Joe Thomas retired, leaving the Browns in need of offensive tackle help. The team brought in Chris Hubbard recently, but still need to fill one more hole at tackle.
Brown (6-8, 345) is a massive lineman 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. Brown ran slowly at the combine and put up a meager total on the bench press, but given the weak offensive tackle class, I think he still has a shot at being a late first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Even though they signed Nate Solder, the Giants seem poised to lose some interior linemen in free agency. Here's tough blocker to reestablish a physical ground game.
Wynn impressed scouts in 2017 as an excellent run blocker for the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-2, 308-pounder blocks with aggression and has a temperament that is hard to find in college blockers. In pass protection, he was very dependable as well. Because Wynn is shorter and doesn't have ideal length, some sources think that he could move to guard or center in the NFL. Wynn started at left guard in 2016, but scouts think he is athletic enough to also play center. Wynn's size and skill set has drawn comparisons to Kelvin Beachum, who is undersized but has managed to carve out a career at left tackle in the NFL.
The Browns need more cornerback talent, and here is a player who could be a future solid starter.
There is some media buzz about Oliver being a first-rounder, but his play doesn't warrant that high of a grade. Oliver (6-0, 201) has size, length, and movement skills, but never played up to his skill set. He needs a lot of work to play off-man coverage. In 2017, Oliver totaled 13 passes broken up, two interceptions and 25 tackles.
The Colts grab a cornerback to pair with Quincy Wilson.
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.
37.Indianapolis Colts:Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
The Colts need more offensive line talent.
The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Rankin had a quality 2016 season as a run blocker and pass protector for Mississippi State. He received a second-round estimation from the NFL Draft Advisory Board for the 2017 NFL Draft. Team sources are comparing Rankin to Troy's Antonio Garcia, a third-round pick of the Patriots in the 2017 NFL Draft, and think that Rankin could go in the same range. They say that Rankin is a great kid, so they think he will work hard to become a more complete player as a pro.
Rankin played well at left tackle in 2017, but he needs to get stronger for the NFL. In Week 3, he had some wins and losses against LSU's Arden Key, but Rankin was steady on the blind side all year. He is quick, athletic, and has a good build, but he has to up his strength. Rankin gets knocked on the ground too much and will get pushed around in the NFL.
The Bucs grab a feature back. Based off what I'm hearing, I wouldn't be surprised if Tampa Bay moves up to get Guice.
Guice averaged 5.3 yards per carry in 2017, totaling 1,251 yards with 11 touchdowns. He had 18 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns as well, but LSU doesn't really use its backs in the passing game. For a lot of 2017, Guice was slowed down by a knee injury.
With Leonard Fournette in and out of the lineup with an ankle injury in 2016, Guice (5-10, 224) took advantage of a larger than expected workload to have a breakout season. As a sophomore, he averaged 7.6 yards per carry for 1,387 yards with 15 touchdowns. Guice had nine receptions for 106 yards as well. He put together some massive games that season with 252 yards versus Arkansas and 285 yards rushing against Texas A&M.
The Bears badly need more receiving talent for Mitch Trubisky. Here's a speedy slot receiver.
Kirk totaled 71 catches for 919 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017. He also produced some big kick and punt returns. Kirk saw a lot of double coverage his direction, and quarterback Kelly Mond struggled to get Kirk the ball. As a result, some teams are down on Kirk. A few teams said they had him graded as a 2/3 - a second- to third-rounder. One team said they had him as late in the first round, but another said Round 3.
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 quick, explosive play-maker. Multiple scouting sources have compared Kirk to Sterling Shepard and Jarvis Landry.
Kirk (5-10, 201) 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 and took two for touchdowns.
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The Broncos are seeking an upgrade at running back.
The 5-foot-11, 213-pound Johnson carried Auburn to wins over Alabama and Georgia to put his draft stock on the map late in the 2017 season. Versus both defenses loaded with NFL talent, Johnson showed real quickness with good cutting ability, vision, and decisive downhill running. He also played banged up, illustrating his toughness to withstand a heavy work load and some hard hits. In 2017, Johnson averaged 4.9 yards per carry for 1,391 yards with 18 touchdowns. He also had 24 receptions for 194 yards and two scores. Johnson ran for 895 yards and 11 scores in 2016. Johnson looks like a three-down starter in the NFL who can hurt defenses as a runner and receiver.
