Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Scout's Predictions for Every First Round PickApril 12, 2017
One of my favorite things to do before the draft each year is to reach out to a longtime NFC scout to get the lay of the draft land.
In this special edition of the 10-Point Stance, we'll give our trusted scout the floor to talk about each team and where they fit into this year's draft story.
We've accorded him anonymity to allow for more bluntness and honesty. He's not cruel or mean (mostly) and doesn't abuse that protection. As always, he's informative.
This year, the scout, who has been in the NFL for decades, believes the draft is among the more top-heavy he's been around. The number of impact players is small, because, in his words, "this is a weak quarterback and skill-position draft."
The scout also feels that there are no true first-round quarterbacks in this draft. But because teams are so desperate they will reach, and that need to grasp at a QB will be the main story emerging from this draft.
It's why this scout, and so many in football that I interview, still believes the Patriots will trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo despite a report from Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network that the Texans and Browns likely won't be able to convince the Pats to part with him. Still, our personnel man is convinced at least one team will get so desperate they'll offer the Patriots a deal they can't refuse.
Everything you're about to read comes directly from our source. (Any pithy insights I have are in parentheses.) I've found him to be reliable, truthful and often highly accurate with his information. Still, his words aren't fact; they are based on what he's hearing.
The scout wasn't asked to predict every pick of every team (in some cases he does). I gave him the team and said talk. He talked…
1. Browns: Myles Garrett (Texas A&M defensive end) is the obvious choice here. But one thing I constantly hear is that the Browns want to trade down and accumulate picks. I also hear that the front office and (coach) Hue Jackson are clashing a bit over the direction they want to go. Hue wants a quarterback from the draft and they don't.
2. 49ers: They want to trade down pretty bad. I think of all the teams in the top 10, they want to trade down the most. The problem for them is everyone knows this. So they probably stay put and take (Stanford DE) Solomon Thomas.
3. Bears: I'd be stunned if they didn't go defense. I hear teams are trying to trade into the Bears' spot, but the Bears, so far, are saying no. It's early, though. That third spot is pretty coveted by some teams because there's a belief among some that this draft has just three or four true stars. Most drafts I've been around, going in, there are a dozen or so guys you think can be big stars.
4. Jaguars: (Tom) Coughlin is running a dictatorship (in Jacksonville). You're not surprised. I hear he loves (LSU running back) Leonard Fournette. If he loves Leonard Fournette, they are taking Leonard Fournette. (Me: So, it's Leonard Fournette?)
5. Titans: They try to trade back. If they stay, (Clemson WR Mike) Williams.
6. Jets: The only thing that seems certain is they won't take a quarterback. Jesus, at least I hope they don't. They're already enough of a laughingstock.
7. Chargers: I think they take my favorite player in this draft, (Ohio State safety) Malik Hooker. I feel pretty strongly that when we look back at this draft, we will talk about him as maybe the best player in it.
8. Panthers: They need offensive help pretty bad. I have to say; I haven't seen a capable quarterback like Cam Newton so ill-served by his front office. They need explosiveness. I wouldn't go running back here if I were them. I'd go best wide receiver. Get Cam lots of weapons.
9. Bengals: A lot of what happens here is how much say Marvin Lewis still has. (Me: Lewis has yet to get a contract extension as he enters the final year of his coaching deal.) So what the Bengals do is a little harder to predict than other teams in the top 10. Marvin, contrary to what some people may think, had a lot more say in [past drafts] than people know. Best guess here is (Tennessee linebacker) Derek Barnett.
10. Bills: Quarterback in play here in a big way. I think this is where (North Carolina QB) Mitchell Trubisky goes. In a normal year where there's a decent amount of [quarterback prospects], a player like [Trubisky] would go in the late first round. Teams like the Bills are desperate.
11. Saints: My surprise Super Bowl team. They're not as far away as people think. They need a pass-rusher, and (Michigan defensive end) Taco Charlton goes here, I think.
12. Browns: They might trade up with the Bills to get Trubisky. I don't think so, but it's possible. They are unpredictable, at least to me. (Me: The Browns are moving up to take a quarterback? What could possibly go wrong?)
13. Cardinals: I expect them to go quarterback, like a lot of people. If Carson Palmer lasted two more games, let alone two more years, I'd be stunned.
14. Eagles: Obvious pick here is to grab the best DB they can. Their secondary is awful and that fact puts more pressure on their quarterback (Carson Wentz).
15. Colts: This is where (Stanford RB Christian) McCaffrey goes. Perfect fit there. I (also) have one sleeper there: (Oklahoma RB) Joe Mixon. Longest of long shots, but I can tell you the Colts are taking a hard look at him. A lot of teams are infatuated with Mixon, but so far no team seems crazy enough to take him in the first. But I think that owner (Jim Irsay) is crazy enough to do it.
16. Ravens: They might drop back into the 20s. They want a pass-rusher, but I'm hearing they think they can get one later in the first and pick up some picks.
17. Washington: Watching that scouting department closely. I've told you this before; there are some people there still in shock over how Scot (McCloughan) was treated (the former general manager who was fired). They are professionals and will do their job, but there are people there constantly looking over their shoulders. That has to cause some issues.
18. Titans: They go DB here. But I wouldn't be shocked if they traded down from their early pick (fifth) and here. They're not crazy about this draft.
19. Buccaneers: It's a smart crew there (in the front office), and they know the priority is to get protection for Jameis Winston. There's also a chance they surprise people and get a wide receiver.
20. Broncos: One of the few teams I don't have a good feel for. I feel like John Elway is a bit of a wild card in this draft.
21. Lions: They want (Wisconsin LB) T.J. Watt. This is too high a spot to take him. He should be late second or early third round, but that Watt name is so powerful there's a rush for T.J., and I have to say he's very good. Just to me not first-round good.
22. Dolphins: The fight to finish second in the division to the Patriots goes well for the Dolphins. (Me: That was pretty funny.) I think they add an offensive lineman. Really, they need to just keep stacking that defense to try to stop (Tom) Brady.
23. Giants: I think the way the Giants are looking at things is they may only have Eli (Manning, who is 36 years old) a few more years, so I see them continuing to load up that offense.
24. Raiders: One of the most impressive turnarounds I've ever seen from a team. That coaching staff and front office developed into a good group. My only concern is: Will the front office feel pressure from ownership to make splashy moves (in the draft) as a way to get people in Las Vegas excited? Not football moves, but splashy moves.
25. Texans: They need a quarterback. Watch for Tony Romo here, too. There's better than a 60 or 70 percent chance Romo ends up playing for them at some point this coming season. That story is far from dead.
26. Seahawks: They need massive offensive line help. This seems like one of the easiest predictions in the draft that they take an offensive lineman.
27. Chiefs: If they already didn't have one player publicly known for hitting a woman (wide receiver Tyreek Hill), they would take a chance on Mixon.
28. Cowboys: They have very few weaknesses from top to bottom. The one thing they're missing is a top young pass-rusher. If they're able to find one of those guys in the draft, they'll be almost impossible to stop.
29. Packers: If they don't go defense here, everyone in that scouting department should be fired.
30. Steelers: This is one of the more interesting spots in the draft. The Steelers need defensive help, but they also need a quarterback of the future. Big Ben might have one or two years left. I expect the Steelers to wait one more year to get a quarterback, but what if one of this year's good ones somehow falls here?
31. Falcons: Tom Brady all but guaranteed they'd go defensive back here. They need to build up that secondary even more.
32. Saints: (Me: Originally I asked the scout about the Pats here. Because I'm an idiot.) I think they keep upgrading that defense. They're not that far away.