1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett DE/OLB, Texas A&M
2016 draft picks: Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman
2017 free agents: Barkevious Mingo, Brian Hartline, Rahim Moore, Austin Pasztor
For the Browns the big question will be, do they take a QB here, or possibly trade down for another draft haul like the one they got from the Eagles. The answer is neither. Despite having spent a 2015 second round pick on Nate Orchard as well as a 2016 second round pick on Emmanuel Ogbah, Myles Garrett is the clear cut best prospect in this draft class, even if the Adrian Peterson-like Leonard Fournette declares, and the Browns would be foolish to not draft him.
Essentially a larger version of Von Miller, Myles Garrett has been wreaking havoc against opposing offenses ever since the moment he stepped onto the field as a true freshman for Miller's alma mater. He's 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds with an amazing combination speed and power, and could have challenged to be the number overall pick in the 2016 draft had the sophomore been able to declare.
2. San Fransisco 49ers - Brad Kaaya QB, Miami
2016 draft picks: DeForest Buckner, Joshua Garnett, Will Redmond, Rashard Robinson
2017 free agents:Ian Williams, Erik Pears, Blaine Gabbert, Vance McDonald
If Chip Kelly had gotten his way the 49ers likely would have been the team to trade up for the number one overall pick, and the right to draft Jared Goff. As it stands, Colin Kaepernick could still be cut, saving the 49ers 15 million in cap space, or traded in the 2017 offseason.
As of right now there isn't any consensus elite QB's in the 2017 draft class, but it should be stocked with several prospects with high upside. Many are predicting Clemson's Deshaun Watson will be the first QB selected, but a lack of size and an inability to read through his progressions will likely see Watson fall lower than expected. Where as Brad Kaaya has the mobility as well as an NFL frame, and will gain valuable experience running a pro-style offense with new Miami HC Mark Richt.
3. Tennessee Titans - Jalen Tabor CB, Florida
2016 draft picks:Jack Conklin, Kevin Dodd, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard
2017 free agents:Kendall Wright, Chance Warmack, Sean Spence
Tennessee has built a strong running game and offensive line around Marcus Mariota, now their biggest need would be to get him some weapons. Dorial Green-Beckham could develop into a number one WR but Mariota will need a solid number two as well. Defensively the Titans made a lot of improvements but failed to improve at CB.
While Vernon Hargreaves III was working his way towards becoming the 11th overall pick of the Bucs in 2015, it was actually Jalen Tabor who had the better overall season. Tabor had 14 pass break-ups last season to go with 4 interceptions, two of which he returned for TD's. All that and a 6-foot and 190 pounds frame makes Tabor likely to be the first defensive back selected in 2017.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Cam Robinson OT, Alabama
2016 draft picks: Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Yannick Ngakoue, Sheldon Day
2017 free agents:Luke Joeckel, Prince Amukamara, Tyson Alualu, Johnathan Cyprien
Even though Jacksonville is drafting this high they are definitely heading in the right direction. Gus Bradley's squad is drafting well and could be only a few pieces away from becoming a perennial playoff contender. After devoting a majority of the 2016 draft class to upgrading the defense, it's now the offenses turn to get those final pieces of the puzzle. The Jags have made it a point to draft the best player available, but with 2015 2nd round pick T.J. Yeldon in addition to free agent pickup Chris Ivory, it doesn't make a lot of sense for Jacksonville to take Leonard Fournette.
As of right now the best OT prospect for 2017 is Cam Robinson. He's got the prototypical size for an OT at 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds, and can be a road grader in the run game but still has the athleticism to be a franchise cornerstone in pass-protection. After declining the 5th year option on Luke Joeckel, and having what basically amounts to a 1-yr deal with Kelvin Beachum, drafting a LT to protect Blake Bortles is a must.
5. San Diego Chargers - JuJu Smith-Schuster WR, USC
2016 draft picks: Joey Bosa, Hunter Henry, Max Tuerk, Joshua Perry, Jatavis Brown
2017 free agents:Melvin Ingram, Keenan Allen, Manti Te'o
The window for the Chargers to become competitive with Phillip Rivers is getting smaller. Depending on how well Joey Bosa works in a 3-4 defense, San Diego had a solid 2016 draft class. However they neglected to replace Eric Weddle or Malcom Floyd. With two elite safeties in this draft class, the Chargers could find Weddle's replacement here or opt for a WR to give Rivers more weapons, which could be doubly important if they do not re-sign Keenan Allen.
After a promising freshman season JuJu Smith-Schuster exploded onto the scene last season once he became the number one WR after Nelson Agholor bolted for the NFL. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, JuJu has the size to make contested catches but also has the speed to go vertical at any time. He's an incredibly smooth athlete and the top rated WR in this draft class at present time.
6. Chicago Bears - Leonard Fournette RB, LSU
2016 draft picks: Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair, Johnathan Bullard, Jordan Howard
2017 free agents:Alshon Jeffery, Willie Young
With a defense heavy draft and free agent class the Bears are practically finished with their defensive rebuild but still need talent at CB. Offensively there are questions at WR with Alshon Jeffery's pending free agency and 2015 first round pick Kevin White missing his rookie season with shin splints. And had he been available, the Bears were rumored to love Ezekiel Elliott, which means that they may not be completely convinced in Jeremy Langford's ability to replace Matt Forte.
Leonard Fournette may be the best prospect in this draft class. He's the closest thing to Adrian Peterson since Adrian Peterson. He is a violent downhill runner with the speed to break off long gains. For a big back at 6-foot-1 and 230 pounds, Fournette has the shiftiness of a smaller RB and can catch passes out of the backfield as well. He's the total package and the prized jewel of what looks to be the strongest RB draft class in several years.
