2013 NFL Mock Draft 4.0, The Pittsburgh Steelers Select…

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Round 2

33. Jacksonville Jaguars: Xavier Rhodes CB (Florida State)

The Jaguars need Cornerback help, and it would not surprise me if they went in that direction on Day 2 of the Draft.  Standing at 6’1″ and 217 lbs., the imposing Rhodes was a 1st Team All-ACC Cornerback as he racked up 39 Tackles and 3 Interceptions this year.  A team can never have too many Corners in today’s N.F.L., and a player who has the tools and size to stack up against N.F.L.-caliber pass-catchers like Rhodes could interest teams in Round 1.

34. Kansas City Chiefs: Tavon Austin WR (West Virginia)

If the Chiefs tab Geno Smith as their QB of the future, look for them to find him some weapons.  Not only did Austin top the 100 Catch mark during his Junior season, he had an even more productive Senior campaign as he recorded 114 grabs for 1,289 Yards and 12 TD’s.  But Austin not only shined in the passing game for the Mountaineers, he also was effective in the run-game as he rushed for an incredible 643 Yards and 3 TD’s on only 72 Carries.  Andy Reid had a similar player to Austin in Philadelphia, DeSean Jackson, and Tavon’s presence will definitely help Smith transition to the professional level.

35. Philadelphia Eagles: E.J. Manuel QB (Florida State)

My guess is that Philadelphia will try to find a Quarterback on Day 2 of the Draft, and the Eagles might elect to go with the athletic E.J. Manuel from Florida State.  Manuel replaced Christian Ponder at Florida State and led the Seminoles to an Orange Bowl victory as a Senior (263 for 387, 3,392 Yards, 23 TD’s, 10 INT’s, 4 Rush TD’s).  In addition to his large frame (6’4″ 237 lbs.), Manuel possesses a good deal of ability as a runner, and thrower on the run.  While Manuel’s decision-making under duress leaves much to be desired (vs. Florida last year) I believe that he will be on the Eagles’ wish list of QB prospects this April.

36. Detroit Lions: Alex Okafor DE (Texas)

Detroit will likely need some serious help at Defensive End if they fail to do anything in Free Agency.  Okafor had a fantastic career with the Longhorns which was capped off by an extremely productive Senior campaign.  Overall, Alex racked up 68 Tackles, 18.0 TFL’s, and 12.5 Sacks over 13 Games, and did so with his talented pass-rushing mate Jackson Jeffcoat sidelined for most of the year with a pectoral injury.  Equipped with a nice burst upfield for a bigger guy (6’5″ 265 lbs.), Okafor could find playing time quickly in Detroit as Kyle Vanden Bosch will turn 35 this year, and Cliff Avril is likely set to leave town as a Free Agent.

37. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Cyprien SS (Florida International)

Although Reggie Nelson is signed long term, Chris Crocker (2013), Nate Clements (2013), and Taylor Mays (2014) will all be reaching UFA status soon.  Thus, the Bengals could be looking to take a Safety for depth/future starting purposes.  Jonathan Cyprien’s stock seems to be rising fast, and there is good reason for that as the Florida International Strong Safety shined during Senior Bowl week, and enjoyed a solid 2012 season with the Golden Panthers (93 Tackles, 3.5 TFL’s, and 4 INT’s).  Although Cyprien is not as agile as Matt Elam in pass-coverage, he does possess decent size for a Strong Safety (6′ 209 lbs.), and can play with toughness near the line of scrimmage in run support.

38. Arizona Cardinals: Dallas Thomas OG/OT (Tennessee)

The Cardinals must find a way to rebuild their Offensive Line under Bruce Arians.  As we saw in Cleveland with Tim Couch, in Pittsburgh with Big Ben, and in Indianapolis with Andrew Luck: the Quarterback will be hung out to dry, and Arians’ game-planning will not change according to the talent, or lack thereof, the Offensive Line in place possesses.  Arizona’s Offensive Line surrendered a League high 58.0 Sacks last year, and Bobby Massie and D’Anthony Batiste looked lost at the Right and Left Tackle positions numerous times in 2012.  The Cardinals could target the versatile Dallas Thomas of Tennessee.  A two-year starter at Left Tackle with the Volunteers in 2010 and 2011 (37 career starts), Thomas kicked in to Left Guard last year and emerged as one of the best Interior Linemen in the nation.

39. New York Jets: John Jenkins NT (Georgia)

I am sure that Rex Ryan misses coaching Haloti Ngata for so many years.  It is always a big help for a 3-4 Defense to have a stout, and immovable Nose Tackle.   So Ryan might want to take Johnathan Jenkins (6’3″ 358 lbs.) if he slips into Round 2.  Jenkins is a space-eating and prototypical 0-Technique who had himself a fine Senior season in Athens (50 Tackles, 2.0 TFL’s, 1.0 Sack, 14 QB Hurries), and should be a terrific gap-clogging player at the professional level.  Unfortunately, Jenkins does not provide much in the form of a pass-rush, and might only project to be a 2-Down player.  Plus, one must also question if the former Bulldog will be able to keep his massive weight in check.

40. Tennessee Titans: Larry Warford OG (Kentucky)

The Titans must bolster the interior of their Offensive Line, and they could decide to fill that need early in Round 2 with Larry Warford of Kentucky.  Left Guard Steve Hutchinson will be in his 13th year when the season begins, while Right Guard Leroy Harris will be a UFA this offseason, and both players ended last year on Injured Reserve.  Warford, a 6’3″ 333 lb. road-grader, was a three-year starter with the Wildcats and emerged as one of the S.E.C.’s best Interior Linemen in addition to Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack, and Dallas Thomas.  If the Titans are serious about upgrading their ground attack (2012: 21st in Total Rushing Yards 1,687), the selection of a run-blocking Guard like Warford would be a great start.

41. Buffalo Bills: Matt Barkley QB (Southern Cal)

If Buffalo does not target a Quarterback with the 8th overall pick, and new Head Coach Doug Marrone is not ga-ga over Ryan Fitzpatrick, I am sure that Matt Barkley (6’2″ 223 lbs.) will be on the franchise’s radar.  I believe that Matt Barkley’s stock will rise once he comes back from his shoulder surgery and teams begin to look at more film of him and his successful collegiate career as a whole (246 for 387, 3,273 Yards, 63.6%, 36 TD’s & 15 INT’s was a “down year” in 2012).  Although Barkley might not be considered the most mobile of Quarterbacks, he ran a Pro-Style system at Southern Cal, possesses a strong enough arm to make every throw on the field, and does so in an accurate fashion.

42. Miami Dolphins: Jesse Williams DT (Alabama)

Randy Starks will be a UFA this offseason, while fellow Defensive Tackle Paul Soliai will reach UFA status in 2014.  To hedge their bets in the event that both players are not around during the 2014 season, it would serve Miami well to select one of the numerous talented Defensive Tackle prospects available in this year’s Draft Class.  Jesse Williams of Alabama at 6’3″ 320 lbs. (37 Tackles, 2.5 TFL’s, and 1.0 Sack in 2012) could be just the space-eater the Dolphins need as insurance in the present, and a force in the middle as they head into the future.

43. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnathan Hankins DT (Ohio State)

Tampa Bay must fill needs at multiple spots on Defense, and if they elect to take a Cornerback or a Safety in Round 1, I could definitely see them taking the best Defensive Tackle available with the 43rd overall pick.  A wide-bodied gap-clogger, Hankins (6’3″ 320 lbs.) shined during his Junior season with the Buckeyes as he logged 55 Tackles, 4.0 TFL’s, 1.0 Sack, and earned All-Big-10 honors.  Hankins’ stock could slip due to issues regarding his weight and his “motor,” but it is unlikely he will fall any lower than the middle of the 2nd Round.

44. Carolina Panthers: DeAndre Hopkins WR (Clemson)

If the Panthers elect to take a Defensive Tackle in this year’s “DT heavy Draft Class” on Day 1, I would not be shocked to see them try to get the best Offensive playmaker on the board to help Cam Newton in Round 2.  Carolina needs an eventual replacement for Steve Smith, and a boost to their WR corps as a whole.  Thus, I believe that the Panthers might be intrigued to take the speedy DeAndre Hopkins (6’1″ 200 lbs.) if he is available in Round 2.  Although he shared the WR spotlight with his teammate Sammy Watkins, all Hopkins did at Clemson was produce during his three-year stint there.  After an incredibly productive Sophomore season which saw him catch 72 passes for 978 Yards and 5 TD’s, Hopkins improved to the tune of 82 Catches for 1,405 Yards and 9 TD’s this past year.

45. San Diego Chargers: Barrett Jones OG/C/OT (Alabama)

Philip Rivers was bludgeoned last season as an assortment of backups did their best to stop the opposing pass-rushers.  San Diego gave up 49.0 Sacks last year (4th most in the League), and could definitely use as many talented Offensive Linemen as they can get as Rivers enters his 10th season in the N.F.L..  One player who the Chargers could target early in Round 2 is the versatile Barrett Jones of Alabama.  Jones not only won the 2012 Rimington Trophy (Top Center in College Football), but he also won the 2011 Outland Trophy (Top Interior Lineman in College Football).  Overall, Jones was a 4-year starter at Alabama and started at Center, Right Guard, and Left Tackle, and could best serve the Chargers who are in need of talent in the interior of their Offensive Line.

46. St. Louis Rams: Eddie Lacy RB (Alabama)

If the Rams are not confident in the Daryl Richardson/Isaiah Pead combo. after Steven Jackson leaves this offseason, it might be wise for them to take a Running Back early in the draft process.  Eddie Lacy would be a perfect fit with the Rams, especially in the rough and tough A.F.C. West.  The 5’10” 220 lb. bruiser stepped into the starring role in the Tide’s Backfield last season and logged  204 Carries, 1,322 Yards, 17 TD’s and even put up 22 Catches, 189 Yards, 2 TD’s to his stat line as Alabama won the National Championship.

47. Dallas Cowboys: Kawann Short DT (Purdue)

Dallas could definitely use some help at the Defensive Tackle position as the offseason progresses.  Not only is soon to be 32 year-old Jay Ratliff facing a D.U.I. charge he picked up last year, but his backup Josh Brent could be headed to prison for an extended period after he killed his teammate Jerry Brown in a D.U.I. Manslaughter accident back in December.  As the Cowboys transition to a 4-3 scheme on Defense, they are definitely in need of a future starter at the Defensive Tackle position.  The 6’3″ 315 lb. Short had a terrific year on an otherwise mediocre Boilermaker Defense as he registered 42 Tackles, 14.5 TFL’s, and 6.0 Sacks from the interior of the Defensive Line.