Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia Walt said it best in his mock, dumb groupthink will lead to Jones falling to a smart team like the Steelers, Giants or Ravens. The Steelers could use a young play-maker to replace James Harrison, and Jones would be a dream come true for them. Sources said Pittsburgh sent its entire front office contingent to the Georgia pro day, including head coach Mike Tomlin.
Jones decision not to work out at the Combine wasn't surprising. Scouts at the East-West Shrine told WalterFootball.com that Jones would slide on draft day because they believe he will test poorly before the draft and isn't a hard worker in the weight room. The scouts said that watching the game tape, Jones is worthy of being a top draft pick, but they don't believe he will go that high.
At his pro day, Jones verified what the scouts told us with a 40 time in the 4.9- to 5.0-second range. His other drills didn't go well either, but scouts told us he looked better in position drills.
Jones was one of the best pass-rushers in college football in 2011. He tied for the second-most sacks in the nation, 13.5. Jones also had 70 tackles, 19.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles.
The junior was excellent this season. He dominated Missouri, stepping up with huge plays to help lead the Bulldogs to a win. Jones had nine tackles with two sacks, a forced fumble, a pass batted and an interception returned 21 yards to the goal line against the Tigers. He also caused two other forced fumbles that he wasn't given credit for. The turnovers the linebacker created came late in the game and sealed the win for Georgia.
Jones did the same thing to Florida. He totaled 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Jones also made the game-saving play with a forced fumble around the Georgia 5-yard line in the final minutes. It was a tremendous outing that illustrated his ability to make big plays in big games.
Jones is a dynamite pass-rusher. The way he runs down signal-callers in the pocket and flies around the football field is similar to former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller. Jones' speed and pass-rushing skills make him extremely disruptive. He has a good burst off the edge which takes tackles by surprise and sets them up for him to beat them around the corner or dodge back to the inside.
Jones never takes plays off given his non-stop motor; he gives relentless effort. Jones amassed 85 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 24.5 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, three passes broken up and a pick in 2012. He led the nation in sacks, tackles for a loss and forced fumbles.
The USC transfer fit well in the Georgia defense and looks like an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker for the next level. For a 4-3 defense, he could play in a similar manner to Von Miller. The 6-foot-3, 241-pounder could be the top talent in the 2013 NFL Draft at any position.
Dallas Cowboys: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
Dallas must improve its terrible offensive line. There have been reports that the Cowboys love Jonathan Cooper. Last year there were similar reports about Mark Barron, Dontari Poe and David DeCastro, but the team was targeting Morris Claiborne all along.
I think that could be the case with Chance Warmack or D.J. Fluker. Each fits the type of lineman who Dallas has drafted in the past, and either would be an instant upgrade for the Cowboys. Dallas has shown interest in both of them.
Warmack (6-2, 317) enters the NFL having started three years at guard for the Crimson Tide. He is a powerful road grader who did an excellent job of opening up holes for the Alabama running game. Warmack played better each season and became an absolute force who owned the line of scrimmage.
The senior was dominant in the Crimson Tide's 2012 season opener against the Wolverines. Warmack blasted open holes in the ground game and protected his quarterback well. He had some pass-protection issues against Western Kentucky, but bounced back against Arkansas.
Warmack played well against Ole Miss, Missouri and Tennessee. He didn't play as well versus Mississippi State, but rebounded with a nice performance against LSU. Warmack was beaten for a sack by Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins, but helped the Crimson Tide to a huge night on the ground against the Bulldogs. Warmack capped his career with a dominant showing against Notre Dame in the National Championship.
New York Giants: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
The Giants don't reach, but rather take the top talent who falls to them. Eifert is a good value at No. 19 as many are projecting him to go in the early teens. New York needs a long-term tight end and he is a good fit in the team's offense.
Eifert played really well for the Fighting Irish in 2011, totaling 63 receptions for 803 yards and five touchdowns. He grabbed 27 receptions for 352 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2010.
