for the Missouri defense last season accompanied with 4 sacks. He is going to be a huge presence in the middle of any defensive line and a huge pain for the opposition’s offensive line. The only downside is that he had shoulder surgery this off-season which leaves a big question about his strength entering next season. With appropriate strength and conditioning training he should end up just fine.
Pick #15: New Orleans Saints
DE Barkevious Mingo – SCHOOL: LSU
Age: 24, HT: 6-4, WT: 241
The Saints need a ton of help in the pass rush department. If one of the more elite pass rushers starts to slip, I wouldnt be surprised to see the Saints at least make an attempt to move up but if they can’t Mingo would be a good fit here. Mingo is one of those players with a ton of upside. He has a lot of explosive ability and his speed is pretty good for a down end too. He is quick enough to really help in sealing the edge against the run and he isn’t afraid to take on offensive tackles one-on-one. The only issue that I really have with Mingo is that, for some reason, watching his tapes im left with a feeling that he wont be an every down kind of end for the Saints. He tends to take some plays off in the middle of the game and that could be a problem with the saints trying to make a move to bring another championship to New Orleans. That being said, his upside is tremendous and he is a great athlete that could develop into a really good pass rushing end.
Pick #16: St. Louis Rams
WR Tavon Austin – SCHOOL: West Virginia
December 29, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin (1) is tackled by Syracuse Orange cornerback Wayne Morgan (2) during the third quarter of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Age: 22, HT: 5-8, WT: 174
This is a great position for the Rams to be in. They’re in desperate need of a top flight wideout and this is the man for the job. There is a possibility he wont be here when the Rams are on the clock. Cleveland, Buffalo, and Miami could all benefit from a great receiver. If he’s still here when the Rams pick, he’s their guy. Giving Sam Bradford the receiver he needs to bring him back to the level he played at his first year in the league. Austin is a tough receiver with great speed that is not afraid to go over the middle. He’s most dangerous lined up in the slot where he can use his 4.3 speed to get away from linebackers and create big plays in the open field. He has great acceleration after catching the ball and is always a threat to go deep . He has great hands and a great vertical and can definitely make a big impact his first year in the league. I would say the biggest flaw in his game is his size. He’s a smaller receiver, so being lined up on the outside against bigger corners can be a real problem for him. He has a pretty good vertical leap, but I would say he is going to be most effective coming out of the slot like a Wes Welker type receiver.
Pick #17: Pittsburgh Steelers
OLB Jarvis Jones – SCHOOL: Georgia
Age: 23, HT: 6-2, WT: 245
The Steelers Defense was getting old. They wanted to get young. One way they did that was the removal of James Harrison, So the obvious choice for the Steelers in the draft would be to attempt to address the giant void left by the departure of Harrison. Jarvis Jones would be a good fit for the Steelers due to his great ability to rush the passer. I think he’ll fit well into the defensive scheme of the Steelers. Im sure they’ll find a way to use him to the best of his abilities. He has a great ability to rush the passer and disrupt plays in the backfield. A lot of people question his measurables because of a poor pro day, but if you’ve watched him play at all this year, there is no doubt that this kid can play the game. He fills his role well and will do exactly what the coaching staff is looking for him to do.
Pick #18: Dallas Cowboys
Dec 3, 2011; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears running back Jarred Salubi (21) is brought down by Texas Longhorns safety Kenny Vaccaro (4) during the game at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears defeated the Longhorns 48-24. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
S Kenny Vaccaro – SCHOOL: Texas
Age: 21, HT: 6-0, WT: 214
Vaccaro is one of those do-it-all safeties that the Cowboys could really use. Vaccar0 had 92 tackles last season and was one of the only bright spots on a very shaky Texas Longhorns defense. His combine and pro-day numbers were solid. He showed a great ability to stop and change direction. He is great in the open field and even lined up as the nickel corner for Texas last season despite his size. He’s a very versatile player that could easily come in and start for Dallas on day 1. He can play deep, and he can also come up and play on the line of scrimmage due to his ability to play man coverage against slot receivers.
