Alas! The final eight spots. These teams were all in the playoffs, so do they really need to focus on any improvements? You’ll be surprised.
Minnesota Vikings–25thOverall Pick (From Seattle)
Prediction: Jamar Taylor (Cornerback–Boise State)
Yes, the Minnesota Vikings have another pick in the first round–given to them by Seattle. They should really take a cornerback , considering they had only 8 interceptions as a team. Jamar Taylor, out of Boise State, would be an excellent choice. Last season he had 9 pass breakups, 4 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles. Taylor would be a great addition to the Viking’s secondary.
Green Bay Packers–26thOverall Pick
Prediction: Eddie Lacy (Running Back–Alabama)
The Green Bay Packers had yet another amazing season (which we have come to expect with Aaron Rodgers at the helm), finishing with a record of 11-5 and yet another playoff appearance. However, in spite of all this, their running game was incredibly poor–did anyone notice how many passes Rodgers threw? They could certainly use a running back who can put fear in a linebacking core. This type of fear precedes one Eddie Lacy out of Alabama. Lacy had a crazy year with the Tide, being a key part of helping lead them to back to back National Championships. Incredibly, Lacy had close to 1500 yards rushing with 17 touchdowns. He could really help balance out the Packers offense.
Houston Texans–27thOverall Pick
Prediction: Terrance Williams (Wide Receiver–Baylor)
The Texans had a great 2012 season with a repeat playoff appearance. I honestly believe the y have as good a chance as any other team to go to the Super Bowl next February. One thing they need, though, is a new wide receiver target for QB Matt Schaub. They should seriously consider getting Terrance Williams, a wide-out from Baylor. Williams had an incredible year despite no RGIII, leading the NCAA in receiving yards (1,832) with 12 touchdowns. To me, this sounds like a great dual threat for the Texans, having Williams and Andre Johnson on the field at the same time.
Denver Broncos–28thOverall Pick
Prediction: Jonthan Banks (Cornerback–Mississippi State)
Was Peyton Manning the key to the Bronco’s success last season? It sure seemed that way. And with Manning calling the plays, along with their new addition at wide receiver, Wes Welker, Denver will be without a doubt a Super Bowl contender again this year. They do need to take care of one small but serious need, and that would be at the cornerback position. Johnthan Banks out of Mississippi State could do the trick. Banks was a Bulldog beast with 63 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 11 pass deflections. Under the right coaching staff, he could become an even greater beast in the NFL.
New England Patriots–29thOverall Pick
Prediction: John Cyprien (Free Safety–Florida International)
The Patriots obviously knew what they were doing last season with their hurry up offense which left defenses huffing and puffing on the sidelines. However, it was not enough to carry them to the Super Bowl. The Patriots are pumped and primed for this season, but first they need to make some wise choices in the draft. New England needs some help at the free safety position–Sean Gregory is just not getting the job done. I think they will get John Cyprien out of Florida International to help out. Cyprien is probably the best safety in the draft and he has the numbers to prove it. Last year he had 93 tackles, 5 pass deflections, and 4 interceptions, plus he has an outstanding vertical jump. All of these factors lead me to believe the Patriots will take him.
Atlanta Falcons–30thOverall Pick
Prediction: Tyler Eifert (Tight End–Notre Dame)
The Atlanta Falcons were positive they were going to be the last team standing at the end of last season. They were playing good football, but at the NFC Championship game, they lost by a measly 4 points to the 49ers. What went wrong? Their usual playoff collapse that has happened each of the past 3 years. Are they as focused as ever this season to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Atlanta? Time will certainly tell. However, first comes the draft, where they need to get one key player, a tight end. Due to the situation with Tony Gonzalez and his questionable retirement time frame, they will at some point need someone to replace him. Tyler Eifert, out of Notre Dame, would be a perfect fit. Eifert had a very good 2012 season with 685 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns, and a team best 50 catches. Eifert is easily the best tight end in the draft and he should be a great replacement for Gonzalez whenever he does decide to retire.
San Francisco 49ers–31stOverall Pick
Prediction: Jesse Williams (Defensive Tackle–Alabama)
Does anyone remember the 49’ers benching quarterback Alex Smith halfway through last season? I didn’t think so. However, we all remember Colin Kaepernick carrying the team to New Orleans. In spite of Kaepernick’s heroics, the 49’ers just didn’t have enough to beat Baltimore, even with their great comeback after the forever famous Superdome blackout. Though they are fully capable of repeating a trip to the big dance, there is one major weakness. It was caused by the loss of defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga to free agency. Jesse Williams out of Alabama (37 tackles, 2.5 sacks) can be a key replacement. Shoot, the Tide even used this guy in their goal line formations as a blocker. Time will tell if the Niners will be wise and take this guy.
Baltimore Ravens–32ndOverall Pick
Prediction: Kevin Minter (Inside Linebacker–LSU)
The Baltimore Ravens…What can you say about them? They won the Super Bowl for crying out loud! It was the perfect story. First, veteran Ray Lewis comes out and says 2012 would be his “last ride”. Then they scrap and struggle to go on and beat the 49’ers in the Super Bowl–quite a story to tell my kids one day, for sure. Though all of this sounds warm and fuzzy, I unfortunately do not expect the Ravens to make a repeat appearance in the Super Bowl this year. In fact, I think their defense will be the death of them. They have to find replacements for both Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. So good luck in finding anybody like these two. But they have to start somewhere, so I believe they will draft Kevin Minter, an inside linebacker out of LSU. Minter was on top of his game last season with 130 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 5 pass deflections, and 1 forced fumble. Minter will be no Ray Lewis (or Ed Reed, for that matter), but who could ever be? I will say this, if drafted, he will be a huge asset to this team for a long time to come .
Join me in watching the 2013 NFL Draft, Thursday night, April 25, at 8 pm on the NFL Network.