16. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
The Rams under new head coach Jeff Fisher invested heavily in their defense last year. They signed free agent corner Cortland Finnegan and drafted Janoris Jenkins. Drafting Vaccaro will polish off a defense that suddenly is facing elite offenses in their division in San Francisco and Seattle. Vaccaro, is well rounded, can cover and step up agains the run. Important with the zone-reads and pistol offenses they’ll be seeing a lot of in their division.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The oldest player on the Steelers’s defense is DT Casey Hampton. Known for their defense, the Steelers could look to replace him with Jenkins. Not a glamorous pick with a lack of glamorous stats, but he impacts the game and frees up his LBs to attack but pushing the pocket. The Steelers have some great ILBs who could thrive with Jenkins up front.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
The Cowboys need help on the offensive line immediately. Cooper could have an impact on the line immediately. Last season the Cowboys brought in a few OGs via free agency, but injuries plagued the offense and made Romo run for his life, which led to bad decisions and mistakes. I thought Barrett Jones might be an option hear seeing how the Cowboys also had some turnover at that position, but they liked Phil Costa, and liked Ryan Cook even more when he was healthy. They’ll take Cooper and look to bring Romo and DeMarco Murray the help they need.
19. New York Giants – Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
The Giants love drafting pass rushers to get after the quarterback. Coming off the Super Bowl, many thought they had the best defensive line in football, but Umenyiora (if he returns) and Justin Tuck are aging, and both will be over 30 next season. He is drawing comparisons to current Giant, Jason Pierre-Paul, and imagine if JPP was on both ends of this line. With Ansah, that could be a reality.
20. Chicago Bears – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
Eifert is a large tight end from the mold of Rob Gronkowski, spread him out wide and he is an impossible match up for a corner, play him inside and he can win physical battles to grab the ball out of the air. The Bears traded away Cutler’s favorite target in Greg Olsen last year. While Marshall was a good first option, they lack a second option, enter Eifert. With the offensive minded Marc Trestman taking over as head coach of the Bears look for him to bring in some weapons for Cutler.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Matni Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Bengals drafted a ILB in 2008 in Rey Maualuga, and he as been a disappointment, arguably one of the worse in the NFL last year. But reports in Cincinnati say he could be gone next season leaving a whole at ILB. Who better to fill that void in the middle then Te’o? He has a ton of experience compiling over a hundred tackles in 3 straight seasons at Notre Dame, and he is a ball hawk who amassed 7 interceptions last season. An incredible steal at this pick.
The Rams need help at the tackle position to protect Sam Bradford. Facing the defenses from Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona 6 times a year they’ll be looking to upgrade. Watson is large at 6’6″ and 320 pounds but he’s athletic as well having played D-I basketball. Something that is more common amongst tight ends in the NFL.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
A prototypical WR at 6’3″ he has a knack for finding space in coverage and working back to the ball to help his quarterback. Christian Ponder needs help, and a wide receiver with that skill set is valuable to an offense that relied almost solely on Adrian Peterson. He has great hands and is a dependable pass catcher who is also a threat with the ball in his hands.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
Arguably the best player on Georgia’s defense but I have him third coming off the board. That has more to do with team needs then his talent level. He missed the first four games of UGA’s season and still led the team in tackles, by thirteen. Great instincts, flies all over the field and can stretch from side line to sideline. He also has great ability to read the passer.
25. Seattle Seahawks – Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
The Seahawks feeling confident in their offense will bulk up their defense. They have great corners so the focus will be up front. Dion Jordan has slipped to this spot and Seattle will take the DE from the state just to the south. He’s more natural in 3-4 but in Seattle’s 4-3 he’ll fit in fine, just need to bulk up a little. He is 6’7″ 243 lbs, but bulking up shouldn’t be a problem.
26. Green Bay Packers – Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Early in the season there were rumblings that Jermichael Finley was on his way out of town. He had a strong second half and finished the season strong and the Packers could be looking to bring him back. But at $8.25 million he has a steep price tag, the Packers could look to the future of the position by bringing in Ertz.
27. Houston Texans – Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Williams has the potential to make an immediate impact. He has the speed to stretch the field and beat the defense over the top. He also can make tough plays along the sideline and beat you once the balls in his hand. It doesn’t hurt either that he’s an in state prospect. Andre Johnson has had to carry the load, the second leading receiver for the Texans is Owen Daniels, the tight end, and he had almost half the number of receptions of Johnson.
28. Denver Broncos – Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Watching Torrey Smith torch the Denver Broncos in the divisional rounds I think highlighted the fact that the Broncos need to move on from Champ Bailey and look to the future. This doesn’t mean they plan to cut ties with Bailey, but they need depth at this position. Rhodes can start immediately and specializes in jamming receivers at the line to disrupt the timing. He tackles well and takes smart risks in abandoning his route to make plays.
29. New England Patriots – Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida
Floyd led Florida’s defense in tackles for loss. He is a strong tackily and has the power to drive blockers, but he also has quickness for his size. He could be a great accompaniment beside Vince Wilfork on that line. The Patriots will benefit from that ability to drive blockers, crashing the pocket and making quarterbacks uncomfortable.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
The Falcons would rather get a guard or pass rusher in the first round, but with Ball still on the board and their ground game ranked 29th in the NFL, they’ll take him. Michael Turner had his worst season since joining the Falcons, and Ball could be a fresh face. He has a quick burst through the hole and can make defenders miss. Turner did have 10 touchdowns but Ball is no stranger to the end zone.
31. San Francisco 49ers – Sam Montgomery DE, LSU
Arguably LSU’s most effective defender and more productive than Mingo. He can fit in any system, and might do better in a 4-3 system but he can fit in just fine in the 3-4 opposite Justin Smith. As he’s bulked up he’s improved and with a strong defense around him be could fit in well.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
If you were unaware the Ravens are going to have a glaring hole in the middle of their defense after this season following the retirement of Ray Lewis. Minter can be that strong presence in the middle. While no one can replace Lewis, he can anticipate where the play is going and avoid blocks on his way to the ball.