Every year, all 32 NFL franchises have one essential inquiry to address that could determine the outlook of their organization for years to come: take the best player available or fill a position in need? This year, more than ever, this question will be immensely difficult to answer. Given the incredible depth at nearly every position (excluding quarterbacks), NFL franchises will have their hands full with selecting the ideal athlete for their team. While any great NFL team cannot be completely constructed through the draft, it is paramount that each organization remains tactful so as to avoid selecting a first round bust.
2017 NFL Draft Viewing Details
Date: Thursday, April 27-29, 2017
Round 1: Thursday, April 27, 8:00 P.M. EST
Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 28, 7:00 P.M. EST
Round 3-7: Saturday, April 28, 12:00 P.M. EST
Time: April 27: 8:00 P.M. EST, April 28: 7:00 P.M. EST, April 29: 12:00 P.M. EST
TV Channel: ESPN, ESPN 2, NFL Network
Location: Philadelphia City Hall, Philadelphia Pennsylvania
1. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M:
While the Browns have attempted to befuddle their competitors with conflicting rumors about whether they will take Garret or a quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, it seems highly unlikely they will leave the dominant linebacker on the table. Barring any type of king’s ransom trade for the number one pick, the Browns will be getting a franchise reviving athlete. Speed, power and sheer athleticism, Garret does it all and will only get better once he moves on to the NFL. His career stat line of 48.5 TFL(tackles for loss), 32.5 sacks and five forced fumbles over 36 starts alone should leave little doubt that Garrett is unquestionably the first overall pick in the NFL draft.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford:
Although there is a slight chance that the 49ers could take a quarterback here to develop (quarterback Brian Hoyer was taken in free agency to compete for a starting position), they will most likely pick a crucial defensive weapon. Enter Solomon Thomas. Aside from Thomas’ durability (played all 27 games in two seasons), his quickness and ball recognition skills make him a defensive asset that can contribute right away. On top of his physical attributes, Solomon has the mental toughness and unwavering effort on the field that allows him to compete consistently on every play. It would be shocking if the 49ers passed up a chance to grab this all around superb defensive end.
3. Chicago Bears
Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
The Chicago Bears could address a multitude of defensive needs with this pick. While cornerback Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) would also be solid selection here, it is hard to deny both the physical skill set and intriguing intangibles of defensive tackle Jonathan Allen. His versatility as a dominant pass rusher and run stopper alone make him worthy of a top pick. However, his work ethic on and off the field have launched this premiere NFL talent into the top five. While there are some concerns over his long-term durability, Allen is more than worth the risk given all the positives he will bring to the team that selects him.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
While the Jacksonville Jaguars could go with a defensive back here, they need to improve an anemic offense. With questions surrounding quarterback Blake Bortles’ consistency as a starting passer, the Jaguars needs to secure a offensive contingency plan. Despite Fournette’s durability concerns, this vicious running back as the potential to be one of the most aggressive play makers in the pros. Simply put, Fournette runs with a gusto and fearlessness that would strike trepidation in any defensive line that has to face him. Although Fournette took a slight step back last year due to health, his dominant sophomore season (2,206 rushing yards, 23 touchdowns) is indicative of a supreme competitor who can any carry team offensively.
5. Tennessee Titans (From Los Angeles Rams)
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Titans could easily go with a safety here, but if Lattimore drops to them it would be hard to pass on arguably the best corner in the draft. His instincts and composure on the field will allow Lattimore to step up as a leader in the defensive backfield right away. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in his ability to locate the ball quickly and his impressive physicality. If Lattimore can continue to get stronger, he will be a shut down corner that will bring a much needed presence to a weak Titans secondary.
