The NFL Draft is finally upon us. While trying to predict the first round of the NFL Draft is more of a dart throw than filling out a NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Bracket, I thought I would give it a shot at how I things playing out in South Philadelphia this coming Thursday evening.
1. Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A & M
Despite the rumors of trading out of this spot, the Browns keep it simple by picking the consensus top prospect in the draft. The addition of Garrett means Cleveland all of a sudden has a promising, young, defensive front.;
2. San Francisco 49ers – QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
The 49ers end up pulling the trigger on who they believe to be the best quarterback of the 2017 class. With the posturing of other QB-needy teams like Cleveland and New York, San Francisco decides not to take any risks by selecting who they hope will be their next franchise quarterback.
3. Chicago Bears – S Jamal Adams, LSU
In the perfect mix of value and need, the Bears take arguably the best Safety in the draft out of what has become “Defensive Back University” in LSU. Adams is a playmaking safety who should make an immediate impact on the rebuilding, Chicago defense.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE OJ Howard, Alabama
The Jaguars hit defense very hard in free agency the past two offseasons as well last year’s draft. Blake Bortles may be down to his last shot as the starter in Jacksonville. Here they give Bortles a weapon in the passing game who should make an immediate impact.
5. Tennessee Titans – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Despite the questions with his hamstring, the Titans grab the consensus top-rated cornerback in Lattimore in another pick that fits both value and need. Assuming he is completely healthy, Lattimore has the makings of a cornerstone in the Tennessee secondary for years to come.
6. New York Jets – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
The Jets desperately need a quarterback. But they’d be reaching to select the next available one at this point. Assuming they stay put at #6, I have them taking Malik Hooker to fill a much-needed void at Safety. Hooker is considered one of two top safeties in the draft and has the ability to make an impact as early as Week 1.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
The Chargers would be elated to see a prospect like Thomas fall to them at #7. As the Chargers transition to a 4-3, new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has to be foaming at the mouth when thinking about a pass-rushing duo of Thomas and Joey Bosa.
8. Carolina Panthers – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
With Jonathan Stewart now 30 years old, the Panthers need a capable replacement capable of carrying the running load. Fournette’s style fits seamlessly with Carolina’s offensive philosophy, making this a potentially perfect fit.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
If you look past the off-field concerns, Foster is one of the best prospects in the entire draft. He has drawn comparisons to Luke Kuechly and some analysts have said he is capable of making an impact that mirrored Ray Lewis. If either projection comes to fruition, the Bengals would be thrilled.
10. Buffalo Bills – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
The Bills grab the top-rated wide receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins in order to upgrade the passing game and offense as a whole. Davis has drawn comparisons to Terrell Owens, another small school wideout who entered the league with a chip on his shoulder.
11. Arizona Cardinals (Trade with New Orleans) – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
With the first trade of the draft, the Cardinals move up two spots and ahead of the Browns to grab Deshaun Watson in order to groom him to be the quarterback of the future. Watson, an accomplished college QB may require a lot of work to adjust to the NFL, but Bruce Arians has a long history of successfully developing quarterbacks.
12. Indianapolis Colts (Trade with Cleveland) – DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama
The Colts make the second trade of draft night when they pounce on the opportunity to strengthen the defense by adding Jonathan Allen. Allen is one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in the draft, and he would be too good to pass up if he drops this far.
13. New Orleans Saints (trade with Arizona Cardinals) – LB Haason Reddick, Temple
The Saints address defense by adding the versatile Haason Reddick, a player capable playing multiple linebacker positions as well as rushing the passer when needed. Reddick was well-coached under Matt Rhule at Temple, in an NFL-system that should allow for a smooth transition to the pros.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
The Eagles significantly struggled to produce a consistent pass rush in 2016. They’re potentially feeling buyer’s remorse after inking Vinny Curry to a big deal. Barnett fills a need and will realistically be the highest player on the board at this point.
