By Brandon Martin and Drew Galloway
With the NFL Draft tomorrow, many GMs and players are beginning to fret about the draft. Between draft night trades and draft days slides, April 27 – 29, will be chaotic days for almost all NFL front offices.
Many NFL fans wonder what their favorite franchise will be doing on these days. Here is our insight on what these 32 franchises will do in Round One.
1. Cleveland Browns
Brandon Martin: The Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
The Browns are placed in a tough predicament as they have to choose between a game-changing potential All-Pro in Myles Garrett or a potential franchise QB in Mitchell Trubisky. Ultimately I believe that the Browns will favor Trubisky as the potential of finding their QB of the future outweighs that of an All-Pro DE.
Trubisky is a strong armed QB that can take the top of the defense when looking downfield. There are a lot of questions surrounding him as he only started one season at North Carolina as he sat behind Marquise Williams, but his potential and tools make him hard to pass on for the Browns. He has above average pocket presence and possesses the ability to escape the pocket and gains yards on the scramble.
Drew Galloway: The Pick: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
At six-foot-four 272 pounds, Garrett is a physical freak. Running a 4.64 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine shows how big of a freak he is. Garrett recorded 31 sacks and 47 tackles for a loss in his three-year career at Texas A&M. Garrett is a player who can come in and make an immediate impact for the Browns.
2. San Francisco 49ers
BM: The Pick: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan luck into landing my top ranked player in this class. I believe the 9ers will look to take Best Player Available and Garrett is that for them. The past several years San Fran has been highly committed to the defensive line over the past few drafts with the selections of DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. This commitment comes at a time when the 9ers defense went ten straight games this past season giving up 100+ rushing yards.
Garrett has the speed and strength to be an elite pass rusher. Garrett already has the size to play as soon as he lands in San Francisco. He also possesses a great spin move similar to that of Dwight Freney’s. He’s gone against top SEC for years such as Laremy Tunsil, Cam Robinson, and La’el Collins.
DG: The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
The 49ers secondary needs help. Last season they allowed almost eight yards per pass attempt and allowed a 61.8 percent completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks. This first team all-Big Ten corner had four interceptions and nine pass breakups last season for the Buckeyes. He only started one year at Ohio State due to hamstring injuries, so his inexperience could show early on but he will be a very good player in the NFL.
3. Chicago Bears
BM: The Pick: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
The Bears will be a completely new looking year come next season. The Jay Cutler era is over and John Fox will look to build a defense similar to the one he had in Denver. Adrian Amos already is one of the best young safeties in the league and pairing him with Jamal Adams will give Chicago one of the best cores to build around for several years.
Adams is a physical safety who won’t think twice about laying the boom on any player in his way. He has fantastic coverage skills and tackling abilities that allow him to play either safety position which gives the Bears the chance to experiment with different schemes. He’s also an extremely smart player that can read offensive sets and line up the defense.
DG: The Pick: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
Adams is a playmaker. With the ability to line up in the box on runs and play deep in coverage it is easy to see why the Bears would snag him at pick three. He has been called the safest pick in the draft by one NFL scout. Adams is a tone-setter who will be another young asset on the Bears defense.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
BM: The Pick: Solomon Thomas, Defensive End, Stanford
Dante Fowler didn’t looks as explosive this year following his torn ACL and Yannick Ngakoue also seemed to end the year on a low note as the Jags faltered into another down season. They took some big steps during free agency with the signings of Calasias Campbell, AJ Bouye, and Barry Church, but still seem to be left with a glaring weakness on the end of the line. Solomon Thomas is the guy to fill that void.
I’m not nearly as high on Thomas as others, but he’s still a fantastic athlete. At 6’3 and 273 lbs, Thomas has the size to match his fluid movements to make him an extremely valuable defender. He’s very powerful and can use his strength to knock over a tackle only to beat him with a swim move on the next snap. He needs to be more discipline and limit the amount of times he gets caught offsides.
DG: The Pick: Leonard Fournette, Running back, LSU
Part of Blake Bortles’ inconsistencies in the passing game were due to the fact that the Jaguars threw it 39 times per game. Getting Fournette would provide more balance to the offense. He could be a potential 1,500 yard back given his explosiveness. The last 1,000 running back for the Jaguars was Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011.