6. New York Jets
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Although the Jets are a mess at the quarterback position, picking quarterbacks Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky here would be a reach given the development they both need to be a reliable starter. With that in mind, the Jets would do well to rebuild their defense starting with Jamal Adams. Adams can play multiple positions and easily grasps defensive schemes that are put before him. While he matches up well in tight man coverage against tight ends and big slot receivers, he specializes as a run defender. His quickness allows him to thread through creases to get to the ball consistently and has the length to wrap up even the most evasive runners. If Adams can work on his cover skills, he will be an immediate contributor to a woeful Jets defense.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Given how poor the Chargers defense was last year (26.4 points allowed per game, 29th in NFL), it only makes sense that they would take a defensive back that can thrive immediately in a pass happy league. What makes Hooker a great pick here are his excellent instincts in coverage and his awe-inspiring ball skills. His tenacity when it comes to attacking the ball makes him a exciting game changer who can quickly shift momentum in late game situations (something the Chargers struggled with last year). Although Hooker has some issues when it comes to stopping the run, his overwhelming abilities in stifling pass heavy teams will make him a perfect fit for the Chargers
8. Carolina Panthers
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
While the Panthers would not be wrong in selecting a dominant defensive end here given the age of their three main edge rushers (Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, Mario Addison are all 37, 31 and 30 years old respectively), it seems likely they will snatch up the best tight end of the draft here given how reliant they have been on tight end Greg Olsen (garnered over 2,000 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in last two seasons). Like Olsen, Howard has tremendous hands and quick reflexes that will allow him to catch nearly any pass that is thrown his way. Combine that with his speed (4.51 forty yard dash) and drastic improvement as a blocker and Howard could be the versatile athlete that will the heir apparent to an aging Greg Olsen.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Given how unproductive the Bengals were on offense last year (20.2 PPG, 24th in NFL), it seems like a no brainer that this team should take a prolific receiver here to go along side A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert. Just from watching the tape of the National Championship game against Alabama it is abundantly evident that Williams has the hands and body control to make big catches against gifted defenses. His on the field awareness is an ideal intangible for a big play wideout that knows where he needs to be to get a first down. While Williams’ separation skills need some work, his nearly unprecedented capabilities in every other respect will allow this exciting young player to excel early and often.
10. Buffalo Bills
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
While I am hesitant to select any quarterback in the draft this high, I believe Watson would be walking into an ideal situation in Buffalo. Given the trepidation the Bills have with current starter Tyrod Taylor, Watson could come into training camp and at least make a concerted effort to win the starting job. Aside from his impressive mental make up as a battle tested leader, Watson has the instincts and mobility to make monumental plays when they are needed the most. Although Watson has accuracy issues, this is primarily due to rushing passes in the heat of the moment. Beyond that, Watson has an above average release and is more than capable of making throws at the next level. If the Bills look at Watson’s intriguing upside and can be patient in his development, this may be viewed as the pick that changed this franchises outlook for years to come.
11. New Orleans Saints
Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
Although Reuben Foster is the understandable favorite here given his base skill set, I believe Reddick has the higher ceiling in terms of his versatility. While Reddick has been highly criticized for being undersized, the former walk on safety adjusted quickly and effectively to linebacker (22.5 TFL’s and 10.5 sacks during 2016 season). Despite lining up primarily as an edge rusher at Temple, Reddick showcased his versatility as a off the line backer at the senior bowl. While their is certainly room for improvement in terms of absorbing contact, his high ceiling athletically makes him an exciting pick up for the Saints.
12. Cleveland Browns (From Philadelphia Eagles)
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
While there have been numerous reports circulating that the Browns are intrigued by quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it would be premature to use the 12th overall pick on a passer that only started one season at North Carolina. As I believe they will take Garrett with their first pick, it seems prudent that the Browns continue to build up their defense by drafting a strong corner in Gareon Conley. First off, Conley is highly intelligent on the field. On tape, Conley can be frequently seen guiding his fellow defensive backs into position and can read opposing offenses exceptionally well. Physically, Conley has great ball skills and has the quick reflexes to locate the ball while it is in the air. While Conley will have to work on staying close to the faster receivers in the NFL, his coveted intangibles and quickness will serve him well with the Browns.
13. Arizona Cardinals
John Ross, WR, Washington
I could also see a possible reach for a quarterback here as well, depending on how the Cardinals feel about Carson Palmer for the near future. However, considering how top heavy the receiving class is this year, it would be difficult for the Cardinals to pass on someone like Ross. Known mainly for his break neck speed, Ross has spectacular hand-eye coordination and solid body control when working the sidelines. Not only can Ross go deep quickly, once he has the ball in his hands he does an exceptional job at making at least one defender miss on a tackle. The only knock on Ross is his size at under six feet. However, if Ross can use his speed to his advantage, he could become a favorite deep threat target for Palmer.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (From Minnesota Vikings)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Although the Eagles could go with a strong defensive back here, the Eagles primary focus should be on strengthening their offense to help Caron Wentz take the next step in his development. While there are several great running backs this year, none posses the versatility that McCaffrey has. Between his body control and natural vision, McCaffrey has attributes of both the tangible and intangible variety. He has an excellent initial burst of speed and has the ability to make sharp cuts at full speed, which makes him difficult to tackle in the open field. However, McCaffery truly thrives as a receiving back as he is a highly advanced route runner.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
For the Colts, there cannot be any doubt that this team needs to strengthen their offensive line…desperately. Guard Forrest Lamp is an ideal fit here simply because he is highly effective in pass protection. Lamp is aggressive at shooting his hands inside and is difficult to shake once he gets his massive mitts on a defender. Although he is on the lighter side for a guard, he is a quick shuffler and is able to throw off speed rushers who attack the quarterback.
