2017 NFL Mock Draft: Fresh Projections as Pro Days Wrap
Ten college football programs will hold pro days over the course of the rest of the week, and then the 2017 pro-day schedule will be history. Aside from prospect visits and private workouts, the pre-draft process is basically complete now, which means that tentative draft boards are set.
Not a lot will change over the next three weeks, but the nature of the draft world means we won't learn about most of the decisions essentially being made this week until the draft goes down in Philadelphia on April 27, 28 and 29.
In the meantime, we'll continue to make our best guesses with mock drafts like this one. Here are our latest Round 1 projections just 23 days out.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
There's no sense in getting cute here. Although the Cleveland Browns haven't confirmed anything, and although they're the most unpredictable franchise in the NFL, the obvious choice is Garrett.
Yes, they need a quarterback, but there are four good signal-callers in this draft, and Cleveland also possesses the 12th and 33rd selections. Garrett is clearly the best prospect in this class and a player who can completely change the look of a defense that has been left unattended to this offseason.
The key for the Browns might be to avoid overthinking. Garrett is a freak athlete who has put up monster numbers in the top conference in college football. He plays a premium position that is a big need for the Browns. The workouts, game tape and statistics can't all lie.
There are no guarantees in the draft, but Garrett is as close as you'll get.
Keep it simple, Cleveland.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The parallels between the Browns and San Francisco 49ers are interesting. Not only did both stink last season before spending a ton of money in free agency, but both focused generally on signing offensive players while adding quarterbacks who aren't viewed as long-term answers under center.
With that in mind, the 49ers could shock the draft world and roll the dice on a signal-caller here. But so long as the Browns don't kick off a way-earlier-than-expected run on quarterbacks, I think they wait in hopes of landing one later (as early as Round 2, as late as 2018).
Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley were already added to the roster in March, and—again like Cleveland—San Francisco has a major need for an elite pass-rusher.
The numbers and the measurables indicate Garrett is in a league of his own, and there are legitimate concerns that Thomas is a tweener. The 49ers wouldn't be making a huge mistake if they traded this pick or opted for another highly-touted defender like Jonathan Allen or Jamal Adams.
Still, we're talking about a guy who has shown he can hijack games. A guy who runs a sub-4.7 40-yard dash at 273 pounds. He loses some luster next to Garrett, but he'd be a potential No. 1 overall pick in many other years. He makes the most sense at the moment.
3. Chicago Bears
The Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
This is the first spot where I wouldn't be surprised if the first quarterback domino fell, but the Chicago Bears are paying good money to Mike Glennon. And since Glennon is only 27, they'll probably want to give him at least one full season without a No. 3 overall pick breathing down his neck. And so I think another team will exercise some signal-caller patience.
Instead, expect a Bears team that hasn't sent a defensive player to the Pro Bowl since 2013 to take the best player available in a draft stocked with high-quality defenders. In this case, that's probably former LSU safety Jamal Adams, who would have a chance to immediately step into a leadership role with a rebuilding defense.
Former Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen has a better resume, but he hasn't had a good offseason, and Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported in March that there continue to be concerns about his shoulders. So while Allen would be a tempting choice to team up with top 2016 pick Leonard Floyd in that front seven, they'll probably instead fill a need in the defensive backfield with a first-team All-SEC safety.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Some of these are more obvious than others. When you have a mediocre running game that featured two backs (T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory) who averaged a combined 3.7 yards per carry last season and you have a chance to draft a dude who has been compared to Adrian Peterson, you pull the trigger.
Fournette is a physical marvel who runs a 4.5-second 40 despite weighing 240 pounds. He's built to dominate at any level and comes from a program that should have him ready to do so immediately in 2017. The guy averaged 6.2 yards per carry during his three years at LSU.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren't ready to give up on quarterback Blake Bortles. They've got all of the necessary pieces on defense, and there are no offensive linemen worthy of being drafted here. That leaves Fournette, who has the size, speed and strength to transform that offense.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
The Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
This is somewhat of a luxury pick for a Tennessee Titans team that upgraded its secondary in free agency and already has every key piece in place outside of the wide receiver position on offense.
