NFL Draft 2017: Identifying Every NFL Team's Dream Target

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystFebruary 21, 2017

NFL Draft 2017: Identifying Every NFL Team's Dream Target

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    Each team and its fanbase has a specific target in mind as the NFL draft approaches. If everything breaks in their favor, a dream scenario unfolds and the favored prospect will hold up the team's jersey on the stage in Philadelphia.  

    The definition of a dream target is a moving target, though. Basically, it boils down to those prospects unlikely to be available at their current spot but fills exactly what a franchise needs or serves as a perfect fit for an organization. 

    For our purposes, those dream scenarios will stay within the realm of possibility. For example, every team would love to add a talent the caliber of Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. It makes no sense to state Garrett is the Dallas Cowboys' dream target when the possibility he will be available with the 28th overall pick is pretty much nonexistent. 

    Each scenario will be based on an organization's situation and where it stands in the draft order. A couple players will appear more than once because teams will have similar interests. 

    The line between reality and a dream scenario can be blurred, while the acquisition of a preferred target can deem a franchise's entire draft class a success.

1. Cleveland Browns

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    Dream Pick: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

    Everyone knows the Cleveland Browns desperately need a quarterback, but Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the only option for the No. 1 overall pick. 

    "I've heard that others in the building believe he's a franchise-changer," Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot wrote

    Garrett is one of the top defensive prospects to enter the NFL ranks in the past decade. He has prototypical size (6'5" and 270 pounds), an explosive first step, the flexibility to turn the corner against offensive tackles, multiple pass-rush moves, an ability to convert speed to power, and high-level production with 32.5 career sacks and 48.5 tackles for loss over his three-year career. 

    The Browns must find a quarterback, but there's no reason to force the situation when an elite prospect is available at a position of need after the team finished tied for 30th overall in 2016 with only 26 sacks. 

    Also Considered: None

2. San Francisco 49ers

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    Dream Pick: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State 

    Before the team's potential dream pick can be discussed, an explanation for the above picture is needed since the two are not one in the same. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is the San Francisco 49ers and Kyle Shanahan's dream offseason acquisition.

    According to ESPN.com's Jason Reid, Shanahan is a "true believer" in Cousins, while the quarterback "doesn't want to be" with the Washington Redskins, according to Reid. Even so, Washington is still expected to retain the 2012 fourth-round pick for at least one more season since a second franchise tag is still in play. 

    Cousins' status can have a dramatic effect on the 49ers' draft plans. If he never hits the market, quarterback becomes a much bigger concern. The team is in position to select the draft's top-rated signal-caller with the second overall pick. 

    However, San Francisco may decide to bypass the position if the organization isn't completely sold on one of these young prospects. Shanahan runs a complex offense, and a rookie isn't likely to make much of an impact. Instead, the team can rely on a talent like Ohio State safety Malik Hooker to be a difference-maker in the secondary. Hooker has traits similar to Earl Thomas when he entered the league, which makes him an ideal fit in defensive coordinator Robert Saleh's scheme.  

    Also Considered: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina; DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford; CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

3. Chicago Bears

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    Dream Pick: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama

    The Chicago Bears' search for a quarterback continues. Their situation isn't different from those teams that precede them in the draft order. The Bears will have to weigh all of their options behind center before making an informed choice regarding their top draft selection. 

    Quarterback is very much a possibility at this juncture, depending on the team's actions prior to the draft. For example, the Bears are expected to be among those interested in New England Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. 

    Even if the organization can't acquire a veteran signal-caller, Alabama's Jonathan Allen is still the best available option. The Bears defense has a chance to be very good in short order. Allen can team with Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks to form a massively talented front. The Alabama product should make the entire front seven better with his ability to rush the passer from the interior. As such, the team's edge-rushers will improve because quarterbacks won't be able to step up in the pocket. 

    If not for Myles Garrett, Allen could stake his claim as the highest-rated prospect in this year's draft class. The Bears can capitalize by landing an exceptional defensive lineman without owning the first or second overall pick. 

    Also Considered: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina; CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State; WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Dream Pick: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU 

    Two reasons exist why the selection of LSU running back Leonard Fournette is an ideal scenario for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and neither has to do with the success of the Dallas Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott last season. 