5. Tennessee Titans (from the Rams)
BM: The Pick: Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
The Titans are ready to make some noise, and after barely missing the playoffs last season they are lined up perfectly to make those improvements. With the signings of Logan Ryan from New England and Jonathan Cyprien from Jacksonville, the secondary has already taken a step up from last season. There is still need to improve that secondary and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker is one of the best ways to do that
Hooker is arguably the best ball hawk safety in this year’s class.
With seven interceptions, Hooker excels at following the QB’s eyes and has instant reaction time to jump to the ball. Hooker won’t be the hard hitting safety to help in the box against the run but his presence in the passing game will become extremely valuable to the Titans as they look to capitalize playing in an interception AFC South.
DG: The Pick: Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
Hooker was only a one-year starter at Ohio State but is a ball hawk. He is a rangy defender with great instincts. He received first-team All-American and All-Big Ten accolades after making 74 tackles (5.5 for loss), intercepting seven passes (tied for second nationally), and breaking up four other passes. Along with getting a great player, the Titans are also addressing their biggest need, the secondary. Hooker is receiving comparisons to Ed Reed for his instincts.
6. New York Jets
BM: The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
The Jets will look to move on from long-time All-Pro corner, Darrelle Revis. The signing of former Cowboy, Morris Claiborne, will help fill the void but the Jets defense needs another playmaker. While it’s possible the Jets target a QB here, they could also look for one in the middle rounds.
Marshon Lattimore has great lower body control. He has quick feet and good balance on his footwork. Pair this with his fluid hip movement for fast change of direction and you have a corner who will never let a receiver get too far away from him. He also is a solid tackler who won’t shy away from hits. The Jets can easily replace Revis Island with the newly found Lattimore Island.
DG: The Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
Quarterback has quickly become a need in New York with the Jets moving on from Ryan Fitzpatrick. Trubisky will provide hope for Jets fans. Only starting for one year at North Carolina, he is a very raw prospect but has tremendous upside. He ranked fifth in the NCAA with a 68.0 completion percentage, threw 30 touchdowns against just six picks, and averaged 288 passing yards per contest.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
BM: The Pick: Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
The Chargers may be the most injury bug stricken team in the league, and with Keenan Allen struggling to stay on the field for 16 games a year, the Chargers may need to look for another receiver they can rely on for years to come Davis may not have the tools to be a reliable #1 receiver, but he has the ability to be a #2 receiver in the league for years.
Davis is a guy who took a heavy workload while at Western Michigan and was the primary target for four seasons. Davis uses his speed at different tempos to confuse defenders and with run very sharp routes. He attacks the high point of the football and is a great red-zone target.
DG: The Pick: Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford
This is a great value pick here as some mock drafts have Thomas going as high as number two overall. Thomas can play on the edge or defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Thomas has an NFL frame at six-foot-three 273 pounds which will help him along the defensive line. He has all the athletic traits to be a great defensive end in the league.
8. Carolina Panthers
BM: The Pick: Leonard Fournette, Running Back, LSU
This Panthers team has talent. Less than two seasons ago, this team was playing in the Super Bowl following a one-loss regular season. This past season things fell apart and Carolina limped to a weakly 6-10 season. The offensive line looked bad, and Jonathan Stewart is getting older meaning the Panthers need a new playmaker and many will say Leonard Fournette is the best running back coming out of college in years.
The body of a tank with the engine of a Ferrari. Fournette is a physical specimen who can run you over. He has well enough hands to survive in the passing game. He really shows off how well he can switch gears and accelerate to top speed quickly. Some coaches may be concerned about his 11 on the Wonderlic test, but if you are picking off just his football skill, he is the best running back in this class.
DG: The Pick: Jonathon Allen, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Remember when Allen was a projected top three pick? Now scouts are doubting his ability to stay healthy and have raised concerns over arthritis and are projecting a draft day tumble. Allen only posted 21 reps on the bench press which raised, even more, concerns about his shoulder health. Allen is a very talented player and would be a steal for the Panthers. Allen won the 2016 Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defender on the nation’s top defense in 2016 (69 tackles, 16 TFL, led the team with 10.5 sacks).
9. Cincinnati Bengals
BM: The Pick: Reuben Foster, Linebacker, Alabama
The Bengals are in an interesting situation as they have a lot of promise, and have a decent core, but they can’t seem to put it all together and make a strong push. The offense and defense are both good but could be better. They could use another WR to pair with A.J. Green, but I think they look for a hard-nosed player that has the grit of an AFC North team,
Foster has the talent to be a top-five pick, but he was sent home from the combine after an argument with medical personnel. Pair this with an injury problem and a failed drug test and you can see why he slides down the boards. On the field, he is an explosive linebacker with quick instinct. He has good range and shows the ability to cover tight ends. He’s a big hitter who excels at bringing down his target. The Bengals have guys like Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones and Vontaze Burfict on the roster so they appear to put off the field issues aside as long as the talent is there.