Pick #19: New York Giants
OT D.J. Fluker – SCHOOL: Alabama
Age: 21, HT: 6-4, WT: 339
D.J. Fluker, if selected here by the Giants, he could very well work his way into the starting right tackle position. He is big, compact, and strong. His sheer size makes him perfect for the right side of the offensive line. He can use his size very well to help seal off the pass rush coming from his side. He would be a good anchor versus any bull rush attempt. All he has to do is get his massive hands on someone and simply ride them out of the pocket. That being said his size can also be an issue. A good enough end or linebacker will get his hands off of them and disengage the block. He does have some issues getting back to his secondary blocks, but if coached properly he can improve his technique he could be a good anchor for the Giant’s line.
Pick #20: Chicago Bears
ILB Mantei Te’o – SCHOOL: Notre Dame
Feb 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te
Age: 22, HT: 6-1, WT: 241
As much as I would love to see Te’o take over the helm as the Ravens inside linebacker I’m afraid that if Te’o doesnt go here, he’s going to one of the Vikings two picks. Te’o fits here in Chicago with long time Bears defensive leader Brian Urlacher leaving. As much as Te’o is being criticized for his poor combine and pro-day performances, Te’o plays much better and faster than his combine numbers suggest. He is a great presence on the field and has a great motor that just keeps on going. He sheds block very well and is great on delayed blitzes. I would have to say that the biggest flaw in his would be his pass coverage. His size, which is about average for his position, will allow him to get beat by some of the bigger ends and receivers that gets lined up against. He will be good at what he does, that’s stopping the run and leading the defense.
Pick #21: Cincinnati Bengals
CB Desmond Trufant
Age: 22, HT: 5-11, WT: 190
The Bengals are one of those teams with no glaring holes to fill on their team. They have a lot of young talent that just needs time to develop. One area that I think they could get a lot of value right now is at the corner position with Desmond Trufant. He’s not the strongest corner back on the board, but he has great speed to recover if he gets out of position. The expectations will be high with him being a legacy player in the NFL. He’ll constantly be compared to his brother Marcus who was a first round pick in Seattle and has been a constant starter there his whole career. He’s quick and versatile and can play against either outside receivers or against the slot. He does have the tendency to give up a big play every once and a while and his play against the run could use some developing.
Pick #22: St. Louis Rams (From the Washington Redskins)
RB Eddie Lacey – SCHOOL: Alabama
Age: 22, HT: 5-11, WT: 231
I think the Rams would love to get a defensive back here. Either Vaccaro if he falls this far, or possibly Jon Cyprien or Matt Elam could also be potential choices here to bolster their secondary. However I think both of those players are a bit of a reach at this point for the Rams, so either they swap picks with say, Green Bay or Minnesota, or they make a pick that will help sure up their offense. Eddie Lacey would be a good fit for the offense. The Rams should be looking to revamp their offense with young talent around Sam Bradford and a good start could be replacing that Steven Jackson guy who left for Atlanta during the offseason. Lacey worked hard to get the starting running back spot at Alabama and he really showed what he can do. He’s of average height for the position but he is a strong, powerful, running back. He’s not as big as Steven Jackson, but he can very well pound his way up the middle much like Jackson did. The one fault that I would have for him is that he doesnt always block so well, but that can be worked on. He has a ton of talent and could become another good running back for the Rams organization.
Pick #23: Minnesota Vikings
ILB Alec Ogletree
Dec 1, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Alec Ogletree (9) tackles Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) during the third quarter of the 2012 SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports
– SCHOOL: Georgia
Age: 21, HT: 6-2, WT: 242
I could see Ogletree not being on the board here. There is a very good possibility he could be picked up by the Giants, Bengals or Bears. But if he’s here I dont see any reason that Ogletree shouldnt be picked by Vikings with one of their two picks. Ogletree had 112 tackles after missing the first 4 games of the season due to a violation of team rules. He plays phenomenally against the run and accelerates very well to catch up to running backs and wideouts trying to break away. If you watch some tape on him, he does have some issues shedding blocks and he tends to over commit whenever he blitzes and gets in the backfield. That being said, he has the speed to make up for it and great tackling ability. So the upsides outweigh the downsides that can be coached and fixed.
Pick #24: Indianapolis Colts
DE Cornellius Carradine -SCHOOL: Florida State
Age: 24, HT: 6-4, WT: 276
With Dwight Freeney a free agent and Robert Mathis getting older and his position on the team still up in the air, I think that the Colts should really look into getting younger here at their end position. I think that the Colts could sit comfortably with either Cornellius Carradine or his Florida State counterpart Bjoren Werner. Both had double digit sacks for the Seminoles but Carradine missed the end of the season last year due to injury. A lot of people are skeptical about Carradine going in the first round. One reason being the injury to his knee, the other reason being that he doesnt have as much experience as Werner, but his athleticism is unquestionable and his numbers do not lie. If put up against a right tackle he can definitely use his superior speed and athleticism to take advantage of a position that is usually less impressive when it comes to pass blocking.
