The NFL draft is just days away, and every team is looking to make the the best draft possible.
1. Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, DE Texas A&M
Garrett is clearly the best player in this draft at a premium position, and he knows it, telling Browns coaches recently, “if you don’t draft me No. 1, I will punish your team for the next 10 to 12 years. I’ll knock your quarterback out of the game every time we play you, and I’ll have to kick the hell out of No. 1, whoever it is.”
2. San Francisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford
With no quarterbacks worth taking, the 49ers go with Thomas, a perfect fit at edge rusher in their new 4-3 defense.
The value of a dominant pass rush cannot be overstated, and Thomas’s stock has been rising since his three sack performance in the Sun Bowl.
3. Chicago Bears — Jamal Adams, SS LSU
Adams is an elite safety prospect with prototypical size and speed at the position. It is rare to see a safety drafted this high, but Adams has been getting Troy Polamalu comparisons and that is hard to pass up.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
This is a fairly popular pick among mock drafts, viewed as an obvious pairing of Fournette’s generational talent and Jacksonville’s need at the position. After watching Zeke Elliot’s dominant rookie campaign last year, it is easy to imagine teams viewing Fournette as the key to a playoff caliber offense.
5. Tennessee Titans — Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio St.
A huge need at cornerback combined with Lattimore’s impressive combine performance (4.36 40 yard dash and 38.5 inch vertical) equates to the first defensive back in Ohio State’s loaded secondary going off the board at pick No. 5.
6. New York Jets — Malik Hooker, FS Ohio St.
Head Coach Todd Bowles will feel a lot of pressure to draft a quarterback here, but seeing as Jets fans will boo the pick regardless, I’m expecting he sticks to his guns and drafts the best player available (BPA). Coincidently, the BPA is also just what the Jets defense needs, a ball-hawking center fielder that Bowles can mold into a perennial pro-bowler.
7. Los Angeles Chargers — Jonathan Allen, DT Alabama
The Chargers were probably hoping Hooker would fall to No. 7, so in his absence they also go BPA. Allen has seen his draft stock fall a bit recently after being diagnosed at the combine with arthritis in both is shoulders. However, Allen is still a crazy athletic and versatile lineman than can play all along the defensive front.
8. Carolina Panthers — Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee
The Panthers may trade up to draft Fournette, but if not, expect them to go BPA as always. In this case, they land a powerful edge rusher who recently broke Tennessee’s record for career sacks, previously held by the Minister of Defense, Reggie White. Barnett can help fill the role of the recently departed (to New England) Kony Ealy, as well as taking over for Charles Johnson (age 30) when he retires.
9. Cincinnati Bengals — Reuben Foster, ILB Alabama
This seems to be a common pick in mock drafts, as the need and the talent line up well for both parties. Off-the-ball linebackers are becoming more and more devalued as NFL offenses become more passing oriented. Nonetheless, Foster is a top ten pick with both coverage and tacking ability as good as it gets.
10. Buffalo Bills — O.J. Howard, TE Alabama
The Bills have a desperate need at wide receiver, but Howard has the potential to be such a difference in the passing game, he may be the best offensive weapon in this draft class, regardless of position. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, and running a 4.50 40 yard dash, Howard has the measurables of a play-making TE, coupled with polished blocking and all the intanglebles you can ask for.
11. New Orleans Saints — Taco Charleton, DE Michigan
This may be a reach for Charleton, who seems to be more of a mid-first round talent, but the Saints need major help on defense, and if you have not picked up on this yet, pass rushers are on a premium.
12. Cleveland Brown — Mitch Trubisky, QB UNC
Finally a quarterback, making this draft a rarity in that regard. Currently, Cleveland is looking at starting the season with Brock Osweiler at the helm, which would be underwhelming, even for the Browns. Drafting a quarterback in the first round offers hope, and Trubisky seems to be the best of a mediocre bunch.
13. Arizona Cardinals — Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan
The Cardinals lost a lot of starters on the defensive side, and Carson Palmer’s advanced age will soon qualify him for an AARP card, but Davis is still the best option at this point. Davis is the all-time college football leader in career receiving yards and looks to have the highest floor in future NFL production short of Myles Garrett. It would be smart to get Larry Fitzgerald’s replacement in the locker room before he retires so the grooming process can begin.
14. Philadelphia Eagles — Dalvin Cook, RB Florida St.
This offseason must feel a lot like Christmas morning for Carson Wentz, gaining new toys like Alshon Jeffrey and now explosive running back Dalvin Cook. Cook had a somewhat disappointing combine performance, but game tape doesn’t lie, and the tape says Cook is prototypical-style play-maker capable of taking it to the house every time he touches the ball.
15. Indianapolis Colts — Haason Reddick, LB Temple
The Colts need help at every defensive positional group, and hopefully Reddick is a good start. After playing defensive end at Temple, he moved to linebacker in the senior bowl and shined. Followed up with a stellar combine performance, Reddick is longer and faster than the traditional physique of that position, and is the next in the line of “new age” linebackers.
16. Baltimore Ravens — Mike Williams, WR Clemson
Bigger needs like edge rusher and defensive back get brushed aside for the best player available. Williams’ play style is Dez Bryant-esque, excelling at high-pointing jump balls and using his physicality to dominate in the red zone.
17. Washington Redskins — Christian McCraffrey, RB Stanford
18. Tennessee Titans — John Ross III, WR Washington
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Ryan Ramczyk, OT Wisconsin
20. Denver Broncos — Garett Bolles, OT Utah
21. Detroit Lions — Gareon Conley, CB Ohio St.
22. Miami Dolphins — Forrest Lamp, G Western Kentucky
23. New York Giants — David Njoku, TE Miami
24. Oakland Raiders — Jarrad Davis, LB Florida
25. Houston Texans — DeShaun Watson, QB Clemson
26. Seattle Seahawks — Cam Robinson, OT Alabama
27. Kansas City Chiefs — Zach Cunningham, LB Vanderbilt
28. Dallas Cowboys — Obi Melifonwu, DB UConn
29. Green Bay Packers — Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama
30. Pittsburgh Steelers — Takk McKinnley, OLB UCLA
31. Atlanta Falcons — Charles Harris, DE Missoui
32. New Orleans Saints — Tre’Davious White, CB LSU