We’re midway through the 2017 season and about 6 months away from the Draft. It’s never too early to project the most exciting event outside of the Super Bowl on the NFL calendar.
1. Cleveland Browns – Mason Rudolph QB, OK St.
Sam Darnold was long thought to be the unquestioned #1 pick coming into the year. Inconsistency and overall sloppy play has Darnold slipping a bit. Recent rumors suggest he won’t come out at all. At 6’4 235lbs, Rudolph has prototypical size for the position. Cleveland has so many misses at this position.The Browns are criticized weekly for missing on Wentz, Watson, Prescott, etc…They need a quarterback and they need to get this right.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Saquon Barkley RB, Penn St.
After landing their quarterback of the future in Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers draft the most special offensive weapon in the draft in Saquon Barkley. Kyle Shannahan’s offense will soon have an identity.
3. New York Giants – Josh Rosen QB, UCLA
Eli Manning is 37 years old. The Giants don’t usually draft this high. It’s time to find the successor to the quarterback position in NY. Rosen is going to need some time to mature so he Eli can finish out his career while Rosen gets comfortable. Rosen in New York is potentially disastrous.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame
There’s nothing more important to this organization than protecting Andrew Luck right now. They need him on the field and they need to keep him upright. McGlinchey is the most polished and pro ready tackle in this class.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bradley Chubb DE, NC St.
The Bucs need to find a way to get better pressure from their front 4. The NFC South has such talented quarterbacks, finding a edge rusher will help them start to win some divisional games. Chubb is having a terrific season and rising up draft boards. At 6’4 275lbs, he may be the best 4-3 end in the class.
6. New York Jets – Sam Darnold QB, USC
Darnold is having a bit of a disappointing season with the Trojans and is no longer considered the surefire 1st overall pick. He may return to school to solidify his draft stock or to simply avoid Cleveland. In this scenario, the Jets again use the 6th pick on a USC quarterback. This one should turn out better.
7. Oakland Raiders – Minkah Fitzpatrick CB/S, Alabama
His true position will be debated throughout the draft process but Fitzpatrick is a long, versatile athlete that can immediately help a struggling Raiders secondary.
8. Los Angeles Chargers – Derwin James S, Fla. St.
After passing on both Malik Hooper and Jamar Adams last year the Chargers now shore up the back of their defense. A big hybrid type safety. James is more of a S/LB hybrid. He is a tremendous athlete and his combine numbers are going to pop but his ability to remain at safety and cover will be in question in the NFL.
9. Chicago Bears – Courtland Sutton WR, SMU
The Bears desperately need WR help after the injury to Cameron Meredith and Kevin White looking like a huge bust. Sutton has the measurables of a #1 wr standing 6’4 225lbs. He’s a wr that should rise through the draft process.
10. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson QB, Louisville
Carson Palmer is out for the year again and his career is likely at an end The Cards had their eyes on Pat Mahomes last year until the Chiefs traded up in front of them. This year they nab an equally tantalizing prospect who Bruce Arians will love to work with.
11. Cincinnati Bengals – Harold Landry DE, Boston College
The Bengals add a weapon to their pass rush because Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are aging and inconsistent. Landry is likely to put up scary combine numbers and go even higher than this.
12. Denver Broncos – Connor Williams OT, Texas
Next year the Broncos will likely hand the keys to Paxton Lynch. They are going to need to protect him. Williams is also a very good run blocker and getting the running game going will also help the young quarterback.
13. Cleveland Browns (via Hou) – Orlando Brown Jr. OT, Oklahoma
After drafting their franchise QB earlier, the Browns now get the man to protect him and replace Joe Thomas. Brown is a mammoth human being. There will be questions as to whether he will be athletic enough to handle the left side in the NFL.
14. Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice RB, LSU
How long has it been since the Lions had a legitimate running game? Barry Sanders right? Guice will fix that immediately. A dynamic runner will make this offense not as one dimensional and could elevate the team as a whole.
