Scout NFL Team Experts Mock Draft: Part 2

The NFL Draft is upon us, so the time has come for the experts at Scout.com to huddle up for their annual mock draft. When will the run on receivers begin? What will Dallas do with its two first-rounders? Does another QB get selected soon? Here is the bottom half of Round 1 ...

If you missed the first 16 picks of our mock draft, click here.

No. 17: Minnesota Vikings

DE Phillip Merling – Clemson
Derrick Harvey, a better pass rusher than Merling, made it past Carolina but not Detroit. That left the Vikings with three choices: Get a potential boom-or-bust pick in Pittsburgh tackle Jeff Otah, hedge their bets heavily against quarterback Tarvaris Jackson and draft Brian Brohm, or go with what is considered a relatively safe pick that fills a need by providing an all-around defensive end. Of course, the Vikings may not even end up with this pick if the Jared Allen trade happens, but absent that and everything falling the way it has in this mock draft, the Vikings and Merling would likely merge. – Tim Yotter, VikingUpdate.com

No. 18: Houston Texans

OT Jeff Otah – Pittsburgh
Any NFL team that starts Ephraim Salaam for any extended period of time desperately needs help on the offensive line. With the new regime in Houston, they've finally learned from the mistakes of years past and are building their team from the inside out rather than selecting skill-position players on offense early in the draft. Jeff Otah is a great value at No. 18, and he can be a fixture on the Texans offensive line for years to come. This giant can earn a starting job from Day 1, as he has tons of raw talent. With a top-notch tackle, perhaps Matt Schaub will stay healthier in 2008. – Charlie Bernstein, JagNation.com

No. 19: Philadelphia Eagles

S Kenny Phillips – Miami (FL)
The Eagles' leader on defense, Brian Dawkins, is entering the last year of his contract and turns 35 this year, so Philadelphia will take Phillips while Dawkins is still on the roster so he can serve as a mentor. Phillips has the size (6-2, 212 pounds) and instincts to be a difference-maker at the next level, and his athleticism and physical style of play should fit in well with Jim Johnson's defense. He is regarded by many as the best safety in this year's draft. After dealing with so many injuries at the safety position last season, Phillips will provide the Eagles with more depth there and should also be a contributor on special teams. – Andrew Pluta, WarNest.com

No. 20: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

LB Keith Rivers – Southern California
The Bucs have a history of draft curveballs with Bruce Allen as GM and Jon Gruden as head coach, and as much as Gruden will want to use this pick for a wide receiver, even he can't pass up a player with the talent of Rivers. He's the most complete linebacker in the draft and capable of playing all three positions, versatility that the Bucs value across their roster. Plus, with Derrick Brooks now 34, Rivers gives them options when the future Hall-of-Famer retires as he can take Brooks' place on the weak side or slide over to the strong side when Cato June moves to weak side. – Matthew Postins, BucsBlitz.com

No. 21: Washington Redskins

WR Devin Thomas – Michigan State
The Redskins went into this draft needing a bigger target for Jason Campbell to throw to not named Chris Cooley. Currently, the Redskins have a top three wide receiver set that could pass for the next rendition of the Smurfs. The only big target they really have at wideout is Anthony Mix, and he is far from proven. Thomas gives the Redskins that bigger target they covet at the receiver position, and they don't have to worry about giving up the farm to the Bengals for Ocho Cinco. – George Lafoon, WarpathInsiders.com

No. 22: Dallas Cowboys

WR Limas Sweed – Texas
Sweed gives Dallas another weapon for Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo, while also giving an aging group of wide receivers some much needed youth. The former Longhorn standout has excellent size and also displays good change of direction in the open field. While a wrist injury is somewhat of a concern, Sweed will have the ability to become an instant impact in the Cowboys' offense playing alongside the likes of Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, and Terry Glenn in 2008. – Roy Philpott, RanchReport.com

No. 23: Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Jonathan Stewart – Oregon
Management keeps saying they have real offensive lineman. Okay. Let's live with them. Let's even get a running back to run behind those beauties. Head coach Mike Tomlin won't want to run Willie Parker until the wheels come off again. Parker broke his fibula last year but is back strong – he ran a 4.4 for the team last month. Still, he can't do it alone. Stewart gives them more power inside with outside speed, as well. He led the nation in kick-return average as a freshman, so that's his first job with the Steelers. And as an added bonus, he just turned 21. – Jim Wexell, SteelCityInsider.com