LSU could challenge Ohio State's 5 2016 first round picks in 2017. In addition to having a generational talent at RB, the Tigers boast a bevy of prospects at an array of positions with the likes of Lewis Neal, Ethan Pocic, Tre'Davious White, Malachi Dupree, Travin Dural, and Davon Godchaux.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jabrill Peppers S/CB, Michigan
2016 draft picks: Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence, Robert Aguayo, Caleb Benenoch
2017 free agents:Vincent Jackson, Joe Hawley, Chris Conte, Bradley McDougald, William Gholston, Demar Dotson
Despite trading 3rd and 4th round draft picks to move back into the second round for a kicker, which has since been called the worst draft move in history(a bit of hyperbole), the Bucs had a solid draft class and filled some big needs. One need they didn't get to address is at safety, where they were said to be looking for a player to groom behind Chris Conte. With Conte and Bradley McDougald set for free agency the safety position becomes a must have. Thankfully for the Bucs this draft class has two elite prospects at the position.
While LSU's Jamal Adams is also an elite prospect and comes from the de facto DB factory of college football, at this time Jabrill Peppers is the one who is going to blow teams' skirts up. A slightly less athletic(I.E. not a world class Olympian) but more physical version of Jalen Ramsey, Peppers is likely better suited at safety rather than CB in the NFL, although he certainly wouldn't be a liability there. Teams who employ a press-man scheme at CB may actually prefer Peppers as a boundary CB. The Bucs couldn't go wrong with either Peppers or Adams here.
8. New Orleans Saints - Derek Barnett DE, Tennessee
2016 draft picks: Sheldon Rankins, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell
2017 free agents:Drew Brees, Max Unger, John Jenkins, Nick Fairley
The Saints will likely come to terms on a new agreement with Drew Brees and Max Unger, which would leave upgrading the pass-rush as their biggest need in 2017, same as it was in 2016 where they eschewed help on the outside for Sheldon Rankins.
Myles Garrett isn't the only rising junior who has been wreaking havoc in the SEC from the moment he set foot on the field as a true freshman. Derek Barnett has enjoyed back-to-back 10 sacks seasons in the always tough SEC in addition to a combined 33 tackles for loss over the same period. At 6-foot-3 and 268 pounds, Barnett will appeal to teams who employ both a 4-3 as well as a 3-4 defense.
9. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles) - Jamal Adams S, LSU
2016 draft picks: Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib, Shon Coleman, Joe Schobert, Scooby Wright
2017 free agents:Barkevious Mingo, Brian Hartline, Rahim Moore, Austin Pasztor
With a second pass at Deshaun Watson would they take him here? The Browns have become a mystery with their QB situation, possibly becoming gun shy after so many first round busts. They do seem genuinely content with RG3 as of now, so perhaps they'll focus their attention on one of their many other needs. After releasing Donte Whitner and allowing Tashaun Gipson to leave via free agency, the Browns will go into the season with Rahim Moore and Jordan Poyer as the starters at safety. An elite prospect like Jamal Adams should help with one of those positions.
It's really a tossup between Jabrill Peppers and Jamal Adams for the top safety in the 2017 draft class. Adams come from "DBU". He's got optimum size at 6-foot-1 and 211 pounds. He's the fast, physical, instinctive leader of the LSU secondary.
10. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams) - Mike Williams WR, Clemson
2016 draft picks:Jack Conklin, Kevin Dodd, Austin Johnson, Derrick Henry, Kevin Byard
2017 free agents:Kendall Wright, Chance Warmack, Sean Spence
After taking care of their need at CB the Titans can focus on a WR here. Elsewhere, Tennessee may possibly need to replace Chance Warmack.
If not for a serious neck injury, wherein he sustained a neck fracture while running into the goal post in the opening game of the 2015 season, Mike Williams likely would have entered the 2016 draft, and would have been in the running to be the first WR drafted. The neck injury makes him a bit of a wildcard but talent-wise he's one of the top WR's in this draft class. He's got the size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and speed, and looks very reminiscent of former Clemson product Martavis Bryant, except with the production in 2014 to back up his first round status. Provided he can return to full health and have a season similar to the one he had in 2014, Williams can challenge to be the first WR taken in this draft class.
11. Miami Dolphins - Carl Lawson DE/OLB, Auburn
2016 draft picks: Laremy Tunsil, Xavien Howard, Kenyon Drake, Leonte Carroo
2017 free agents: Jordan Cameron, Andre Branch, Jelani Jenkins, Kenny Stills, Kiko Alonzo
The Dolphins solidified their offensive line with Laremy Tunsil and got a big CB that they so desperately wanted to pair with Byron Maxwell, but Miami did very little to take care of their long-term needs at DE. After letting Oliver Vernon go in free agency Miami brought in Andre Branch and Mario Williams to go with an aging Cameron Wake, who will be working his way back from an Achilles tear. When the 2017 offseason rolls around Miami will likely find themselves looking for that younger, long-term option.
If Mike Williams is a bit of a wild card than Carl Lawson is a whole hands' worth of them. Based on talent alone Lawson may contend with Myles Garrett as the top pass-rusher in this draft class. Unfortunately his career at Auburn has been marred by injury. He missed the 2014 season with an ACL tear and only appeared in 7 games last season after injuring his hip. A healthy 2016 should allow Lawson's draft stock to skyrocket. At 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds Lawson can win with speed and power, he can play 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB, and even has experience sliding inside as a 3-tech on passing downs.
