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Draft Needs and Ideal First Round Picks

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Dalvin Cook (Photo: Don Juan Moore, Getty)

Dalvin Cook (Photo: Don Juan Moore, Getty)

It’s almost here, football fans. The 2017 NFL draft is nearly upon us as the first round starts tonight at 8 p.m. ET. Now that the draft is just hours away and the scouting process is pretty much over, this is a great time to evaluate where each team stands and decide who their ideal first round pick would be. At this point of the offseason, free agency is over and the combine/pro days are behind us. This means that every NFL GM knows his teams’ draft needs and likely has their “big boards” in order. Now I’m going to put myself in each GM’s shoes and make the right pick for my team. This is not just another mock draft. Ok, it’s basically a mock draft. Here we go.

  1. Cleveland Browns
    • Team Needs: What don’t they need?
    • Needs Analysis: The Browns have a lot of needs. A LOT. They essentially need an entirely new defense as their only cornerstone on that side of the ball is Jamie Collins. They’re still after a franchise quarterback after years of mediocrity at the position. They could also use a few more playmakers offensively. Isaiah Crowell had a decent year, but I still think they could do better at runningback. They also need another receiver/tight end to compliment Corey Coleman. Their offensive line is pretty solid after bringing in a couple free agents, so I guess they have that going for them.
    • The Pick: Myles Garrett, EDGE Texas A&M
    • Pick Analysis: This is a no-brainer. Garrett has everything it takes to be the No. 1 pick. He’s an athletic freak, he was highly productive at Texas A&M, he has great size for his position, and he’s the draft’s best pass rusher, a position that’s crucial to winning. The Browns would be completely idiotic if they pick anyone else.
  2. San Francisco 49ers
    • Team Needs: QB, CB, OLB, WR, S, OL, ILB, NT
    • Needs Analysis: Like the Browns, the 49ers have a lot of holes to fill on their roster. I do think they have a few more future pieces on their team than the Browns, but they still have a ways to go. Their quarterback situation was awful last season. Blaine Gabbert was the worst starter in the league before getting benched for the polarizing Colin Kaepernick. However, Kaepernick wasn’t much better and was cut after the season, so the 49ers are looking for a franchise passer. They also need some offensive line help and a new receiving core. Defensively, they have some nice players, but they need to add some beef to the front seven as well as some playmakers in the secondary.
    • The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State
    • Pick Analysis: In my opinion, Lattimore is the best player on the board that fits in the 49ers system (I think Solomon Thomas is a better overall prospect, but the 49ers already have Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner). He’s an incredible athlete and has good size for the cornerback position. He’s got excellent instincts, ball skills, and coverage skills. He’s possibly the best press-man corner in the draft (his former teammate Gareon Conley is a contender for that title). The 49ers secondary has been depleted in recent years, especially at corner, so this seems like a great pick. I do think trading down is an option, though.
  3. Chicago Bears
    • Team Needs: QB, OT, CB, S, DL, WR
    • Needs Analysis: The Bears are yet another team that is in search of a franchise quarterback. They released Jay Cutler in the offseason only to replace him with Mike Glennon who has played in just eight games over the last three years. It’s not exactly an ideal quarterback situation. They also have a huge hole at left tackle, which is probably the second most important position when it comes to building a winning team. Their secondary was atrocious last year, as Kyle Fuller couldn’t stay healthy and Adrian Amos was their only solid defensive back. They could also beef up the defensive line and add another playmaker at wide receiver.
    • The Pick: Solomon Thomas, DE Stanford
    • Pick Analysis: While the Bears could look to draft Mitch Trubisky (this year’s highest rated QB), I think Thomas is a much better pick. Trubisky just doesn’t jump out as a true franchise quarterback to me. The Bears could move down to take him, but I think they’d be better off either waiting until the second round to take a quarterback, or maybe even using their early second round pick to move back up into the first round. Solomon Thomas is the second best player in the draft after Myles Garrett and a much safer pick at this point in the draft. He’s a bit undersized for a 3-4 defensive end, but he makes up for it with a relentless motor as well as plus athleticism. He’s got a lot of pass rush moves and could be a true impact player on the Bears defensive line, which is something they sorely lack.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars
    • Team Needs: OL, RB, TE, defensive depth, QB?
