Per sources with Los Angeles, the Chargers preferences are for a safety or a defensive tackle, and the only question is if quality prospects at those positions get to their pick. If Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James gets to Los Angeles, either would be a no-brainer, and I think the team would be thrilled to take one of those safeties. The Chargers also could use a defensive tackle run stuffer, and Payne would be superb next to Joey Bosa.
Payne dominated at the point of attack in 2017, stuffing runs while showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. On the year, he totaled 53 tackles, two half-sacks, three passes batted, an interception and a touchdown reception. I heard general managers and scouts raving about Payne all season.
Scouts were already raving about Payne's potential in the preseason. He was the Crimson Tide's best defensive lineman in 2017, following Jonathan Allen's moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 311) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. When given the opportunity to rush the passer in 2016 and 2017, Payne was impressive, and sources have said that he helped set up sacks for numerous Alabama defenders, including Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Rashaan Evans, over the previous two seasons.
I think the Seahawks will hope and pray that they can trade down due to being without any picks in the second and third round. Seattle could go with a defensive end, a cornerback, or interior offensive line help with this pick. Davenport makes a ton of sense. Michael Bennett was traded, Cliff Avril is nearing the end of his career, Frank Clark is in a contract year, and the team lost both Malik McDowell and Sheldon Richardson. Clearly, Seattle needs more defensive line talent.
Davenport (6-5, 264) possesses an excellent skill set with speed and agility. He has length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL, but needs to learn more pass-rushing moves. In 2017, Davenport notched 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles. He totaled 6.5 sacks as a junior after notching four as a sophomore.
Edge defenders with length, quickness and athleticism are always in demand, so Davenport could go in the first round in a weak year at defensive end. Scouts from multiple teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought the top 16 is too high for him. They think the back half of Round 1 is possible.
The Cowboys moved on from Dez Bryant and need more big-play threats for their offense. Here's a speed receiver who could bring some mismatch advantages to the Dallas offense.
Ridley reeled in 63 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He totaled 82 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown against Florida State and its NFL-level secondary. The 6-foot, 189-pounder Ridley was capable of producing a lot more, but Alabama's ground-based offense and running quarterback limited his opportunities. If Ridley had played at a school like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or pretty much any Big XII school, his production would have been off the charts. Ridley has quality height, speed and upside for the NFL. He does have a thinner frame though, and he will need to add weight.
In 2016, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. He had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as the replacement for Amari Cooper. Ridley was very effective in that role 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.
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The Lions could use more interior defensive line talent, and Bryan would give them a three-technique to pair with A'Shawn Robinson. Sources told me that Lions general manager Bob Quinn was at the Florida pro day to watch Bryan, and taking Bryan would fit with Quinn's other early-round picks.
Bryan (6-5, 291) broke out in 2017 with 40 tackles with six tackles for a loss and four sacks. In speaking with some scouting sources, Bryan has drawn comparisons to the Chiefs' Chris Jones or the Broncos' Derek Wolfe. Some announcers have compared the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Bryan to J.J. Watt, and in terms of style of play, Bryan is reminiscent of Watt, although not consistently. Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap. He also has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. Given his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, plus is an ideal candidate for five-technique.
I heard from sources weeks early that Bryan was going to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, and scouting contacts project him to the first or second round. Bryan is a great athlete who is big, strong, fast and agile. He had a late start in football, however, from growing up in Wyoming, and that showed up in him never demonstrating good instincts. Bryan is inconsistent while lacking feel and pass-rushing moves. Considering his late start in football, he would have likely been better off in his long-term football career to return to school and gain playing experience before going to the NFL and taking on pro offensive linemen. Some team sources have told me they were grading Bryan as a second-rounder, but think he could end up being a first-round pick because of his great skill set, which is expected to shine in pre-draft workouts.
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Cincinnati made a good trade in getting Cordy Glenn to move down in the first round. Still, the Bengals could use more interior offensive line talent to help turn their offense around. Here's an interior upgrade at center who will help open holes for Joe Mixon.
Ragnow (6-5, 312) played well for Arkansas in 2017 before a high ankle sprain ended his season early. The injury required surgery, but Ragnow should be ready for the start of the 2018 season. Ragnow could be in the running to be one of the top center prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Over the past two seasons, he didn't allow a single sack while taking on excellent competition. As one can expect coming from Arkansas, Ragnow is also a tough run blocker. He is a technician who entered his senior year having made 26 straight starts. As a sophomore, Ragnow was the Razorbacks' starter at right guard. He has the size to be a guard or center in the NFL.
This is the Chiefs' first-round pick traded to Buffalo when Kansas City moved up to pick No. 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft for Pat Mahomes. The Bills have a lot of needs, but are desperate at linebacker. After trading Reggie Ragland, they had Preston Brown left in free agency. Here's a potential solution for Buffalo.