Pick #25: Minnesota Vikings (From the Seattle Seahawks)
Oct 20, 2012; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (84) is chased by Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) during a kick return at Neyland Stadium. Alabama won by a score of 44 to 13. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
WR Cordarrelle Patterson – Tennesee
Age: 21, HT: 6-2, WT: 216
The Vikings went out in the offseason and got Greg Jennings from their arch-rival Green Bay Packers. That gives Quarterback Christian Ponder a big name target to throw to. Well the Vikings also traded away Percy Harvin and could really use a solid #2 wideout. Cordarrelle Patterson would be a good fit. Easily separates from coverage on deep routs and is very tall and very long. Those attributes coupled with his superior vertical leap make him a very dangerous deep threat. Patterson had the best vertical leap of anyone at the combine. He has great routes and good transitions into his breaks. He has no problem making catches in traffic and has great, strong hands to haul in difficult passes.
Pick #26: Green Bay Packers
FS Jonathan Cyprien -Florida International
Age: 22, HT: 6-0, WT: 217
I really like Cyprien in this draft. Before writing this article I didnt know much about him. (mainly because I didnt watch any Florida International games). So I decided to educate myself a bit and watch some of the draft footage on him. There is one thing that I can say for sure. Cyprien is good. Rather than go to a major school Cyprien elected to make a name for himself at FIU. He started all four seasons there, so his durability is good. He has good speed and a big body that helps him make tackles in the open filed. He is also a very solid pass defender. Picking him up here wouldnt really be considered a stretch I think. He’s a good athlete with a lot of upside and a lot of sports writers seem to really love this guy.
Pick #27: Houston Texans
October 20, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; California Golden Bears wide receiver Keenan Allen (21) carries the ball against Stanford Cardinal cornerback Alex Carter (25) during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
WR Keenan Allen – SCHOOL: California
Age: 20, HT: 6-2, WT: 206
I hate to say this, because he’s one of my favorite players to watch in football (unless he’s playing against the Ravens) but Andre Johnson is getting old. He definitely showed signs of it last season even though he had a pretty respectable year. That being said the Texans have to start thinking about the future and the future could very well be with this guy. Keenan Allen is a very reliable receiver with good hands and a good ability to go up and get the ball. He’s a big body that can haul in passes and eventually become the number one receiver for the Texans when Andre Johnson finally decides to move on. He has the potential to be a big game receiver. He showed flashes of that his whole career at California. That promise started his very first game when he reeled in 120 yards in his debut.
Pick #28: Denver Broncos
CB Jamar Taylor – SCHOOL: Boise State
Age: 23, HT: 5-10, WT: 192
Here we have the situation of another great player who is just getting older. Champ Bailey for years has been the face of the Denver Broncos defense. But like all great players do, he’s getting older, a bit slower, and teams are starting to take note of it. Now would be as good a time as any to think about the future of the Broncos secondary. Their front 7 is pretty solid, so if they dont go with say Bjorn Werner here I would suggest going with Jamar Taylor. Hes fast and can keep up with some of the fastest receivers in the league. He’s also very aggressive and can get dirty with some of the most aggressive receivers in the league. He has a great knack for finding the ball whether it be in the air or on the ground. One thing that he does fairly well as a corner is tackle.
Pick #29 New England Patriots
DE Bjoren Werner – SCHOOL: Florida State
Age: 22, HT: 6-3, WT: 266
Here is another really good pass rusher out of Florida State this year. He, like Cornellius Carradine, had double digit sacks for the Seminoles last year and he would be a great fit on New England’s defensive line and their very effective hybrid defense. He can play both sides of the defensive line, but will more than likely be playing opposite Chandler Jones to take some pressure off of him. Another possibility here could be Datone Jones from UCLA or even Margus Hunt from SMU. I think that Werner is the better option. He put up double digit sacks in a much more competitive environment. He has very good quickness coming off the ball, and if he’s playing the strong side, he has a ton talent when it comes to sealing off the edge against the run.
