Mock Draft 4.0 (Post-Combine Edition, 3 Rounds): Steelers Select ILB Dont’a Hightower, NT Alameda Ta’amu, OG/OT Brandon Washington

8 of 9

76. Seattle Seahawks: Tyrone Crawford DE/DT (Boise State)

Even if Seattle decides to select a Defensive Lineman in Round 1, I still believe they will select another one in Rounds 2-4 to increase depth and possibly get a future starter at positions which are in need of some help.

One of three Boise State Defensive Linemen that could go in Rounds 2-3, Tyrone Crawford could be the most raw prospect, but also the one with the most athletic upside.  A JUCO Transfer with only one season of starting experience at Boise State, Crawford had a terrific 2011 season and led the Broncos with 13.5 TFL’s and accumulated 6.5 Sacks.  At 6’4″ 275 lbs. Crawford is extremely raw and has only played two seasons in the Mountain West Conference.  But with a bit of coaching, Crawford could be a value pick in the 3rd or 4th Round for a team looking to currently add depth to their Defensive Line like the Seahawks are trying to do now.

77. Philadelphia Eagles: Kirk Cousins QB (Michigan State)

Philadelphia could be leaning QB in Rounds 2-3 in 2012 because if Michael Vick gets hurt, Mike Kafka might not be a viable option to replace him.  If Philadelphia does decide to draft a QB in 2012, they could look at Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, a guy whose stock has risen after The Combine.

Cousins did the best he could to silence his critics in Indianapolis by having a terrific throwing session and showed off arm strength and velocity which many scouts didn’t think he had (because he didn’t show it all that often) at Michigan State.  The 6’3″ 214 lb. Cousins is an intelligent QB that makes good reads and throws an accurate ball.  While he isn’t the most athletic QB in this Draft Class, and won’t wow anybody by making something out of nothing on plays, Cousins is an efficient player that could do well in a West Coast system that Philadelphia runs.

78. New York Jets: Markelle Martin S (Oklahoma State)

I don’t mean to be mean, but Eric Smith should be playing in the Arena League, and Jim Leonhard always seems to be on the sidelines with some sort of injury come January.  If the Jets wish to compete against the cream of the A.F.C.’s passing crop, they had better find some answers to the questions which surround the back-end of their Secondary.

While Markelle Martin did not workout at The Combine due to a knee ailment, he still should be available to the Jets or any other team in Round 3.  Martin was named 1st Team All-Big XII in 2011, and helped lead the Cowboys all the way to a Fiesta Bowl victory.  Martin was also known for making big plays and game changing hits in the pass-happy Big XII over the course of his career.

79. San Diego Chargers: DaJohn Harris DE/DT (Southern Cal)

After releasing Luis Castillo earlier this week, San Diego will likely be in the market for a 5-Technique Defensive End this offseason.  One guy which San Diego could target is Nick Perry’s teammate at Southern Cal: DaJohn Harris.

While Harris played DT in a 4-3 system at Southern Cal under Monte Kiffin, there could be many teams like the Chargers coveting Harris because of his 6’3″ 306 lb. frame to play DE in a 3-4 set.  Harris can make plays in the backfield in addition to occupying blockers.  It might take a year or two for him to develop into a 3-4 DE, but he is definitely worth a 3rd Round investment for a Chargers team in need of Defensive Linemen now.

80. Chicago Bears: Amini Silatolu OG (Midwestern State)

Chicago would be wise to acquire a couple of Offensive Linemen in this season’s Draft, and upgrading the interior of their Line is an absolute must.  One player that could end up intriguing the Bears as well as many other teams in the middle Rounds is Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State.

Silatolu has been giving scouts much to talk about this offseason, as an under-the-radar prospect coming out of the Division II ranks.  While the 6’4″ 311 lb. Silatolu played Tackle during his collegiate career, Silatolu is projected as a Guard and has the size and raw athleticism to build a nice career for himself at that position.  While he might not be a guy that can start Day 1 and will also have to adjust to the speed of the professional game, Silatolu displayed enough athleticism and upside on tape for scouts and at The Combine for him to warrant a late 2nd to 3rd Round selection.

81. Arizona Cardinals: Mychal Kendricks ILB (California)

While the Cardinals have Brandon Washington at one ILB spot, they still could use an upgrade at the other.  As Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton saw in Pittsburgh, having one solid ILB is good, having two is better.