    First, the Jaguars have plenty of young talent. There are no glaring holes to address. One exception may be safety with Ohio State's Malik Hooker and LSU's Jamal Adams as viable options. However, the organization still has an opportunity to re-sign Johnathan Cyprien, thus lessening the team's overall need. 

    Second, Fournette can take pressure away from quarterback Blake Bortles, who will enter a critical season after regressing during his third campaign. Fournette can become the focal point of the offense, because he's "big, fast and dominant," according to an NFC director of scouting (via NFL.com's Lance Zierlein). 

    Last season, the Jaguars ran the ball 38.5 percent of the time and didn't have a running back eclipse 500 rushing yards. Fournette can balance the offense, while providing a much bigger presence in the backfield. 

    Also Considered: S Jamal Adams, LSU; DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama; DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)

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    Dream Pick: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

    This is more of a scenario than a specific selection. The Tennessee Titans can go in multiple directions. The team's secondary is its biggest concern after finishing 30th overall in pass defense. 

    While wide receiver is the most popular selection at this juncture and a viable route, the Titans have a pair of first-round picks thanks to last year's Jared Goff deal, and the team should look at the best overall pairing of those selections (their own pick is at No. 18 overall). 

    Since Jason McCourty turns 30 years old before the start of the 2017 campaign and the defense lacks a legitimate bookend around the veteran, the franchise should consider doubling down with a pair of cornerbacks in the opening round. 

    Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore is generally considered the top cornerback prospect due to his exceptional athleticism, fluidity in coverage and overall upside as an early entrant after his redshirt sophomore campaign. Due to his massive amount of potential, Lattimore projects as a top cover corner. His addition would be a step in the right direction, but the Titans can pursue another secondary option. 

    Also Considered: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan; WR Mike Williams, Clemson; LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

6. New York Jets

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    Dream Pick: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State 

    The New York Jets may experience an overhaul this offseason with multiple veterans being released due to the team's salary-cap situation. According to Over The Cap, the Jets have less than than $2 million in available cap space. 

    If the organization decides to release Nick Mangold, Ryan Clady, David Harris, etc., New York isn't an ideal landing spot for a rookie quarterback. One thing learned by the early success of quarterbacks like Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson and Ben Roethlisberger is young signal-callers tend to thrive when placed in a good team setting. 

    The Jets would be better served pursuing a veteran quarterback option and rebuilding the roster. The franchise can start in the secondary, where Darrelle Revis' future is in doubt and the defense finished next to last during the 2016 campaign in interceptions and total turnovers. Ohio State's Malik Hooker is a ball hawk and tied for second at the FBS level last season with seven interceptions.

    Unless the Jets become comfortable with a quarterback this early in the draft, the team can upgrade at another position with an elite talent.  

    Also Considered: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina; QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame; CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

7. Los Angeles Chargers

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    Dream Pick: S Jamal Adams, LSU

    The Chargers are in the same position they were a year ago. The organization needs to ready itself for the possibility of losing another quality safety. Last offseason, Eric Weddle left after nine seasons and three Pro Bowl berths. This year, Jahleel Addae has the opportunity to test free agency after experiencing the best season of his career. 

    Addae won't be the team's top priority, either. Melvin Ingram is also a free agent at a premium position. If Los Angeles doesn't make an effort to re-sign Ingram, he'll be one of the most sought-after targets on the market.

    Without Addae in the lineup, the Chargers require reinforcements along the back line of their defense. LSU's Jamal Adams remains in the conversation as the top safety prospect and a potential top-five pick. Not only can Adams play free or strong safety, he's also very good in coverage on slot receivers.  

    "He can play all over the field and he could have an immediate impact on defense just like Landon Collins did coming out," an anonymous AFC scout told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. 

    Also Considered: WR Mike Williams, Clemson; S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama

8. Carolina Panthers

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    Dream Pick: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

    The Carolina Panthers' potent rushing attack during their run to Super Bowl 50 wasn't nearly as effective during the 2016 campaign. In fact, the team averaged 29.2 fewer yards per contest. Over a 16-game schedule, the differential amounted to 467.2 yards. 