A lot of folks seem to believe the Titans will draft a defensive back fifth overall, but I really don't think they go that way with Jamal Adams off the board. They spent big bucks on safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Logan Ryan in free agency and now have a handful of starting-caliber players in the secondary.
Still, Ohio State products Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker are both possibilities. But if the Titans don't trade this pick, they'd be better off using it to secure the best receiver in the draft in order to make life that much easier on franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Williams, who caught 98 passes and scored 11 touchdowns in 2016, has the ideal combination of size (6'4", 218 pounds), speed (he ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at Clemson's pro day, according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt) and experience. He's ready to play a major role in a receiving corps that lacks top-end talent.
6. New York Jets
The Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The quarterback-hungry New York Jets haven't been afraid to swing the bat at signal-callers in recent drafts. In fact, they've selected a quarterback in five of the last six drafts. But none of those five have panned out thus far. Three are already gone, and the other two—Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg—aren't off to promising starts.
Something else all five have in common? They weren't first-round picks. It's time for the Jets to take a home-run cut, and they've been heavily linked to Trubisky throughout the offseason. They worked him out privately last Thursday, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, and ESPN.com's Rich Cimini reported in March that they're "very intrigued" by the one-year starter.
I know, that whole "one-year starter" thing is a little scary. But the ceiling is especially high for Trubisky, who showed in 2016 and during the pre-draft process that he can make every throw and often looks poised beyond his experience in the pocket. He threw 30 touchdown passes to only six interceptions for the Tar Heels last year, there was a lot of relief when he measured 6'2" at the combine, and he was rarely off target at UNC's pro day.
Trubisky is far from a sure thing, but he has emerged as the best quarterback prospect in this draft. It makes a lot of sense for the Jets to grab him here and let him compete with those other young arms in 2017.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Los Angeles Chargers will eventually need a quarterback of the future, but this isn't the spot to go that route. Not only is Trubisky off the board, but the Bolts need to use this pick on a guy who can step in right away. This team is looking to capture hearts in its new home, and it might not be as far away from winning as some believe.
The Chargers also need offensive line help, but again, this isn't the spot. It's too early to take any offensive linemen in this year's draft.
But an NFL-ready ball hawk at safety makes a ton of sense for a team that lost Eric Weddle last offseason and has already used plenty of draft and real-world currency on high-quality players at other key defensive positions (Joey Bosa up front, Melvin Ingram standing up on the edge, Casey Heyward and Jason Verrett at corner).
Enter Hooker, who is a tad raw after starting for just one season at Ohio state but is coming off a ridiculous year. He recorded 74 tackles and seven interceptions while scoring three touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore. That's no joke in the Big Ten. Or anywhere, really.
8. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
You get the feeling the Carolina Panthers know they have to get franchise quarterback Cam Newton more support. But they already spent big bucks on new left tackle Matt Kalil, and it's too early to draft another offensive lineman in this spot, so if they keep this pick I'd expect them to address a running game that would have been one of the worst in the NFL had Newton not padded their team rushing stats in 2016.
Top back Jonathan Stewart averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and is now on the wrong side of 30. Those tires are bald. The only other backs on the roster are Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne, neither of whom can be relied on as lead dogs.
Cook, who ran for over 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns in each of his last two seasons with the Seminoles, looks the part. He disappointed at the combine but made up for that with a pro day that one scout told Miller was "f--king special."
Soon after that performance, an NFL running backs coach reportedly told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein that Cook "is the no-doubt best [running back] in this draft."
The Panthers don't have a lot of young talent on the edge defensively, but they still ranked second in the league with 47 sacks last season and haven't often skimped when investing in the defense. A Newton-Cook backfield duo would be too hard to pass up.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
I'm not even sure it's legal to do a mock draft and give the Cincinnati Bengals someone other than Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who would certainly help boost a defense that isn't as strong as it used to be. But Lattimore might actually be a better player at a more important position, and the Bengals might actually be in need of a cornerback to more of an extent than they're in need of a linebacker.
