2017 NFL Mock Draft: Projecting First Three Rounds before Scouting Combine
Before we head into the NFL Scouting Combine in March, here is what the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL draft could look like.
With both the college football and NFL seasons now over, draft season is now in full swing. That means that there are plenty of mock drafts floating around the internet, but why do we need to stop after just one round?
By now you’ve probably seen countless mock drafts featuring Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett going No. 1 overall and heard the names of guys like Deshaun Watson and Mitch Trubisky countless times. However, for this week’s mock draft, I wanted to try and go a bit deeper to teach the more casual fans about some of the potential Day 2 prospects.
With that in mind, let’s break down what the first three rounds of the 2017 NFL draft could look like before we head into the NFL Scouting Combine.
EDGE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett can campaign all he want to Jerry Jones to trade up for him, but the Dallas Cowboys are going to have to give up an awful lot for that to happen. The Cleveland Browns would be crazy not to draft Garrett if they don’t trade away the No. 1 overall pick.
The Texas A&M edge rusher has everything you want. Garrett has size, speed, strength and explosiveness with an intimidating 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame. His upside is through the roof, and he could quickly become an impact defender for Cleveland.
There is still no consensus as to who the No. 1 quarterback in this class is, but I think that the San Francisco 49ers would be smart to take Deshaun Watson. The new management in the Bay Area is going to want to make a splash with the No. 2 overall pick, and a college QB who went to back-to-back national title games is going to do that.
Watson doesn’t have the ideal size of an NFL quarterback, but he has a great arm and the ball placement to make some beautiful throws. His system in Clemson put him in the bad habit of staring down his No. 1 target, but if he can work on reading defenses and going through his progressions then he’ll have every opportunity to succeed at the next level.
The Chicago Bears are probably going to part ways with Jay Cutler this offseason, but that doesn’t mean that they need to reach for a quarterback with the No. 3 pick. Instead, they should focus on adding talent to their secondary after rebuilding their front seven this past offseason.
Jamal Adams is the best safety in this class, and he looked like he kept getting better as the 2016 season progressed. The LSU star could play either inside the box or covering deep, showcasing some excellent awareness and closing speed.
The comparisons to Troy Polamalu might be a bit over the top, but Adams definitely has the upside of a multiple-time Pro Bowler, and that’s something that the Bears would love to have on their defense.
I could definitely see the Jacksonville Jaguars going with a running back here, but with a top-five pick how can you pass up on who might be arguably the safest pick in the draft? A slam-dunk selection is something that the Jaguars could use given their track record of draft picks.
Alabama’s Jonathan Allen was a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate given his constant presence in opposing backfields this past season. He stays low off of the snap and has some exceptional hand speed to disengage from would-be blockers.
Is Allen the sexiest pick? Definitely not. However, the Crimson Tide prospect looks like a legitimate impact defensive lineman, and that could go a long way towards turning Jacksonville’s defense into a formidable one.
Thanks to a trade with the Los Angeles Rams, the Tennessee Titans will have two picks in the first round. I expect them to take a wide receiver and defensive back in some order with those two selections. It’ll be hard to pass on a top-tier corner at No. 5, but Marcus Mariota desperately needs a No. 1 receiver.
Clemson’s Mike Williams is the best receiver in this draft because of his freakish athleticism and ability to catch almost any 50-50 ball thrown his way. He’s a 6-foot-3 receiver with a combination of size and speed with reliable hands.
If that’s not a future No. 1 receiver, I don’t know what is. Giving Mariota a weapon like Williams to work with could completely change that way Tennessee’s offense operates in 2017.
CB, Ohio State
There are a couple of guys I keep going back and forth on for the top cornerback in this draft class. However, every time I turn on the tape I can’t help but be impressed with Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, and the New York Jets probably will be as well.
Darrelle Revis simply isn’t cutting it as a CB anymore, so the Jets need a new No. 1 guy. Lattimore has by far the best hips in this class along with the speed and technique to mirror his assignment’s route. He’s not the most polished tackler and can get washed out by blockers in the run game, but he is arguably the best cover corner in this class.
Jets fans probably aren’t anxious to draft a quarterback this early in a particularly weak class at the position, so I’m sure they’ll be more than happy with a new addition to their secondary.
FS, Ohio State
Even with Casey Hayward, the Los Angeles Chargers (that’s still weird to say) need to keep bolstering their secondary if they’re going to compete in the AFC West. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker should be able to help with that.
Hooker has the best ball skills of any safety in this draft class, doing a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and jumping in front of the pass. He has great speed and can break downhill when needed, allowing him to cover a lot of the field.
Although Hooker is still working on cutting down his missed tackles, the Ohio State prospect is still fairly young and his upside is through the roof. With Hayward and Hooker in the same secondary, opposing quarterbacks could throw a lot of interceptions against the Chargers next season.
As much as I think that the Carolina Panthers could stand to wait on a running back and take a defensive prospect in the first round, I also understand how hard it’s going to be to pass up on a guy like LSU’s Leonard Fournette.
An ankle injury slowed Fournette down this year, but the tape from the past couple of seasons has shown that he is an absolute wrecking ball when healthy. He has great size at 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds with a violent running style and a nasty stiff arm. Jonathan Stewart isn’t getting any younger, and putting Fournette in the same offense as Cam Newton could open up a lot of opportunities for big plays in the Panthers’ offense.
It will be interesting to see what the Cincinnati Bengals do with their top-10 draft pick. They could look at either side of the ball, but addressing their defensive front seven would probably be the right move here.
A talented edge rusher could be the spark that the Bengals’ defense needs, and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas is the next best one outside of Garrett. Thomas was absolutely dominant in the Sun Bowl against North Carolina, showing off his explosiveness off of the snap and his extremely violent hands.
Teams will fall in love with Thomas during interviews, and his level of play speaks for itself. He might not be as big as Garrett, but Thomas is technically sound and versatile enough to play standing up or with a hand in the ground.
QB, Notre Dame
Tyrod Taylor’s future in Buffalo is currently up in the air. However, assuming that the Bills decide to part ways with Taylor (I don’t think they should), then they’re probably going to want to find a new quarterback to develop.
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is the next best QB prospect behind Watson. He has all of the physical tools with a strong arm and a 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame. He’s mobile enough to extend plays or take off downfield and has some solid yet inconsistent footwork in the pocket.
Brian Kelly didn’t do Kizer any favors with his coaching, but the right situation could help the Notre Dame prospect turn into a franchise QB.