    Such a big loss of offense is due to multiple factors, including a team trying to protect its dual-threat quarterback and an offensive line littered with injuries. Another major factor is the downturn in play from the running backs. 

    Jonathan Stewart's rushing yardage and average yards per carry both dropped. He'll also turn 30 years old in a month. Once a running back reaches that plateau, a team shouldn't expect his numbers to improve. Plus, the running back holds an $8.25 million cap hit in 2017, per Spotrac

    The Panthers are built to run the football, yet the offense doesn't feature a true threat besides its quarterback. LSU's Leonard Fournette changes the way a defense prepares, and Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula can once again piece together the NFL's best running game with a dynamic presence at running back. 

    Also Considered: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford; CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State; RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

9. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Dream PickDE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

    The last time the Cincinnati Bengals had a selection among the top 10 picks in the NFL draft, A.J. Green became the team's choice. His addition and the second-round pick of Andy Dalton propelled the organization to plenty of success the following five seasons. 

    The team fell flat in 2016 with a 6-9-1 record, but it's still a talented group about to add another top prospect. As such, the Bengals can allow the draft to come to them and select whomever falls into their proverbial lap. 

    Stanford's Solomon Thomas will likely be one of the most discussed prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine, which runs from Feb. 28 through March 6. He doesn't necessarily fit prototypical standards as a defensive end due to a lack of length or being listed as a 273-pound defensive tackle, but he's an outstanding athlete and proved to be a disruptive player. 

    Meanwhile, the Bengals need to overhaul their defensive line since Domata Peko, Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt are free agents. Michael Johnson and Will Clarke are set to enter free agency after the 2017 campaign, too. 

    Also Considered: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama; S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; WR Mike Williams, Clemson

10. Buffalo Bills

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    Dream Pick: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina

    The Buffalo Bills may have reached the point where Tyrod Taylor no longer appears to be the franchise's choice for its starting quarterback, while the possibility of last year's fourth-round selection, Cardale Jones, could enter next season as their QB1. 

    Another possibility still exists where the franchise realizes Taylor is still its best option and comes to an agreement on a restructured deal or just pays the quarterback what he's due. However, that path seems unlikely at this point, and the free-agent market is very poor. 

    Thus, the Bills find themselves in a position where its primary option to address the game's most important position comes via the draft. 

    Ideally, the quarterback-needy teams in front of the Bills decide to pass on the quarterbacks and leave Buffalo with its preferred choice, whomever it may be. North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky is the top-ranked quarterback prospect. Despite only one year as a starter, his addition could provide the Bills with hope, considering the organization has never spent a top-10 pick on a quarterback. 

    Also Considered: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson; QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame; CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

11. New Orleans Saints

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    Dream Pick: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama

    Sometimes a minor injury can be helpful for teams if they're hoping a top talent receives a gentle push down draft boards.

    Alabama linebacker and Butkus Award winner Reuben Foster is counted among the elite prospects available in the April 27-29 NFL draft. He also underwent rotator cuff surgery this offseason, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan. As long as teams aren't concerned with any long-term impairments, Foster should still hear his name called with the first 10 or 15 selections. 

    The New Orleans Saints defense needs more than talent added to its floundering defender. It needs an attitude adjustment.

    Foster isn't just a linebacker who flies to the football; he also arrives with nasty intentions. Jonathan Vilma is the last Saints linebacker to be named to the Pro Bowl (2010). The defense needs a talented new field general who can help turn around a unit that hasn't finished in the top half of the league since 2013. 

    Also Considered: CB Quincy Wilson, Florida; DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee; S Jamal Adams, LSU

12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

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    Dream Pick: (traded for the New England Patriots' Jimmy Garoppolo)

    This may be considered cheating, but the Cleveland Browns need to find a solution to their quarterback conundrum. If the New England Patriots are willing to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, the Browns should be one of his primary suitors. 

    The Browns also have the most draft capital to utilize in their potential pursuit, starting with the 12th overall pick and three more selections among the top 65 overall. 