If the Cardinals decide not to pursue Luke Kuechly in Round 1, they will likely take an ILB with their second pick in the Draft which comes in Round 3.  One player which could be available to them is California’s Mychal Kendricks.  Built much like Bobby Wagner (5’11” 240 lbs.), Kendricks is also a tackling machine that has great speed (4.47 40) and can get to the ball carrier.

Another thing Kendricks has going in his favor is that he has experience playing ILB and OLB in a 3-4 Defense at the collegiate level.  Versatility and experience are valued greatly, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if another 3-4 team selected Kendricks before the Cardinals could.

82. Dallas Cowboys: Ben Jones C/OG (Georgia)

Regardless of whether or not the Cowboys take David DeCastro in Round 1, Dallas should look to upgrade the Interior of their Offensive Line more than once this offseason.  If Dallas is unable to replace the inconsistent Phil Costa, they could be in for a long season.

Dallas could look for help along their Offensive Line by selecting Rimington Award Finalist Ben Jones of Georgia.  While Jones will not awe anybody with his athleticism, he is a consistent player that logged 49 starts at Georgia during his 4 seasons there.  While not big for a Lineman (6’2″ 302 lbs.), Jones uses what weight and leverage he does have well.  It will be interesting to see where Jones does go and if he is able to hold up against some of the bigger Nose Tackles as a Center.  If not, Jones will likely have to move to Guard at the next level.

83. Tennessee Titans: Josh Kaddu OLB (Oregon)

Tennessee could use some help on the Defensive side of the ball at the Linebacker position.  The Titans’ Defense raked #24 against the Run, 14th against the Pass, and 18th Overall in Yardage.  Will Witherspoon is on the back-end of his career and it would be nice if the Titans could acquire a solid 4-3 OLB to fit their system.

Kaddu (6’3″ 239 lbs.), a Strongside Linebacker at Oregon, was named 1st Team All-Pac 12 in 2011 and started 27 games during his Junior and Senior seasons.  Kaddu can get to the passer when asked to rush and accumulated 9.0 Sacks from his OLB position from 2010-2011.  It honestly wouldn’t shock me at all if Kaddu wasn’t the first or only LB selected by the Titans this year.

84. Cincinnati Bengals: Brandon Brooks OG (Miami OH)

The Bengals could use some help at the Guard position because Bobbie Williams might leave via Free Agency and he will be 36 years of age in 2012.  Luckily for them, and as I’ve stated before, this is a great Draft Class to find a Guard.

Cincinnati could select the gargantuan Brandon Brooks of Miami (OH).  While a bit underdeveloped and not having played against the best of competition in the M.A.C., Brooks’ size and overall upside could have him going as high as the 3rd Round this April.  It’s tough to pass on a Guard in the 3rd Round that is 6’5″ and 353 lbs., that also wowed scouts at his Pro Day.

85. Detroit Lions: Chris Polk RB (Washington)

While it seems like a luxury pick for Detroit to take a RB this early, they actually need help at that position more than people think.  The RB by Committee of Maurice Morris, Kevin Smith, Keiland Williams and Jahvid Best needs to be upgraded, as none of the Four had more than 84 Carries last season.  And yes, I understand that Mikel LeShoure will be coming back from his Achilles injury.  Yet I must question how effective he will be.

Adding a bruiser like Chris Polk (5’11” 215 lbs.) that can take advantage of other teams being spread out by the Lions’ potent passing attack will only strike more fear into the hearts’ of Detroit’s opponents.  Polk is a tough guy in between the Tackles and can shoulder the load of a running game if need be.  Detroit should think long and hard about selecting Polk in Round 3, because he could definitely solve a lot of the Lions’ running issues.

86. Atlanta Falcons: Dwight Bentley CB (Louisiana-Lafayette)

Atlanta is going to need help in the Secondary in the coming years.  Dunta Robinson has only been decent since arriving in 2010, and the Falcons ranked 20th in YPG against the Pass in 2012.  Changes and upgrades are in order and if Dwight Bentley falls to them, I believe that the Falcons will be thrilled.

A bit undersized (5’10” 182 lbs.), Bentley has nice closing speed and is really a tough guy.  He understands how to break down and tackle a ball carrier and he isn’t afraid to mix it up at the line of scrimmage.  I watched two games of his last season (vs. Arizona and vs. San Diego State), and Bentley was all over the field making tackles in both contests.  While he could lose his share of matchups against bigger WR’s in man coverage, Bentley at worst is a solid Nickel option in the slot.