Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
12:00
PM ET
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?

Baltimore Ravens: California wide receiver Keenan Allen. Sure, the ideal scenario is Baltimore native Tavon Austin falling to the Ravens. That's just not realistic, given that he's expected to be taken in the top half of the first round. The Ravens desperately need a wide receiver after not replacing Anquan Boldin in free agency. Allen, who is the top-rated receiver on some teams' draft boards, would be a fine complement to the speedy Torrey Smith. He would have to slip past five potentially interested teams from picks Nos. 24 to 31 (Indianapolis, Minnesota, Houston, New England and San Francisco) in order for him to fall to Baltimore. Allen's strengths are size, toughness and sure hands in going over the middle. Sure sounds like Boldin, doesn't it?

Cincinnati Bengals: Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. Finding a reliable starter next to Reggie Nelson in the back of the defense has been a challenge for the past couple of seasons. It's time for the Bengals to finally upgrade from Chris Crocker. Vaccaro is the consensus top-rated safety in the draft. He has the size to make an impact in run defense and the versatility to play man coverage. It's questionable whether Vaccaro will last until the Bengals are on the clock at No. 21. Vaccaro has been projected to go as early as No. 15 (New Orleans), No. 16 (St. Louis) or No. 17 (Pittsburgh). The big hurdle is Vaccaro getting past Dallas at No. 18. Some would say the Bengals need to get a right tackle, especially if Andre Smith is unsigned before the draft. But Cincinnati can plug in Anthony Collins in that spot. Safety is the bigger need.

Cleveland Browns: Oregon linebacker Dion Jordan or trading down. Some would say getting Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner at this spot is the ideal scenario for the Browns. While drafting a cornerback is a priority, I'm not sold on Milliner being worthy of a No. 6 overall pick, based on how draft experts break him down. The better scenario is having Jordan fall into Cleveland's laps. Jordan is a top-five talent who is a perfect fit in the Browns' new aggressive 3-4 defense. He could get taken as high as No. 2 overall by Jacksonville. Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly knows Jordan from their days at Oregon, so the Eagles may also be interested at No. 4. If Jordan is selected in the top five, the ideal scenario for Cleveland is trading down in the first round to acquire a second-round pick. The Chargers and Dolphins, both of whom are in need of a left tackle, should be interested in jumping ahead of Arizona at No. 7.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Having a choice between linebacker Jarvis Jones, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert. These prospects are the most popular choices for the Steelers at No. 17. Which one is the ideal one? It depends on your point of view. Eifert is the safest pick and would provide insurance if Heath Miller (torn ACL) isn't the same player this season. The issue here is whether taking a tight end this high represents the best value. Jones is the biggest risk because of a poor performance at his pro day and the medical concerns, but he has the potential to be heir apparent to James Harrison. And Patterson is the wild card. He would provide much-needed height and length to the Steelers' wide receivers group and still has the speed to be an elite playmaker. The knock on Patterson is he's raw in his route-running and he disappeared for large chunks of time in college games. Patterson, Jones and Eifert all have a good shot at being there when the Steelers are on the clock.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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