16. Baltimore Ravnes
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Ravens would be absolutely thrilled if Davis were to drop to them. If he does, they would be getting one of the best route runners in the draft. While the Ravens will love Davis for his ability to track the deep ball, they will be extremely impressed with his toughness to catch passes in the middle of the field while taking a hit. Most importantly, Davis is great at catching contested balls when defensive backs drape themselves over him. If Davis can improve his consistency when it comes to jump ball situations, he will provide a much needed boost to a thin Ravens receiving corps.
17. Washington Redskins
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Make no mistake; Reuben Foster is easily a top five talent. However, his altercation with a hospital worker during the combine could knock him back a few spots. In which case, the Redskins could steal Foster and get a much needed three down inside linebacker. Foster is fantastic at stopping the run as he can get from sideline to sideline and can quickly close in on gaps that most running backs would escape through. He is also very adept at reading the quarterback and can locate throwing lanes to disrupt a pass. If the Redskins can look past some of Foster’s character flaws, they will be getting one of the most talented linebackers in the draft.
18. Tennessee Titans
Kevin King, CB, Washington
Although I have the Titans taking Marshon Lattimore with the fifth pick, it couldn’t hurt for the Titans to beef up their secondary with another intriguing corner. King is known for his football intelligence and is underrated at being able to read the eyes of the quarterback. King is also adept at utilizing his length to snatch balls away from his body. Although he is somewhat inconsistent when it comes to his tackling ability, his size and hands make him a great pick up for the Titans regardless if they have already taken a corner with their earlier pick.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David Njoku, TE, Miami
While tight end Cameron Brate had a breakout season with the Buccaneers in 2016 (57 catches, eight touchdowns), Njoku has a much higher ceiling. A great route runner, Njoku is very effective at creating separation in man coverage. He also has the rare length and leaping ability that provides him with an impressive catch radius. Although Njoku has issues as a blocker, his offensive capabilities make him a great fit for a high octane Buccaneers offense.
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch starts at quarterback for the Broncos, this team will need any potential stout pass protectors they can get. Despite below average length, Ramczyk can effectively push oncoming rushers away from the quarterback. He also has great awareness in reading and picking up blitzes. Ramczyk’s only noticeable downside is his slight lack of aggression. Beyond that, Ramczyk should flourish at tackle for the Broncos
21. Detroit Lions
Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
Although the Lions already have a great pass rusher in Ezekiel Ansah, they could definitely use a young talent that could line up on the opposite side. Out of all of the defensive prospects, McKinley has the best motor and simply never quits on a play. While he doesn’t have the smoothest shuffle, he makes up for it with immense strength. McKinley still needs to work on his balance when he comes in quickly. However, his unwavering tenacity will allow him to grow and excel with the Lions.
22. Miami Dolphins
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan St.
Although one of the rawer defensive prospects this year, McDowell could be one of the most talented athletes in the draft. A defensive lineman who rarely gets knocked off his feet, McDowell has great closing burst when it comes to pursuing the quarterback. He has freakish upper body strength and when he is dialed in the effort he puts forth is amongst the best in his class. With some polish and work on is inconsistent motor, McDowell could eventually become one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL.
23. New York Giants
Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida
While the New York Giants had one of the best secondaries in the league in 2016, they could have used more dominance at the linebacker position. Last years first round draft pick B.J. Goodson only played 14 snaps so the Giants will look to the draft again to fill the lack of production. Davis is a sensational run defender and moves laterally very quickly. Along with that, Davis is extremely aggressive when entering contact and can slip blocks due to his short area quickness. If Davis can work on his footwork and bulk, he will be a valuable defensive asset for the Giants.
