NFL Draft 2018: Dream Fit for Every Team
Every NFL team will go into the 2018 draft Thursday with a dream prospect in mind.
Front offices across the league have spent months preparing their big boards to find the elite talent that could fill roster needs. Now, those same decision-makers hope the board falls the right way in the draft.
Identifying dream fits is, by definition, an exercise in skirting the boundaries of reality. We will do our best to match teams with players that have a legitimate chance of being available at their respective draft slots, but many of the pairings could be a reach. The point is to best match a talented player with a need or schematic fit for a specific team. For that reason, some players will be listed with more than one team.
Here is the dream fit for every team in the 2018 NFL draft.
Arizona Cardinals: UCLA QB Josh Rosen
The Cardinals might have spent big money in free agency on veteran quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, but neither signing should prevent Arizona from aggressively targeting a rookie passer, especially if one like Josh Rosen starts to fall down the board in the first round.
In a perfect world for the Cardinals, Rosen would slip past the quarterback-needy teams to start the draft. That would allow Arizona to move up from No. 15 to get the UCLA star without expending the massive draft capital often needed to secure a quarterback within the top picks.
In Rosen, the Cardinals would land an NFL-ready passer who could sit behind Bradford and Glennon and learn the game before getting tossed into the fire. Putting the most polished quarterback in the draft in a favorable situation as a rookie could produce huge returns down the road in Arizona.
Atlanta Falcons: Alabama DL Da'Ron Payne
This would truly be a dream pairing as a top talent falls into the Falcons' lap and fills arguably the team's biggest need.
Da'Ron Payne has the size, athleticism and experience to be a plug-and-play starter as a rookie, giving the Falcons exactly what they need in the middle of the defense after losing Dontari Poe in free agency.
Payne was often the unsung hero for the Crimson Tide defense. He dominated games from the interior, helping stuff the run down after down while also providing some interior pass rush and pocket-collapsing disruption. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com believes Payne has a chance to be "a Pro Bowl defender early in his career."
The Falcons are unpredictable at No. 26 overall, but getting Payne late in the first round would be a home run for general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Baltimore Ravens: Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
Not all dream fits have to come in the first round. What if the most athletic tight end prospect in the draft fell into the Ravens' range in the second round?
Even if Baltimore had to move up a few spots to get him, Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki would be a huge acquisition to start Day 2 of the draft, especially if the Ravens can get a top linebacker, receiver or offensive lineman with their first-round pick Thursday.
Gesicki (6'5") ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds, hit 41.5 inches on the vertical leap and finished the three-cone drill in 6.76 seconds, giving him game-breaking athleticism at tight end. He's big, fast and explosive—exactly the kind of weapon the Ravens need for aging quarterback Joe Flacco. Hitting on a first-round pick and still getting Gesicki in the second would be a dream start to Ozzie Newsome's final draft.
Buffalo Bills: USC QB Sam Darnold
Which quarterback do the Bills want in the draft? We can probably cross two names off the list based on how the team has operated this offseason. The Bills traded Tyrod Taylor and signed AJ McCarron, suggesting they are leaning away from mobile playmakers and more toward a traditional pocket passer.
For the sake of the exercise, let's eliminate Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson. That leaves us with Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Mason Rudolph as the top available quarterbacks.
What if the Browns took Rosen, the Giants took Allen and the Jets took Mayfield, allowing Darnold to fall a few spots down the board? At that point, a dream fit comes into focus for the Bills, who could trade up (possibly to No. 5) and get the USC pocket passer.
Some see Darnold as the best quarterback in the draft. If the Bills maneuver their way up the board to get him, it could be a franchise-changing move.
Carolina Panthers: UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
The Panthers brought back 38-year-old Julius Peppers for another year, but the team needs to start preparing for life after the ageless edge-rusher. The best way to do so is to draft a young pass-rushing prospect who is a lot like Peppers.
Marcus Davenport might not be a once-in-a-generation athlete like Peppers, but he did finish the 40-yard dash in 4.58 seconds at 6'6" and 264 pounds. The UTSA star is big, and he can move. He needs to learn how to combine his incredible physical gifts with a professional approach to rushing the passer to unlock his enormous potential.
