By Peyton Gallaher
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett just is the best prospect in this draft. There isn’t much room for debate there. On and off of the field, Garrett checks every box. He’s incredibly intelligent, stupidly talented, loves the game of football, and is motivated to improve. Prospects like him don’t come around often and who ever ends up drafting him is likely getting a cornerstone player for years to come.
I understand that Cleveland needs a quarterback, but by taking one with the first pick they will certainly throw away an opportunity to add a potential game-breaker in Garrett. The Browns have eleven picks stashed away for this draft, and if they don’t feel comfortable waiting until their twelfth overall pick to select a QB, they have the trade ammunition to move up for their guy.
2. San Fransisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
The 49ers have picked in the top ten for three consecutive years now. Obviously this isn’t a good thing. On top of this, the two players San Fransisco has used these picks on, Arik Armstead and Defforest Buckner, have yet to turn the corner.
Jamal Adams is a dog. He roams around the secondary and rains down pain of opposing offenses. Adams brings energy and toughness to anything and everything he touches. The 49ers defense, which ranked thirty-first in the league in passing yards per attempt, could use a hefty helping of what Jamal Adams offers. He will slot in nicely playing center field alongside fellow LSU alum, Eric Reid, in the bay.
3. Chicago Bears: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio St.
The Bears were atrocious in the secondary last season and in one way or another they will have to address that in the draft. The corner play in the windy city, although still below average, wasn’t horrible last year. However, the safeties were historically bad for the Bears last year.
Because of his ability to cover ground and make plays on the ball, Malik Hooker has garnered comparisons to other great safeties like Earl Thomas and even Ed Reed. A true ball hawk, Hooker is what the modern day NFL is about. He finds a way to turn the ball back to the offense at an abnormal rate and the Bears could certainly use his playmaking to support a stagnant offense.
If the 49ers don’t select a DB at two, then Chicago will have their pick of the litter. If this ends up being the case on draft night, I believe that Jamal Adams is the better fit for Chicago. That’s not to take anything away from Malik, but what Chicago needs right now is more of a tone setter that can hold his own in coverage, but also is willing to put his nose into the fire defending the run. Hooker struggles as a run defender because of faulty tackling, so Adams better fits that designation.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jaguars one of the most victory starved franchises in American professional sports. Perennial cellar dwellers, the Jags have picked in the top ten fifteen times in their twenty-one year existence. Again they find themselves in this situation, in dire need of the player that can shift the fortunes and take them to the promised land.
Leonard Fournette’s physical gifts have dictated monstrous expectations ever since he arrived at LSU three years ago. Standing at 6’1″ and weighing 221 pounds, Fournette possess freakish speed, agility, and burst for his size. Their were moments throughout Leonard’s college career that would leave you gaping at the punishment he was unleashing on the defenders that tried to slow him down.
Jacksonville’s run game struggled last year as TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory stumbled behind an undermanned offensive line, but by adding a true work-horse like Leonard Fournette, the Jaguars could energize their ground game instantly.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.
The brilliance of the Titan’s front office in dealing their number one overall pick to the Rams last year has landed them with an extra first round selection. The fifth overall pick is a luxury seldom afforded to team that’s on the verge of playoff football, but Tennessee has that opportunity this year.
The Titans have several well documented roster deficits that they will need to address with this draft class and corner is easily the biggest one. Tennessee was twenty-ninth in the NFL in opponent passing yards per game allowing nearly two-hundred-and-seventy yards per contest to opposing passers.
The pass defense must improve for the Titans to make the leap into the top tier of Lombardi contenders and Marhson Lattimore is pretty good at that.
6. New York Jets: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
The Jets came into the 2016 season without a single Tight End on the roster. In some ways, New York was able to get away with because they ran more four receiver formations in the league. However, now that Brandon Marhsall has moved across the hallway and joined the Giants, the Jets are in desperate need of a jump ball receiver and an end-line blocker as well.
