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. <br> <br>
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. <br> <br>
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.
I've heard that the 49ers love Minkah Fitzpatrick. If it weren't for Reuben Foster's uncertain future in the NFL, Fitzpatrick would probably be an easy pick for San Francisco. However, Foster's NFL career could be over, which would leave the 49ers with a huge hole at linebacker. In the final hours before the 2018 NFL Draft, Foster's girlfriend and alleged victim said he's innocent, so perhaps that will push San Francisco back to Fitzpatrick. As for the safety need, Eric Reid is expected to leave in free agency, while Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are in the last year of their contracts. Fitzpatrick would be a great scheme fit and could help form a talented secondary with Richard Sherman and Akhello Witherspoon. Roquan Smith is a great scheme fit for San Francisco as well, and he probably reminds John Lynch of his former teammate Derrick Brooks. I get the impression the 49ers are going back and forth on Smith or Fitzpatrick; it's very close and could break either way. <br> <br>
Fitzpatrick totaled 60 tackles, one interception, eight passes broken up and a forced fumble in 2017. He played really well, doing everything that could be asked of a safety. Fitzpatrick is an instinctive center fielder, covering receivers deep downfield. He is also fast in pursuit, tackles well in space at the second level, can come down into the box, and is able to play man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers, plus help out his cornerbacks. The 6-foot, 204-pounder has enough size and some natural cover skills. Sources have said that Fitzpatrick is a good fit as a free safety for the NFL. While some evaluators don't feel that Fitzpatrick is a dynamic athlete, they say he is very good player with a high football IQ. <br> <br>
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.
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. <br> <br>
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. <br> <br>
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.
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. <br> <br>
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. <br><br>
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.
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. <br> <br>
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.
Marshawn Lynch is just a short-term addition for Oakland. Here's a long-term starter for the Raiders. <br> <br>
Scarbrough emerged as a potentially devastating workhorse running back at the end of the 2016 season. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry on the year for 812 yards with 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 228-pounder is similar to Derrick Henry with the size to run over defenders and a surprising burst to break off long runs for a big back.
<i> 2017 NFL Mock Draft Pick (as of 8/22): Nick Chubb, RB </i>
The Panthers could use some young defensive end talent. <br> <br>
Hand (6-4, 273) has a lot of physical talent, and Alabama has been bringing him along slowly behind a lot of talented veterans. It wouldn't be surprising if Hand starts producing a lot more as a junior and senior. Hand had 16 tackles and three sacks as a backup in 2015, but was coming on late in the season.