    • Needs Analysis: The Jags are a tough team to figure out. It seems like every offseason they make a lot of great moves and put together a good team on paper. However, when it comes to winning games, they still fail. I think a big part of the reason they struggled last year was the regression of Blake Bortles. He certainly has the tools to be a good quarterback, but he hasn’t quite put it together. If he does, this team should be pretty good. They could do a better job protecting him and maybe get him some more playmakers offensively. Their defense seems to be pretty stacked, but they could use some potential depth players in case some of their outside signings don’t pan out.
    • The Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
    • Pick Analysis: I’m just going to say it: Fournette is a monster. This may seem high for a running back, but Fournette is worth it. He could be the next Adrian Peterson. It’s hard to find a running back with the combination of speed and power that Fournette possesses. He’s a massive back at 6’0” and 240 lbs., yet he ran a 4.51 40 yard dash at the combine. It should be noted that while Fournette suffered some injuries in his junior year at LSU (his final year), he had a monstrous sophomore season, when he rolled for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He would be a major boon for the Jags’ offense.
  5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams)
    • Team Needs: CB, WR, S, DL, ILB
    • Needs Analysis: It seems pretty unfair that the Titans are drafting this early, but that’s what happens when a team like the Rams gets desperate for a quarterback and trades for the 2016 No. 1 overall pick. It’s not like the Titans are one of the best teams in football, but for a team that earned the top pick last season, they really emerged as a playoff contender quickly. They do have some major holes, however. Their secondary is devoid of talented, young playmakers. They also need another inside linebacker to compliment Wesley Woodyard. Another big need for them is wide receiver. They have a few decent guys, but no one who really stands out at the position. Their defensive line could also add another young piece to the rotation.
    • The Pick: Jamal Adams, S LSU
    • Pick Analysis: This is probably the toughest choice so far. There are two excellent safety prospects in this year’s draft: Adams and Ohio State’s Malik Hooker. They’re both worthy of top five consideration and will surely both go in the top 10, especially with such a thin safety class this year. I’m going with Adams simply because I think he is a better fit for the Titans. Tennessee already has the rangy Da’Norris Searcy at free safety, so Adams seems like a good fit to come in and play alongside him at strong safety. Adams has a good all-around game, as he is great in coverage, but also has the size (6’0”, 214 lbs.), strength, and aggression to be a good box safety. He’s just what the Titans need to improve their defense.
  6. New York Jets
    • Team Needs: Everything but D-line
    • Needs Analysis: The Jets have a serious lack of young talent. They have a great defensive line, but that’s the team’s only strength. They also have a couple young linebackers in Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins that could be good players. Outside of those guys, this team has no cornerstones. The badly need a franchise quarterback, but I think they need to give Christian Hackenberg a chance after drafting him in the second round last year.
    • The Pick: Derek Barnett, EDGE Tennessee
    • Pick Analysis: This might seem early for Barnett, but I think he can be a truly special player and make an immediate impact as a pass rusher for the Jets. He was highly productive at Tennessee and part of what makes him such an impressive prospect is how he played against higher levels of competition. Barnett actually performed better against the SEC than Myles Garrett. To compare, Barnett had 30 of his 34 (88.2%) career sacks against SEC opponents while Garrett had just 10 of his 31 (32.3%) against the SEC. I think the Jets’ best move would be to trade down, but since I’m not predicting trades (cause who can really do that?), I like Barnett in this spot.
  7. Los Angeles Chargers
    • Team Needs: OL, S, WR, DL, OLB, CB, future QB, backup RB
    • Needs Analysis: The Chargers badly need to improve their offensive line. They were one of the league’s worst units last year and they don’t have any real studs on their line. Their safety play was abysmal without Eric Weddle and they could use another corner because of Jason Verrett’s injury problems. Their defensive line also needs an infusion of talent and they could add another pass rusher as well. Tyrell Williams really stepped up last year with Keenan Allen tearing his ACL, but the Chargers could get a more dynamic receiver to pair with Williams on the outside and make Allen the full-time slot receiver. They also need to start thinking about a potential replacement for Philip Rivers and add a young runningback to compliment Melvin Gordon, who had to carry to much of the load last season.
    • The Pick: Malik Hooker, S Ohio State
    • Pick Analysis: Hooker is just what the Chargers need on the back end of their defense. He’s a ball-hawking, playmaker cover safety and would be a perfect replacement for Eric Weddle as a franchise safety. The Chargers simply had too many breakdowns downfield last year so Hooker would come in and immediately upgrade their secondary. Hooker is certainly a top 10 talent and could even be a top five pick, so the Chargers are taking a guy who is the best player available while also filling a huge need.
  8. Carolina Panthers
    • Team Needs: CB, OL, S, RB, DE, WR, LB
    • Needs Analysis: It’s hard to believe that the Panthers went all the way to the Superbowl in 2016 after watching them fall to a 6-10 record last season. The only key player they lost in the offseason was Josh Norman, but he proved to be a bigger lost than most people anticipated. They drafted three cornerbacks in last year’s draft, but only second round pick James Bradberry showed any promise as a starter. Their offensive line was exposed in the Superbowl and followed it up with a horrible season. They also need to add another safety, pass rusher, and a depth/future linebacker. They could look to add a runningback as well, considering the deep class and Jonathan Stewart’s age/injury history. A speedy slot receiver would be a good addition as well, considering Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess are both big receivers who don’t stretch the field or get open consistently.
    • The Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB Alabama
    • Pick Analysis: It goes without saying that the Panthers need to improve their secondary. They were lit up game in and game out and they need to add some legitimate players in that part of their defense. Humphrey is a big, physical corner and he should be able to bring that Alabama toughness into the NFL. This is yet another situation where a team could stick to the “best player available” approach while still filling a huge need. Its biggest need, in fact.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals
    • Team Needs: Uhhhhhh….
    • Needs Analysis: Let me explain. The Bengals are an enigma. They’re a team that is filled with solid players, but no one who stands out with the exception of A.J. Green and Geno Atkins. They could literally target every position in this year’s draft. Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill were once thought to be one of the best running back tandems in football, but injuries and disappointing play have led people to believe the Bengals will target a new running back. Their defense has no young stars to build around, as Carlos Dunlap and Atkins are the only really good players on the Bengals’ defense and they are both nearing 30. There are no real glaring holes on this team, but there aren’t too many players they can feel great about moving forward either.
    • The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DL Alabama
    • Pick Analysis: Seeing as how there’s no incentive to pursue a specific position, the Bengals can just grab the best player on the board. I think that’s Jonathan Allen. Allen was once thought of as a surefire top five pick, but his stock has slipped a bit since the combine. It was mostly due to a poor bench press, where he put up just 21 reps (tied for 35th among defensive lineman). That’s a major concern as Allen is already rather undersized. However, he plays stronger than his bench press showed and he was incredibly productive at Alabama. I still think he’s one of the best prospects available in this year’s draft and he could be the next Aaron Donald. I don’t think the Bengals can ignore the talent he possesses and Allen would be a great fit alongside Atkins on that defensive line.