24. Oakland Raiders
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Oakland Raiders selected safety Karl Joseph last year to anchor a developmental secondary. Now, the Raiders need a reliable corner with exceptional cover skills. Given the chance, the Raiders should select Jones with their pick given his proven ability. From supreme football intelligence and character to his top end speed, Jones is one of the most well rounded defensive prospects in his class. Jones’ only drawbacks are his strength and physicality. However, with the proper conditioning and training, Jones could easily reach his potential and allow the Raiders to be that much more effective in their secondary.
25. Houston Texans
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Assuming the Texans plan on using Tom Savage as a bridge quarterback, they would be in prime position to select the inexperienced yet immensely talented Trubisky. An above average decision maker, Trubisky is a tough-minded passer who will hang in the pocket to get off a solid pass. Accuracy is solid but there are times where Trubisky will miss some easy passes and is inconsistent at throwing the deep ball to his left. However, Trubisky has great mobility and almost always keeps his eyes downfield to look for the open receiver. In the end, Trubisky has staggering potential but needs to be in the right system to excel. Under head coach Bill O’Brien, Trubisky may just get the support that he needs to be a reliable starter in the NFL.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Considering the Seahawks spent the least out of any NFL team on their offensive line last year, drafting a young tackle that can contribute right away is crucial. A very athletic left tackle, Bolles has quality length and exceptional feet to protect the blind side. While Bolles does not have elite power, he does have a surprisingly strong grip and can latch onto defenders effectively. He also has underrated awareness and can consistently recognize pressure packages. To be elite, Bolles will have to bulk up and become stronger.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
With all of the injuries running back Jamaal Charles has suffered recently, the Chiefs might be wise to draft a franchise back this year. Cook is gifted at deliberately finding running holes while swiftly moving through them once he makes his decision. Cook can also accelerate in a moments notice and has the shifty feet to evade would be tacklers. Ultimately, Cook’s success in the pros will be predicated on fixing his ball security issues. He had 13 fumbles over his career at Florida St. and in a league where running backs are less relied upon, it is paramount that a talented back like Cook all but eliminate silly turnovers.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
By far the biggest defensive enigma in the draft, Peppers is a versatile athlete that can do it all. Although there has been obvious concerns with his lack of specialization, for the Cowboys this could actually be an advantage. Considering the Cowboys lost safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency, Peppers could fit in as a hybrid safety. Given his immense versatility, Peppers is a quick learner and can be effective given the proper guidance. Peppers has crazy impressive physical attributes and can utilize his natural gifts to make big plays on defense. While he is certainly unconventional in his approach and a bit of a wild card in terms of a first round pick, Peppers has the intangibles and athleticism to be a fantastic NFL player.
29. Green Bay Packers
Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
The Packers could also take a promising defensive back here as well but the they could also use a supped up pass rusher with a lot of tenacity and power. Harris has impressive first step quickness and uses this edge speed to constantly hound quarterbacks. Harris is equally as effective against the run and uses his natural quickness to penetrate gaps. While Harris puts forth a great effort on every play his spatial recognition needs improvement and he needs to get a bit bigger to be truly formidable.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
This would be a great fit and excellent pick up for the Steelers if Barnett drops this far. Barnett is a dazzling pass rusher and can leverage the weak points of an offensive line to his advantage. His versatility is another high point for this defensive end as he functions effectively in either a 3-4 or 4-3 defense and can change positions. The only cause for pause is his lack of speed. He ran a poor 40 yard dash at 4.88 seconds, which could scare off some teams but should not be a cause to drop him out of the first round. Given his physical skill set, the Steelers can help with the speed factor as he develops.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
While Vic Beasley Jr. put up a league best 15.5 sacks last year, he was a lopsided contributor on a Falcons defense where Adrian Clayborn was the next closest in sack total at 4.5. This is where Charlton comes in as his explosive power and tenacity allow him to grind through contact. He also has experience at rushing from both sides and has great instincts against screens. Charlton’s pass rush skills translate well against the run as he does a great job at setting the edge. He could be better as an open field tackler but his physical skill set make him a exciting pick up for the Falcons who need some defensive balance.
32. New Orleans Saints
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
The Saints have been historically bad on defense over the last two seasons. So it only makes sense that they would take a speedy corner in Jackson. Jackson is great at reading receiving routes and can defend well one on one. Jackson also has great instincts when it comes to playing either the ball or the man on defense. Although he is undersized and could improve his footwork, Jackson is a quick and smart corner who can also function as a return man.