The New Orleans Saints could use some help on defense just about every offseason. They could very well look to add some secondary help with their first-round pick, but it’ll be hard to pass up on Alabama’s Reuben Foster if he somehow falls out of the top 10.
Since I started scouting players for the 2014 NFL draft, Reuben Foster is the best linebacker I’ve watched. He’s instinctive with great closing speed and consistently wraps up ball carriers to stop them in their tracks. If he tests well at the combine, he should be a lock as a top-10 pick, even if inside linebackers aren’t as valuable as they once were.
QB, North Carolina
Let me start this by saying that I don’t currently have Mitch Trubisky in the top 50 of my big board. Having said that, there’s still a very good chance that the Tar Heels quarterback prospect will go early in the first round.
The Browns are going to want to find a young quarterback to build around if they don’t trade for Jimmy Garoppolo. Trubisky is from the state of Ohio and was reliable in his one year as the starter for North Carolina. He’s got a decent arm with really solid accuracy and the pocket awareness to avoid pressure and extend plays.
If it were up to me, I wouldn’t draft a quarterback this year, but the Browns seem to be looking for a franchise QB in every draft.
The Arizona Cardinals still have at least one more year with Carson Palmer as their quarterback. While they may want to take someone to develop behind him, they will probably be better off adding some talent elsewhere if they’re going to try to compete for a playoff spot in 2017.
Florida’s Quincy Wilson would be a great addition to Arizona’s secondary to play alongside Patrick Peterson. Wilson has the potential to be the best press corner in this class with his length and aggressive attitude. He needs to keep improving against the run, but Wilson is athletic enough with natural ball skills to be another great cover corner in Arizona’s defense.
RB, Florida State
After covering the Colts for a few seasons and growing up in the Indianapolis area, I can safely tell you that I have no idea what new general manager Chris Ballard is going to do with his first-round pick. The Colts defense is a bit of a mess, but at the same time they are going to need to find a replacement for Frank Gore in the backfield sooner than later.
Florida State’s Dalvin Cook is a possible top-five talent, which will make it even harder for the Colts to pass up on him. He’s got incredible vision and acceleration to blow past defenders at the line of scrimmage, making him a home-run hitter.
Adding defensive prospects is still very much a priority, but passing up on a potential Pro Bowl running back like Cook is going to be hard to do. With Cook in the backfield, the passing game could open up for Andrew Luck and his receivers.
WR, Western Michigan
Now that Carson Wentz has established himself as the starting quarterback of the future for the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s time for the team to start putting some more weapons around him. They could make a strong first step in that process by drafting Western Michigan’s Corey Davis.
Although Davis comes out of the MAC, the talented receiver prospect is one of the most dominant players at his position. Davis has great size at 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds with excellent footwork and route-running ability.
What makes Davis an even bigger threat is what he can do after the catch, with defenders struggling to bring him down. If you give Wentz a weapon like that, his numbers could look a whole lot better in his sophomore season.
There are a handful of holes on the Baltimore Ravens defense, most notably at outside linebacker. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil aren’t getting any younger, and outside of those two they don’t have a lot of promising talent at the position.
The leading pass rusher in Tennessee history with 33 sacks (breaking Reggie White’s record this past season), Derek Barnett could be a great addition to the Ravens defense. While he’s not a quick-twitch athlete, Barnett is a strong, powerful edge rusher who can bend the edge or use leverage to set the edge and plug rushing lanes.
Barnett is pretty technically sound, but learning from two greats like Dumervil and Suggs could turn him into a potentially elite edge rusher.
Drafting a true free safety could help the Washington Redskins move DeAngelo Hall back into a role that he’s more comfortable with. While Budda Baker isn’t getting a ton of first-round talk, I think he’s one of the best defensive backs in this entire class.
Critics will be quick to point out Baker’s less than ideal 5-foot-10, 192-pound frame. However, everything about Baker’s tape says that he’s a first-round pick. He’s quick, rangy and aggressive with an eye-opening ability to break downhill, avoid blockers and wrap up ball carriers.
Whether it’s playing in the box or covering deep, Baker is a versatile safety who can do just about anything you ask him to. I expect him to go to the combine and put up some really solid numbers, which could help a team like Washington justify taking him in the top 20.
This mock draft features back-to-back players from Washington’s secondary going off of the board in the first round. After taking Williams with their first pick, the Titans can address their need for a reliable cornerback with their second selection in Round 1.
Sidney Jones has shutdown corner potential at the next level. He was such a dominant force in college that he was only thrown at 48 times all year, according to Pro Football Focus. He reads plays well and has terrific ball skills with natural athleticism. He’s the kind of player who could get his bearings quite quickly at the next level, and the Titans would love to have a cornerback like that.
There are a ton of talented tight ends in this year’s draft class, but none stand out more than Alabama’s O.J. Howard. He wasn’t heavily featured in the Crimson Tide offense, but he shined at the Senior Bowl, making just about every drill at practice look effortless.
Cameron Brate showed some promise for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season, but Howard could become a long-term option at the position. His athleticism and size (6-foot-6, 242 pounds) make him a mismatch in the passing game, and he’s a more than capable blocker.
If Jameis Winston has a say and Howard is still on the board at No. 19, I’m guessing he’ll be campaigning pretty hard for the talented tight end to give him a safety blanket in the Tampa Bay offense.
The offensive line was a serious problem for the Denver Broncos last season. Finding a legitimate offensive tackle in the first round would probably be the best move for the Broncos, regardless of who is playing quarterback next season.
Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk is, in my opinion, the top offensive tackle in this draft class. He rarely gave up pressure during his time at Wisconsin in pass protection, and he does a great job of getting to the second level when run blocking. The recent hip surgery is slightly concerning, but he should be just fine by the time the regular season rolls around.
The Detroit Lions have a lot of work to do with their defense. On the bright side, that means that they can sit back and look for the best player available on that side of the ball once they are on the clock in the first round.
Taco Charlton would probably be the best fit here. He’s a dominant pass rusher with an ideal frame for a 4-3 defensive end at 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds. He can bend the edge and has long arms to create separation from blockers. He does consistently struggle with outside containment, but that’s something that could be easily fixed with the right coaching.
Overall, Charlton has some really high upside because of his physical tools, and the Lions could use another impact defensive end playing opposite of Ziggy Ansah.
In previous mock drafts, I’ve had the Miami Dolphins taking either O.J. Howard or Taco Charlton. With both of those players off of the board, things get a little more complicated.