OJ Howard can mend both of these big holes in New York’s offense all by himself. Because of his size, speed, and athleticism, Howard’s explosiveness as a receiver is unrivaled amongst other prospects. Furthermore, OJ is a more than capable blocker and he proved it against some of the best edge rushers that the SEC had to offer. The Jets have a lot of issues and they aren’t going to be fixed in one night, but by selecting OJ Howard, New York can take a big step towards improvement.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Johnathan Allen, DT, Alabama
The Chargers found a new home in Los Angeles this offseason. After years of threatening, the Bolts picked up and left San Diego to go back to their ancestral home in the city of Angels. However, the logo, stadium, and first two letters of their abbreviation aren’t the only things changing for the Chargers.
The Bolts are beginning to gain a new identity centered around their defense. For years, Philip Rivers and a high flying offense have been the most synonymous figures with Charger’s football. However, now, with the ever-looming age of Rivers and budding starlets on the defense, the Bolts are taking their Hollywood rebrand to the gridiron.
To add upon the foundation put in place with the likes of Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Jason Verrett, and others, the Chargers should consider looking at a defensive tackle and replacing Brandon Mebane, whom is starting the wilt with age.
Insert: Johnathan Allen. While at Alabama, Allen proved he was the crémé de la crémé of an excessively talented Tide defense. This was because Johnathan superseded his tremendous physical abilities with terrific work ethic and a non-stop motor. For these reasons, Johnathan Allen is exactly what the Chargers defense needs manning the middle. This selection would help the Bolts to become the attraction that a market like Los Angeles demands.
8. Carolina Panthers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
This pick has somewhat polarized the draft community for a while now. The downfall of Panthers from super bowl participant to picking in the top ten was one of the stories of last season. The “first-to worst” mini collapse that Carolina experienced last year has left the league questioning what actually went wrong.
The answer is that there are many reasons. No one individual is directly responsible. That said, a particular achilles heal came in the form of the Panther’s miserable pass rush. Solomon Thomas exhibited potent pass rushing presence on the interior and edge of the defensive line in his brief time at Stanford. Thomas has the power, and pass rushing moves to overmatch blockers and wear them out over the course of a game.
For Ron Rivera, Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton and the Panthers, the only acceptable direction is up. The acquisition of Solomon Thomas could help right the ship and flip Carolina’s momentum back onto the right path for this upcoming season.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Forrest Lamp, OT, WKU
The Bengal’s offensive line was inconsistent last season. In some games, Cincinnati would be able to maul teams at the line of scrimmage, and in others, they would be beaten down and abused. To add insult to injury: the Bengal’s best two offensive lineman, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, both left the team in free agency. It is needless to say that Cincinnati will be think of ways to beef up in the trenches.
Forest Lamp, aside from having the funniest name in the draft, is an excellent football player. He’s tough, athletic, strong, smart, and downright nasty. I contend he’s not only the best tackle in the class, but the best guard as well. Forest Lamp’s versatility could prove invaluable as the Bengals try to replace multiple stalwarts up front on offense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Corey Davis, WR, WMU
Tyrod Taylor has no one to throw at. Sammy Watkins is never healthy and the other two notable receivers on Buffalo’s roster, Robert Woods and Marcuice Goodwin, each left the team as free agents this offseason. Charles Clay and Shady McCoy can absorb some of the pass catching duties for the Bill’s, but their offense could really benefit from adding another target.
Corey Davis rowed his way into the record books during a four year at Western Michigan. However, at one point in time, Davis was just a fairly discounted freshman with something to prove. He had to work for everything he has accomplished, and as a reward for his determination, Corey has transformed into an incredibly polished player. Davis’s strong hands, route running ability, vertacality, and speed are complimented by a work ethic that would make any football coach happy. Corey Davis would be a splendid compliment to Sammy Watkins if he ever finds a way to stay on the field.