DG: The Pick: Reuben Foster, Linebacker, Alabama
A unanimous first-team All-American and All-SEC pick. Foster also won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and was a finalist for the Bednarik Award, leading the Tide with 115 tackles, 13 for which went for losses including five sacks Foster is an absolute monster at linebacker and would make an impact day one in a Bengal uniform. The incident at the Combine could knock Foster down just enough for Cincinnati to snag him. Foster would be a great replacement to the walking NFL fine, Vontaze Burfict.
10. Buffalo Bills
BM: The Pick: O.J. Howard, Tight End, Alabama
This Bills team needs to take several steps before it can challenge New England atop the AFC East. Tyrod Taylor is the Bills QB… for now, and they could look to add a QB here with Deshaun Watson or Deshone Kizer still available. I believe instead they will try to give Taylor as many options and see how he does with new targets.
Enter O.J. Howard. Much like the last O.J. who played in Buffalo, expect Howard to be an instant game changer. Howard plays like a receiver with his speed which makes it difficult for most linebackers to cover him. He uses his speed and size to get separation from defenders and can turn short throws into long gains. He’s also physical as a block and can blow up corners and small linebackers. He could use some more muscle when going up against other linebackers.
DG: The Pick: Gareon Conley, Cornerback, Ohio State
Needing to replace Stephen Gilmore who signed with the Patriots during free agency, cornerback has become a need for the Bills. Over the past two years, Conley has started every game for the Buckeyes. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2015 (two interceptions, five pass breakups) and then graduated to second-team all-conference as a junior (four INTs, eight PBU).
11. New Orleans Saints
BM: The Pick: Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee
The Saints will always have an offensive that will win games as long as Drew Brees is under center. The loss of Brandin Cooks will hurt but Brees always finds ways to turn his guys into playmakers. The Saints need to build up the defense if they want to give Brees one last hurrah before he retires. Cameron Jordan is a phenomenal player, but after him, no one else really sticks out on that defense.
Barnett gets to the QB, that’s simple. His hands are a specialty at the punch and discard technique to get around tackles. He’s also shifty using jab steps and other movements to get to the QB. At Tennessee, he broke Reggie White’s record for most sacks in a career and will certainly be the type of player who will constantly be at the top of the sack totals at the end of each season. Pairing him with Cameron Jordan will give opposing offenses something to worry about when going back to pass.
DG: The Pick: Taco Charlton, Defensive End, Michigan
Charlton has a rare combination of size, length, and athleticism. Playing on the left side of the defensive line, Charlton would be a good compliment to Cameron Jordan on the right side. In 2016 Carlton garners first-team All-Big Ten honors after leading Michigan with 9.5 sacks among his 13 tackles for loss.
12. Cleveland Browns (From the Eagles)
BM: The Pick: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson
Welcome to Cleveland Mitchell Trubisky. We hope to make your stay as good as possible so let’s start by giving you some friends on the outside to work with. With the loss of Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland needs a new #1 and a more physical target than what they have with Corey Coleman. In a draft that I think is weak at the receiver position, it’s important they go now and pick one up.
Williams brings a championship mentality to Cleveland. At 6’4, he is the ideal receiver that all teams dream of. He has the size to body most NFL corners, but also has the speed that can surprise defenders in man coverage. He has long arms that he uses to snatch 50/50 balls at the high point. He has great body control to be able to place both feet inbounds when making catches towards the sideline
DG: The Pick: DeShaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson
With the Jets ruining the Browns plans of potentially getting Trubisky and Garrett, they will “settle” for Watson. Watson has improved his draft stock twice on the national stage at the College Football Playoff Championship Game against Alabama where he averaged 472 yards of total offense with eight total touchdowns and one interception. However, Watson did have interception trouble this last season throwing 17.
13. Arizona Cardinals
BM: The Pick: DeShone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame
Arizona has to decide if they want to gear up for one last run with Carson Palmer or draft a new QB of the future. The Cardinals may look towards the defensive side of the ball after losing Calasis Campbell and Tony Jefferson.
