With the NFL Draft set to start on April 27th, front offices are without a doubt doing their homework on the upcoming rookie class. With that, here is who I believe each team will take in the first round this year:
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
Although Mitchell Trubisky is an Ohio native, I think the Browns would be silly to not take Garrett with the #1 overall pick this season.
The Browns have experimented with trading picks, as evident in 2016, and it didn’t pay off. Don’t expect them to trade down again this season with this pick.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitchell Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)
I believe that with Kaepernick walking away from the 49ers, the team will invest in what is believed to be the new face of the franchise.
Trubisky is my #1 QB heading into this draft, and I think the 49ers will only invest in him if they aren’t able to deal for a name like Kirk Cousins in the near future.
3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
With Akiem Hicks as the #1 listed DE on the Bears depth chart, it’s safe to say that the team could use an upgrade when it comes to a complimentary pass rusher.
Allen is my #2 DE prospect heading into this draft, and his talent is just too pure for the Bears to pass up with the third overall pick.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
The Jaguars could very well address their need at running back with this pick, but I think the franchise should instead go with drafting based on their defensive needs.
Adams is the clear-cut best safety in this draft, and the team struggled to keep opponents from scoring on them last season, allowing 25 points per game.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)
The Titans will absolutely draft a defensive player in the first round this season, and I have Lattimore as the best available player with this pick.
The Titans have a solid offensive unit as of now, and this years draft could be utilized to stack up their defense with young talent.
6. New York Jets: Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
Fournette is such a powerful back, and I don’t see the Jets passing on him. The team could very well use this pick to satisfy their needs on defense, but with Forte towards the end of his career, Fournette has the shot to become the face of the Jets.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
At this stage, we are reaching the next tier of talent for the upcoming rookies. This pick is a difficult one for the Chargers, but I think picking a defensive back is the safest route.
Hooker has a lot of potential, racking up seven interceptions in thirteen games last season. If he performs at a high enough level, expect him to be fixated into the Chargers starting roster.
8. Carolina Panthers: Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
I believe if Fournette was on the board at this point, the Panthers would spend the #8 pick on the running back. With him going earlier (in my opinion), I believe Solomon Thomas is the best available player on the defensive end.
The Panthers biggest struggle in 2016 was their ability to rush the quarterback, and Thomas is a step in the right direction.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
This one is an essential toss-up between Williams and Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis, but I think Williams will stay in orange this upcoming season.
His ability to separate from defensive backs is a weakness, but I think the Bengals need an upgrade at receiver to compliment A.J. Green.
10. Buffalo Bills: Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
Cardale Jones was a miss for the Bills in the 2016 draft, so expect them to swing again with Watson this time around. Seen as debatably the best quarterback in this draft, Watson could very well be placed as the starter if the Bills don’t lock up Tyrod Taylor this offseason.
11. New Orleans Saints: Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)
Jones won’t be an elite talent at the NFL level, but the Saints need to take the best available player to help when it comes to defending the pass.
Ranking 32nd when it comes to passing yards allowed in 2016, it’s safe to say the Saints are desperate for help in this draft.
12. Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
With Trubisky and Watson off the board, don’t be shocked if the Browns spend this pick on either the best quarterback available, or another defensive stud.
I’m not the biggest Kizer fan, but with the Browns showing little to no interest in free agent quarterbacks, I expect them to spend this pick on the best quarterback on the board.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)
The Cardinals defense was elite in 2016, and with Larry Fitzgerald in his final chapter, expect for the Cardinals to invest in Davis.
If Mike Williams were on the board, there’s no doubt (for me) that he would be their guy. With no heir to Carson Palmer worth taking at #13, it would be smart for the Cardinals to take the best receiver instead.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
I’m not 100% certain on this one, but cornerback is one position the Eagles need to address in this draft. With Lattimore and Jones off the table, I think the Eagles could very well draft Wilson.
If the Eagles can’t shelter a name like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, or Brandin Cooks, I could see them reaching for a receiver with this pick as well.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
The Colts have bigger issues to address in this draft, but with Frank Gore aging, Dalvin Cook has the chance to be special.
I’m not a huge fan of the offensive prospects this upcoming draft, but I think the Colts selecting a running back is very realistic.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan)
Baltimore could definitely use a pass rusher in this upcoming draft, and Charlton is the answer in my eyes. With ten sacks in eleven games in 2016, Charlton has the potential to see a lot of reps in the 2017 season.
