We are just one month from the 2017 NFL Draft. Teams are finalizing their draft boards as pro days wrap up and individual visits crank into full gear.
This one goes three full rounds, and I’ll keep the commentary brief. Keep in mind that after about the first 25 or so picks I’m much more interested in matching player to draft slot than I am player to team, so don’t get crazy if some of the later picks here seem odd.
By now you know the drill. This picks represent my best guess as to what the teams will do in the given situations. They do not necessarily represent the choices I would make at the given pick. That’s what edition 5.0 is for…
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. The card might as well be turned in already. Next…
2. San Francisco 49ers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. No one I’ve talked to, and that includes guys who cover the 49ers for a living, has a real strong feeling for who the Niners are going to take here. Hooker is a playmaking safety and new GM John Lynch was a great safety, so I’ll color in those lines.
3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. I held firm here with Clemson QB Deshaun Watson even after signing Mike Glennon, but adding Mark Sanchez tells me they already have their Plan B in case Glennon flops. Lattimore is a special coverage talent as long as he can stay on the field.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama. With so much capital spent on defense, both draft and free agency, I believe it tips this pick to the offensive side. There are some who think they’ll go QB or RB here, and I wouldn’t argue with either direction, but Howard is the surest thing as an impact player as both a receiving weapon and a blocker.
5. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama. The offensive line looks great, now it’s time to bolster the DL. Allen was a major disruptive force for the Crimson Tide, able to play all over the line. He and Jurell Casey together should be a great duo.
6. New York Jets: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah. He’s a 25-year-old with one year of college football. He’s also an incredibly gifted athlete with outstanding tenacity and effort. His game and demeanor echo Taylor Lewan. The Jets desperately need a tone setter on offense and Bolles can be just that.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU. Building up the coverage capability on the back end is always welcome in a division with so many talented WRs. Adams isn’t an impact tackler but makes up for it with range and acumen in covering receivers of all types.
8. Carolina Panthers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford. Thomas is an odd size, but that doesn’t make him a bad fit. His explosive ability and finishing prowess are outstanding for a player who can play base end but kick inside in NASCAR rush packages. For a team heavily reliant on 37-year-old Julius Peppers to produce as a pass rusher, he’s a no-brainer.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. Taco, from nearby Columbus, fits the long-limbed, power-to-speed rusher the Bengals have favored in recent years. A great pro day workout showed enough upside to consider him here.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. A new, offensive-minded head coach. An incumbent QB they sure seem to not want to keep, with an easy out in his contract. Some will disagree but I think it sets up perfectly to take Trubisky. He lacks reps but has the arm, vision and confidence to thrive further up the Lake Erie coast from his hometown some 2.5 hours to the west.
11. New Orleans Saints: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Despite the legit concerns about arm strength, everything else about Watson screams above-average NFL starter. His natural leadership, accuracy, sense of timing and experience lighting up talented defenses will make for a nice transition from Drew Brees, in time.
12. Cleveland Browns: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. I bounced the concept of Mahomes to Cleveland off several Browns-affiliated folks during Combine week, and to a man they all agreed coach Hue Jackson would approve. I’ll claim some editorial prejudice here, as I personally endorse and advocate this selection.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple. A collegiate edge rusher after starting as a safety, Reddick showed both the athleticism and the instincts to play OLB during Senior Bowl week. The Cardinals quietly lost a great deal of defensive talent. Taking Reddick restocks with a high ceiling. Sleeper pick: Mike Williams
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. A do-it-all talent in the mold of Eagles great Brian Westbrook. Running back isn’t the biggest need but teams don’t always fill the biggest holes first.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. He could go higher, but in this scenario Fournette slides out of the top 10. The bruising Fournette would make life a lot easier for Andrew Luck. I had Washington CB Sidney Jones mentally penciled here before he tore his Achilles at his pro day.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State. Conley was quietly the best shutdown corner in America last season, allowing a QB rating under 14 on passes thrown his way. They did sign CB Brandon Carr and S Tony Jefferson in free agency, so Baltimore could opt for the first WR off the board here too.
17. Washington: Malik McDowell, DE, Michigan State. If he decides he wants to, McDowell can make this slot look pitifully late for a player of his considerable physical gifts. He could also fail to earn a second NFL contract; it’s that variable. I had Forrest Lamp here but I can’t see the Skins using two first-round picks in three years (Brandon Scherff in 2015) on guards.
18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. The first wideout, Davis slides a bit because of the ankle injury which wiped out his workout season. He’s got better route-running, speed and run-after-catch ability than Mike Williams. The Titans going wideout is one of the easier projections, though they do need some secondary and pass rush help too.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami FL. Despite his underwhelming Combine, Njoku still harbors a great deal of upside as a receiving TE threat. He’s a perfect fit working inside Mike Evans and Desean Jackson. Sleeper pick: Obi Melifonwu.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin. This is a pick posited in my mind since the Combine, where someone who covers the team planted the seed. It makes sense for Denver and their OL needs, and it’s the right range for the technically skilled but inexperienced Ramczyk to come off the board.
21. Detroit Lions: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee. Detroit desperately needs an athletic pass rusher opposite Ziggy Ansah, and Barnett fits the bill. In fact, it’s somewhat surprising the highly productive Volunteer is still available. It says here if Haason Reddick is on the board he’s the pick, I’d bet my next paycheck on it.
22. Miami Dolphins: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama. A disastrous Combine killed the top 10 talk, but people expecting Foster to plummet out of the first round are ignoring loads of impressive game tape and a thirst for what skills he brings to the table. Even after the Lawrence Timmons signing, Miami still needs long-term LB help. Sleeper pick: Chidobe Awuzie
23. New York Giants: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin. Watt can play either as a stand-up rusher or an off-ball SAM. Too many people underestimated his brother J.J. once upon a time, and the Giants sorely need his impact in the passing game as either a rusher or in coverage.
