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NFL Draft 2012: Defensive Help Is Still On the Board

Hey Ted Thompson! Pick me! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Hey Ted Thompson! Pick me! (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Ted Thompson addressed the pass rush with his choice of Nick Perry at 28th overall on Thursday night. However, help is still needed on the defensive line and in the secondary, and there are a large number of talented players still available now that the first round is in the books.

Defensive Ends

Top remaining players: Jerel Worthy, Michigan State and Devon Still, Penn State

These two seem linked together. They play essentially the same position, are viewed almost equally in terms of talent and grade, and both come out of successful Big Ten programs. They're certainly the best 3-4 ends remaining, and one or both could still be available around the midpoint of the second round. If either one is there after the 40th pick or so, I would be on the phone trying to move up to draft him.

Other day 2 candidates:

Kendall Reyes, Connecticut

Brandon Thompson, Clemson

Derek Wolfe, Cincinnati

Billy Winn, Boise State

Reyes is a power rusher who holds up well against the run but needs work in generating a pass rush. Thompson is even more one-dimensional. Wolfe is strong and the best pass-rushing end of the group, but doesn't move very well laterally. Winn is good against the run and shows flashes of good quickness in pass rush, but he needs to give a more consistent effort on every play.

Safeties

Top remaining player: Brandon Taylor, LSU

Taylor is probably the most complete safety left on the board in terms of talent and experience. I previewed him a few days ago, but he could be a good fit in center field for the Packers. He's a big hitter who is comfortable with playing the deep center-field role. His presence could allow Morgan Burnett to be more of a factor in the box and support the run.

Other day 2 candidates:

Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State

Antonio Allen, South Carolina

Brandon Hardin, Oregon State

George Iloka, Boise State

Martin is a big hitter who has good ball skills. Iloka is best as a deep zone safety who struggles when covering big tight ends in man coverage. Hardin is a converted corner who needs to play the ball better in the air. Allen has trouble covering the middle of the field deep and looks like a better fit in a Cover-2 system.

Verdict

Worthy or Still should be trade-up targets in the early to middle of the second round. If neither can be acquired, Brandon Taylor would be a very good choice at 59th overall and would push Charlie Peprah immediately to start opposite Morgan Burnett.