12. Atlanta Falcons - Jonathan Allen DE, Alabama
2016 draft picks: Keanu Neal, Dion Jones, Austin Hooper, De'Vondre Campbell
2017 free agents:Devin Hester, Ryan Schraeder, Chris Chester, Sean Weatherspoon
Atlanta did a lot to revamp their defense in the 2016 offseason but if they're drafting in the top 15 they'll likely continue to do so. Offensively the Falcons appear set on paper, but on the defensive side they still need an outside rusher to pair with Vic Beasley, which is why it was so surprising that they passed on Shaq Lawson in the 2016 draft.
Had he decided to enter the 2016 draft class it's likely that Jonathan Allen would have been the first Crimson Tide player to come off of the board. While his defensive line mates A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed grabbed a majority of the headlines last season, it was Allen who paced the trio with 12 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 batted passes. At 6-foot-3 and 283 pounds, Allen is versatile enough to play in any defensive scheme.
13. Baltimore Ravens - Desmond King CB, Iowa
2016 draft picks:Ronnie Stanley, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi, Tavon Young, Kenneth Dixon
2017 free agents:Steve Smith, Brandon Williams, Rickey Wagner, Kamar Aiken, Matt Elam
Baltimore filled a lot of needs in the 2016 draft thanks to a bevy of 4th round picks. And while they did draft Tavon Young his future is most likely as a slot CB. What seems to be a consistent need at WR, Steve Smith will be riding into the sunset of retirement while 2015 first round pick Breshad Perriman will hopefully(for Baltimore) prove worthy of his first round status.
The 2015 Jim Thorpe award winner, Desmond King returned for another season after posting 8 interceptions, 13 pass breakups, and 21 passes defensed. Had he entered the the 2016 draft, King could have challenged to be the first CB off of the board not named Ramsey. At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, King looks more like a RB and is just as good defending the run as he is the pass.
14. Indianapolis Colts - Charles Harris DE/OLB, Missouri
2016 draft picks: Ryan Kelly, T.J. Green, Le'Raven Clark, Hassan Ridgeway
2017 free agents:Andrew Luck, Trent Cole, Robert Mathis, Mike Adams
Colts GM Ryan Grigson finally got Andrew Luck some protection, now it's time to start seriously upgrading the defense. That starts with the pass-rush, especially replacing aging free agents Trent Cole and Robert Mathis.
Charles Harris could have entered the 2016 draft as a redshirt sophomore and likely would have been a first round pick. With excellent first-step quickness and an array of pass-rushing moves, he's the next in a line of quality outside rushers for the Mizzou program. At 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds, Harris is likely destined to play 3-4 OLB at the next level. He was second only to Myles Garrett with 18.5 tackles for loss last season while also accumulating 7 sacks.
15. Detroit Lions - Lewis Neal DE/OLB, LSU
2016 draft picks:Taylor Decker, A'Shawn Robinson, Graham Glascow, Miles Killebrew
2017 free agents:Riley Reiff, Larry Warford, Darius Slay, Stephen Tulloch
Detroit will be looking heavily at offensive line again in 2017 if they fail to re-sign either Riley Reiff or Larry Warford. Their biggest need though should be to find a DE to pair with Ziggy Ansah.
Lewis Neal returned to LSU for his senior season even with a first round projection for the 2016 draft. Last year he logged 7 sacks in 6 games before an ankle injury tainted the rest of the season. At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Neal is extremely dangerous as an outside rusher using a combination of speed and power.
16. Washington Redskins - Malik McDowell DT/DE, Michigan State
2016 draft picks:Josh Doctson, Su'a Cravens, Kendall Fuller, Matt Ioannidis
2017 free agents:Kirk Cousins, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Perry Riley, Chris Baker
Washington filled a lot of big needs in the 2016 draft but could still use another WR, S, and defensive lineman. They went into the draft looking to get younger and faster on the defensive line but didn't address it until the 5th round.
Malik McDowell doesn't have the stats that the other defensive linemen who have already gone in this draft, but that's mainly because, despite having a 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds frame, McDowell plays nose tackle in the Spartans 4-3 defense. Built like a 5-technique DE, McDowell uses his immense power and excellent leverage to constantly take on double teams.
17. Oakland Raiders - Dalvin Cook RB, Florida State
2016 draft picks: Karl Joseph, Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Connor Cook, Vadal Alexander
2017 free agents:Malcolm Smith, Mychal Rivera, Menelik Watson, D.J. Hayden, Latavius Murray
I didn't agree with most of the Raiders picks in the 2016 draft but they did get value for each draft pick. Going forward Oakland still needs a long-term successor to Donald Penn at LT, and despite spending a 2016 late round pick at RB the Raiders still need a long-term replacement for pending free agent Latavius Murray at RB.
After Leonard Fournette there are still three very good RB's available who are likely to be first round picks. Christian McCaffrey and Nick Chubb would both be solid options but Oakland is likely to fall in love with the blinding speed and big play ability of Dalvin Cook. The only thing that could hold Cook back from being the 2nd RB drafted is a slew of minor nagging injuries.
18. Buffalo Bills - Deshaun Watson QB, Clemson
2016 draft picks: Shaq Lawson, Reggie Ragland, Adolphus Washington, Cardale Jones
2017 free agents:Stephon Gilmore, Manny Lawson, Tyrod Taylor, Robert Woods, E.J. Manuel
Watson falls no more. Buffalo seems completely non-committal to Tyrod Taylor for the long-term, and both he and E.J. Manuel will be free agents in 2017. HC Rex Ryan seems to prefer drafting athletic QB's with mobility and, because of his son, has also shown a lot of interest in the Clemson program.
