Xavier Rhodes

A clearer picture is being painted, as more information regarding teams’ interests, desires and draft boards is leaking. In this mock, I’ve included an “alternatives” section, that provides everyone with other prospects each team has reportedly shown interest in. Although every mock draft is pretty blind and random, I assure you that all of these picks are made for a reason. And a pick doesn’t make sense on the surface, it’s probably because I’ve heard too much inside league circles to ignore it. The draft is Thursday, so expect another mock or two, including the finalized mock with detailed explanations and all the rumors I’ve heard on draft day!

1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel (LT – Texas AM)

-From what I understand, even though the Chiefs just franchised LT Branden Albert, he supposedly has back problems. The Chiefs don’t view him as their franchise left tackle, often suggesting he can kick it inside to left guard. He doesn’t want to play LG or LT, so he’s likely getting traded to Miami. After cutting RT Eric Winston, all indications are that the Chiefs are going with a blindside protector with the first pick. Andy Reid has a history of drafting o-line early, and Joeckel is one of the premier players in this draft. There’s a lot of buzz about Eric Fisher going here, but I’m not buying it…yet.


2. Jacksonville Jaguars –Dion Jordan (OLB – Oregon) 

-I think the Jags will be very tempted to take QB Geno Smith or Eric Fisher here. The organization has very little confidence, if any, in Blaine Gabbert. The old regime drafted him, and everyone in the front office has been fired since. However, I think Jacksonville would be wise to take a signal caller later, and allow him to compete with Gabbert, developing him for the future. After recording 20 sacks last season (no player had more than 3.5), the team is desperate for pass rushers. Jordan immediately fills the “LEO” role for new head coach Gus Bradley, an important element in his 4-3 “over” defensive scheme he’s bringing over from Seattle features a strong weak-side rusher. Conventional wisdom could say that Jaguars have so many holes, including a major one at right tackle, they could go BPA. I envision Fisher and Jordan being the two highest players on their board, but Jordan is a bigger need. Even though LT Eugine Monroe is in a contract year, the Jaguars would be smart to use interest in Fisher as a smokescreen, as there are many tackle-needy teams near the top of the draft, and the Jags have expressed interest of trading down throughout the process.

-ALTERNATIVES: Eric Fisher, Geno Smith

3. Oakland Raiders – Sharriff Floyd (DT – UF)

If the season started today, the Raiders’ starting defensive tackles would be Vance Walker and Pat Sims. These are two guys that can be good reserves, but they aren’t starting material. The Raiders lost DE/DT Desmond Bryant, DE Matt Shaughnessy, DT Tommy Kelly and DT Richard Seymour in free agency, so this severely depleted the defensive line. I think Geno Smith is yet again an option here, as Matt Flynn is not the franchise QB some desperate Raiders fans may think. For now, they go with the safe option to solidify their run defense, but it’ll be very tough to pass on Dion Jordan.

-ALTERNATIVES: Dion Jordan, Geno Smith

4. Philadelphia Eagles – Eric Fisher (LT – Cent. Mich) 

-In somewhat of a surprise, I think Chip Kelly will push aside his defense and QB issues to grab who could be the draft’s top rated player. Michael Vick is 33 years old, and Nick Foles was drafted by Andy Reid to fit his particular west coast offense. New head coaches like get “their guy” at QB, and with the new trend of mobile quarterbacks, Geno Smith could be the guy to run Kelly’s read-based, spread variation offense. But I think he’ll prefer EJ Manuel in round 2 or 3. The defensive line needs work. They are weak at DE and NT. Star Lotulelei (if medically cleared) is a top 10 pick, and he could start from day one at nose tackle for the Eagles if the Jaguars or Raiders nab Smith. But I don’t think Chip Kelly will be able to pass on Fisher, knowing that Jason Peters missed all of last season and is 31. Peters reportedly looks good in practice, but Fisher can play RT immediately, shifting Todd Herremans to right guard, thus upgrading two positions on what would be a very improved o-line.