Eifert hauled in 50 receptions for 685 yards and four touchdowns this year. The senior would have put up much better numbers if Notre Dame's quarterback play had been consistent.
Eifert is a natural receiver. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder runs good routes, has strong hands, can take big hits and is quick. He really improved his blocking as a senior.
Pick change; previously Xavier Rhodes, CB
Chicago Bears: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
I definitely could see the Bears taking Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, but it sounds like he won't make it to their pick. I've heard that Chicago loves Trufant and it makes sense because the team has older cornerbacks nearing the end of their contracts. Phil Emery made a pick like this in the 2012 NFL Draft with defensive end Shea McClellin.
The younger brother of Marcus Trufant, Desmond Trufant had a quality sophomore season in 2010 with 48 tackles, one interception and four passes broken up. He had two interceptions with 14 passes broken up, two forced fumbles and 64 tackles in 2011. The senior recorded 36 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, eight passes broken up, a forced fumble, an interception and a sack this year.
LSU stayed away from Trufant this season and threw at other defensive backs in the matchup with the Huskies. He had a dominant game on an island in man coverage against Stanford. Trufant broke up two deep balls and clinched Washington's upset win with an interception at the end of the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder has the speed and agility to be a good cover corner. He has shown the ability to be a decent blitzer, too. Trufant had an excellent collegiate career as one of the best corners in the Pac-12.
Pick change; previously Tyler Eifert, TE
Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Bengals missed out on Kenny Vaccaro, but land a safety who could be a better pro in Cyprien. They conducted a last minute workout with him for defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. I could see Cincinnati trading down before taking Cyprien or Matt Elam.
Cyprien (6-0, 209) is one of those small school players who really helped himself at the Senior Bowl. He made his presence felt all week. Cyprien was a tough defender who was hitting hard in the ground game. He also really impressed with his pass coverage as he demonstrated the ability to run with receivers and cover tight ends. The passing-driven NFL is looking for safeties with that skill set.
Cyprien led his team with 93 tackles this season. He also contributed four interceptions, five passes broken up and one forced fumble. There is a lot to like about Cyprien, and it looks like he has significantly improved his draft stock from the late rounds.
St. Louis Rams: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
The Rams have to improve their weapons for Sam Bradford, and Hopkins could go well with their 2012 NFL Draft selections Chris Givens and Brian Quick. St. Louis has shown a lot of interest in Hopkins.
Hopkins took over as the No. 1 receiver for Clemson this season. He was Tajh Boyd's best weapon and one of the nation's leaders in receiving. Hopkins registered 82 receptions for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. He burned N.C. State cornerback David Amerson for a long touchdown and played well versus Florida State. Hopkins excelled against LSU in bowl season, putting up two scores and nearly 200 yards.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was not as well-known as teammate Sammy Watkins in 2011, but Hopkins was a dangerous wide out in his own right. He was the secondary receiver, but still caught 72 passes for 978 yards and five touchdowns. Hopkins hauled in 52 passes for 637 yards and four scores in 2010.
Overall, Hopkins has a nice skill set with speed, hands and route-running. He can beat defensive backs downfield for long gains, but still has the quickness to get separation in and out of his breaks. Hopkins' deep speed makes him a threat to score on any reception, and he stretches the field vertically.
Minnesota Vikings: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
The Vikings could use a young difference-maker in the middle of their defensive line. Kevin Williams is still playing good football, but he turns 33 later this year. Letroy Guion is starting at nose tackle, but he is not considered to be a long-term starter. In a division with Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford, the quickest way to pressure those quarterbacks is from an interior lineman; Sylvester Williams would give the Vikings a pass-rushing presence.
Williams started the season strong with two sacks against Elon, but he was shut down by Louisville center Mario Benavides. Williams picked up 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks in 2012.
The junior-college transfer benefited from some good talent around him in in 2011 in Tydreke Powell, Quinton Coples and Kareem Martin. Williams had 54 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, one interception and a forced fumble. He is a specimen with a nice combination of size and speed.