Enter Peppers, who knows all the tricks of the trade. The Panthers could let Davenport soak up everything he can from Peppers in 2018 before unleashing him on quarterbacks as Peppers' full-time replacement at defensive end in 2019. It's the perfect transition plan.
Chicago Bears: Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson
The Bears did well in free agency, using their cap space to fill many of the roster's biggest holes. That leaves general manager Ryan Pace in a good position at No. 8 overall. He can sit back, let the first seven picks play out as they may and then take the best non-quarterback available, regardless of position.
In this dream scenario, the Bears see Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson fall to the eighth pick, making Pace's decision an easy one Thursday night.
Nelson, a dominant interior blocker with an ideal combination of size, power and mindset, might be the best overall player in this class. He looks like a plug-and-play starter with the potential to make multiple Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams.
Nelson would also fill a need after the Bears parted ways with former Pro Bowler Josh Sitton. He'd be the perfect first-round addition for a team that has already enjoyed a terrific offseason.
Cincinnati Bengals: Arkansas OL Frank Ragnow
It's hard to beat filling a massive need with a really good football player. That's what the Bengals could do by taking Arkansas interior offensive lineman Frank Ragnow at No. 21 overall.
Few teams have a bigger need at both guard and center than the Bengals, and Ragnow has a legitimate argument for being the second-best interior offensive line prospect after Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson. Not only does Ragnow move people in the run game, but he's also squeaky clean as a pass protector and will enter the NFL after starting for three years in the SEC.
The Bengals might be tempted to take a receiver or a linebacker, but dream fits don't have to be sexy. Cincinnati can plug Ragnow in at center or guard and let him open up holes for Joe Mixon and block up the interior for Andy Dalton.
Cleveland Browns: NC State DL Bradley Chubb
The Browns are in perfect position to produce a franchise-changing draft. The plan is simple: First, grab the top quarterback on the board with the top overall pick. Then, take Bradley Chubb, who is widely believed to be the best edge-rusher in the class, at No. 4.
If the quarterback pans out and Chubb teams with Myles Garrett to form an edge-rushing dynamo on defense, the Browns would fast-track themselves not just back to relevance, but to potential contender status as well. It might not happen immediately, but teams with the right pieces in place at quarterback and edge-rusher are almost always contenders.
Chubb is a Joey Bosa-like presence with power, quickness and a well-developed plan for rushing the passer. He and Garrett could terrorize quarterbacks for years in Cleveland. That's a dream scenario for the Browns.
Dallas Cowboys: Washington DL Vita Vea
The Cowboys would send every representative they have sprinting to the podium if Vita Vea was still on the board at No. 19. It's an unlikely scenario, but we're talking dream fits here, and there's arguably no better fit for the Cowboys than Vea, a dominant interior defender who could solidify the middle the Dallas defense.
There's a natural temptation to view the 347-pound Vea as nothing more than a space-eating nose tackle, but he's so much more. He beats blocks, disrupts the run game from several positions and overwhelms offensive linemen with power and quickness as a pass-rusher.
Throw Vea in the middle of the Cowboys defense and watch everyone around him get better. Think of Sean Lee behind a disruptive interior force. Or imagine if Demarcus Lawrence and Vea were hammering the same side of an offensive line on a big third down. Vea shouldn't fall to pick No. 19, but if he does, the Cowboys will have a simple decision Thursday night.
Denver Broncos: G Quenton Nelson
The Broncos probably need to make another big investment at quarterback, but they also have a pressing need at guard and the potential to trade down with any of the teams that want to move up and get a passer.
In this dream scenario, the Broncos move back a couple of spots, pick up a few more valuable draft picks and still have the opportunity to take Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, who might be the safest player in the class. He's a Day 1 starter and a potential immediate difference-maker for Denver's run game.
Building the roster around the quarterback position looks like John Elway's best bet. If he can get Nelson, a starting-caliber cornerback (Isaiah Oliver?) and another playmaking weapon in the passing game (Mike Gesicki?) or running game (Sony Michel?), the Broncos could take a big step toward getting back on track in the AFC.
Detroit Lions: UTSA DE Marcus Davenport
Marcus Davenport is undeniably raw as a pass-rusher, but his upside is as high as any defender in the draft class. He could team with defensive end Ziggy Ansah in Detroit to give the Lions a long, athletic and disruptive pair of edge-rushers.