  10. Buffalo Bills
    • Team Needs: CB, WR, S, OL, QB, front seven depth
    • Needs Analysis: This Bills team is not too far off from playoff contention. Their offense was pretty explosive last year, especially on the ground, but they could get even better if they upgrade the right side of their offensive line and add another receiver who can make plays downfield. The Bills may also look to draft a quarterback, but I think Tyrod Taylor could be really good if he gets more talent around him. On the other side of the ball, they have a pretty good front seven already, but they could stand to add some depth. They do, however, need a lot of help in the secondary after losing Stephon Gillmore and Corey Graham.
    • The Pick: Mike Williams, WR Clemson
    • Pick Analysis: Williams is just what the Bills need to add to their offense. In my opinion, he’s the best receiver in the draft and he has the highest ceiling. He’s got great size at 6’4”, 218 lbs. and he was highly productive in his final year at Clemson. He put up 84 catches for 1,171 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, all while displaying really good hands, route running, and body control. He would be a great compliment to Sammy Watkins in Buffalo.
  11. New Orleans Saints
    • Team Needs: defense, WR, future QB
    • Needs Analysis: The Saints have a really good foundation offensively. They’ve got this quarterback, Drew Brees. You may have heard of him. He has been carrying this Saints’ offense for years, but now they have some good talent around him. They could give him another receiver, though. Preferably, someone who can replace Brandin Cooks as the slot receiver. Also, Brees is getting up there in age, as he is now 38 years old. They could try to find his replacement this year. Other than that, they desperately need defensive playmakers in all areas.
    • The Pick: Charles Harris, EDGE Missouri
    • Pick Analysis: There’s not a single edge rusher on the Saints’ roster that could strike fear in an opposing quarterback. Enter: Charles Harris. Harris has been rising up draft boards lately and I think he’s a great fit in New Orleans. Harris is an athletic pass rusher who flashed great lateral quickness and explosiveness in his final year at Missouri. He’s also shown a good blend of speed and power which should translate well in the pros.
  12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles)
    • Team Needs: everything but an edge rusher and offensive line
    • Needs Analysis: The Browns filled a huge hole when they took Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. They actually could draft another pass rusher because you can never have enough of those, but it just doesn’t seem logical to double up on a position in the first round alone. There are still plenty of other needs to fill, so the Browns will definitely have their options.
    • The Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB North Carolina
    • Pick Analysis: Finally, the first quarterback comes off the board. In an ideal world, the Browns would get both of their top guys. As much as they may want Trubisky, I certainly don’t think he’s worth the top pick, or even a top 10 pick, so getting him here at the 12th pick is perfect. It’s pretty ironic that the Browns could’ve taken Carson Wentz with last year’s 2nd overall pick, but decided to trade it to the Eagles. Now they could finally get their franchise passer with this pick instead.
  13. Arizona Cardinals
    • Team Needs: OL, CB/S, DL, TE, ILB, WR, future QB
    • Needs Analysis: It was a supremely disappointing season for the Cardinals. They went from a playoff team that could contend for a title to a team that failed to even make the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record. One thing the Cards need to decide is what to do with Carson Palmer. He wasn’t bad last year and maybe with more talent around him they could get back to winning, but he’s also getting up there in age at 37 and maybe they could go in another direction. They could add a receiver with Michael Floyd not panning out and Larry Fitzgerald getting long in the tooth. They also need some help on defense as they lost Calais Campbell and Kevin Minter in their front seven. The Cardinals could also draft a cornerback or a safety, depending on where they plan on playing Tyrann Mathieu.
    • The Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB Alabama
    • Pick Analysis: Reuben Foster’s slide ends here. He’s too talented of a player for teams to continue passing up on him because of some minor off the field issues. He was an absolute star at Alabama as he dominated against the run and displayed good cover skills as well. He would be a real force in the middle of the Cardinals defense, bringing his toughness and leadership to a team that sorely lacks it.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings)
    • Team Needs: CB, RB, OG, LB, DE
    • Needs Analysis: On paper, the Eagles look like a pretty solid team. Their biggest hole is at cornerback where their starters heading into the season right now look like Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills. That’s certainly not something to feel good about. They badly need a running back as well. Their run game was awful last season and while they have a decent mix of running backs, none of them really stand out. Another way to help the run game would be to add another guard. Their front seven could use some beef as well.
