NFL Draft: Front office analysis
1. Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
Most would say that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is the safest pick for the rebuilding Colts.
Despite some ridiculous public statements to the contrary, the Colts were always going to draft Luck. They simply wanted to make sure he had a solid pro day — he threw a 76-yarder into the wind — and that he passed the interview test.
Luck is a better athlete than Peyton Manning was coming out of Tennessee in 1998 and definitely has a better drop-back step. He needs work on his deep throws, but he has a photographic memory and he is very Manning-like when it comes to character and work ethic.
Luck could struggle because his college offensive line was comparatively better than what the Colts currently employ and he had a better power running game.
Give the kid credit that he never hesitated about being the first overall pick because the Redskins have a lot more playmakers to offer Robert Griffin III.
Luck could have pulled a John Elway, who refused to go to the Colts back in 1983. Kind of ironic, too, that Elway now employs Peyton Manning, the quarterback whose huge shadow will engulf Luck this season.
Many scouts believe that Luck can deal with the pressure and the comparisons. Colts still very much interested, too, in trying to trade pass-rusher Dwight Freeney and his $14 million salary this weekend for the right price. | Watch Recap
2. Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Both of these first two picks are fourth-year juniors and like Luck, Robert Griffin III had the smarts to get into Stanford. He’s no Ryan Leaf.
Bob McGinn, the highly-respected NFL reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, had a couple anonymous scouts saying that RG3 had a “selfish streak” and “doesn’t treat anybody good.” Those characterizations are in stark contrast to how RG3 was received at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February where he impressed both the national media and every coach and general manager who interviewed him.
NFL on FOX host Terry Bradshaw always told me that it’s hard for old, fat white scouts to properly judge any college quarterback.
“There is no doubt that he’s a confident kid, but isn’t that what you want in a quarterback?” one NFC general manager said.
RG3 has better arm action and is more accurate than Cam Newton was coming out of Auburn last season and he definitely throws a better deep ball. He can run (4.36 40-yard dash) like Michael Vick, but has a better grasp of the pro offense than Vick did entering the NFL.
The biggest knock on him is that he could struggle in the red zone, where he must learn to look off receivers and not use his legs and pull the ball down to run when deprived of his first and second throwing options. His athletic ability suits Mike Shanahan’s roll-out style of playing the position. | Watch recap
3. Browns (from Vikings): Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
The Browns have started eight different running backs since 1999 and their Madden Cover boy, Peyton Hillis, was cut loose after he lost his tough-guy image and preferred the locker room to playing on the field.
But Alabama’s Trent Richardson may be the best all-around running back to enter the league since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Of course, no one is saying Richardson is as good as him.
He is a power back (5-10, 227) with a shake and wiggle style in the open field. He helped himself with a 4.46 clocking in the 40-yard dash.
In his Alabama career, he averaged 5.8 yards a carry and scored 35 touchdowns. Nicknamed “The Beast,” Richardson is obviously a tough guy. Still, a minority of scouts believe he won’t be a true a game-changer.
Browns general manager Tom Heckert obviously views Richardson in a better light than that. After being unwilling to pull the trigger with the Rams to get Robert Griffin III, some believe that the Vikings faked out the Browns because there was no guarantee that the Bucs, perched at No. 5, really wanted to make this trade in order to get Richardson.
The Browns entered with 13 picks in this draft, but they surrendered three of them (118th, 139th and 211th overall) in order to move up one spot in this draft. Cleveland’s offense ranked 29th overall last season in a four-win season. No doubt this new running back should help Colt McCoy even if Jim Brown recently called him “ordinary.” | Watch recap
4. Vikings (from Browns): Matt Kalil, OT, Southern California
The Vikings have a lot of needs, but they also allowed 49 sacks last season so USC’s Matt Kalil makes total sense.
Christian Ponder, last year’s first-round selection, was sacked 30 times in 10 starts and was hurt, too, suffering a painful hip pointer. They have to be hoping that he’s as good as Joe Thomas, who was taken by Cleveland five years ago.