Holders of the 20th overall pick, the Lions need another edge-rusher to take pressure off Ansah, who received the franchise tag earlier this offseason.
Another added bonus for this fit: Current Lions defensive line coach Bo Davis coached Davenport at UTSA in 2017. He'll likely know everything there is to know about how Davenport wins, where he needs to improve and how to maximize his skill set at the next level.
Davenport needs the instruction and development. He has all the physical tools, but continuing to refine his game from a technical standpoint will determine whether he's a bust or a star. The Lions appear to have the elements in place to increase the likelihood Davenport approaches his ceiling in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers: Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
Do-it-all defensive backs Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick and edge-rusher Harold Landry were heavily considered for Brian Gutekunst's first-ever draft pick, but it'd be hard for the Packers to do better than getting Denzel Ward, the Ohio State star who is the draft's consensus No. 1 cornerback.
The Packers need immediate help at cornerback and a difference-making talent on defense, and Ward could provide both. He has the straight-line speed, leaping ability, short-area quickness and body control to handle coverage responsibilities on the perimeter and inside in the slot, where the Packers don't currently have a clear starter.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ward allowed only 20 completed passes in 2017 and finished his career at Ohio State with an opposing passer rating of just 54.0 against his coverage.
The Packers need a lot of different things on defense, including help rushing the passer, but Ward could give new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine the elite cornerback he needs to get Green Bay's pass defense turned around.
Houston Texans: Nevada OL Austin Corbett
The Texans are one of only two teams without a pick in the first or second round, so finding a dream fit will take a little more work in Houston. That said, every draft has difference-making players available on the second day, so it's possible for the Texans to get a really good player Friday.
Houston would likely be thrilled if Nevada offensive lineman Austin Corbett was still on the board at pick No. 68.
A left tackle who started three years on the blind side for the Wolf Pack, Corbett might need to follow the path of former Nevada offensive lineman Joel Bitonio and transition inside in the NFL. Even if his future is likely at guard, Corbett looks like a potential starter at several different positions. It's possible he could play all five positions up front at the next level.
The Texans need help all along the offensive line. Corbett would provide quality experience and versatility.
Indianapolis Colts: NC State DE Bradley Chubb
The Colts are getting back their franchise quarterback in 2018. Now, Indy needs to find a cornerstone on defense, and there's no better option than North Carolina State edge-rusher Bradley Chubb. Trading down from the third overall pick to No. 6 might have taken the Colts out of the running for Chubb, but it'd be a dream scenario if he was still available.
Imagine getting all that extra draft capital and still having the chance to take the best pass-rusher available. General manager Chris Ballard would do backflips in the war room.
A well-refined pass-rusher with the size and power to stuff the run, Chubb could combine with free-agent find Jabaal Sheard to provide the Colts with big, tough, disruptive players for each side of the defensive line. The pass rush might come alive in Indy.
If Chubb is off the board at No. 6, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick could provide another dream fit, as his versatile skill set is a perfect match for what the Colts need in the secondary. Linebacker Roquan Smith could also give the Colts a difference-maker on defense. Ballard is in a good spot.
Jacksonville Jaguars: SMU WR Courtland Sutton
The Jaguars swapped Allen Robinson for Donte Moncrief, re-signed Marqise Lee and released Allen Hurns, creating a lot of turnover at receiver. Although Moncrief, Lee and a host of others provide a good supporting cast of second-tier pass-catchers, the Jaguars need a bona fide No. 1 option in the passing game.
Enter Courtland Sutton, a big, tall receiver who consistently comes down with contested catches all over the field. He can win off the line against press coverage, create yards after the catch, win jump balls down in the red zone and block in the run game. Blake Bortles and the Jaguars could use that well-rounded skill set at receiver.
It's unclear if Sutton has a realistic chance at getting to No. 29, as analysts have many differing opinions on the receiver group. But if Sutton is there and the Jaguars want to improve their passing game around Bortles, the SMU star makes a lot of sense.
Kansas City Chiefs: LSU OLB Arden Key
The Chiefs don't have a first-round pick after trading up to get Patrick Mahomes last year, but they'll have plenty of options to improve the roster on the second day of the draft.
What about taking another big swing on a falling pass-rusher? LSU's Arden Key could be a deja vu pick in Kansas City.
