Dec 31, 2013; El Paso, TX, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) during the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2013 Sun Bowl at Sun Bowl Stadium. UCLA defeated Virginia Tech 42-12. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
11. Tennessee Titans
Anthony Barr – OLB, UCLA
With Ken Whisenhunt and Ray Horton coming to Tennessee, it’s clear the Titans will be shifting to more 3-4 looks on defense next season. The Titans will need to get a playmaker that can get after the quarterback. Barr is raw, but athletic. The Titans aren’t in “win now” mode and can afford to take time grooming Barr into a polished pass rusher.
12. New York Giants
Aaron Donald – DT, Pittsburgh
What once was a dominate defensive line rotation has fizzled out in recent years. Aaron Donald is the top defensive lineman on the board and would give the Giants a nice inside presence as a pass-rusher. He’s on the small side (6’1″ – 285), but he plays bigger than his size would indicate. He’d be a great fit at 3-technique in the Giants traditional 4-3 scheme.
13. St. Louis Rams
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – S, Alabama
The consensus top safety in the draft lands on a team desperate for upgrades in the secondary. The Rams have to secure their secondary in a division that touts Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis, and Percy Harvin. Clinton-Dix would allow Rodney McLeod to go back to reserve role and would give the Rams a starting-caliber running mate with T.J. McDonald.
14. Chicago Bears
Justin Gilbert – CB, Oklahoma St.
So far Phil Emery has been able to address the weak points on the team since he took over for Jerry Angelo. He’s bolstered the once laughable offensive line and built one of the better receiving cores in the league. Still, the Bears are aging quickly on defense, and it won’t be long before time takes it’s tole on the Chicago secondary. With this in mind, the Bears select Justin Gilbert. He’s a tall, fast corner that can inject some youth and talent to an aging unit.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
Darqueze Dennard – CB, Michigan St.
Much like Chicago, the Steelers have seen their once dominate defense get old quickly. They’ve spent the offseason restructuring deals and trying to plug holes, but what they really need is to begin to look toward the future. Ike Taylor is past his prime and Dennard would provide them with a big, physical cornerback that could handle the receivers in the AFC North. Dennard’s physical play will probably earn him a share of penalty flags throughout his career, but it’s also what makes him a first round talent.
16. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Pryor – S, Louisville
Dallas needs help badly on the defensive line, but with no one on the board worth picking that highly they choose to attack the secondary. Barry Church isn’t a terrible starter, and the team seems high on J.J. Wilcox, but they have nobody worth playing behind them. Jeff Heath was simply over his head when asked to play last season. Like Dennard, Pryor’s style of play will probably cost him a lot of money in the NFL, but he could also provide a tone-setting mentality Dallas needs in their secondary.
17. Baltimore Ravens
Zach Martin – OT, Notre Dame
With Michael Oher splitting town, the Ravens are suddenly left with a gaping hole on the right side of their offensive line. And while Oher’s inconsistent (and sometimes awful) play probably won’t be missed in Baltimore they need to upgrade over Ricky Wagner. Pairing Martin with Eugene Monroe would give Joe Flacco a pair of competent bookend tackles that should help get him back to his 2013 playoff run form.
18. New York Jets
Odell Beckham Jr. – WR, LSU
The Jets should run to the podium if Beckham Jr. is still on the board. He’s one of the most talented receivers in this year’s class. I think he would pair well with Eric Decker to give the Jets a viable threat on the outside. The Jets need to continue to build around Geno Smith.
19. Miami Dolphins
Brandin Cooks – WR, Oregon St.
The Dolphins go ahead and continue to help out their young quarterback. There are reports that the Dolphins are very interested in left tackle Zach Martin, but unfortunately for them he’s off the board at this point. Cooks is a lightning quick receiver that would immediately enter in Miami as their #3 slot receiver. He has great short-area quickness and has outstanding run after the catch ability.
20. Arizona Cardinals
Blake Bortles – QB, Central Florida
Unlikely to happen in May, but this might be Bortles ideal landing spot. He’d have a tremendous coach in Bruce Arians and wouldn’t have to come in as the starter day one. He’d be able to sit and learn behind Carson Palmer until he’s ready.