    • The Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB FSU
    • Pick Analysis: Cook is one of the most talented players in this year’s draft. He’s the most elusive and explosive runningback this year and could quickly become one of the league’s most dynamic backs. He’s got game-breaking speed and can be an effective receiver out of the backfield as well. The Eagles need more playmakers around Carson Wentz and Cook is just that: a plamaker.
  15. Indianapolis Colts
    • Team Needs: CB, OLB, ILB, RB, backup QB, DL depth
    • Needs Analysis: Simply put: the Colts need to build their team around Andrew Luck. Luck is one of the league’s best quarterbacks and still getting better, but he can’t keep carrying this team. Now, I think they have put the right pieces around him offensively, but their defense has been letting them down big time over the last couple seasons. Cornerback is a serious weak point as Vontae Davis is the only proven, talented corner on the team. They also still need to upgrade their entire linebacker core, even after signing several free agents.
    • The Pick: Haason Reddick, LB Temple
    • Pick Analysis: The Colts need defensive playmakers at every level. While they could target a cornerback or a pass rusher here, the draft is very deep at those two positions and they should just take the best player available. That player is Haason Reddick. He’s a supremely athletic linebacker who can do it all. The Colts could slot him into the middle of their defense where he could stop the run, cover, and blitz. He’s just what they need to get their defensive rebuild started.
  16. Baltimore Ravens
    • Team Needs: WR, OL, CB, OLB, ILB, DL
    • Needs Analysis: The Ravens need a wide receiver and they need one bad. Steve Smith retired, leaving the Ravens with just Mike Wallace as the only proven receiver on the team, and he’s really just a speedster whose best role is as a number two or three receiver. The Ravens need a chain-mover. They need offensive help as well. Their defense was pretty good last year, but needs to be restocked after losing Elvis Dumervil, Zachary Orr, Lawrence Guy, Timmy Jernigan, and Jerraud Powers.
    • The Pick: Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan
    • Pick Analysis: This one’s easy. If Corey Davis is actually still on the board when the Ravens pick, they absolutely cannot pass on him. He’s exactly what they need. His production speaks for itself, as he notched 97 receptions for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior season. He also racked up a combined 5,285 yards in his collegiate career, making him the all-time leader in major college football. He’s a great fit in Baltimore as a tough over-the-middle receiver who can move the chains.
  17. Washington Redskins
    • Team Needs: DL, CB, RB, OLB, S
    • Needs Analysis: Like a lot of other teams, the Redskins have a solid foundation offensively, but have a lot of holes on all levels of the defense. Their secondary got a lot better after they signed Josh Norman last offseason, but they could still add more overall talent there. They also have a decent linebacker core, but they would be wise to draft a pass rusher to compliment Ryan Kerrigan. Trent Murphy looks like a good piece on the defensive line, but they need more around him. Offensively, they only need to find a more dynamic runningback to split carries with Robert Kelley.
    • The Pick: Malik McDowell, DL Michigan State
    • Pick Analysis: At this point in the draft, McDowell is a great pick. At 6’6” and 295 lbs., he has great size and length for a 3-4 defensive end. He’s incredibly disruptive off the edge, using his long arms, quick hands, and strength to slip by blockers. He’s really raw and his technique is flawed, but his elite athleticism and explosiveness gives him too high of a ceiling for the Redskins to pass on.
  18. Tennessee Titans
    • Team Needs: CB, WR, DL, ILB
    • Needs Analysis: The Titans got their safety with the 5th overall pick when they took Jamal Adams. Now with this picks, they could try to focus on their other needs or just take the best player available.
