17. Pittsburgh Steelers,
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas–Pittsburgh is very old and fragile at safety, but what makes Vaccaro even more attractive here is that he has the cover ability to line up in the slot. He disappointed a lot of people by not attending Senior Bowl week, choosing to let his play speak for itself. The Steelers were not shy about watching the safeties in Mobile.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU–Long term potential with Ansah is the gamble, but there is enough freak speed and length to make a couple of impact plays a game right away. He would make good insurance for a free agency departure of Anthony Spencer and eventual replacement for Demarcus Ware.
19. New York Giants
Tyler Ertz, TE, Stanford–I feel strongly that Ertz will be the first TE drafted and anyone that wants him will be intimidated enough by the TE-desperate Bears picking next to move and get him here. This is more of a player/slot pick than a team/player pick.
20. Chicago Bears
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State–Brown pulled out of the Senior Bowl with an injury but showed his intelligence and dedication by sticking around and being part of the team even though he couldn’t participate. His lack of height is the only real issue anyone can find, but the league is trending in his favor.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee–The first wide receiver comes off the board to be the second receiver in Cincinnati, which desperately needs a complementary threat to AJ Green. Patterson is a classic high-risk/reward talent; he’ll either be changing NFL games or the oil in your used Nissan in 4 years.
22. St. Louis Rams (from WAS)
DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins, WR, Clemson–This is the playmaker the Rams offense needs to put a scare into defenses. Nuke is electric with the ball in his hands and is a more polished receiver than I expected when I reviewed some Clemson film.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Keenan Allen, WR, California–Allen has gone forgotten a bit thanks to his injury but if you watch Cal tape, he’s quite literally always open. The Vikings need someone who can get reliably open, catch, and create.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia–Ogletree brings closing speed and ranginess to the defense, and he has the ability to play inside or outside in Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 look. He is another high risk/reward talent with too much upside to fall out of the first round.
25. Seattle Seahawks
DJ Fluker, T, Alabama–The goliath is one of the most proficient, nastiest run blockers to hit the NFL in years. His deficiencies in pass protection are mitigated in Seattle thanks to Russell Wilson’s mobility and creativity.
26. Green Bay Packers
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia–Jenkins had an interesting Senior Bowl week. He looked very sloppy at weigh-ins but is surprisingly fast and agile for a legitimately fat man. Jenkins would make a dangerous pass rushing option as a nose or 3-technique in Dom Capers’ ever-changing defensive fronts.
27. Houston Texans
Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia–The Texans learned the hard way late in the year that Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster are not enough to beat good teams; they need a playmaker in the slot. Austin’s excellent quickness and versatility make him a great fit in Houston, though this might be a little high to take him.
28. Denver Broncos
Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State–When he’s duly motivated Hankins is the best defensive tackle in this draft, a gap-crashing behemoth with cat-like quickness. John Fox had a lot of success with a similarly motor-challenged talent in Julius Peppers and will believe he can with Hankins too.
29. New England Patriots
Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina–He’s on the lighter side for a guard but Cooper is as technically sound as they come and doesn’t lack strength.
30. Atlanta Falcons
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU–Because John Abraham cannot play forever. Because no one else on the roster is capable of more than 6 sacks. Because Montgomery is a better all-around player than credited.
31. Baltimore Ravens
Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia–I’m of the strong belief that his neck issue and age (he’ll be 24 in October) will cause him to drop a lot further than what his havoc-wreaking pass rushing at Georgia would portend.
32. San Francisco 49ers
Alex Okafor, DE, Texas–One of the big winners of Senior Bowl week, Okafor showed explosive power and better-than-expected use of his length all week. There is room on his frame to add more bulk and fill the 5-technique hole facing the Niners, who do not have a DL under contract beyond next season.