DeShone Kizer is the guy that fits Bruce Arians system perfectly. He’s a big quarterback who has good athleticism and a strong arm. He has a really tight spiral and can make any throw especially deep seam routes. He’ll sacrifice his body if it means making the throw. At times, he may not make all of his reads, but that’s something that can be fixed. For all his tools, I see a high ceiling for Kizer.
DG: The Pick: Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
With the Larry Fitzgerald era coming to a close, Arizona needs a receiver. Corey Davis is a top ten pick in most drafts, but with teams having other needs he falls to Arizona in the perfect spot. Davis is a massive upgrade to what Michael Floyd brought to the table in Arizona last season. With Fitzgerald being there to help him out for at least one year, Davis has great potential to be a future star.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (From the Vikings)
BM: The Pick: Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Stanford
The Eagles offense looks like it has found their QB of the future in Carson Wentz. Also bringing in Alshon Jeffery to pair alongside Jordan Matthews, it would look to be that the Eagles offense is all figured out. Not so fast though, who will be in the backfield? Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles are the running, but ultimately I think the Eagles will look for a different back.
McCaffrey is the guy that could potential round out the Eagles offense. When the football is in his hands, he possesses a top notch ability of making defenders miss. His feet are always moving and allow him to make quick cutback moves to find open space. In the passing game, McCaffrey is almost like another WR. He has excellent hands and crisp routes to burn linebackers in coverage.
DG: The Pick: Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Stanford
With Darren Sproles entering his last year before retirement, McCaffery seems like the perfect replacement for Doug Pederson. He is an all-purpose back catching passes, running the ball, returning kicks and even throwing touchdowns in his time at Stanford. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Associated Press and Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2015. He set an NCAA record with 3,864 all-purpose yards, ranking second in the FBS with 2,019 rushing yards, along with 645 receiving and 1,070 on kickoff returns. Quietly this past season McCaffery rushed for 1,609 yards.
15. Indianapolis Colts
BM: The Pick: Jonathan Allen, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
Colts fans rejoice! Ryan Grigson is gone, and Chris Ballard has what it takes to make the Colts the threat they should be. Andrew Luck is probably begging for an offensive lineman here, but unless the Colts trade down I can’t see that being the pick here. The Colts will be looking for BPA around this spot and they will get a gamer.
Jon Allen might be one of the most talented players in this draft. Four weeks ago, he was even in the discussion for number one overall. He can play inside or outside. He’s quick on his instinct. He’s a physical athlete and absolute terror in the backfield. He’s shown the ability to club tackles with either hand which allows for great versatility. All the talent is there. The question that has him drop to #15 is how long he can do it. At the combine, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his shoulder and has many wondering how it will impact his play.
DG: The Pick: Takkarist McKinley, Edge, UCLA
Getting to the quarterback is everything in this league and after a good day at the combine, Takkarist McKinley could be a top 15 pick. McKinley is coming from an offseason shoulder surgery for a torn labrum, but that should not scare the Colts. His length, speed, and production at UCLA outweighs the shoulder problem. Last season for UCLA he was first-team All-Pac-12 with 18 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, and six pass breakups.
16. Baltimore Ravens
BM: The Pick: Gareon Conley, Cornerback, Ohio State
The Ravens have arguably the best safety duo in the league between Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. Along with C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs, the defense is solid. The offense isn’t bad either. Joe Flacco and crew work well enough that it allows the Ravens to go BPA whether that be on offensive or defense. BPA depends on how they rate each player, so they could favor a Haason Reddick or Malik McDowell here, but from what I’ve read a lot of scouts love Conley.
Conley has the tools of a good outside corner. He plays his best when he can trap receivers between the boundary and him with a strong press of the line. He can shade receivers and cover any route that is being run. He has good size and length. He knows how to use his length to reach around the receiver and bat down passes without being called for interference. He ran a 4.44 at the combine which will interest a lot of time.
DG: The Pick: OJ Howard, Tight End, Alabama
Howard is easily the most underused players in this draft. Howard only had 45 catches this season for the Tide but is a freak of nature. He is six-door-six and runs a 4.51 40 yard dash and a 30-inch vertical jump which makes him a big play waiting to happen. Primarily a big play threat at Alabama, Howard is a willing blocker.
17. Washington Redskins
BM: The Pick: Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple
Washington right now is a mess. Their franchise QB doesn’t want to be there. They had to fire their GM because he was getting drunk instead of signing free agents which allowed DeSean Jackson to walk. Despite all these issues, the Redskins are still a deep team with lots of talent. The team’s biggest weakness is their front seven. They really need a defensive playmaker in that area.