The Raiders had to play Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin too much last year. Oakland needs more edge-rushing talent to rotate with that duo.
In 2017, Ejiofor had 43 tackles with 16.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one pass batted. He put together a big 2016 season with 10.5 sacks, 17 tackles for a loss, 50 tackles, four passes batted, two forced fumbles and an interception. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder could be a solid base end in a 4-3 defense.
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The Dolphins grab a running back to go with Kenyan Drake.
Chubb averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,345 yards with 15 touchdowns. In 2016, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry on his way to 1,130 yards with eight touchdowns. He had five receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown as well. That season, Chubb didn't quite have the speed and explosion that he had before his 2015 knee injury. Considering it was only about a year since he was hurt, that was understandable.
Prior to his season-ending knee injury in 2015, Chubb had picked up where he left off as a freshman. The sophomore averaged 8.1 yards per carry for 747 yards and seven touchdowns in his shortened 2015 season. In 2014 while splitting time with Todd Gurley, Chubb averaged 7.1 yards per carry for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 18 receptions for 213 yards and two scores.
Chubb is akin to a human bowling ball, rolling over tacklers and and being a physical force in the SEC. The 5-foot-11, 227-pounder is a powerful runner who also has the quickness to rip off yards in chunks. He also is an explosive track competitor.
43.New England Patriots:Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State
New England could use some young talent at linebacker next to Dont'a Hightower. Here's a Patriots-style defender.
Vander Esch (6-4, 220) had a breakout junior season with massive production for Boise State. In 2017, he totaled 141 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four passes broken up and three interceptions. Vander Esch was limited to six games in 2016 because of injuries. He recorded 27 tackles and a sack that season. Vander Esch had 20 tackles as a freshman. In surveying league sources, most expected Vander Esch to be a second-round pick.
Washington can't rely on Rob Kelley, and Samaje Perine was up-and-down as a rookie. Here's a feature back for Jay Gruden.
Jones (5-11, 205) ran really well for USC in 2017, showing more decisiveness and displaying more power after gaining weight over last offseason. He also showed a burst at the point of attack with the quickness to rip off some chunk runs. On the season, Jones averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,550 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions for 187 yards and a score. Jones ran for 1,082 yards in 2016 and 987 yards as a sophomore. Jones is an athletic and versatile back in the mold of Jamaal Charles.
The Packers could use some young talent at wide receiver. Here's a replacement for Randall Cobb.
St. Brown totaled 33 receptions for 515 yards and four touchdowns in 2017. His production and opportunities were killed by an incompetent quarterback in Brandon Wimbush, who completed less than 50 percent of his passes in 2017. St. Brown also saw a lot of double teams. The 6-foot-5, 214-pounder had a quality 2016 season with 58 receptions for 961 yards and nine touchdowns with DeShone Kizer at quarterback.
Some scouts are really intrigued with St. Brown. They say he is a super-polished route runner with tremendous speed, athletic ability, body control, and hands. St. Brown could be a steal. Other scouts aren't as high on St. Brown and grade him on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
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The 6-foot, 207-pound Reid played really well in 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they thought Reid had first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn't have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama.
Reid had 99 tackles with six passes broken up and five interceptions in 2017. He totaled 57 tackles with seven breakups in 2016. The junior is the younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick out of LSU in 2013.
The Cardinals grab a quarterback to develop behind Sam Bradford.
Rudolph is very much a love/hate prospect in scouting circles. Some team sources think he could justifiably go in the second round. Then again, I've also heard grades deep into Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft because of the amount of quarterback-needy teams, I could see a team reaching for him on Day 2.
For the NFL, Rudolph (6-4, 229) has some serious limitations. He is not very athletic and isn't a running threat, while his arm strength is just average. Rudolph also needs to improve his accuracy and terrible anticipation. Routinely, Rudolph wouldn't pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver had long since gotten wide open rather than anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL. Rudolph is also inconsistent with his field vision as he can work off his first read, yet other times he stares down targets. His games against West Virginia and Texas provided other examples of him struggling to throw into tight windows.
In 2017, Rudolph completed 66 percent of his passes for 4,904 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He completed 63 percent of his passes for 4,091 yards with 28 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2016. Rudolph ran for six scores as well that season.
The Chargers could use an upgrade at three-technique.