    If Garoppolo isn't attainable, the team will consider other quarterback options at this spot. If the organization isn't sold on any of the incoming signal-callers, the opportunity to add another top-shelf prospect at a different position is tempting. 

    Cleveland will add a quarterback at some point this offseason. Garoppolo isn't the only option; he's just the most appealing. 

    Also Considered: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina; S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford

13. Arizona Cardinals

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    Dream Pick: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan 

    Carson Palmer's status places the Arizona Cardinals in an interesting predicament. 

    "There isn't a day that I don’t think about it," general manager Steve Keim said during an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (via The MMQB's Peter King). "There's no doubt we have to identify a franchise quarterback."

    Palmer turns 38 years old in December, and he took his time after the 2016 campaign before deciding to return for another season. The same applies for veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. This dynamic duo may not be with the team beyond the upcoming season, and the organization must be prepared for their inevitable departures. 

    With quarterback always being at the forefront of Keim's mind, he must balance the team's present with its future. An acquisition of a top-flight wide receiver, like Western Michigan's Corey Davis, not only makes the Cardinals better during the upcoming season, but it prepares the team for a future without Fitzgerald and will help the maturation of whatever young quarterback the team decides to groom. 

    Also Considered: QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame; CB Quincy Wilson, Florida; WR Mike Williams, Clemson

14. Indianapolis Colts

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    Dream Pick: RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

    Would Peyton Manning have developed into the same player he ultimately did without Edgerrin James in the backfield?

    The Indianapolis Colts once relied heavily on the running back, who rushed for 3,262 yards during his first two seasons. During that time, the quarterback and Colts offense developed into something more and became nearly unstoppable. 

    Andrew Luck didn't have the same luxury early in this career. No running back lessened the load for the talented young signal-caller. Instead, Luck took a beating, because Indianapolis couldn't pound the football or protect its franchise quarterback. 

    When the organization drafted James, it surprised many by passing on Ricky Williams. This year, LSU's Leonard Fournette is generally considered the top running back prospect. He's already off the board in this scenario, but it wouldn't come as a surprise if Florida State's Dalvin Cook develops into the better professional. Cook has explosive speed and adds a different dynamic to an offense that hasn't featured a top back since James left the organization. 

    Also Considered: OT Cam Robinson, Alabama; DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee; CB Sidney Jones, Washington

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

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    Dream Pick: WR Mike Williams, Clemson

    The possibility of wide receiver Mike Williams being available may be too good for the Philadelphia Eagles to even imagine. 

    Williams is a top-10 talent, but how he runs at the combine in Indianapolis, coupled with other teams' potential preference for Western Michigan's Corey Davis, could lead to a slight draft-day slide for the Clemson product. 

    "I don't think he's going to run as fast as people think,"  an NFC pro personnel director told NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "When college players get up here and find out that cornerbacks are faster and more physical, there is an adjustment period."

    Even so, the Eagles are desperate to add wide receivers, and the offense doesn't feature a talent anything like Williams. The 6'3", 225-pound receiver brings a different level of physicality and playmaking ability to the position. While Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor continue their development in different roles, Williams is a true No. 1 target. 

    Also Considered: CB Quincy Wilson, Florida; CB Teez Tabor, Florida; RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

16. Baltimore Ravens

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    Dream Pick: CB Sidney Jones, Washington

    The Baltimore Ravens sit in limbo with the 16th overall pick. At this point in the draft, the odds of the top-rated talents falling to them is unlikely. Instead, a draft-day trade may be the team's preferred route if another organization is willing to move up after targeting a certain prospect. 

    If the Ravens stand pat, the organization can address one of multiple needs, depending on who is available. The secondary is an obvious starting point since the team's starting safeties are aging and the cornerbacks lack length beyond Jimmy Smith. 

    Washington's Sidney Jones may not be the top-rated cornerback prospect, but teams may prefer him to other talented defensive backs due to his strong cover skills and football intelligence. His slight frame remains a major concern. NFL.com has him at 170, while Washington's website listed Jones at 181 pounds. 

    Jones' weight at the combine as well as his accompanying workouts will go a long way in determining how high he's selected. Purely from a skills perspective, he's a top cover corner with the potential to complete the Ravens secondary. 