Reddick is a guy that may not be a starter on Day one for Washington, but he will see the field and make plays. The inside linebacker spots currently are filled by Mason Foster and Zach Brown who are very talented, but with Preston Smith suspended and at times struggling to make plays, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them move outside and allow Reddick to play inside. Last Season at Temple, he lead his team with 10.5 sacks which could mean he could play outside potentially as well. He’s uber-athletic and uses his abilities well in coverage.
DG: The Pick: John Ross, Wide Receiver, Washington
Ross is freaky fast, running a 4.22 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine showed just how fast he is. Ross is more than just fast though. He is an excellent route runner and had 18 touchdowns last season for the Huskies. Replacing DeSean Jackson who left during free agency, the Redskins need a new weapon for Kirk Cousins and Ross is exactly that.
18. Tennessee Titans
BM: The Pick: Quincy Wilson, Cornerback, Florida
Jon Robinson has already one pick his fan base will love, and it’s time to go two for two. Some fans may want a WR here, but with Williams and Davis gone, they can afford to wait. Instead, they should look to find a partner for Logan Ryan in the secondary and their guy appears to still be on the the board.
To some Wilson is the second best corner in this class. He has ideal size at 6’1 which will be a huge help for Tennessee when it comes to defending DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson. He’s cocky and for a corner, that’s a good thing. He has the ego to win mind games at the line of scrimmage. He uses his size with to record multiple pass break ups. He also is a downhill tackler often making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
DG: The pick: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson
This pick would be very popular with Titans fans. They improve their secondary at pick five and pick a great receiver at pick 18. Williams has all the tools to be a top receiver in the NFL and can make Marcus Mariota a great quarterback. Williams has tremendous size and leaping ability which will make him a downfield threat that Mariota needs. He is the latest great receiver from “Wide Receiver U” Clemson.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
BM: The Pick: Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida St.
The Curious Case of Doug Martin. One year after having one the best years of his career, Doug Martin crashed and burned. His production fell off and was later suspended for violating the NFL’s drug policy. Tampa Bay can’t afford to play the waiting and wishing game with Martin and would be smart to move on and find a better option to rely on this season.
When you see Dalvin Cook, you may not think he’s a jack of all traits back. He has extremely quick feet and fluid cuts, but he can also run through a defender using his strength. He can fit a multitude of schemes which makes him a valuable acquisition to any team that chooses to select him. He’s a more explosive than McCaffrey is but not quite the pass catcher although he can still be used out of the backfield in short passing game situations.
DG: The Pick: Dalvin Cook, Running back, Florida State
After a bad day at the NFL Combine, off the field issues and shoulder injuries, Cook’s stock has dropped in NFL scouts eyes. With uncertainty at running back, the Bucs will snag a hometown player and have a new running mate for Jameis Winston. This season at Florida State, Cook ran for 1765 yards which ranked fifth in the NCAA. He plays a lot faster than his 4.49 40 yard dash that was recorded at the combine.
20. Denver Broncos
BM: The Pick: Ryan Ramcyzk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Denver really can’t afford to go anywhere but offensive tackle in the first round. The QB struggle will continue to be a struggle none of the QBs get time in the pocket to attempt to make plays.
Ramcyzk is the best offensive lineman in this class regardless of position. One thing that I like about Ramcyzk is his movement seems fluid and not chunky. His easy movement allows him to play stop those who try spin moves on him from the edge. He also shows excellent IQ when the blitz comes and often makes the correct decision in pass protection.
DG: The Pick: Garett Bolles, Offensive Tackle, Utah
Bolles has perfect NFL size at six-foot-five 297 pounds at left tackle. He has lateral quickness in the run game to cross-face from the backside and seal on the play-side. One of the best things about him is that he plays with a mean streak and loves hitting people. He used that aggression to be the top JUCO prospect in the country, then went to Utah where he was an all-PAC 12 selection.
21. Detroit Lions
BM: The Pick: Jabrill Peppers, Safety, Michigan
Glover Quin and Darius Slay run the Lions defense and with Ezekiel Ansah form a solid unit to compete in the NFC North. On offense, the Lions really have no issues. Matthew Stafford is coming off an MVP-caliber year and surrounded by talent all around such as Golden Tate and Marvin Jones and RBs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick. The defense is good enough, but it could use some pepper.