Deshaun Watson is getting plenty of top five love in the early goings. He's an electric playmaker and a lot of fun to watch in college. Unfortunately I think he's going to fall in the 2017 draft. Teams don't seem to like drafting small QB's early, and Watson's 6-foot-2, 210 pounds frame isn't likely to garner much praise from the scouts. He has a strong arm to drive the ball downfield, and surprisingly good touch, but he has trouble reading through his progressions and his accuracy can be erratic at times.
19. New York Giants - Roderick Johnson OT, Florida State
2016 draft picks: Eli Apple, Sterling Shepard, Darian Thompson, B.J. Goodson, Paul Perkins
2017 free agents:Jason Pierre-Paul, Keenan Robinson, Marshall Newhouse, Larry Donnell, Johnathan Hankins
Rumor has it that had he been available the Giants would've taken Jack Conklin with the 10th pick in the 2016 draft. Rebuilding the right side of their offensive line would go a long way towards making the Giants legitimate playoff contenders again. In 2017 when Marshall Newhouse hits free agency it'll be an even bigger priority.
The 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds Roderick Johnson is extremely athletic and with an enormous wingspan. While not a finished product yet, Johnson has shown steady improvement ever since being inserted at LT midway through the 2014 season. Teams are likely to fall in love with his high upside and he will likely end up in the top ten when all is said and done.
20. New York Jets - Adoree Jackson CB/WR/KR, USC
2016 draft picks:Darron Lee, Christian Hackenberg, Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Shell
2017 free agents:Muhammad Wilkerson, Brian Winters, Geno Smith, Dee Milliner
The Jets are banking on Christian Hackenberg to be their future at QB but could still use some weapons for him as well as an upgrade on protection. Defensively Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins should fill their needs at both inside and outside linebacker, but they didn't find a replacement for Antonio Cromartie and Darrell Revis is on the downside of his career.
Adoree Jackson is the jack-of-all trades for USC and could be a solid WR in the NFL, but his future will likely be at CB given his 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds frame, he's also an excellent return man as well. Jackson is a supremely gifted athlete who will be missing USC's spring practice to pursue a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in Rio this summer, as he is the reigning Pac12 long jump champion.
21. Dallas Cowboys - Malachi Dupree WR, LSU
2016 draft picks: Ezekiel Elliott, Jaylon Smith, Maliek Collins, Charles Tapper, Dak Prescott
2017 free agents:Ron Leary, Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Rolando McClain, Terrence Williams
While Ezekiel Elliott may have been the best player available, and that's a big maybe, he doesn't fill a big need after signing Alfred Morris in free agency and the Cowboys still have big holes in their secondary. A CB like Tre'Davious White or a safety to pair with Byron Jones would make a lot of sense, but Jerry Jones is likely to make the splashier pick to replace/upgrade over former first round bust Terrence Williams and give the Cowboys another option in the passing game. When Dez Bryant was out with injury the passing game completely fell apart.
A former top rated WR in his recruiting class, the 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds Malachi Dupree is an athletic speedster with long arms and, because of the LSU connection, gets comparisons to Odell Beckham Jr. While it's unfair to make that comparison, Dupree could end up a top 15 pick based on his high upside. If he played in an offense that wasn't so run oriented he would have a much bigger national profile.
22. Minnesota Vikings - Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame
2016 draft picks: Laquon Treadwell, Mackensie Alexander, Willie Beavers
2017 free agents:Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Phil Loadholt, Chad Greenway, Cordarrelle Patterson
The Vikings got excellent value for their first two picks in the 2016 draft but will have some serious free agency issues facing themselves in 2017, most notably is with both of their starting OT's. Both Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt have been big disappoints since flashing some potential early in their respective careers.
This is a bit of a projection pick, but Mike McGlinchey seems poised to make a big leap this season in which he'll be moving from the right to the left side of the offensive line. The 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds McGlinchey shares several similarities to former teammate Ronnie Stanley. They both have a long, lean frame and light feet, but while rumors swirled about Stanley's lack of commitment to football there is no questioning McGlinchey's love for the game. He plays with a tough, nasty demeanor sure to endear him to the scouting community.
23. Kansas City Chiefs - Christian McCaffrey RB, Stanford
2016 draft picks: Chris Jones, KeiVarae Russell, Parker Ehinger, Kevin Hogan
2017 free agents:Eric Berry, Dontari Poe
The Chiefs biggest issues in 2017, provided that they come to a long-term agreement with Eric Berry, will be at WR and RB. K.C. needs another option besides the injury-plagued Jeremy Macklin and raw but talented 2015 3rd rounder Chris Conley. At RB Jamaal Charles is coming back from an ACL tear and will be 30 years old and heading into the final year of his contract in the 2017 offseason.
The early front runner for this years Heisman trophy, the 6-foot and 197 pounds Christian McCaffrey broke Barry Sanders NCAA record for total yardage with 3,864 yards. He also set a Rose Bowl record against Iowa with 368 all purpose yards. McCaffrey would work best in a pass-heavy scheme that would allow him to make use of his catching and big play ability.
24. Cincinnati Bengals - Eddie Jackson S, Alabama
2016 draft picks:William Jackson, Tyler Boyd, Andrew Billings, Christian Westerman
2017 free agents:Kevin Zeitler, Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, Domata Peko, Giovani Bernard
Cincy has done a great job over the last several years of drafting the best player available instead of reaching for need, and as it stands they won't have many needs to address in 2017 as long as they re-sign Kevin Zeitler and Giovani Bernard. Offensively they could use some line depth, but defensively they need to replace Reggie Nelson and upgrade at DE across from Carlos Dunlap.