Still, the Dolphins and Ryan Tannehill could use an impact tight end, and there’s another one that’s worthy of a first-round selection with Miami’s David Njoku. He’s a freakish athlete with great size at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds. He doesn’t run the cleanest routes, but he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and he’s a more than willing blocker in the running game.
Njoku has the potential to be a serious weapon in the NFL, and the Dolphins will be able to do plenty of homework on him with him playing college in the area.
After cutting Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings, the New York Giants are probably going to be aggressively looking at offensive weapons in the NFL draft. While I could see them taking an offensive player in the first round, I also think they should seriously consider finding a linebacker given the poor level of play from that unit last year.
Alabama’s Ryan Anderson is projected as an edge rusher, but I could see him developing nicely into a 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL. He’s a heat-seeking missile with excellent technique, footwork and violent hands. Anderson can also provide plenty of value as a pass rusher, although he can struggle dropping back in coverage.
This is admittedly an unconventional pick, but we’ve seen crazier things happen in the draft before, and Anderson could wind up having a successful career with the Giants.
The Oakland Raiders are in pretty good shape offensively, so they can focus a lot of their attention on the other side of the ball this offseason. Their first-round pick could be used on a player at just about any defensive position, including cornerback.
LSU’s Tre’Davious White could be a nice addition to Oakland’s secondary. He has great speed and a quick hip turn to mirror just about any wide receiver. He can get burned every now and then, but he showcases some excellent recovery speed. White also does a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes.
Raiders fans will be happy with just about any defensive prospect in the first round, and White wouldn’t be a bad prospect to pick up.
QB, Texas Tech
Brock Osweiler isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Houston Texans. Having said that, they might be best off drafting a quarterback and letting him compete for the starting job with Osweiler.
Patrick Mahomes has far and away the best arm in this class, but he has a lot to work on with his mechanics and footwork. He’s a smart quarterback who can read defenses and make game-changing plays, but it’s going to be tough going from the Red Raiders’ spread offense to a pro-style system in the NFL.
Spending some time on the bench while learning the ins and outs of an NFL offense could do a lot for Mahomes. His upside is through the roof for a quarterback, and he could be the answer to Texans’ fans prayers for a franchise quarterback, even if it doesn’t happen right away and Osweiler starts the 2017 season as the starter.
OL, Western Kentucky
Offensive line help is a major priority for the Seattle Seahawks. They need to find as much help as possible to protect Russell Wilson, especially at offensive tackle.
Forrest Lamp has been projected as an offensive guard at the next level because of his shorter than ideal arms, but he’s got the footwork and balance to play tackle as well. Many were disappointed to see him get hurt on the first day of Senior Bowl practice, but the tape shows that he’s a nasty run blocker with plenty of confidence. The Seahawks could use someone like Lamp, regardless of where he plays on the offensive line.
The Kansas City Chiefs aren’t a team with a ton of glaring needs, but they could use another inside linebacker to pair with Derrick Johnson next season. There’s a bit of a drop off at the position after Reuben Foster, but Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is still a potential first-round prospect.
Cunningham has nice size for an ILB at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. He does a great job of shedding blockers and has a nose for the ball. He misses more tackles than I’d like to see, but he’s consistently in a position to meet the ball carrier, which is harder than it sounds for an inside linebacker.
There are other routes the Chiefs could go with this pick, but Cunningham could be a valuable contributor on a defense that has enough talent that it won’t force him to do too much as a rookie.
It has been a tough stretch for the Dallas Cowboys as they try to find reliable defensive ends, and they’ll likely be looking for another one in the first round of this year’s draft.
Auburn’s Carl Lawson has experience standing up or with a hand in a ground, and he was a proven pass rusher with the Tigers. He has a powerful upper body and does a great job using his hands to disengage and create separation to get to the quarterback. He proved that he could stay healthy this season after an injury-riddled career, and that might be enough for Lawson to be a first-round pick.
There isn’t a more glaring need for the Green Bay Packers than cornerback this offseason, even if Julius Peppers and Nick Perry don’t return at outside linebacker. Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley could be a great first step to fix the secondary.
Tankersley can play the role of a No. 1 corner with his long arms and solid frame at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds. While he’s not the best tackler, he moves very well in coverage and has great ball skills as made evident by his four interceptions and 11 passes broken up this past season.
Adding Tankersley won’t solve all of Green Bay’s problems, but it would be a step in the right direction.
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to add young pieces to their defense, but they need to keep finding plays who can put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Alabama’s Tim Williams is rumored to have some off-field red flags, but on the field he’s one of the more dominant edge rushers in this class. He’s explosive and athletic enough to bend the edge, but he’s still developing in pass coverage and with his technique.
If the Steelers feel comfortable with Williams’ character questions, he’d be a find addition to their roster in the first round.
Even with the emergence of Vic Beasley, the Atlanta Falcons would be smart to keep adding talented pass rushers. There might not be a more logical fit for the Falcons than Missouri’s Charles Harris.
There might not be another edge rusher with more moves than Missouri’s Charles Harris, who keeps offensive linemen guessing when he goes after the QB. He’s more than capable of bending the edge and is technically sound. His athleticism and production in college will make him a very appealing option for head coach Dan Quinn and his defense.
It’s hard to predict what the New England Patriots are going to do with their first-round pick, but they always do a great job of finding value by taking the best player available.
Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers continues to slide down draft boards, but there’s still a lot to like about his game. He’s an elite athlete who can change the course of a game with a single punt or kickoff return. His instincts help him in all three phases of the game, whether that’s offense, defense or special teams.
Critics argue that Peppers won’t be able to specialize at a position in the NFL, but no one would be surprised to see the Michigan star thrive with Bill Belichick and New England’s coaching staff working with him.
After taking Garrett and Trubisky in the first round, the Browns can open up the second round by finding another cornerback to play alongside Joe Haden.
Florida’s Jalen “Teez” Tabor is an aggressive man coverage cornerback with some terrific instincts that allow him to jump routes and create turnovers. His good closing speed and reliable tackling make him an asset against the run as well.
The Browns may have been the worst team in the NFL last season, but adding three key pieces in the first 33 picks of the draft could help them turn things around sooner instead of later.
Watson is going to need some legitimate weapons in San Francisco if he’s going to make an impact as a rookie. With Williams and and Davis already off of the board, Washington’s John Ross is the next best receiver prospect available.
Ross only comes in at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, but he’s an explosive vertical threat. He has the footwork and shiftiness of an NBA point guard with some impressive top-end speed that should help him stand out at the combine.
Injuries have plagued Ross throughout his career, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll be a productive slot receiver in the NFL, and he could become an exciting player in San Francisco with Watson throwing him the ball.
