OVERVIEW: In the first round of the draft, some NFL teams target the top available talent, even if it isn’t at a position of the most immediate need. Vikings fans will remember that – when the team drafted Randy Moss in 1998, Daunte Culpepper in 1999 and Adrian Peterson 2007, their respective positions weren’t ones of pressing need at the time the picks were made. But, when you get into the second round and the talent pool starts to thin, teams make their move at positions that require immediate attention if their first-round pick didn’t fill a top need. A lot of players come off the board between the time teams make their second-round pick and the draft comes back around to them. As a result, teams are going to target players here that can make the most immediate impact. (NOTE: There are only 31 picks in this round because the Saints were stripped of their pick as punishment from the Bountygate scandal).
1. St. Louis – Kendall Reyes, DT, U-Conn. The Rams cut both of their starting DTs from 2011 (Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan) and need replacements. That process begins in earnest with this pick.
2. Indianapolis – Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford. The Colts jettisoned a lot more than just Peyton Manning when they did their offseason roster purge. Among them was to cut Dallas Clark. It seems like a natural to give Andrew Luck his playmaking TE from college to join him in the pros.
3. Minnesota – Rueben Randle, WR, LSU. The Vikings have one of the game’s premier slot receivers in Percy Harvin and need a player who can play outside the numbers and be a deep threat. Alshon Jeffery is a possibility here, but Randle is the big-play threat the Vikings can use to take a safety with him and open things short and over the middle for Harvin, Kyle Rudolph and John Carlson.
4. Tampa Bay – Doug Martin, RB, Boise State. The Bucs running game suffered when LaGarrette Blount got banged up last year. Martin is undersized, but is fearless and gives the Bucs a dual rushing/receiving threat they need.
5. Cleveland – Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois. While the Browns have bigger needs, Mercilus can provide them with an immediate upgrade in their pass rush and will be given time to develop into a full-time starter.
6. Jacksonville – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. The Jaguars again bypass wide receiver in the first round, but if Blaine Gabbert is ever going to improve, he needs some young help and Jeffery is a first-round talent still available 38 picks into the draft.
7. St. Louis (from Washington) – Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State. The Rams replaced one of their starting D-tackles with the first pick in this round. They replace the other here, giving them the potential of a starting tandem for years to come (and two first-round picks each of the next two years).
8. Carolina – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers. The Panthers invested in Cam Newton with the first pick in last year’s draft, but he needs more than just aging veteran Steve Smith as a receiving threat if he’s going to take the next step in his maturation.
9. Buffalo – Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. Ryan Fitzpatrick has done a good job as the starter, but the Bills need to groom somebody for the future and Weeden is a rising prospect.
10. Miami – Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse. The Dolphins lost starter Kendall Langford in free agency and Jones is a 5-technique athlete who can make plays all over the field, something the new-look Dolphins are going to need.
11. Seattle – Orson Charles, TE, Georgia. The Seahawks lost John Carlson in free agency and need to replace him in the offensive game plan. Charles is undersized, but, like RB Marshawn Lynch, is capable of getting in beast mode himself and will likely become an impact player quickly in the Seattle offense.
12. Kansas City – Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State. A small-college phenom who played tackle in college, he could become a dominating interior lineman at the next level. Given the Chiefs’ revolving door on the O-line last year, any help they can get would be appreciated.
13. Dallas – Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin. The Cowboys need an upgrade on the O-line and a veteran Big Ten mauler like Zeitler may be just what the doctor (and Jerry Jones) ordered.
14. Philadelphia – Lavonte David, OLB, Nebraska. Once a strength of the Eagles defense, linebacker became a liability last year. Andy Reid usually finds a way to address his team’s most glaring needs in the draft and David falls in line with that philosophy.
15. New York Jets – Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma. The Jets defense struggled badly last year and, while wide receiver remains an option here, Lewis can provide an immediate upgrade for a defense that collapsed late in the year.
16. New England (from Oakland) – Devon Still, DT, Penn State. A disruptive player capable of making plays in the middle of the Patriots 3-4 defense, the rich just keep getting richer.
17. San Diego – Alameda Ta’amu, NT, Washington. The Chargers need a pure nose tackle in the middle of their own 3-4 and Ta’amu is the best option available at this point, as the DT crop begins to thin out quickly.
18. Chicago – Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson. The Bears cleared the decks of tight end talent when Mike Martz was the offensive coordinator. Now that Mike Tice has the job, you can bet the tight end is going to return to the Bears’ offensive game plan.
19. Philadelphia (from Arizona) – Chris Polk, RB, Washington. Shady McCoy has become one of the top RBs in the league, but a team needs more than one RB threat in the modern era of the NFL. Polk can be a third-down back to start and, if needed, plugged in as the primary back if McCoy gets banged up again.
20. Tennessee – Harrison Smith, S, Notre Dame. The Titans go to the draft well once again to help cure the significant problems they have in the secondary, adding a safety to go along with their CB upgrade in the first round.
21. Cincinnati – David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech. The Bengals haven’t re-signed Cedric Benson and, even if he does come back, he won’t be a long-term solution. Wilson has the home-run capability Benson doesn’t and will be in the lineup one way or another.
22. Detroit – Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana. The Lions secondary got torched far too often last yearn and cornerback is arguably their most pressing need. Johnson is a value pick at this point.
23. Atlanta – Vinny Curry, DE, Marshall. Without a first-rounder in the Julio Jones trade, the Falcons address their biggest need area. John Abraham is 34 and Ray Edwards was a disappointment in his first year with Atlanta, making this an area that needs to be addressed.
24. Pittsburgh – Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State. If one of the running backs we have going in this round falls, he will get strong consideration. But the Steelers build from within and Sanders is a versatile OT that can be groomed to become a starter down the line.
25. Denver – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska. The Broncos need help in the secondary and Dennard is arguably the best CB to line up against slot receivers available in this year’s draft.
26. Houston – Mychal Kendricks, MLB, Cal. The Texans created a need by trading away DeMeco Ryans and, with only two inside LBs off the board, they can get a value pick that fills a need.
27. Green Bay – Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State. This may be a reach pick, but the Packers don’t always follow the conventional rules. He is a Ben Roethlisberger type that will need time to blossom and who better to teach him than Aaron Rodgers, who went through the same process behind Brett Favre.
28. Baltimore – Bobby Massie, OT, Ole Miss. Bryant McKinnie is plugged in at left tackle, but he isn’t a long-term answer. Massie may have to move to right tackle and Michael Oher move back to the left side, but he gives the Ravens options they don’t currently have.
29. San Francisco – Mitchell Schwartz, G, Cal. The Niners parted ways with starting right guard Adam Snyder. Schwartz was a four-year starter at tackle for Cal, but back issues are going to push him inside, where he could be a solid fit here.
30. New England – Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia. A perfect player for the Pats system, not only does he bring speed to the table as a much-needed D-back, he is an elite return man who can serve multiple roles – a staple of the Bill Belichick scheme.
31. New York Giants – Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois. The Giants need upgrading on the offensive line and, while not an elite prospect, Allen gives them a boost at a position they need most if they intend to defend their Super Bowl title.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.