His stock had been dropping with a few teams and a few scouts have said that he’s not as physically tough as his brother, Panthers center Ryan Kalil.
Last season at USC, Kalil surrendered just three quarterback knockdowns, one QB hurry along with two sacks of Matt Barkley, next April’s first overall selection. Kalil is the Trojans’ 23rd offensive lineman drafted in the first or second round since 1979.
Kalil could be a 10-year pro and definitely has the work ethic to bust his butt to get better. Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has to be commended for getting his guy while also picking up three extra picks from the Browns. The Vikings now have 13 draft picks, including eight of the top 139. | Watch recap
5. Jaguars (from Bucs): Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
It’s nice to be the owner, right Shahid Khan?
Khan wanted Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, the two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best receiver in college football. There are some concerns because there has been a lack of quality production from Oklahoma State products such as Dez Bryant and Rashaun Woods.
He may not be as fast as Bryant, but he did score 40 touchdowns in 38 games played during his college career and he did convert 76 percent of his third-down receptions into first downs. He’s a very physical receiver with very good hands. Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff called him a “heck of a talent.”
However, some don’t think he’s as talented as last year’s two top receivers, A.J. Green and Julio Jones. This was a bold move for the Jaguars who need to find some playmakers to help Blaine Gabbert or whoever is the quarterback in Jacksonville this season. | Watch recap
6. Cowboys (from Rams): Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
A lot of people thought owner Jerry Jones wanted to trade up to make sure he would get Alabama safety Mark Barron, but this deal with the St. Louis Rams was too good to pass up.
The Cowboys jumped from No. 14 while just giving up tomorrow’s 45th overall pick in the second round.
The biggest knock against LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne was his 4 score in the 50-question Wonderlic test, but he does have a reading disability.
The consensus is that he’s a great kid who will be able to pick up the nuances of any NFL defense, including Rob Ryan’s. He came to LSU as a wide receiver and switched in 2009 to cornerback and started 26 of 33 games.
He has very good ball skills (11 interceptions and 12 passes defensed) but no one puts him in the class of a Deion Sanders or Charles Woodson. And he’s definitely not as talented as pot-smoking Janoris Jenkins. With the addition of Chiefs safety Brandon Carr via free agency, the Cowboys have really upgraded their secondary. | Watch recap
7. Buccaneers (from Jaguars): Mark Barron, S, Alabama
The Bucs allowed a franchise record 494 points last season and gave up 30 touchdown passes. This move proves that Alabama safety Mark Barron was moving up most teams’ draft boards.
He’s a perfect fit for the Bucs, who may now reconsider the idea of moving Ronde Barber to safety.
During the last week, Barron has been one of the fastest-rising players in the draft and Bucs general manager Mark Dominik had his eyes on him for more than a week. Barron is a classic in-the-box safety who can also align his teammates in the secondary.
Barron has been compared physically to recently retired Brian Dawkins, who was so integral when he played for the Eagles. Barron started 38 games at Alabama and did play some linebacker. He had 12 interceptions and finished with 237 tackles, eight for losses.
There is some question about his ability to play coverage in the deep middle. His recovery from double hernia surgery went so well that he didn’t have to return to Indianapolis this month for a medical re-check, which is the standard protocol for players who are injured at the time of the NFL Scouting Combine in February. This kid will be a leader immediately. | Watch recap
8. Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill has become a polarizing prospect because most teams believe he has been rated too high simply because of the position he plays.
He’s a converted receiver (112 receptions for 1,596 yards in two seasons) who started 19 games at quarterback for current Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman.
Yes, he has a lot of upside and has a live arm and decent size for the position, but he’s not a finished product. These days it is difficult to develop a quarterback in the NFL unless you play him right away. He did score a 34 on the Wonderlic test and proponents point out that his receivers dropped 64 passes.