15. Washington Redskins – Christian Wilkins DE, Clemson
Wilkins is probably more of a 3 technique tackle but Washington needs d-line help badly. He will play end here opposite last years 1st rounder Jonathan Allen.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Arden Key OLB, LSU
Baltimore lands the successor to Terrell Suggs. Key will battle Landry for title of best pass rusher in this class. He isn’t as consistent as Landry though and while Landry can play both 3-4 and 4-3, Key is just a stand up rush linebacker. A big combine could skyrocket his stock but inconsistent play could cause a slide.
17. Dallas Cowboys – Tarvarus McFadden CB, Fla St.
The Cowboys desperately need help in the secondary and McFadden is in the mold of the tall, long corner teams have been trending towards at 6’1 200lbs
18. Miami Dolphins – Josh Allen QB, Wyoming
Cutler will be gone and Tannehill has an out in his contract. Gase goes to get his guy. Allen needs a better finish to the season because his stock is slipping.
19. Atlanta Falcons – Quenton Nelson OG, Notre Dame
Big, mauling guard in the mold of Zach Martin will help protect Matt Ryan and open up huge holes in the running game.
20. Green Bay Packers – Malik Jefferson MLB, Texas
The Packers have had a big hole in the middle of their defense for far too long. Jefferson solves that issue as a tackling machine allowing Clay Matthews to roam free.
21. Tennessee Titans – Ken Webster CB, Mississippi
Last years first rounder Adoree Jackson is basically just a slot corner and the team needs someone opposite Logan Ryan. Webster has had a very good season and is rising.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – Martinas Rankin OT, Mississippi St.
Keeping Blake Bortles upright is very important but upgrading the line to ensure that running game stays prolific should be a high priority for this franchise. Rankin can bookend Cam Robinson on either side.
23. Carolina Panthers – Tyquan Lewis DE, Ohio St.
The Panthers could use some fresh legs in their pass rush. When they’re good, they get after the passer. Lewis would have to prove he can play with his hand in the dirt as he’s a DE/OLB hybrid.
24. Seattle Seahawks – Jaire Alexander CB, Louisville
Alexander is one of the best man cover corners in the draft and Seattle could use him opposite Richard Sherman or potentially to replace Sherman if trade talks pick up again this off-season
25. Los Angeles Rams – Trey Adams OT, Washington
Andrew Whitworth is getting up there in age. Adams can play the right side until Whitworth is ready to hang em up. Protecting Goff should be priority 1.
26. Buffalo Bills – Da’Ron Payne DT, Alabama
After trading Marcel Dareus there is a big hole in the middle of the Bills defense. Payne can be a penetrating force inside for years to come.
27. New Orleans Saints – Clelin Ferrell DE, Clemson
The Saints have lacked a pas rush for years. Ferrell will help their emerging defense be a little more consistent.
28. Minnesota Vikings – Ronnie Harrison S, Alabama
The front 7 of the Vikings D is very good. Harrison will give them and intimidator on the back end to play next to play-maker Harrison Smith.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marquis Haynes OLB, Mississippi
Haynes can bring the heat off the edge that the Steelers have been trying to find for years. James Harrison is on his last legs.
30. New England Patriots – Dorance Armstrong OLB, Kansas
The Pats are despecrate to find some sort of pass rush and Armstrong has enough tools that Belichick would take a flyer.
31. Buffalo Bills (via KC) – Denzel Ward CB, Ohio St.
The Bills lost both starting corners from last season (Gilmore, Darby) and have begun to rebuild their secondary. Ward is smaller and more of a slot corner but he has excellent cover skills and instincts.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Maurice Hurst DT, Michigan
Timmy Jernigan and Beau Allen are both free agents. Jernigan might be hard to resign with limited cap space. Hurst is a quick twitch penetrator who is excellent at stopping the run.
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports