17. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarvis Jones OLB/ Georgia – The National Football Post reported Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones’ neck injury is “starting to look like it might be a non-factor on draft day,” and “there is little chance he falls out of the top ten.” Teams like the Steelers, who run like a well-oiled machine year in and year out are the type of franchise that are encouraged by taking a chance on a guy like Jones. Where so many other teams will pass on him due to his medical red flags, the Steelers, will do their due diligence to find him healthy and a heck of a football player. The release of James Harrison also makes this move more likely.
18. Dallas Cowboys –. Kenny Vaccaro, S/Texas – Dallas let Gerald Sensabaugh walk this off season and only have Barry Church coming back off an Achilles injury. The need for a safety has to be a priority for the Cowboys. Vaccaro is a top 12 talent that falls to the Cowboys because of team need. If he gets past the Rams, Dallas will jump at the opportunity.
19. New York Giants – Bjoern Werner DE/ Florida State – GM Jerry Reece has an affinity for pass rushers, and with Osi Umenyiora leaving to Atlanta in free agency the need to draft a guy like Werner increases. Werner had been suggested as a top 10 pick before his poor combine performance. He can play both OLB and DE much in the same mold as Mathius Kiwanuka and is still very new to the game after only starting to play football at the age of 15. Jason Pierre Paul didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school, and if the Giants could find another player of his caliber, the defense would again put the rest of the NFL on notice.
20. Chicago Bears – Tyler Eifert, TE/ Notre Dame – In my last draft I had mentioned that I wouldn’t rule out the Bears as a potential landing spot for Eifert. Well after more reading, I understand new HC Mark Trestman likes to run a 2 TE set in his offense often, and that was the key to this pick. Martellus Bennet just signed with Chicago, but having Eifert on the opposite side would give Jay Cutler 2 safety nets, when his offensive line fails him again and again. Offensively, Eifert is a beast. At 6’5” 250lbs. he’s a massive target with great hands. His only trouble is blocking. He ran a 4.68 40 time at the combine and it’s been suggested on other mock drafts that he could go as early as the Dolphins. If there is one of the top 7 offensive lineman still available at this point Eifert should be an after-thought considering how often Jay Culter gets rushed out of the pocket. The likelihood of that happening seems to lessen the closer we get to draft day.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Eddie Lacy, RB/ Alabama – For a while now I’ve had the Bengals taking Georgia ILB Alec Ogltree. Then I read NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says he is “scared to death” of Georgia LB Alec Ogletree as a first-round pick due both to off- and on-field concerns. With that being said I don’t think the top brass in Cincy is looking to add another Pacman Jones type of mentality to their roster. Other than LB, RB is a pressing concern. Lacy proved he was the top back worthy of a 1st round pick, having totaled 1,046 yards and 17 touchdowns in 7 games last year.
22. St. Louis Rams (Via Redskins) – Matt Elam, S/Florida – At 5’9”, Elam’s size is a major concern for NFL teams looking to draft him since he will be the last line of defense against the Gronks and Calvin Johnsons on the league. He was asked to cover slot receivers at Florida so he has shown his ability to cover well, and he’s also known for laying a hit. St. Louis has many needs, safety being one of the most prevalent. The Rams should send Robert Griffin a thank you card for this one.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Datone Jones, DE/ UCLA – In the first of their 2 picks the Vikings will give the Williams wall a little help at DE. Jones ran a 4.80 official forty at the Combine and was a top-five performer among defensive linemen in the 20-yard shuttle (4.32). Gil Brandt of CBS believes Jones is more of a fit as a DE in a 4-3 which would fit the Vikings Scheme and would put another scary pass rusher on the opposite side of Jared Allen.
24. Indianapolis Colts – Xavier Rhodes, CB/ Florida State – If Tampa does not make a trade for Derrelle Revis; Rhodes may be snatched up at 13. Rhodes is also revered by the Dolphins. Their loss of Jake Long will keep them from drafting Rhodes at 12. NFL Network Draft analyst Mike Mayock lists Rhodes as a 2nd round selection, but I think you need consider him at the end of the first. The Colts need help in the secondary and Rhodes, a high school WR, RB and DB, is considered to be a potential shutdown corner at the next level.