-ALTERNATIVES: Geno Smith, Star Lotulelei

5. Detroit Lions – Ziggy Ansah (DE – BYU)

We’re looking at a defensive end or an offensive tackle here. The Lions’ offensive line played well last season despite Stafford and the receivers’ struggles. But the unit has lost its starting LT, RT and RG this offseason. Last year’s first round pick, Reilly Reiff, is not ready to protect Stafford’s blindside for 600 drop backs next year, and the team views him as a RG in my opinion. Protecting Stafford is a MUST, but if Fisher is off the board, look for the Lions to draft a pass rusher after losing DE Cliff Avril. Seeing as Jim Schwartz coached the senior bowl, and Ansah dominated in the game (after struggling in practices), I think the Lions take a huge gamble here.

-ALTERNATIVES: Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson

6. Cleveland Browns – Geno Smith (QB – WVU)

The Browns are also a team on the rise, and they’ll surprise some people next season if they can get good QB play. The team didn’t choose to resign CB Sheldon Brown, so corner is a weakness here. Dee Milliner has openly expressed he would love to play for the Browns. OLB is an option here here, as I’ve heard the team doesn’t view Jabaal Sheard as a 3-4 fit, but the team just spent $40 million on OLB Paul Kruger. The Browns could absolutely trade back into the first round (or trade down with a tackle-needy teams who may want to move up for Lane Johnson) to acquire a quarterback of the future, but I don’t think the new regime wastes any time doing that with Smith on the board. I expect the Browns to trade down a few spots at most, and either Milliner or Smith will be there for them.

-ALTERNATIVES: Dee Milliner, Ziggy Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, TRADE DOWN

7. Arizona Cardinals – Chance Warmack (G – Bama) 

-Most would presume the tackle-needy Cardinals would run to the podium to grab the last premier tackle available, but Lane Johnson may be a little overrated by the media. And I think the Cardinals have faith in Levi Brown, who they just signed to an extension, and RT Bobbie Massie who they picked highly last year. Newly acquired Carson Palmer still has a little left in the tank, but he is one of the most immobile QBs in the NFL, and the Bruce Arians-led Cardinals are expected to be pass-happy because of Arians’ history and the lack of running game. These are all indications that o-line is a priority. It’s important to understand that head coach Bruce Arians has a history of favoring power-blocking maulers. Many assume Warmack is a can’t-miss prospect.

-ALTERNATIVES: Lane Johnson, Star Lotulelei

8. Buffalo Bills –  Ryan Nassib (QB – ‘Cuse)

I’m told the Bills are interested in Geno Smith, but don’t necessarily want to trade up for him. While many insiders are saying that Buffalo is extremely high on QB Ryan Nassib (head coach Doug Marrone’s QB at Syracuse), Terry Smith figures this could also be a perfect smokescreen. Either way, the Bills have openly acknowledged that they desperately need a franchise QB, so I don’t think they will waste any time getting one. I expect them to trade back into the first round to acquire Matt Barkley or Ryan Nassib. Ideally, they would utilize this pick on Tavon Austin, as I don’t think it’s smart dealing this pick because they can get one of those two QBs later. A pass rushing OLB is a secondary option.

-ALTERNATIVES: Matt Barkley, Barkevious Mingo, Ziggy Ansah, TRADE DOWN

9. New York Jets – Barkevious Mingo (OLB – LSU) 

Rex Ryan is desperate for pass rushers and releasing OLBs Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, and they better hope this raw prospect (whether it’s Ziggy Ansah or Keke Mingo) isn’t Vernon Golston version 2.0. I would imagine the Jets have Mingo higher on their boards than Ansah. But in my opinion, both players will probably be over-drafted. The Jets are said to be high on Tavon Austin, but if the Bills don’t take them, they can use the #13 overall pick they acquired from Tampa Bay for Darrelle Revis to draft Austin or a quarterback.