24. Oakland Raiders: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama. Humphrey struggled with injuries last year but has a very high ceiling and an NFL pedigree. No matter where the Raiders are playing, they must upgrade the pass defense.
25. Houston Texans: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. As much as the Texans need help at QB, their right tackle situation is even direr. Robinson has been inconsistent and his technical development stagnated, but even at his current level he can be a great NFL right tackle. If Garett Bolles is on the board he’s the preferred pick.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Budda Baker, S, Washington. He doesn’t fit the lengthy stereotype of the Legion of Boom secondary, but Baker plays a whole lot like similarly sized Earl Thomas, who keeps teasing retirement. Baker has enough coverage awareness to play slot CB in packages, too.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame. This is pure speculation based on a dinner conversation I had with a scout from a different team following Notre Dame’s pro day. His team believes Andy Reid and the Chiefs love the polarizing Kizer, who looked like a potential No. 1 overall pick in 2015 but regressed in ’16.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn. Is it a little too convenient to pair the freaky athletic Melifonwu with his Huskies predecessor Byron Jones in the Dallas secondary? Maybe, but keep in mind the Cowboys suffered major losses back there too. Sleeper pick: Charles Harris.
29. Green Bay Packers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. In this scenario the wideouts slide, and the Packers benefit by landing Williams. His size, improved work in traffic, and competitive spirit overcome some bad drops and inconsistent route running. Aaron Rodgers will love him in the red zone.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takk McKinley, OLB, UCLA. Because James Harrison is old enough to be McKinley’s father but is still Pittsburgh’s best pass rusher. Because McKinley naturally fits in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 front. Because his shoulder surgery makes him a risky proposition as a rookie, but the Steelers can wait until Harrison peters out.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky. Another player who often projects much higher, but here his lack of length holds him down a bit. A college LT, he can play any spot along the line including center. For the Falcons, he’d likely start right away at right guard.
32. New Orleans Saints: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan. The Saints acquired this pick from New England for Brandin Cooks. It could very well be traded once again, and this is a reminder I’m much more interested in being accurate with player/slot than team/player projections from this point onward.
33. Cleveland Browns: Kevin King, CB, Washington
34. San Francisco 49ers: John Ross, WR, Washington
35. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama
36. Chicago Bears: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
37. Los Angeles Rams: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
38. Los Angeles Chargers: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
39. New York Jets: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
40. Carolina Panthers: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
41. Cincinnati Bengals: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
42. New Orleans Saints: Derek Rivers, Edge, Youngstown State
43. Philadelphia Eagles: Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri
44. Buffalo Bills: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
45. Arizona Cardinals: Davis Webb, QB, California
46. Indianapolis Colts: Josh Jones, S, North Carolina State
47. Baltimore Ravens: Tyus Bowser, Edge, Houston
48. Minnesota Vikings: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
49. Washington: Marcus Williams, S, Utah
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
51. Denver Broncos: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
52. Cleveland Browns: Desmond King, S, Iowa
53. Detroit Lions: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
54. Miami Dolphins: Jordan Willis, Edge, Kansas State
55. New York Giants: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
56. Las Vegas Raiders: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
57. Houston Texans: Marcus Maye, S, Florida
58. Seattle Seahawks: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
59. Kansas City Chiefs: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
60. Dallas Cowboys: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
61. Green Bay Packers: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte
62. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
63. Atlanta Falcons: Adoree Jackson, CB/RS, USC
64. Carolina Panthers: Tarell Basham, Edge, Ohio
65. Cleveland Browns: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
66. San Francisco 49ers: Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
67. Chicago Bears: David Sharpe, OT, Florida
68. Jacksonville Jaguars: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
69. Los Angeles Rams: Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
70. New York Jets: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
71. Los Angeles Chargers: Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
72. New England Patriots: Julien Davenport, OT, Bucknell
73. Cincinnati Bengals: Cameron Sutton, CB/S, Tennessee
74. Philadelphia Eagles: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
75. Buffalo Bills: Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt
76. New Orleans Saints: Eddie Jackson, CB/S, Alabama
77. Arizona Cardinals: Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
78. Baltimore Ravens: Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
79. Minnesota Vikings: Pat Elflein, G/C, Ohio State
80. Indianapolis Colts: Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple
81. Washington: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
82. Denver Broncos: Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
83. Tennessee Titans: Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carl Lawson, Edge, Auburn
85. Detroit Lions: George Kittle, TE, Iowa
86. Minnesota Vikings: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
87. New York Giants: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida
88. Las Vegas Raiders: Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU
89. Houston Texans: Jalen Myrick, CB, Minnesota
90. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
91. Kansas City Chiefs: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
92. Dallas Cowboys: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
93. Green Bay Packers: Brandon Wilson, CB, Houston
94. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
95. Atlanta Falcons: Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane
96. New England Patriots: Harvey Langi, LB, BYU
97. Miami Dolphins: Lorenzo Jerome, S, St. Francis
98. Carolina Panthers: Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
99. Baltimore Ravens: Elijah Lee, LB, Kansas State
100. Tennessee Titans: Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
101. Denver Broncos: Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
102. Seattle Seahawks: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
103. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois
104. Kansas City Chiefs: Deatrich Wise, Edge, Arkansas
105. Pittsburgh Steelers: Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
106. Seattle Seahawks: Trey Hendrickson, Edge, Florida Atlantic
107. New York Jets: ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama