The Bengals continue to do the right thing come draft time and pick up a big-time play-maker to take coverage away from star wideout A.J. Green. Wright has the capability to develop into as good of a slot receiver as the Giants’ Victor Cruz. This selection will give the Bengals a lethal duo for second-year QB Andy Dalton to work with.
18. San Diego Chargers–Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College
Kuechly falls here due to lack of need and value in drafting at the ILB position, but he is too much for the Chargers to pass up on. Hecould compete with 35-year old Takeo Spikes and 2010 3rd rounder Donald Butler for playing time in 2012, before taking over in 2013.
19. Chicago Bears–Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
The Bears need help in both trenches, but must keep QB Jay Cutler protected after losing him to injury in 2011. Martin does not possess great strength, but plays with a tenacity that cannot be taught. Martin’s ability to move well also match OC Mike Tice’s zone-based offense.
20. Tennessee Titans–Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Not only are the Titans getting great value here with Gilmore, who I have ranked as the Draft’s 10th best prospect, but they are also filling one of their biggest needs. Gilmore has a higher ceiling than fellow CB prospect Morris Claiborne, but also will take more time to become an elite player.
21. Cincinnati Bengals–Doug Martin, RB, Boise St.
Although the team picked up BenJarvus Green-Ellis to help replace free-agent Cedric Benson, he is not a long term solution. Martin is a very underrated player who does not have a hole in his game. He can run between the tackles, pass protect, and is a threat in the passing game. He would give the Bengals one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses.
After picking up RB Trent Richardson with the 4th overall pick, the Browns will not pass up the opportunity to add a game-changing receiver here. You could easily substitute in Stephen Hill for this pick dependent on what the Browns think of Jeffery. He is my highest ranked receiver so he gets the nod in this mock.
23. Detroit Lions–Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Lions have two needs: the offensive line and defensive backs. Although I am not as high on Kirkpatrick as most, I think he could end up being the best player available (BPA) on their board. Kirkpatrick fits in the Lions’ press zone scheme and can help replace the departed Eric Wright.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers–Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
This pick is really tough to project. The Steelers do not have any glaring needs but could stand to upgrade the offensive line, defensive line, inside linebacker, and cornerback positions. Current NT Casey Hampton is not the player he once was and Poe could spend a year learning behind the veteran before taking over in 2013.
25. Denver Broncos–Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia
After missing out on the only defensive tackles worthy of a selection here the Broncos shore up a surprisingly poor interior offensive line. Glenn is a mountain of a man and could replace the ineffective Zane Beadles. Look for the Broncos to address defensive tackle in the second round with the position being so deep.
26. Houston Texans–Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech
When Andre Johnson went down with a hamstring injury in early October the Texans’ passing game took a big step back. It is also hard to believe the star wide receiver will already be 31-years old at the start of the season. Hill can be groomed under his wing and provide much needed help by drawing safeties deep.
27. New England Patriots–Nick Perry, DE/OLB, USC
Perry is a player I am very high on and a steal for New England at 27. He brings versatility as a pass rushing OLB or DE depending on what front the Patriots are in. Losing Mark Anderson in free agency leaves a hole that the Patriots should fill with a talent like Perry.
“But the Packers already have a great tight end in Jermichael Finley!”. I realize this to be the case, but Finley essentially signed a one-year contract with the team and Aaron Rodgers can never have enough weapons. The Packers have shown a propensity to draft BPA and Fleener fits that mold. They can focus on finding an OLB to compliment Clay Mathews in later rounds.
29. Baltimore Ravens–Dont’a Hightower, ILB, Alabama
Need based projections say Peter Konz should be the pick, but Hightower is too much of a talent for GM Ozzie Newsome to pass on. He fits perfectly for what the Ravens expect both in terms of a player and a leader at inside linebacker. Ray Lewis will love playing alongside Hightower before handing him the reins when he decides to hang up his cleats.
30. San Francisco 49ers–Kelechi Osemele, OG, Iowa St.
There is no need for the Niners to reach for a WR like Reuben Randle here after missing out on Alshon Jeffery and Stephen Hill. I would not consider Osemele to be a reach at this point and he would fill a need at guard. Amini Silatolu is a sleeper guard prospect to look out for here.
31. New England Patriots–Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
What are the odds New England keeps both of their first round picks? Probably not a likely scenario, but I am not in the business of projecting trades. After addressing their lack of pass rushers at 27 look for the Patriots to bolster their front line with a player like Worthy who could play DE in a 3-4 or 3-tech in a 4-3. A sleeper to look out for is Montana CB Trumaine Johnson.
32. New York Giants–Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska
After missing out on Fleener expect the Giants to take BPA. Drafting David would allow the Giants to move Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end full-time, and also allow for the team to trade embattled end Osi Umenyiora. Although it is said a defensive end is never out of the question for the Giants I think they pass on Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus at this point.