10. Tennessee Titans – Star Lotulelei (DT – Utah) 

The Titans already upgraded the team’s guard position by signing LG Andy Levitre to a MASSIVE contract. But he’s a LG and former o-lineman, head coach Mike Munchak has said someone on this team needs to guard JJ Watt twice a year. This could be an indication that Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper are legitimate options this early. However, guards don’t typically go this high, and their measurables aren’t off the chart. Seeing as the Titans actually have few weaknesses on the roster, but just need a talent-influx (and a new QB), I fully expect the Titans to go BPA here. Lotulelei is that guy. The Titans have solid DTs already on paper, but when you consider the Titans defensive line ranked 29th in run defense (Football Outsiders), and they play in a division with MJD and Arian Foster, it makes sense to grab the falling Star… 😉. Lotulelei could be someone teams have to account for, like Albert Haynesworth in his prime.

ALTERNATIVES: Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack, Jonathan Cooper

11. San Diego Chargers – Lane Johnson (LT – OK) 

The Chargers have quite a few needs, but the main concern here is getting Philip Rivers back to his successful ways. The Chargers lost both guards in free agency, as well as their left tackle (the big loss being RG Louis Vasquez to Denver). Jon Cooper is a workout warrior who is athletic enough to play in the new zone-blocking scheme the Chargers are slowly implementing. This makes him a better fit than Chance Warmack. But I expect the Chargers to trade up to a falling Lane Johnson if he makes it past the Cardinals. In the four games that LT Jared Gaither actually played in last season, Philip Rivers was MUCH better. LT Mike Harris was the NFL’s worst starter last season, and King Dunlap is not the answer. If the Chargers want any chance of competing, they have to protect Rivers.

-ALTERNATIVES: Jonathan Cooper

12. Miami Dolphins – Dee Milliner (CB – Bama)

Corner and tackle are the greatest needs on the team, as Richard Marshall is not a #2 CB at this stage in his career, and Jonathan Martin is certainly not ready to start at LT. That’s weak. The team has showed desire to trade up for the athletic Lane Johnson, which is perfect because the Dolphins are trying to add athleticism and mobility, at the expense of size, to their offensive line. However, with Tyson Clabo and Eric Winston still free agents, I think it would be smarter for the Dolphins to stay put, draft a corner, sign a strong RT and see how Martin plays at LT in 2013. Milliner is the best corner available in this year’s draft class, and I’m hearing the Fins are high on him.

-ALTERNATIVES: Ziggy Ansah, Lane Johnson, TRADE DOWN, DJ Fluker

13. New York Jets (from Tampa Bay in exchange for Darrelle Revis) –  Tavon Austin (WR – WVU)

With the rumors going around league circles that the Jets and division rival Bills, are the two teams most interested in Ryan Nassib, I think the Jets could reach for him here. What better way to spend a pick acquired by dealing your best player (and a top-5 player in the NFL, when healthy), than by drafting a potential franchise QB? You have to at least make it worthwhile. Rex Ryan knows he’s a lame-duck coach with Mark Sanchez as his QB. He also knows most coaches don’t get a second chance when it comes to draft franchise QBs. If Nassib proves worthy, it may be the only way Ryan keeps his job. But in this mock, he’s gone, and the Jets aren’t high on Matt Barkley like the Bills. However, If Geno Smith is here, I think he’s certainly the pick. The Jets need a playmaker on offense after losing Dustin Keller, and Santonio Holmes doesn’t really have a future with the team. Austin is a versatile, explosive player the Rams can use like a queen in chess to create matchup problems for opposing defenses.

-ALTERNATIVES: Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, Ryan Nassib, Star Lotulelei

14. Carolina Panthers – Sheldon Richardson (DT – Missou)

-The Panthers’ run defense has been a sieve for years. Steve Smith has personally vouched for the team to draft Richardson. And now that Steven Jackson and Doug Martin are in the division, it’s time to upgrade it. Richardson is a perfect fit at the 3-technique here, and I would assume this is a no-brainer (so it definitely WON’T happen). Other needs include right tackle, cornerback and a secondary need at wide receiver. The Panthers should narrow this pick down to Xavier Rhodes and Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is more of an immediate need, but there are a lot of great WRs to cover in the NFC South.