Cincy still has Vontaze Burfict at linebacker, and it added the solid Kevin Minter in free agency. Meanwhile, at corner, Adam Jones is 33 and could be facing another suspension after a January arrest. Fellow starter Dre Kirkpatrick has been average at best, and 2014 first-round pick Darqueze Dennard has been a disappointment. They did use the 24th pick on corner William Jackson last year, but he missed his rookie season due to a torn pectoral.
So why not Lattimore if he's available? Coming off a four-pick 2016 campaign and ready to play immediately, the 6'0", 193-pounder would have a chance to bolster that entire unit with his sub-4.4 speed.
There are concerns regarding his durability after he battled hamstring injuries during the first two years of his college career, but Lattimore's ceiling would it difficult for the Bengals to pass in this spot. He and Jackson could become a heck of a duo.
10. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
This is arguably early for Howard—only three tight ends have been drafted in the top 10 in the last 20 years—but the Buffalo Bills are in desperate need of weapons for quarterback Tyrod Taylor after losing Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Justin Hunter in free agency. And with Williams long gone, Howard might be the best pass-catcher available here.
In fact, he's considered one of the best tight end prospects of the last decade. He's 6'6", 251 pounds, runs a 4.5-second 40, and his massive arms and hands help him to catch anything in his area code.
All of that would make Howard a great complement to Sammy Watkins in the Buffalo receiving game, and it'd be a good fit considering the balance in that offense as well as the fact he'd again be working with a mobile quarterback.
Miller reports the Bills love him, and they'll prove it on April 27.
11. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
And just like that, the New Orleans Saints add a key piece as part of their defensive rebuild. Cameron Jordan's new partner in crime: an NFL-ready former SEC edge-rusher coming off a 32-sack college career.
The Saints used their first-round pick last year on defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who should team up with Nick Fairley to give them a pretty good duo inside in 2017. Throw in young, talented safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell as well as 2015 first-rounder Stephone Anthony at linebacker and there's a solid base there. Add Barnett—an incredibly productive and consistent end who would be well supported up front—and that unit could quickly go from large liability to minor asset, with the sky the limit in the years to come.
Sure, they still need help at cornerback. But they could still wind up bringing in top New England cover man Malcolm Butler, and they also pick 32nd and 42nd. So with Lattimore gone, this just makes sense.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
The Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
It's time. You've revamped your offensive line. You've added weapons on offense. You've developed a strong young running back. You've used the No. 1 overall pick on a player who could transform your defense. Now you need that potential franchise quarterback, and with Trubisky gone it's too risky to wait until the start of Round 2.
I know Watson isn't a perfect prospect. I know his pro day—as NFL.com's Chase Goodbread summarized—drew "mixed reviews." He might lack consistency. He might throw too many picks. Nobody can guarantee he won't become another Johnny Manziel or Brandon Weeden or Brady Quinn or Tim Couch. But the Browns can't be scared away by those potential flaws, or those experiences.
Fact is, Watson rose to a lot of major occasions in college, and he clearly possesses physical traits that can allow a quarterback to take over games. The Browns don't have a choice but to roll the dice on him, and it helps that they're somewhat protected by the fact they have so many damn picks in the next two drafts.
13. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
I'm sure the Arizona Cardinals, whose competitive window is not yet closed with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald returning, would prefer to use this pick on a player who can contribute in 2017. But with Trubisky and Watson off the board, they'd realize there's no way they're getting another crack at Mahomes or Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer later on.
The 37-year-old Palmer's play dropped off significantly in 2016. He might not have a lot of gas left in the tank. And if the Cards want to limit the growing pains associated with a transition at quarterback, they'd be smart to draft one now. Kizer is an intriguing prospect, but I think they'd prefer Mahomes here.
Mahomes has everything you want in a potential franchise quarterback. He's big, strong, accurate, confident and even mobile. And he was a dominant starter for two and a half years at Texas Tech. Kizer has a similar skill set but wasn't as consistent or as accurate in college. Mahomes also had a better performance at the combine and shined at his pro day, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
According to NFL Network (h/t AZCentral.com) The Cards have already held a private workout for Mahomes, which doesn't necessarily mean much, but it is one more sign they're interested in finding Palmer's successor now and that Mahomes is in the picture.