Of the top three quarterbacks, Tannehill was blitzed the most (152 times compared to Luck’s 128 and Griffin’s 85). This was a definite need for the Dolphins, but many in the league still believe Tannehill is a big reach. But there wasn’t much that general manager Jeff Ireland could do with Peyton Manning rejecting them and Matt Flynn not a consideration. | Watch recap
9. Panthers: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly was the favorite of head coach Ron Rivera, who knows a thing or two about linebackers. Kuechly will allow Jon Beason to play on the outside; he’s that good.
The Panthers were 25th in the league in run defense last year.
One wacky thing about football is that the NCAA didn’t start recording tackles as an official statistic since 2000. Well, Kuechly had 532 tackles (36.5 for losses) to rank second all-time; he was the leading tackler the last two seasons at Boston College.
He is a classic middle linebacker who starred at Cincinnati’s St. Xavier High, but would also be an asset in a 3-4 scheme. He’s a tackling machine and has been compared favorably to Cowboys inside linebacker Sean Lee.
He’s very smart and also has the ability to drop into pass coverage. This pick was true value and a player that general manager Marty Hurney figured would be available. | Watch recap
10. Bills: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Stephon Gilmore is another third-year junior who left early because he knew he’d be a first-rounder. He started 40 games for Gamecocks and finished with eight interceptions and 17 passes broken up.
Most scouts say Gilmore, who has 4.4 speed, has tremendous upside and may end up being a better player than Dre Kirkpatrick, who still was available at this pick.
He has the long arms necessary to be an excellent press-cover cornerback. The Bills are switching to a 4-3 defense this season and needed a potential shut-down cornerback.
Gilmore was the player that the Lions coveted in this draft. Gilmore has few weaknesses and was a solid choice in this spot. Gilmore figures to start opposite Drayton Florence. This was a specific need for the Bills, who lack depth in the secondary. Second-year pro Aaron Williams will press Gilmore.
Depth is an issue given Terrence McGee’s injury history and Leodis McKelvin’s free-agent status in 2013. When you play against Tom Brady twice a year, the Bills need as many top-shelf cornerbacks that they can find. | Watch recap
11. Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
The Chiefs enter their fourth season with Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defense and they’ve yet to have a solid talent at the key position in the scheme. Well, now they do have a nose tackle in Dontari Poe out of Memphis. Granted, Poe was downgraded by some teams because he only generated 101 tackles (21.5 for losses) and five sacks in 35 games.
But on the flip side a lot of teams believe he is athletically the most-gifted nose tackle in the draft and that Memphis didn’t provide him with a lot of quality coaching. He rarely got knocked off the ball and effectively stonewalled double-teams.
Poe could prove to be a solid pass rusher in this scheme as well. In the last three years, the Chiefs have tried the likes of Ron Edwards, Shaun Smith, Kelly Gregg and Amon Gordon at nose tackle.
They drafted big man Jerrell Powe in the sixth round last year, but never got him on the field. Well, Poe fits the bill as a major space eater. The Chiefs, remember, allowed 132 rushing yards per game in 2011. Poe is a classic pick by general manager Scott Pioli. | Watch recap
12. Eagles (from Seahawks): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Fletcher Cox was the defensive lineman the Eagles wanted and that’s why they traded to make sure they didn’t lose him.
Cox, who is 6 feet 4, 300 pounds, said he was only given a second-round grade by the advisory board established by the NFL as a resource for underclassmen who are considering turning pro early.
After his pre-draft workouts, Cox became a surefire first-round pick because of his ability to be an inside defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Cox had 56 tackles and five sacks as a junior playing at both defensive tackle and end.
His flexibility is perfect for defensive line coach Jim Washburn. Cox also fills a need for the Eagles.
Yes, Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are a solid tackle tandem. But Jenkins is 31 and Patterson is coming off brain surgery that will keep him sidelined during these early camps.
Washburn likes to use a four-man rotation inside, and has two reliable backups in Derek Landri and big-body Antonio Dixon. But they needed a guy with the versatility to play inside and outside in different packages and Cox fits the bill perfectly. | Watch recap
13. Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
The Cardinals are rejoicing that Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd fell perfectly to them.
Floyd was perfect value here, too. Yes, the Cardinals need a defender or two, but there was really no one who fit their draft board like Floyd did.