Help on the offensive line is pretty high on the list of priorities for the Jacksonville Jaguars this offseason. The good news is that they should be able to find a solid interior offensive lineman with their second-round pick if that’s what they want to do.
Indiana’s Dan Feeney missed some time this season due to a concussion, but his career with the Hoosiers speaks for itself. Feeney blocked for the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard at Indiana, creating some big rushing lanes for his running backs. He also rarely gives up pressure in pass protection.
An offensive guard isn’t going to get fans excited, but Feeney is a solid draft pick here.
CB, Ohio State
Even after taking Jamal Adams in the first round, the Bears could keep bolstering their secondary. After all, they do play in the same division as Aaron Rodgers, so adding as many talented defensive backs as possible is probably a good move.
Ohio State’s Gareon Conley does a great job of shadowing his assignment, rarely getting beat off of the line of scrimmage. He has great ball skills and nice athleticism to help him make plays all over the field.
Conley could still afford to add some weight to his frame, but there’s a lot of positives to his game that will translate to the NFL.
The Los Angeles Rams have to wait 36 picks before they’re finally on the clock in this year’s draft, unless they try to trade up. After waiting so long to pick, the Rams are probably going to want to find an effective playmaker at wide receiver.
USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster is the next best receiver on the board, and he’s an awfully exciting prospect to watch on tape. At 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, JuJu is still a speedster with great acceleration off of the line of scrimmage. His soft hands also allow him to make some impressive catches in traffic.
Schuster is still inconsistent and can get jammed off of the snap, but he has WR1 potential, and that’s something that the Rams really need right now.
There is a very real chance that Melvin Ingram doesn’t come back to play for the Chargers next season. Even if he does come back, the Chargers could seriously consider adding another talented edge rusher.
Takkarist McKinley out of UCLA is getting a ton of buzz, and for good reason. He reacts well and jumps off of the snap while using his long arms to create separation and bend the edge. He’s an incredible athlete who is able to hold his ground and rarely gets washed out by blockers.
His pad level can be inconsistent at times and he’s still a little raw, but McKinley is one of those edge rushers with the potential to produce double-digit sacks in the NFL.
After taking a cornerback in the first round, the New York Jets will probably look at an inside or outside linebacker in the second. Florida’s Jarrad Davis would be a solid move, especially because they could place him next to Darron Lee and have a young one-two punch on the inside.
Davis has great size for a linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 238 pounds. He’s an aggressive tackler and is very comfortable dropping back into pass coverage. The Florida prospect’s biggest problem is with gap discipline, because he can sometimes get over aggressive and leave some rushing lanes wide open.
With Lattimore and Davis in the first two rounds, the Jets defense would look a lot more intimidating next year.
OT, Florida State
After taking an exciting running back prospect in Fournette, the Panthers will need to address the offensive tackle position sooner instead of later. This class of offensive tackles isn’t great, but Alabama’s Cam Robinson is definitely one of the better ones.
Robinson is a mauler in the trenches, making him a potentially reliable right tackle. He comes in at a massive 6-foot-6 and 327 pounds, making him a hard blocker to get around. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles speed rushers who can bend the edge in the NFL, but he should be more than capable of opening up rushing lanes.
DL, Michigan State
Defensive line might not be the biggest area of need for the Bengals. However, with a player like Malik McDowell slipping this far, it might be worth it for a team like Cincinnati to pick him up.
McDowell has great size at 6-foot-6 and 276 pounds and is versatile enough to play either defensive end or tackle. Although he’s more than capable of stopping the run or pressure opposing quarterbacks, he can struggle with double teams and keeping his pad level low.
Adding Thomas and McDowell to the front seven would give the Bengals a ton of depth in the trenches, and that’s a luxury that few teams in the NFL have.
There isn’t exactly a lot of talent in the Saints’ secondary. New Orleans could use some extra help at safety or cornerback, and after taking the talented linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round, they’ll have to find some secondary help with this pick.
Iowa’s Desmond King is one of the most reliable tacklers at cornerback in this draft class. He has the speed, quick hips and ball skills to immediately play nickel in the NFL, although some scouts believe that King could play safety as well. He’s a smart defensive back with plenty of athleticism, and he’d be an upgrade regardless of whether he plays corner or safety for the Saints.
After taking Davis in the first round, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Eagles to add yet another playmaker to their offense. Darren Sproles isn’t getting any younger, and the Eagles could find his successor as a versatile player out of the backfield in Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey might not make it this long, but if he does he’d be a great addition to Philadelphia’s offense. As a runner, he has great vision and acceleration, although he’s not going to be a workhorse. He’s also a more than reliable receiver in the passing game, whether that’s out of the backfield or in the slot.
Put McCaffrey and Davis in the Eagles offense and things would get a whole lot more interesting in the NFC East next season.
Where do the Bills go after taking Kizer in the first? They could reach for an offensive tackle, or they could take an extremely talented safety prospect who is shooting up draft boards in UConn’s Obi Melifonwu.
Melifonwu stands out immediately on tape at 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds. He moves well in space and does a great job of breaking downhill and making big tackles to cut down on yards after the catch. He can get beat deep and struggles to shed blockers, but the rest of his game is solid.
After shining at the Senior Bowl, Melifonwu has solidified himself as a top-50 prospect. The Bills could use a safety prospect like him, especially in a role as an enforcer.
I’ll be surprised if Florida’s Caleb Brantley slips down to No. 45, but if he does, he could find himself in a great situation to make an impact for the Cardinals.
The first thing that stands out when watching Brantley is his violent hands to quickly disengage and get into the backfield. He has a strong base and uses leverage well to control the point of attack and make a move when he needs to.
Brantley shows flashes of excellence on tape, even if they are inconsistent. Regardless, the Cardinals would be thrilled to scoop up a player like Brantley with their second-round pick.
There’s a very good chance that the Minnesota Vikings part ways with Adrian Peterson this offseason, which means that they should seriously consider finding a new workhorse back in the draft.
Jamaal Williams might not be the most well known name in this draft, but he’d be a great replacement for Peterson in Minnesota’s offense. He’s a great power running back who runs north-south with good vision and a knack for picking up plenty of yards after contact. He’s not the fastest back, but he’d be an ideal replacement for AP.
WR, East Carolina
With Steve Smith officially retiring, the Ravens are going to need an infusion of young talent at wide receiver. A lot of the bigger names at the position have already been taken, but East Carolina’s Zay Jones is someone who is quickly climbing up draft boards after a really impressive showing at the Senior Bowl.
