NFL mock draft 2017
Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen, Deshaun Watson, and other prospects are expected to be top picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, which will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia. But which teams will pick them? With free agency in full swing and pro days and individual workouts underway, Newsday.com NFL draft analyst Nick Klopsis looks at the full first round in the latest edition of his 2017 NFL mock draft.
Note: Previous picks denote selections in mock drafts 1.0 (Jan. 3), 1.1 (Jan. 9), 1.2 (Jan. 16), 1.3 (Jan. 22), 1.4 (Feb. 6), 2.0 (Feb. 14) and 3.0 (Feb. 27).
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, Edge rusher, Texas A&M(Credit: Getty Images / Scott Halleran)
Cleveland narrowly avoided becoming the second team to go 0-16, and their reward was the No. 1 pick. Simply put, the Browns need help anywhere they can get it, and with the benefit of an extra first-round pick, they don't have to feel compelled to address their biggest need - quarterback - first overall. Myles Garrett is the consensus top prospect in this class and would be an immediate boost to a pass rush that ranked third-to-last in the NFL in sacks (26). Garrett has every trait a team could want from an edge rusher. His prototypical size (6-4 1/2, 272) and an excellent mix of speed, power, bend and burst helped him rack up 31 sacks and 47 tackles for loss in three seasons. Garrett is an impact player that opposing teams would have to gameplan for - something that the Browns defense hasn't had for some time. Previous picks: Garrett (1.0, 2.0, 3.0).
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina(Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka)
The 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan as head coach and John Lynch as GM and now need a long-term answer at quarterback - they signed Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in free agency, but both are more veteran stopgap/backup than franchise quarterback. There's no clear consensus on the top passer in this class. North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky has an impressive mix of arm strength and accuracy, can make all the throws and is mobile enough to extend plays with his legs. He became the starter at North Carolina this past season and struggled in the Sun Bowl against Stanford, so it remains to be seen if he just had a good season or if there's something more sustainable. Shanahan and Lynch - who both were reportedly given six-year deals - have the long-term security to groom a quarterback such as Trubisky. Previous picks: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (1.0), Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (2.0), Trubisky (3.0).
3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
The Bears are banking on the hope that Mike Glennon is their answer at quarterback, giving the former Buccaneer a three-year, $45 million deal. That means the Bears could use this pick to find an impact player elsewhere, particularly on a run defense that was sixth worst in the NFL with 121.9 yards allowed per game. Jonathan Allen was the best player on Alabama's defense and provides versatility and production. Allen has great size (6-2 5/8, 286) and plays both the run and the pass very well. He could start at five-technique alongside nose tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive end Akiem Hicks in the Bears' base 3-4 scheme. Previous picks: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (1.0), Allen (2.0, 3.0).
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
The Jaguars attacked free agency with gusto, signing new defensive starters at cornerback (A.J. Bouye), defensive lineman (Calais Campbell) and safety (Barry Church). Filling those holes means they now can go with a true "best player available" approach and give quarterback Blake Bortles some much-needed help. They already have Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon at running back, but Ivory will be 29 on March 22 and Yeldon has been underwhelming in his first two seasons. Leonard Fournette has been talked about as one of the best running back prospects ever since he set foot on LSU's campus in 2014. He has incredible size (6-0 1/2, 240) and speed (4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the Combine), and his bulldozing, powerful running style makes him a nightmare to tackle. He would take a lot of heat off Bortles and provide a much-needed boost to the Jags' running game. Previous picks: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama (1.0), Jamal Adams, S LSU (2.0, 3.0).
5. Tennessee Titans (via L.A. Rams): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson(Credit: Getty Images / Streeter Lecka)
Rishard Matthews emerged as the Titans' top receiver this year with 831 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, but as Marcus Mariota continues to grow at quarterback, the Titans need to give him more options. Clemson has a history of producing great NFL receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant), and Mike Williams looks to be next. Williams has great size at 6-3 5/8 and 218 pounds, is expected to be one of the faster receivers at the Combine in February and plays the ball well in the air thanks to his size and large catch radius. He missed 2015 with a neck injury, and while he put it behind him this season, teams still will do their due diligence. Previous picks: M. Williams (1.0, 2.0, 3.0).
6. Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU(Credit: AP / Butch Dill)
Yes, we know the Jets really need a quarterback. But bad QB play wasn't the only reason for their 5-11 record. The defense was a shell of its former shelf - the team's 27 sacks were fourth worst in the league, while the secondary had just eight interceptions (tied for second worst) and gave up a touchdown on 5.5 percent of opposing pass attempts (tied for fifth worst). The Jets cut Marcus Gilchrist, and 2014 first-rounder Calvin Pryor had a down year last season. Couple that with their reported interest in former Cardinal Tony Jefferson, and safety could be a high-priority position in the draft. LSU's Jamal Adams - son of former Giants first-round pick George Adams - is very well-rounded, with the instincts and range in pass defense to play free safety as well as the tenacity and physicality to be a strong safety who can play up in the box. He could take Gilchrist's free safety spot or play strong safety if the Jets decide to move on from Pryor. Previous picks: Tim Williams, Edge rusher, Alabama (1.0), Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (2.0, 3.0).
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State(Credit: AP / Rick Scuteri)
The Chargers' secondary is trending in the right direction with Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, but they cut Brandon Flowers, so they could use another cornerback to complement them. Marshon Lattimore declared as a redshirt sophomore and likely will be the third Ohio State cornerback in the last four drafts to go in the first round. Lattimore is very athletic and has a good mix of size (6-0, 193 pounds) and ball skills. He is strong in run support and fluid in pass coverage but only has one year of starting experience. He could start at one of the outside cornerback spots and allow either Verrett or Hayward to play in the slot, or he could play in the slot himself. Previous picks: Jamal Adams, S, LSU (1.0), Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State (2.0, 3.0).
8. Carolina Panthers: Solomon Thomas, Edge rusher, Stanford(Credit: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The Panthers re-signed Charles Johnson to a two-year deal and brought back an old friend in Julius Peppers. But they traded former second-round pick Kony Ealy to the Patriots, and Peppers is 37, so it may be time to add some youth at defensive end. In a draft class full of edge rushers, they could find a quality one early. Solomon Thomas is a balanced 4-3 end who could fit right in and make a Week 1 impact. Thomas had a strong season with 8 1/2 sacks and 14 tackles for loss and has seen his stock rise through the pre-draft process. He has the strength to set the edge against the run as well as the quickness and explosiveness to rush the passer. Previous picks: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (1.0, 2.0, 3.0).
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
After five straight playoff seasons, the Bengals took a step back in 2016. The offense seems set, so look for them to address the defense. They could use another pass-rusher opposite Carlos Dunlap, or they could find another linebacker alongside Vontaze Burfict. If the latter, Alabama's Reuben Foster would be a fine choice. Foster is a complete inside linebacker and plays aggressively in every phase. He's a brick wall against the run, can drop back in coverage and get after the quarterback. He'll need to answer questions about being kicked out of the Combine following an incident with a hospital worker, but he's an AFC North type of player and could be an immediate upgrade in the heart of the Bengals' defense. Previous picks: Foster (1.0), Solomon Thomas, Edge rusher, Stanford (2.0, 3.0).
10. Buffalo Bills: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Kevin C. Cox)
Tyrod Taylor's contract situation is resolved, so now it's time to replenish his targets - wide receiver Robert Woods left for the Rams, and tight end Charles Clay hasn't lived up to the five-year, $38 million contract he signed in 2015, leaving the Bills with just Sammy Watkins and LeSean McCoy as their only game-changing options. O.J. Howard would change that. Howard was underutilized in Alabama's offense and never had more than 45 catches or 602 receiving yards in his four seasons. But he exploded in each of the last two national championship games, totaling nine catches for 314 yards and three touchdowns. He impressed during Senior Bowl week with soft hands, and he ran a 4.51 40 and measured 6-5 3/4 and 251 pounds during the Combine. He could be the ultimate security blanket for Taylor. Previous picks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama (1.0), Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (2.0), Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (3.0).
11. New Orleans Saints: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State(Credit: Getty Images / Jamie Sabau)
New season, same old issues on defense. The Saints ranked last in pass yards allowed per game (273.8), second to last in points per game (28.4) and sixth worst in sacks (30). They need another edge rusher to take the pressure off Cameron Jordan and a safety to replace Jairus Byrd, who was cut with a post-June 1 designation. After trading for the 32nd overall pick, they don't need to target one specific position with this earlier pick and can just let the board come to them. Malik Hooker may be the best centerfielder in this class. The Ohio State product became a starter in 2016 following the departure of Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell and has shown incredible ball skills, hauling in seven interceptions and returning three for touchdowns. Like Marshon Lattimore above, Hooker only started one season. He didn't work out at the Combine after offseason shoulder and hernia surgery, but when healthy, he could help limit the big plays the Saints have been prone to surrendering. Previous picks: Derek Barnett, Edge rusher, Tennessee (1.0, 2.0), Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (3.0).
12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson(Credit: Getty Images / Christian Petersen)
Remember what we said earlier about the Browns waiting to get their quarterback of the future? Well, here goes. Deshaun Watson is a two-time Heisman runner-up and led Clemson to the national championship in January. He is a dual-threat quarterback who can move the chains with his legs, but he trusts his arm enough to stand in the pocket and make a throw rather than run. He did throw 32 interceptions in college, so he'll need to improve his decision-making. If the Browns don't decide to address quarterback in this pick, they could take a running back or a cornerback to pair with Joe Haden. Previous picks: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (1.0), Watson (2.0), DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (3.0).
13. Arizona Cardinals: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan(Credit: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus)
Arizona needs help on defense, particularly another cornerback across from Patrick Peterson and a playmaking off-ball linebacker. But wide receiver has become just as big of a need for the Cardinals -- Larry Fitzgerald will turn 34 in August and is in the final year of his contract, Michael Floyd was cut following a DUI arrest in December and John Brown battled sickle-cell anemia last season. Corey Davis probably is the most complete wide receiver in the draft. The Western Michigan star has the size at 6-2 7/8 and 209 pounds, which he uses to his advantage in 50-50 situations. He's a crisp route-runner and can make defenders miss in the open field. Davis has lined up outside and in the slot, giving him extra versatility. Something to watch: If any of the top quarterbacks make it this far, could head coach Bruce Arians pass up drafting Carson Palmer's eventual replacement? Previous picks: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (1.0), DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (2.0), Davis (3.0).
14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State(Credit: Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann)
The Eagles upgraded at wide receiver in a big way both literally and figuratively, signing 6-3 Alshon Jeffrey as well as deep-threat Torrey Smith. Now they need to give second-year quarterback Carson Wentz a reliable running game - Ryan Mathews will be 30 in October, has battled numerous injuries in his career (including a season-ending herniated disc last year) and only would cost $1 million to cut, while Darren Sproles will be 34 in June and is not an early-down back. Dalvin Cook is right there with Leonard Fournette as the top running backs in this class. Cook has an excellent mix of speed, quickness and vision, and has shown off some reliable receiving chops as well (79 receptions in 38 career games). He dealt with his share of injuries in college and he had a lackluster Combine, but his big-play ability in the Eagles' offense could be too good to pass up. Previous picks: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (1.0, 2.0), John Ross, WR, Washington (3.0).
15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, Edge rusher, Tennessee(Credit: Getty Images / Frederick Breedon)
The Colts had the sixth worst passing defense in 2016, allowing 262.5 yards per game. They were tied for the 10th fewest sacks. Six of those 33 sacks are gone to a combination of cap-casualty cuts (D'Qwell Jackson) and retirement (Robert Mathis). Another 15 hit free agency when Erik Walden, Akeem Ayers, Trent Cole were not re-signed, so more pass-rushers will be needed. Derek Barnett has good size (6-3, 259 pounds) and can rush the passer from either side of the line, using active hands to shed blockers and disrupt plays in the backfield. A lot of his production at Tennessee stemmed from the Vols' aggressive style of defense, so he'll need to prove he can transcend scheme fit. But the technique and talent are there. Previous picks: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (1.0, 2.0), Barnett (3.0).
16. Baltimore Ravens: Tim Williams, Edge rusher, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Tom Pennington)
The easy move here would be to give the Ravens an inside linebacker to replace Zachary Orr, who retired at age 24 because of a spinal condition, but GM Ozzie Newsome has shown a knack for finding hidden gems at that position. Instead, they could use more pass-rushers - they drafted Matt Judon in the fifth round last year, but they cut Elvis Dumervil at the start of free agency, and Terrell Suggs will be 35 in October. Alabama's Tim Williams has good length for a pass-rusher at 6-2 7/8, and he recorded 19 1/2 sacks in two seasons as a starter. He's explosive off the snap, has a good array of pass-rush moves and is improving against the run and in coverage. However, there are off-field concerns. Williams was charged in September with carrying a pistol without a permit. Previous picks: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State (1.0), T. Williams (2.0, 3.0).
17. Washington Redskins: John Ross, WR, Washington(Credit: Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr)
It's difficult enough to try to match teams with potential prospects when said teams have a GM in place. So when Washington fired Scot McCloughan, it threw their draft forecast into flux. Their original needs didn't change - they still need some help along the defensive line, a safety and - but a lot will depend on the new GM's philosophy. Washington signed Terrelle Pryor and expects to have 2016 first-rounder Josh Doctson back from injury, but they still could use a deep threat after losing DeSean Jackson to Tampa Bay. Lucky for them, there's a receiver in this class who athletically is nearly a spitting image of Jackson. Washington's John Ross set the Combine record in the 40-yard dash at 4.22 seconds and is an incredibly fun receiver to watch. The speedy deep threat can remind people of Jackson with the way he can beat defenders on crossers and fly routes, but his lengthy injury history - meniscus tears in both knees, a left ACL tear and microfracture surgery, plus shoulder surgery after the Combine - could give teams pause. Previous picks: Solomon Thomas, Edge rusher, Stanford (1.0), Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State (2.0, 3.0).
18. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama(Credit: AP / Samantha Baker)
The Titans signed former Patriot Logan Ryan in free agency, but they still need to add to a secondary that gave up the third-most passing yards per game (269.2). Marlon Humphrey is a dual-sport athlete who anchored Alabama's 4x400-meter relay team as a freshman and won the 110 meter hurdles (13.67) and the 400 meter hurdles (50.75) at the 2013 World Youth Track & Field Championships as a high school junior. He has good size at 6-0 1/4, 197 pounds and has the physicality to match up with bigger receivers on the outside. He could stand to improve his technique, but the physical traits are there for him to become an impact NFL cornerback. Previous picks: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida (1.0, 2.0, 3.0).
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford(Credit: Getty Images / Sean M. Haffey)
The Bucs have an ascending young quarterback-receiver tandem in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, but they still need more help on offense, especially since Doug Martin must serve the remaining three games of his four-game PED suspension. Martin actually could end up being a cap casualty because the suspension voided the full guarantee of his $7 million base salary. Christian McCaffrey could be a great fit for Winston. The Stanford Swiss Army knife, former Heisman finalist and son of former Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey can line up in the backfield, out wide or in the slot and also can return kicks and punts. He had an excellent Combine, and even though he doesn't have great size at 5-11 1/4 and 202 pounds, he has shown he can handle early-down duties in addition to a third-down pass-catching role. Previous picks: John Ross, WR, Washington (1.0, 2.0), Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State (3.0).
20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama(Credit: Getty Images / Jamie Squire)
The Broncos ranked 27th in rushing yards per game (92.8) and 21st in passing yards per game (230.3). Both issues can be remedied with a better presence in the trenches, even after adding Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson. Alabama's Cam Robinson has excellent size at 6-6 1/4, 322 pounds and is an excellent run blocker. He'll have to answer questions about an offseason arrest on three charges, including illegal possession of stolen firearms and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Robinson needs a good amount of work as a pass protector, but he could start out of the gate at right tackle and help create running lanes for C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker. Previous picks: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (1.0), Robinson (2.0, 3.0).
21. Detroit Lions: Takkarist McKinley, Edge rusher, UCLA(Credit: AP / Young Kwak)
The Lions tied the Browns for second-to-last in the NFL with 26 sacks. Devin Taylor had 4 1/2 of them, second on the team, but his contract is up this offseason. Kerry Hyder had a breakout season with eight sacks, but the Lions still need pass-rush help across from Ziggy Ansah. Takkarist McKinley could be a perfect fit after a breakout senior season with 10 sacks. He has excellent speed and a non-stop motor, but he still could use some work as a run defender and had shoulder surgery after the Combine, which could affect his availability for the start of the season. Previous picks: Charles Harris, Edge rusher, Missouri (1.1, 2.0, 3.0).