-ALTERNATIVES: Shariff Floyd, Xavier Rhodes, Menelik Watson, DJ Hayden, Cordarrelle Patterson

15. New Orleans Saints – Xavier Rhodes (CB – FSU)

There’s a lot of buzz that Carolina is extremely high on Xavier Rhodes, so this may not have a chance to happen. A pass rusher like Jarvis Jones or Tank Carradine could work here. They’ll be off some teams’ boards completely because of injury concerns, but they’ll also be top-10 on some. I think the Saints will be tempted. Left tackle is unquestionably a bigger need than OLB. The Saints’ franchise is Drew Brees, and you have to protect your franchise. Sean Payton knows this. The Saints are too pass-happy and Brees-relient to leave the position unaddressed. This is why the vacant LT spot on the depth chart reportedly keeps Payton up at night. There aren’t really any LTs in free agency, so unless there is a supreme talent on the board, I expect the Saints to trade down in attempt to acquire the second round pick we lost because of the bounty punishments. From what I’ve heard, the Saints are eyeing OLB Jamie Collins, and he’s rated extremely high on their board, but he’s a second rounder, and the Saints don’t have one, which makes me think a move-down is even more likely. It also makes me think that pass rusher isn’t the main priority. Rob Ryan has tried to revamp the cornerback position since he’s been here, placing an emphasis on physical bump-and-run style corners. He got Keenan Lewis, but he wasn’t satisfied after that, as he continued to pursue Nnamdi Asomugha hard despite the little cap room available. The team has soured on Patrick Robinson, and Jabari Greer’s play has declined. In a division with WRs Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steve Smith, you can never have enough corners. Xavier Rhodes and DJ Hayden are legitimate options here, and both would fit the team well. But it’s going to be awfully difficult to pass on guys like Tank Carradine (who I want the Saints to pick) and Jarvis Jones.

-ALTERNATIVES: Tank Carradine, DJ Hayden, Jarvis Jones, TRADE DOWN, Jamie Collins

16. St. Louis Rams – Kenny Vaccaro (FS – Texas)

After letting WR Danny Amendola walk in free agency, the Rams could use a pass catcher to help Brian Quick and Chris Givens get separation. Many people think the Rams also need a running back after Steven Jackson departed to Atlanta. However, the Rams believe in their younger running backs and receivers more than the general public does. They should spend one of their two first round picks on a receiver. The team is reportedly high on Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins. But knowing that Austin is gone, and the safety-needy Cowboys, Bengals and Bears pick in between their next two picks, I think the Rams will grab the top-rated safety on their board sooner than later.

-ALTERNATIVES: Tavon Austin, Jonathan Cyprien, Eric Reid, Cordarelle Patterson, DeAndre Hopkins

17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones (OLB – UGA)

The Steelers are desperate for a running back. The organization always seems to look for power-backs. Eddie Lacy could start from day one in a physical AFC North, as Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer can help shoulder the load on third down. Lacy may be the logical choice here, but I don’t think the Steelers are going that direction. This year’s RB class is actually very deep; they can get a back in the second round. PFF ranked the Steelers 32nd in pass rush last season as a team. The Steelers’ pass rush was atrocious last season, and that was WITH James Harrison. I find it truly difficult to fathom that Dick LeBeau, Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t be addressing that ASAP. And with a guy like Jones on the board, the Steelers could be charged for robbery if he can stay healthy.