    • The Pick: O.J. Howard, TE Alabama
    • Pick Analysis: Howard is too good of a prospect to continue sliding. The Titans already have Delanie Walker, but it seems like teams are trying more and more to run two-tight-end sets and pairing Howard with Walker would give the Titans one of the best tight end duos in football. Howard is a legitimate vertical threat and he’s also one of the best players in this draft. The Titans could really use a receiver here, but Howard is more of a mismatch and could help their offense more than any receiver that’s on the board.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    • Team Needs: S, OL, RB, LB, DE, depth CB
    • Needs Analysis: The Bucs are a young team that still has a decent amount of holes. Their safeties are not good. It looks like Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald are their starters right now. That’s not good at all. Their offensive line is improving, but they still need a couple more pieces there. They could also add another playmaker to their front seven and their cornerback group could use more depth as well.
    • The Pick: Christian McCaffery, RB Stanford
    • Pick Analysis: The Bucs’ running back situation was rough last season. Doug Martin and Charles Sims both got injured early in the year, forcing the Bucs to turn to Jacquizz Rodgers. Then Rodgers got hurt, which put Peyton Barber into a starting role. Drafting McCaffery would allow the Bucs to move on from last year and start fresh at running back. Doug Martin is 28 and injury prone, meaning he’s past his prime. It’s time to move on to a young back with fresh legs. McCaffery was an absolute stud at Stanford. He has the quickest feet of any back in this draft and has incredibly reliable hands. McCaffery’s home run ability should make it easy for the Bucs to make this home run pick.
  20. Denver Broncos
    • Team Needs: OL, TE, ILB, DL, OLB, QB
    • Needs Analysis: Boy, do the Broncos need offensive line help. They essentially need an entirely new line outside of center Matt Paradis. Adding a tight end would be beneficial for their offense as well, as their only proven tight end is Virgil Green, who is more of a blocker. The Broncos also need to revamp their front seven. They lost DeMarcus Ware and Sylvester Williams, two crucial pieces who should be replaced.
    • The Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT Wisconsin
    • Pick Analysis: Like I said, the Broncos need offensive line help. Ramczyk is the best tackle in the draft and the Broncos could immediately insert him in their starting lineup at left tackle. Ramczyk is a great value pick that also fills a huge need.
  21. Detroit Lions
    • Team Needs: RT, LB, DE, CB, S
    • Needs Analysis: The Lions reached the playoffs last year, but were demolished in the Wild Card round in Seattle. Their offense is explosive and they don’t have any major needs there, but they could use a new right tackle. However, they do need to upgrade their defense. They need a pass rusher to compliment Ziggy Ansah and some upgrades at linebacker. Their secondary needs more talent around Darius Slay and the declining Glover Quinn.
    • The Pick: Cam Robinson, OT Alabama
    • Pick Analysis: Once rated as a possible top five pick, Cam Robinson’s stock slipped after his final year at Alabama. He’s still a good value in the first round. The size, strength, and athleticism are all still there, Robinson just needs to work hard and put it together on the field. The Lions are in a position where they could take on a raw talent with the hopes of him developing into a star.
  22. Miami Dolphins
    • Team Needs: DE, TE, CB, LB, OL
    • Needs Analysis: Miami had a surprisingly good season last year and they’ve got a decent roster to build on. Offensively, they have a lot going for them. They have a great group of receivers and a young, improving offensive line. They do need a tight end, though. They also need help on every level of the defense, but there are a lot of pieces on that side of the ball to build around. A young pass rusher would help their secondary, but they could also use another cornerback.
    • The Pick: David Njoku, TE Miami
    • Pick Analysis: Njoku is raw, but has immense potential. His combination of size and speed is rare for a tight end and he could prove to be a serious mismatch at the NFL level. He wasn’t the most productive tight end last season, but his potential is what makes him a worthy first round pick.
