In part 3 of my series, I will detail my NFL Draft predictions for picks 17-24.
Pittsburgh Steelers–17thOverall Pick
Prediction: Xavier Rhodes (Cornerback–Florida State)
The Pittsburgh Steeler’s playoff hopes were demolished halfway through the season due to their QB, Ben Roethlisberger, having a terrible knee injury which never fully healed. This left the backup QBs, Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwitch, to finish out the season. In spite of this, they had an awesome defense which kept the games close for the beat up offense. The defense took a major hit when they lost cornerback Keenan Lewis to free agency. Due to this, I believe the Steelers will get Xavier Rhodes, an excellent cornerback out of FSU. Rhodes had a solid season last year with 39 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions, and 7 pass deflections. This is just what the Steelers are going to need to replace Lewis and keep their defense at the level it was last year.
Dallas Cowboys–18thOverall Pick
Prediction: Sheldon Richardson (Defensive Tackle–Missouri)
The Dallas Cowboys once again heard the voice of Mora shouting, “Playoffs? Don’t talk about–playoffs?! You kidding me?! Playoffs?!” Everything seemed to be going pretty good until their last two regular season games. What went wrong, you may ask? They did just enough losing to knock themselves out of the playoffs. Jerry’s team badly needs some run support. This leads me to believe they will pick up Sheldon Richardson, a DT out of the University of Missouri. Richardson had an amazing season last year with 75 tackles, 10.5 tackles for losses, and 4.5 sacks. Even though he has had some off-field issues, he should easily get picked up by the Cowboys.
New York Giants–19thOverall Pick
Prediction: Alec Ogletree (Inside Linebacker–Georgia)
Sadly, the Giants weren’t able to repeat their Super Bowl glory of 2012. In fact, they didn’t even make it to the playoffs. Why? They had the 25 th ranked run defense and they lost ILB Chase Blackburn to free agency. To fix this, it would be wise for them to choose Alec Ogletree, an ILB out of the University of Georgia. Ogletree had an absolutely outstanding, yet underrated, 2012 season. Due mostly in part to all the hype that surrounded Jarvis Jones. However, his stats were anything but underrated–111 tackles, 11.5 tackles for losses, and 3 sacks. Could the Giants use someone like Ogletree? Absolutely!
Chicago Bears–20thOverall Pick
Prediction: Manti Te’o (Inside Linebacker–Notre Dame)
The Monsters of the Midway started off the first half of last season strong, going 6-1. Then they fell flat on their faces at the end, going 1-3 in their final 4 games, crushing any and all playoff hopes. It didn’t help that they lost Brian Urlacher to free agency. To plug this whopper of a hole in their defense, I believe the Bears will select ILB Manti Te’o out of Notre Dame. Te’o has had some question marks pop up about him within the past few months. One would be the issue with the whole “girlfriend” hoax/scandal. I don’t think teams will easily overlook this as coaches need to be able to have faith and trust in their players. On the other hand, you definitely can’t deny the guy can play some football. In 2012 with the Irish, he had 113 tackles, 5.5 tackles for losses, and an amazing 7 interceptions. Try and tell me this guy would not fit in great with the Bears defense.
Cincinnati Bengals–21stOverall Pick
Prediction: Keenan Allen (Wide Receiver–California)
In 2012, the Bengals once again went to the playoffs, however, they ran out of steam in the Wild Card game. In spite of this, one thing was made clear, Andy Dalton is the leader of this team. In order to make it to the Super Bowl, the Bengals have some work to do. The first task on their list should be to find Dalton a star receiver other than A.J. Green. I think they can make this happen by drafting Keenan Allen, a great WR out of the University of California. Allen didn’t really rack up on the stats his final year with the Golden Bears, but that was due to the QB just not being able to get him the ball. He is very strong and tall for a receiver and reminds me a lot of the Chicago Bear’s WR Brandon Marshall. It should be an interesting season if the Bengals are able to snag him.
St Louis Rams–22ndOverall Pick (From the Washington Redskins)
Prediction: Giovani Bernard (Running Back–North Carolina)
Yes, this is the second time the Rams have a pick in this round. With this pick they should pick up UNC running back Giovani Bernard. Bernard is the ultimate package for his position. He can run, catch, and return kicks–what more could a team want? It is obvious the Rams are in need of a running back after the release of Steven Jackson. So, I highly believe Bernard is first round talent.
Minnesota Vikings–23rdOverall Pick
Prediction: Quinton Patton (Wide Receiver–Louisiana Tech)
The Minnesota Vikings–the biggest playoff surprise? I think so. If you would have asked me last season which teams I thought would make it into the playoffs, I would have said with 99.9% confidence it would not have been the Vikings. In spite of this flash of success, they need to make some serious changes on their team. For instance, Adrian Peterson can’t be expected to carry the whole team on his back. Also, Christian Ponder needs a new WR target since Percy Harvin went to Seattle. What he needs is a great WR out of Louisiana Tech by the name of Quinton Patton. Patton had close to 1,500 yards receiving and 13 TDs. Some would argue that the Vikings need a QB. I would tend to agree, but there are more pressing needs that will have to take precedence.
Indianapolis Colts–24thOverall Pick
Prediction: Damontre Moore (Defensive End–Texas A&M)
The Colts certainly turned their franchise around from suffering a miserable losing season in 2011, to finishing 11-5 with a playoff appearance in 2012; thus keeping the team “Chuckstrong”. However, there are several issues which need attending to before the Colts make it to a Super Bowl again. The first thing they need is a pass rusher; someone who doesn’t mind a 3-4 defense. That person would be Damontre Moore, a DE/LB out of Texas A&M. Moore is rather raw for a defensive end, but you can’t deny his stats and experience at the 3-4 position. Last year with the Aggies, he had 85 tackles, 21 for losses, and 12.5 sacks. This shows me that he can get behind the line in a hurry and possibly be the offensive beast Dwight Freeney once was.