If the Cards keep this pick and Trubisky and Watson are gone, going with the Texas Tech arm is a no-brainer.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
The Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Pick a cornerback, any cornerback. There are a lot of good ones available here, and the Philadelphia Eagles have zero good ones on their roster. Sure, they could also use a pass-rusher, but with Garrett, Thomas and Barnett gone, they'd be better off going with a cover man like Humphrey, Ohio State's Gareon Conley, Florida's Teez Tabor, USC's Adoree' Jackson, Washington's Sidney Jones or LSU's Tre'Davious White.
Let's not pretend this isn't basically a crapshoot and that there's an obvious answer. Still, the best bet is Humphrey, who has elite size and speed and is coming off a two-year run as a starter with the best defense in the country. The 6'0", 196-pounder showed off his physicality at Alabama while also flashing playmaking skills with five interceptions.
He isn't a perfect prospect—his technique needs work, and he can be vulnerable on deep balls—but those physical traits and that experience in the SEC should have him ready to start pretty much immediately in a place like Philadelphia.
15. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
The Colts invested heavily in their defense in free agency while continuing to ignore an offensive line that has officially become a hazard to quarterback Andrew Luck's health. They're surely ready to draft another offensive lineman in the first round (they took center Ryan Kelly with the 18th selection last year), and Lamp might be the best all-around O-lineman in this draft.
He'd also fill a major need at guard, giving the Colts a major upgrade over 2015 seventh-round pick and tremendous liability Denzelle Good.
They could also go with an offensive tackle here—Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk and Alabama's Cam Robinson make sense—but Anthony Castonzo is at least a minor asset on the left side. And again, Lamp might be a better prospect than those guys anyway. He's a four-year college starter with a pristine rep who dominated the combine and his pro day, per Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. And he played left tackle at Western Kentucky, so that's not out of the question down the line in the NFL.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: John Ross III, WR, Washington
It wouldn't be surprising if the Baltimore Ravens took Ramczyk or Robinson here to replace lost free agent Ricky Wagner at right tackle, but they drafted their left tackle of the future when they used a first-round pick on Ronnie Stanley last year.
I don't think they'll use back-to-back first-rounders on offensive tackles, but instead they'll pick a wide receiver in Round 1 for the second time in three years. They need somebody who they can pair with Breshad Perriman in place of the retired Steve Smith, and Ross and Western Michigan product Corey Davis both make a lot of sense in this spot.
I'm going with Ross, whose stock has risen coming off a huge redshirt junior season in which he scored 17 touchdowns. His 4.22-second 40 at the combine broke Chris Johnson's all-time record for that event, while Davis hasn't been able to take the field during the pre-draft process as he recovers from an ankle procedure.
Neither pick would be bad, but Ross would give the Baltimore offense so much extra speed. That'd be hard for general manager Ozzie Newsome to pass up.
17. Washington Redskins
The Pick: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The Washington Redskins could use more talent at safety and linebacker. Peppers might be able to help them out in both spots.
The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year played both positions at Michigan, where he was recruited as a cornerback, and that versatility has obviously helped his stock. He really took a step forward as a hybrid linebacker in 2016, and he has all of the physical tools necessary to succeed at safety if indeed he isn't big enough to consistently play in the box at the NFL level (the league's lightest linebacker last season weighed 212 pounds, and Peppers weighed in just one pound heavier at the combine).
His ceiling was already high before he put on a show in Indianapolis and then another one at Michigan's pro day. Now, it appears we're looking at a potential All-Pro.
It's just not entirely clear which position that would come at.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Allen is the reigning national defensive player of the year, and his experience in that Alabama defense—he was a versatile three-year starter for Nick Saban—indicates he should be ready to play a major role from the get-go. A lot of mock drafts have him going off the board before Tennessee's first pick (No. 5 overall), so the Titans would be foolish to let him get past them in the No. 18 spot.
Why do I have Allen dropping this far? It's entirely possible he winds up going to a team like Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia or Washington earlier, but all of those teams have other needs and—as Miller notes—there are concerns about Allen's shoulders.
