After months of preparation, interview, work out and, of course, mock drafts, it is finally the week of the 2017 NFL draft.
If you’ve been following these mock draft since December, you’ve seen the first round meld into shape. In recent weeks the draft position for running backs, cornerback, and pass rusher has particularly become apparent.
The issue in this draft has always been and continues to be at quarterback. The top four players at the position — DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, Mitch Trubisky, and Deshaun Watson — could go at any point or wait longer than we expect. The uncertainty at that position is what makes this year’s draft unique and where they go will ultimately alter ever other team’s plan.
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
This pick is so close to happening that Garrett recently followed Browns players Joe Haden, Carl Nassib, and Danny Shelton on Twitter. If that doesn’t make it official, I don’t know what else would. Don’t screw up the No. 1 pick, Cleveland. Don’t listen to Warren Sapp. Take the draft’s top player and then use your stockpile of picks to come back up and get a quarterback.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The 49ers have been doing a lot of late work on quarterbacks, so what happens here is still something of a mystery. It could be an elaborate ruse to orchestrate a trade down. If the 49ers stick here and don’t take a quarterback, Thomas is a good system fit. Malik Hooker of Ohio State should still be under consideration.
3. Chicago Bears: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adams is a player with few flaws and a team like the Bears need a sure thing player. Adams is practically a lock for the top five picks. The question is whether the Bears pick him or throw a curveball and take a quarterback.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Running back is one of the key needs for Jacksonville, and no back in the draft can shape an offense like Fournette. I agree that the Jaguars won’t get the most out of Fournette without a better line, but they may not get another chance at player like the LSU star.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Even before releasing Jason McCourty the Titans needed cornerback help. There’s some concern about Lattimore because of his past history of hamstring issues, but he was sensational last season at full health.
6. New York Jets: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Most of the picks for the Jets have been players on offense, but there’s some logic behind Hooker. Only one team had less interceptions last season than the Jets, and Hooker’s specialty is creating turnovers.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
With new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley the Chargers the Chargers could be searching for a versatile piece along the defensive line. With his power and play style Allen is the type of player who can move around and find success anywhere he lines up.
8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey-in-the-top-10 talk hasn’t quieted. If Fournette is available, I think he’s the pick. If not, McCaffrey is the fall-back option for Carolina.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Barnett isn’t flashy like Garrett but you can legitimately argue that his production at Tennessee was more impressive. Barnett consistently generated pressure in college and is a solid player against the run.
10. Buffalo Bills: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
This is another spot where a quarterback could be in play. Owners don’t randomly go to player workouts for no reason and Bills owner Terry Pegula has accompanied the team at some workouts. If it’s not a quarterback, I rate Howard higher than the wide receivers this year.
11. New Orleans Saints: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Saints have put in a ton of work on pass rushers leading up to the draft so it’s probable one of team’s three top-50 picks will be used on an edge player. The longer they wait, the quicker the quality of the position decreases.
12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I’m not sure where the Browns will get to so they can acquire Trubisky, I just think on draft night he ends up staying with his hometown team.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Mahomes gets the nod over Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer simply because of a rocket arm that fits so well with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Every week as the draft has approached Conley has inched up, surpassing other cornerbacks. Now some are wondering if he’ll even get picked before teammate Marshon Lattimore. The Eagles are barren at cornerback. Conley would start immediately.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
The versatile Reddick is the type of player who can help transform the Colts’ middling defense. Coaches will love his gritty play style and teammates will rally around him.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
If Williams happens to fall out of top-10 picks — which could happen depending on Cincinnati and Buffalo — Baltimore could be his landing spot. Williams isn’t a superstar athlete for a wideout but he can go up and get the ball and give Joe Flacco a good lead receiver.
17. Washington: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
Foster’s draft status is more fragile than any player’s leading up to Thursday. He could just easily go in the top 10 as he could fall out of the first round. Washington feels like a happy medium where he fits a need.
18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis has been flying under the radar after skipping out on the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine and his pro day because of injury. He should still hear his name called on day one of the draft, and Tennessee is a good fit.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami
This pick has been locked in for about a month. If it’s not Njoku for the Buccaneers they could go after Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu or perhaps even an offensive lineman.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Ramczyk will be in Philadelphia on draft night and he’s not there to see the Liberty Bell. He could help finish Denver’s rebuild on the offensive line as they continue to try and figure out who will start for them at quarterback.
21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
This might not be the sack threat the Lions need, but Detroit could use a roaming linebacker. Teams — and particularly coaches — love Davis.
22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
You can probably put Lamp anywhere along the offensive line and he’ll be effective. For the Dolphins he’d slot in at guard and help protect Ryan Tannehill from the inside rush.
23. New York Giants: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
Another offensive lineman for the Giants. Ereck Flowers was a reach in the top 10 in 2015, and he’s played like one. At the least Bolles can provide competition at left tackle or take over on the right side.
24. Oakland Raiders: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham is the exact type of player the Raiders need on defense. While Khalil Mack is making plays in the backfield Cunningham can clean up any mess that gets behind him on the second level.
25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
It will be fascinating to see where Watson lands on draft night. Is he this year’s version of Teddy Bridgewater as a fan favorite quarterback who slips on draft night?
26. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin King, CB, Washington
If Bolles and Ramczyk are gone, this pick would be down to King and cornerback Marlon Humphrey and offensive tackle Cam Robinson of Alabama. King is a perfect system fit.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Do the Chiefs take Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer or find a cornerback who can play opposite Marcus Peters? If you’re going purely by value, it’s cornerback.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California
This pick seems certain to be on defense, whether it’s a pass rusher up front or a coverage player. It’s no coincidence that the NFL invited six cornerbacks to the draft. Teams could covet Jackson for his upside as a cornerback and his incredible ability as a return specialist.
29. Green Bay Packers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
A team like the Packers could stop the slide of Cook on draft night. He could be Green Bay’s new lead running back while also providing another weapon in the pass game. The Packers could be another team in the back part of the first round who gets a cornerback, as well.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
I keep going back and forth on McKinley or Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt for the Steelers. McKinley would be an excellent pairing with Bud Dupree. He’s a high motor pass rusher who can stand up and play with his hand in the dirt.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State
Rivers is certainly a favorite of Falcons fans, but is he actually a favorite of the Falcons? He would give Atlanta a pass rusher to go along with Vic Beasley. Malik McDowell of Michigan State could be an option, as well, because of his versatility.
32. New Orleans Saints: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Until the Saints somehow manage to acquire Malcolm Butler I think they leave the first night of the draft with a cornerback. In this scenario it was either White or Chidobe Awuzie of Colorado. Could this be a landing spot for Kizer?