-ALTERNATIVES: Tank Carradine

18. Dallas Cowboys –  Jonathan Cooper (OG – UNC)

-The Cowboys made a dreadfully stupid decision to pay tackle Doug Free so much money two seasons ago. He has struggled ever since, even at right tackle. The Cowboys need offensive line help, particularly on the right side with Free and RG Mackenzy Bernadeau. The Cowboys had ONE 100-yard rushing game last season. That’s pathetic. The team lost Felix Jones, and Demarco Murray is an injury waiting to happen, but the team has to find a way to run the ball next season to take some of pressure off Tony Romo. The Cowboys are reportedly high on G Chance Warmack, but a guy like Cooper and DJ Fluker could be the road-grader the team is looking for. If not, the Cowboys’ may choose to address an even bigger weakness: safety. They won’t be too pleased that the Rams took Kenny Vaccaro two picks ago.

-ALTERNATIVES: Kenny Vaccaro, DJ Fluker

19. New York Giants – DJ Fluker (RT – Bama) 

The Giants are reportedly extremely high on Chance Warmack, saying he’s the perfect fit for their system. There’s a need at guard to replace LG David Diehl. The Giants want to be able to run the ball after losing Ahmad Bradshaw. The G-Men would be very happy if Fluker, whose skills may even better utilized if he kicks it inside to guard, fell this far. I think the Giants will consider a linebacker like Manti Teo here, too. Teo seems to higher on the Giants’ board than most others, and linebacker is certainly a need. But the Giants rarely, if ever, draft linebackers highly.

-ALTERNATIVES: Chance Warmack (trade up), Manti Teo, Alec Ogletree

20. Chicago Bears – Arthur Brown (MLB – KSU)

Brown is one of my favorite players in the draft. I think he’s very underrated. I get a hunch he’s higher on most draft boards than the media knows at this point, and the Bears could absolutely use a middle linebacker to start the new era without Brian Urlacher. After watching and studying a lot of film cut-ups on the ILB class, Brown is by far my favorite of the group.The Bears could also use a safety here, and don’t rule out o-line help and a wide receiver. The Bears have been very quiet on the draft front this April.

-ALTERNATIVES: There are no alternatives.

21. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Cyprien (SS – FIU)

With Reggie Nelson commanding one safety spot, defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has a large hole at the other. Taylor Mays is not the answer, and Chris Crocker is a free agent. The Bengals need a hard-hitter in a physical AFC North division. However, the safety class is deep. I have a hard time envisioning the Bengals passing up a talent like Eddie Lacy. Lacy is powerful, athletic and deceptive fast for his bruising size. He’s a perfect fit for the Bengals, as even though the Bengals are a run-first team, BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly not a featured back, as he struggled last year despite solid o-line play. However, the Bengals may be smart to address the RB need in round 2, as this year’s RB class is deep. Safety is the most pressing need, and I’m hearing the Bengals are high on Cyprien and LSU’s Eric Reid. It’s worth noting that I assume the Bengals will be able to resign RT Andre Smith. If not, DJ Fluker is an option.

-ALTERNATIVES: Eric Reid, Eddie Lacy, DJ Fluker

22. St. Louis Rams – DeAndre Hopkins (WR – Clem)

The Rams have a major need at both safety positions. In the NFC West, stopping the run against Seattle and San Francisco is more essential than defending the pass, so it wouldn’t be shocking if the Rams selected a safety here if Cyprien or Matt Elam is available (especially if they pass on a safety with their first pick). But I think the Rams are too desperate at receiver to ignore it in the first round. Hopkins is a pure talent that should be ready to start immediately. He’ll help speedsters Chris Givens and TE Jared Cook get much needed separation, and the Rams passing game will be much more dangerous.

-ALTERNATIVES: Jon Cyprien, Eric Reid, Matt Elam

23. Minnesota Vikings – Cordarrelle Patterson (WR – TEN)

The Vikings may want to trade up to get Tavon Austin or Patterson. Percy Harvin was more of a playmaker than anything. Even though the team signed Greg Jennings, it’s not going to be easy to replace Harvin. Even though the Vikings are high on WR Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson hasn’t shown anything that makes the team comfortable with him as their #2 WR. Patterson is a raw route-runner that may take a few years to develop, but he’s lethal with the ball in his hands. Jennings is one of the game’s best route runners and could help Patterson refine his game, keeping defenses from stacking the box against Adrian Peterson. The Vikings have to find a way to keep up with the Lions, Bears and Packers’ prolific offenses. The team could also use a middle linebacker and a cornerback.

