If Cleveland is stuck at No. 1, I think this pick will come down to Garrett and Jonathan Allen. You could make a good argument for Allen being the selection, but Garrett is the consensus best player in the 2017 NFL Draft and and has been No. 1 on my big board since the start of the 2017 NFL Draft process. It sounds like the Browns are likely to take Garrett.
In 2016, Garrett totaled 33 tackles, 15 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Against UCLA in the 2016 season opener, he collected three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and one sack going against a quality left tackle in Conor McDermott. Garrett is lightning fast off the edge with natural strength to bull rush offensive tackles. He is a freakish athlete with the potential to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Immediately after arriving at Texas A&M, Garrett began dominating college football. The 6-foot-4, 272-pounder took the game by storm in 2014 as he was an impact-making defender for the Aggies from Day 1. The fast and athletic Garrett was a force on the edge as a quarterback hunter. He had 11.5 sacks as well with 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. That sack total broke the NCAA freshman record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney.
In 2015, Garrett kept it going, racking up 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception. He has blinding speed off the edge and is a natural pass-rusher. Garrett could be the best prospect in college football and could have been in the running for the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he had been able to declare.
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The 49ers badly need a quarterback, but I don't see Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch liking any of the 2017 NFL Draft's signal-callers enough to be the No. 2 pick. After drafting DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead as its defensive ends, San Francisco doesn't have a great need or fit for Jonathan Allen. The early portion of free agency is over, yet the 49ers still need cornerback help. Luckily for them, this is a great draft to get corner help.
Lattimore played really well in 2016, recording 41 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes broken up. Scouting sources raved about how Lattimore looked in fall camp before the 2016 season, and during the year, some team sources said they graded him as a top-16 pick. The 6-foot, 192-pounder has good size to go with athletic ability. As a backup in 2015 during his redshirt freshman season, Lattimore recorded three passes broken up and five tackles.
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The Bears have a talented front seven with the only need being an impactful five-technique. Allen would be a perfect fit and a great addition to the Chicago defense.
In 2016, Allen totaled 62 tackles, 15 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, two passes batted and one interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown. He dominated at the point of attack all year and was very disruptive. Consistently, Allen used his speed and strength to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He is a tough run defender, yet can also beat guards or tackles in the pass rush.
Allen played really well in 2015 with 36 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes batted. He totaled 33 tackles with 11.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks the year before.
In a 4-3 scheme, the 6-foot-3, 286-pounder could play three-technique defensive tackle, like Aaron Donald, or be an end who moves inside in passing situations. Allen rushed from the inside for Alabama, yet also could serve as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Allen has some natural pass-rushing skills to him along with quickness and strength. He is very fast at the point of attack with the power to shed blocks.
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The Jaguars could go a lot of directions with this pick, such as their offensive line or the secondary. However, they have made enough signing in free agency that they can afford to take a rare talent like Fournette to lead the rushing offense. Fournette will appeal to Tom Coughlin's old-school approach, and Coughlin doesn't have his name attached to the T.J. Yeldon pick or the Chris Ivory signing.
In 2016, Fournette averaged 6.5 yards per carry for 843 yards with eight touchdowns. He recorded 15 receptions for 146 yards as well. Fournette set a school record with 284 yards on 16 carries against Ole Miss. The junior played well in 2016, but his ankle injury seemed to be holding back some of the speed and explosion he displayed as a sophomore.
Fournette (6-0, 240) has a serious burst to go along with a powerful build. He is a downhill physical runner who also is a threat to break off long touchdown runs. While obviously big and powerful, Fournette also has some wiggle to him with an elusive running style that makes him really hard to tackle.
Fournette was a superstar in 2015, overwhelming nearly every defense he took on. The sophomore averaged 6.5 yards per carry over the year for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 253 yards.
There were a lot of comparisons made of Fournette to Adrian Peterson when the former signed with LSU, and he validated the hype as a sophomore with his running style being very similar to Peterson's. Fournette didn't disappoint in 2014 either, setting the LSU record for yards from a freshman. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry for 1,034 yards with 10 touchdowns.