    Also Considered: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee; LB Tim Williams, Alabama; OT Garett Bolles, Utah

17. Washington Redskins

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    Dream Pick: S Budda Baker, Washington

    Washington Huskies safety Budda Baker going to the Washington Redskins may seem like an odd fit. Up until this point, Baker hasn't been viewed as first-round talent, let alone a top-20 selection. Thus, an argument can be made this is a reach instead of a dream selection. 

    However, Baker is a prospect likely to experience a dramatic rise up boards similar to fellow safety Karl Joseph last season. First and foremost, the former Husky displays explosive short-area quickness, sideline-to-sideline range, an ability to cover the slot and experience playing both free and strong safety. 

    He's fast, too. According to former defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, Baker ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash during the team's spring testing a year ago. The safety's size remains the biggest concern, though. Baker had trouble keeping on bulk, but Washington's website listed him at 192 pounds.  If he runs well at a solid weight, Baker's stock should skyrocket, because his play in 2016 placed him among the nation's best safeties. 

    For the Washington Redskins, the defense couldn't muster any consistency from the safety position in 2016. Under new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky, the unit must find a reliable option along its back line. Baker is one of the draft's most underrated prospects and exactly what the Redskins need to fill a major void. 

    Also Considered: DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State; TE O.J. Howard, Alabama; DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa

18. Tennessee Titans

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    Dream Pick: CB Tre'Davious White, LSU

    If they select Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the fifth overall pick, the Tennessee Titans should stick to the plan and pair him with a second defensive back. 

    The key to this scenario is acquiring two cornerbacks with differing skill sets. Thus, LSU's Tre'Davious White makes more sense compared to other options. With Lattimore's ability to cover deep and outside the numbers, White immediately enters the Titans lineup as the starting nickel corner. 

    The LSU product is one of the class' best pure coverage corners. White may not be quite as physical as some teams like in their nickel corners, but he excels with his change-of-direction skills, which makes him a strong option to cover some of the NFL's quickest slot receivers. 

    Tennessee has an opportunity to upgrade and reset the secondary. Of course, other options are still available with the amount of draft capital the team owns. Yet the Titans won't be able to take the next step as a legitimate playoff contender if they can't slow the NFL's best passing attacks. 

    Also Considered: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; TE O.J. Howard, Alabama; WR John Ross, Washington

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Dream Pick: WR John Ross, Washington

    Speed kills. Any time an offense can stretch a defense vertically, the stress it places on a secondary often creates opportunities due to inevitable breakdowns. 

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are building their program in the right direction after the acquisitions of quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans and re-signing Lavonte David. There are multiple talented pieces in place, but the roster is far from complete. 

    One thing the offense lacks is a legitimate speedster. Evans is a big and physical target, but he wins via tremendous body control and ability to high-point the football. Washington's John Ross falls on the opposite side of the spectrum. Ross is a tough red-zone matchup, because he displays strong hands, explosive short-area quickness and an ability to go up and bring down tough catches. However, his blazing speed must be accounted for as a threat to score anywhere on the field. 

    With targets like Evans and Ross, Winston would be well on his way to realizing his full potential. The quarterback's continued improvement is vital to the organization's long-term plans. A goal of adding more to the team's skill positions is only logical. 

    Also Considered: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan; OT Garett Bolles, Utah; RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

20. Denver Broncos

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    Dream Pick: TE David Njoku, Miami 

    Each year, certain prospects are expected to test off the charts at the combine in Indianapolis. Miami tight end David Njoku resides at the top of this year's list. 

    Whichever team selects Njoku should expect a giant ball of clay to mold in its offense. 

    "I'm working on both with my power and speed," the tight end said, per Sporting News' Bill Bender. "I came into Miami as a receiver, so it's easier to say my blocking, but obviously there's things that I need to work on with running routes. They both need some serious work, but I'm far from reaching my peak."

    Due to his natural talent and raw upside, Njoku has the potential to be the first tight end selected. 

    For the Denver Broncos, the offensive line needs to be overhauled, and the team could use a better blocking tight end. However, Njoku infuses more talent into an offense trying to develop two quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. A much-needed security blanket over the middle of the field can help both. 