In 2017, Evans totaled 74 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and three passes broken up. The 6-foot-2, 232-pounder possesses an impressive skill set with size and speed. The senior did well rushing off the edge for Alabama in 2017. Evans was a backup in 2014 and 2015 before rotating onto the field during the 2016 season. As a junior, he totaled 53 tackles with 4.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, two passes broken up and one forced fumble. Some teams have medical concerns with Evans.
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The Patriots need a starting cornerback badly. Here's a prospect with No. 1-corner potential to pair with Stephon Gilmore.
Alexander missed four games early in the 2017 season with a knee injury he suffered in the season opener and then dealt with a broken hand that caused him to miss two more games. When Alexander was on the field in 2017, he covered well, totaling 19 tackles with four passes broken up and an interception. Alexander (5-10, 196) was very good for Louisville in 2016. He had 39 tackles with nine passes broken up and five interceptions. Alexander also is a dangerous punt returner. There is a lot of upside for him to develop.
As a cover corner, it is easy to fall in love with Alexander. He is extremely fast with his athleticism and agility to run the route and prevent separation. Alexander blankets receivers as he can flip his hips to run with them downfield. With quick feet and explosion, Alexander breaks on the ball in a hurry to pick off or break up passes. He has good hands and strong ball skills. Alexander's physical talent allows him to have excellent recoverability and willing tackler. He is a very instinctive corner with good route recognition. Alexander is very smart to look back at the quarterback and he is a rare corner that doesn't loose foot speed when looking back for the ball. Alexander is able to play off man coverage, zone coverage, and could also do some press man as he has compact build. He has the potential to be a No.1 corner for his pro team with pro bowl potential.
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Carolina has old and declining safeties. The Panthers could use young talent and have shown a lot of interest in the safety prospects. I think the organization is targeting Ronnie Harrison or Justin Reid.
In 2017, Harrison totaled 74 tackles with three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and four passes batted. He played really well as an enforcer in the middle of the field. Aside from coverage issues, Harrison had a quality 2016 season as the strong safety when he totaled 86 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions.
Harrison (6-2, 207) is a tough run defender who has the athletic skills to cover, but he has issues covering receivers in man coverage. Team sources have said an example of that was Clemson's Hunter Renfrow really abusing Harrison in the past, and that was why Minkah Fitzpatrick served as the coverage safety for the Crimson Tide. Playing zone in the middle of the field is a better fit for Harrison. Because of some coverage limitations, Harrison is a strong safety type for the NFL.
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In speaking to a reliable source, they believe the Titans are targeting outside linebacker, inside linebacker, and defensive line - in that order - for this pick. They felt that Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry, and Sam Hubbard could be the finalists for this pick. This source told me to lock in Marcus Mariota many months before the 2015 NFL Draft. They told me the organization loved Jack Conklin in 2016, and last year, they said to mock a receiver at No. 5 and Adoree' Jackson at No. 18.
Therefore, I'm going to listen to this source even though some other teams have told me they have Hubbard and Landry graded as second-rounders. I think Titans general manager Jon Robinson also would value an inside linebacker later in the draft, as he was part of Tampa Bay landing Kwon Alexander in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are aging while nearing the end of their contracts, plus Hubbard or Landry are a good fits for Mike Vrabel's scheme as well. Hubbard is bigger and a better run defender than Landry. Thus, I think he's the safer pick, and that is also the direction Robinson leans.
Hubbard totaled 43 tackles, seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2017. In 2016, he collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted. While rotating into the game as a sophomore, Hubbard showed his potential with 6.5 sacks. He also had 28 tackles with an interception that season.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder has a great skill set, but never produced up to it. Hubbard possesses a serious combination of size, speed, and athletic ability that should help him to rise during the pre-draft workouts, however. Some team sources feel that Hubbard was an underachiever and should have turned in a lot more production over his collegiate career.
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I know the Falcons would love it if Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan were an option at this pick, but he could easily be gone by the time they are on the clock. Atlanta needs an upgrade at guard, and Price is a good scheme fit. He could be a plug-and-play starter for the Falcons to help get their offense back to where it was during their Super Bowl season.
Price (6-4, 305) impressed NFL evaluators, both with his work in fall training camp and in the games of the 2017 season. They say that Price plays within himself. They like his awareness and call him an above-average athlete. He isn't overly fast or twitchy like the Pouncey brothers, but Price has movement skills and is better than average in space. The sources also like that Price handles big nose tackles well, which can be difficult for centers and is a hard-to-find talent. As a result of his well-balanced play, Price is being viewed as a prospect who could go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. One team source thought that if Josh Garnett and Laken Tomlinson were worthy of first-round picks, then Price could be as well because they feel Price is a better prospect than either Garnett or Tomlinson. Teams are projecting Price to be a starting center in the NFL, but he also has the flexibility to play guard. Price tore a pectoral muscle while bench pressing at the combine, but that shouldn't impact his NFL career once he works his way back onto the field.
The Saints could go a lot of directions with this pick, and one position that is possible for New Orleans to take is cornerback. Here's a big corner with speed to go with Marshon Lattimore. I think Oliver is a better fit in terms of the athletic profile for New Orleans over Josh Jackson.