The Titans addressed their secondary in free agency, and the offense would be pretty much set with the addition of Mike Williams at wide receiver. The linebacker corps already has four strong starters, and the line has two quality cogs in Jurrell Casey and Sylvester Williams. Adding a playmaking pass-rusher as a 3-4 end would be icing on the cake for their 2017 offseason.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would probably love to have a choice between O.J. Howard and Dalvin Cook, but with those two off the board it becomes a decision between Njoku and the draft's next-best running back, Christian McCaffrey.
Ultimately, while McCaffrey's versatility is probably tempting, Njoku is a bigger upgrade over current tight end Cameron Brate than McCaffrey would be over highly-paid back Doug Martin, who was an All-Pro just a year ago.
Sure, McCaffrey would have a chance to contribute as a receiver, but Tampa already spent big bucks on DeSean Jackson to complement Mike Evans outside. They'd be better off with an immediate safety valve for quarterback Jameis Winston at the tight end position, and the incredibly athletic Njoku wouldn't need a lot of time to develop after putting together a 698-yard, eight-touchdown campaign as a junior with the Hurricanes.
20. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Denver Broncos need offensive tackle help in a big way. According to Pro Football Focus, only six offensive lines surrendered more pressures than Denver's last season, and essentially replacing Russell Okung with Menelik Watson (neither is worthy of a starting role) won't help.
They'll have three Round 1-worthy tackles available in this spot, but I'm giving the edge to Ramczyk because the Broncos can't afford to wait for the much more raw Garett Bolles, and Ramczyk is more of a sure thing than Cam Robinson. He has just one year of FBS football under his belt, but he was absolutely dominant against high-quality Big Ten pass-rushers for the entirety of that season.
"He plays like an NFL guy," Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said of Ramczyk at the combine, per ESPN.com's Jeff Legwold. "He's got long arms. He's got great feet. He's tough and smart. He's definitely a guy most teams are looking at. It's going to be tough to acquire a guy like that at 20, probably."
Robinson has a better resume as a three-year starter at left tackle with the Crimson Tide, but playing on that team might have concealed issues with his footwork and his consistency (or lack thereof) in pass protection. Denver would be better off with Ramczyk, who has a higher ceiling and just enough experience to play a major role early.
21. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
I have Foster dropping to more of an extent than most, mainly because he doesn't play a premium position, but also because too many potential red flags have emerged. He was of course sent home early from the combine after a confrontation with a hospital worker, but there were already concerns well before that.
"He already had immaturity, issues with life skills. This is the same guy," an evaluator for a team with a top-15 pick that had already removed Foster from consideration told Robert Klemko of The MMQB. "We’re not in the market."
To boot, Foster admitted to Klemko he has struggled with the whiteboard portion of team interviews, and he's also been sidelined throughout the offseason as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.
"He may slide because of background. He’s got all kinds of stuff," one scout told Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Yet in the same breath, that scout called Foster "fast, explosive," and "the real deal."
At which point does that last part trump the rest of it? How about when the linebacker-starved Detroit Lions are on the clock with the 21st pick, looking to add the best defender available to bolster a defense that finally gave up on former standout DeAndre Levy earlier this offseason?
They could certainly use a unanimous All-American and reigning Butkus Award winner in the middle, and drafting a player as dominant yet risky as Foster might be worth the small gamble in this spot.
22. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Miami Dolphins need help at cornerback, and Conley would be a bargain in this spot.
The 6'0", 195-pounder has 4.4 speed and enough experience in the Big Ten to play a major role opposite Byron Maxwell right away. Not only did he intercept four passes for the Buckeyes in 2016, but according to Pro Football Focus Conley "allowed just 14 receptions for 159 yards, and an NFL passer rating of 14.0, best in the nation, on throws into his coverage."
It's possible he's been overlooked as a result of playing next to Lattimore and Hooker, which could benefit the Dolphins in a big way.
23. New York Giants
The Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The New York Giants used a first-round pick on offensive tackle Ereck Flowers in 2015, but they might move him from the left side to the right side in 2017. So whether they draft Robinson to take the vacated spot left behind by Flowers or take over for in-over-his-head right tackle Bobby Hart at right tackle, they're doing the right thing.