With Jabrill Peppers and Jamal Adams off of the board there are more than a handful of quality options for the teams to choose from at the safety position. In 2014 Eddie Jackson was underwhelming at the CB position but a switch to safety for this past season has really boosted his draft stock. After a breakout season at safety, which included strong showing in Alabama's playoff run, Jackson could have declared for the 2016 draft in which he likely would have been an early 2nd round pick. With another strong season Jackson could cement a first round status.
25. Green Bay Packers - O.J. Howard TE, Alabama
2016 draft picks:Kenny Clark, Jason Spriggs, Kyler Fackrell, Blake Martinez
2017 free agents:Julius Peppers, Josh Sitton, Nick Perry, David Bakhtiari, Eddie Lacy, J.C. Tretter, Datone Jones
The Packers have several key free agents in 2017 that will determine their first round pick. With their starting LT and LG set to depart, and where they choose to play Jason Spriggs, G.B. could be looking at a lineman here. One of Julius Peppers and Nick Perry will likely not be re-signed but they did draft Kyler Fackrell. The 2016 season will be a make or break one for Eddie Lacy. If he can't stay healthy and in-shape this is a good draft to find his replacement.
One position the Packers were thought to have addressed but didn't was at TE. They've needed a better "move" TE similar to what they had in Jermichael Finley.
O.J. Howard likely could have challenged Hunter Henry to be the first TE draft in 2016 after having a monster game in the National Championship but instead chose to return for his senior season. Largely underutilized in Alabama's offense, the 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds Howard is a perfect fit as a pass-catching option in the modern NFL game.
26. Denver Broncos - Jarrad Davis OLB, Florida
2016 draft picks:Paxton Lynch, Adam Gotsis, Justin Simmons, Devontae Booker, Conner McGovern
2017 free agents:Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandon Marshall, Sylvester Williams
The Broncos did their best to draft a Brock Osweiler impersonator in Paxton Lynch. They also managed to add depth and talent to many positions. One issue that still remains is at ILB, where they lost Danny Trevathan in free agency and appear set to lose Brandon Marshall in 2017. Of course if the Broncos can't re-sign Von Miller, or DeMarcus Ware to a lesser extent, that need becomes a top priority.
For teams looking for true linebacker help there should be a plethora to choose from that are expected to go in the late 1st-2nd round, particularly at ILB and WLB. Jarrad Davis, who can play outside in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4, appears to be the best of the bunch early on. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Davis would be more in line with the new breed of linebackers where sideline-to-sideline coverage skills have become far more important than being a thumper against the run, although Jarrad Davis is a factor against the run as well.
27. Arizona Cardinals - Quin Blanding S, Virginia
2016 draft picks:Robert Nkemdiche, Brandon Williams, Evan Boehm
2017 free agents:Larry Fitzgerald, Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, Michael Floyd, Tyrann Mathieu
The Cardinals 2017 first round pick could hinge largely on what happens with Larry Fitzgerald. He's hinted at retirement, and Arizona could lose both he and 2017 free agent Michael Floyd. Re-signing Floyd could push that need into the next couple of rounds. Defensively they'll have important decisions to make with Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell, and Tyrann Mathieu. It's likely that Fitzgerald retires, Campbell, Floyd, and possibly Jones are re-signed, and Tyrann Mathieu ends up being the odd man out.
Arizona will possibly have to replace Tyrann Mathieu in addition to having never replaced Antonio Cromartie, Jerraud Powers, and Rashad Johnson. Drafting the highest rated DB here makes the most sense.
Quin Blanding doesn't get a lot of national attention despite having been a 5-star player and the top overall safety in his recruiting class. He chose to stay close to home at Virginia but could have gone anywhere in the country. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds combined with his speed, athleticism, and tackling(100+ tackles in each of his first two seasons), Blanding will likely continue to fly under the radar until he declares for the draft and shows people what he can do at the NFL scouting combine.
28. Houston Texans - Davon Godchaux DT/DE, LSU
2016 draft picks:Will Fuller, Nick Martin, Braxton Miller, Tyler Ervin, K.J. Dillon, D.J. Reader
2017 free agents:Vince Wilfork, Quintin Demps
The Houston Texans used the 2016 draft and free agency to completely revamp their offense. The only position left to address on that side of things is at TE, where 2014 3rd round pick C.J. Fiedorowicz hasn't offered much in the passing game. Defensively late round picks K.J. Dillon and D.J. Reader should hopefully develop into quality starters at SS and NT but Houston still has issues at FS and DE.
The 6-foot-4 and 295 pounds Davon Godchaux is tailor-made to play the 5-technique in the NFL with his combination of power and deceptive speed. His 6 sacks and 9 tackles for loss this past season don't nearly tell the whole story when it came to just how distributive he was for that LSU defense.
29. Carolina Panthers - Nick Chubb RB, Georgia
2016 draft picks:Vernon Butler, James Bradberry, Zach Sanchez
2017 free agents:Kawann Short, Ryan Kalil, Michael Oher, Ted Ginn, Charles Johnson, Kurt Coleman
Despite bigger needs at CB, OT, and S the Panthers went best player available with Vernon Butler in the first round, although they heavily drafted to fill their needs in the secondary in the following rounds. The Panthers were one of the teams rumored to really like Derrick Henry, and had the Heisman trophy winner made to the Panthers second round pick he likely would have been drafted there. With so many defensive stalwarts hitting the free agent market in the 2017 and 2018 free agent periods, the Panthers already let Josh Norman walk and could released Jonathan Stewart, who will turn 30 years old shortly after the 2017 draft, as soon as the 2017 offseason.
The best player available here is Georgia's Nick Chubb. Had he not tore his LCL in the 2015 season he likely would be receiving more hype than LSU's Leonard Fournette. Stepping in as a starter as a true freshman after Todd Gurley was suspended and subsequently went down with an ACL injury, Chubb ran for 1,547 yards and 14 touchdowns despite only starting 8 games that year. If Chubb can stay healthy and replicate that kind of production, then the 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds former high school track star may possibly still challenge Fournette to be the first RB taken.
30. New England Patriots - Tim Williams OLB, Alabama
2016 draft picks:Cyrus Jones, Joe Thuney, Vincent Valentine, Malcolm Mitchell
2017 free agents:Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard, Sebastian Vollmer, Rob Ninkovich
New England has a lot of extremely important free agent decisions coming their way in 2017. They already traded Chandler Jones but would need to shell out big bucks to keep Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins, plus Malcolm Butler will be headed for unrestricted free agency in 2018.
Despite getting a second round draft grade from the NFL advisory committee Tim Williams came back for his senior season. The 6-foot-2, 230 pounds Williams managed 10.5 sacks last season even though he was a rotational backup. He wins with speed and deceptive power, and with a starting role this season he could significantly improve his draft stock.
31. Seattle Seahawks - Ethan Pocic OC/OG, LSU
2016 draft picks:Germain Ifedi, Jarran Reed, C.J. Prosise, Nick Vannett, Rees Odhiambo
2017 free agents:Doug Baldwin, Brandon Browner, Jordan Hill, Tharold Simon
Despite spending a first round pick on an offensive lineman, Seattle's biggest need is for offensive line help. Right now the Seahawks offensive line configuration has Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo occupying both OG spots, with Justin Britt moving to OC, and Garry Gilliam and J'Marcus Webb at OT. It's likely though that by the start of the season Ifedi will move to LT, with Gilliam, Odhiambo, and Mark Glowinski battling it out at OG. Regardless of how it all shakes out, Ifedi and Britt are the only one guaranteed a starting spot going forward.
The top interior offensive lineman in this draft class, the 6-foot-6 and 307 pounds Ethan Pocic is on the large end for a center, and he could play OG or even OT in the pros. A hip injury is the only thing holding him back, but provided he comes back healthy Pocic could go a lot higher than this. He created huge holes for Leonard Fournette in the running game, and even though LSU's offense doesn't pass a lot Pocic is a reliable pass-blocker. After losing Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander to the draft, LSU could move him outside, which if he succeeds will only improve his draft stock.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers - Raekwon McMillan ILB, Ohio State
2016 draft picks: Artie Burns, Sean Davis, Javon Hargrave, Jerald Hawkins, Travis Feeney, Demarcus Ayers, Tyler Matakevich
2017 free agents: David DeCastro, Le'Veon Bell, Jarvis Jones, Markus Wheaton, Lawrence Timmons, James Harrison, DeAngelo Williams, Mike Adams, Matt Spaeth, Vince Williams, Landry Jones, Shamarko Thomas
So I typically refrain from giving the Steelers the 32nd pick in my initial mock draft, but the Steelers were one injured Antonio Brown away from beating the eventual champions in the playoffs and that was without several key starters beyond AB out of the lineup. At full strength I don't think there's a defense in the NFL that can stop the Steelers offense. And while the Steelers defense was ranked 21st in yards, they were 11th in points. With Jarvis Jones playing in a contract year and both Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt heading into year three, and even Bud Dupree in year two, the Steelers defense should improve by leaps and bounds this season.
It seems highly unlikely that the Steelers will let David DeCastro and Le'Veon Bell walk in free agency. Despite some past injury issues they are both vital to the success of the offense. The positions of real worry for the Steelers are at LT, ILB, and especially OLB.
Is Alejandro Villanueva the future at LT? Who knows right now, but it's certainly not Ryan Harris, as his signing was for depth purposes. Perhaps 2016 4th round pick Jerald Hawkins is but he's a project and we likely won't know his true ceiling for a couple of years after O-line coach Mike Munchak has torn him down and built him back up. Unfortunately right now the 2017 draft isn't looking particularly strong at OT, especially by the end of the first round.
How much longer does Lawrence Timmons have in the Steelers defense? For a player whose game was always predicated on speed, Timmons has gotten noticeably slower over the last couple of years. Pro Football focus ranked him the 56th best ILB out of 60 qualifying players at his position. A contract extension would unburden the Steelers of the 15 million dollar cap hit in the final year of his contract, but with Timmons becoming a liability in coverage is the short-term financial relief worth the trade off? This is a good draft class to find Timmons' replacement.
At OLB the Steelers declined the 5th year option on Jarvis Jones. With this sure to be the final year for James Harrison, can the Steelers afford not to draft an OLB early? They appear high on 2016 6th round pick Travis Feeney but, at 230 pounds, he's more likely to be a sub package player than a starter. Opinions on Jarvis Jones seem to vary wildly here on BTSC but lets all hope that he continues to show the steady improvement that he's done from year-to-year already and that the Steelers can re-sign him to a reasonable long-term deal before he reaches free agency.