In 2011, the Chiefs struck gold on Justin Houston after a failed drug test at the combine dropped him all the way to the third round. Key was once tabbed as a top player in college football, but his leave of absence from LSU for four months—which he hasn't publicly explained—tanked his draft stock. Now, he could easily be available when the Chiefs come on the clock Friday.
Not having a first-round pick will require the Chiefs to take a risk or two in finding a top talent. Key could be an impact player if all the non-football issues work themselves out. It's worth finding out for a team that needs pass-rushing help.
Los Angeles Chargers: Washington DL Vita Vea
How can the Chargers turn a very good defense into one of the NFL's best? By adding a huge, disruptive presence in the middle of the defensive line.
Vita Vea, the 347-pound athletic marvel, could collapse the pocket from the inside while Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram close in from the edge. Or Vea could manhandle blocks and clog up alleys in the run game, allowing even more opportunities for Bosa and Ingram to rush the passer on third down. The possibilities are endless for a defense with two great edge-rushers and a versatile interior presence up front.
Vea will probably be a hot commodity in the first half of the first round, but he won't last long if he sneaks out of the first 16 picks. Teams like the Chargers, who hold the No. 17 selection, would line up to add the Washington star. He could be the missing piece for Gus Bradley's defense.
Los Angeles Rams: Rutgers OLB Kemoko Turay
The Rams don't pick until No. 87 overall in the third round, making for a long wait to start the draft. The team will have to do some digging to find answers at need positions, including edge-rusher.
One attractive option: Rutgers linebacker Kemoko Turay, an athletic pass-rusher who could have the traits Wade Phillips is looking for on the edge.
Turay is a similar athlete to Shane Ray, who the Denver Broncos drafted in the first round with Phillips as the defensive coordinator in 2015. Turay needs a lot more work as a rusher, but the Rams wouldn't complain about getting an ideal developmental outside linebacker for Phillips in the third round. It looks like Turay's best football is ahead of him, especially if Phillips can get him to Los Angeles.
Miami Dolphins: Georgia LB Roquan Smith
The Dolphins could be hot on the trail of a first-round quarterback, which would likely require an expensive trade up, or Miami might prefer that one of the top defenders falls to No. 11.
Arguably the best fit of the bunch is Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, the Butkus Award winner and one of the few defensive players capable of instant, game-changing impact.
His ability to cover the entire field on all three downs would give the Dolphins a legitimate playmaker and a potential cornerstone for the defense. No player is a sure thing, but Smith looks built to play linebacker for a long time in the modern NFL.
While the Dolphins have an uncertain future at quarterback, taking Smith at No. 11 would at least ensure the quarterback of the defense is locked in place.
Minnesota Vikings: Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn
Sometimes the obvious pick is also the best fit. That's the case here for the Vikings, who would love if a versatile and talented offensive line prospect like Georgia's Isaiah Wynn fell to No. 30 overall.
Wynn started 15 games at offensive tackle for the Bulldogs in 2017, but he looks destined to play inside at guard in the NFL. The Vikings could use help at both positions, making Wynn's versatility particularly attractive, especially if the pick comes down to him or UTEP's Will Hernandez, who is slated for guard-only duties in the NFL.
Many mock drafts have connected Vikings and Wynn. The fit is obvious, and the value for the player and the draft slot appears to line up well. Dreams don't always have to be unrealistic. For Minnesota, the best scenario is a potentially likely one.
New England Patriots: Boston College OLB Harold Landry
The Patriots would like nothing more than to keep Boston College edge-rusher Harold Landry in New England. While any scenario where Landry falls to No. 23 is unlikely, especially in a draft class that lacks pass-rushers, it's possible the Patriots will benefit from Landry's injury-plagued 2017 season, which could drop him down the board.
If for some reason every team before the Patriots passes on the most disruptive defender in college football in 2016, they should end his fall and not think twice. He'd give the Patriots the sack artist the defense has lacked since shipping Chandler Jones to Arizona before the 2016 season.
The Patriots could also benefit if an offensive tackle like Mike McGlinchey or Connor Williams drops, which would provide a ready-made replacement for Nate Solder. Remember, New England has an extra first-rounder after trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams. Getting any combination of Landry and McGlinchey or Williams would be a terrific way for Bill Belichick and the Patriots to add two big talents on each side of the line of scrimmage Thursday.
