NFL franchises have no time to watch the New England Patriots' victory parade. As the Super Bowl champions celebrate their victory over the Atlanta Falcons, everyone else will fixate on the NFL draft.
Following an offensive-minded title clash, some of the league's laggards will fantasize about gaining a franchise quarterback or star skill-position prospect. Those going the best-player-available route, however, will gravitate toward a stacked crop of incoming defenders.
At least four teams picking in the opening round's top 10 will seek a change under center. After all, they're picking so high for a reason. Expect at least one of them to take a chance on Clemson's Deshaun Watson or North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky remedying that problem.
And yet, neither quarterback is guaranteed to get plucked early on April 27. The Cleveland Browns may grab one with the No. 1 choice. Or they could both fall outside the top 10 entirely.
Months before the amateur selection process starts in Philadelphia, there are no clear answers on who will go first. For those desiring some semblance of order, three high-floor defensive standouts won't wait long to hear their names called. Barring an injury or another Laremy Tunsil fiasco, these guys are comfortable top-10 choices and strong top-five candidates.
|217 NFL Mock Draft: Round 1|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina|
|3||Chicago Bears||Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jamal Adams, S, LSU|
|5||Tennessee Titans (via Rams)||Mike Williams, WR, Clemson|
|6||New York Jets||Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford|
|12||Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)||Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State|
|14||Indianapolis Colts||Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)||Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Takkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA|
|17||Washington Redskins||Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Tim Williams, LB/DE, Alabama|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State|
|20||Denver Broncos||O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama|
|21||Detroit Lions||Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan|
|22||Miami Dolphins||Teez Tabor, CB, Florida|
|23||New York Giants||Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama|
|25||Houston Texans||Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Desmond King, CB, Iowa|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||John Ross WR, Washington|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Sidney Jones, CB, Washington|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida|
|32||New England Patriots||T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin|
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
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A rare successful Browns pick, Joe Thomas has snapped the football to a revolving door of mediocre quarterbacks since 2007. One would think he's more eager than anyone for the 1-15 squad to make a major move under center.
"You gotta be careful reaching for a quarterback at No. 1 because if they fail, they don't help your team at all," Thomas said. "Whereas if you pick a defensive lineman and maybe they don't live up to the hype, you can still find a place to get him on the field and to have an impact."
If the Browns listen to their lone source of offensive stability, Myles Garrett is their man.
In his first mock draft of 2017, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller called the Texas A&M's edge-rusher "the clear-cut top player." He later compared him to a former top choice fresh off a breakout season in a CBS Sports Radio interview:
He won't throw touchdowns, but the junior has elite upside on the other end. Besides, it's not like the two teams atop the draft board boast defensive juggernauts. The Browns and San Francisco 49ers—who pick No. 2—both need a quarterback, but they also finished 2016 as the bottom-two defenses.
Garrett shouldn't remain available past them.
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Four years in Nick Saban's defense makes Jonathan Allen a polished, pro-ready prospect nobody will regret drafting.
No player possesses a sturdier floor than the Alabama defensive lineman, who drew Heisman consideration with 69 tackles and 10.5 sacks last season. The NFL Draft Insider's Jared Tokarz labeled Allen this year's safest bet:
His flexibility as a run-stuffing interior lineman or potent pass-rusher will intrigue potential employers come April. Pro Football Focus' Steve Palazzolo made the case for him as a top-five overall selection:
At the next level, Allen is capable of playing from multiple alignments, with his cleanest role being on the edge on early downs and on the interior in pass-rushing situations. He’ll add a movable piece to the defense as his strength and technique allow him to hold his own against bigger guards in the running game and he has the power to press the pocket from the edge as a pass-rusher.
Unlike Garrett, he's not enough of a game-changing talent to compel Cleveland or San Francisco to steer away from a quarterback. Perhaps the Chicago Bears feel the same way. If that's the case, the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans will secure a Week 1 starter.
Chicago's young defense made strides behind Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Leonard Floyd. It could keep building by adding Allen to a menacing front seven.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Nobody has selected a safety inside the top 10 since the Kansas City Chiefs landed Eric Berry with 2010's No. 5 pick. It's harder for someone at the devalued position to rise up the board, but similar warnings were issued to running backs before Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott came along.
A standout talent will receive recognition anywhere, so look for Jamal Adams to break the six-year trend.
According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke, Adams "plays like a linebacker against the run and like a cover corner when diagnosing pass plays." His versatility has sparked comparisons to fellow LSU alum Tyrann Mathieu. During the preseason, CBS Sports' Rob Rang argued that the collation "isn't enough."
It's too soon for the Jacksonville Jaguars to replace Blake Bortles with another first-round investment, and they would need to reach for an offensive lineman. They can instead bolster a quietly stout defense by either claiming a pass-rusher or complementing Jalen Ramsey with another top-tier defensive back.
Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota and whoever the Houston Texans settle on under center should fear the latter option. If not, Adams may instead torment the Jaguars as a member of the Tennessee Titans, who have a more refined need for secondary help.
He's too tantalizing to fall further, so expect Adams to find his first NFL team within the No. 3-7 range.