He hasn't always been a consistent pass-blocker, and his footwork isn't perfect, but Robinson spent the last three years starting in the best conference in college football. The 2016 Outland Trophy winner is big, strong and smart, and he's probably the best run-blocker among the tackles in this draft.
That last part is important considering that the Giants had the league's 30th-ranked rushing offense in 2016. Adding a back like Christian McCaffrey would help with that and the passing game, but it wouldn't do much to protect aging franchise quarterback Eli Manning. With Robinson, you get the best of every world, making life easier on Manning as well as the backs already on the roster.
24. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Oakland Raiders have two premier outside rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, but the rest of their front seven is a tad soft. They're also down two linebackers—Malcolm Smith, who left in free agency; and Perry Riley, who remains unsigned—who played a combined 1,558 snaps last season, according to PFF.
They need a rangy tackle machine who can help a top-heavy defense that allowed five 100-yard rushers and 4.5 yards per carry in 2016.
They need Cunningham, a two-time first-team All-SEC linebacker who had 36 tackles for loss during his three seasons at Vanderbilt. Cunningham needs to work on his tackling and won't overpower opponents, but he's a three-down linebacker with sideline-to-sideline range who has plenty of room to get better. And he can also contribute in coverage, which is the kind of versatility general manager Reggie McKenzie desires.
The Raiders would probably be cool with a linebacker like Temple's Haason Reddick or a cornerback like Tre'Davious White, Kevin King, Jackson or Tabor in this spot, but Cunningham makes the most sense.
25. Houston Texans
The Pick: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Brock Osweiler experiment is already over, and the Texans desperately need to find an answer under center. With Trubisky, Watson and Mahomes already off the board, a team with no major needs outside of the quarterback position might as well give Kizer a shot.
Kizer disappointed at the combine and is clearly a project. He has plenty of technical flaws to work on, and he'll need to be more accurate if he's going to survive in the NFL. That said, he's got all of the physical attributes you want in a potential franchise signal-caller, including the mobility that has become so valuable in this era.
I wouldn't be shocked if they turned instead to a cornerback after losing A.J. Bouye in free agency, but with Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph still on the roster, they're more likely to add the best quarterback available.
26. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Per PFF, the Seattle Seahawks offensive line was responsible for more pressure than all but one other unit in the NFL last season, and those leaky performances were a big reason why quarterback Russell Wilson wasn't himself for much of the year.
Seattle did sign former No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel in free agency, but he's been a complete bust and is coming off a major knee injury following a move to guard in Jacksonville. So Joeckel almost certainly isn't the long-term answer at left tackle, and George Fant and Garry Gilliam were not acceptable options at either tackle position last season.
That's why the Seahawks have to pull the trigger if they get a chance to draft a guy like Bolles in the No. 26 spot.
Bolles has just one year of experience at the FBS level, which would make him a project in some systems. But things are so bad from a pass protection standpoint in Seattle that the Seahawks would probably improve even while enduring his growing pains as a rookie.
Even if they do decide to ease Bolles in, a team with very few holes elsewhere would be smart to add arguably the most physically gifted offensive lineman in the draft. Bolles dominated the combine and has every physical trait you look for in a cornerstone left tackle.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Jamaal Charles era is over in Kansas City, and his successors, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, don't look as though they'll be effective in full-time roles for the Chiefs. Ware averaged just 3.6 yards per carry and failed to top the 70-yard mark in his final eight games last year, while West has a career yards-per-attempt average of just 3.7.
Those guys could still contribute, however, with the addition of the versatile McCaffrey, who is obviously the best receiver among the running backs in this draft.
McCaffrey is only 20 and is one year removed from being crowned the Associated Press College Football Player of the Year. He rocked the combine as a running back—only three backs ran faster 40s, only one had a higher vertical jump and nobody was close to as fast as him in the three-cone drill or the 60-yard shuttle—and then went out and shined as a slot and outside receiver at Stanford's pro day, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.
That could make him a heck of a weapon for a team with an offensive guru serving as head coach, especially with the limited Alex Smith at quarterback. Defensive coordinators would have fits trying to game plan for a Chiefs offense featuring Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce along with McCaffrey in the backfield, in the slot or even out wide.
28. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
A team in need of a quality pass-rusher to take some pressure off a defensive backfield that was gutted in free agency is picking in a good spot. A lot of folks view Charlton as a potential top-15 pick, and UCLA's Takkarist McKinley, Missouri's Charles Harris and Wisconsin's T.J. Watt are also available in this scenario.
That might not be the case in real life, but the fact is there are a handful of strong edge defenders projected to be up for grabs late in Round 1.
The best-case scenario for the Cowboys comes if the 6'6", 277-pound Charlton remains on the board. He isn't a super athlete, but he really came into his own over the course of four years in the Big Ten, and his polished technique could give him a chance to play a major role in that wide-open defensive end rotation.
29. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
It's doubtful this happens here because you have to imagine somebody would jump ahead to draft Davis if he got past, say, Detroit in the No. 21 spot. But he could slide because Ross has gained so much value and because Davis is a MAC product who dominated some very weak competition during his four years at Western Michigan.
The Packers aren't particularly desperate for help at any one position, their receiving corps isn't overly deep or durable and top target Jordy Nelson isn't exactly young (he'll be 32 this season). So if a dude is available late in the first round who is coming off a 52-touchdown college career that featured three 1,400-yard seasons, would you blame the Packers for taking him?
Davis is polished, he has the size and speed to contribute as a deep threat early in his career and he's a demon after the catch, which would thrill Aaron Rodgers. The only problem is he's not healthy right now as he recovers from an ankle procedure. Injuries could be a problem and there will be a learning curve, but the Packers wouldn't likely overload him early on anyway.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
It's not entirely clear where Reddick will wind up at the NFL level, but that might not matter with a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He has experience as a pass-rusher (he had 9.5 sacks as a senior with the Owls), which could give him a chance to be groomed as James Harrison's replacement in case Harrison ever decides to retire. In the meantime, he'd work into a rotation with Harrison and 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree. That pass rush could use the help as soon as possible, and Reddick was a multi-year starter in college.
But Reddick is more than just a rusher and in fact might be better suited inside at the NFL level. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compared him to Ryan Shazier, so who better to team him up with as a rookie? Reddick is a former cornerback with the ability to succeed in coverage. He could even have a chance to beat out Vince Williams in a battle for the spot left behind by the departed Lawrence Timmons.
Point being, Reddick is versatile and has the ability to fill several potential holes in Pittsburgh.
31. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
Meet your new partner in crime, Vic Beasley.
The Atlanta Falcons are pretty much set on both sides of the ball and have no glaring holes to fill in this draft, but you can't have too many good pass-rushers, and the 37-year-old Dwight Freeney might not be back. Enter McKinley, who had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss as a senior with the Bruins and ran a sub-4.6 40 at 250 pounds at the combine.
He might not be there yet from a technique standpoint, but Adrian Clayborn and Brooks Reed haven't done enough to support Beasley from a pass-rushing standpoint. McKinley has a higher ceiling than both of those guys, and he might be athletic enough to earn some reps in a LEO or defensive end role as a rookie.
McKinley had shoulder surgery after the combine and is out for virtually the entire offseason, but as long as that doesn't become an issue he'd be a steal in this spot.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)
The Pick: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
Remember when I mentioned that the Saints still need a cornerback? This changes if they deal for Butler, but let's not pile hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals. For now, the Saints have rebuilt their front seven, but at cornerback they are stuck with Sterling Moore, Delvin Breaux, P.J. Williams, De'Vante Harris and a few other scrubs you've probably never heard of unless you're a diehard Saints fan.
They might as well use the pick they got from New England for Brandin Cooks on a corner who has the ability to come in and compete for a starting job from the get-go, and White is a local kid who should meet that criteria. After all, he was a four-year starter at the NFL cornerback factory known as LSU.
White has experience out wide and in the slot, and while he isn't overly physical or an interception machine, he does have a great combination of size and speed as well as the ability to cover top receivers on an island. And most importantly, the first-team All-SEC selection appears to be NFL-ready, which is something the Saints really need.