17. Pittsburgh Steelers–Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State. Rhodes is one of the most physical corners to come along, thriving on using his length and strength. When I talked to a couple of Steelers folks in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, they didn’t shy away from saying they are looking hard at secondary players. I would put this as Kenny Vaccaro’s floor.
18. Dallas Cowboys–Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida. Dallas is making the big change to a 4-3 defense and they need linemen to make it work. Enter Floyd, a stout bull with a polished skill set inside. I strongly get the sense NFL teams like Floyd more than draftniks do, and this may be low for him.
19. New York Giants–Lane Johnson, T, Oklahoma. If you’re looking for a reason why the Giants fell off, look no further than their lines. GM Jerry Reese knows the lack of depth and power up front scuttles the run game. Johnson is still growing into the role but brings real nastiness and potential to be very good at either tackle position.
20. Chicago Bears–Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State. I would be incredibly confident about this pick if Lovie Smith was still the coach, but even with Marc Trestman running the show now it still makes sense. The Bears defense is very old and very thin in too many places for GM Phil Emery to ignore.
21. Cincinnati Bengals–Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina. I’m not sold at all that there will be a first round running back, but if there is going to be one the Bengals are a decent candidate. Bernard runs with compact explosion and does a good job manufacturing extra yards. I would like C. Patterson as a fit here too.
22. St. Louis Rams (from WAS)–Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia. His athleticism enabled Ogletree to lead a loaded Georgia defense in tackles despite missing four games, and the former safety has legit cover skills and range. He could make a versatile addition to a strong young Rams defense.
23. Minnesota Vikings–Matt Barkley, QB, USC. Total guess pick here, don’t read more into it than that. I do believe Barkley is a first round pick regardless of his ill-fated 2012 season, and the Vikings have to improve on the Ponder/Webb QB duo…right? A wideout is probably more likely.
24. Indianapolis Colts–Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia. Jones is a great wild card in this draft. Beyond the spinal stenosis condition or his advanced age (he’ll be a 24 year old rookie), he is wildly hit and miss on the field. His pass rushing impact is too great to ignore, and I think that convinces the Colts or some team higher than here to take the risk.
25. Seattle Seahawks–John Jenkins, DT, Georgia. When I asked Jenkins about who he likes to emulate during a Senior Bowl week conversation, he brought up an interesting name: Cortez Kennedy. Good choice of football role models. Seahawks fans with good memories would think so too.
26. Green Bay Packers–Kevin Minter, LB LSU. The Packers have issues up the gut of their defense at all three levels. Minter has the ability to step right in and captain the ship with his great instincts and sound, tough tackling. OL and RB will have to be considered as well.
27. Houston Texans–DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins, WR, Clemson. As soon as Hopkins declared I was immediately reminded of a caller to a sports radio show here in Houston who called Hopkins the perfect fit for the Texans a couple of days after their bowl game. I agree. I will be very surprised if GM Rick Smith doesn’t take a WR early.
28. Denver Broncos–Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State. Because Champ Bailey can’t play forever, and apparently forever begins now. Because Poyer is a great schematic fit. Because the Broncos need someone who is ready to roll in the NFL, and Poyer fits that bill too.
29. New England Patriots–Alex Okafor, DE, Texas. Okafor impressed with his blend of power and speed during Senior Bowl week, but he also showed the ability to quickly incorporate coaching tips. The Patriots thrive on smart football players like that. Okafor is scheme diverse should Belichick opt to change the defensive system once again.
30. Atlanta Falcons–Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU. During the All-Star game circuit I asked a Falcons staffer if he was looking for anything in particular. His response was simple: pass rushers. I do not believe the plurality of his words was a mistake. Montgomery has some knocks but he can rush the passer.
31. San Francisco 49ers–Jonathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State. Hankins is an enigmatic talent, at times worthy of a top 10 pick and at times giving the effort of a 5th rounder. Jim Harbaugh is the sort of confident coach who will believe he can maximize that talent and give the Niners a viable replacement for Justin Smith.
32. Baltimore Ravens–Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame. Insert Kekua joke here, but Te’o still being a first rounder is no joke. Be careful to not overreact to one terrible game when evaluating his skills. Ozzie Newsome knows value when he sees it, and Te’o has the physical profile to take over for Ray Lewis on the Super Bowl champs.