Early in the draft process, there were a few contrarians who believed the Cleveland Browns could take a player other than Myles Garrett, but they trickled away and eventually the Texas A&M pass rusher became the consensus choice to be the No. 1 pick.
Now come the rumblings that it might not be a lock after all. On Tuesday night, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the Browns are split between Garrett and North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
It seems like a stretch that Cleveland could covet any prospect other than Garrett with the No. 1 pick, but quarterback is a tricky position. It’s not easy to find a good one and if the Browns believe in Trubisky’s potential as a franchise quarterback, the No. 1 pick may be their only chance to get him.
The Browns could be playing smokescreen games, but I actually believe there is conflict there. With the possibility that the Browns could go with Trubisky, let’s imagine that scenario playing out in two weeks:
1. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
If the Browns really believe in Trubisky and don’t want to settle for a lesser-ranked passer in the draft, waiting until the No. 12 pick to address the position could be tough.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Christmas has come early in San Francisco.
3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Leonard Floyd looks like an exciting young player for Chicago, but the Bears need to keep adding more defensive pieces to build around. Defensive back may be the bigger need, but there are plenty of positions Chicago has to address, and Thomas is the best player on the board.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The Jaguars have invested heavily in their defensive line, but could still stand to add more. Calais Campbell has no backup right now and Allen can be the team’s future at the position.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Tennessee needs defensive talent and can add it almost anywhere, but cornerback could use the most immediate work. Lattimore represents an upgrade over Jason McCourty and can help further shore up a defense that was one of the NFL’s worst against the pass.
6. New York Jets: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker is the rangiest ball hawk of the safeties in the class and the Jets could use the help at free safety, especially after Marcus Gilchrist’s season ended with a patellar tendon tear.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The back end of the Chargers’ secondary could also use work and Adams is a complete safety who can provide help in run support and coverage.
8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
After six consecutive defensive players off the board, the Panthers could make it seven with Derek Barnett. But with Fournette slipping past the Jaguars and Jets, Carolina can grab the top running back of the class and transform a backfield that hasn’t been addressed significantly since DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were first-round picks in 2006 and 2008, respectively.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Bengals have rushed the passer with Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, but really nobody else. Barnett promises to give them a threatening pass rusher off the edge opposite Dunlap.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Robert Woods left and was replaced by Corey Brown, but the only real threat on the outside is Sammy Watkins, who has struggled to stay healthy. Mike Williams looks like he can be a complete receiver on the outside.
11. New Orleans Saints: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
With so many cornerbacks all getting shuffled around, don’t be surprised if the order the defensive backs comes off the board is much different than many mock drafts have suggested. White can be a significant addition to a secondary that was one of the worst at defending the pass.
12. Cleveland Browns: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Nothing goes with a rookie quarterback as well as an athletic safety valve like Howard. Cam Newton leaned heavily on Greg Olsen as a rookie and Trubisky can do the same with a similarly athletic tight end in Howard.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
Mahomes probably needs some time to work on fundamentals and footwork, and he’ll also have to make the adjustment from an Air Raid offense. But his potential is huge and the Cardinals give him a situation where he could sit behind Carson Palmer and learn from Bruce Arians, one of the NFL’s top quarterback gurus.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Eagles may be able to find two starting cornerbacks in the draft class, and Conley is a good place to start. He’s a long cornerback with the ability to play in both press and zone coverages.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Reddick is a fast and versatile, giving the Colts an inside linebacker who can start all three downs and be a threatening presence on blitzes as well.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The only receiver on the Ravens’ roster with much experience is Mike Wallace. While there are young players that Baltimore has high hopes for, Davis provides the full package.
17. Washington: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
It’s not the best class for interior defensive linemen, so Washington would be lucky to have the chance to take McDowell to upgrade a defense that was below average in almost every major statistical category.
18. Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR, Washington
There’s a drop off after the first three receivers and the Titans get the third, adding a ridiculous amount of speed to the exotic smash mouth offense in Tennessee.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
J.J. Wilcox isn’t the answer at strong safety for the Buccaneers, but the 6’4, 224-pound Melifonwu certainly could be. The hope for any team drafting the UConn product will be that its getting Kam Chancellor 2.0, and that would be a welcomed sight in Tampa Bay.
20. Denver Broncos: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Broncos could use offensive line help, but that can be patched with the remaining free agents on the market. McCaffrey presents a different kind of impact that can’t be found elsewhere. His electric, big-play potential will help the team’s young quarterbacks develop.
21. Detroit Lions: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Sacking quarterbacks was a struggle for the Lions in 2016. Harris can be a dynamic solution to that problem with his burst and speed off the line of scrimmage.
22. Miami Dolphins: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Cameron Wake won’t be around much longer to hold down the entire Dolphins pass rush. Ndamukong Suh provides a bunch inside, but getting an edge rusher like Charlton would be a huge boost.
23. New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Even if the Giants still believe Ereck Flowers can be the left tackle of the future, Ramczyk can plug in as a starter right away at right tackle. D.J. Fluker isn’t the solution, but landing the top offensive lineman in the 2017 class certainly could be.
24. Oakland Raiders: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
This seems like quite the slide for the Alabama linebacker, but it’s a nice landing spot for a team that has a need at the position and a player who will benefit from a talented player like Khalil Mack in front of him.
25. Houston Texans: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Quarterback issues aside, the Texans have problems up front as well. Starting right tackle Derek Newton suffered patellar tendon tears in both knees and may never be the same player again. And Duane Brown battled through nagging injuries during his ninth season as Houston’s starting left tackle. The long-term viability of both players is questionable.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Protecting Russell Wilson and actually getting a running game going means making real investments up front. Lamp is probably best kicked inside to guard, which works out well considering Pete Carroll seems content to play Luke Joeckel at left tackle.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Alex Smith’s time as the starting quarterback in Kansas City is coming close to its end, and it would make sense for the Chiefs to look for the future of the position. A national champion near the end of the first round is not a bad way to do it.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
Replacing the pass-rushing production of DeMarcus Ware with Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory did not work out well for the Cowboys. McKinley doesn’t come with those character concerns, although he is a raw product who will have to hone his tremendous physical skills before he makes a big impact.
29. Green Bay Packers: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
This one is tough. With Dalvin Cook — who also comes with character concerns — still on the board, grabbing Mixon will bring criticism to the Packers, and justifiably so. But he is going to get drafted, and likely early due to his rare gifts. The Packers very much need a running back with versatility like Mixon and could decide they’re willing to take the risk and deal with the scrutiny.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Kevin King, CB, Washington
The biggest draft needs for the Steelers are at outside linebacker and cornerback, so they shouldn’t have any problem addressing one of those at the end of the first round. King gives the team a 6’3 defensive back who can play physically and has exceptional ball skills.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State
If Atlanta hopes to make another Super Bowl run, it needs its young defense to play more like it did late in the year in 2016. Adding more talent would help it get there, and Rivers is the type of edge rushing talent that fits perfectly at the LEO position in Dan Quinn’s defense.
32. New Orleans Saints: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.)
The Saints draft offense early. Even during the team’s consistent struggles to fix the defense, it keeps taking offensive players. An athletic tight end like Njoku could be too much for New Orleans to pass on with the days of Jimmy Graham long in the past.