OVERVIEW: The draft mindset changes considerably in the second round and this year will be no different. Teams with glaring needs that didn't adequately address them in the first round will be more hard-pressed to draft for need because the talent level at some positions takes a significant drop after the first few prospects are off the board. While a case can be made that teams draft for talent rather than need more times than not, it simply isn't true. Teams often draft for needs that weren't addressed in free agency, so the second round likely will include several trades as teams jockey for position to get a player they covet to fill a need.
1. Houston Texans – Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State. If the draft falls this way, the Texans would be ecstatic. Not only to they get Jadeveon Clowney with the first overall pick, they get a quarterback whose brother was the original franchise QB of the Texans and, in the view of some scouts, is a mid-first-round prospect. Not too shabby.
2. Washington Redskins – Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin. The Redskins didn't have their first-round pick (final payment for the RG3 trade in 2011) and need an impact player. This may be a bit of a reach, but with age finally taking down ironman London Fletcher, the Redskins need a long-term replacement at middle linebacker and Borland is a tackling machine who stands out on tape in every game he plays.
3. Cleveland Browns – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska. The Browns addressed offense in the first round. Now they add a big, physical corner to line up opposite Joe Hayden. With three picks in the top 35, the Browns could make some noise quickly in a division that doesn't have a dominant team heading into 2014 – they're all good, but not great, and the distance between Cleveland and the top spot isn't that pronounced.
4. Oakland Raiders – Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana. I'm not buying into the fact that Latimer is a lock for the first round, but his size and upside are critical and he's the type of guy the Raiders tend to gravitate toward. Giving Johnny Manziel a young target to grow with can only help the development of both of them.
5. Atlanta Falcons – Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Auburn. The Falcons have their offense effectively set, especially adding a bookend left tackle in the first round. One glaring weakness last year was the lack of a consistent pass rusher. Ford may be seen as a ‘tweener, but one thing he does is relentlessly rush the passer, something the Falcons desperately need.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joel Bitonio, OT/G. The Bucs need depth on their offensive line and, while we have tackles and guards rated higher than Bitonio, he brings a level of versatility that could really help the team. His ability to be a long-term starter at right tackle or either guard spot is something the Bucs need to make their offseason acquisitions pay off.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois. He's draw a lot of comparisons to fellow EIU alum Tony Romo. He's going to need a year or so to get up to speed in the NFL, but he is a project with a lot of upside that the Jags need if they pass on QB in the first round.
8. Minnesota Vikings – Kyle Van Noy, OLB, BYU. When you watch Van Noy on tape, it's hard not to notice the similarities in style, aggression and sideline-to-sideline pursuit to Chad Greenway almost a decade ago. He has many of the same traits and tackling characteristics that Greenway brought to the table when he was the Vikings' first-round pick in 2006. He is a great fit in a 4-3 scheme, especially one this is expected to be aggressive under new coach Mike Zimmer, and if Van Noy can come close to having the pro career Greenway has had with the Vikings, he could be a steal at this point in the draft.
9. Buffalo Bills – Deone Bucannon, S, Washington State. The Bills lost Jairus Byrd to free agency and haven't signed a replacement yet. Byrd's consistency and playmaking ability will be missed and Buccanon will have some very big shoes to fill.
10. Tennessee Titans – Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU. Jake Locker is in the final year of his deal and, with the Class of 2011, teams have been willing to cut ties with players taken in the top dozen picks. Blaine Gabbert is already gone. Christian Ponder likely isn't far behind. It's a make-or-break year for Locker, which is good for Mettenberger, who tore an ACL last fall and likely won't be ready for the start of 2014. An insurance policy in the event the Titans move on from Locker.
11. New York Giants – Stephon Tuitt, DE/DT, Notre Dame. The Giants have plenty of needs on defense because, while Eli Manning and the offense got much of the blame for their 2013 demise, the Giants defenses was just as culpable, if not more so, than the offense. Tuitt can play DE or DT and, at a minimum, will be in the rotation at both spots.
12. St. Louis Rams – LeMarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State. The conventional wisdom is that the Rams will take a wide receiver here, but after cutting ties with Cortland Finnegan, they need a running mate with Janoris Jenkins. If Joyner was two inches taller, he'd be long since gone by this pick, but his toughness can't be argued. He could be the next generation version of Antoine Winfield in this defense.
13. Detroit Lions – Keith McGill, CB, Utah. The Lions re-signed Rashean Mathis, but, at age 34, he's nearing the end of the line. Detroit addressed a glaring need at safety. Now they need to do the same for cornerback, where an upgrade is also needed. With this infusion of talent, the Lions could find themselves in a much better position to compete for the NFC North title.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama. Viewed as a first-round pick before a brutal Combine performance left some shaking their heads, his pedigree is impressive and, in a no-nonsense organization like the Steelers have, he could live up to his enormous potential.