Peppers has the versatility that will help the Lion’s defense take the next step. He can line up as a safety or as a corner. In dime packages, he could even be a linebacker. He’s a bit small which hurts his hitting ability a little, but he isn’t afraid to use all he has to make the hit. Peppers may drop in this draft due to having no defined position and a diluted urine sample at the combine. The reason he could still end up this high is potential. He has the talent of a top return man and can find a hole to fit for any team.
DG: The Pick: Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple
Reddick is an athletic freak and he showed that off at the NFL Combine where he ran a 4.52 40 yard dash. He earned all-conference honors last season for the Owls after finishing with 22.5 tackles for a loss which ranked third in the nation and led the team with 10.5 sacks. He has excellent reactive quickness and change-of-direction agility which will make him very good in pass coverage and rushing the passer.
22. Miami Dolphins
BM: The Pick: David Njoku, Tight End, Miami
The Dolphins made some noise this year that I’m not sure many people expected. The defense was one of the league’s best and Ryan Tannehill became a quite reliable QB. Jay Ajayi and Jarvis Landry exploded for breakthrough seasons. Even though Miami traded for former Jaguar Julius Thomas, sources have said Miami still looks to add talent at Tight End.
There isn’t a big gap that separates Njoku from O.J. Howard. He’s just as fast and just as reliable. Njoku was a seven-foot high jumper in high school. He often uses this alongside his 6’4 height to be a great jump ball target. During two seasons at Miami he had an eight percent drop percentage which is a cause of concern, but which his speed, he rarely has to have catches in traffic.
DQ: The Pick: Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee
No one in this year’s NFL draft has had a more illustrious college career than Barnett, but had so little draft hype. In 2014, Barnett was the first ever freshman starter on the Tennessee defensive line and he produced with 20.5 tackles for a loss. Barnett had 32 sacks in his college career and has fast and strong hands to help him get off tackles at the next level. However, he can be undisciplined on guessing the snap count and can get called for offsides at times.
23. New York Giants
BM: The Pick: Malik McDowell, Defensive Lineman, Michigan State
The big money Giants defense is still mainly intact with Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie still leading this fearsome defensive unit, but with all the money put into these three, they had to save some funds somewhere which meant they had to move on from Jonathan Hankins as he signed with Indianapolis.
Ideally, they would like another linebacker but with Reddick gone, a DT seems like the safest option. McDowell has strong legs which he uses to push back blocks on the way to the backfield, but often at times, he appears to be slippery and he slides into gaps to blow up plays. Large hands which help him on his punches and swim moves. He has good lateral movement and recognition for runs that go to the outside and ranges out to make a play.
DG: The Pick: Forrest Lamp, Guard, Western Kentucky
Lamp was a two-time first team all-conference selection for the Hilltoppers and this past season was an All-American. His great career at Western Kentucky ended with him catching a touchdown pass in their bowl game. Lamp is very patient in protection and rarely gets bull rushed. He has been compared to the great Cowboys guard Zach Martin.
24. Oakland Raiders
BM: The Pick: Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt
The Raiders should do whatever it takes to win a Super Bowl before they move to Las Vegas. The Raiders always draft extremely well and this year shouldn’t be any different as Mark Davis, Reggie McKenzie and crew look to build upon their loaded roster. The team values the offensive line a lot and I could see them take Cam Robinson, but ultimately a linebacker to play alongside Perry Riley.
Zach Cunningham has been an intriguing prospect as he’s been as high as a top 15 pick in some mock drafts and as low as a third-round pick in others. He’s a rangy linebacker who makes plays from sideline to sideline. He often blows up plays at the line of scrimmage as he smashes through gaps. He is decent in coverage, but won’t be as good as coverage specialist such as Deone Bucannon is. He’s a hard nose physical player who fits the Oakland mold.
DG: The Pick: David Njoku, Tight End, Miami
Njoku would provide another offensive weapon for the Raiders for Derek Carr. Similar to Howard, Njoku was scarcely used in the passing game but made the most of his opportunities catching 43 passes and having eight touchdowns. He is very raw at tight end only having started nine games there for the Hurricanes over the last two seasons and being a former high school receiver/high jumper.
25. Houston Texans
BM: The Pick: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Houston Texans are wasting their years as contenders as long as they continue to falter on the QB aspect. The defense has pushed them to the playoffs every year from strong play behind players such as Whitney Mercilus, JJ Watt, and Jadeveon Clowney. Along with star WR DeAndre Hopkins, the Texans have pieces to contend but without a QB who can maintain a drive, they are still along ways away from a ring.
If Houston wants a ring soon, they should take the player I consider my draft crush, Patrick Mahomes. He has a confident swagger in the way that he carries himself. He’s the most comfortable passer in this class. He also possesses some pocket mobility which NFL teams are beginning to look for more and more. He has gotten extremely good at directing his eyes in a different direction to fool safeties and linebackers in coverage. He also has a coolness over him and never seems to crack under pressure or lose his cool.
DG: The Pick: Cam Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Alabama
While the Texans have a need at quarterback, they also have a need a reliable right tackle on the offensive line. No matter who the quarterback is next season for the Texans, he needs to be protected well. Robinson was a consensus All-American in his junior year due to his role in Alabama’s running and pass attack. His tape shows a player with the traits and physical ability to be a good NFL tackle, but he can be inconsistent at times as a pass protector.
26. Seattle Seahawks
BM: The Pick: Garett Bolles, Offensive Tackle, Utah
I really struggled to determine what Seattle’ s going to at this pick. With all the news of Richard Sherman on the trade block, I can see them looking for another CB, but they have to sure up that easily penetrable offensive line. John Schneider really needs to figure how what he wants to do with this team. Does he blow it up and rebuild or try to patch the holes and keep trucking.
If he decides to keep it together, Bolles is more than a patchwork player. He’s one of the meanest dudes in this class and that furiosity is why he is where he is today. You’d struggle to find an offensive lineman in this class with better overall feet and movement than Bolles. He can quickly pull to one side or work up the field to linebackers. He has a good frame but will need to build up muscle. The biggest thing that may scare off some teams is he will be 25 years old when the season rolls around.
DG: The Pick: Kevin King, Cornerback, Washington
Legion of boom 2.0? King provides another Richard Sherman- like corner. King uses his six-foot-three frame to knock down passes having 13 pass breakups this past season. He had a one-handed interception against Arizona State that was one of the most athletic plays in all of college football last season. His biggest asset is his height which is very rare for his position and despite being “too tall” for corner it does not impact his speed running a 4.43 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
BM: The Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Chiefs fans will be destroyed by the time this pick rolls around because their boy Mahomes won’t be available anymore. The Chiefs have a good enough QB in Alex Smith but would love a piece like Mahomes to build up. While QB could still be in play, I can’t see them taking DeShaun Watson or Davis Webb. Expect Jon Dorsey to trade out or select a CB.
I can sit here and tell you all the good coverage things Humphrey does, but I think it’s more important that I mention this kid strives to win and does whatever it takes to win. He always fights for the ball, even after it has been caught. He forced three fumbles last season as he continued to fight and tear away the ball. Of course, he is good in coverage too. He has a strong punch on the press and easily forces receivers out of bounds. Struggles against deep balls at times.
DG: The Pick: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Texas Tech
With Alex Smith getting older and being a free agent at the end of next season, the Chiefs are in need of a quarterback. Mahomes can make all of the throws and has one of the best arms in this draft. However, he is very raw and will need to learn the cerebral parts of playing quarterback. Mahomes was second team all Big 12 last season throwing for 5,052 yards last season (not a typo) and 41 touchdowns. Nobody makes throwing a football 50 yards down the field look easier than Mahomes. He’s also an underrated dual threat quarterback as he ran for 22 touchdowns in his three seasons at Texas Tech.
28. Dallas Cowboys
BM: The Pick: Taco Charlton, Defensive End, Michigan
The Dallas defense took a large hit this offseason. Brandon Carr, Barry Church, and Morris Claiborne all left during free agency leaving Dallas’s secondary extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately, Dallas already had a huge need at the defensive line position. Jerry Jones will have to sit and debate where to go Round 1 but ultimately he will look to make the defensive line he’s dreamed of having.
Charlton has great size and athleticism. He’s got a great reaction time on the snap and played for one of the best defenses in college football last season. He always wins the race to the edge. He’s got long strides which helps him reach top speeds at a quick rate.
DG: The Pick: Jordan Willis, Edge, Kansas State
Nobody gets off the ball faster in this draft than Jordan Willis. Willis is six-foot-four and runs a 4.53 40 yard dash which was the best among defensive ends at the NFL Combine. Willis was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last season accounting for 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for a loss. He is very quick to the ball after diagnosing the play and his pursuit does not stop until the whistle is blown.
29. Green Bay Packers
BM: The Pick: Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback, Colorado
Man oh man did Green Bay’s secondary get torn to shreds this season. Of course, injuries played a major role as Sam Shields missed most of the year, and Damarious Randall was injured off and on throughout the season. Ted Thompson brought back former Packer, Davon House, but was unable to resign Micah Hyde. Losing Hyde will hurt as his versatility was a major piece to the Green Bay defense.
