John Lynch grabs the 49ers a franchise quarterback. San Francisco should be in position to land one of the top four quarterback prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Darnold was very impressive as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and impressed evaluators even though he wasn't being graded yet. Along with a quality skill set, teams like his intangibles and moxie. Darnold completed 67 percent of his passes in 2016 for 3,086 yards with 31 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The 6-4, 225-pounder led USC on a nine-game winning streak to end the season.
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Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, sources with the Jets told me they didn't like the 2017 quarterback prospects. They also said that Christian Hackenberg is developing well and worked really hard behind the scenes during his rookie year. However, if Hackenberg doesn't show some promise on the field in 2017, the Jets could be targeting a quarterback in next year's draft class.
Allen (6-5, 222) became a discussed prospect late in the 2016 season, but he wisely decided to return to Wyoming. He has a special skill set, and some draft analysts were projecting him high in the first round, but one general manager told WalterFootball.com that he had Allen as a third-day prospect and thought Allen should improve before going pro. Other team sources that did advance work for National Scouting for the 2018 prospects really liked Allen and compared him to Ben Roethlisberger, so don't be surprised if he is a polarizing prospect. However he has a great skill set with tons of upside. In 2016, Allen completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,203 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
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The Browns drafted DeShone Kizer in the second round in 2017, but that won't stop them from adding a signal-caller who they think could be a franchise quarterback.
Jackson (6-3, 205) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
Jackson has a good athletic skill set, but he will need to show more accuracy and pocket-passing skills in 2017 to be a high draft pick. Jackson also faces some size concerns.
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Key could be too good for the Rams to pass on, and Los Angeles could use an edge rusher to pair with Robert Quinn. William Hayes led the Rams with only five sacks last year and was traded to Miami.
In 2016, Key was one of the best players in college football. He recorded 56 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and three passes broken up on the year. Key is a dangerous pass-rusher with excellent speed and the ability to bend around the corner. He flashed a ton of potential as a freshman for LSU, totaling 41 tackles with 6.5 for a loss, five sacks and one pass broken up. The 6-foot-6, 231-pounder is a lightning-fast edge rusher with a ton of upside to develop.
Even if Kevin White breaks out this season, Chicago could use another receiver to pair with him.
In 2016, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as their No. 1 receiver. As a replacement for Amari Cooper, Ridley was very effective with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished the 2015 season with impressive performances against Florida and Michigan State to help push Alabama to the National Championship. Ridley has size, speed and a ton of upside for the NFL.
Sources from other teams told me they targeted Tashaun Gipson and Johnathan Cyprien last year, and the Jaguars' safeties were a weakness. Cyprien was replaced by Barry Church, who is solid, but not a special player on the backend. Here's a difference-maker to go with the Jacksonville's young cornerback talent.
In 2016, Fitzpatrick recorded 66 tackles with seven passes broken up and six interceptions. He was dominant at times for Alabama, splitting time between corner and safety. Fitzpatrick had a superb 2015 season for the Crimson Tide. The freshman totaled 45 tackles with two sacks, 11 passes broken up and two interceptions - both returned for a touchdowns.
The 6-foot-1, 203-pounder has excellent size and some natural cover skills. He has a ton of upside to develop. It sounds as if his preference and natural position is safety. Sources who have looked ahead to the 2018 NFL Draft have said that Fitzpatrick is a prototypical free safety who can cover over the slot or in the middle of the field, yet also be a center fielder. They say he has good size, speed, athletic ability, high football IQ and is a play-maker.
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Rosen completed 59 percent of his passes in 2016 for 1,915 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in his six games before being sidelined by shoulder surgery. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder has a strong arm with pocket-passing skills, yet could stand to improve his decision-making and accuracy. Scouts who have done advance work on the 2018 prospects have told me that Rosen is disliked by his teammates and lacks leadership skills for the NFL. That could cause him to slide.
Rosen had an impressive debut as a freshman, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3,670 yards with 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He showed off a powerful arm and the ability to be an NFL pocket passer.
While Rosen has gotten a ton of hype, the same thing happened with Christian Hackenberg and Brad Kaaya after their freshman seasons. Thus, Rosen still has more to prove as a junior to be a high first-rounder. Undergoing a personality makeover also sounds advisable.
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The Cardinals grab their heir apparent for Larry Fitzgerald.