New Orleans Saints: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
Talk about a perfect scenario for player and team.
Lamar Jackson, the hyper-talented quarterback with a dizzying array of abilities, would get a chance to sit and learn the difficult craft behind Drew Brees, a future Hall of Famer, while the Saints would get their quarterback of the future. It's such a perfect fit for both sides that it'll be hugely disappointing if it doesn't happen Thursday night.
Brees and coach Sean Payton could give Jackson all the tools he needs to thrive as a true dual-threat player in the NFL. Brees is one of the greatest pocket passers in NFL history and knows all the tricks of the trade, and Payton wouldn't be shy about retooling his playbook to fit with Jackson's skill set.
Jackson would need to fall, much like Teddy Bridgewater did in 2014, for the Saints to have a chance. The Heisman Trophy winner should go much higher than No. 27, but he couldn't argue with falling into a perfect spot in New Orleans.
New York Giants: UCLA QB Josh Rosen
The Giants rarely get an opportunity to pick in the top five. As 37-year-old quarterback Eli Manning comes off another poor season, now is the perfect time to cash in the No. 2 overall pick on his successor.
The Browns hold all the cards in the quarterback class, but the Giants know they'll have good options after Cleveland makes the first overall pick. If the Browns take Sam Darnold or Josh Allen at No. 1, like many expect, the Giants will have UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen staring them in the face.
That would be a perfect scenario for New York and one general manager Dave Gettleman should act on without hesitation. Rosen is pro-ready with the size, pocket presence, accuracy and anticipation to be the best passer in the class.
More importantly, taking Rosen would set into motion an ideal succession plan at quarterback, regardless of how Manning plays in 2018. If he rebounds, Rosen can sit. If he struggles, Rosen can play. Either way, the Giants would have the future secured at quarterback.
New York Jets: Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
The Jets, like the Giants, are in a spot where one of the top quarterbacks is guaranteed to be available. It just depends which flavor each team craves.
Do the Jets want a pocket passer (Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold), a high-upside project (Josh Allen) or a dual-threat playmaker (Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson)? The Browns and Giants will likely reduce those options with the first two picks.
Although Rosen and Darnold might better fit what the Jets do offensively from a schematic viewpoint, the dream pick here is still Mayfield. He's an ultra-competitive, hyper-productive quarterback and leader who has the charisma to handle New York and the natural passing ability to overcome his lack of size and experience in a true pro-style system.
Mayfield's ceiling is Drew Brees with athleticism, which is one hell of a ceiling.
Broadway Joe? Try Broadway Baker.
Oakland Raiders: Georgia LB Roquan Smith
Jon Gruden's defense needs linebackers, and it'd be a stroke of good luck if the Raiders are able to make Roquan Smith the team's first pick since getting Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth. The Georgia star has the playmaking ability and three-down skill set to help revive the middle of the Raiders defense.
You can bet Gruden watches Smith on tape and sees a lot of Derrick Brooks, the Hall of Famer who ran his defenses from the linebacker spot in Tampa Bay. Like Brooks, Smith would never need to come off the field, and he'd be able to impact the game against the run, in coverage and on the blitz.
Gruden appears to be a man of nostalgia (see: the Raiders' affinity for veteran free agents), so don't discount his desire to build the Raiders defense in the image of his past units with the Bucs. Getting Smith to play the role of Brooks would be a fine place to start.
Philadelphia Eagles: Michigan DL Maurice Hurst
The Super Bowl champion Eagles can afford to take a risk on a defensive lineman with undeniable talent but the potential to fall. The rich get richer here.
Michigan's Maurice Hurst is as disruptive as any interior defender in the class, but he could drop into the Eagles' range in the first round if teams are scared off by a heart condition discovered at the combine. Adding Hurst to a stacked defensive line would be a terrifying proposition for any quarterback on the Eagles' schedule in 2018 and beyond.
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Tim Jernigan, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Haloti Ngata and Hurst, who is Pro Football Focus' third-best player in the class, all on one defensive line? How do you keep that blocked for 60 minutes?
The answer: You don't.
Strengthening a strength with Hurst would aid in the Eagles' title defense and ensure the heart of the defense in Philadelphia remains very good for years.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch
Unless Roquan Smith suffers an unbelievable fall Thursday night, the best chance for the Steelers to find an impact middle linebacker to help replace Ryan Shazier lies with Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch.