No. 24: Tennessee Titans

WR James Hardy – Indiana
James Hardy may be the most physically talented wide receiver in this draft class. And with the soon to be 35-year-old Eric Moulds on one side, along with Justin Gage, Brandon Jones, and Roydell Williams as their other targets, Tennessee is in desperate need of another pass-catching threat for quarterback Vince Young, who struggled mightily in 2007. Hardy is a physically gifted athlete, as he stands 6-6, weighs 217 pounds, and runs the 40 in the low 4.4s. He could end up as the best wideout from what is considered to be a very deep group. – Charlie Bernstein, JagNation.com

No. 25: Seattle Seahawks

S Tyrell Johnson – Arkansas State
There's a growing buzz about this kid, and some who study game tape for a living believe Johnson to be the draft's best safety prospect. Yes, better than Kenny Phillips. Any small-school dings are erased by the fact that his best games in 2007 were against Texas and Tennessee. Johnson has supernatural closing speed, and he matches it with a strength that allowed him to put up 27 bench-press reps at the combine. The leading tackler in Sun Belt Conference history, Johnson will make people forget current free safety Brian Russell's tendency to tackle like a Girl Scout. – Doug Farrar, Seahawks.net

No. 26: Jacksonville Jaguars

DT Trevor Laws – Notre Dame
The Jaguars reach a bit with this pick, but they have Trevor Laws rated higher than Kentwan Balmer and Laws could be a suitable replacment for the departed Marcus Stroud. Laws is a strong, high-motor guy who will be able to make an impact as a pass-rushing defensive tackle, as well as teaming up with John Henderson to stop the run. Ideally, the Jaguars would like to trade, either up to get Phillip Merling or out of the first round entirely. But if they must stay at No. 26, Laws will fill a need. – Charlie Bernstein, JagNation.com

No. 27: San Diego Chargers

CB Brandon Flowers – Virginia Tech
The Chargers have a tough choice with Flowers and Gosder Cherilus still on the board, but GM A.J. Smith values corners more than tackles. Depth is paper-thin behind Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer, and the Chargers need a nickelback who can hold up against the three-receiver sets featured by the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Flowers has the athleticism to make plays on the ball and the physicality to come up against the run, a combination that will prove difficult for the Chargers to pass up at this spot. – Michael Lombardo, SDBoltReport.com

No. 28: Dallas Cowboys

RB Felix Jones – Arkansas
Jones gives Dallas the perfect complement to Pro Bowler Marion Barber after the departure of Julius Jones in free agency. His open-field speed and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield should provide more firepower to the Dallas backfield in 2008. He also has the ability to become a standout kick returner on special teams. After already adding Limas Sweed to the receiving corps six picks earlier, a potent Cowboys offense suddenly looks even scarier. – Roy Philpott, RanchReport.com

No. 29: San Francisco 49ers

DE Quentin Groves – Auburn
The 49ers need help along the offensive line and at receiver, but they opt to fill one of their most pressing voids with Auburn's Quentin Groves, a defensive end/linebacker tweener who has the potential to be a force in San Francisco's 3-4 defensive scheme. The 49ers need impact from the position after their edge linebackers recorded just six sacks in 2007. Groves is an intriguing combination of size and speed, running an impressive 4.57-second 40 at the NFL Combine at 259 pounds. And as Auburn's all-time sack leader, he knows how to get to the quarterback. – Craig Massei, SFIllustrated.com

No. 30: Green Bay Packers

CB Antoine Cason – Arizona
The Packers will use the 30th-overall pick on Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason. Veteran starting corners Al Harris, 33, and Charles Woodson, 31, are in the twilight of their careers, so the Packers will groom Cason, who won the Jim Thorpe Award as the top defensive back in the country last year, to eventually start and play in passing defenses this season. While he lacks ideal closing speed and isn't much of a tackler, he shows great anticipation and excellent ball skills. – Todd Korth, PackerReport.com

Pick Forfeited: New England Patriots

No. 31: New York Giants

LB Jerod Mayo – Tennessee
While the Giants were hoping that either Kenny Phillips or Tyrell Johnson fell to them with the last pick of the first round, they're awfully happy to land a linebacker. Plenty of consideration was given to Penn State's Dan Connor here, but the Giants pulled the trigger on the more athletic Jerod Mayo, who helped himself tremendously with a great offseason. The Tennessee product can play all three `backer spots, but he will likely project as a weak-side defender in the Big Apple. – Ken Palmer, TheGiantInsider.com

Be on the lookout for Part III of the Scout.com Intersite Mock Draft on Thursday.


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