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This is the Rams' pick that Tennessee received in the trade back from No. 1 to No. 15 in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Titans need a No. 1 cornerback and a play-making safety. I know the Titans love both Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, but they addressed safety in free agency by signing Johnathan Cyprien to go with last year's third-round pick Kevin Byard, who played well as a rookie. Thus, Tennessee could target a No. 1 corner with the fifth-overall pick. I know the team really likes Humphrey as well.
Humphrey has height, length and athleticism. The 6-foot, 197-pounder is a very good cover corner with size, quick feet, loose hips to turn and run, and physicality. He is very good at running the route and preventing separation. The one flaw that Humphrey has is playing the ball as there are receptions he allows when he is in good position but doesn't play the ball well over him. That could be corrected with good coaching. Surveying teams across the league, Humphrey and Marcus Lattimore are the consensus top corners.
Humphrey totaled 33 tackles with two tackles for a loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups in 2016. To open the year, Humphrey put together an excellent game against USC as he shut down wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, holding him to one catch for nine yards. Humphrey also had an interception returned 18 yards for a touchdown and a tackle for a loss in the contest. Aside from one mistake, Humphrey was very good at defending Washington speedster John Ross in their playoff matchup. Against Clemson and Mike Williams, Humphrey did well covering Williams overall but did allow some receptions over him.
After redshirting in 2014, Humphrey had an excellent debut to help Alabama win the 2015 season's National Championship. He earned a starting job across from Cyrus Jones and was the Crimson Tide's top corner. In 2015, Humphrey totaled 45 tackles with three interceptions and eight passes broken up. He was an Alabama legacy as the son of Bobby Humphrey, a former first-rounder who played for the Dolphins and Broncos.
I think Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan would take Leonard Fournette if he falls to this pick, but with him off the board, Maccagnan could address the Jets' glaring need to improve their pass coverage. They could use more talent at safety as well as cornerback help. Adams would improve New York's pass and run defense.
In 2016, Adams totaled 76 tackles with four passes broken and one interception. The junior is a future starting safety, who sources said during the preseason that they think is a top-20 talent. He is able to contribute in pass coverage in the underneath part of the field and is strong enough to play in the box. Adams seems to prefer being a strong safety.
Adams has versatility, but his play was subdued in 2016, and perhaps he had the NFL on his mind. Adams turned it on and did play very well against Alabama and Ole Miss' receiving tight end Evan Engram.
The 6-foot, 214-pound Adams has versatile size to play strong or free safety in the NFL. He is an instinctive defender who always seems to be around the ball. In 2015, Adams had 67 tackles with six passes broken up and four interceptions. As a freshman, he recorded 66 tackles with five pass breakups.
The Chargers' biggest needs are on the offensive line and at safety. Of those, Hooker is the best player available, and Los Angeles would be fortunate if he fell this far.
In late September, weeks before other draft media where aware of Hooker, WalterFootball.com reported that Hooker was receiving high first-round grades from teams. He was one of the breakout stars of the 2016 season. Multiple team sources have said they see Hooker as a top-10 pick. Ohio State lost both Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell to the NFL, but the redshirt sophomore Hooker was an upgrade for the Buckeyes.
In 2016, Hooker totaled 74 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, .5 sacks, four passes broken up and seven interceptions. Three of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 206-pounder has excellent size to go along with great speed and instincts. Hooker is tremendous as the deep center fielder with rare skills as a pass-coverage free safety who has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed. He also has the size and strength to come downhill and fill in the ground game. Hooker could be a dynamic safety in the NFL. He is the real deal.
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The Panthers likely improved their offensive line via free agency, which should allow them the freedom to find their running back of the future. Here, Carolina lands a special talent in Cook to lead an improved rushing attack that could help reduce the pounding on Cam Newton.