    Also Considered: OT Garett Bolles, Utah; OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky; TE O.J. Howard, Alabama

21. Detroit Lions

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    Dream Pick: LB Tim Williams, Alabama

    The Detroit Lions need major upgrades to their pass-rushing and linebacker corps. What if the franchise could get both with one draft pick? The selection of Alabama's Tim Williams helps each area. 

    When the Lions are in their base defensive package, Williams can play the "Sam" linebacker. However, the league's defenses are in nickel sub-packages the majority of the time. The Alabama product could then slide down to defensive end. 

    Whichever team selects Williams must have a plan in place similar to the one the Seattle Seahawks did after making Bruce Irvin a first-round pick. Williams was a part-time player for the Crimson Tide, but his ability to get after the quarterback is rare. 

    According to Pro Football Focus, only one prospect available in the upcoming draftFlorida Atlantic's Trey Hendrickson—graded with a higher pass-rushing productivity last season. With the combination of Ziggy Ansah, Kerry Hyder and Williams, the Lions should be able to make life far more difficult on opposing quarterbacks after the defense tied for 30th overall in 2016 with 26 sacks. 

    Also Considered: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan; RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State; CB Sidney Jones, Washington

22. Miami Dolphins

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    Dream Pick: OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

    When fans dream of adding a top talent to their favorite team, the guard position doesn't leap to the forefront. The position is often overlooked despite the potential impact it can create, especially as with the Miami Dolphins. 

    The Dolphins spent multiple seasons trying to address the interior of their offensive line next to center Mike Pouncey. The organization finally upgraded last year with the acquisitions of Laremy Tunsil and Jermon Bushrod. The offense will need to regroup since Tunsil will move to left tackle after the organization's trade of veteran Branden Albert goes through; Bushrod is a free agent. 

    Head coach Adam Gase built an identity last season around the offensive line and running back Jay Ajayi. In doing so, the team earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2008. The franchise can't allow its front five to regress after making so much progress. 

    Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp is considered the draft's top guard and has a chance to follow in the footsteps of Zack Martin, Joel Bitonio, Mitch Morse and Cody Whitehair as collegiate left tackles who immediately excelled as interior blockers at the professional level. 

    Also Considered: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; TE David Njoku, Miami; DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

23. New York Giants

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Dream Pick: TE O.J. Howard, Alabama

    It's been 10 years since New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a legitimate threat at tight end to rely on and serve as a security blanket. Jeremy Shockey isn't walking through that door, though. 

    Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett, Brandon Myers and Larry Donnell all served as solid options for short periods of time, but Manning and the Giants' talented wide receiver corps need a real threat at the position to open up the entire passing game. 

    Both Alabama's O.J. Howard and Miami's David Njoku should receive serious consideration with this selection. After all, they're the two highest-rated tight end prospects. Howard gets the nod because he's a much better blocker coming into the league. The Alabama product may have been overlooked in the Crimson Tide's passing game for long stretches, but he showed during the past two national championship games that he can be a mismatch and a major weapon. 

    Njoku may be a better overall athlete with more upside, but Howard is a better fit for the Giants right now. Both prospects have the potential to be massive upgrades, and New York should be happy to land either. 

    Also Considered: TE David Njoku, Miami; OT Garett Bolles, Utah; LB Tim Williams, Alabama

24. Oakland Raiders

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    Dream Pick: DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa

    Interior pass-rushers are a rare breed. There are fewer men walking the planet who can pressure a quarterback from the defensive interior on a consistent basis than there are franchise quarterbacks. 

    When a defensive tackle flashes traits where he might develop into a disruptive force, their value increases exponentially. Iowa's Jaleel Johnson has the size (6'4" and 309 lbs), toughness, technique and stoutness at the point of attack that teams want in their defensive tackles. But he displayed the potential to develop into something more.

    As a senior, Johnson registered 7.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus also graded him among the nation's best interior pass-rushers. Interestingly, the Iowa product showcased tremendous explosive capabilities at the Senior Bowl, where he had the best top speed among defensive tackles. While Johnson often played the role of run defender during his time in college, he showed some quick-twitch ability. 

    Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio already identified the team's interior pass rush as a major concern, per ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez. Johnson has a chance to develop into true three-down defender. 

    Also Considered: DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State; DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State; CB Tre'Davious White, LSU

25. Houston Texans

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    Dream Pick: QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

    One cannot speak of the Houston Texans without the conversation being dominated the quarterback position. The organization made a mistake when it signed Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract last offseason. The franchise can't move on from his contract until next year when it's far more manageable. On the flip side, the team can't wait for Osweiler to develop into something he isn't. 

    The Texans feature the NFL's best defense. The team has talent at the skill positions with DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Lamar Miller. Despite all of the issues at quarterback, Houston still won the last two AFC South titles. 

    The team's playoff window and a potential Super Bowl appearance is wide-open, but better play is needed from the game's most important position. An incoming rookie isn't the immediate answer. However, the acquisition of a prospect like Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer sets up the team for long-term success if he's provided time to develop. 

    Thus, Osweiler's time with the Texans serves as two-year bridge until the organization could identify its future starter. Kizer has the physical tools head coach Bill O'Brien can mold as long as he's given time to learn the nuances of the position and a pro-style offense. 

    Also Considered: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; OT Cam Robinson, Alabama; QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

26. Seattle Seahawks

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    Dream Pick: OT Garett Bolles, Utah

    The offensive tackle class is considered one of the weakest positions in the upcoming NFL draft. None of the incoming blockers are expected to be selected in the top end of the first round. Whereas some teams may be disappointed in the overall quality, others may find an opportunity. 

    The Seattle Seahawks desperately need to upgrade their offensive line. If the team finds itself in a scenario where the top offensive tackle prospect is available with the 26th overall pick, the organization shouldn't care about how the entire class is perceived. 

    Multiple offensive tackles are in the conversation as the top blocker. Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk, Alabama's Cam Robinson and Troy's Antonio Garcia have first-round potential. Utah's Garett Bolles is rising to the top of draft boards, though. 

    Bolles is highly athletic and loves to finish his blocks in the running game. His age (24 years old) and past history as an unruly teenager before getting his life back on track prevents him from being considered much higher in the draft. This is far less of a concern if Bolles is immediately placed in the starting lineup. 

    Also Considered: CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama; DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa; OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

27. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Dream Pick: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

    Multiple teams throughout the first round will strongly consider selecting Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham. This speaks to two things. First, Cunningham is a gifted prospect. Second, the need for the well-rounded linebackers is in demand despite an overall lack of options. 

    True three-down linebackers are rare. Cunningham is expected to join Alabama's Reuben Foster as the only linebackers who aren't primarily pass-rushers selected in the opening day. 

    Once Cunningham and Foster are selected, only a few traditional linebackers are expected to be selected in the early rounds. 

    This means the Kansas City Chiefs must be strike if the organization plans to replace Derrick Johnson. The 12-year veteran ended the season on injured reserve after he tore his Achilles tendon. Cunningham is actually quite similar to Johnson. They're both long and lean defenders, who display tremendous athleticism for their position. If the Vanderbilt product is available, Cunningham is the ideal replacement for Johnson. 

    Also Considered: CB Teez Tabor, Florida; QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech; WR John Ross, Washington

28. Dallas Cowboys

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Dream Pick: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee

    The Dallas Cowboys need to improve all three levels of their defense. As such, it should come as no surprise when owner Jerry Jones expressed his fondest hope in regards to the NFL draft. 

    "If I have a chance to bring one of these premiere pass-rushers, one of these war daddies that takes two to block, if I have a chance to get a player like that, I would...it's not a question of that," Jones said during an interview with ESPN Dallas 103.3's J Dub City. 

    The Cowboys will keep a close eye on multiple pass-rushers potentially available late in the first round. Tennessee's Derek Barnett is an interesting case because he produced and played at an exceptionally high level during his three seasons in Knoxville. In fact, he broke Reggie White's school record with 33 career sacks. However, there are concerns about how Barnett's game and athleticism translate to the next level. 

    If someone like Barnett starts to slides due to those factors, Jones' wish can come true. The team already has Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, but both have been suspended by the league, so relying on those two is dicey at best.

