The Bengals have considerable needs at Guard, Defensive Back, and Runningback. Whichever of those needs hosts the best player on the board should be the position they select. However, because they have multiple first round selections, the Bengals can afford to select players with superior skill over players that fill needs if they so choose.
While the Bengals would like to add a play-maker on Offense, the need for Corner remains. The Bengals have a few starters on the team already, but there is no long-term solution. Stephon Gilmore is a little over-rated, but he’s the most clean Corner prospect in this draft. If ‘Dre Kirkpatrick is taken at 14, I don’t think the Bengals will wait to take Gilmore if they want him..
The San Diego Chargers have needs at Offensive Tackle, Guard, Rush Linebacker, Cornerback, and Safety. With Marcus McNeill’s recent departure from the team, there is a clear need on the Offensive Line. It’ll be interesting to see if the Chargers address that need in the first round.
Even though the Chargers resigned Luis Castillo to a one year deal, I don’t think that rules out a long-term upgrade at Defensive End. Michael Brockers has great upside and is already dominant against the run. A long-term answer to pair with Corey Liuget would be ideal.
The Chicago Bears have huge holes, and the majority of them come on offense. Although there is a need on their Offensive Line, there is considerably more talent in that group than either the Wide Receivers or the Tight Ends.
The Bears still have a need at Defensive End. Julius Peppers is Hall of Fame material, but they need someone opposite him. Whitney Mercilus is a little raw, but he makes plays in space and is the type of player that would fit in with Lovie Smith.
The Tennessee Titans have really attacked their needs in Free Agency. Potentially, the Titans could take a Wide Receiver, Center, or a Cornerback in the first round. The Titans have done a good job filling their needs.
The Titans have a bunch of players that can contribute to the middle of their defense next year, so Defensive Tackle isn’t a particularly big need. The same could be said with the Wide Receiver position. Kendall Wright could be a play maker on defense for the Titans during the Jake Locker era.
The Bengals have considerable needs at Guard, Defensive Back, and Runningback. Whichever of those needs hosts the best player on the board should be the position they select. As I said before, they can afford to stray from their positions of need if they so choose.
The Bengals signed Travelle Wharton, but the need for a starting Guard persists. Cordy Glenn is a prospect I really like, apparently more than most people do. Glenn projects to be a dominant starting caliber Guard, but could flex to tackle at some point if the Bengals need him to.
22. The Cleveland Browns (From ATL – 10-6) select:
Brandon Weeden | QB | Oklahoma State
The Cleveland Browns have significant needs all over, so there isn’t much of a point in me listing them. The Browns need to take the best players on the board at a position of need. One important question that will need to be answered is: How much does Cleveland like Brandon Weeden?
There are apparently sources around the league that are saying that you should put Brandon Weeden at this spot and lock him in. I’ll buy that. Regardless of who the Browns take at four, there is a big time need for a Quarterback. Keeping the Oklahoma State connection is just gravy.
23. The Detroit Lions (10-6) select:
Jonathan Martin | OT | Stanford
The Detroit Lions don’t have any huge needs, but several positions need to be addressed. Both Offensive Tackle positions and Running Back are the biggest needs on the Offensive side of the ball. On the Defensive side of the ball, it looks like either Cliff Avril or Stephon Tulloch will be leaving. If either leave, than their position will need to be filled. In the Secondary, they could certainly use to add talent regardless of who they retain.
The Lions need help in their Secondary, but there isn’t a real reason for them to reach for anyone here. Jonathan Martin is a finnesse Offensive Tackle that leaves a lot to be desired in the Running Game. With Detroit’s spread-pass offense, he’s a fantastic fit.
24. The Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) select:
Dont’a Hightower | LB | Alabama
The Steelers were burned in the playoffs because of their weak secondary. For years, the Steeler’s dominating play within the box, combined with Troy Polamalu’s incredible range, allowed the Steelers to coast with sub par corners. Polamalu has lost a step, and the Steelers need to make a long-term investment in their Secondary.
When the Steelers cut long-time Inside Linebacker James Farrior, many assumed that they would take Dont’a Hightower at this point. I’m tired of making a different pick. I don’t like Hightower and I think this would be drastically over-drafting him, but this pick is likely.