McIntosh (6-4, 286) had an impressive 2017 season and caused disruption for Miami at the point of attack. He totaled 52 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, seven passes broken up and one forced fumble on the year. McIntosh also played well as a sophomore with 47 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for a loss. The junior has scheme flexibility with the ability to play tackle in a 4-3 and serve as an end in a 3-4.
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This was the Seahawks' second-rounder dealt to New York for Sheldon Richadson, which was then sent to Indianapolis. The Colts could use a tight end to pair with Jack Doyle.
In 2017, Andrews notched 62 receptions for 958 yards with eight touchdowns. He totaled 31 receptions for 489 yards and seven touchdowns in 2016 after making 19 catches for 318 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman. The 6-foot-5, 256-pounder is receiving threat as a tight end with good athleticism, route-running, quickness and hands. Andrews might be the top receiving tight end for the 2018 NFL Draft. He should work to improve his blocking.
The Cowboys grab a defensive end who also can move inside to rush the quarterback from tackle.
The 6-foot-3, 283-pounder is strong at the point of attack and also has some speed with athleticism. In 2017, Speaks totaled 67 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, seven sacks, one forced fumble and one pass batted. He then decided to enter the 2018 NFL Draft rather than return for his final season. Speaks could get second-day consideration as a base end in a 4-3 defense who also rushes from the inside in passing situations. He also could gain weight to play tackle in a 4-3 and could potentially play end in 3-4 defense.
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The Lions could use a multiple defensive line additions. Here's a versatile player that could help them in a variety of ways.
The 6-foot-3, 282-pounder has a nice skill set with natural strength, quickness, and athletic movement skills. Hand has developed technique and impressed teams with his football IQ at the Senior Bowl. He is a solid run defender who can set the edge and hold his ground at the point of attack. As a senior, Hand totaled 27 tackles with 3.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. In 2016, he had 21 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks while playing with Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson.
For the NFL, Hand projects as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. In a 4-3 defense, he could play end on run downs and move inside in the sub package, or he could gain weight to be a full-time defensive tackle. Being a five-technique in 3-4 would be Hand's best fit.
The Ravens could use more talent at offensive tackle and guard. Here's the latter.
Smith is a solid player who is well-balanced as a run blocker and pass protector. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder has NFL size, quickness and athleticism. For the pros, Smith could use more strength, but he has the frame to get bigger in a NFL strength and conditioning program. Smith did well in the combine bench press, but he doesn't play strong and isn't a people mover at the point of attack. That could change in time. Smith is a quality run blocker who was solid in pass protection for Auburn. He is a safe pick to become a quality NFL starter. Sources from multiple teams have told me they see him as a second-day talent.
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The Bills lost Eric Wood to retirement. Here's a new center.
Over the past three seasons, Daniels started for Iowa. He was a rock-solid run blocker for Akrum Wadley and was reliable in pass protection. Daniels (6-3, 306) has good technique and should be able to play quickly in his NFL career. After his true junior season, Daniels submitted for feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory and then declared for the 2018 NFL Draft. He could stand to add more strength to his frame, but he still is a young player and should gain weight as he ages. Daniels should go no lower than the second or third round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
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In 2017, Landry totaled 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The senior 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 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. Landry would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
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In 2017, Moore totaled 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He has a thick build with elusiveness and physicality that make him a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver. As a junior, Moore had 41 catches for 637 yards and six scores. Moore (6-0, 210) is a strong wideout who has speed and plays with an aggressive competitive spirit. Multiple teams tell me they are projecting Moore to the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
The Bills could use two defensive tackles. Buffalo needs a replacement for Marcell Dareus, and Kyle Williams is nearing the end of his career.
Settle (6-3, 329) put together a strong 2017 season and was one of the better defenders on a tough Virginia Tech defense. On the year, the big nose tackle totaled 36 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and one pass batted. That was a big improvement over his 2016 season when he had 17 tackles and no sacks. The physical defender has a shot at being a first-rounder because he has some serious speed for such a big body. He also could be a second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft given how nose tackles are downgraded.
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The Titans could use more talent and competition at inside linebacker.
Jefferson totaled 110 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and four sacks in 2017. He played his best football in 2017 and worked hard for Texas. In 2016, he recorded 59 tackles with 5.5 sacks and three passes broken up. Jefferson (6-2, 236) was highly recruited and showed why as a freshman contributor for the Longhorns. He totaled 61 tackles with seven for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes broken up and one forced fumble. Jefferson was a bigger presence than the stats illustrate.