Jones isn’t super fast or elusive, but he’s an ideal possession receiver with reliable hands and a nice 6-foot-2, 202-pound frame. He has great footwork when running routes and does a great job of attacking jump balls, but scouts will be even more impressed with his willingness to block in the running game.
Baltimore desperately needs another receiver for Joe Flacco, and Jones could wind up being a great value pick in the second round.
After releasing D’Qwell Jackson, the Colts now have Antonio Morrison and Edwin Jackson projected to start at inside linebacker. Needless to say, the Colts could probably use some help at the position.
Haason Reddick actually played defensive end at Temple, but he’s trying to make the move to linebacker as he prepares for the NFL. He definitely looked like a legitimate linebacker at the Senior Bowl. He showcased some great instincts, a high motor and was more than comfortable dropping back in pass coverage.
It’s a slightly risky pick, but Reddick could wind up being a reliable linebacker and a legitimate upgrade for a depleted Colts defense.
The Redskins use a running back by committee approach, but they still don’t have the best running backs out there. Fortunately, there’s a great option in the second round that could fit very well in Washington’s offensive system.
Alvin Kamara didn’t get a ton of carries at Tennessee, but he shined this season for the Volunteers. He has some exceptional balance and keeps his feet moving to pick up yards after contact. He can run, catch passes or stay back and block in pass protection, making him a jack of all trades.
That kind of versatility makes Kamara an excellent option for Washington’s offense that they don’t have to make a workhorse but can play plenty of snaps.
DE, Florida State
With William Gholston being a free agent and Noah Spence still coming into his own, the Buccaneers could stand to add another disruptive defensive lineman in this draft. Florida State’s DeMarcus Walker could fit that role nicely.
Walker isn’t the fastest or most explosive defensive end, but he does a good job of staying low and using his strength to control the point of attack. When he can’t get to the QB, he does a good job of batting passes down at the line of scrimmage.
Although Walker’s draft stock has taken a hit over this season, he could wind up still being a solid starter on the defensive line for Tampa Bay.
After finding a new offensive tackle in the first round, it could be a good idea for the Broncos to find another running back who could fit their offensive system and take some pressure off of the quarterback. Texas’ D’Onta Foreman could be a great pick here.
Foreman has excellent size for a power running back at 6-foot-1 and 249 pounds. Despite that larger frame, he’s surprisingly quick and nimble with good vision and the ability to pick up extra yards after contact.
Scouts will love Foreman’s ability to block in pass protection, but they’ll also be concerned with his ball security. Foreman fumbled the ball away for too many times this past season, and it’s something NFL defenses could exploit. Having said that, Foreman’s ability to be a three-down back will make him an appealing target for Denver in the second round.
C, Ohio State
The Browns can keep addressing team needs with their fourth pick in the first two rounds by addressing the interior of their offensive line. Drafting a center might be a slight reach at No. 52 overall, but taking the top player at the position could be a smart move.
Pat Elflein was a reliable offensive lineman for the Buckeyes during his career. He’s not the most impressive athlete, but Elflein does a great job of shooting out of his stance and staying low when run blocking while rarely giving up pressure in pass protection. Giving Trubisky some offensive line help would be the right move to keep him healthy as a rookie.
Playing in the NFC North means that you need to have as much as depth in your secondary as possible. The Lions can make a solid move by adding another talented cornerback in the second round.
Jourdan Lewis is often knocked for his size (5-foot-11, 186 pounds), but the Michigan prospect plays like he’s much bigger. Lewis is a reliable tackler who rarely misses, plus he has great speed and fluid hips to consistently cover his assignment. His tape shows that he could play either nickel or on the outside in the NFL, and that kind of versatility could make him an instant contributor in Detroit.
LB, Ohio State
Taking an athletic tight end with high upside might have been more of a “best player available” situation for the Dolphins in the first round, so with their second pick Miami should think about addressing their glaring weakness at linebacker.
Ohio State’s Raekwon McMillan dropped down draft boards as the season went on, but that doesn’t mean he’s a terrible prospect. He has great size at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds and uses that size to stop running backs in their tracks. McMillan is a bit undisciplined and can get washed out by blockers, but there are a lot of physical traits to like with the Buckeyes linebacker.
TE, Ole Miss
The Giants can now pull the trigger on a dynamic playmaker in the second round after taking Anderson in the first. A wide receiver might not be the most practical move with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard as a solid one-two combo, but an athletic tight end could open up the middle of the field in a big way.
Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram isn’t going to be a traditional tight end who lines up next to the tackle, but he’s a super athletic playmaker who will be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties. Built like a bigger receiver, Engram is a good route runner with speed and toughness. I’d like to see him cut down on his drops, but Engram does a great job of attacking the ball in traffic and could be a great weapon for Eli Manning and the Giants.
Auburn’s Montravius Adams is a prospect who I feel like has been overhyped a little too much. That’s not to say that he’s going to be a bad player in the NFL, but I think the right situation will make the difference for the Auburn defensive tackle.
Adams shows serious flashes of disruptiveness with a good jump off of the snap and a thick, powerful base to hold his own against the run. Stamina may be a reason for his inconsistency, and he’ll need to work on lowering his pad level. However, Adams is a great fit for a Raiders defense in need of some help in the trenches, and his presence could be felt as a rookie.
Houston’s offensive line has struggled with consistency and continuity the past few seasons, so adding more depth is never a bad idea. Utah’s Garett Bolles has been projected by some to be a first-round pick, so I’m assuming that the Texans would be thrilled if he slid to No. 57.
Bolles is a terrific athlete with excellent footwork that scouts will be impressed with. He’s still not the most technically sound lineman and could stand to add some weight to his 6-foot-4, 300-pound frame. However, the upside is there and he could be a nice piece to plug into the offensive line.
The Legion of Boom could use another member, especially someone who can confidently play on the opposite side of Richard Sherman. While I’m not as high on Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey as others, I can see the appeal.
Humphrey is a physical cornerback at the line of scrimmage and is a reliable tackler. His technique is still a little rough and he can get beat deep every now and then, but he has solid recovery speed and fluid hips. This is more of an upside pick, but Humphrey could learn a lot from guys like Sherman in Seattle.
The Chiefs have some talented players in their secondary, but they would be wise to continue adding depth at cornerback. One player that could fit well in Kansas City’s system is Cameron Sutton out of Tennessee.
Sutton has a nice frame at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, but will need to keep getting bigger. He showcased some great ball skills, speed and instincts to jump routes during his time with the Volunteers. He’s not very reliable against the run, but Sutton is a solid man coverage cornerback who could be a valuable nickel corner in the Chiefs system.
Fans of Adoree Jackson will probably be flipping out on me because I have the USC star going this late in the second round, but I think Dallas could be a nice fit for the former Trojan. They could use another starter at cornerback, and Jackson could be that guy.
Jackson is arguably one of the best athletes in this class, and it shows on tape. However, what also shows is his propensity to get burned on double moves. He doesn’t have the most impressive size or length, but Jackson has great hips and the ability to be a productive return man for Dallas on special teams. He’s a flashy playmaker who Jerry Jones could fall in love with, especially if he falls to the end of the second round.
Being the brother of J.J. Watt could help T.J. move into the first round, but from the tape, I could see him going in the second. Having said that, the Packers would be thrilled to get a player like Watt at No. 61 given their potential need for outside linebackers.
Watt only played one season at outside linebacker, but he impressed at the position. He has great length at 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds while his technique developed quickly during the season. He’s not an explosive athlete who is going to bend the edge regularly, he will make an impact both against the run and rushing the passer. With the future of Nick Perry and Julius Peppers up in the air, Watt could be a great replacement.
A torn ACL in Michigan’s bowl game was a devastating blow for Jake Butt. Fortunately, ACL tears are easier to come back from in today’s era of sports medicine. If the Steelers feel comfortable with his injury, they could be a great fit for a playmaking tight end like Butt.
Butt is a big, physical tight end at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. He moves well in open space and runs solid routes, even if he isn’t particularly elusive after the catch. He’s also a willing blocker and is an all-around reliable tight end.
Again, the torn ACL will scare off some teams, but the Steelers need a long-term playmaker at the tight end position, and Butt could be worth the risk.
Continuing to build out the front seven is a sound strategy for the Falcons if they want to return to the Super Bowl next season. After taking a talented edge rusher in Harris with their first pick, taking a defensive lineman here would be a smart move.
Iowa’s Jaleel Johnson is an intriguing prospect who has gone relatively overlooked out of Iowa. He has nice size for an interior D-lineman at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds. He does a great job keeping his arms extended and staying low so that he can’t get washed out by blockers. While he doesn’t explode off of the line of scrimmage, he has a nice bull rush and could be a great rotational piece on Atlanta’s defensive line.
OT, Florida State
The offensive line for the Patriots showed some signs of weakness during the AFC playoff run, so adding an offensive tackle could be relatively high on the list of priorities. Florida State’s Roderick Johnson could be a nice pick to end the second round.
Johnson’s length is the first thing to stand out when turning on the tape. At 6-foot-7 and 311 pounds, Johnson possesses some extremely long arms that allows him to stay in front of pass rushers. He has some questionable balance and can struggle when blocking on outside runs, but he’s a big body with a lot of physical tools. New England’s coaching staff could help turn him into a more than serviceable tackle down the road.
S, Texas A&M
A great value pick to start the third round, the Browns can pick up a talented safety prospect in Texas A&M’s Justin Evans. He’s the definition of a heavy hitter, and he isn’t afraid to let people know when he’s laid someone out.
Evans will probably be best suited to play strong safety at the next level, but he’s going to need bulk up as a pro considering his 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame. He’s also improved as a coverage safety with developing ball skills in 2016, although he can sometimes get caught staring at the QB instead of looking for receivers.
Three defensive prospects in Garrett, Evans and Tabor should help the Browns defense start moving in the right direction.
EDGE, Youngstown State
The 49ers are going to need to find some players who can rush the passer after taking Watson and Ross in the first two rounds. Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers may not be coming from the biggest program, but he might be one of the best hidden gems in this entire draft class.
Rivers could be described as “Myles Garrett Lite”. He has a similar frame with a powerful upper body, although he’s slightly shorter at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds. He stood out in a big way at the Senior Bowl, showcasing an explosive first step and some violent hands.
With great length and his explosiveness off of the line of scrimmage, Rivers could wind up being a dangerous edge rusher for a team like the 49ers.
No one is really sure what is going to happen with Alshon Jeffery, but even if he returns to the Bears next season, Chicago could stand to add some more talent at wide receiver.
California’s Chad Hansen is one of the more overlooked receivers in this class, but I’m in love with his athleticism. Hansen will likely record an absurd vertical jump number at the combine, as he showcased an impressive ability to go over defensive backs and attack 50-50 balls this past season.
Although Hansen doesn’t have great top-end speed and needs to work on creating more separation, his athleticism and solid hands should help him become a reliable possession receiver in the NFL.
RB/WR, Ohio State
T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory are decent running backs, but the Jaguars could stand to find a more dynamic playmaker out of the backfield. Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel is the kind of versatile skill player that could add a new wrinkle to Jacksonville’s offense.
Samuel spent time as both a running back and wide receiver for the Buckeyes. He’s an explosive and shifty player with the ball in his hands, and he has some great footwork when running routes. He doesn’t have the best hands, but they’re solid enough.
With players like Ty Montgomery and Tyreek Hill finding roles in the NFL, Samuel should have no problem making an impact in Jacksonville if they know how to properly utilize his skill set.
Even after taking Sidney Jones in the first round, the Titans could stand to double dip at the cornerback position given their lack of depth at the position.
Chidobe Awuzie was a big reason Colorado was so successful this past season. He may only be 6-foot-0 and 205 pounds, but he’s an extremely disruptive blitzer who times them well and wreaks havoc in the backfield. In coverage, he does a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and anticipating when to jump routes.
Although Awuzie can struggle with getting beat deep, he has solid physical traits and could be a really solid nickel corner for a team like Tennessee.
DT, Notre Dame
The Jets can keep stacking defensive prospects in this draft if they decide that they want to give Christian Hackenberg a chance at quarterback. After taking a linebacker and cornerback, the Jets can look at the defensive line to find a solid defensive tackle.
Notre Dame’s Jarron Jones jumped off of the tape when I watched him play against Miami. He has a nice frame at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds and looks like he could keep getting bigger. He’s inconsistent off of the snap, but he has violent hands and does a great job of pushing linemen back at the point of contact. He’s not going to be a perennial Pro Bowler, but Jones could be a great rotational defensive lineman for the Jets.
WR, Eastern Washington
Keenan Allen has failed to stay healthy early on in his NFL career, and the San Diego Chargers need to find more depth at wide receiver. Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp is generating plenty of buzz after the Senior Bowl, and he could be a great pickup for the Chargers.