Floyd is only the third Notre Dame wide receiver to be taken in the first round and only the second since Tim Brown. He rewrote the record books at the Golden Dome, catching 271 passes for 3,686 yards and 37 touchdowns.
At 6-3, 220 pounds, Floyd is a big target with a great first step and he’s also an above-average blocker. The majority of teams had him rated as a top-10 pick, especially in this pass-happy NFL climate. Floyd will take some heat off Larry Fitzgerald as long as somebody in Arizona can get these two players the ball. | Watch recap
14. Rams (from Cowboys): Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
Michael Brockers is the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the draft and would have been a top 10 pick next season at he stayed at LSU. He’s basically a third-year sophomore. Brockers is a solid young man (6-5, 320 pounds) with a bright future if he remains grounded.
He was an extremely hard worker for the Tigers and never disappeared in the big games. With three quality defensive ends, led by Chris Long, the Rams needed a defensive tackle to hold down the middle.
When everybody thought the Rams were going to end up with Justin Blackmon in order to help Sam Bradford, Brockers may be disappointing to the fans but it makes sense to coach Jeff Fisher.
The Rams need so much talent and they are stockpiling picks, adding the Cowboys 45th pick. This draft is extremely deep between Nos. 20 to Nos. 55 and the Rams will be making three more selections in that range, so they should be getting some quality talent tomorrow. | Watch recap
15. Seahawks (from Eagles): Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia
Bruce Irvin was dropped by a lot of teams because of his run-ins with law enforcement, including a March 18 arrest for destruction of property.
Irvin grew up in Atlanta and was homeless at times and never finished high school because of another arrest. He went to junior college before arriving in West Virginia.
But he may be the best pure edge rusher in the draft, considering he does have 4.45 speed for someone 6-3, 246 pounds. He had 22.5 sacks while only starting six of 26 games in college.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll believes in the kid and he also knows he needs him to stay clean and be ready to play this season. The Seahawks have a great young secondary, but they had only one pass rusher last season. But Chris Clemons (11 sacks) will turn 31 in October, plus they lost linebacker David Hawthorne, their leading tackler for the last three seasons, to the Saints in free agency.
Seattle had only 33 sacks as a team last season, so Irvin fills a need if he can stay out of jail. | Watch recap
16. New York Jets: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
It’s difficult to deny Jets coach Rex Ryan another pass rusher. And that’s what the Jets have in North Carolina’s Quinton Coples. He led the Tar Heels in tackles for loss (15.5) and sacks (7.5) while earning first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors last season.
In his career, he had 24 sacks and 40 1/2 tackles for losses. The 6-foot-6, 284-pound Coples has drawn comparisons to former Carolina standout Julius Peppers, who was drafted second overall by Carolina in 2002. Now, Coples is not Peppers, who is an athletic freak, and many scouts thought he glided through last season, protecting himself for the NFL.
But he does have a gifted first step and nobody at the Senior Bowl could block him.
“I’m not tired of hearing (the comparisons),” Coples said of Peppers. “I’ve looked up to him. I took some of his moves and put them in my game.”
A lot of people thought the Panthers were going to take Coples at the ninth spot because both Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney spent last weekend having dinner with him and his family in Chapel Hill. New York had other pressing needs, but this is a quality pick, considering some teams had him anywhere between 10-15 overall. | Watch recap
17. Bengals: (from Raiders): Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Well, the Carson Palmer trade has paid off. Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was one of the players that the Bengals had their eyes on and they feel good about drafting him.
They were looking for someone to replace Johnathan Joseph, who left for Houston via free agency when the lockout ended last year.
Considering that Jason Allen is on a two-year deal and Adam Jones and Terence Newman are on one-year contracts, there aren’t many young options to line up opposite Leon Hall, who is coming back from an Achilles injury.
Now, there are two big knocks on Kirkpatrick. He has short arms (30 5/8 inch) and he likes to freelance a lot, which never endeared him to Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Despite all that, he was always considered a first-round pick and most teams had him rated behind Morris Claiborne.
He has great hips, which allows him to turn freely in coverage. Another drawback was that he wasn’t challenged that much (three interceptions in 25 starts) in the Alabama defense. His best time in the 40-yard dash was 4.52. | Watch recap
18. Chargers: Melvin Ingram, DE, South Carolina
The Chargers had the NFL’s worst third-down defense last season, allowing opponents to convert 49.2 percent of the time.
They probably would have preferred a cornerback or a safety, but South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram was a steal in this spot. One scout said Ingram could play six different positions, but he should excel at strong outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Scouts, though, are concerned that he can't consistently beat a quality offensive tackle as a pass rusher. He did have 21.5 sacks at South Carolina, but he only started last season.
He split time at right defensive end as junior. Some scouts think he’s more of a tough guy than a pure outside rusher, the one drawback being his short arms (31.5).
“We’ve invested so much offensively in pro free agents, and I think there’s a commitment within the building to address the defense,” said Jimmy Raye, the Chargers' director of player personnel.
The Chargers aren't sure Larry English will be available this season and Ingram is definitely insurance at a needy position.
19. Bears: Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State
The Bears took Boise State defensive end Shea McClellin, the player most mock drafts had the Packers taking later in the round.
McClellin is a farm-tough kid from Caldwell, Idaho and he figures to be an edge rusher for the Bears. He started 38 games and had 20.5 sacks and another 33.5 stops for losses.
McClellin fashioned his play around former Patriots star Mike Vrabel. McClellin is a solid football player. He’s not particularly strong or fast, but he does make plays all over the field. Chicago had a need for a pass-rushing defensive end and they figure to use McClellin to fill this need. The Bears opted to pass on the offensive linemen that they seem to need.
20. Titans: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
Well, the Titans fooled everyone. Everyone had their needs as defensive end, cornerback or center. Well, they went for a playmaker in Baylor receiver Kendall Wright, who caught 302 passes for 4,004 yards and 30 touchdowns. I guess there are some concerns about Kenny Britt in Tennessee.
What’s interesting, too, is that Wright was in the news this week for supposedly being overweight (16 percent body fat), something he totally denied.
Tennessee scouting director C.O. Brocato said of Wright: “He’s not as fast as you want but he’s quick. I will say this — nobody catches him.”
Wright was timed in 4.5 seconds for the 40-yard dash. Wright, who once played basketball at Baylor, is pegged as a slot receiver. | Watch recap
21. Patriots (from Bengals): Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
Chandler Jones is a gangly pass rusher who may be better suited to be a defensive end rather than an outside pass rusher. Jones has the long arm (35 inches) to engage an offensive tackle and shed him.
Jones, whose older brother Arthur plays for the Ravens, started 28 games for Syracuse and finished with 10 sacks and had 27 tackles for losses.
He is strong enough to be a quality defensive end, which means he’s the ideal flexible player for Bill Belichick’s defense. Interestingly, most NFL people knew that Belichick had an interest in Jones, who has a basketball body.
Now some may think that the Patriots needed help in the secondary, but if they can get to the opposing quarterback then coverage isn’t such a big deal.
The Patriots really struggled in getting to the quarterback last season (36 sacks) and 20 of them came from Mark Anderson (now with the Bills) and Andre Carter, who is a free agent and not hearing from the front office. Carter missed the end of the season due to an injury. | Watch recap
22. Browns (from Falcons): Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
This was the compensation pick for helping the Falcons draft receiver Julio Jones last year and the Browns used it to do what some expected, drafting Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden.
And this means that Browns coach Pat Shurmur is definitely not sold on Colt McCoy.
The big knock on Weeden is that he turns 29 on Oct. 14, but he did tie RG3 last season with 44 “explosive” pass plays, according to STATS. He spent five years in the minor leagues as a baseball pitcher before giving up the sport and returning to football in 2007.