Oliver (6-0, 201) is a man cover corner that excels playing press man. He is able to turn and run with receivers to blanket them running downfield. Oliver is adept at running the route and preventing separation. He has vertical speed to run with speed receivers to go with height, long arms, and size to take on big wide outs. He has quality ball skills to tip passes away and uses his size with quickness to recover. With his good footwork, body control, and ability to redirect he is able to keep receivers from getting open consistently. Colorado played Oliver on the island and he was consistently in man coverage. Oliver is not as comfortable playing zone or off man coverage. If he goes to a team that plays a lot of zone and off man Oliver will need more development. In 2017, Oliver totaled 13 passes broken up, two interceptions and 25 tackles.
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I've heard that Landry is in play for the Steelers. Bud Dupree has disappointed, but even if he pans out, most good 3-4 defenses have three pass-rushers to rotate. Landry could give Pittsburgh a speed edge rusher to go across from T.J. Watt.
Landry is a fast edge rusher who would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. In 2017, the senior totaled 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. He was manhandled by Notre Dame, struggling against a freshman right tackle and, on a few snaps, against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Landry was moderately better, but still underwhelming, against Clemson. He then missed the final five games of 2017 with an ankle injury.
The 6-foot-2, 252-pound Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops and 4.5 sacks.
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Jacksonville signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but he was cheap and only signed a 2-year deal, so the team didn't make a long-term commitment. Hurst is a freaky athlete who would help Jacksonville's passing attack and help block for Leonard Fournette. Hurst and Seferian-Jenkins could form some dangerous double-tight sets to help open holes for Fournette with safer receivers for Blake Bortles. The Jaguars are in win-now mode, so the age of Hurst probably won't be a big deterrent. Additionally, they are getting a good value with the best tight end in the draft late in the first round.
Hurst totaled 44 receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. He also rushed for a touchdown. Team sources have raved about Hurst and think that he has a first-round skill set. They say he might slip to the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, but they love the physical talent of the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder.
Sources say they heard early on that Hurst would skip his senior year to enter the 2018 NFL Draft because he is a bit older at 24 years old. Hurst played professional baseball in the minor leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization out of high school. Because of his delayed start in football, sources say that Hurst is still raw as a route-runner and blocker. However, he has a great skill set with upside to improve quickly once he is taught some technique. In 2016, Hurst had 48 receptions for 616 yards with one touchdown. A lack of production from not many opportunities is another factor that could force him down.
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Mike Zimmer is always inclined to draft cornerbacks early, and this is a great fit with a cover corner for his defense. The Vikings need a replacement for Terrance Newman. Assuming Trae Waynes pans out, Xavier Rhodes, Waynes and Hughes could form an excellent trio.
Hughes started out his collegiate career at North Carolina before transferring to Central Florida. The 5-foot-10, 189-pounder impressed some evaluators with his coverage skills, and he was a big part of the Knights putting together a 13-0 record in 2017. Hughes totaled four interceptions, 11 passes broken up, a forced fumble and 49 tackles on the year. He also was a dangerous kick returner with two scores and punt returner, including a punt return touchdown.
Some teams have given Hughes a second-round grade. Others who aren't as high on him felt he should have returned to Central Florida for 2018 to improve before going pro, but they also acknowledged that corners are in demand and go quickly in the draft, so they see the second round as possible for him in the 2018 NFL Draft.
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The Patriots could use more talent at offensive tackle after losing Nate Solder. Miller could compete to start at left or right tackle for New England.
Miller (6-9, 309) had a rough start to 2017, but turned in a decent season for UCLA blocking for Josh Rosen as the Bruins' left tackle. Miller has good length to him, athleticism, quickness, and the agility to stay on the edge in the NFL. However, Miller can have problems with speed rushes to the inside, which is in part because of his height and playing too tall. That caused him to have some up and down performances in college. He played right tackle in 2015 and 2016 before injuries ended those seasons early. Miller only played in five games in 2016. Miller has a great skill set with a ton of upside and blocks with a mean streak. He could turn into a special player if he lands with good coaching.
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The Eagles grab a weapon for their offense and a player who could help protect the health of Carson Wentz.
The 5-foot-11, 214-pound Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,227 yards with 16 touchdowns. Michel has a ton of fans in the scouting community and was receiving second-day grades during the fall before his tremendous finish to the season that put him in contention to be a first-round pick. One general manager told me they think Michel could go late in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Aside from being a quick back capable of ripping off long runs, Michel showed well in the passing game as a receiver and blocker during his collegiate career. Michel has starting potential for the NFL with speed, strength and versatility. He also enters the pros with less wear-and-tear after splitting carries with a variety of backs at Georgia.
Michel played well in 2016 while serving as the backup to Nick Chubb. On the season, Michel took 152 carries for 840 yards - a 5.3-yard average - and four touchdowns. He also had 22 receptions for 149 yards.
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