Per sources with Los Angeles, the Chargers are envisioning a defense-heavy draft. The preferences are for a safety or defensive tackle. Corey Liuget hasn't lived up to his contract, and Los Angeles could use an interior presence to go with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
Vea recorded 44 tackles, 3.5 sacks and four passes batted in 2017. The 6-foot-5, 332-pounder was a load at the point of attack for Washington in 2016, too. He totaled 39 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, one force fumble and two passes batted on the season.
Vea has a serious combination of size, length, strength, and quickness at the point of attack. He is a heavy nose tackle who is a rock against the run and can occasionally collapse the pocket in the pass rush. For the NFL, Vea also has the height and length to play end in a 3-4 defense as well as nose tackle.
Before long, the Seahawks will have to replace Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Here's a dynamic edge defender with a lot of upside for Seattle.
Davenport (6-5, 259) 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.
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Even after drafting Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, the Cowboys made a hard try at signing Joe Haden. Dallas could use a No. 1 corner to go with Awuzie and Lewis.
Ward recorded 37 tackles with 15 passes broken up and two interceptions in 2017. In the season opener against Indiana, he notched an interception, four tackles and five passes broken up. Ward also was beaten for a touchdown and some other receptions by big Indiana receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. While primarily a backup in 2016, Ward (5-10, 191) totaled 23 tackles with nice passes broken up.
While Ward has some hype suggesting he's as good as his former teammates Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, he's significantly smaller than them and had issues with a big wideout in Cobbs. In the NFL, Ward might get placed as a nickelback.
The Lions have to improve their rushing attack to get some balance for their offense. Additionally, Detroit has no assurances that the top second-round backs will get to its second-round choice. Michel could quickly transform the Lions' offense and has true three-down potential.
The 5-foot-11, 215-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. One general manager told me he thinks 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 has shown 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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With Eric Wood's career being ended prematurely, Buffalo will have to find a replacement at center.
Price (6-4, 315) 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.
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' actions indicate that they really don't view Tyrod Taylor as the future and their long-term starter. I think the regime in Buffalo will target its own quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In 2017, Jackson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,443 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft, similar to Pat Mahomes last year. One general manager told me they think Jackson could be deserving of going high in the first round because he's a taller and better version of Michael Vick. In speaking to multiple league sources including a few general managers, they think Jackson is being undervalued right now similar to Deshaun Watson a year ago.
Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much.
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.
The Rams could use a corner upgrade across from Trumaine Johnson, and the position will be a huge need if he isn't signed to a long-term contract.
Jackson is a bit of a love/hate prospect as some scouts say they see him as a first-rounder and others think he belongs on Day 2 because of playing discipline and size. However, all the scouts say Jackson is extremely fast, so he will be a good matchup corner to line up against speed receivers. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder is athletic to run the route and prevent separation, but he is a gambler and could stand to play with more discipline for the pros. Scouts tell me that Jackson is talented, but has a ton of issues to work on, and that might include some hard lessons versus pro receivers. Still, he has great speed and serious coverage skills to run the route and prevent separation. Jackson is a track star and is expected to run an eye-popping 40 time that could push him higher. The scouts who like Jackson compare him to Janoris Jenkins, and Jenkins would have been a first-rounder had it not been for off-the-field issues.
Jackson had 49 tackles with 10 passes broken up and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he recorded 39 tackles with eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
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Carolina is old at defensive end and could use a young end to replace Julius Peppers.
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, 266-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.
The Titans could use a big cornerback to go with Adoree' Jackson.
Davis (6-1, 203) is a good corner who has size, length and press-man ability. He has nice quickness in the short part of the field and can battle big wideouts. Davis is a physical defender who really competes, but he does struggle with deep speed. The junior notched 36 tackles with 11 passes broken up, one forced fumble and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he totaled 46 tackles, 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and zero interceptions. Davis recorded three interceptions with 56 tackles and eight passes broken up as a freshman.
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Atlanta could use more talent at defensive tackle with an interior disruptor and pass-rusher.
Bryan (6-4, 295) 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 at the NFL Scouting Combine and in pre-draft workouts.
I thought Stephone Anthony had major bust potential, and unfortunately for the Saints, that feeling was proven right. The Saints could use an upgrade at Will linebacker, and Evans would form a talented tandem if Alex Anzalone can finally avoid injury. Given Anzalone's fragile health, drafting a linebacker makes even more sense for New Orleans.
In 2017, Evans totaled 74 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six sacks, one forced fumble and three passes broken up. The 6-foot-3, 231-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 Steelers could use a strong safety to pair with Sean Davis.
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 (6-3, 216) 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 is Clemson's Hunter Renfrow really abusing Harrison in the past, and that is 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.
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. Marcedes Lewis turns 34 after the 2018 NFL Draft, and Hurst is a freaky athlete who would help Jacksonville's passing attack and help block for Leonard Fournette.
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-5, 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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Terrance Newman is not a long-term option, and Minnesota could use more cornerback talent. Mike Zimmer always has been inclined to take corners early.
Hughes started out his collegiate career at North Carolina before transferring to Central Florida. The 5-foot-11, 185-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 are in win-now mode as long as Tom Brady is still playing. As the Super Bowl illustrated, they need pass-rush help, and Key has high first-round talent. Bill Belichick took Dominique Easley despite significant off-the-field concerns, and Key could get straightened out in the Patriot Way. He could be a massive steal for New England.
Key is a fast edge rusher with a ton of upside to develop. He has the skill set to be a high first-round pick, but he comes with off-the-field concerns. Evaluators tell me Key's interviews, background checks, and visits are going to be huge factors in determining how high he goes in the 2018 NFL Draft. Key has some off-the-field concerns that are similar to Tim Williams and Randy Gregory, although not quite as bad as those two. That being said, sources have told me that the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Key loves football and is a hard-worker who strives to improve in the offseason. They said he previously worked with pass-rushing-moves guru Chuck Smith, and that is impressive dedication for a collegiate player.
Key missed the first two games of 2017 and was overweight in the early going. Eventually, he worked himself back into his old form and flashed his sophomore caliber of play before an injury ended his 2017 early. For his year, Key totaled 33 tackles with four sacks and a forced fumble.
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.
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The Eagles could use a more young talent at offensive tackle given the age of Jason Peters. Philadelphia could draft a right tackle like Brown, which would let the team move Lane Johnson to the left side.
Brown (6-8, 360) is a massive blocker who was a physical blocker for the Sooners. He opened a lot of holes for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine in 2016. Brown did the same for others as a starter over the past few seasons. Brown can use his strength and physicality to toss a lot of defenders to the ground as he can be a flat-out bully on the field. However, he needs to improve his pass protection for the NFL. Some team sources say they don't see Brown as a first-rounder; they think he will be a second-round pick and a starting right tackle at the next level. He also could be a big guard, but his height is less than ideal for throwing lanes on the inside.
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