11. New Orleans Saints: Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
The Saints, despite all of their efforts, have been abysmal on defense for some time now. In order to get on track going forward, New Orleans should look to improve their pass rush which ranked twenty-seventh in the league in sacks last season. Haason Reddick, a fierce competitor from Temple, has been a riser throughout this draft process because of skill as a pass rusher. Reddick could be a plug-and-play solution for the Saints pass rushing problems.
12. Cleveland Browns: Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
The Browns. have indicated that they want to take a quarterback in this draft and that they would rather do it sooner than later. I have it on good account that Cleveland has identified Mitch Trubisky as the best passer in this class and are prepared to do what it takes to get him. Trubisky, a native of Mentor, Ohio, exhibits traits like a quick-fire release and blistering throwing velocity that translate well to the National Football League. The Browns, who only a year ago traded away the pick that ultimately became Carson Wentz, could look to find their franchise quarterback in the form Mitch Trubisky.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
The Cardinals could go a myriad of different ways with this pick. They could look to ramp up at receiver, corner, or even look for an heir apparent to Carson Palmer who is set to turn thirty-eight during next season. However, the Cardinals have a huge question mark next to Deone Bucannon at middle linebacker. Reuben Foster is an uber athletic, downhill, angry linebacker that would be able to bolster any defense. Reuben foster could be a nightmare for the rest of the NFC West in a defense already brimming with talent.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
This is a match made in football heaven. To combine the quickness, vision, and receiving ability of Christian McCaffrey with Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz, and the Eagles’ spread offense is like putting peanut butter and jelly together on a sandwich. It’s simply perfect. The Eagles could use a running back to shoulder the load, and even though McCaffrey isn’t going to be a guy who beats a defense down between the tackles, he is going to be able to stay on the field for all three downs. Christian McCaffrey could be the ideal back field running mate that Carson Wentz needs to transform the Eagles into a legitimate contender.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Derek Barnett’s production as a pass rusher is undeniable. Because of his loose hips, forceful first step, and ability to convert speed into power, Barnett’s career on Rocky Top saw him surpass Reggie White’s career sack record. The Colts need to replenish a pass rush that has crumbled in recent seasons without Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney propping them up and Derek Barnett excels at getting after quarterbacks. You do the math.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
When you think about Joe Flacco’s finest moments, you will remember him tossing jump balls to Anquan Boldin and others on the Raven’s Super Bowl forty-seven run. Flacco hasn’t had a guy like this since that season. Mike Williams, an ex-basketball player, uses his leaping ability and monstrous hands to come down with unthinkable catches regularly. Williams could be just the receiver the Ravens need to restore that winning tradition so greatly enjoyed in Baltimore throughout the last decade.
17. Washington Team: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
Washington’s stagnant run game trailed behind as they bombarded teams with their potent aerial attack last season. However, if Washington really wants to challenge Dallas for the NFC East crown, they will have to find some semblance of a ground attack. Reportedly, Washington’s front office has been courting Dalvin Cook, an explosive and decisive runner from Florida St., to reinvigorate the rushing offense. Cook’s breakaway speed and one-cut explosiveness would compliment Washington’s offense beautifully and make them even more lethal going forward.
18. Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St.
The Titans signed Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan this offseason in an attempt to plug a glaring hole in their secondary. However, Ex-Patriots players don’t have a great track record of success in the NFL and you can’t ever have too many cover men in today’s game. Gareon Conley stood out in a loaded Ohio St. secondary in large part because of his lengthy frame, lower half fluidity, and excellent footwork. The Titans also need help at wide receiver, but the prospect of Zay Jones, Dede Westbrook, Chris Godwin, and others being available in the second round should allow them to hold off and really bolster their secondary.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Another guy who has seen his draft stock is Kevin King. King, towering at 6’3″, burst onto the scene when he recorded a blazing 4.43 forty yard dash time at the combine and hasn’t looked back. The Washington corner also possess cover skills like ball location, quick hips, and strong hands to go along with his physical tools. Tampa Bay, who drafted a corner in Vernon Hargreaves with the eleventh overall pick last year, will need to find someone to man the other side of their secondary as current start Brent Grimes is closing in on the end of his career and Kevin King could be that guy.
