22. Cleveland (From ATL) (Swag): Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor - So Colt McCoy needs a playmaker? Here’s your playmaker. I think the Browns could open up the field a lot more along with their playbook, there could be a lot of new plays designed for their two new weapons in Wright and Trent Richardson. McCoy should be grinning ear-to-ear with the way this draft has gone for the Browns. Browns nail two need areas with two big playmakers.
TSB commentary: McCoy would have no more excuses with Richardson, Wright, and Greg Little at his disposal. Love the fit and the pick.
23. Detroit (TSB): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina - Coples came into the season as a top-5 prospect. If this happens, the Lions will be working with a defensive line that consists of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril (franchised), Nick Fairley, Ndamukong Suh, and Coples. Holy bejesus. Teams are getting wise to the fact that you need to stop the passing game to win in this league. There are two ways to do that: attack the quarterback or load up the secondary. The Lions will focus on the former.
|This guy might be in the green room longer than most expect|
Swag commentary: I don’t play quarterback in the NFC North or in real life at all for that matter and this still scares me. The Lions will have no excuse not to get pressure on the QB here. If they can rotate these guys and keep them fresh, they’ll be going 100mph all game long and in the 4th quarter that can make a huge difference in the outcome of close games.
24. Pittsburgh (Swag): Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State - The Steelers have a pressing need along the offensive line and Adams is the best on the board at this point. He’s massive and has all the tools to contribute right away. Take away some character issues that encompasses most Ohio State players and some questionable decisions made early on, he may be a top 15 pick. Steelers have a structured organization and a professional way of doing things, this would be a great spot for Adams to thrive and fulfill his potential.
TSB commentary: This draft almost makes too much sense which means it will go nothing as predicted. The Steelers’ offensive line is borderline pathetic. It’s amazing Big Ben has use of his legs at this point.
25. Denver (TSB): Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State - Worthy moves ahead of his Biq 10 counterpart Devon Still for me. Pairing him with last year’s top pick Von Miller would make the defensive line much stronger than it has been. It will be interesting to see how much focus the Broncos put on offense this draft. A running back might come off the board here too.
*Non-draft related: If you haven’t taken the under on the Broncos wins this year (line currently at 10.5), do yourself and your wallet a favor and do that immediately.
Swag commentary: If I’m the Broncos I try to trade back here. The DT’s remaining on the board don’t WOW me and they have other needs they could address, or get a DT in the second round and the talent wouldn’t be a major drop off. Since Mike couldn’t trade the pick, his pick definitely makes sense. But I can sit here with my commentary and say I’d trade down possibly toward the end of the round, take Janoris Jenkins or Doug Martin, and take a DT like a Brandon Thompson out of Clemson or Kendall Reyes out of UCONN in the second round all while adding another pick or two either in this draft or next year’s draft.
26. Houston (Swag): Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama - In my opinion, Houston has pressing needs at WR and along the OL, the way this draft has played out this pick is in a bad spot in terms of those positions. With their trade of DeMeco Ryans and the departure of Mario Williams, the most surprising defense of 2011 has taken a couple big hits. Hightower could come in and replace Ryans in the middle of the defense and keep Houston stacked at LB. They’ll have to address their other needs later in the draft. I don’t think Hightower’s teammate Courtney Upshaw would be a bad pick here, either.
TSB Commentary: Houston just churns out stud linebackers: Ryans, Brian Cushing, Brooks Reed, even Mario Williams played some LB for them. Everyone keeps making a huge issue of this team needing help at wide receiver, but as long as Andre Johnson stays healthy, I agree they can focus elsewhere this early in the draft.
27. New England (TSB): Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois - With the loss of Mark Anderson along the front four, the Pats need to restock the line. Mercilus led college football in sacks last year and would add a new dimension to this defense that allowed the second most yards per game in 2011.
Swag commentary: I don’t think it’s any question New England needs to improve their defense, and the quickest way of doing it is getting pressure on opposing QB’s. With the Law Firm leaving, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a possible Doug Martin sighting here. Just something to think about.