In 2016, Cook averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 33 receptions for 488 yards. Cook (5-10, 210) is well-built and has the speed to slash through a defense; however, he has some strange ball-security issues. Cook also has some power to him, but he seems to use it selectively as he runs out of bounds often and is consistently looking to bounce runs to the outside. In the passing game, Cook is a tremendous receiver out of the backfield and will be a weapon there. He reminds me of a young Marshall Faulk.
Teams do have some off-the-field concerns about Cook. They say he isn't a bad kid but worry about his associates. He escaped some legal issues last year, and teams say that Cook has an entourage of gang-bangers that could put Cook in the wrong place at the wrong time.
With Jameis Winston in the NFL, Cook carried the Florida State offense in 2015. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. The sophomore also had 24 receptions for 244 yards and a score. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 203 yards, too.
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Cincinnati could use a linebacker upgrade next to Vontaze Burfict. Additionally, Burfict has had injury issues and his presence has been missed greatly while out of the lineup. Foster would help the Bengals' defense in a variety of ways.
In 2016, Foster amassed 115 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The 6-foot, 229-pounder came on strong late in the 2015 season for Alabama and had the game of his life in the National Championship against Clemson. He totaled 73 tackles with eight for a loss, two sacks and nine passes batted for the year. The light looked like it clicked on for Foster toward the end of the 2015 season as he was suddenly a different player. He carried that over into his senior year, when he was a physical force. Foster is a fast, athletic linebacker who can go sideline-to-sideline while also dishing out punishing hits when he gets there.
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The Bills need a receiver to pair with Sammy Watkins.
In 2016, Williams hauled in 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. It was an impressive return to college football after missing most of 2015 due to injury. In that season's opener, Williams fractured his neck when he ran into the goalpost while catching a touchdown. That ended his year.
With Sammy Watkins in the NFL, Williams took over as Clemson's lead receiver in 2014 and caught 57 passes for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns. In his freshman season, he had 20 catches for 316 yards and three scores.
Williams is a dynamic big receiver who is tremendous at using his size and leaping ability to make catches over defensive backs. He is a phenomenal red-zone weapon and is superb on back-shoulder sideline throws. While Williams made a lot of excellent leaping grabs, he does need to cut down on some dropped passes. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder has a real combination of size and leaping ability.
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The Saints could use another edge rusher and a cornerback upgrade. Here's an end to pair with Cam Jordan. From what I've heard from sources, the Saints love Charlton, so I don't think they would pass on him.
Entering the 2016 season, Charlton flashed for Michigan but was mainly a backup and also was used inside at tackle. In 2016 though, he racked up 9.5 sacks, 43 tackles and 13 tackles for a loss as the bookend defensive end with the stout Chris Wormley. The 6-foot-6, 277-pounder Charlton is athletic with versatile size and length to be a base end in a 4-3 defense or a standup linebacker in a 3-4. Charlton is fast, explosive, and has serious upside to develop in the NFL. Teams feel he could go top-10 and should go top half of the first round.
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The Browns grab their quarterback of the future. I think Cleveland will go with either Trubisky or Deshaun Watson. Right now, I think the Browns are leaning toward Trubisky.
Trubisky looks like a second-round caliber prospect, but that doesn't preclude teams from reaching on him in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft. Sources from three different teams told me they graded Trubisky in the second round. However, teams across the league believe he will go in the top 10. One team picking in the top 10 that could take a quarterback told me Trubisky is the only quarterback prospect they would take that high. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder was very efficient in 2016, flashing good decision-making and good accuracy. He has a decent but not great arm and some athleticism. However, across the history of the NFL, there have been very few 1-year college starters who turned into good pro starters.
The junior beat up on some weak secondaries in 2016, but it still is impressive that he had three straight games throwing for over 400 yards without throwing a single interception. On the season, Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns.
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The Cardinals could add to the front seven after losing Calais Campbell. Robert Nkemdiche barely saw the field as a rookie, and Thomas would give Arizona a defender who could play in a variety places.
