Here we are, about four hours away from the start of the 2012 NFL Draft, and it’s time to finish off the first round projections. In a few hours, the projections will mean nothing and the real picks will be in. It’s time to get excited football fans; your team’s future begins tonight. Here is the end, projections for picks 26-32.
With the 26th pick the Houston Texans select Stephen Hill, wide receiver from Georgia Tech. The Texans need someone to line up across from Andre Johnson, and there isn’t a single team in the AFC South that has two cornerbacks to defend this wide receiver combination. Hill’s size is comparable to his predecessor at Georgia Tech, Calvin Johnson, and if he falls this far, the Texans couldn’t find a better option.
With the 27th pick the New England Patriots select Nick Perry, defensive end from Southern California. Perry is exactly what the Patriots defense needs after losing both Andre Carter and Mark Anderson in the offseason. However, given their reputation, a trade down from either of their first round picks is not unbelievable.
With the 28th pick the Green Bay Packers select Shea McClellin, outside linebacker from Boise State. Green Bay needs an athletic linebacker opposite Clay Matthews. They’ve struggled to create pressure from both sides, reducing Matthews’ effectiveness. McClellin solves that problem and adds another dimension to the Packers defense.
With the 29th pick the Baltimore Ravens select Peter Konz, center from Wisconsin. Konz is a solid prospect and would likely replace departed Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs until Matt Birk chooses to retire. He fortifies Baltimore’s offensive line and provides stability for the future.
With the 30th pick the San Francisco 49ers select Kevin Zeitler, guard from Wisconsin. Two Wisconsin offensive linemen, back to back. Zeitler can play immediately and the 49ers need to replace Adam Snyder at right guard. They need to keep Alex Smith on his feet if they want him to perform similar to last year and this pick goes a long way towards that.
With the 31st pick the New England Patriots select Harrison Smith, safety from Notre Dame. The Patriots need help in the secondary and Smith is the only safety worth a first round selection after Mark Barron. He can come in and provide instant help for an already youthful secondary, but again, you can’t be sure the Patriots won’t trade the pick.
With the 32nd pick the New York Giants select Doug Martin, running back from Boise State. Yes, we could see two Boise State prospects get drafted in the first round. Martin would greatly help the Giants backfield. There are too many questions about Ahmad Bradshaw’s health and no proven backs ready to step up if he goes down. Martin fills the need and should fit in with the Giants best available draft strategy as well.