I don't necessarily agree with the NFLDS rankings, but they offer a framework. IMO, Gilbert is a late-R1, although Larry Zierlein's son Lance, who blogs for the Texans and seems to have a decent sense of what teams want, has Gilbert going at 18 to Denver. Also believe Don Carey will go higher, seems like teams in the know (Steelers, Ravens, others) like him and will want to get him safely.
Breaking it down by rounds, using NFLDS plus some tweaks, these are the clusters. Bold are players of high interest to me, italicized are players who might be of higher value in a trade-down.
CB Vontae Davis,Illinois
DE Jarron Gilbert, San Jose St.
C Alex Mack, California
C/OG Eric Wood, Louisville
CB Alphonso Smith, Wake Forest
C/OG Max Unger, Oregon
FS Louis Delmas, Western Michigan
IMO, Davis may be a risk. Smith's height makes me believe he'll never be a CB on the outside, just a package player. Unger is not as strong as Mack or Wood, IMO. Delmas is a very interesting pick, but would be a better value in a trade down as well.
DT Fili Moala, USC
CB Mike Mickens, Cincinnati
OG Andy Levitre, Oregon St.
WR/KR Mike Thomas, Arizona
OT Phil Loadholt, Oklahoma
OG/OT Herman Johnson, LSU
CB/S Sherrod Martin, Troy
OLB Lawrence Sidbury, Richmond
It's tempting to look at the number of CBs we've brought in and cry Overkill!,<3.96
OG Louis Vasquez, Texas Tech
DT Dorell Scott, Clemson
TE Richard Quinn, North Carolina
Hard to figure this group. Is Scott a light NT or a beefy DE? And Quinn is really just another blocker, but might be a reach at 3.96. This could mean we'll see if any of the above cluster drop, or it could signal that we're willing to trade out of this pick (up or down). Trade possibilities involving the 3.96 include: 2.64 + 3.96 --> 2.51 (Dallas) or 2.52 (NYJ); 3.96 + 4.168 --> 3.90 (Atl); 1.32 + 3.96 + 4.132 --> 2.47 + 2.58 (NE), or --> 2.45 + 2.60 (Miami). Of those scenarios, I find it less likely that we trade either R1 or R2; the trade with Atlanta could happen, if they want to increase the number of picks they have from 7, and we see a faller from that R2 cluster.
Otherwise, we may just go off the visit list and take a BPA. I'd be a little upset if we reached again for a TE in R3. Edit: I bumped Louis Vasquez up to R3. He's a massively strong OG who I think won't make it out of R4. Needs to show he can transition from that funky TT offense.
DT Sammie Lee Hill, Stillman
A cluster of one, IMO. Did not some of the R5 players, as I think R4 is too rich, even in trade-down. Hill is an interesting small school guy who looks to be a long-term project at NT. After Raji and Brace come NTs with all sorts of caveats. Of those, Hill and Vaughn Martin, W. Ontario (!) offer the most upside IMO. Terrance Taylor remains a turd, and is a bit smallish IMO. Terrance Knighton is too lanky and LOC is an issue. Chris Baker of Hampton has character flags. Roy Miller of Texas also might not have the frame. Antonio Dixon of Miami is an interesting FA who cannot stay healthy.
CB/S Don Carey, Norfolk St.
CB/KR Joe Burnett, Central Florida
CB Greg Toler, St. Paul's (VA)
CB Donald Washington, Ohio St.
Carey and Toler are getting serious attention from teams, and won't last past here. These guys are all developmental CBs, some can play S or return kicks. It seems increasingly likely that we will draft a DB early and another late, for FS depth and CB depth. Is Davis another Omar Jacobs?
Some folks have Washington rated much higher, but he is a very raw, athletic CB who should go around R5.
FB Frank Summers, UNLV
DT Ra'Shon Harris, Oregon
WR/KR Jason Chery, Louisiana-Lafayette
WR/KR Travis Shelton, Temple
If I had to put my $37 on ONE GUY the Steelers will draft this year, it would be Frank Summers. Kirby Wilson loves him, and we need that short yardage punch that a better FB can provide. He also runs and catches well. Sign him up. Chery could be a nice addition in the kick coverage role, and as an up-and-coming WR from Ike Taylor's LL. Like Taylor, he could be a very nice developmental player with some decent upside. But his biggest impact might be as a Chidi Iwuoma-type gunner on STs. I'd take Chery just for that alone. On top of that, Chery can return kicks, so he's a versatile guy for STs, if nothing else. Speaking of special teams, Temple's all-time kickoff return yardage leader is on our radar, Travis Shelton. If another small program, 5'8" potential return man doesn't pique your interest, consider his bloodlines. He has three cousins playing in the NFL: now-Denver LB Andra Davis, New England DB Jarvis Herring and... Chicago DB/WR Devin Hester. Who cares about the first two, we want another Hester. I'd bring him in if Chery were gone.
ILB Spencer Adkins, Miami
DE/OLB Brandon Long, Michigan St.
On paper, Long should be a dominant OLB prospect. On paper. Adkins was a part-time ILB, and does not appear to be a developmental player, but rather a STs-only.
From the visit list alone, and not trading up or down, I'd like to see them go:
1. Eric Wood
2. Fili Moala
3. Louis Vasquez
4. Sammie Lee Hill
5. Don Carey
5. Greg Toler
6. Frank Summers
7. Jason Chery
7. Travis Shelton