20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Broncos offensive line was victimized by the likes of Joey Bosa, Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, and others throughout the majority of last season. Couple that with the fact that starting tackle Russel Okung left to join the Chargers this offseason and Denver is in some real hot water up front.
Cam Robinson is a physical specimen who flashed true, elite blocking ability while at Alabama. Although he may struggle at times in pass sets, Robinson is a road grater in the run game. He may start out at right tackle or guard, but Cam, if groomed well, could easily develop into a top-end left tackle and the guardian of Denver quarterback Paxton Lynch’s blind side for years to come.
21. Detroit Lions: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
The Lions need some juice in their pass rush desperately and Takkarist McKinley can be the one to give it to them. A determined presence on the edge, Tak just outworks his opponent until he wins. He could give Detroit a much needed spark as they chase after Aaron Rodgers and try to win the NFC North.
22. Miami Dolphins: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Dolphins will be without pass rushers Dion Jordan and Mario Williams after both players were cut this offseason could be looking to upgrade their pass rush. Taco Charlton made a name for himself as he used his long arms, twitchy quickness, and instantaneous ball get off to wreak havoc on some of the nation’s top offensive lineman. Taco would slide in nicely opposite Cameron Wake as Miami tries to threaten the Patriots atop the AFC East.
23. New York Giants: Garrett Boles, OT, Utah
The Giants can’t protect Eli Manning and they can’t run the football. These two problems are the clear route of the Giants’ offensive inconsistencies and in order to fix them New York must improve on the offensive line. A particular weak point lies at left tackle and Garrett Boles is going to be a good one. During his one season with Utah, Bolles wowed with dazzling athleticism and an apparent mean streak. A true dancing bear, Bolles could be the glue in a Giant’s offense that was completely incoherent a season ago.
24. Oakland Raiders: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan St.
As one of the best talents in this draft, Malik McDowell will be stolen at some point throughout the backend of the first round. Because of questions about his effort and motor, McDowell is set to fall into a good team’s lap on draft night. When motivated, McDowell is mayhem at both defensive end and defensive tackle. The Raiders are close to becoming a true threat in the AFC, and with another run stopper at defensive tackle, could make the jump into the top pantheon of contention.
25. Houston Texans: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
After losing AJ Bouye to division rivals Jacksonville in the offseason, Houston will look to reload in the draft. Quicny Wilson, a tenacious competitor from Florida, uses his size and strength to flat out maul receivers at the point of attack and disrupt the timing of passing plays. Never to be out competed, Wilson brings a certain mojo to a defense. Houston needs a player like Quincy in their secondary and shouldn’t hesitate given a chance to add him.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Marlon Humphrey’s blood line did not fail him. The son of former NFL great, Bobby Humphrey, Marlon stood out as a cornerback at Alabama. Because of his proficiency as a student of the game, Humphrey was able to excel in all types of coverage looks while in college. This, when added to his physical skills, has the entire league salivating.
The Legion Of Boom isn’t what it used to be, and ever since Brandon Browner moved on, they really haven’t reached top gear again. Adding another physical, tough, and talented cover man into the mix would be a smart move for Seattle.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Deshaun Watson is a winner. Time and time again, in crunch time, Watson would step up to the plate and make the plays he had to make. However, their discrepancies in terms of Deshaun’s consistency largely centered around some flaws in his throwing mechanics. At the moment, I believe this is what separates Watson from being a late first round or early second round type of player, from being a top ten guy. He may go sooner than twenty seven, but if Deshaun slides into Kansas City’s reach, the Chiefs won’t think twice about getting Alex Smith’s successor. In a year or two, Andy Reid will fix some of Deshaun Watson’s fundamental deficiencies and he will be ready to take the league by storm.
28. Dallas Cowboys: John Ross, WR, Washington
29. Green Bay Packers: Chidobie Awuzie, CB, Colorado
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
31. Atlanta Falcons: Zach Cunningham, MLB, Vanderbilt