I had assumed that Peyton Manning was going to be a Bronco. They had made the unmatchable offer of assuring Peyton Manning, through John Elway, that he would be treated well, with a commitment to him long term. Although I folded and, for a while, assume Manning a Titan, it’s been announced that my initial thought was correct; Manning is a Bronco.
The Broncos need help at Defensive Tackle, and that is where everyone expects them to focus in the first round. With Jeff Saturday choosing to go to Green Bay instead of Denver, there remains a massive need at Center. JD Walton was one of the league’s worst lineman last year – and Peter Konz is an immediate improvement at a position that’s important for Peyton Manning.
The Houston Texans have three options in Round 1. Either they can choose to take the best Wide Receiver on the board to pair with Andre Johnson, they can take the best Defensive Lineman to continue to bolster their evolving defense, or they can trade the selection.
The Texans have players that could take over for their lost starters at Right Tackle, Inside Linebacker, Wide Receiver, and Tight End. There are players on the board they could take at any one of those positions, but Stephen Hill is the highest rated and carries the most upside.
The Patriots have huge needs on their Defensive Line. Neither Shaun Ellis or Kyle Love played particularly well last season. Mark Anderson and Andre Carter played well, but Anderson is a Free Agent and Carter suffered a gruesome injury that ended his season, and perhaps his career as well.
Shea McClellin is making a tremendous rise up boards. CBS Sports is saying that multiple teams are planning to select Shea in the First Round, one of those teams being New England. Shea’s relentless motor and his ability to drop into coverage makes him very unique in this draft class. The Patriots could use him as either a Defensive End or a Outside Linebacker; perhaps some of both.
28. The Green Bay Packers (15-1) select:
Dontari Poe | DL | Memphis
The Green Bay Packers have three considerable needs, and they’re all on their defense. They need to get help up front to replace the hole that Cullen Jenkins left behind over a year ago, they need to improve their pass-rushing ability on the outside, and they need to get help at Corner for a struggling Tramon Williams and an aging Charles Woodson.
After the Packers signed Jeff Saturday, they opened up their draft board just a little bit. The Packers signed Anthony Hargrove to add depth to their Defensive Line, so there is no position in need of an immediate starter. Dontari Poe is likely the best player on the Packer’s board at this point.
The Baltimore Ravens have a need at Inside Linebacker, and one would think they could fill that need in the first round. However, there are pretty good reasons why neither Dont’a Hightower or Vontaze Burfict will be taken in the first round.
Courtney Upshaw played Outside Linebacker for Nick Saban at Alabama and could be the Raven’s replacement for Jarret Johnson on the outside if the Raven’s don’t buy into Paul Kruger. The Ravens could go a variety of different ways, but Upshaw appears to be the most likely.
The San Francisco 49ers don’t have many needs, but one that is unarguable is Right Guard. Chilo Rachal and Adam Snyder split time at the position last year, and neither one did a very good job.
Amini Silatolu doesn’t represent value here, but he’s soaring up boards and he’s the only player that would start immediately for the 49ers. He is physically imposing on the inside and could help open throwing lanes for Alex Smith as well as running lanes for Frank Gore.
Patrick Chung is a fantastic player that really shines in every facet of the game. For my money, he’s one of the three best Safetys under 25 (Along eith Earl Thomas and Eric Berry) all of whom are trending toward Polamalu/Reed/Taylor territory. However, James Ihedigbo is not close to that level. He’s just not very good.
I love Harrison Smith. He’s not getting a ton of positive publicity, but I think coaches and GMs are really seeing Harrison as a first round Safety. He’s one of the best Cover Safeties in the draft to go along with solid play in the box.
In the Superbowl, the New York Giants lost both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum for the entire 2012-2013 season with career-threatening knee injuries. Before the game, Inside Linebacker was the team’s biggest need, but Tight End has to be now; but the Draft is very limited in terms of Tight Ends.
I really want to mock Coby Fleener here, but the Giants don’t value the Tight End position enough to take him here. Because of that, I mocked them the best player on the board at a position they do value: Offensive Tackle. Mike Adams has the chance to be an elite-level Left Tackle, but he doesn’t have the effort to go with it.