Vander Esch has everything a team like the Steelers would want in the middle of the defense: athleticism, instincts and coverage ability. He can chase down plays sideline to sideline, read gaps and attack downhill, and drop into coverage and handle running backs and tight ends in space. There's huge value in a three-down, playmaking inside linebacker in today's game.
If Vander Esch is gone, the Steelers could still find a dream fit in Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans or Stanford defensive back Justin Reid. The board should have several good options for the Steelers at No. 28.
San Francisco 49ers: Georgia LB Roquan Smith
It's becoming clear why Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith won't get out of the first 10 to 12 picks on Thursday. He's a dream pick for many teams in that range to start the first round, including the 49ers.
A do-it-all linebacker with production behind the line of scrimmage and rare coverage ability, Smith would give the 49ers a reincarnation of Patrick Willis, while also lessening the impact of not having Reuben Foster, who is currently facing felony domestic violence charges. Even at No. 9, Smith is a tremendous value, as he looks like one of the two or three best defenders in the class.
There was some consideration for Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who has rare physical traits, and versatile Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Smith's potential impact in San Francisco is too much to ignore. He'd be an instant star on defense for one of the NFL's up-and-coming teams.
Seattle Seahawks: Iowa CB Josh Jackson
The Legion of Boom is no more. Richard Sherman is in San Francisco, and Kam Chancellor faces an uncertain future. But the party doesn't have to end in Seattle.
Replacing Sherman with a certified ball hawk could keep the good times rolling.
Josh Jackson started for only one season at Iowa, but all he did was lead the nation in interceptions and challenge almost every passing attempt thrown his direction. The Seahawks will love Jackson's ability to understand routes, track the football in the air and make life difficult on receivers at the catch point, and his length and coverage instincts should make him an ideal player for Seattle's Cover 3 looks.
LSU running back Derrius Guice was also considered here given his size, toughness and versatility, but a chance to add an emerging cornerback talent won the day for the Seahawks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
It's hard not to love defensive backs Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick for the Buccaneers at No. 7 overall, but it's equally hard to dismiss the potential impact of Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
Mike Evans at receiver, O.J. Howard at tight end and Barkley at running back? That's an unreal group of big, athletic, versatile players. No man would be happier with Barkley in Tampa Bay than quarterback Jameis Winston, who would get a productive runner and a game-changing receiver out of the backfield.
It isn't out of the realm of possibility for Barkley to fall to No. 7. All it would take is for the four quarterbacks, Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson to come off the board with the first six picks. The Bucs couldn't go wrong with Barkley, James or Fitzpatrick, so a dream fit should survive many different scenarios to start Thursday's first round.
Tennessee Titans: Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
The Titans lost inside linebacker Avery Williamson in free agency, but they could add versatility and playmaking ability at the position if the board falls right Thursday.
Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans sure looks like a player new head coach Mike Vrabel would want in the middle of his defense.
Evans plays fast and tough with an appetite for blowing up block attempts in the hole and blitzing from all sorts of angles, including off the edge as a more traditional pass-rusher. The predraft process hasn't been kind to him, but pop in any tape of his from last season and you'll see him make plays all over the field.
Vrabel and general manager Jon Robinson both have roots in New England, where the Patriots love versatility in the linebacking group. Evans has it. He's also not a hard projection to the NFL after leading the Crimson Tide defense. Just plug him in the middle and let him go hunt the football. That's a dream fit for Tennessee.
Washington Redskins: Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
The Redskins traded promising young cornerback Kendall Fuller and versatile defensive back Su'a Cravens and apparently have little interest in bringing back cornerback Bashaud Breeland. The team added Cowboys castoff Orlando Scandrick, but Washington still needs help in a secondary with a lot of moving parts.
Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick could provide immediate relief at several different positions, including down in the slot and at safety. His versatility is seen by some as not having a defined position, but Fitzpatrick is the kind of player who will make plays regardless of where he's lined up on the field.
Also, one could argue that a versatile safety capable of playing in the slot is one of the most valuable assets a defense can have in today's NFL. It provides flexibility in coverage and strength against the run. Fitzpatrick is strong in both areas. The Redskins have other needs, but it'd be hard to beat getting a versatile and valuable player for the secondary.