17. Pittsburgh Steelers
DE Ezekial Ansah (BYU)- The Steelers defense although superb is quickly aging. Despite being ranked #1 in total defense, numerous players are not getting any younger. Realizing this, the Steelers select Ezekial Ansah. A player who has been climbing up draft boards should be groomed into the position as DE Brett Keisel seems to be slowing down and playing in the last year of his contract.
18. Dallas Cowboys
DE/OLB Sam Montgomery (LSU)- The Cowboys pick up the “BPA” from the SEC, and he also just so happens to be from LSU. The Cowboys who drafted CB Morris Claiborne in the first-round last year, picks up yet another Tiger this time around in Sam Montgomery. A player known for his quick burst, Montgomery should help out in obvious passing situations.
19. New York Giants
DT Sylvester Williams (UNC)- The Giants address their need at defensive tackle all while picking the “BPA.” Sly Williams has all the tools to be a productive player in the NFL, and with head coach Tom Coughlin coaching him up, it should be fun to watch.
20. Chicago Bears
WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee)- The Chicago Bears who have been “reaching” for players, rising up draft boards, continue that trend, as they take the best wide receiver available, in Patterson. A player that has quickly been sky-rocketing up draft boards since he stepped foot on Tennessee’s campus, Patterson has been a very reliable player for the Volunteers. Playing in a big conference, head coach Marc Trestman finds his complimentary receiver to WR Brandon Marshall.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
G Jonathan Cooper (UNC)- The Bengals address their need at guard for the second consecutive year, as they stay true to their board and select the “BPA.” Cooper is an absolute mauler, and is regarded by some to be the best guard to come out, since Tennessee Titans Steve Hutchinson. By far the best interior lineman in the draft, the Bengals get a steal.
22. St. Louis Rams (from Washington)
DT Sheldon Richardson (Missouri)- The Rams stay on the defensive side of the ball with their second first-round draft pick, taking the best DT available, in Sheldon Richardson. Pairing Richardson with DT Michael Brockers will give the Rams two solid run stuffers for the next five years.
23. Minnesota Vikings
T D.J. Fluker (Alabama)- With RT Phil Loadholdt’s contract expired, the Vikings select the behemoth of a tackle in Fluker. A true road grader, Fluker will have no problem opening up holes for “All Day,” while doubling as another reliable bodyguard for QB Christian Ponder.
24. Indianapolis Colts
DT/NT Kawaan Short (Purdue)- The Colts ranked 29th against the rush, therefore making the nose tackle position their highest priority. Short had an outstanding Senior Bowl showing great instincts and quick feet. Head coach Chuck Pagano was watching the North practice, which sways my selection for Short.
25. Seattle Seahawks
DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida)- Floyd is a projected mid to late first round pick, so he is by no means a reach at this selection. With DT Alan Branch’s contract expired, finding a younger viable replacement makes sense.
26. Green Bay Packers
G Larry Warford (Kentucky)- The offensive line is by far Green Bay’s biggest concern, and with Green Bay coveting SEC players, they pull the trigger on Senior Bowl standout Larry Warford. An absolute beast in the trenches, Warford will bring a nasty presence to a vulnerable line.
27. Houston Texans
DE/OLB Alex Okafor (Texas)- Okafor has the smarts, high motor, and athletic ability the Texans coaching staff covet. The Senior Bowl definitely helped his stock as the Texans take another hybrid linebacker in the first-round, making it two years in a row.
28. Denver Broncos
C Barrett Jones (Alabama)- With the Broncos being stout on defense, they turn their focus to the offensive line. With C Dan Koppen’s contract expired, Peyton finds some young blood under center as they nab the best center in this year’s draft. The Broncos love to pick players from SEC schools and Bama’s Jones, provides the perfect fit for John Fox.
29. New England Patriots
S Eric Reid (LSU)- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gets another SEC standout in LSU’s Eric Reid. He has all the intangibles coach Bill Belichick loves, including smarts, aggressiveness, and athleticism and should be a perfect fit in Matt Patricia’s defense.
30. Atlanta Falcons
ILB Kevin Minter (LSU)- The Falcons desperately need a run stuffing linebacker and Minter is the perfect fit. With GM Thomas Dimitroff loving SEC and XII players, this is a no-brainer selection. Minter is a first-round talent who Mel Kiper calls a “tackling machine.”
31. San Francisco 49ers
WR Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech)- This was a tough decision between UCLA’s DE/OLB Datone Jones and WR Quinton Patton, but with the 49ers having bigger needs in this area, Patton gets the nod. I had CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida St.) being selected here in my first mock, but with so many quality cornerbacks set to hit the open-market, one would think the 49ers would sign at least one corner if not two, making receiver the main focus in round one. With Baalke loving kids from the WAC and Pac-12, the selection of Patton makes perfect sense.
32. Baltimore Ravens
T Lane Johnson (Oklahoma)- The reason for the Ravens being Super Bowl contenders year in and year out is directly correlated to GM Ozzie Newsome. His philosophy to pick the “BPA” enables the Ravens to thrive. With the Ravens loving prospects from both the SEC and XII, the Ravens select the best remaining XII on the board while also filling a need in Lane Johnson.