22. Miami Dolphins: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt(Credit: AP / Mark Humphrey)
The Dolphins had the third worst rush defense in the NFL at 140.4 rush yards per game and were gashed for 167 yards and two scores by Le'Veon Bell in their wild-card game. Kiko Alonso battled injuries, but even when he's healthy, Miami could use another off-ball linebacker alongside him to stop the run and help defend the shallow middle of the field. Zach Cunningham is a solid defender with excellent range and athleticism. The Vanderbilt product has a nose for the ball and flies in to make plays in run defense and coverage. He could play inside linebacker or slide outside if needed, giving him added versatility. Previous picks: Cunningham (1.1, 2.0, 3.0).
23. Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin(Credit: AP / David J. Phillip)
The Giants' revamped defense paid off during the regular season, leading the team to its first playoff appearance since 2011. Now it's time for them to get their offense to that same level. The Giants have a group of dynamic wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard as well as a promising young running back in Paul Perkins, but they have two major holes that need to be addressed: left tackle and tight end. Wisconsin's Ryan Ramczyk battled a hip injury that required offseason surgery and caused him to miss Combine drills, but he still could become a sought-after prospect because of his well-rounded skillset. The 6-5 5/8, 310-pound Ramczyk is strong in both run blocking and in pass protection. His presence on the left side of the offensive line would allow Ereck Flowers to play right tackle, where he can put his run-blocking abilities to better use while he continues to grow as a pass-blocker. Previous picks: Taco Charlton, Edge rusher, Michigan (1.1, 2.0), O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (3.0).
24. Oakland Raiders: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State(Credit: AP / Al Goldis)
The Raiders have one of the NFL's brightest young pass-rushers in Khalil Mack. After that, well, their defense gave up an NFL-worst 6.1 yards per play and had a league-low 25 sacks. They need to get Mack help. That's where Malik McDowell could come in handy. The Michigan State defensive tackle has a hulking 6-6 1/4, 295-pound frame, but he still can get leverage on opposing linemen and uses his quickness to get into the backfield. McDowell could be a true three-down player and help Oakland against both the run and pass.Previous picks: McDowell (1.1), Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (2.0, 3.0).
25. Houston Texans: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame(Credit: Getty Images / Norm Hall)
Brock Osweiler is gone after one season and it's still unclear if they'll be able to bring in Tony Romo. Even if they do get him, their long-term answer at quarterback is not on the roster. Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer has good size at 6-4 1/4 and 233 pounds, is mobile and throws a nice deep ball. He struggled a bit in 2016 and can sometimes overthrow his intended targets, but he has all the tools teams look for in a franchise signal-caller. He could start right away or sit behind a veteran - whether it's Romo or Tom Savage - for a year as he works on his accuracy. Previous picks: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan (1.2, 2.0), Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (3.0).
26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah(Credit: Getty Images / Lachlan Cunningham)
The Seahawks drafted Germain Ifedi in the first round last year, but the offensive line needs more talent, especially if Seattle hopes to keep Russell Wilson upright and healthy. Picking this late in the first round, they could go with Utah's Garett Bolles. The 6-5, 300-pound Bolles fits the athletic criteria the Seahawks seem to look for in their offensive linemen and is very physical. His combination of on-field ability and off-field maturity could be what the Seahawks need. Previous picks: Bolles (1.2, 3.0), Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (2.0).