25. – Minnesota Vikings (Via Seahawks) – Alec Ogletree, ILB/Georgia – Coach Leslie Frazier strongly hinted that the Vikings may use one of their first-round picks on a middle linebacker, and it should be between Ogletree, LSU ILB Kevin Minter, and Notre ‘ Manti T’eo. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock says he is “scared to death” of Georgia LB Alec Ogletree as a first-round pick due both to off- and on-field concerns, but the need for a linebacker is too high for the Vikings to not take the chance that Mayock is wrong.
26. Green Bay Packers – Barkevious Mingo, DE/LSU – Mingo possesses the frame at 6-5, 240 pounds and athleticism to warrant top 10 considerations. He had a great combine as expected from the athletically gifted DE/OLB. He ran the 40 time in 4.58 which was incredibly fast, and his ten yard splits were also very good which is used to gain short yardage burst. A skill needed at the OLB or DE position in the NFL. I am scared of only two players in this draft, and Mingo is one of them, Alec Ogletree is the other. Mingo has so much of a workout warrior look to him and I think of former NY Jets draft bust Vernon Gholston every time.
27. Houston Texans – Keenan Allen, WR/ Cal – Allen was unable to participate at the combine. He then ran very slow 40 times at his Cal pro day of 4.71 and 4.75. The news only gets worse as it seems Keenan also failed a drug test at the combine and the red flags are starting to blanket Allen’s hope of being a top pick in the draft. Houston needs a legitimate weapon on the other side of Andre Johnson before Johnson fades from being an elite wide receiver.
28. Denver Broncos – Damontre Moore, DE/ Texas A&M – Moore has tumbled from top 5 to 28 post combine and Adam Schefter reported that the combine “validated whispers” among NFL scouts who were all along unimpressed by his athleticism. Denver will be looking for a replacement for Elvis Dumervil who recently signed with Baltimore. This also re-unites Moore with former teammate Von Miller which could certainly help keep Da-monster inline during his rookie campaign.
29. New England Patriots – Desmond Trufant, CB/ Washington – The Patriots may be the most difficult team to read in the draft simply because you never quite know what they are really thinking. Between the tight lipped mentality of the team and its employees, to Bill Belichick and his ability to avoid answering anything the press asks him. All you can do is analyze the roster and take a shot at it. With Aqib Talib making such an impact for the Pats last season, and the emergence of Alfonso Dennard, there is no certainty to this selection. CBS Sports Draft analyst Gil Brandt was at Truants’ pro day and suggested that his workout was enough to solidify his status as a first round selection.
30. Atlanta Falcons – Sam Montgomery, DE/LSU –John Abraham hasn’t decided where he will sign, which makes the need for a replacement still an issue. Montgomery will be under a lot of scrutiny wherever he lands. In his Combine media interview, Sam admitted to betting in college and taking games — not plays — games off when the Tigers faced lesser opponents. YEESH! Hopefully some of the veteran players can get his head out of his you know what!
31. San Francisco 49ers – Zach Ertz, TE/Stanford – With the departure of Delanie Walker the 49ers need a substitute for their 2 TE sets. Colin Kaepernick needs the keep with the same offensive sets to make the pistol offense as effective as we saw it in 2013. Ertz is a poor blocker and will struggle at time at the next level, but his hands are that of a possession WR. San Fran could also be looking at the DT position.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, ILB/LSU – Minter has been compared to Jets LB David Harris. Harris has 22.5 sacks in 6 seasons with the Jets, so to be honest; I think Baltimore would be thinking bigger than those numbers. With Ray Lewis retiring, there is an obvious need to find a tackling machine. Minter has a lot to prove to be even in the same breath as Lewis, but he is instinctive and physical. Minter was the most dependable player on an LSU defense chock-full of prospective NFL talent. The Bengals should have Minter high on their board as well, so he may be long gone by this time.