25) Pittsburgh Steelers
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
He has great length and athleticism for a corner and would fit extremely well in the Pittsburgh secondary. He looked great and was the 2nd-best corner at the Combine after Mackensie Alexander did not participate. The Steelers are older and need fresh talent in the secondary and expect them to attack that early in the draft.
Depending on free agency and how they attack some positions could change this selection, but secondary is the biggest need. They could look to get a starter at guard for the offensive line, but they will most likely leave the offense alone. Pass rusher would be interesting if they don’t believe Jarvis Jones is good enough to be a starter moving forward. If Steve McLendon leaves, nose tackle will be a position to keep an eye on in free agency.
26) Seattle Seahawks
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
I am excited to see what the Seahawks do this offseason. They are always a team that makes a splash during free agency or via trade. What are they going to do to try to take them back to the Super Bowl. In the draft, I see them adding a cornerback that could be great opposite of Richard Sherman. Alexander is falling down draft boards after the Scouting Combine and will need a great pro day to climb back up.
They are looking to possibly re-sign Russell Okung for left tackle, but if not, the left tackle position becomes the most significant need in this draft. They need to add some youth and fresh faces for the defensive line in free agency as well as the draft. How they handle Bruce Irvin will also be an entertaining item this offseason.
27) Green Bay Packers
Kenny Clark, DL, UCLA
Ted Thompson is a general manager who has a routine and way of doing things that may be more predictable than others. He relies on the draft to supply depth to the Packers roster. He will need a new nose tackle after this offseason when B.J. Raji hits free agency and Kenny Clark would be an ideal fit. Thompson will also look at middle linebacker early in the draft in the hopes of keeping Clay Matthews as a pass rusher. Cornerback is also a possibility as Casey Hayward will also be an option.
28) Kansas City Chiefs
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Mississippi
Nkemdiche has elite athleticism and is a rare breed for his size. Unfortunately, this will not help him stay in the early part of the draft. The off-field issues will push him down the board until a team feels the reward outweighs the risk. I believe the Chiefs need some fresh faces along the defensive line and can easily find one here in the first round.
They franchised-tagged Eric Berry and he will stay in Kansas City at least another year. What they needed though is five franchise tags. They have some valuable assets that could go elsewhere in free agency such as Jaye Howard, Mike Devito, Derrick Johnson, Sean Smith, and Tamba Hali. There are positions that were key to the Chiefs’ run to the playoffs last season.
29) Arizona Cardinals
Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame
This is just something that I feel Bruce Arians would do just to do it. He was quoted as saying that he felt this team does not need that much heading into next season. If this is the case, why wouldn’t he take a top-5 talent that has fallen due to an injury? Can you imagine the versatility of a linebacking corps of Jaylon Smith, Deone Bucannon, and Kevin Minter?
They may have to address the offensive line if they don’t re-sign their starters that are free agents. Defensive line needs some youth and may be the choice here if they don’t do anything in free agency. Tight end would be an interesting selection as Bruce Arians has been known to use that position effectively in an offense.
30) Carolina Panthers
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
The Panthers march to the beat of their own drum. Yes, they need an offensive tackle that can be quick enough to challenge edge rushers, but they may be too stubborn to do so. Instead, they take a guy that would create some scary matchup issues against the zone read and on the goal line.
Depending on the draft board, they may go with defensive end since they just released Charles Johnson and Jared Allen has retired. They could also use a more athletic strong safety than Roman Harper. How Carolina approaches free agency will determine where this pick will go. But probably not, because the Panthers do things a little different than other franchises.
31) Denver Broncos
Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
Congrats to Peyton Manning on his retirement, G.O.A.T.
Whitehair looked really good at the Combine, I mean really good. He may even fly up the board and get into the top 25. He looked effortless through the drills and may have been the 2nd best offensive lineman at the Combine besides Laremy Tunsil. The Broncos need talent for their offensive line and Whitehair would start Day 1 at left guard or even center. Another position to watch is defensive line as Malik Jackson will most likely get a payday in free agency. Danny Trevathan would also need to be replaced if he leaves in free agency.
*New England does not have a first-round pick*
Follow me @Shep_Collins for Draft updates, information, or asking questions during this 2016 Draft process.