-ALTERNATIVES: DJ Hayden, Manti Teo

24. Indianapolis Colts – Sylvester Williams (DT – UNC)

The Colts need d-line help; DE and NT could both be upgraded. The team signed Ricky Jean-Francois to help, but Cory Redding is regressing and Josh Chapman isn’t ready to man the nose tackle position alone. Williams is a massive specimen with a quick first step that could provide a great push at the 5-technique. It’s extra important that the Colts address the defensive line because of the AFC South’s RB crew that features Chris Johnson, Arian Foster and MJD. This pick should definitely be on the defensive side of the ball.

-ALTERNATIVES: Desmond Trufant

25. Minnesota Vikings – Manti Teo (MLB – ND)

There may be no team more in need of a middle linebacker than the Vikings. The only question will be whether he has the coverage ability to play in a cover-2 base scheme. I think it’ll take some time for Teo to be a 3-down player. But the Vikings don’t seem like a team that would care about Teo’s baggage. Sometimes when the need is that great, it’s best to ignore it anyway. Head coach Leslie Frazer has strongly hinted the team will likely spend one of its first two picks on a MLB. GM Rick Spielman has a history of drafting Notre Dame players. I wouldn’t rule out a cornerback here, though, as the team doesn’t have much to work with in a division that features Brandon Marshall, Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb and Calvin Johnson.

-ALTERNATIVES: Desmond Trufant

26. Green Bay Packers – Eddie Lacy (RB – Bama)

To be honest, the Packers are one of two teams I haven’t heard anything about (the other is the Bears) throughout the draft process. They are being extremely secretive. The Packers under Ted Thompson have always drafted BPA in the first round, so it’s not like it’ll be easy to predict this pick anyway. It’s not GM Ted Thompson’s style to draft skill positions in the first round, even if the need for someone like RB Eddie Lacy is so pertinent. But the roster is pretty loaded, and as long as they can pay Aaron Rodgers, the future is bright. With DE Jerel Worthy expected to miss most of the 2013 season, Ryan Pickett being age 33, and BJ Raji in a contract year, so addressing the d-line with early picks seems necessary. However, there aren’t many guys here who would be rated higher on the Packers’ board than other positions, so this pick could come down to the BPA like Desmond Trufant, or a need like Eddie Lacy. In all likelihood, the Packers should trade down.

27. Houston Texans – Menelik Watson (LT – FSU) 

A lot of mockers have a wide receiver pegged here, especially because Andre Johnson wants an effective complement badly, but I think the team trusts Keyshawn Martin, Lestar Jean and mainly Devier Posey to develop. The team was shredded defensively after Brian Cushing went down. ILB Alec Ogletree is a supreme talent, but his recent DWI will cause him to fall down draft boards, as the Texans prefer high-character guys. WR and ILB can be addressed in the later rounds. For now, I think the Texans jump on the opportunity to draft a potential future Pro Bowler at right tackle. The athletic, quick-footed Watson would start immediately, and he’s a perfect fit for the Texans’ zone-blocking scheme. The Texans struggled all last season running right. It was noticeable in games that Foster did not trust the right side of his o-line, as weak options were shuffled in and out of the RG and RT positions. Since most teams deem Watson as a raw prospect at LT, this pick makes a lot more sense when they can plug him in at RT, the position he excelled at last year for FSU.