Kupp has great speed and footwork, allowing him to create separation on defensive backs, especially with his double moves. He also has some soft hands and proved that he’s tough enough to play as a pro after playing this past season with a nagging shoulder injury. He may not come from the biggest program, but Kupp could be a valuable slot receiver and a nice target for Philip Rivers.
The Panthers could use some help rushing the passer on the outside, and after addressing some other needs with their first two picks, this third-round selection would be a good time to find an edge rusher.
Dawuane Smoot could be an interesting option in Carolina. He’s a solid edge rusher when it comes to stay low and bending the edge, and he also has a nice spin move at his disposal. Smoot is still a pretty raw prospect and he struggles against the run, but he could come in on obvious passing downs and try to make plays as a rookie.
The Bengals need to address the inside of their offensive line at some point, so why not do so in the third round and take a solid center prospect?
LSU’s Ethan Pocic may be tall for a center prospect at 6-foot-6 and 307 pounds, but he would be a nice piece on Cincinnati’s offensive line. He’s played all over the offensive line in college, and he has the intelligence to recognize blitzes and adjust accordingly.
Pocic will need to work on getting stronger in the NFL, but his versatility and football IQ will make him a nice addition to the Bengals’ offensive line.
CB, West Virginia
After taking a pair of skill players with their first two picks, the Eagles can look to add some help at the cornerback position. Fortunately for them, the Eagles can still find some potential starting DBs even in the third round.
West Virginia’s Rasul Douglas is an interesting prospect. He has great size at 6-foot-2 and 204 along with some terrific ball skills as made evident by his eight interceptions this past season. His size will make it difficult for him to deal with shiftier receivers, but Douglas could be a nice piece for a team not looking for an immediate No. 1 cornerback.
WR, Virginia Tech
The Bills could lose a number of wide receivers in free agency this offseason, including Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin. With that in mind, the Bills could decide to bring in another receiver through the draft.
Virginia Tech’s Isaiah Ford has some excellent footwork and does a great job of creating separation. While he has a slight problem with drops, he can still make some impressive catches, especially on the sideline. Pairing him with Sammy Watkins could give the Bills a nice one-two punch if Woods and Goodwin don’t return.
Mark Ingram is a solid running back, but his backup Tim Hightower is a free agent and could be heading elsewhere this offseason. The Saints could add a nice change-of-pace back behind Ingram in a draft loaded with talented backs.
During the Senior Bowl, Kareem Hunt out of Toledo impressed a lot of scouts. He’s a downhill, physical runner with good vision and great balance to pick up extra yards. Although he doesn’t have great speed and isn’t particularly elusive, he has a strong upper body and would fit well as a No. 2 running back behind Ingram to give the Saints a different kind of back to work with.
At some point, the Cardinals are going to need to find their future quarterback who will replace Carson Palmer after he retires. While Brad Kaaya might not be the best QB in this class, he’s one of those guys who could develop nicely with a year or two on the sideline.
Kaaya has a really clean throwing motion and puts some nice zip on the ball. My biggest problem with Kaaya is that he seriously struggles with any semblance of pressure, and he doesn’t have the best pocket presence.
However, Kaaya can put some nice touch on the ball and could do well in a vertical offense like Arizona’s. At the very least, he could be a nice backup for the Cardinals to put some pressure on another young QB if the Cardinals decided to find another one in a year or two.
The Ravens keep addressing areas of need in the third round by taking a rangy safety who can cover the field sideline to sideline. Utah’s Marcus Williams fits that mold quite well.
Williams could definitely bulk up at just 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds, but the Utah prospect is an intelligent safety with fluid hips and great range. Because of his skinny frame, Williams isn’t the best tackler, but he doesn’t miss tackles as much as he doesn’t stop ball carriers in their tracks.
Regardless, Williams is the kind of safety that can break up passes or create turnovers, and that’s something that the Ravens need.
There is still a lot of work to do with the Colts’ defense, and although the defensive line has some good players on it, they could definitely use some more depth there.
Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could be a solid contributor on that D-line. He has a powerful 6-foot-3, 305-pound frame and does a good job with arm extension and generating a bull rush on passing plays. He’s not an elite athlete and struggles staying low, but he generates plenty of power and could be a nice contributor both against the run and rushing the passer.
Finding an offensive tackle or a defensive tackle could take priority here, but seeing as though there aren’t any that would be a nice value at No. 80, a cornerback should suffice with Terence Newman and Captain Munnerlyn hitting free agency for the Vikings.
Corn Elder has great speed and is a disruptive blitzer. He’s not the most technically sound cornerback in coverage, but he makes up for it with his aggressiveness against the run and ability to lay the ball carrier out. There are still some solid corners on Minnesota’s roster, so Elder wouldn’t have to do everything, but he could be a nice draft pick to add some secondary depth.
Four of Washington’s defensive linemen are set to hit free agency this offseason. That’s an awful lot of talent to replace, even if they bring a couple of guys back. The Redskins will likely try to find at least one cheaper option to plug into their defensive line in the draft.
Michigan’s Chris Wormley wasn’t the most well known guy on a Wolverines defense littered with talent, but he’s a solid defensive end. He’s a disciplined prospect who doesn’t get washed out by blockers and plugs rushing lanes. While he’s not the most explosive athlete, Wormley is technically sound and capable of doing whatever a team like Washington would ask him to do.
TE, Virginia Tech
I could very well see Bucky Hodges going earlier than No. 82 overall, but that’s just how this mock draft has panned out. The Broncos need a tight end, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go after Hodges in any of the first three rounds.
Hodges is a huge mismatch in the passing game at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds. He’s a willing blocker, but he’ll make his money in the passing game. He was above average speed given his size, and he does a great job of attacking jump balls. The Broncos have been searching for a legitimate tight end since Julius Thomas left, and Hodges could be a nice one to add to the offense.
Finding another inside linebacker would be a good move for the Titans after taking a pair of cornerbacks. The offense is in decent shape, but developing the defense is what could help Tennessee take its game to the next level.
An in-state prospect like Jalen Reeves-Maybin would be a popular one among the fans, but he’s also a solid player who could be a potential starter. He’s an instinctive linebacker who does a great job with play recognition before shooting the gap to make a play. He isn’t the biggest LB (6-foot, 230 pounds), but he does a great job of shedding blockers and making plays.
RB, South Florida
I promise I’m not having NFL teams taking prospects from nearby schools on purpose. Doug Martin’s future in Tampa Bay is cloudy, and the Buccaneers will likely turn to a “running back by committee” approach in 2017.