Picking at the end of the first round the deepest well of talent likely to be available will be at ILB. There are more than a handful of quality undersized LB's available who would traditionally be pigeonholed to playing WLB in a 4-3 defense but are now seen as viable candidates to play ILB in a 3-4 because of the proliferation of the pass. Guys like South Carolina's Skai Moore and Tennessee's Jalen Reeves-Maybin may indeed lack the traditional stature of a 3-4 ILB but they are playmakers.
There are however a couple of traditional ILB's in the draft class, and the best of which is Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan. Never mind the often brought up Steelers-OSU connection, McMillan is the pick because he can cover, he can tackle, and he can hit someone like a ton of bricks, and he can be a leader on the defense. The 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds prospect was a 5-star recruit and the number one rated linebacker in his recruiting class. With Darron Lee and Joshua Perry moving onto the NFL it's now McMillan's time to shine. Interesting side note, Raekwon McMillan is named after "Raekwon the Chef", a rapper and member of the popular New York based rap group The Wu-Tang Clan.
33. Cleveland Browns - Pat Elflein OG, Ohio State
With Alex Mack gone to Atlanta Cam Erving will shift to OC, leaving a hole at RG
Pat Elflein could challenge Ethan Pocic to be the first interior O-lineman off of the board. at 6-foot-3 and 300 pounds, Elflein wins with incredibly sound technique over shear size.
34. San Fransisco 49ers - Darren Carrington WR, Oregon
Torrey Smith has been a bust free agent signing and Chip Kelly loves his Oregon guys.
The 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds Carrington has big-play ability and averaged 19 YPC last season.
35. Cleveland Browns (via Tennessee Titans) - Tre'Davious White CB, LSU
Justin Gilbert has been a colossal bust and they still need a CB to pair with Joe Haden.
Tre'Davious White regressed from 2014 to 2015, and was given a 2nd round grade by the advisory committee which is why he returned to school. He's got the talent though both as a CB and as a KR.
36. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tony Conner SS, Ole' Miss.
Jonathan Cyprien has been a bust and is a 2017 free agent.
Tony Conner elected to stay in college after a down year in which he was slowed by a meniscus tear, but he is one of the best strong safeties in college football, showing versatility to play boundary and nickel CB, and free as well as strong safety. The 6-foot and 215 pounds senior hits like a hammer.
37. San Diego Chargers - Isaac Rochell DE, Notre Dame
S.D. failed to replace Kendall Reyes in free agency or the draft.
The 6-foot-3, 290 pounds Rochell is a great fit as a 5-tech in the pros.
38. Chicago Bears - Jake Butt TE, Michigan
Chicago traded Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller will be heading into the final year of his contract.
Jake Butt is a complete TE prospect at 6-foot-5, 248 pounds and will challenge O.J. Howard to be the first TE taken in this draft class.
39. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Marquis Haynes OLB, Ole' Miss.
T.B. seriously considered Leonard Floyd because they need an upgrade at SLB.
A woefully undersized WDE, the 6-foot-3, 220 pounds Haynes is an excellent speed rusher but will need to learn how to drop into coverage to be successful at the next level.
40. New Orleans Saints - Carlos Watkins DT, Clemson
John Jenkins and Nick Fairley are both free agents.
The 6-foot-3, 300 pounds Watkins is just another in a line of quality defensive prospects from Clemson.
41. Philadelphia Eagles - DeMarcus Walker DE/OLB, FSU
2016 draft picks: Carson Wentz, Issac Seumalo, Jalen Mills, Alex McCalister
2017 free agents:Fletcher Cox, Darren Sproles, Nolan Carroll
It doesn't sound like the negotiations between Fletcher Cox and the Eagles are going well.
The 6-foot-3 and 281 pounds DeMarcus Walker exploded onto the scene last year after two fairly nondescript seasons at FSU, accumulating 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
42. Los Angeles Rams - Jourdan Lewis CB, Michigan
2016 draft picks:Jared Goff, Tyler Higbee, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Forrest
2017 free agents:Trumaine Johnson, Michael Brockers, Kenny Britt, Akeem Ayers, T.J. McDonald
The Rams didn't replace Janoris Jenkins, and Trumaine Johnson will be a free agent. Rumor has it that the Rams loved Mackensie Alexander and would have considered him if they hadn't moved up for Jared Goff, indicating that Jeff Fisher could gamble on an undersized CB.
Jourdan Lewis might just be the best CB in this draft class based on skills alone, however being 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds will keep him out of the first round.
43. Miami Dolphins - Skai Moore OLB, South Carolina
Jelani Jenkins and Kiko Alonzo are both free agents.
All the 6-foot-2, 220 pounds Skai Moore does is make game changing plays. He's an exceptional coverage LB who can tackle and be a leader for the defense.
44. Atlanta Falcons - Travin Dural WR, LSU
Atlanta needs a slot WR who can go vertical and draw coverage from Julio Jones.
The 6-foot-2, 203 pounds Dural was getting first round consideration for the 2016 draft before a hamstring injury robbed him of the rest of his season. Reportedly close to 100%, if he can stay healthy all season he could see himself being picked int he first round.
45. Baltimore Ravens - Rueben Foster ILB, Alabama
Baltimore didn't replace Darryl Smith and GM Ozzie Newsome loves his Bama boys.
Rueben Foster showed flashes of star potential this past season and could end up being the first ILB drafted if his development continues.
46. Indianapolis Colts - Royce Freeman RB, Oregon
Frank Gore will turn 34 years old shortly after the 2017 draft.
The 5-foot-11, 230 pounds Freeman looks very reminiscent of former Ducks RB Jonathan Stewart.
47. Detroit Lions - K.D. Cannon WR, Baylor
Detroit needs a 3rd WR to pair with Golden Tate and Marvin Jones.
K.D. Cannon is the next in a long line of undersized speedsters from Baylor.
48. Washington Redskins - Isiah Ford WR, Virginia Tech
Washington needs to continue to get younger at WR, especially with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson hitting free agency.
Isiah Ford had a lot of production last season but with a wirey frame and a lack of separation speed his true draft stock is a bit of an unknown right now.
49. Oakland Raiders - Jalen Reeves-Maybin OLB, Tennessee
Malcolm Smith is a free agent in 2017.
JRM is an undersized playmaker who is showing up in the first round of many early 2017 mock drafts.
50. Buffalo Bills - Eddie Vanderdoes DT, UCLA
This could be Kyle Williams final season in Buffalo.
Vanderdoes is a space eater with some quickness similar to Kenny Clark, who he'll be replacing in 2017. An ACL injury caused him to miss most of last season but if he can bounce-back he could sneak into the 1st round as Clark did.
51. New York Giants - Jordan Leggett TE, Clemson
Larry Donnell is a free agent who could be upgraded anyway.
Jordan Leggett likely would have been the 2nd or 3rd TE taken in the 2016 draft had he declared. The 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds prospect is a good combo TE, who should only get better with Deshaun Watson gaining another year of experience.
52. New York Jets - Lowell Lotulelei DT, Utah
Mohammad Wilkerson will either be traded or leave via free agency.
The brother of Carolina Panthers 2013 first round pick Star Lotulelei, the 6-foot-2 and 302 pounds Lowell is a space-eating NT prospect much in the same vein as his brother.
53. Dallas Cowboys - Cameron Sutton CB, Tennessee
Dallas passed on Jalen Ramsey and stills needs to upgrade their secondary.
Cameron Sutton likely would have been a 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft but opted to return for his senior year. He's got solid size at 6-foot and 190 pounds and excels against bigger WR's but needs to be less handsy. He's also a solid return man.
54. Minnesota Vikings - Armani Watts S, Texas A&M
The Vikings need a SS to pair with Harrison Smith, who is a free agent in 2017.
The 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds Watts is typically all over the field for Texas A&M and had 126 tackles last season.
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Kendell Beckwith ILB, LSU
K.C. needs a long-term successor for Derrick Johnson, and someone to pair with him in the short-term.
The 6-foot-2, 245 pounds Beckwith is a fast, strong, instinctive player with decent coverage ability but is extremely effective against the run.
56. Cincinnati Bengals - Devonte Fields DE/OLB, Louisville
The Bengals need to upgrade their pass-rush across from Carlos Dunlap.
Devonte Fields is in the similar mold of Noah Spence, an extremely talented pass-rusher with a lot of off-the-field baggage.
57. Green Bay Packers - Corey Davis WR, Western Michigan
G.B. needs a more solid WR3 behind Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, and none of the mid-late round picks they drafted in recent years have shown much promise.
Before he decided to return for his senior year, the 6-foot-3, 205 pounds Corey Davis was getting some early draft buzz as a real sleeper in the 2016 draft who could climb into the late-1st round discussion. He's a big play threat who averaged more than 20 YPC last season.
58. Denver Broncos - Bucky Hodges TE, Virginia Tech
Virgil Green is the only TE on the roster after the Vernon Davis trade failed and the Broncos cut Owen Daniels.
Bucky Hodges may just have the highest upside of any TE in this draft class. As a former QB-turned-TE, the 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds prospect is an incredible athlete but also incredibly raw as well.
59. Arizona Cardinals - Luke Falk QB, Washington State
Carson Palmer will be 37 years old by the time the 2017 draft rolls around.
Luke Falk has the raw tools to be a first round pick but coming from a gimmicky "air raid' offense there will be a steep learning curve.
60. Houston Texans - Evan Engram TE, Ole' Miss.
Houston needs a better pass-catching threat at TE.
More like a big WR, the 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds Engram is an athletic freak at TE similar to Washington's Jordan Reed.
61. Carolina Panthers - Zach Banner OT, USC
Michael Oher and Mike Remmers both need to be replaced.
The son of former All-Pro Lincoln Kennedy, the 6-foot-9 and 360 pounds Zach Banner is a mammoth OT who might be better off switching to OG.
62. New England Patriots - Samaje Perine RB, Oklahoma
LaGarrette Blount is a free agent.
Getting a 5-foot-10, 230 pounds workhorse like Perine at the end of the 2nd round is a testament to how strong this draft class is at RB.
63. Seattle Seahawks - Cordera Tankersley CB, Clemson
Tharold Simon and Brandon Browner are both free agents.
Seattle prefers their CB's with a frame like the 6-foot-1, 195 pounds Tankersley.
64. Pittsburgh Steelers - Conor McDermott OT, UCLA
As previously mentioned, the future of the Steelers LT position is a bit of an unknown. Alejandro Villanueva filled in admirably when Kelvin Beachum went down with an ACL tear midway through last season but he was not without his flaws. Ryan Harris was signed in free agency to a two-year deal for depth purposes, Mike Adams was released, and 2016 4th round pick Jerald Hawkins has promise but is a long-term project.
The 6-foot-7, 310 pounds Conor McDermott is similar to 2016 prospect Jason Spriggs in that he is a converted TE with exceptional athleticism, although a slightly larger version with very long arms. As imagined McDermott is still very raw but the tools are there to be a great LT, particularly in Mike Munchak's zone blocking scheme.