Kirk played well in 2016 despite inconsistent quarterback play from the Aggies. He had 83 receptions for 928 yards with nine touchdowns while splitting targets with wideouts like Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. Kirk is a fast, explosive play-maker. Some scouting sources have said their nickname for Kirk is "Baby Beckham" in reference to Odell Beckham Jr.
Kirk (5-11, 200) had an outstanding freshman debut for Texas A&M and earned playing time over more veteran receivers who had previously produced for the Aggies. In 2015, Kirk caught 80 passes for 1,009 yards with seven touchdowns. He averaged only 19.3 yards per kick return, but averaged 24.4 yards per punt returns with two touchdowns.
Barkley was excellent in 2016, and NFL sources have already said they think he's a stud back for the next level. The sophomore averaged 5.5 yards per carry on the year for 1,496 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also made 28 catches for 402 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver.
Barkley was very impressive as a freshman in 2015 when he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,076 yards with seven touchdowns. He also caught 20 passes for 161 yards and a score. Barkley was very impressive running for 194 yards on 26 carries against an Ohio State defense loaded with NFL talent. The 5-foot-11, 223-pounder is a tough runner with a burst.
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10.Indianapolis Colts:Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE, Kansas
The Colts signed John Simon and Jabaal Sheard, but they still need a No. 1 edge rusher to lead their defense.
Armstrong was a big presence for Kansas in 2016 as he totaled 10 sacks with 20 tackles for a loss, 56 tackles and three forced fumbles. Armstrong (6-4, 241) could use more weight for the NFL to be an edge rusher against pro offensive tackles. He also could be considered at linebacker.
The Vikings could consider taking a defensive tackle given the uncertainty around Sharrif Floyd.
Thompson was a tough defender for Georgia in 2016, recording 56 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and five sacks. The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder could have produced more, but was part of a rotation. He could fit well as a 3-4 defensive end or as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. Scouting sources have said that Thompson has a first-round skill set.
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The Eagles lost Bennie Logan in free agency, while Timmy Jernigan is in the last year of his deal. Here's some interior defensive line help for Philadelphia with a prospect who will help the team face off against Dallas.
Scouts who have looked ahead to the 2018 class have raved about Payne's potential. Coming from Alabama, it isn't a stretch as Payne could take on the lead role for the Crimson Tide with Jonathan Allen moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 319) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow.
13.Buffalo Bills:Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Bills were in the market for safety help early in the 2017 NFL Draft, but didn't draft one at all. Here's a difference-maker who could make an impact in the deep middle of Buffalo's defense.
James totaled 11 tackles through two games in 2016 before sustaining a knee injury. He had been playing well for Florida State. Entering the 2016 season, there was a lot of hype that James was an elite player and perhaps the best defensive player in college football. As a freshman in 2015, he had a strong debut with 91 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, four passes broken up and two forced fumbles, but zero interceptions. The 6-foot-3, 211-pounder has a great athletic skill set.
The Saints grab a base end to go across from Cam Jordan.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Chubb has been a tough defender for the Wolfpack. In 2016, he totaled 58 tackles with 22 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and one pass batted. As a sophomore in 2015, he collected 5.5 sacks. Chubb has scheme flexibility.
Previous Mock Selections: 7/3-Andrew Brown, DE
15.Tennessee Titans:Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia
The Titans could use a young edge rusher as Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are aging. Additionally, both of them finished the 2016 season in disappointing fashion.
Brown is a sturdy defender at the point of attack and impressed last year. Scouting sources say that Brown has a first-round skill set entering the 2017 season. He totaled six sacks, 13 tackles for a loss and 38 tackles. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder has good size to be a base end.
The Giants still could use more tackle help for their offense. Here's a bookend to go with Ereck Flowers.
McGlinchey was very impressive at left tackle for the Fighting Irish in 2016. He looked natural in pass protection, and one wouldn't have thought that he wasn't playing the position before last season.
McGlinchey has excellent feet to get depth in his kick slide and cut off speed rushers. As a run blocker, McGlinchey can get movement at the point of attack. He flashes heavy hands to push defenders out of their gaps and open holes for his back. McGlinchey also has a nice ability to bend at the knee, and that in combination with his feet, keeps him from having to reach after edge rushers. His performance in 2016 protecting DeShone Kizer is evidence that McGlinchey is a future starting left tackle in the NFL and a first-round pick.
McGlinchey (6-7, 310) is a tough run blocker and has been part of a good Notre Dame line for years. In 2015, he showed well as a right tackle and had a more physical style of play than former Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley. The one area that McGlinchey really needs to improve is his repeated problem with false starts.
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