WalterFootball.com was the first to report that Thomas intended to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior enjoyed an excellent 2016 season as a big presence on the edge of the Stanford defense. On the year, he had 62 tackles with 15 for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble. Sources from six NFL teams told me that they graded Thomas a mid- to late first-rounder. One team said they had Thomas in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Thomas has good speed off the edge with strength and physicality. Teams feel that the 6-foot-2, 273-pounder fits best as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense. Many sources said that Thomas is a bit of a tweener and doesn't have a great fit in a 3-4 defense. He probably would play outside linebacker if drafted into a 3-4 scheme. Teams really like Thomas off the field as well.
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Conley recorded 26 tackles with eight passes broken up and four interceptions in 2016. He played well, and teams think he is a well-rounded player. The 6-foot, 195-pounder has enough size to start on the outside in the NFL. In the NFL, Conley could fit in schemes that run zone, off man, and press man. He is a polished player that should be able to contribute quickly.
After some early issues, Conley had a solid 2015 season for the Buckeyes and improved as the year progressed. He totaled 49 tackles with two interceptions and five passes broken up that year. Conley has a good skill set, and he looks like a safe pick to develop into a quality starter.
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Some years of bad moves by former general manager Ryan Grigson, like trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson and blowing one on Bjoern Werner, are coming back to bite Indianapolis. The Colts have a ton of needs on their talent-deficient roster, including edge rusher, running back, cornerback, defensive line, linebacker, and more offensive line talent. The defense is in horrible shape, so Indianapolis could take the best defensive player available regardless of position. Barnett would make sense because he would upgrade the Colts' defense immediately in both phases.
In 2016, Barnett recorded 56 tackles with 19 for a loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes broken up and one interception. Sources view Barnett as a smooth pass-rusher who has some natural pass-rushing skills for the pros. Barnett can fight his way through blocks and close on the quarterback. The best traits that Barnett illustrates are an ability to sink his hips and dip under tackles to get leverage in chasing down the quarterback..
Barnett racked up 69 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and 10 sacks in 2015. He notched 10 sacks alongside 72 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss as a freshman. Barnett (6-3, 259) is a solid run defender with room for improvement.
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After losing Ricky Wagner in free agency, Baltimore could use a right tackle to pair with Ronnie Stanley. I've heard from sources that the Ravens are high on Robinson and they have him as their top-rated offensive tackle.
Robinson (6-6, 322) played well in 2016 overall, consistently opening holes in the ground game and showing improved technique in pass protection. He shut down Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr., and there was only one ugly play where Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes bull rushed Robinson. Against Tennessee, Derek Barnett beat Robinson for a strip-sack and some other pressures. Robinson had some wins as well, but it showed that Robinson isn't an elite, "top of the draft," shutdown left tackle prospect. He had a better game against Myles Garrett, keeping the Aggies' superstar from recording a sack. Robinson looked quicker and more athletic during 2016 than in past years. Sources say that Robinson lost 10-15 pounds over last offseason, and that definitely paid off.
Robinson was a freshman sensation for the Crimson Tide in 2014 and started every game at left tackle after arriving at Alabama. He was the leader on an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks in 2014. It didn't go as well in 2015 as Robinson allowed pressure and sacks on the quarterback, especially early in the year. He was better down the stretch, however, and it wasn't all that surprising that he took his play to another level in 2016.
For the NFL, Robinson could be best in the long run at right tackle. If he plays left tackle, he could be above-average. Some sources have compared him to the Buccaneers' Donovan Smith. Robinson provides an impact as a run blocker and has the potential to be a reliable pass protector. On a different note, he was able to skate on an arrest over the offseason before the 2016 season for possession of pot and an illegal gun.
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@Mark C. I was going to point out to Walter that people can actually travel and most people attending games don't live within walking distance of the stadiums. A 4 or 5 hour drive to go see a game is absolutely nothing. It's only 8 regular season home games each season after all.