ALTERNATIVES: Justin Hunter, Tyler Eifert

28. Denver Broncos – Jonathan Franklin (RB – UCLA)

In my opinion, the Broncos need to draft the best pass rusher available. The Broncos desperately need to replace Elvis Dumervil. The team’s entire defensive line is stacked with run stuffers, so a pass rusher like Bjoern Werner or Tank Carradine would make a lot of sense here, and they would immediately be the best pass rushers (aside from Von Miller) on the roster. However, I haven’t heard any reports linking the Broncos to Werner, and I expect Carradine to be long-gone by this point (more on that later). The Broncos are reportedly very high on RBs Jonathan Franklin and Le’Veon Bell. Knowshown Moreno is simply not talented enough, Willis McGahee is deteriorating, and Ronnie Hillman is a change-of-pace, third down back at best. There’s no excuse for the Broncos not being able to run the ball with Peyton Manning, great weapons and a nice offensive line. This will complete the offense.

-ALTERNATIVES: Le’Veon Bell, Bjoern Werner

29. New England Patriots – Bjoern Werner (DE – FSU)

I don’t envision the Patriots going into the season with Danny Amendola and Donald Jones as their starting wide receivers, but I also don’t see the Patriots picking one in the first round. It doesn’t seem like Belichick’s style (Chad Jackson, anyone?). Rumors have been spreading around league circles that the Patriots are extremely high on this kid out CB Jamar Taylor out of Boise State. Similar to the Texans’ logic, if Denver is the main competition in the AFC, you can never have too many corners to cover those stacked 3-WR sets. Aqib Talib only signed a 1-year deal. This makes DJ Hayden or Desmond Trufant options if they fall. But I think the Pats go BPA here when they see Werner free-falling. The Patriots could use a pass rusher behind Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones. Teams that win a lot are smart to reserve their leads by drafting pass rushers, knowing opponents often throw against them late in games.

-ALTERNATIVES: Jamar Taylor, Desmond Trufant

30. Atlanta Falcons – DJ Hayden (CB – HOU) <Trade Up

 Drafting Tyler Eifert to replace Tony Gonazlez eventually is a nice idea, and he’s certainly due to be picked (probably even earlier than this), but the Falcons HAVE to go defense with this pick because they are a team that can win now. There are too many holes to fill on that side of the ball. Signing an age 32 Osi Umenyiora is not enough; the Falcons need more of a pass rush to get to quarterbacks in the pass-happy NFC South. The Falcons have been rumored to want to trade up. I think they are targeting a cornerback like Dee Milliner. But that’ll be too high of a price to pay. I expect the Falcons to trade up in the teens and get the next best option.

-ALTERNATIVES: Dee Milliner, Tyler Eifert, Desmond Trufant

31. San Francisco 49ers – Tank Carradine (DE – FSU) <Trade Up

-Just like Arthur Brown, Tank Carradine is a player I’m very high on but the rest of the media are not. He could be a steal if he recovers quickly from his torn ACL (this is a major reason he’s falling out of the first round in most mocks)… <I wrote that last week. But it seems the media have finally caught up, after Carradine just ran a 4.75 ’40 at his pro day, only seven months after his surgery. The 49ers’ main weakness is at FS, as they just lost Dashon Goldson. Craig Dahl is not a viable replacement. The 49ers have a whopping 13 draft picks this year; they can use them to trade up to get a player they highly covet, like Kenny Vaccaro or Carradine, I’ve heard both are high on the 49ers’ board, and trading up with a team like the Saints could be genius. The Niners could use Carradine as a OLB/DE hybrid.

-ALTERNATIVES: Kenny Vaccaro (trade up), Desmond Trufant, Jamar Taylor

32. Baltimore Ravens – Justin Hunter (WR – TENN)

Losing Anquan Boldin is a big loss for the Ravens, as he was a crucial element of the team’s late run last season. Baltimore has two speedy vertical threats at WR in Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, but they are going to be a lot easier to cover without Boldin threatening the defense with underneath, intermediate and crossing routes. Hunter is exactly the type of player the Ravens need. There is a lot of buzz that Hunter could be drafted in the top-25, as the media are finding out that he’s higher on team’s boards than previously presumed. The Ravens better hope Hunter passes the Texans. If not, drafting an ILB would be smart, as the recently arrested Rolando McClain is not the answer there.

-ALTERNATIVES: Kevin Minter, Keenan Allen

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Categories: The NFL Draft

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