15. Cleveland Browns (trade with Indianapolis Colts) – G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The first offensive lineman comes off the board as the Browns begin rebuilding an offensive line that saw three of its starters depart for free agency a year ago. Lamp is considered the top OL in the draft and is capable of starting in Week 1.
16. Baltimore Ravens – WR Mike Williams, Clemson
The Ravens’ passing game has been depleted following the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. and Kamar Aiken leaving in free agency. Mike Williams is a big play receiver who has all the makings of Joe Flacco’s next top target.
17. Washington Redskins – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
The Redskins can feel a glaring hole with who could be the best all-around running back in the draft in Dalvin Cook. Cook is a playmaker who is just as effective in the running game as he is catching passes out of the backfield.
18. Tennessee Titans – WR John Ross, Washington
After filling the need at Cornerback at #5, the Titans take care of their next biggest priority by giving Marcus Mariota an explosive Wide Receiver in John Ross. He is an electric playmaker who can take it to the house every time the ball is in his hands.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
The Bucs go corner in the first round in consecutive years in an effort to complete the CB duo of the future by pairing Humphrey with Vernon Hargreaves. Humphrey is a physical corner who is liking the successor to Brent Grimes.
20. Denver Broncos – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
The top offensive tackle comes off the board as the Broncos are hopeful Robinson can fill the big void at Left Tackle. He will have every opportunity to win that job and will likely be the Week 1 starter.
21. Detroit Lions – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
The Lions are desperate for talent on the defensive line and Charlton is one of the more talented and versatile defensive ends in the draft. He has potential to be a disruptive force on the line from day one.
22. Miami Dolphins – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
The Dolphins strengthens its secondary by a rare four-year starter in White. As previously noted, LSU has a reputation as a defensive back factory as he projects to start alongside Byron Maxwell. White brings strong coverage skills to Miami along with an added bonus as a dangerous returner.
23. New York Giants – DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
McDowell could be a steal at this point in the draft, as he brings an enormous amount of talent to the NFL. The Giants are in need of a disruptive force on the interior of the defensive line and that is exactly who McDowell can be.
24. Oakland Raiders – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
The fill a hole at inside linebacker by adding Davis following the departure of Malcolm Smith. Before an injury-plagued 2016 season, Davis was arguably the heart of the ferocious Florida defense.
25. Houston Texans – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
It has been a popular notion since the season ended that the Texans are only a quarterback short of being a serious contender. With that being the most important position on the field, they take the guy they hope will be what they paid Brock Osweiler to be just a year ago. Mahomes brings elite arm talent to the NFL and it will be up to Bill O’Brien to prepare him to make the jump.
26. Seattle Seahawks – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
You didn’t have to watch a lot of the Seahawks in 2016 to know how much of an upgrade was needed on the offensive line. Adding Ramczyk would be a great start to improving one of the league’s worst units a season ago.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
McCaffrey immediately fills the void left by Jamaal Charles and brings the versatility that Andy Reid loves in his running backs. The combination of skill set and the offensive system would be too good for the Chiefs to pass up if he is there at 27.
28. Dallas Cowboys – DE Charles Harris, Missouri
The Cowboys add a much-needed pass rusher in Harris. He would bring elite speed to the Dallas defense that defensive coordinator Rob Marinelli will love.
29. Green Bay Packers – LB/DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
McKinley best projects as a 3-4 pass rushing linebacker in the NFL. That happens to be exactly what the Packers need. He looks to be a great replacement to Julius Peppers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
The Steelers are in need of both a safety and linebacker. Jabrill Peppers brings a unique skill set to the NFL that could possibly fill both voids as he projects to fill a hybrid role similar to Deone Bucannon in Arizona.
31. Cleveland Browns (trade with Atlanta Falcons) – CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC
With plenty of ammunition in draft picks, the Browns jump up a couple spots ahead of the Saints, a team also in need of a corner, to grab the top one on their board.
32. New Orleans Saints – CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
The Saints go defense again with their second of two first-round picks. New Orleans has been devoid of good corner play for what seems like forever. They’re hoping this pick is part of the solution.