  23. New York Giants
    • Team Needs: OL, DT, TE, S, RB, future QB
    • Needs Analysis: The Giants’ defense took a huge step forward last year, but they did lose Jonathan Hankins and could use an upgrade at safety next to Landon Collins. Their offense needs improvement, especially in the pass protection department. They struggled to protect Eli Manning all year and need a new right guard and right tackle (or left tackle if they decide to move Ereck Flowers to the right side). Adding a tight end and a runningback to the offense would also help Eli out as he needs some more weapons.
    • The Pick: Forrest Lamp, G Western Kentucky
    • Pick Analysis: This is a perfect pick for the Giants. Offensive linemen are never really the most exciting or “sexiest” pick, but Lamp is just what the Giants need. Lamp was a four-year starter at Western Kentucky and it shows in his technique. He’s really a pro-ready guard who could start for a playoff team, like the Giants, right away.
  24. Oakland Raiders
    • Team Needs: CB, LB, DL
    • Needs Analysis: The Raiders are a talented team with a strong foundation and they’re built to contend for years. They don’t have a lot of holes, but they certainly need help on defense. Cornerback is no doubt their weakest position. David Amerson had a strong year, but Sean Smith’s play really fell off, so they need another guy to compete for a starting spot at the position. They could also add another pass rusher opposite Khalil Mack. Another linebacker would be a good addition as well.
    • The Pick: Taco Charleton, EDGE Michigan
    • Pick Analysis: I might be higher on Charleton than a lot of other people, but I think he could be a Pro Bowl player in this league. He has a rare blend of size and athleticism and it should translate to the next level. The biggest concern for Taco is his inconsistency and lack of effort, but a good coaching staff, like the one in Oakland, could turn him into a star.
  25. Houston Texans
    • Team Needs: QB, NT, S, OL
    • Needs Analysis: If only the Texans had a quarterback. They almost did, actually. Before Tony Romo announced his retirement, it seemed very likely he was headed to Houston. Now, they are left with only one option, a high draft pick. They could also use a new nose tackle and a playmaking safety. They need some offensive line help as well.
    • The Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson
    • Pick Analysis: This would be huge for the Texans. Watson was an absolute star at Clemson and I think he’s going to be a really good quarterback at the next level. He has his flaws, of course, like his small frame, inconsistent accuracy, and decision making. Despite that, I think he’s got the skills to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. He’s got an elite arm, tremendous athleticism, and the leadership that you like to see in a franchise quarterback. He’s simply a winner and would turn the Texans into Superbowl contenders.
  26. Seattle Seahawks
    • Team Needs: OL, WR, CB, LB
    • Needs Analysis: The Seahawks have a really good and balanced roster, but if there’s one huge flaw, it’s their offensive line. They struggled to protect Russell Wilson all year and they didn’t have the strong ground game last season that they had the previous years. Defensively, it seems like the Seahawks may trade Richard Sherman. Even if they don’t, they still need cornerback help, as Sherman is the team’s only standout corner. They could also add a linebacker alongside Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright.
    • The Pick: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE UCLA
    • Pick Analysis: Pass rusher is not the biggest need for the Seahawks, but sometimes you don’t draft a big need, but you take the best player on the board. McKinley is a true speed rusher and would be great coming off the edge on passing downs in Seattle. It never hurts to add another guy who can get after the quarterback in a passing league.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs
    • Team Needs: ILB, CB, S, OL, WR, QB (maybe)
    • Needs Analysis: The Chiefs are so close to contending for a championship. They need help their secondary and could use another inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson. Offensively, they have to improve their offensive line and add another receiver. I think they could potentially draft a quarterback, depending on whether or not they believe in Alex Smith. Personally, I think Smith is too much of a “game-manager” and doesn’t have the ability to take over in big games.
    • The Pick: Adoree’ Jackson, CB USC
    • Pick Analysis: Jackson would be a great fit in KC. He’s not quite big enough to play on the outside at the NFL level, but he’s incredibly athletic and has great cover skills. He could become a premier slot corner for the Chiefs.