Weeden had a 23-3 record at Oklahoma State. Some scouts have compared him unfavorably to Chris Weinke, who was a bust with the Panthers. He didn’t have a very good Senior Bowl, either, finishing with two interceptions. Weeden is a leader and so training camp figures to be very interesting for the Browns. | Watch recap
23. Lions: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
After being unable to trade up for one of the draft’s top cornerbacks, the Lions kept their own pick to fill a serious need: an offensive lineman.
Riley Reiff is another in a long list of quality offensive linemen coached by Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz. Reiff came to Iowa as a 240-pound tight end after being a three-time high school wrestling champion from Parkston, SD.
Almost every scout said that Reiff is more athletic than Bryan Bulaga who was taken in the first round by the Packers in 2010. Reiff has the classic size of a left tackle at 6-foot-5 and 313 pounds.
He has very good feet and we all know that Matthew Stafford needs all the protection he can get. Detroit has three offensive line starters that are over 30 years old: center Dominic Raiola, 33; left tackle Jeff Backus, 35 in September; and right guard Stephen Peterman, 30.
Also, Backus is coming off a year that was bracketed by surgery — he suffered a torn pectoral before the season and a torn biceps in the playoff loss to the Saints. | Watch recap
24. Steelers: David DeCastro, G, Stanford
Leave it to the Steelers to land the best guard in the draft in Stanford’s David DeCastro.
The fourth-year junior made 39 starts, all at right guard. DeCastro was very impressive at the Scouting Combine. Whenever he was interviewed, he was able to go up to the white board and draw up the Stanford offense like he was quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” one head coach told me. “He drew up all of their favorite plays and explained what Luck was looking at on every play.”
Pittsburgh has a definite need at guard, considering starters Doug Legursky and Ramon Foster were both in and out of the lineup last season. They have little behind them. They’ve been going through guards faster than anything since Alan Faneca left in 2008. Chris Kemoeatu was released because he just wasn’t effective and had too many dumb penalties.
DeCastro is obviously very smart and tough and some scouts said that he pulls as well as anyone to come out in the last five seasons. | Watch recap
25. Patriots (from Broncos): Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
The Patriots made another trade in order to continue to improve their defense. Alabama’s Dont'a Hightower is a classic middle linebacker who also had enough ability that Nick Saban used him as an outside pass rusher on third-and-long.
Hightower can put his hand down, but isn’t considered a Clay Matthews type. Hightower started 42 of 44 games for Saban and probably is the best Mike linebacker in the draft.
Hightower suffered an ACL injury in 2009, but came back and played 2010 with a brace. He moves very well for a 265-pounder. Bill Belichick figures to optimize Hightower’s various talents and get him on the field this season.
If Hightower and Jones, the earlier pick, are as good as advertised, the Patriots had a very good opening night. | Watch recap
26. Texans: Whitney Mercilus, LB, Illinois
Eight of their last nine first-round picks have been on defense and the Texans didn’t disappoint, making it nine of their past 10 by taking Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus.
A lot of teams were concerned about Mercilus, and two GMs told me Thursday that he’s the most overrated player in the first round.
The belief is that he could be a one-year wonder, considering he led the NCAA with 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles last season.
The son of Haitian immigrants, Mercilus has never played in a two-point stance but some teams believe he can play end in a 4-3 scheme. He does have a good motor, but the choice is scary if he’s overrated.
Granted, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips never has enough outside linebackers to rush the passer. Last season was a perfect example.
After recording five sacks in the first five games, Mario Williams suffered a season-ending injury. With Williams gone, they need a third one to rotate with starters Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed. They found Reed in the second round, and he had a terrific rookie season with six sacks in 10 starts and another 3.5 in two playoff games. | Watch recap
27. Bengals: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin
Until Thursday night, the Bengals never had drafted a guard in the first round. The trivia answer is Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler, who was a three-year starter at right guard for the Badgers.
Now, he’s not as athletic as DeCastro, but Zeitler is considered to be a mauler and physically superior to DeCastro. Cincinnati did sign Travelle Wharton and Jacob Bell in free agency but right guard, where Bobbie Williams is a free agent, remains a concern.
