23. Detroit Lions
CB – South Carolina
The Lions defense needs some serious help and their secondary in particular could use some upgrading. Janoris Jenkins is an option here too, but between the drama around Ndamukong Suh and his “stomp” and head coach Jim Schwartz’s “blow up” with Jim Harbaugh last season I’m not sure they want to draft another “bad boy” in the first round. Besides, Gilmore has been coming on strong lately with some analysts even listing him as their #2 CB behind Clairborne.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
ILB – Alabama
The Steelers cut long time ILB James Farrior so they have an opening in their starting line up. Hightower would be a great selection to carry on their long tradition of great LBs. Hightower is big at 265 pounds and would definitely help in the run game, but he still moves incredibly well for a guy his size and is not a liability in coverage. Hightower would be the 5th pick from Alabama in the first 24 picks of the draft!
25. Denver Broncos
DT – LSU
Denver would probably like to get some more help for Peyton Manning here, but if Denver doesn’t find itself some DTs then Manning will never see the field because teams will just run right up the gut on them all day long. Brockers is still pretty raw but does have tremendous upside. I think Devon Still would be another good fit here as well.
26. Houston Texans
WR – Georgia Tech
Hill has some questions about his consistency, but he’s worth the risk for the Texans. When you put a 6’4″ WR that runs the 40 in under 4.4 seconds across from Andre Johnson AND have the #1 rushing attack in the league you make it almost impossible for defenses to stop you. Matt Schaub should be licking his chops.
The only real pass rush for the Pats last season was Andre Carter and he’s currently unsigned while recovering from an injury. The only real question here is if the Pats like Mercilus or USC’s Nick Perry more. Either one would be able to step in and apply pressure from day one. I went with Mercilus here who was arguably college football’s best pass rusher last season.
28. Green Bay Packers
DE/OLB – USC
The Packers had almost no pass rush besides Clay Matthews last season so they are happy to take whichever pass rusher NE passes on. Pairing Perry with his fellow USC alumni Matthews would give the Pack a scary one-two punch to rush the passer with. They may also consider someone like Devon Still to help stop the run up front.
29. Baltimore Ravens
C – Wisconsin
Matt Birk may not be retiring but he’s on his last legs at this point and Konz is the best C in the draft hands down. Konz would be a good value for the Ravens here. They may even play Konz at OG for one year to replace the departed Ben Grubbs. If they don’t feel like Konz could play guard they may have to reach on someone like Iowa State’s Kelechi Osemele to fill his spot.
30. San Francisco 49ers
DT – Penn State
As you go up and down the 49ers roster its hard to find any glaring holes. After last season WR was probably the top need but the Niners have since added both Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The lack of any major need allows them to take the best player available which is Still. Still is a stout player that finds a way to make plays in the backfield and would help SF to continue their defensive dominance.
31. New England Patriots
CB – Northern Alabama
Jenkins has all the ability in the world. The question is more about what’s going on between the ears. The Pats need secondary help and when you have a Tom Brady led offense and Bill Belichick as your coach you can take a chance on a guy like Jenkins. Adding both Mercilus and Jenkins in the first round would greatly improve their defense from last season.
32. New York Giants
TE – Stanford
The way the Patriots were able to attack teams with their use of the TE position this last season combined with Fleener’s strong workout performances could actually push him farther up into the first round if there is a team out there looking for a difference making TE. Fleener would give Eli Manning the best offensive weapon he’s had at TE since Jeremy Shockey was in his prime. The Giants may also look to replace Brandon Jacobs with this pick.