The junior possesses a nice combination of size and speed, plus a ton of athletic upside. However, some sources have said they've heard that Jefferson doesn't love football. They say that can be seen in his work ethic, preparation and lack of production. Jefferson was supposedly unhappy with how he was used by the previous staff, and that led to that perception, but either side of the argument brings concerns for NFL evaluators.
The Falcons moved on from Jalen Collins and could use some cornerback depth.
Nelson (5-11, 200) put together a strong 2017 season for the Badgers, breaking up 21 passes and making 34 tackles. Nelson had zero interceptions, however, and not turning some of those breakups into turnovers will bother some evaluators. The NFL Draft Advisory gave the redshirt junior a second-round estimation in his report.
Nelson started out his collegiate career at Hawaii, where he had 53 tackles with 15 breakups as a sophomore in 2015. He started as a freshman for the Rainbow Warriors, notching 36 tackles and six breakups.
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Williams returned to play in the final couple of games of 2017 before shutting it down to prepare for the 2018 NFL Draft rather than play in his bowl game. He missed seven games during the 2017 season. After some bad performances to start the year, he went down with a torn knee meniscus and strained ligaments. Williams (6-5, 296) started at left tackle as a freshman and sophomore for the Longhorns. He was a steady pass protector in those seasons.
As we reported in the Hot Press, Williams was receiving some mid-round grades from evaluators this season. The main issue that sources said was hurting Williams is a lack of strength. One AFC team in need of tackle help said they gave him a late third-round, early fourth-round grade.
I spoke with a NFC general manager who scouted Williams in person during 2017, and they were disappointed in Williams overall. They felt Williams lacked strength and believed him overhyped. This NFC general manager said they thought Williams was a fourth-rounder. Williams had a disappointing 2017 season opener against Maryland, getting flagged for numerous holds, including some that canceled out big plays for his team. He allowed some pressures and hits, too. Williams has some athletic ability, and some evaluators feel he should move inside to guard. That was given further credence at the combine, where Williams checked in with extremely short arms for an NFL offensive tackle.
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60.Pittsburgh Steelers:Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech
The Steelers could use a safety upgrade next to Sean Davis.
Edmunds hasn't gotten as much attention as his brother Tremaine Edmunds, but NFL sources have told WalterFootball.com that Terrell Edmunds really impressed them as well. The 6-foot, 217-pounder has good size to be an NFL safety and displayed coverage skills over the past few seasons. Edmunds played well in 2017 with 59 tackles, two interceptions and four passes broken up. As a sophomore, he totaled 89 tackles, four interceptions and three passes broken up. Sources say they see Terrell Edmunds grading out as a second-day prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Paul Posluszny retired. Here's a replacement to go with Myles Jack.
Scouting sources told me that Leonard (6-2, 234) really impressed them during the fall. He flew around the field, creating a lot of production for his defense. The redshirt senior totaled 113 tackles with eight tackles for a loss, eight sacks, one pass batted, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Leonard has a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage as he totaled 42 tackles for a loss with 13.5 sacks combined over his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He has NFL size and dominated his level of competition.
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The Vikings grab a tackle to replace Sharrif Floyd.
Green (6-4, 275) played well for the Trojans in 2017. He recorded 43 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, one forced fumble and four passes broken up on the year. Green has good instincts and play recognition. He uses those skills to bat a lot of passes to prevent completions downfield. As a sophomore, Green made 55 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four passes batted and two forced fumbles. The junior played defensive tackle for USC, but in the NFL, he will have to move to defensive end, unless he is able to put on some weight. Gaining weight and staying on the inside could be the best plan for Green.
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The Patriots could use multiple young defensive linemen and edge rushers. New England is in win-now mode, so the team might take a chance on a player like Key, similar when the organization drafted Dominique Easley in the first round a few years ago.
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 that are similar to Tim Williams and Randy Gregory, making Key likely to slide. That being said, the 6-foot-5, 238-pound Key is known to love football and is a hard-worker who strives to improve in the offseason. 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.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Cobbs is a physical force as a receiver. He has mismatch size to go with good quickness, route-running, solid hands, body control, and the ability to win 50-50 passes. In 2017, Cobbs made 72 catches for 841 yards with eight touchdowns. He missed the 2016 season with an ankle injury. Cobbs averaged 17.3 yards per reception in 2015 while totaling 60 receptions for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns.
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