As the dominoes begin to fall during the legal tampering window for free agency, teams can pin down their draft needs for April. Furthermore, the prospective 2017 rookie group put on a collective show through four days at the NFL Scouting Combine. Where do clubs stand on the biggest names within the new rookie class?
With the No. 1 overall pick, there's immense pressure on the Cleveland Browns. Why? The front office hasn't handled top-10 picks well over the past few years.
The Browns' top-10 picks from 2012-14 didn't pan out. Running back Trent Richardson, linebacker Barkevious Mingo and cornerback Justin Gilbert have all worn the bust label. Last year, Cleveland traded out of the No. 2 spot and missed out on Carson Wentz, who flashed potential as a franchise quarterback with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2016 season.
As the laughing stock of the league, the Browns simply can't miss in April. Who will they draft at No. 1 to lead the franchise into the future?
Consequently, the Browns' choice will affect teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and New York Jets who will probably start a new quarterback in the upcoming season.
We'll take a look at the draft predictions as free agents fish for lucrative deals on the market.
|NFL Mock Draft—Round 1|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford|
|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||Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Sidney Jones, CB, Washington|
|10||Buffalo Bills||John Ross, WR, Washington|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Teez Tabor, CB, Florida|
|12||Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)||Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)||Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State|
|17||Washington Redskins||Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan|
|20||Denver Broncos||Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama|
|21||Detroit Lions||Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee|
|22||Miami Dolphins||Haason Reddick, LB, Temple|
|23||New York Giants||O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt|
|25||Houston Texans||Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Garett Bolles, OT, Utah|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU|
|32||New England Patriots||Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin|
Browns Select Myles Garrett at No. 1
Edge-rusher Myles Garrett could follow Von Miller's mold as a fellow Texas A&M alum. If so, it's a good start for another rebuild in Cleveland. Despite solid combine workouts, none of the quarterbacks in this year's draft deserve the top slot. There's no point in reaching when a top-three passer in the class will likely be available with the No. 12 overall pick.
During the combine, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reached a definitive conclusion about the Browns' selection choices:
The Browns need to stack talent, and they could acquire a potentially exceptional player in Garrett. His tape and combine numbers vault him above the rest within the 2017 draft class. When paired with edge-rusher Emmanuel Ogbah, opposing quarterbacks would have to respect Cleveland's pass rush.
Ideally, front offices want a No. 1 pick to provide an immediate impact. The quarterbacks in the draft would all benefit from holding the clipboard for a year on the sideline. The Texas A&M star can wreak havoc in Week 1.
Deshaun Watson Leapfrogs Mitchell Trubisky at No. 6
Remember when Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney dubbed quarterback Deshaun Watson as the Michael Jordan of this year's group?
Well, the New York Jets need more than a few transcendent players to speed up the rebuilding process. General manager Mike Maccagnan should add the most polished passer of the bunch.
For a few weeks, some draft analysts pegged Mitchell Trubisky as the top prospect at quarterback, but the Jets should go with proven production over potential. Watson proved that he's not overwhelmed by the big stage.
The Clemson signal-caller rushed for 1,734 yards and 21 touchdowns over the past two years. The Jets will reconstruct their offensive line. As a dual-threat quarterback, Watson has a built-in escape route if his pass protection falters during the jelling period.
Barring an unforeseen occurrence, the Jets have already missed out on quarterback Brian Hoyer, who agreed to terms with the San Francisco 49ers, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:
According to Rapoport on NFL Network's Good Morning Football, another veteran option, quarterback Mike Glennon, seems locked in with the Chicago Bears. Adding Watson creates a legitimate competition at quarterback for training camp. Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg and the Clemson product would all compete—may the best quarterback win the starting job.
Panthers Keep Pounding with Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette ran a 4.51 40-time at 240 pounds at the combine, which displayed his uncanny speed for a violent runner his size. Despite impressive performances from running backs Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey, the LSU product fits the Carolina Panthers' identity as a grinder who can continuously pound the ball.
As a whole, the Panthers offense took a step backward with wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin back in action after missing the 2015 season with a torn ACL. The rushing offense stumbled at times, finishing No. 10 in the previous season. During Carolina's run to the Super Bowl, the ground attack ranked No. 2 and the offense listed as the top-scoring unit in the league.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, who turns 30 on March 21, hasn't started a full 16-game season in his nine-year career. In an attempt to alleviate pressure off of quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers have an opportunity to add a running back who can handle 20-plus carries per game and wear down opposing defenses.