NPC Final Mock Draft With Trades (3 Full Rounds, Steelers Picks in Rounds 4-7)

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Round 3 Cont.

80. Arizona Cardinals: Juron Criner WR (Arizona)

Arizona will be looking to find a WR to compliment Larry Fitzgerald this offseason, and might be looking to select one early on Draft day.  Acquiring more weapons for the winner of the Kolb/Skelton battle will be of the utmost importance, and giving them other targets to work with besides Fitzgerald will allow him to get more open.  Luckily for the Cardinals, the remedy to their ills could be just 90 minutes down the road from Phoenix where they play.  I have personally watched Juron Criner throughout his college career in Tucson, and I can say with full effect that he is going to be a terrific pro player for a team like the Cardinals or whichever team drafts him.  His size-speed combo (6’3″ 224 lbs.) is tough to match up with, and Arizona will find themselves a “gamer” that can stretch the field, has great hands, and make life difficult for the opposing Defenses.

(Previous Selection: Marvin Jones, WR, California)

81. 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, and the 6’2″ 302 lb. 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.

(Previous Selection: Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami OH)

82. Tennessee Titans: Dwight Bentley CB (Louisiana-Lafayette)

Now that Cortland Finnegan is gone, the Titans are going to need to acquire some depth at the Cornerback position.  One player which they could select is Louisiana-Lafayette’s Dwight Bentley.  While he might be bit undersized (5’10” 182 lbs.), Bentley has nice closing speed and is really a tough guy around the line of scrimmage.  Bentley understands how to break down and tackle a ball carrier and he isn’t afraid to mix it up with anybody.  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.

83. Cincinnati Bengals: Chris Polk RB (Washington)

Don’t get me wrong, the signing of “The Law Firm” in the form of BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a smart move by Cincinnati this offseason.  Still, the Bengals will need another Back to compliment him, because Bernard Scott might not be the answer.  One player which could be on the Bengals’ radars because of his skill set is Chris Polk.  The Washington Back is a tough inside runner with a frame of 5’11” and 215 lbs. which can make the chains move and can flatten defenders.

(Previous Selection: Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin)

84. Detroit Lions: Alfonzo Dennard CB (Nebraska)

Regardless of his recent run-in with the law, Alfonzo Dennard should be a late-Day 2 selection.  One team in particular which could use the help of his services are the Cornerback-starved Lions.  If Detroit wants to be the N.F.C.’s representative in future Super Bowls that they must find a way to stop the aerial shows led by the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, etc..  Dennard would benefit from Detroit’s strong pass rush and provide an immediate upgrade to the Lions’ 22nd Ranked (in YPG) Pass Defense.

(Previous Selection: Chris Polk, RB, Washington)

85. Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Washington OG/OT (Miami FL)

Luckily for the Falcons, because this Guard draft class is so deep and talented, Atlanta should not have a problem selecting a solid player to shore up one of their Guard spots.  That being said, they should take a long look at the road-grading 6’3″ 325 lb. Washington in the 3rd Round.  In addition to playing Guard, Washington also played some Left Tackle this past season and helped Lamar Miller gain almost 1,300 yards on the ground for the Hurricanes.  Helping both Michael Turner and protecting Matt Ryan will be of the utmost importance as Atlanta attempts to take “the next step” and improve on the Offensive side of the ball.

(Previous Selection: Brandon Washington, OG/OT, Miami FL)

86. Pittsburgh Steelers: Mitchell Schwartz OT (California)

Schwartz came in for a visit recently, and if he is available at the end of the 3rd Round, I would imagine that Pittsburgh would be tempted to select him.  Due to Willie Colon being injury prone, and Marcus Gilbert shifting to Left Tackle, Pittsburgh has some uncertainty surrounding the Right Tackle position.  Schwartz started 51 games at Cal at Left (35) and Right (16) Tackle, and earned 1st Team All-Pac 12 Honors in 2011.  While he won’t wow anybody with his athleticism, the 6’5” 318 lb. Schwartz is a steady player that has versatility which many teams like the Steelers covet.  Like Zebrie Sanders, Schwartz could “Swing Tackle” on game-days in Years 1-2, and eventually find a spot starting at Right Tackle by year 2-3.

(Previous Selection: Josh Chapman, NT, Alabama)

87. Denver Broncos: Brock Osweiler QB (Arizona State)

Despite getting Peyton Manning, Denver will look to acquire a Quarterback of the future this weekend to groom behind him.  In terms of his athletic ability, the 6’7″ 240 lbs. Osweiler committed to Gonzaga on a basketball scholarship before deciding to go to Tempe to play QB.  His sample size of 15 games started is small for many teams, but his arm strength and athleticism could make him a danger to opposing Defenses down the road and might entice the Broncos to take him.  Osweiler’s accuracy and ability to throw on the run may need a bit of work, and he shouldn’t be asked to be the Day 1 savior of the Broncos franchise.  Still, the upside is there, and Denver can afford to take a chance on him.

