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.
The Chargers go with a difference-maker for Philip Rivers. After all, Danario Alexander has problems staying healthy, Malcolm Floyd is not a true No. 1 and Eddie Royal was a disappointment. San Diego needs more talent at receiver.
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.
New York Giants: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Giants have to upgrade their offensive line. They also want to reestablish the ground game and Fluker would help them instantly.
Fluker (6-4, 339) was a powerful tackle for Alabama. He is a nasty run-blocker who blasts open holes in the ground game. Fluker allowed regular pass pressure for most of this season, and he was beaten for two sacks by Western Kentucky. The junior also allowed sacks in other games including Missouri, Mississippi State and Georga.
Fluker had a real test against LSU versus Barkevious Mingo and performed well. Mingo was held in check, and Fluker really elevated his level of play against the dangerous pass-rusher. He was beaten for a sack-fumble by Jarvis Jones in the SEC Championship, but Fluker was dominant in run blocking against Georgia and Notre Dame. He needs to improve his pass blocking or some NFL teams may consider moving him to guard.
St. Louis Rams: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
TRADE! The Rams move up two spots with Chicago. St. Louis wants Ogletree and moves in front of Cincinnati to make sure the Bengals don't snatch him away.
The Rams need an outside linebacker and many 4-3 teams are projecting Ogletree to the outside in the NFL.
Ogletree hurt his draft stock with a DUI arrest in early February. That comes on the heels of him being suspended for the first four games of 2012 season. However, Ogletree was phenomenal in 2012. The junior collected 111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, one interception and five passes broken up in 10 games.
Ogletree broke his foot in the 2011 season opener against Boise State and missed the next seven games. The sophomore really came on in the second half of the year. The 6-foot-3, 236-pounder produced 52 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks and two forced fumbles in the final seven games. Ogletree really stood out with big games against Georgia Tech, LSU and Michigan State. He had 34 tackles as a freshman in 2010.
Ogletree is very fast and instinctive. He has the frame to get bigger and stay as a middle linebacker in the NFL. Ogletree has a lot of upside, and it isn't surprising that his stock has pushed into first-round consideration this year.
Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien, S, Florida International
The Bengals have a hole at safety. Even though they miss out on Vaccaro and Fluker, Cyprien isn't a bad pick for Cincinnati.
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 improved his draft stock from the late rounds to the mid-rounds.
Houston Texans: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson
TRADE! The Bears move down again. They're without their third-round pick, so moving down a couple of times makes sense. Houston needs a receiver badly and moves in front of Minnesota, Indianapolis and Green Bay - three teams that could select a wide out. The Texans have a loaded roster with two third-round picks, so giving up one to get the receiver of choice makes sense.
Hopkins took over as the No. 1 receiver for Clemson this season. He was Tajh Boyd's best weapon and was 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: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
With the run on receivers, Minnesota grabs its wide out rather than waiting for its second first-rounder. The Vikings have a huge need at receiver even after signing Greg Jennings.
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.
Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington
TRADE! The Colts move down with the Falcons. Atlanta is aggressive about trading up and badly needs corner help. Indianapolis is without its second-round pick, so adding more ammo would appeal to Ryan Grigson. This would be the spot the Falcons would have to move to since the Vikings would be afraid about landing their targets player if they move below Chicago. Plus, Green Bay may not want to help a conference rival like Atlanta. The Packers could easily play the Falcons next January, so why would they want to help Atlanta strengthen its pass defense?
The Falcons need cornerback help after cutting Dunta Robinson and losing Ben Grimes. Asante Samuel's no youngster either.
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.
Minnesota Vikings: Manti Te'o, ILB, Notre Dame
The Vikings have a huge need at middle linebacker and have shown a lot of interest in Te'o.
Te'o had a string of excellent performances in 2012 that vaulted him into Heisman consideration. He played a superb game against Michigan State and power back Le'Veon Bell in Week 3. Te'o picked up 12 tackles and was all over the field against the run and the pass. He made eight tackles and two interceptions against Michigan, plus forced another interception by hitting Denard Robinson as he threw.
Even though Te'o had an ugly game against Alabama in the National Championship, the senior's season was phenomenal. He totaled 113 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, four passes broken up and seven interceptions. Te'o has the instincts and intelligence to adapt quickly to the NFL. He is fast enough to play the middle or Sam linebacker in a 4-3 defense, and should have the bulk to function on the inside of a 3-4 defense.
Manti Te'o was a tackling machine for the Fighting Irish in 2010, making 133 tackles. The sophomore also recorded 9.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Te'o recorded 128 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and five sacks in 2011. He led Notre Dame in sacks and tackles.
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.
Chicago Bears: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
IN TRADES FROM HOUSTON AND ST. LOUIS
Chicago has played the 2013 NFL Draft perfectly. The Bears added extra picks and still land the player they would've taken at No. 20. This is actually feasible because there aren't a lot of tight end needy teams in the 20s.