  28. Dallas Cowboys
    • Team Needs: DE, CB, S, LB
    • Needs Analysis: Defense has to be the focus of this draft for the Cowboys. Their offense doesn’t really have any flaws, but their defense has a lot of holes. Their secondary actually performed incredibly well last season, but they lost a couple key contributors in Barry Church, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne. There’s also no question they need a pass rusher after youngsters DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory both got suspended for various reasons. Defensive end is probably the Cowboys biggest weakness.
    • The Pick: Tre’Davious White, CB LSU
    • Pick Analysis: I’m sure the Cowboys would love to grab a pass rusher here, but there’s no first round worthy guys left on the board at that position. They do fill another need while taking one of the best players available in Tre’Davious White. White has good size for a corner at 5’11”, 192 lbs., but what makes him a first round talent is his cover skills. He’s a good athlete with great instincts and should immediately upgrade the Dallas secondary.
  29. Green Bay Packers
    • Team Needs: RB, CB, NT, OLB, ILB, G
    • Needs Analysis: The Packers have been contenders year in and year out for one reason only: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has carried this team since he took over as the starter back in 2008. Now, the Packers need to get him some more help to get them over the hump and to another title. They need to boost their pass rush and their run defense. They also need a new guard after losing T.J. Lang and a new between-the-tackles runner after losing Eddie Lacy. They could also add another corner to their young group.
    • The Pick: Jarrad Davis, ILB Florida
    • Pick Analysis: The Packers need a thumper. Davis is a thumper. Except that he’s not just a thumper. He’s a gifted athlete and a tough competitor. His cover skills aren’t quite there yet, but he has the potential to improve. He’ll be able to make an immediate impact against the run in the middle of Green Bay’s defense.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers
    • Team Needs: defense, TE
    • Needs Analysis: Yeah, I could’ve been more specific about the Steelers’ needs, but I would basically just be listing every position on the defensive side of the ball. Their offense is among the best in the league. They could maybe add a tight end, especially in a draft that is so deep at the position.
    • The Pick: Chidobe Awuzie, CB Colorado
    • Pick Analysis: The Steelers badly need corners. Pairing Awuzie with last year’s first rounder Artie Burns would give the Steelers a formidable duo for the next several years. Awuzie isn’t the fastest or most athletic corner, but he has great size and foot quickness, allowing him to stick with receivers all over the field. Awuzie is the best defensive player on the board at this point, so the Steelers have to jump all over him.
  31. Atlanta Falcons
    • Team Needs: OLB, TE, ILB
    • Needs Analysis: Teams that reach the Superbowl typically don’t have a lot of needs. The Falcons certainly fit that description. They should add a pass rusher to help Vic Beasley, but that’s their only real need. They could use a tight end, but Austin Hooper appears to have potential. They have a budding star in Deion Jones at inside linebacker, but they would be wise to add someone alongside him.
    • The Pick: Tyus Bowser, OLB Houston
    • Pick Analysis: Bowser has really shot up draft boards lately and it appears he could be a perfect fit in Atlanta. The Falcons have an incredibly young defense and they’re willing to add guys who need developing. Bowser is a raw talent, but he’s explosive and could become a strong pass-rush specialist at the next level.
  32. New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots)
    • Team Needs: still more defense, WR, future QB
    • Needs Analysis: After taking Charles Harris earlier in the first round, the Saints still need to add more defensively. However, a replacement for Brandin Cooks shouldn’t be out of the question and a future quarterback to replace Drew Brees is a possibility as well.
    • The Pick: John Ross, WR Washington
    • Pick Analysis: There it is. The perfect replacement for Brandin Cooks. John Ross is an absolute speedster, running a blazing 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine. That is, in fact, the NFL all-time record. He would immediately give Drew Brees another downfield threat and open up this offense the same way Cooks did. If Ross falls this far, this is a perfect match.

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