11. Kansas City Chiefs
Inside linebacker, Boston College
Kuechly is the best linebacker in the draft and arguably the best player available at this point in the draft. General manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel are from the Bill Belichick tree, and Kuechly strikes me as a player the Patriots would love: hard-nosed, great intensity, and tremendous work ethic. Inside linebacker isn’t Kansas City’s biggest need – nose tackle is – but I still see the Chiefs liking Kuechly too much to pass up at this point in the draft.
12. Seattle Seahawks
Defensive end, North Carolina
Coples has top-five talent but knocks against his work ethic, motor, and consistency will make him slip in the draft. Despite desiring a franchise quarterback, Seattle needs to upgrade its defense. Red Bryant is currently a starting defensive end putting up Jayme Mitchell-like numbers in Seattle. The Seahawks would be wise to take a chance on a talented end like Coples.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Wide receiver, Notre Dame
Many experts have the Cards selecting Michael Floyd to pair him up with Larry Fitzgerald, but if their quarterback can’t stay upright, what’s the point? This offensive line is absolutely terrible, and I see an upgrade in that unit being the smartest pick for Arizona. However, ‘smart’ and ‘Arizona’ don’t always go hand-in-hand. Accordingly, I think they mistakingly take Floyd, and Kevin Kolb is left without time in the pocket to properly utilize him.
14. Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones is rumored to love Barron, and Jerry Jones gets what Jerry Jones wants. Dontari Poe will be an option here, but Barron is likely to be the pick.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Defensive tackle, LSU
Mark Barron is an option here if available, but I see Andy Reid looking to add an explosive defensive lineman that can help against the run. Brockers fits that bill.
16. New York Jets
Defensive end/outside linebacker, Syracuse
The Jets would love Barron to slip to this pick, but I don’t see him falling past Dallas. Jones is more of the type of athlete that head coach Rex Ryan develops into a pass rusher, so I think Jones will be the pick over Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw. I could also see the Jets making a serious play at Jacksonville’s No. 7 in order to select Melvin Ingram or Michael Floyd.
I still cannot believe the Raiders traded this pick for Carson Palmer. Kirkpatrick is an extremely talented player who stuck out of the screen when I watched Alabama games this season, but he is projected to slip a little because of a pre-draft marijuana arrest. Lots of talent and slipping because of off-the-field concerns? That sounds like a Bengal to me. Teams between this pick and Cincinnati’s next pick at No. 21 have a need to fill at cornerback, so I think the Bengals will address this position here at 17.
18. San Diego Chargers
Offensive guard, Stanford
DeCastro has risen up draft boards after his impressive Combine and pro day. Guard is San Diego’s biggest need heading into the draft, so, if DeCastro lasts this long, this pick makes a ton of sense.
19. Chicago Bears
Offensive tackle, Stanford
Chicago will consider taking a cornerback here, but this would be a nice addition to an awful offensive line. Martin is a good lineman who can be a solid starter right away for the Bears.
The Browns are picking at No. 22, one pick below division rival Cincinnati. Each team has wide receiver as one of its biggest needs heading into the draft. If the Browns take Richardson at No. 4, I feel they will target Wright as the team’s second pick (if they take Claiborne or Blackmon, I believe the Browns will select Boise State running back Doug Martin at No. 22). Because the Bengals took Kirkpatrick at No. 17, Tennessee – who wants a cornerback – will be able to trade down two spots, pick up a fourth-round pick or so from the Browns, and still take the best cornerback left on their draft board two spots from here. The Browns will sense that the Bengals might take Wright at No. 21, so this move would be a nice way to steal a weapon from Cincy and give something for Colt McCoy to work with in Cleveland.