15. Dallas Cowboys – Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State. The Cowboys have seen a lot of turnover on their defensive line and, while we have them taking DT Timmy Jernigan in the first round, having an athletic pass-rushing DE is necessary. Lawrence will have a learning curve, but his athleticism and pass-rush ability will trump him being a little green.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois. The team lost safety James Ihedigbo and need to replace him. Ward is a compactly built safety who is an excellent athlete and fits the mold of the type of player the Ravens have routinely made stars out of in recent years.
17. New York Jets – Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State. The Jets took care of a need by drafting a wide receiver in the first round and now address one of their primary need areas by drafting a guard who can step in immediately and make a contribution. Protecting the quarterback, whether it's Mike Vick or Geno Smith, will be a top priority heading into 2014.
18. Miami Dolphins – Cyril Richardson, G, Baylor. The Dolphins spent a ton of money to sign Branden Albert in free agency and took Zack Martin in the first round to play right tackle. Given the shambles the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin scandal caused last year, upgrading at guard may be the final piece to transforming the line from a weakness to a strength.
19. Chicago Bears – Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida. The buzz on Roberson has been heading in the wrong direction over the last couple of months, but you can't deny his athletic ability and talent. If he gets his head right, he could be a star. With Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings both on the wrong side of 30, replacements are needed soon.
20. Arizona Cardinals – Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State. The Cardinals have the misfortune of having a ground game so bad it has been typified by retreads like Emmitt Smith, Edgerrin James and Rashard Mendenhall – players beyond their prime looking to cash another check. Hyde could be Beast Mode Jr.
21. Green Bay Packers – Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech. Amaro has a first-round grade on him, but, due to needs elsewhere, he is a player who slips through the cracks. With Jermichael Finley's career at a crossroads, Aaron Rodgers needs an offensive threat at tight end to make the Packers offense click on all cylinders – something it didn't do without Finley last year.
22. Philadelphia Eagles – Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri. Defensive end isn't the biggest hot-button need for the Eagles, but Ealy is a classic "best athlete available" pick. There are some scouts who see him as a late-first round prospect. To get him at this point would be a gift the Eagles will have a hard time overlooking.
23. Cincinnati Bengals – Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville. The Bengals have been quiet in free agency, losing DE Michael Johnson to free agency and releasing James Harrison. They need a player who can fill one of those two important roles in the defense. Smith gives Cincinnati the flexibility it needs in plugging defensive holes.
24. San Francisco 49ers (from Kansas City) – Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB, Georgia Tech. The 49ers have a lot of depth at most positions, but linebacker isn't one of them. While he won't be an immediate starter, he can work his way on the field quickly and see his role increase as his rookie season progresses.
25. San Diego Chargers – Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt. The Chargers have a history of drafting big receivers. Matthews fits that job description and, combined with Keenan Allen, could give Philip Rivers the most daunting receiver corps he's had since Vincent Jackson left.
26. New Orleans Saints – Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State. The Saints always seem to add wide receivers in the middle rounds. Adams is a big receiver who can create mismatches. If the Saints are going to get back to dominance in the NFC South, Drew Brees will need more weapons, especially with Marques Colston getting older and Darren Sproles gone.
27. Indianapolis Colts – Travis Swanson, G/C, Arkansas. The depth at guard has been depleted badly, as the Colts have parted ways with Mike McGlynn, Jeff Linkenbach and Justin Anderson without replacing them in free agency. Swanson brings the versatility of being able to play guard and center and would likely be able to compete immediate for a starting job or, at a minimum, replenish the depth that has been lost during the offseason.
28. Carolina Panthers – Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State. There are a couple of receivers we have rated higher, but the players the Panthers have brought in since parting ways with Steve Smith are smaller, move-the-chain types. Robinson is a big receiver who can stretch the field vertically, something Cam Newton desperately needs.
29. San Francisco 49ers – Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina. He may be a bit of a reach, but the Niners released Carlos Rogers for cap reasons and lost Tarell Brown to the Raiders in free agency, creating an opening. He is a physical player, but needs to be in the right situation to succeed and the 49ers may be the ideal landing spot for him and his future.
30. New England Patriots – Yawin Smallwood, ILB, U-Conn. The Pats let Brandon Spikes go and don't have a center rock for their defense. Smallwood isn't a second-rounder in every defensive scheme, but he reeks of the type that thrives in the Patriots' system. They'll find a niche for him in which he dominates.
31. Denver Broncos – Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina. The Broncos signed Aqib Talib but lost both Champ Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, thinning their depth at corner. For a team built to win now, having a lack of depth in the secondary is unacceptable and Hampton is a physical presence who could develop into something special.
32. Seattle Seahawks – Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State. A college left tackle, he projects to right tackle in the NFL. Given that the Seahawks lost right tackle Breno Giacomini in free agency, there is clearly a need and Mewhort could be an ideal replacement, possibly right away.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Mock draft: Round 2, Version 3
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