16. Baltimore Ravens (Coin flip with Cowboys)
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
The Ravens have Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, but Evans could really improve this offense. He is the best in the class at winning at the catch point and is very adept at working back towards his quarterback. His yards after the catch are also an under discussed skill, since Evans takes many short screens for extended gains. Do not expect his short speed to be great in Baltimore, but you already knew that if you watched his tape. Don’t knock him twice for it.
17. Dallas Cowboys (Coin flip with Ravens)
DL Kony Ealy, Missouri
The Cowboys need to upgrade their defensive line, and I think the NFL likes Ealy more than where the consensus currently puts him. The Missouri defender can win with power and agility on the outside or move inside when necessary.
18. NY Jets
TE Eric Ebron, UNC
Jets fans will want a wide receiver, but hear me out with Ebron. First of all, he allows for personnel versatility, lining up inline or detached. Think of a Vernon Davis type athlete who has improved at the catch point. He is still growing his game, but Ebron can be a ridiculous prospect. He can take those Kellen Winslow or Jeff Cumberland targets and maximize them.
19. Miami Dolphins
T Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
#TeamTannehill. The Dolphins need offensive help, but unless Tannehill starts getting more time to stand and observe the coverage, the targets available do not matter. Kouandjio started the season a bit rough, but he has straightened it out since. There are flashes of waist bending and getting jolted on first contact, but Kouandjio can dominate with a strong grip.
20. Arizona Cardinals
T Taylor Lewan, Michigan
I like Lewan, but he has some deficiencies, specifically dropping his head on first contact or losing in that initial hand fight. Still he is an upgrade on what the Cardinals currently have. I would not be shocked if the Cardinals do take a QB early in this draft, though.
21. Green Bay Packers
DL Ra’Shede Hageman
This is not the best spot for the Packers. They need safety help and also value length at the corner positions. With Hageman, I see a player that can line up at any one of the spots in an odd man front. He has played a lot of one technique this season, and has contributed at three and five technique as well. His athleticism will be on display at the Combine. Finding consistency is the key.
22. San Diego Chargers
CB Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
I need to watch more of Gilbert from the season, since many quotes coming from NFL evaluators place him in the first-round. His game was not impressive in 2012. The Chargers need edge defenders, and Gilbert has improved in Oklahoma State’s more aggressive and physical defense this year.
23. Kansas City Chiefs
TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech
Tight end might not be a major need for the Chiefs, since draft twitter was a big fan of Travis Kelce, but the two can absolutely be on the field at the same time. Amaro is a very fluid mover that can be a mismatch with safeties, corners or linebackers. He is a willing blocker, but I wish his hands were a bit stronger at the catch point. Vernon Davis had a few very good seasons with Alex Smith.
24. New Orleans Saints
LB Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Rob Ryan uses his linebackers as thumpers, but Shazier could be paired with safety Kenny Vaccaro has versatile and rangy pieces to match up with the opposition’s personnel. Shazier has also displayed good instincts and physicality on blitzes in recent months. He is not Lavonte David, but Shazier is a very good prospect.
25. Philadelphia Eagles
CB Jason Verrett, TCU
Brandon Boykin wins in the slot, but Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams are two replaceable players on the outside. Verrett is physical and frequently forced the opposition to work away from his side of the field.
26. Cincinnati Bengals
DB Lamarcus Joyner, FSU
Am I crazy? Maybe, but with Leon Hall suffering another major injury and Terence Newman aging, Joyner could offer versatility needed in the Bengals’ defensive backfield. He wins at safety, in the box, or lining up in the slot to counter mismatches on offense. Yes, Joyner lacks ideal size, but he is very physical.
27. Cleveland Browns (via Colts)
WR Marqise Lee, USC
Reggie Wayne keeps popping into my head when watching Lee. There were lapses in concentration this season in the form of drops and injuries to boot, but he is so fluid and agile to create separation. Lee’s body control helps him create that sliver of space at the catch point, and he is smooth after the catch. He would be a great complement to the vertical ability that Josh Gordon presents.
28. San Francisco 49ers
WR Kelvin Benjamin, FSU
Anquan Boldin is a free agent, but there might not be a trio of receivers (Boldin, Crabtree, Davis) who win at the catch point better than these three. Add Benjamin to this list. The redshirt sophomore turns 23 in February, leading me to think he declares for May’s draft. He dropped passes at times this season, but really came into his own in the home stretch of the season. Benjamin does not have to be open to be open, and that skill is growing in importance in the NFL.
29. New England Patriots
DL Aaron Donald, Pitt
Sure, Donald is “undersized,” checking in at 6’0/290 pounds, but consistent interior disruption trumps everything. Donald has great length and wins from the one, three, and five techniques. I prefer Dominique Easley overall, but Donald has no health concerns and could really help the Patriots’ interior push. Chris jones played admirably, and I would not be surprised if he has a soft spot in Bill Belichick’s heart, but Donald is an immediate improvement.
30. Carolina Panthers
WR Jarvis Landry, LSU
The Panthers do not have a receiver on their roster that consistently wins in contested situations. Yes, including Steve Smith (at this point in his career). Cam Newton does not throw many jump ball targets, and it is worth asking if this is a chicken or the egg type situation, but Landry dominates in this area. He has seen time in the slot and outside, and along with offering strength after the catch, Landry is adept at finding soft areas in coverage or hauling in difficult grabs.
31. Denver Broncos
OL Zack Martin, Notre Dame
Peyton manning masks deficiencies on offense. If the team does not re-sign Eric Decker, receiver could be an option here, but a versatile offensive lineman is also an option. As is another edge pass rusher on the defensive side of the ball. I project Martin to guard, and although he does not possess the most athletic lower half, his upper body strength compensates for those deficiencies in tight spaces.
32. Seattle Seahawks
WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
The Seahawks want a big bodied receiver. Sidney Rice will likely be cut, and Matthews has posted countless catches where he climbed the ladder and hauled in extended grabs. I do wonder if a tight end like Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be of use in this spot.