17 Bengals DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw Alabama Sr. 6-2 265
(Should pick: Courtney Upshaw). Good move by the Bengals -- instead of holding their defensive line together with spare parts, they're giving defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer a true three-down end who not only rushed the passer in college but also dropped into coverage effectively. If he's still on the board when Cincinnati picks, the choice won't be hard.
18 Chargers OT Riley Reiff Iowa Jr. 6-6 300
(Should pick: Riley Reiff). Marcus McNeill is gone, and no one in San Diego should believe that Jared Gaither is the long-term answer at left tackle. Reiff is a scrapper and a fighter in the tradition of Hawkeyes linemen, but he may not last this long given the tackle-needy teams drafting ahead of the Chargers, most notably the Bills, Seahawks, Cardinals and Jets.
19 Bears WR Kendall Wright Baylor Sr. 5-10 196
(Should pick: Jonathan Martin, T, Stanford). I'd be stunned if Chicago doesn't fortify its perpetually patchwork offensive line, but I've been stunned before. Coach Lovie Smith had dinner with Wright at Baylor's pro day in March, and I hear he was impressed -- enough so to select Wright to go with Brandon Marshall, creating a suddenly formidable wideout corps for quarterback Jay Cutler.
20 Titans DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus Illinois Jr. 6-4 254
(Should pick: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State). This is a good season: 16 sacks, nine forced fumbles. That was Mercilus' breakout 2011 campaign at Illinois, and that's why he'll be a first-round pick this year. But he's not as versatile as McClellin, whose stock is rising because he has the speed (a 4.6 40 at 260 pounds) to be an edge rusher and is a sure-enough tackler to play inside if needed.
21 Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick Alabama Jr. 6-3 192
(Should pick: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU). Cincinnati has but one good cover corner, Leon Hall, so Kirkpatrick makes sense here. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bengals follow the advice of trusted front-office aide John Cooper, the former Ohio State coach, and grab a Big Ten offensive lineman here, but the better pick in my view would be another reinforcement for the defensive line.
22 Browns OT Jonathan Martin Stanford Sr. 6-6 304
(Should pick: Jonathan Martin). Love this pick. Right tackle is a trouble spot for Cleveland -- waiver pickup Oniel Cousins is the nominal No. 1 on the depth chart right now -- and Martin, who helped protect Andrew Luck, should be able to win the job in camp. If not, the Browns can take their time and groom him to be Joe Thomas' bookend. Not a sexy choice, but a smart one.
23 Ravens LB Dont'a Hightower Alabama Jr. 6-4 269
(Trade with Lions; Should pick: Dont'a Hightower). For years Baltimore has wanted a top-shelf playmaking linebacker to be trained by Ray Lewis. Here he is. I see the Ravens swapping first-round spots with Detroit (who'll receive a third-rounder too) to sneak in front of the Steelers, because Hightower is a Dick LeBeau special -- heavy and fast. Another positive: He was a two-year captain for Nick Saban.
24 Steelers OG Kevin Zeitler Wisconsin Sr. 6-4 315
(Should pick: Kevin Zeitler). Pittsburgh's got to stop treating its offensive line problems with stopgaps and take a tough guy like Zeitler, whom I've heard compared to Logan Mankins. A 6-4, 315-pound masher, Zeitler will step in on opening day next to Maurkice Pouncey and give the Steelers the stability in front of Ben Roethlisberger that they've lacked for the last several years.
25 Broncos DT Michael Brockers LSU Soph. 6-6 306
(Should pick: Michael Brockers). Denver will be stunned that Brockers is still on the board. And delighted. The Broncos lost free agent defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley to the Saints a month ago, and this raw but promising 6-5, 322-pounder could play nose or a more versatile tackle role. "On potential," one coach told me, "Brockers deserves to be a top 10 pick."
26 Texans WR Rueben Randle LSU Jr. 6-4 208
(Should pick: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech). Kendall Wright makes sense if he lasts this long, but Randle is a good fallback. Houston thinks that at 6-4 and 210 pounds he'll be another matchup problem along the lines of Andre Johnson. What team has the corners to cover two wideouts 6-3 or taller? Then again, if that's the logic, I'd take Hill, who's bigger (6-5) and a speed threat.
27 Browns QB Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State Sr. 6-4 218
(Trade with Patriots; Should pick: Brandon Weeden). Cleveland sends a third-rounder to New England to move up 10 spots, from 37 to 27, and prevent the other Weeden fans -- Chiefs, Eagles, Bills, Niners -- from grabbing him. I know he'll be 29 in October, but if you think a player can be a good starting quarterback in the league for eight years, and several teams do, he's worth a lot more than the 27th pick.
28 Packers DT Jerel Worthy Michigan State Jr. 6-3 310
(Should pick: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State). Worthy would be the long-term replacement for Cullen Jenkins, though I could see G.M. Ted Thompson going for a big-potential outside threat like Nick Perry or Shea McClellin as a bookend pass rusher for Clay Matthews. Martin is the kind of versatile cold-weather back who would fit the Pack perfectly. "He's this draft's Ray Rice," one personnel man told me.
29 Lions OG/T Amini Silatolu Midwestern State Sr. 6-3 320
(Trade with Ravens; Should pick: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State). Upset special of the first round. The Lions loved Silatolu when he visited them, and they probably can't wait until their second-round pick (54th) to get him. Powerfully based and more explosive than he looks at 6-4 and 312 pounds, he could succeed Jeff Backus at left tackle, where Silatolu dominated Division II opponents for two years.
30 49ers TE Coby Fleener Stanford Sr. 6-6 244
(Should pick: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech). Jim Harbaugh likes smart, physical, versatile skill players, and because he had Fleener for four years at Stanford (including Fleener's redshirt season of 2007), no coach knows a player in this draft better. Fleener isn't as athletic as Vernon Davis, but he did gain 17.8 yards per reception in his last two seasons for the Cardinal.
31 Patriots DE/OLB Nick Perry USC Jr. 6-3 250
(Should pick: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State). All those who know what the Patriots are going to do with this pick, raise your hands. O.K., anybody besides Mike Mayock? After losing Mark Anderson in free agency and without knowing whether soon-to-be 33-year-old Andre Carter will be back -- those two combined for 20 of the Pats' 40 sacks in 2011 -- New England needs an edge rusher. Perry's my best guess.
32 Giants S Harrison Smith Notre Dame Sr. 6-2 215
(Should pick: Shea McClellin, OLB, Boise State). A mature four-year starter for the Irish, Smith has the speed to play free safety and the tackling ability to play strong. The Giants could go in a lot of directions here, with McClellin and Mike Adams both possible because of positional need. But a 47-game college starter and eager special-teamer will be too much for G.M. Jerry Reese to pass up.