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida(Credit: AP / Chris O'Meara)
Marcus Peters is one of the NFL's best cornerbacks on a Chiefs pass defense that finished tied for the league lead in interceptions. But, the unit still ranked 18th in passing yards per game allowed, so it wouldn't hurt for Kansas City to add another lockdown corner. Teez Tabor - his given name is Jalen, but he goes by his nickname "Teez" - is one of two potential first-round cornerbacks from Florida and could be a good fit here. Tabor certainly has the size (6-0 1/2, 199 pounds) and athleticism that teams look for in cornerbacks, but his 4.62-second 40 at the Combine raised some questions about his straight-line speed. He also doesn't lack in confidence and bravado, but sometimes that feistiness can backfire - he was suspended for the 2016 season opener after getting into a fight with another teammate, was suspended one game in 2015 for refusing to take a drug test and called college athletics a "modern form of slavery" on Twitter in January (though he later deleted the tweet and apologized for using the comparison). Still, he has tremendous talent, which could be enough to warrant an early pick. Previous picks: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (1.2, 2.0, 3.0)
28. Dallas Cowboys: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan(Credit: Getty Images / Leon Halip)
The Cowboys' primary need still is pass-rusher, but they also could use help at strong safety after both Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox signed elsewhere in free agency. Jabrill Peppers may be the most versatile player in this class, having played as many as 13 positions while at Michigan. He projects more as a strong safety at this point, but he could bulk up and help as a coverage linebacker if the Cowboys want to use him alongside Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith (assuming Smith's knee is healthy). It'll be up to defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to find a way to maximize Peppers' impact. Previous picks: Takkarist McKinley, Edge rusher, UCLA (1.2, 2.0, 3.0).
29. Green Bay Packers: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida(Credit: Getty Images / Rob Foldy)
The Packers cut Sam Shields earlier this month after the longtime starting cornerback missed the entire season following a concussion in Week 1, his fourth documented concussion and second in a nine-month span. They have a young trio of cornerbacks in Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and Ladarius Gunter and reportedly brought Davon House back on a one-year deal, but injuries to both Randall and Rollins exposed the secondary's lack of depth. That was evident when Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and the Falcons torched the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. If Quincy Wilson manages to fall this far, he may be the easy pick for GM Ted Thompson. Wilson doesn't jump out as much as Florida teammate Teez Tabor, but he may be just as good with his ideal frame (6-1 1/2, 211 pounds), excellent ball skills and physical style of play. Previous picks: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (1.3, 2.0), Sidney Jones, CB, Washington (3.0).
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple(Credit: AP / Butch Dill)
James Harrison will be 39 in May, Lawrence Timmons signed with Miami and Jarvis Jones is a free agent, leaving the Steelers dangerously thin at pass-rusher behind Bud Dupree. Even if they keep Timmons (Jones, a former first-rounder, has disappointed since being drafted), that may not preclude the Steelers from getting another edge guy. Haason Reddick has seen his stock skyrocket through the pre-draft process. The speedy Temple product checked in at 6-1 1/2 and 237 pounds at the Combine and can line up outside to rush the passer or slide inside in coverage alongside Ryan Shazier. If that sounds a lot like how the Steelers used the 6-1, 234-pound Timmons, it should, making Reddick a great fit here. Previous picks:Carl Lawson, Edge rusher, Auburn (1.3, 2.0, 3.0).
31. Atlanta Falcons: Taco Charlton, Edge rusher, Michigan(Credit: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus)
The Falcons had 34 sacks. However, 15 1/2 of them came from Vic Beasley, and only one other player had at least five, so they need another guy who can get to the quarterback. Taco Charlton has great size (6-5 5/8, 277 pounds), versatility and a high motor. The Michigan product has the speed to get after the quarterback or pursue the ballcarrier in the run game. He could play end in new defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel's base formation while sliding inside to three-technique defensive tackle on passing downs. Previous picks: DeMarcus Walker, Edge rusher, Florida State (1.4, 2.0), Charlton (3.0).
32. New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots): Carl Lawson, Edge rusher, Auburn(Credit: AP / David J. Phillip)
The Saints pulled off a shocker of a trade in the opening days of free agency, sending former first-round receiver Brandin Cooks to New England in exchange for the final pick of the first round. This could be a good chance for the Saints to continue to fortify a porous defense, especially at edge rusher across from Cameron Jordan. Carl Lawson could have been a first-rounder last year as a redshirt sophomore, but he opted to return to Auburn. Lawson has the ability to bend the edge when getting after the quarterback and has a good mix of speed and power. The question is whether or not he'll be able to stay healthy - he had a torn ACL as a freshman and battled a hip injury as a sophomore - but he put it all together as a junior and showed the kind of pass-rush ability the Saints need.