Pick #30: Atlanta Falcons
DT Sylvester Williams – SCHOOL: North Carolina
Age: 24, HT: 6-2, WT: 313
Sylvester Williams will help shore up the front seven of the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons ranked 21st against the rush last year and they could really use a good anchor to help out Johnathan Babineaux hold down their 4-3 defense. Sylvester has great footwork and can play tough through his gaps. He is big and tough to move and finds the ball well in the backfield. When he gets his hands on the ball carrier they’re not going to go anywhere. He tackles hard and aggressively and has a great ability to wrap up and drive through the tackle. The biggest downside to Williams is that he doesnt have the speed or talent to reach the Quarterback as much as some teams would like. Aside from that he should be stout in the middle of their line. The Falcons brought in Osi Umenyiora to help with the pass rush, so the Falcons can afford some room to really develop their run defense. Another option here could possibly be in an inside linebacker, but I dont see any on the board that would be worth the pick.
Pick #31: San Francisco 49ers
CB D.J. Hayden – Houston
Age: 22, HT: 6-0, WT: 192
Here is a kid who nearly lost his life back in November. He’s been cleared to play football again and because of his great athleticism he is still a very highly touted prospect. He is pretty average in terms of size and strength for a cornerback so there might be some match up issue against some of the bigger, stronger receivers in the league. But he has great quickness. He’s a good cover guy and has enough quickness to help him close on balls and recover when he’s been beaten. The kid is also tough. Despite the life threatening injury he sustained and lived through, he is also very tough on slot receivers and down the field. He has great hands and knows how to use them to disrupt tough passes down the field. He also has great presence of body to use his size to run some receivers out of bounds on close plays down the sideline. One thing I’ve noticed about him too is that he is very good at shedding blocks put on him by receivers which allows him to get to the ball carrier with more efficiency.
Last, but certainly not least. Your defending Super Bowl Champions: The Baltimore Ravens
Pick #32: Baltimore Ravens
FS Matt Elam – SCHOOL: Florida
Age: 21. HT: 5-10. WT: 208
If there is one thing the Baltimore Ravens do well it is draft for the best possible talent at the position they find themselves in. There are very few busts in Ravens history and that is because GM Ozzie Newsome is a very calculating individual and great in the war room. The Ravens have been hosting a lot of late-first round prospects in the past couple of weeks. As of right now I see three pressing holes in the Ravens team. After a grueling off season of trades, releases, and free agents leaving, the Ravens have managed to, for now, put the pieces together and actually mend parts that many considered broken. We lost two future hall of famers in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Those guys are gone. The guys that we have (Rolondo McClain and Michael Huff) are not possibly going to come close to being those guys that we lost. But they’ll work. So, for now, we dont need to address those situations. (Though if Mantei Te’o does manage to fall to us at 32 we better take him) So what are out biggest holes? For me that would be safety, wide receiver and center. We could very well find capable players for the first two at this position. Center is still a ways off in our draft plan. But I do think that we should either go for a safety in Matt Elam or a wide receiver in Clemson wideout DeAndre Hopkins (who the Ravens have been in talks with a lot in the past two weeks). Right now though, to get the most value for our pick, I say the Ravens go with Matt Elam. A lot of people are saying that he’s a bit small for his position, but he’s a tough nosed player who isnt afraid to get in there and stop the run or break up passes. Elam has great speed at his position too. He was the fastest safety at the combine and really displayed a great ability to make up ground with his speed in the cone drills. He kind of reminds me of a smaller, more talented, Bernard Pollard. He likes to go for the big hit and jar the ball loose which is always fun as a fan to see. A lot of concerns about his work ethic, people have said that he likes to stand around a lot and he doesnt attack the ball when its passed in the backfield. He likes to wait and meet the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage rather than in the backfield. That will probably change in the Raven’s organization. We’ve taken plenty of “bad attitude” guys in the past and turned them into fine players. It will be interesting to see who steps up and takes on that role in the locker room with Reed and Lewis gone. Those were the two guys who would sit a trouble player down and let him know how things work in Baltimore.
As for their wide receiver concerns, I feel the Ravens can definitely address that in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. There are even a couple of guys I like later in the 5th or 6th rounds. Maybe we can use that Anquan Boldin pick to pick a receiver that turns out to be an absolute steal. Ill be writing later about some guys that I think the Ravens should really look for in the later rounds with all of those picks we have. I wouldnt be surprised if some of those picks were traded to get another pick in the 2nd or 3rd round seeing as the Ravens have 12.