Awuzie seems like the perfect guy to replace Hyde. He has done it all through his career at Colorado. He had 265 tackles, six forced fumbles, and three interceptions. He can play corner or safety. He has good size and length and moves smoothly. He has bouncy feet which gives him quick click and close speed to jump towards the ball. He’s an excellent corner on the blitz recording seven sacks over the past two seasons.
DG: The Pick: Chidobe Awuzie, Cornerback, Colorado
One of the higher risers on NFL draft boards, Awuzie was a second-team all-PAC 12 nominee as a senior (65 tackles, six for loss, one INT, 12 PBU). He would make an instant impact to a Packers secondary who was poor last season. He will also provide depth to a secondary that was ravaged by injuries last season. He is a sticky man-cover corner who possesses the reactive athleticism and foot quickness to maintain coverage responsibilities around the field.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
BM: The Pick: Takkarist McKinley, Defensive End, UCLA
Pittsburgh has a great offense and needs some retooling on defense. If I told you that five years ago, would you believe me? Yes, the hard-nosed, brash Steelers appear to be more flashy than brash. The trio of Big Ben, Leveon Bell and Antonio Brown lead the dynamic offense while a new generation of guys lead this Steelers defense. So who do these new look Steelers need? A flashy player on defense.
I sat here and debated whether to call this kid an outside linebacker or defensive edge, but he’s got enough tools he could be successful at either position. He’s fast and can chase down any QB in the pocket. He’s also got a motor that doesn’t stop running. Never takes plays off and always gets going to the ball. He’s still a bit raw and doesn’t have the repertoire of pass rush moves yet. Once he develops some moves, he’ll be a monster.
DG: The Pick: TJ Watt, Edge, Wisconsin
Brother of JJ Watt, TJ is looking to make a name for himself in the NFL as well. After finally being healthy this season, Watt was first team all Big Ten accounting for 63 tackles, 15.5 for a loss and 11.5 sacks. Watt is one of the most consistent tacklers in this year’s draft and uses his hands very well getting around offensive lineman. Watt lacks explosion in his stance and is a bit of a short strider, but he makes up for it with his outstanding feel for the game.
31. Atlanta Falcons
BM: The Pick: Charles Harris, Defensive End, Missouri
The Falcons should be picking one pick later, but some poor offensive play calling and the inability to get to Tom Brady allowed New England to pull the comeback and win the Super Bowl. Atlanta’s offense has all the tools although I’ve heard they want to add a guard such as Forrest Lamp, but with a player like Harris on the board, it’d be hard for them to pass up.
Harris is surprisingly explosive from his stance, often hitting gaps. He’s a whistle to whistle player who doesn’t quit. He has well-balanced feet which he uses on his spin move. Fits most schemes as he can play on the ground or standing up. His aforementioned spin move is hard to stop and will allow him to garner sacks in bunches throughout his career.
DG: The Pick: Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri
The second half of the Super Bowl proved that the Falcons are in need of pass rushers. Harris is not great against the run but was great at getting to the passer in his time at Missouri. He was a late bloomer, only coming to football in his junior year of high school so he is very raw. He makes up for his inexperience with his athleticism which helped him lead Missouri in sacks in 2015 and 2016.
32. New Orleans Saints (via the Patriots)
BM: The Pick: John Ross, Wide Receiver, Washington
The inner GM in me wants the Saints to go defense and take a corner like Teez Tabor or Kevin King, but Sean Payton loves his offense and with Brandin Cooks gone it’s time to draft his replacement.
Ross made headlines when he broke the NFL Combine record for fastest 40-yard dash at a blazing 4.22 seconds. His speed alone drew him comparisons to players such as Cooks and DeSean Jackson, but Ross is more than just speed. He has good hands too and can makes catches in traffic if he’s in the slot although he will generally be asked to play outside due to his speed. He runs a good slant route, especially near the goal line. He also is an explosive return man scoring at least once every season.
DG: The Pick: Zach Cunningham, Linebacker, Vanderbilt
The Saints need defensive help desperately and Cunningham will come in and be a plug and play starter for them. Cunningham led Vandy with 125 tackles in a first-team all-conference season, with 16.5 tackles for loss. He is a playmaking machine who plays downhill and loves to hit. He is a rangy linebacker who will play all three downs no matter where he goes.