(Preous Selection: T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International)

88. 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.

89. New Orleans Saints: Mike Martin DT (Michigan)

I’m being nice here, but that performance by New Orleans’ Defense in the closing minutes of the N.F.C. Divisional Playoff was terrible.  I don’t care how good Drew Brees is, if that Defense cannot force turnovers it’s the Achilles Heel of the entire franchise.  The Saints will be looking to upgrade their Defensive Line under new Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Mike Martin could be the choice for the Saints at #89.  Martin had a strong Senior Bowl week and projects to be a 4-3 DT that can play either the 1 or 3-Techniques after playing mostly NT in Michigan’s 3-4 alignment in college.  The 6’1″ 304 lbs. prospect’s high motor will be valued by Spagnuolo as well because the Saints will look to create pressure whenever possible with their Front 4.

90. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Taylor S (Louisiana State)

Green Bay needs help in the Secondary, and it would not shock me at all if two of their first four selections were used to help against the pass.  Brandon Taylor (5’11” 209 lbs.) established himself as a playmaker on the Tigers’ talented back-end during his college career and racked up 69 Tackles and 2 Interceptions in 2011.  If the Packers are smart they would hedge their bets and improve a position where Nick Collins’ career is in doubt and Charlie Peprah is a backup at best.

(Previous Selection: Derek Wolfe, DE/DT, Cincinnati)

91. Baltimore Ravens: Antonio Allen S (South Carolina)

Ed Reed cannot play forever (Thank the Football Deities), and Baltimore could use some depth at Safety in the coming seasons.  One player in particular that could be on Baltimore’s radar in Rounds 3-4 is Antonio Allen of South Carolina who would be a great fit.  While not an overly big guy by any means (6’1″ 210 lbs.), Allen did establish himself as one of the Gamecocks better tacklers during his college career.  Allen played the versatile “Spur” position, where the Safety is in the box a lot and has to cover Backs and Ends, as well as defend the run, and would be a solid replacement for Bernard Pollard who is a liability in pass coverage at times.

(Previous Selection: James Brown, OT, Troy)

92. San Francisco 49ers: Tyrone Crawford DE/DT (Boise State)

San Francisco could use some depth along their Defensive Line, and they will probably look to select a Defensive End in the middle Rounds next month.  A JUCO Transfer with only one season of starting experience at Boise State, Tyrone 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 has tremendous athleticism and upside, but he extremely raw and has only played two seasons in the Mountain West Conference.  But with a bit of coaching and some development, the 49ers could get some serious value with a player like Crawford in the 3rd or 4th Round.

93. New England Patriots: Ron Brooks CB (Louisiana State)

The Patriots need help all over their Secondary at this point.  The multiple picks they have used have mostly fizzled, and they must find a way to stop teams because they had the League’s 2nd worst Defense against the pass in 2011.  Ron Brooks is a solid value selection at the end of Round 3, and had himself a nice career at Louisiana State despite Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, and Tyrann Mathieu grabbing most of the headlines.  Brooks is a tad small (5’10” 190 lbs.), yet has sub 4.4 speed, and like other Tiger Cornerbacks is physical and projects to be a fantastic option in Nickel and Dime packages at the next level.

(Previous Selection: Antonio Allen, S, South Carolina)

94. New York Giants: Nigel Bradham ILB/OLB (Miami FL)

The Giants could use some depth at the Inside and Outside Linebacker spots, and Nigel Bradham could be a player which they target in Round 3.  Bradham started for three years at Florida State and saw action in each of the four years he played in Tallahassee.  Bradham notched 277 Tackles, 20.5 TFL, and 3 INT’s in his three years as a starter and usually could be found near the ball as a Seminole.  Bradham has terrific tackling skills, and should be coveted by a team that takes so much pride in their Defense and it’s ability to dominate.

95. Oakland Raiders: Josh Norman CB (Coastal Carolina)

Oakland’s Secondary sure could use some help.  Last season the Raiders ranked 31st in Passing TD’s allowed, and 27th in Passing Yards allowed, and that was with Stanford Routt in their lineup.  With Routt gone, Oakland sure could use a replacement for him and Nnamdi Asomugha who they lost last season.  Luckily, one player in particular they could select is the developmental prospect Josh Norman.  While big CB at 6’0 197 lbs., Norman is still a bit raw technique-wise, and did not play against the most stellar competition while attending Coastal Carolina for college.  Still, Norman did a terrific job at The East-West Game and could really be a sleeper pick for any team that considers him in the 3rd or 4th Rounds this season.

(Previous Selection: Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt)