By Colton Molesky, Ryan Sjoberg, and James Andersen
The NFL draft is here, with everyone hoping that their team can grab those couple picks that make the difference in the upcoming season. While the idea is to draft players that help the team in every round, the players with the most potential to make an impact immediately are the ones chosen in the opening round Thursday night. For the first round, we offer up our in-depth breakdown of who goes where.
Colton: Picks 1-10, Ryan: Picks 11-21, James: Picks 12-32.
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
No need for the Browns to overthink this pick. Garrett is the talent in this draft with immense upside and can really help their defense. This coaching staff will need at least four more years to rebuild, so young, star talent like Garrett is what they need to collect.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
New head coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch are under six year contracts, there is clearly no rush to start winning now. This means to start drafting talent, especially on the defensive side and Adams is a safety in the same vein as Earl Thomas and Harrison Smith; someone who can wreck opposing players while playing center-field.
3. Chicago Bears – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Bears have a few solid players in the back-end on defense around Kyle Fuller, so lining Thomas up across from Leonard Floyd would really give this defense some front teeth. The bonus is both those players are so versatile, along the front seven that gives the defense an added edge of plugging in their stars all over the place.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Blake Bortles is a problem, but not a big enough problem to try and fix at the fourth spot in a poor quarterback draft. The next weakest spot on this roster is running back. With a banged up Chris Ivory alongside T.J. Yeldon, who has failed to produce, especially between the tackles. Fournette can add some much-needed punch to this offense.
5. Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans) – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC
The first note is there are a couple of us thinking the Browns trade up from the 12th pick. The second is even with a down class at this spot, the Browns desperately need a quarterback, so constantly looking for one via the draft is a must.
6. New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Darrelle Revis is gone, and Marcus Williams and Buster Skrine are both coming off of down seasons. The Jets desperately need their next lockdown corner to give the front seven the freedom to blitz and get after the quarterback. The first team All-Big Ten player is just what the doctor ordered for this Jets secondary.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Yes, Los Angeles Chargers still sounds odd, and yes it is weird they are still practicing in San Diego. That aside, Hooker is too talented to pass up because he can plug in as a safety or in the nickel or maybe even outside in the right matchup.
8. Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Panthers need to find more ways to get the ball out of Cam Newton’s hands. While their running game is creative, Jonathon Stewart is injury-prone and Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne have not produced. McCaffrey is the perfect fit for this offense in their stretch-run game. Also McCaffrey in the slot next to Kelvin Benjamin is a fun prospect.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Bengals’ red-zone offense was atrocious, while Tyler Eifert was injured. Not only is it a big part of the passing game, but a lot of their running also requires athletic tight ends. Howard may be the most athletic tight end out of college since the late Aaron Hernandez, and would make this offense lethal again as well as give us flashbacks to the 2012 Patriots.
10. Buffalo Bills – Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The Tide rolls back-to-back with the Bills getting their replacement for Mario Williams by nabbing Allen. Every year, there is at least one player that has a tremendous season, then tests average and everyone overthinks it. Allen is a disruptive and destructive force, who can lineup outside and inside. In Buffalo’s 4-3 scheme, he will be a solid boost for a defense that just lost Stephon Gilmore.
11. New Orleans Saints—Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Many believe Foster is the best linebacker produced by Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. On film, the All-American sometimes looks like a man amongst boys as his physical tools are off the charts. When he hits opposing players, they will know it as he is a downhill player who will be starting and making an impact day one in the NFL.
12. Tennessee Titans (From Cleveland) – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
A trade benefitting both teams as Cleveland got their quarterback and Tennessee still got their top wide receiver. Not only are the Titans filling the biggest hole on this team, they are filling it with the best receiver prospect in the draft. Williams, a physical freak, has the ability to outleap defenders and out-muscle them as he stands at 6’4”, 218 pounds.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Gunslinger. Project. This is the perfect situation for the Cardinals and for Mahomes as he is considered a multiple, year-long project for whichever team picks him. The Cardinals are set at quarterback for now with Carson Palmer, but at 37 it is time to start preparing for the future. Mahomes has the strongest arm in this class and the biggest upside. If Palmer can groom him for a couple years until he is ready, the Cardinals could have a star.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Philadelphia needs corner help more than rush-end help but they simply could not pass on the best player available. Barnett set the sack record at Tennessee, previously held by Reggie White, with 33. This Tennessee Volunteer relies more on his effort and technique rather than his raw skills as he is 6’3”, 259 pounds which is not huge for a defensive lineman.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
With Conley selected by the Colts, he becomes the third player from Ohio State’s secondary selected in the top-15 behind college teammates Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker. Conley gets teams excited because of his blazing speed (sub 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine) and dependability in college (26 starts for top-notch institution).
16. Baltimore Ravens – John Ross, WR, Washington
With perhaps the first reach of the draft, the Ravens select speedy receiver John Ross. The Ravens have been dying to give quarterback Joe Flacco weapons as they selected wide receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round two years ago. Ross is a better fit in the slot as he has a smaller build but he could also be the fastest player in the league as he broke the combine record for the 40-yard dash (4.22).
17. Washington Redskins – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Reddick may be the most athletic front-seven player in the draft. Nobody has helped his draft stock more after the season than him. He shocked in workouts and at the combine, as well as wowing coaches at the senior bowl with his athletic abilities. Is Reddick just a testing/workout freak or can he prove that his skills translate to the NFL?
18. Tennessee Titans – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
If the draft works out like this for the Titans, give them an A. They received more picks in a trade, drafted the wide receiver they wanted and filled another need in the secondary with this pick. White gives you the ability to leave him on an island, as he played exclusively man-to-man in college. His man-coverage abilities raise his stock considerably.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Finally, the first tackle off the board and some blindside protection for franchise quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston has been hit too many times in his first two years and Ramczyk should help make sure that does not keep happening in the future. Ramczyk is the most athletic tackle in the draft and should adapt to the NFL just fine.
20. Denver Broncos – Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
The Broncos need interior offensive line help and they got it here with the selection of the best guard in the draft. Many experts believe Lamp is the most sure-fire pick in the draft as his technique and skills should translate just fine in today’s NFL.
21. Detroit Lions – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
A case of where the team drafting is taking the best player available. McKinley never takes a play off. Progressing well through the years at UCLA teams now see the potential oozing out of the UCLA product. Detroit would be more than happy to welcome Takkarist McKinley to their team if given the chance.
22. Miami Dolphins – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
The Dolphins have two positions that need a significant upgrade this year: Offensive Line and Linebacker. This year’s talent pool of linemen is fairly small, and Davis’ intangibles are too valuable for the Dolphins to let pass.
23. New York Giants – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Of that small linemen talent pool, Bolles seems to prove to be one of the highest-rated in the class. The Giants said they were gunning for Jack Conklin last year in the draft, so this year, they won’t pass up on this opportunity.
24. Oakland Raiders – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Raiders had an average defense last year despite spending so much money in the free agency last year. Humphrey was a lock-down corner for the ‘Bama defense since his freshman year there. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey should transition nicely to the professional level.
25. Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If Watson falls to the Texans, which would be a huge steal, the Texans will not think twice about pulling the trigger on him. The Texans have a stellar defense and the right pieces on offense, they now just need a QB. Watson is a proven winner at the college level. He possesses the intangibles that can’t be coached, and has a strong arm.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Seahawks have recently found a theme when looking for a certain type of CB. They want the long-athletic type corners that will fit in nicely in the cover-three system. King fits that profile. He has the size to harass receivers in the air and an aggression in finding the football.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Corey Davis, WR, WesternMichigan
The Chiefs need to add weapons to their offense. Davis is one the most talented receivers in the draft, putting up monster numbers during his college career. He was a man amongst boys in the bowl game against Wisconsin a few months ago.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Cowboys are pretty much set everywhere except in the pass rush and secondary. Harris fits that need for the Cowboys. Harris is explosive off the line and has the speed to get around the edge. He also possesses the size to be a physical 3-4 OLB.
29. Green Bay Packers – Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
The Packers need to be more aggressive in the free agency during the offseason, because they won’t come into the draft with glaring needs. Secondary is that need for the Packers and Moreau is the next best talent on the board for CBs. He has the size to keep up with big receivers and the speed to track down anyone.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The rumors have hinted that the Steelers are looking at Peppers if he falls this late in the round. Peppers has the playmaking ability to star in the NFL and help out the Steelers secondary.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Dan Quinn needs another pass rusher to compliment Vic Beasley on the other side. Charlton is long, athletic, and has good speed off the line. He might be the right fit in Atlanta, who rotates a lot of defensive linemen around.
32. New Orleans Saints (via NE Patriots) – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Saints need to address defense this year. There is still a plethora of talent at the defensive back position at this point in the draft. Wilson was a main contributor to one of the best pass defenses in the country last season at Florida.