28. Green Bay (Swag): Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama – I don’t think there’s much debate about the fact the Packers NEED a pass rusher opposite Clay Matthews. Matthews had a big year when no one knew he was coming, that all changed last year as he was double and triple teamed much of the season. That resulted in the Packers defense generating only 29 sacks and the loss of pressure put too much pressure on the secondary, who got torched all season long. Upshaw is the perfect complement to Matthews, he’s versatile and can play DE or OLB in the Packers 3-4 scheme. He is great at getting up the field (38% of his tackles at Alabama came behind the LOS) and containing the edge. I think if Upshaw is still around at #28 the Packers would consider this a steal.
TSB Commentary: Love this pick. Upshaw’s not falling out of the first round, and the Packers are desperate for help getting to the QB.
29. Baltimore (TSB): George Iloka, S, Boise State - Here’s my first round stunner. If the Ravens make this pick (a QB-desperate team may trade up to this spot to grab Brandon Weeden), I think they’ll address the safety position. Everyone is worried about Ray lewis’ impending retirement but what about Ed Reed? Every year it seems like he has to be convinced to come back for one more season. Baltimore lost two safeties this offseason - Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura - and will need to plan ahead for the inevitable departure of ER20.
Swag commentary: Love the stunner pick, and I agree the Ravens need a contingency plan in place for when one of the best safeties of all-time hangs them up, but with such a weak class of safeties, you think it’s this year? I don’t know. Ozzie Newsome is a great talent evaluator on the defensive side of the ball so if he likes a guy I’m sure he’ll pull the trigger.
30. San Francisco (Swag): Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford – I don’t think many people see TE as a weakness for the 49ers, as they have one of the best in the game there now in Vernon Davis. But one thing we know about Jim Harbaugh that can also be said about Alex Smith, is they love to use the TE’s. Harbaugh knows Fleener from Stanford and we all know the NFL is a copy-cat league…. I expect a lot of teams to start deploying dual TE sets thanks to the Patriots, and if the 49ers have these two, it will turn up huge mismatches all over the field. With two big WR acquisitions in the offseason (Randy Moss, Mario Manningham) and two TE’s that can stretch the field, this offense becomes extremely potent.
TSB Commentary: I’m getting sick of agreeing with you, but I love the idea of San Fran utilizing two TEs in that offense. Still not sure any offense with Alex Smith at the helm can be called potent, but I can see you are excited. I will be shocked if Fleener falls this far. In fact, I think he can go as high as 16th to the Jets.
31. New England (TSB): Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama - Bill Belichick loves a challenge and doesn’t shy away from players with some off-the-field issues. Jenkins could be the most talented cornerback in this year’s class and getting him at #31 would be a coup. Knowing the Patriots, though, I would put the chances of them keeping both of their first rounders at about 25%.
Swag commentary: I think you’re spot on with that percentage. But if they finally use the picks they accumulated instead of trading them each year to eventually own every first round pick in 2030, these two selections vastly improve an underachieving defensive unit. I absolutely agree Belichick would take this guy, if anything just because he wants to shove it in the rest of the leagues faces that he was able to make a Pro-Bowler out of a guy everyone was scared to take. They need help on defense, now they have a pass rusher and probably the best cover-corner in the draft.
32. New York Giants (Swag): Andre Branch, DE, Clemson - I know, I know, but seriously we can justify this… Lost Dave Tollefson (an underrated backup) and still have the volatile Osi Umenyiora who could be traded at any point. Depth is actually becoming a concern along the defensive line as their stars age. JPP is a beast, Umenyiora and Tuck are often injured, and they need the depth there. Branch is a Jerry Reese type of player – he’s long and lean (6’5” 260 lbs) and has athleticism and speed off the edge. Has a mean streak as well which he displayed against Florida State in 2010 when he gauged the eye of offensive lineman David Spurlock. He has room to add some weight on his frame, but the Giants have been great at developing their DE’s so this seems like a pick with good upside. (In reality, would love to trade this pick and move down into the early second round with a team looking to possibly jump up for a QB)
TSB Commentary: In Jerry Reese’s defensive line analysis, I trust. Look at his track record. It’s incredible. The Giants know what works: pressuring the quarterback, and they regularly find the most qualified athletes to do so.