17. Washington Redskins: Jabrill Peppers (SS, Michigan)
This one is another toss-up pick between a lot of different positions, but it’s my understanding that the Redskins are in need of some help in the secondary.
Peppers is one of the best safety prospects going into this one, and I wouldn’t be stunned if the Redskins are pressured into picking him in the first round.
18. Tennessee Titans: Budda Baker (S, Florida)
After taking a CB with the #5 pick, I believe the Titans will continue to stockpile on the defensive side by selecting Baker.
He won’t be an exciting player to follow, but Baker will be the best available player at #18, and this could very well be a pick that gets traded away to a team in need of a player like Christian McCaffrey.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey should be taken at #19, considering the Bucs will be in the market for a running back. With Doug Martin still yet to be signed, the Bucs have gone on record to say that they are not ready to commit to him.
McCaffrey would be a change of pace for the Bucs, and could ultimately take some pressure off of Winston, who was sacked 35 times in 2016.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk (T, Wisconsin)
It seems like every year that the Broncos are in need of pass protection, and 2017 is going to be no different. Ramczyk is the best offensive lineman presented in this draft, and I expect for Denver to address this position in the first round.
21. Detroit Lions: Tim Williams (OLB, Alabama)
Williams has been considered by many as NFL-ready, and can even be utilized as a defensive end if need be. The impressive and upcoming rookie had 8.5 sacks in 2016, and I expect for him to be selected around this draft range.
22. Miami Dolphins: Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
Barnett could very well be one of the more underrated men in this draft, and Miami could use some help on the defensive line, after they ranked 21st in 2016 when it came to sacks.
With Mario Williams now 32-years old, Barnett could be mentored and molded correctly into a great defensive end.
23. New York Giants: Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)
It has been 33 years since the Giants have used a first-rounder on a linebacker (Carl Banks), but I think the Giants will stock up on either their defense, or their offensive line.
Cunningham is someone that the Giants are very high on at the moment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they lock him up in the first round.
24. Oakland Raiders: Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)
The Raiders defense fell flat in 2016, and one way to fix that would be to draft White in the first round. White has the ability to play on the outside, as well as in the nickel formation, making him the perfect fit within Oakland.
If the Raiders shy away from White, look for them to still take a defensive player, possibly the best available linebacker.
25. Houston Texans: Cam Robinson (OT, Alabama)
Robinson is my personal favorite lineman heading into this draft, and I think Houston would be an excellent fit for him. Staying down south, Robinson has the strength and size to be NFL-ready.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles (OT, Utah)
The Seahawks had a few gaps in 2016, but the primary concern for this upcoming draft should be the lack of offensive line the franchise possesses.
Bolles is one of the better linemen available with the 26th pick, but I expect him to take a few years in order to develop to a week-to-week starter for the Seahawks.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
Davis is an interesting specimen, and I could see him being taken in the late first, or even the early second round of this upcoming draft.
The Chiefs struggled against the run in 2016, and Davis could potentially be the solution to that issue.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)
With the Cowboys lack of pass rush, Harris could be another young and talented player to make his way onto the Cowboys.
The Dallas scouts have done a great job with rebuilding through the draft, and hopefully 2017 is no different.
29. Green Bay Packers: Takkarist McKinley (DE, UCLA)
The Packers have slowly been aging, but on top of that, they’re losing a lot of defensive talent. The only pure pass rusher the Packers still contain at the moment seems like Clay Matthews, so adding McKinley would be a big bonus to the defense.
Outside of McKinley, look for the Packers to continue to address their needs on defense this year.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Haason Reddick (OLB, Temple)
With Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones becoming free agents, the Steelers are in need of a young linebacker to come in and make an early impact.
I think Reddick is a great fit for any franchise, partially because he is coming off of a fantastic Senior Bowl victory performance.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Adoree’ Jackson (CB, UCLA)
The Falcons offense was one of the most productive in NFL history last season, so it’s a universal understanding that they’ll build up their defense through the draft.
I expect for Atlanta to go with a pass rusher if he’s there, but here, they’ll be forced to take Jackson, who can provide help when it comes to defending the pass.
32. New England Patriots: DeMarcus Walker (DE, Florida State)
With Chris Long out of the picture, the Patriots will likely look to invest in a young pass rusher through the draft, and Walker is the best name avaliable at this stage.
The Patriots could very well draft a player like John Ross or O.J. Howard to create more weapons on the offensive side of the ball, but I think drafting Walker is the safest option in this round.