    Also Considered: CB Teez Tabor, Florida; DE Taco Charlton, Michigan; S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

29. Green Bay Packers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Dream Pick: CB Quincy Wilson, Florida 

    The primary goal for the Green Bay Packers' offseason is simple: The organization needs to load up on secondary talent. 

    Former top picks Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins haven't lived up to expectations, while the team's best cornerback, Micah Hyde, is about to enter free agency. 

    Fortunately for the Packers, the 2017 NFL draft is loaded at both cornerback and safety. What's interesting about the cornerback market is the availability of every skill set and potential system fit. The Packers can add quality talent in multiple rounds depending on how general manager Ted Thompson decides to fix the NFL's 31st-ranked pass defense. 

    Florida's Quincy Wilson is intriguing because he is good enough to be considered the best cornerback prospect in the upcoming class. Even so, Wilson may not even be among the first five defensive backs chosen due to the wealth of available secondary talent. Other teams may prefer a handful of the other corners; it's all a matter of preference. However, Green Bay can't overlook the potential value of a prospect like Wilson at this point in the first round. 

    Also Considered: CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama; OLB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin; OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Dream Pick: DE Haason Reddick, Temple

    Four years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Jarvis Jones in the first round of the NFL draft. The organization overlooked his lack of athleticism in favor of his impressive collegiate production. Two years later, the Steelers invested another first-round pick in Bud Dupree, who was considered an impressive yet raw athlete.

    Dupree developed into the outside linebacker the franchise envisioned, while Jones didn't. 

    Temple's Haason Reddick presents the best of both worlds. In 2016, he finished third in the nation with 22.5 tackles for loss and added 10.5 sacks. Plus, Reddick displays tremendous athletic skills.

    According to Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman, Reddick ran a 4.47-second 40-yard dash, landed a 10'10" broad jump, registered a 36-inch vertical and posted 6.75-second three-cone drill during workouts. Each of those efforts would have ranked Reddick among the top five linebackers at the 2016 combine. With Reddick, Dupree and Ryan Shazier, the Steelers can feature the NFL's most athletic set of linebackers. 

    Also Considered: DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA; CB Teez Tabor, Florida; WR John Ross, Washington

31. Atlanta Falcons

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Dream Pick: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan

    Despite a heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl LI, the Atlanta Falcons still claim one of the league's most talented rosters. It's also a young team that will improve in the coming years. 

    However, a couple pieces are still missing, particularly along the defensive front. Former eighth overall pick Vic Beasley developed into the league's top sack artist in his second season, but he moves between linebacker and defensive end, depending on the defense's formation. 

    The Falcons desperately need someone that can be an every-down defensive end and provide a pass-rushing punch opposite Beasley. 

    Michigan's Taco Charlton presents an ideal combination of size, length and athleticism. At 6'6" and 272 pounds, the Ohio native is a solid run defender, plus he displays the traits necessary to develop into a top-shelf pass-rusher.

    Also Considered: DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA; DE Charles Harris, Missouri; OG Dan Feeney, Indiana

32. New England Patriots

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Dream Pick: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

    The New England Patriots do two things better than any other NFL organization: The Pats find value where others don't and create consistent mismatches when they're on the field—usually with those talents who were previously undervalued. 

    Running back is no longer considered a premium position. While the success of Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley railed against the devaluation of the position, both were considered elite talents that proved to be the exceptions to the rule. 

    Stanford's Christian McCaffrey isn't Elliott or Gurley. He's something entirely differentwhich plays into the Patriots' approach. The former Heisman Trophy finalist isn't an every-down back. His value lies in how he can be used as a multipurpose weapon. During his Stanford career, McCaffrey rushed for over 2,000 yards in a season, while also contributing over 600 receiving yards. He's an electric return man, too.

    Adding McCaffrey to a backfield that already features James White and Dion Lewis makes the Patriots offense even more unpredictable and impossible to cover. There's no doubt head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can concoct ways to get two or even all three on the field at the same time to see how defenses squirm trying to account for each. 

    Also Considered: DE Haason Reddick, Temple; CB Tre'Davious White, LSU; OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

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