It sounds like a perfect fit for the Bengals. If Zeitler is the bulldog that most scouts think he is, the Bengals had a great night. The guy you hear toasting this pick is quarterback Andy Dalton. | Watch recap
28. Packers: Nick Perry, DE, Southern California
Well, a pass rusher was the Packers’ biggest need and they are hoping they hit with USC’s Nick Perry.
The Packers were awful on defense last season, allowing 411.6 yards a game, including 299.8 yards in the air. A deficient pass rush precipitated numerous coverage breakdowns, which finally came back to bite the Packers in their abrupt exit from the playoffs after going 15-1 during the regular season.
Perry put on 20 pounds last year at USC and is now 270 pounds on a 6-foot-2 frame. He did run a 4.58 40-yard dash. Perry does have explosiveness and this was actually a value pick for general manager Ted Thompson, considering Perry wasn’t rated in the Top 20 with a lot of teams.
Perry had 21.5 sacks and another 29.5 tackles for losses. He’s from the inner city of Detroit, although some scouts have labeled him as a little soft. Time will tell with this pick. | Watch recap
29. Vikings (from Ravens): Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame
A cornerback might have been a better choice for the Vikings, but they made a trade with the Ravens to help their porous secondary with Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, the second-rated safety in the draft.
Smith was a four-year starter with the Irish, including one season at linebacker. Granted, Smith may struggle in deep coverage, but he did manage 10 interceptions in his career and he’s a heady player.
The Vikings have added bodies in free agency, but Zack Bowman and Chris Carr aren't going to solve the team's problem at cornerback in a division that faces Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Jay Cutler a combined six times a year.
It helps that Antoine Winfield is healthy again and that Chris Cook’s legal problems are behind him. But a premier young corner was still a bigger need.
30. 49ers: A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois
Sure, the 49ers signed Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and re-signed Ted Ginn Jr. — all of whom are deep-threat, outside-the-numbers wide receivers.
But the 49ers believed they needed another one and they shocked some drafting Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins over Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill.
In two seasons, Jenkins caught 167 passes for 2,432 yards and 19 touchdowns. Jenkins has 4.4 speed and definitely has sticky hands. He’s not a blocker, but he could develop into a solid No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in the San Francisco offensive. He needs to work on his strength, but he does have a lot of athletic ability. | Watch recap
31. Buccaneers (from Broncos through Patriots): Doug Martin, RB, Boise State
There was some talk that the Bucs were really after Alabama running back Trent Richardson earlier in the first round, but this trade with the Broncos gave them Doug Martin, the consensus second-best running back in the draft.
He’s the perfect change-up running back to LeGarrette Blount, the ultimate mauler.
Having played at Boise State, Martin understands the passing game (67 receptions) and is considering a solid all-around threat. He can be a kickoff returner and a special teams player, too. He even played three games as a nickel defender three years ago.
Although he’s only 5-foot-9, he is a powerful inside runner and some have compared his style of hitting a hole to Emmitt Smith. Martin did 28 repetitions of 225 pounds in the bench press at the Combine. This is a very solid pick, considering it is late in the draft. | Watch recap
32. New York Giants: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech
We must admit that Giants general manager Jerry Reese doesn’t miss a trick. Sensing a run on running backs, Reese tabbed Virgina Tech’s David Wilson with the last pick in the first round.
Remember, the Giants said goodbye to Brandon Jacobs, starter Ahmad Bradshaw remains bothered by his annual foot issue and Andre Brown is facing a four-game, league-imposed suspension.
That leaves the Giants with D.J. Ware and last year’s seventh-round pick Da'Rel Scott, so Wilson fills a definite need.
Wilson is 5 feet 9, 206 pounds and packs a wallop.
According to STATS, Wilson gained 990 yards last season after making contact with a defender, the best mark in the NCAA. He’s a tough, downhill runner. He finished with 18 touchdowns and he could be the perfect power back to supplement Bradshaw once he’s healthy again. Not as big as Jacobs, but might supply the same inside punch. | Watch recap