14. Carolina – Threat Number 1. Haruki Nakamura was terrible for the Panthers last season. Carolina’s defense was 10th overall in the NFL last year occurring to NFL.com, but was 14th in receptions. Tied for 9thin the NFL with 39.0 sacks in 2012, its remains questionable if upgrades at nose tackle are the direst defensive need, even though their defense against the run wasn’t particularly outstanding. Worse, without a third round pick and looming cap space issues for free agents, the Panthers will likely be looking to trade down to secure more picks, which would put them closer to Vaccaro’s real worth in the Draft.
September 9, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers defensive back Haruki Nakamura (43) warm up prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
15. New Orleans – Doubt it. The Saints were horrible defensively last season, but the fix starts with rushing the passer not ball hawks or safety blitzing.
16. Saint Louis – Threat Number 2. Despite a vanilla analysis that receiver is a consideration in the first round, the Rams have two more glaring needs: safety and offensive line. They can only take one before they select again after the Bengals at Washington’s 22 spot. Because of the Rams having two first round picks, Vaccaro’s talent isn’t as much of a factor here as much as who from the offensive linemen are left on the board. Luke Joeckel, Eric Fischer and Chance Warmack will all likely be gone, but if not, anyone of them would undoubtedly be the pick. Lane Johnson may or may not be still on the board, and likely would still hold more value for the Rams than Vaccaro. So would Jonathan Cooper who will almost certainly be snagged by Dallas if he falls to them. After Warmack and Cooper this class of guards falls off steeply, and Saint Louis will not risk losing out on a major upgrade at that position for a safety as there is considerable depth in that position later on. However, if both guards and all four tackles are gone by 16, Vaccaro will almost certainly come off the board.
17. Pittsburgh – Maybe, but probably not. Too much help is needed at linebacker, and while Vaccaro is probably the closest thing to a clone of Troy Polamalu, the Steelers actually still have Troy Polamalu.
18. Dallas – Threat Number 3. David Carr’s restructured contract and the Cowboy’s drafting of Morris Claiborne shows that Jerry Jones finally got serious about fixing his secondary last off-season. The last piece of that puzzle is the safety position. Barry Church spent the season on IR after signing an extension last season. He’s owed less than a million so there isn’t much incentive to release him, but there isn’t any depth behind him either. Dallas needs to draft a guard, but if there isn’t value at that position when they pick, they could take the top safety in the class and work the offensive line improvements in later rounds.
19. New York Giants – No chance. More in need of linebacker or defensive end help.
20. Chicago – Keeping Jay Cutler upright is a bigger priority than anything defensive. Next is getting him more targets.