South Florida’s Marlon Mack could be a nice running back to keep defenses on their toes. He is an explosive running back with impressive burst and a second gear that helps him burn past defenders. Despite all that speed, Mack has some inconsistent balance and footwork, and reminds me a lot of a player like Christine Michael.
Having said that, Mack’s upside is really impressive, but he’ll need to be coached up if he’s going to reach his full potential, which some feel could be on the same level as LeSean McCoy.
The injuries were a serious problem for Detroit’s running backs this past season, and even with Theo Riddick and Ameer Adbullah returning, the Lions could use more of a workhorse power back in the offense.
Clemson’s Wayne Gallman was overlooked because of Mike Williams and Deshaun Watson, but he’s still an exciting running back prospect. He’s a decisive back with a great jump cut, and scouts will love his tenacity when it comes to pass protection.
He may not be the fastest or the biggest running back, but Gallman keeps his feet moving and fights through contact. He’s a different kind of back compared to Abdullah and Riddick, and that’s a good thing.
After waiting on an offensive tackle with their first two picks, now would be a good time for the Vikings to grab one. USC’s Chad Wheeler might not be the 86th best player in the draft, but he’s the next best offensive tackle available.
Wheeler has an athletic frame with room to grow at 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds, and he uses his hands well to stay engaged with defenders. He can struggle against speed rushers at the next level and is an average run blocker, but he’s still developing into a more complete tackle.
Releasing Rashad Jennings means that the Giants are going to need another running back, because Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen aren’t exactly going to take the NFL by storm.
The Giants could take a running back that can pick up the tough yards by drafting Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. Perine is a tough downhill runner with the size at 5-foot-10 and 235 pounds to fight for extra yards and power through contact. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he has great vision and is able to pick up yards in solid chunks.
Adding a pair of playmakers in Engram and Perine could help the Giants keep rolling without Cruz and Jennings in 2017.
TE, South Alabama
There isn’t really an athletic playmaking tight end on the Raiders roster who can make an impact in the passing game. That could change in this draft considering how much talent there is with this tight end class.
South Alabama’s Gerald Everett could be a nice weapon for Derek Carr. He is an impressive athlete with a 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds. Even though he has small hands, Everett makes some really impressive catches with some nice speed and acceleration. His route running needs to get cleaned up, but Everett’s upside is appealing, especially for a team like the Raiders where he won’t have to be the No. 1 target right away.
There’s a good chance that A.J. Bouye heads elsewhere in free agency this offseason. If that happens, then the Texans are going to need to find another cornerback who can confidently play on the outside.
UCLA’s Fabian Moreau isn’t exactly a household name, but he’s someone who could make himself a lot of money at the combine. He has a strong build at 6-foot-0 and 194 pounds and thrives in press coverage while jamming receivers to get them off of their routes. He wasn’t the most productive corner in terms of ball skills, but he’s someone who could play quite well on the outside in the NFL and could be a great value pick late in the third round.
The Seahawks could use some depth on their defensive line, because they lack few playmakers outside of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Ideally, the Seahawks could look for someone who can slide around the defensive line, and Charles Walker could be an ideal fit for Seattle in the third round.
At 6-foot-2 and 304 pounds, Walker is an athletic defensive lineman who can line up at defensive tackle or defensive end. He’s a strong pass rusher who has several moves to get into the backfield.
Walker still isn’t a polished product, and he needs to work on using his hands more and getting off of the snap quickly, but his athleticism and versatility makes him an intriguing prospect.
RB, San Diego State
There is a very real possibility that Jamaal Charles gets released before the 2017 season. Even with Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West, the Chiefs could find another running back to add to their committee.
Donnel Pumphrey is going to continue to get knocked for his size at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds. However, Pumphrey is a shifty and elusive running back with great speed, vision and burst. He doesn’t get a lot of yards after contact, but Pumphrey could be a great piece to put on the field with Tyreek Hill, making it really hard for defenses to contain to speed threats at the same time.
WR, Louisiana Tech
This late in the third round, the Cowboys can think about finding another weapon with high upside for their offense, specifically at slot receiver. Cole Beasley has been a fine player, but adding another threat into the Dallas offense could make it that much more hard to stop.
Louisiana Tech’s Carlos Henderson is generating a lot of buzz lately. He doesn’t have the size to consistently play on the outside at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds, but he could be a great slot receiver because of his great speed and footwork as well as his ability to pick up a ton of yards after the catch.
A player like Henderson can take get behind safeties, and that could be a nightmare for defenses to deal with while they have to plan against Ezekiel Elliott and the ground game.
WR, Western Kentucky
Ted Thompson and the Packers are never shy about taking a chance on wide receivers, and I could see it happening again in this year’s draft. Western Kentucky’s Taywan Taylor looks like the kind of slot receiver that the Packers would love to work with.
Taylor has some great speed and explosiveness off of the line of scrimmage with the footwork and route running to create separation. He’s a little undersized and can get jammed at the line of scrimmage, but he’d be another nice weapon for Aaron Rodgers to work with next season.
Double dipping for edge rushers is a sound strategy for a team looking to eventually replace James Harrison. Williams is a pick who could return immediate dividends, but Pittsburgh’s Ejuan Price might be more of a project.
Price has a short, stocky build for an edge rusher at 6-foot-1 and 255 pounds, which is a slightly similar build to Harrison. Despite his lack of size, Price does an excellent job flying off of the line of scrimmage and bending the edge on his way to the quarterback. He’s almost more than solid against the run and shows good gap discipline.
Some will say that Price is too small for the NFL, but getting to learn from someone like Harrison could help him turn into a premiere pass rusher at the next level.
Austin Hooper isn’t a household name at tight end, and with Jacob Tamme and Levine Toilolo hitting free agency, finding another tight end in the draft could be a pretty solid move at the end of the third round.
Clemson’s Jordan Leggett is a great asset in the passing game with his 6-foot-5, 260-pound frame. He has soft hands and showcases good body control when making plays on contested catches. Although he could clean up his route running and can be an inconsistent blocker, Leggett would be a nice piece to have in Atlanta’s offense.
The third round ends with another interesting pick from the Patriots. This is a team with few glaring needs, but they could make a solid move in the third round and take an outside linebacker with Vince Biegel.
The Wisconsin Badgers prospect is physical and disruptive at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds. He’s capable of bending the edge when asked and does a good job of staying low and maintaining gap discipline wherever he’s lined up.
Biegel would likely have to adapt to be a more traditional linebacker in New England’s system, but he’s talented enough I could see him making the move effectively.
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