The Bears signed Martellus Bennett, but there are rumors that Phil Emery is still considering a tight end in Round 1. Emery made a surprise pick with Shea McClellin in the 2012 NFL Draft, so you can't rule out Chicago taking another receiving weapon. That clearly has been a focus of Emery's since taking over as general manager. Plus, Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer both have heavily featured a double-tight end package over the years.
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.
Denver Broncos: Bjoern Werner, OLB/DE, Florida State
Denver needs more talent on the edge following the Elvis Dumervil debacle. Assuming the Broncos sign a veteran like Dwight Freeney, Werner would have more time to develop. He is a similar style of player to Derek Wolfe, Denver's first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
I had written for months before the 2012 season kicked off that Werner was primed for a massive year. Then he put on a display in the first game, collecting four sacks. The Seminoles lost pass-rushing end Brandon Jenkins for the season to a foot injury in the same contest, but Werner was still too much for offensive linemen as he produced a huge year.
For instance, Werner had 3.5 sacks against Florida in a losing effort and was one of the few Florida State defenders who stood out. He collected 42 tackles, 13 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, eight passes batted and a forced fumble in 2012.
The Seminoles rushed Werner as a standup linebacker as well as a defensive end with his hand on the ground. Therefore, he should have the ability to play 3-4 outside linebacker as well as 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.
Werner, only a sophomore at the time, outplayed Jenkins from time to time in 2011. The Berlin, Germany product is a strong physical presence who plays with a mean streak. Werner (6-3, 266) broke out with some dominating games and seven sacks in 2011. He also had 37 tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, one interception, one forced fumble and eight pass breakups. Werner had 3.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2010.
The junior dropped a lot of weight during the 2011-2012 offseason, going from the 270s to the 250s. He has amazing instincts for a player who had such a late start in football.
New England Patriots: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State
The Patriots need help at cornerback and get a nice value pick in Rhodes.
Xavier Rhodes (6-2, 210) has a special skill set. 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 where 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.
Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have signed players for just about every need on the Colts' roster. Still, Indianapolis could use more talent for the defensive line.
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.
New Orleans Saints: Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State
IN TRADE FROM SAN FRANCISCO
With the Saints switching to a 3-4 defense, their draft priorities should change from defensive line to outside linebacker. New Orleans has some fits on its line with Cam Jordan at end and Akiem Hicks as a nose tackle or end. However, the team could use a good edge-rusher.
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 regular-season finale. He was getting run over in the ground game for the majority of four quarters prior to that injury. Carradine probably won't be able to work out for teams before the 2013 NFL Draft.
Philadelphia Eagles: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State
TRADE! The Eagles move up from the second round to land Manuel. Philadelphia has to get in front of Jacksonville in order to to be sure to land him.
The Eagles need a long-term starter for Chip Kelly as Michael Vick is only a 1-year proposition. Kelly recruited Manuel out of high school and said he always wanted to coach him.
Manuel completed 68 percent of his passes in 2012 for 3,397 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. The senior also had four rushing touchdowns with 516 yards (310 net) on the ground. However, Manuel only went against two good teams this year. He had a massive night against Clemson and its weak defense, but he had a meltdown performance against Florida with three interceptions, a fumble and a costly sack. Manuel helped himself at the Senior Bowl.
The 6-foot-4, 237-pounder was the backup to Christian Ponder in 2008-2010. Manuel went down with an injury against Oklahoma in 2011 and missed the next game, against Clemson, too. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,817 yards with 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions that season. Manuel also ran for 411 yards and four touchdowns.
Manuel has tons of physical tools with huge upside, but needs to develop his pocket passing and field vision.
Baltimore Ravens: Keenan Allen, WR, California
IN TRADE FROM PHILADELPHIA
Baltimore did a move down like this last year and landed Courtney Upshaw. This move would fit perfectly in that mold. The Ravens need help at receiver and Allen is a perfect replacement for Anquan Boldin.
The 6-foot-2, 206-pound Allen looks like he could have the talent to be a big-time wide out. He caught 46 passes for 490 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman in 2010. Allen put together a huge 2011 season, racking up 98 receptions for 1,343 yards and six scores. To go along with ideal size, he has the speed to make big plays downfield.
The junior totaled 61 receptions for 737 yards and six touchdowns this year. He also returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown. Weak quarterback play from his brother, Zach Maynard, hurt his opportunities.
Allen looks like the complete package as a receiver. He uses his size and strength to run routes in the short to intermediate part of the field, but has no hesitation running crossing routes and is very adept at picking up yards after the catch. Allen is an aggressive play-maker who attacks the football in the air. He is sure-handed and already well-developed.
Not only does Allen have the speed to run downfield, but he can beat defenses over the top, too. Allen has a second gear and the explosion to break off big gains. He is faster than many defensive backs expect and is physical with defenders.
Allen looks like a great fit for an NFL West Coast offense. He could be an X (split end) or Z (flanker) receiver who works in all levels of the defense.