Williams (6-2, 313) needs more development, but is an interesting prospect. He made a good decision to stay for his senior season rather than enter the 2012 NFL Draft.
Indianapolis Colts: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have signed players for just about every need on the Colts' roster. Still, Indianapolis could use another corner to pair with Vontae Davis. Greg Toler and Darius Butler are better as nickel and dime contributors.
Xavier Rhodes (6-2, 210) is a special corner. He is big, fast and agile; all while having good hands. Rhodes started 14 games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 and was the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year. He recorded 58 tackles, four interceptions and 12 passes defensed.
Rhodes played well against Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles in 2011, and was fabulous at covering up Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. Rhodes totaled 43 tackles, an interception and four passes broken up that season. Teams stayed away from him and attacked the Seminoles' other corners.
Rhodes passed his biggest test of 2012 in late September. He didn't play a lights-out game in coverage against Clemson's dynamic duo, Watkins and Hopkins, but Rhodes was solid and kept either of them from big plays when he went against them in man coverage.
Florida State mixed in zone and man assignments, so Rhodes did not have to go against Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins exclusively in man coverage. The junior Hopkins had 88 yards on five receptions, but 60 came on one touchdown reception against zone coverage when the safety failed to pick him up running down the field. Watkins had 24 yards on six receptions. Rhodes finished with three tackles and a pass breakup versus Clemson.
The redshirt junior collected 39 tackles, seven passes broken up, three interceptions and a forced fumble this year.
Pick change; previously Bjoern Werner, DE
Minnesota Vikings: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Vikings still need receiver help even after signing Greg Jennings. Patterson is a nice fit in Minnesota as the big-play threat to replace Percy Harvin.
Sources told WalterFootball.com before the 2012 season that Tennessee had a great third receiver behind Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers who was going to have a breakout season. That wide out was Patterson, and after Rogers was kicked off the team, Patterson took his place as the starting X (split end) receiver.
The junior college product showed off his elite speed and explosiveness when he opened the season by beating David Amerson for a 41-yard score on a go-route straight down the field. Patterson also took a carry for a 67-yard touchdown later in first quarter. He had six receptions for 93 yards and a score against the Wolfpack. Patterson totaled 46 receptions for 778 yards and five touchdowns this season. He ran the ball for 308 yards and three scores, too.
Patterson is very fast and explosive. He is raw, but filled with potential and could end up being a high first-rounder.
Green Bay Packers: Menelik Watson, OT, Florida State
The Packers have to improve their offensive line. Watson could move inside to guard if Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga lock down the tackle positions.
Scouts have told WalterFootball.com that Watson is a really smart kid and good on the chalk board. Considering he is from the United Kingdom, he wowed teams at the Combine.
Watson is a tremendous athlete who also has a lot of power to his game. He had an impressive 2012 season and was one the Seminoles' best run-blockers. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder is a former basketball player. That can be seen in his excellent feet and agility. He was a JUCO star and is originally from Manchester, England. Watson could require a little more development, but he has huge upside.
Houston Texans: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
The Texans need an understudy to Andre Johnson and Hunter would be a great fit. He has great size and enough speed to stretch the field - just like Johnson when he entered the NFL.
Hunter wasn't completely back to his old form in 2012, and yet he still was one of the better wide receivers in college football this season. Hunter was red hot late in the year with massive games against Troy and Missouri. He finished 2012 with 73 receptions for 1,083 yards and nine touchdowns.
Hunter (6-4, 200) looked poised for a mammoth season in 2011, posting 16 receptions for 302 yards and two scores through the first two games. However against Florida, on a routine 12-yard catch early in the third game, he went down with a torn ACL following a leaping reception. It was a surprising injury as Hunter did not take a shot to the knee, or have another player fall into his leg in a manner that typically causes knee ligament tears.
Prior to the injury, Hunter looked like a truly rare receiver who is extremely tall but has the speed of a burner wide out. In a lot of ways his game resembled Randy Moss. Hunter had 16 receptions for 403 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman in 2010.
Denver Broncos: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
Denver needs more talent on the edge following the Elvis Dumervil debacle. The Broncos have shown interest in Carradine.
Carradine totaled 43 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks as a backup in 2011. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder made the most of his opportunity to start as a senior. He only took over as a starter after Brandon Jenkins was lost for 2012 during the first game. Carradine had 80 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks and a forced fumble this year.
Unfortunately, Carradine tore his ACL late against Florida in the Seminoles' regular-season finale. He was getting run over in the ground game for the majority of four quarters prior to that injury. Carradine was only just able to workout for teams in the last few days.
New England Patriots: Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
The Patriots need help at cornerback and have displayed a ton of interest in Taylor.
Taylor helped himself with a good week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He showed the ability to be a man-cover corner and a zone corner.
Taylor (5-11, 192) is a gritty and physical player. He didn't play very much for Boise State until late in his career. Taylor recorded two interceptions and 27 tackles with six passes broken up in 2011, despite missing four games. The senior had a strong 2012 with four interceptions, 51 tackles and nine passes broken up. He put together a strong Combine performance with a 40 time of 4.39 and a good performance on the bench press (22 reps).
Atlanta Falcons: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston
The Falcons need cornerback help after losing Dunta Robinson and Ben Grimes. Asante Samuel's no youngster either. I think Atlanta could trade up to land Desmond Trufant. I've heard the Falcons love Trufant. They could move up with Chicago and maybe give the Bears a third-round pick. Chicago is without a third-rounder, so that would be very tempting for general manager Phil Emery. If Atlanta is stuck here, Hayden makes sense as a potential boom pick.
Many believe that Hayden is a first-rounder despite going under the radar until recently. WalterFootball.com reached out to some scouts who said that Hayden graded out as a second-round pick, but they also said only 20 players came out as first-rounders this year. Thus, some teams will be drafting second-round talents on Thursday night.
The core medical issue stems from a hit Hayden took in practice late this season. The impact tore his inferior vena cava, a critical vein that returns blood to the heart; he almost died. Hayden missed the final three games of 2012, but prior to that, he was having a great year.
The senior totaled 61 tackles with eight passes broken up, one forced fumble and four interceptions in 2012. It was second straight good season. He recorded 66 tackles, two interceptions, 11 passes broken up and five forced fumbles in 2011. Hayden (5-11, 191) has good size and is fast. He could go early in the second round.
Pick change; previously Desmond Trufant, CB
San Francisco 49ers: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
The 49ers' defense could use an understudy for Justin Smith. Jones is a great fit.
Jones had a very impressive week at the Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder showed off a great skill set which allows him to defeat offensive linemen with strength or speed. He has the power to move offensive linemen to the side and the speed to close in a hurry.
Jones looks like a good fit for the NFL as a power left defensive end in a 4-3 defense or an end in a 3-4 defense. He posesses the strength to stuff the run and can contribute as a pass-rusher.
The senior picked up 62 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss in 2012. Jones had 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks in 2011. He missed all of the 2010 season with a fractured right foot. Jones recorded 30 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and four sacks playing next to Brian Price in 2009.
Baltimore Ravens: Matt Elam, S, Florida
I like this pick from Walt's mock. Ozzie Newsome looks to hit doubles and Elam is a safe pick to be a good pro safety. He could form a nice tandem with Michael Huff.
Elam had a superb 2012, making 86 tackles, four interceptions, two sacks, 11 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five pass breakups. The junior was an absolute force against LSU and dished out punishing hits all game.
The 5-foot-10, 205-pounder was considered the best safety in the nation, and the best player in the state of Florida, in the 2010 recruiting class. While some highly touted young Gators were quiet in 2011, Elam played extremely well. The sophomore had 78 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, seven passes broken up and two forced fumbles. He was all over the field and always around the ball for Florida.