Friday, April 19, 2013
Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds
By Paul Kuharsky
» NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South
What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?
The first 26 picks of the draft probably won’t hit a lot on wide receivers, giving the Texans their choice of a large group. West Virginia’s Tavon Austin likely will be gone, and Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee will probably be intriguing to some team. Ideally, if all of the other receiver prospects are on the board, there will be one the Texans believe is an ideal complement to Andre Johnson, whether it’s Cal’s athletic Keenan Allen, Tennessee’s burner Justin Hunter, Clemson’s sure-handed DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s daring Robert Woods or Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton.
Beyond Alabama’s Dee Milliner, it’s a quiet first round for cornerbacks and the Colts get Florida State cornerback Xavier Rhodes. He’s got the size, skills and mentality that should make him a great candidate for coach Chuck Pagano to deploy in man coverage against big receivers like Andre Johnson and Justin Blackmon. A cornerback crop of Vontae Davis, Rhodes, Greg Toler and Darius Butler should be significantly better than last year’s, and improved coverage will help the pass rush, where the Colts also need to add an outside backer.
The Chiefs take a left tackle at No. 1 and leave the Jaguars to take a pass-rusher like Oregon’s Dion Jordan or BYU’s Ziggy Ansah. Although Jacksonville has gaping holes at right tackle and cornerback, the prospects at those positions do not seem as valuable as the draft's top pass-rushers. And the Jaguars have had pass-rush deficiencies for years. Coach Gus Bradley has a defensive background, and a premier player who can put heat on quarterbacks is an absolute priority.
The top nine teams in the draft lay off guards, or if one is drafted before the Titans are on the clock, it’s UNC’s Jonathan Cooper. That leaves Alabama’s powerful Chance Warmack there at No. 10 for the Titans, who draft him to play right guard beside right tackle David Stewart. Tennessee pledged a revamp of the offensive line to maximize the opportunities for quarterback Jake Locker and running back Chris Johnson. After the addition of free agent Andy Levitre as the left guard, Warmack would finish the project.