28. Denver Broncos – Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M. Everything feels like a bit of a stretch for Denver at this point, but thankfully most of their ‘needs’ aren’t that critical outside of running back. If Eddie Lacy is off the board, any other back at 28 would be a considerable reach, and comparable talent will be available in later rounds. That leaves only one other glaring hole for the Broncos stemming from the departure of Elvis Dumervil, whose 11 sacks and 54 tackles will be sorely missed. Despite some strength and possible preparation concerns, the 20 year old was at one point considered a Top 5 pick because of his performance last season at Texas A&M. Newly appointed defensive line coach, Jay Rodgers is coming off of an impressive first season at that coaching position and won’t mind the challenge of getting Moore ready for his starting line. With Von Miller and the emergence of Derek Wolfe at tackle, drafting Moore in the late first round shouldn’t be the gamble for Denver that it might be with other teams.
Oct 18, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Southern Methodist Mustangs defensive end Margus Hunt (92) talks to the referees during a break in the action against the Houston Cougars at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. The Mustangs defeated the Cougars 72-42. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
29. New England Patriots – Margus Hunt, DE, Southern Methodist. New England only has five picks this year, including none in rounds 4-6 so don’t be surprised if they trade down-and-out. Conversely, they don’t really have any glaring needs either – such is the franchise beacon that is the Patriots. If they do sit on the 29th selection, there is a good chance it will be a defensive player. Cornerback is a possibility, but unless Desmond Trufant is still available, it’s unlikely they will reach. Also, there are rumors that the Patriots are coveting a later round prospect for their secondary that is a relatively unknown entity. Meanwhile, defensive end Margus Hunt was a hammer-thrower in his native Estonia before taking to football in 2009. A huge project, his elite traits are undeniable and certainly intriguing for the New England coaching staff.
30. Atlanta Falcons – DJ Hayden, CB, Houston. Recent reports state the Falcons are looking to trade up to get a big, physical cornerback out of the top three on the board. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff has an extra fourth round pick this year and may look to acquire Desmond Trufant, Xavier Rhodes, or even Dee Milliner if he starts to slip on Draft Day. The point is that secondary help is the primary need for an offensively stacked Atlanta team. DJ Hayden is a late comer to the round one discussion, but with NFL Draft Analyst Mike Maylock calling him the best corner in this year’s Draft, he is flying up draft boards. If still available, pulling him off the board at 30 will be considered a huge victory by the Falcons. A defensive end could easily be the pick here as well if someone slips, but with Osi Umenyiora still in the free agency discussion, a later round draft pick for depth or competition rather than an out-right alternative would be more prudent.
31. San Francisco ‘49ers – Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame. Another team with the fire-power to trade up is San Francisco. With fifteen draft picks this year, the 49ers are primed to get whomever they want, but why not take the top ranked tight end in the Draft if he falls to you? The Mackey Award winner, Tyler Eifert, is one of those hybrid match-up nightmares for secondaries. Eifert could pair with Vernon Davis to make the west-coast version of the New England’s tight end hydra. Playing two tight ends out of a pistol offensive would be new double-whammy for teams preparing to play the Niners, and the speed at which that style of offensive would potentially play would reduce the question marks that overhang Eifert’s blocking ability. While Eifert may not have Davis’s speed, he does come with 6’6”, 252 lbs frame and the ability to go up and contest the ball at apex, something San Fransisco doesn’t have a whole lot of.
32. Baltimore Ravens – Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU. Some consider this a throwaway pick for Baltimore, but nothing could be further from the truth. Defensive bedrock must start to be re-established for the Ravens, and Kevin Minter is one of the most down played talents in this year’s draft. Comparable to Manti Te’o, Minter has debatably better pass-drop awareness and overall control during game play. Though not the fastest player at the position, the Ravens will pick up an instinctive – if a little undersized – starting caliber linebacker to fill in the void left by Ray Lewis’s departure.