The Detroit Lions have grown all too familiar with picking in the top half of the NFL Draft. Fans often find themselves rooting for more losses by Thanksgiving to acquire a higher draft choice. The hope has always been to find that player who is a generational talent to “Restore the Roar” in the Motor City.
Since General Manager Bob Quinn took control in 2016, the Lions have had success with both of his NFL Draft weekends. Quinn has made a couple of things quite clear in his first two drafts. One, the Lions will take a quarterback in every draft class. Quinn has cited the importance of a serviceable backup as well as potential future trade bait at the QB position. Second, Detroit now values the best player available on their board over team needs.
2016 NFL Draft
Two football seasons after the 2016 NFL Draft, let us take a look at who the Lions chose and where they stand with the team moving forward.
Taylor Decker during pre-game warm ups prior to 38-24 win vs. the Cleveland Browns. Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press
(16) 1st Round – OT, Taylor Decker, Ohio State
(46) 2nd Round – DT, A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
(95) 3rd Round – C, Graham Glasgow, Michigan
(111) 4th Round – S, Miles Killebrew, Southern Utah
(236) 7th Round – RB, Dwayne Washington, Washington
Each of the first four selections are impact players heading into the 2018 season. Out of the ten players selected in the 2016 draft, Williams and Landes are the only two not on the current roster. Drafted in the sixth round, Anthony Zettel has proven to be one of the steals of the draft. Meanwhile, Joe Dahl, figures to be in the thick of the competition for a starting spot in the upcoming season.
2017 NFL Draft
In 2017, the Lions had what appeared to be another great draft. It is too early to tell whether the players will continue to perform or have a setback in their second year. However, here are the selections from the 2017 NFL Draft.
7th Round (250) – DE, Pat O’Connor, Eastern Michigan
Top 5 picks in Lions History
5.) Matthew Stafford – 2009 NFL Draft – Round 1
Fifth, Stafford has to be on this list as he is the greatest quarterback in team history. The only thing left to do is win in the playoffs. If he can put together some division titles and playoff wins, or God willing, a Super Bowl victory, he will vault up this list and challenge for the top spot.
4.) Robert Porcher – 1992 NFL Draft – Round 1
Robert Porcher Photo: Julian H. Gonzalez, Detroit Free Press
Fourth, Porcher spent 12 seasons in the Honolulu Blue. He was a cornerstone leader for the Lions throughout the 90s. He finished his career with 95.5 sacks, the all-time Lions sack leader. His durability made him one of the most dependable players in Lions history as well. He played in 187 total games, only missing five games throughout his entire career.
3.) Charlie Sanders – 1968 NFL Draft – Round 3
Third, Sanders is a Hall of Fame tight end and is one of the best to play for the Lions. The Lions drafted him in the third round and he spent his whole 10-year career in Detroit. Charlie made seven Pro Bowls and named to the 1970s All-Decade Team by the NFL. When he finally decided to hang it up, he brought in 336 catches, 4,817 yards, and 31 touchdowns.
2.) Joe Schmidt – 1953 NFL Draft – Round 7
Second, Schmidt is not a household name among casual fans, however; he has not been lost in Detroit Lions history. The Lions selected him in the seventh round out of Pittsburgh in 1953. Also, Joe Schmidt went on to coach the Lions, although he was a much better player than coach. Most notably, he helped Detroit to two NFL Championships in 1953 and 1957. In 1960, Schmidt was the unanimous NFL MVP. The Sporting News ranked Schmidt at number 65 in their 1999 list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.
1.) Barry Sanders – 1989 NFL Draft – Round 1
Finally, was there any doubt as to who would hold this top spot? Barry Sanders is arguably the greatest running back in the history of the NFL. Barry played for ten seasons and made the Pro Bowl in every single season. He sits as the third leading rusher in NFL history with 15,269 yards in only 10 seasons (1,527 yards per season average). Meanwhile, Emmitt Smith – first place – had 18,355 yards over 14 seasons (1,311 yards per season). In second place, Walter Payton played 13 seasons and had 16,726 yards (1,287 yards per season). If Barry had not retired while still in his prime and continued on his pace, he would be the unequivocal all-time rushing leader. Even with only 3 more seasons played, Barry would have added 4,581 yards to his total, putting him at 19,850 yards. An entire article could be dedicated to Barry Sanders. One thing is for sure, he brought fans to their feet like no one before or since. Thanks for the memories Barry.
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The NFL is a quarterback-driven league and defenses have long been trying to find ways to shut down the opposing quarterback. Some build the defensive line and try to pressure him, others find defensive backs to shut down the guys running routes.
Moreover, the linebacker is the quarterback and leader of the defense. He will be making adjustments, calling plays for the defense and communicating with the sideline in between plays.
The debate for the Lions’ greatest linebacker of all time has to start with Chris Spielman. Some of the greatest in NFL history are Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Jack Lambert and Mike Singletary. These men led great defenses.
When discussing the greatest defenses of all time, great leadership and dominance at the linebacker position is a common theme.
The 2018 Detroit Lions linebacker group is unknown and unproven for the most part. Promisingly, an experienced coach, Al Golden, will be leading this group. Golden previously was the head coach at the University of Miami (2011-15) and Temple University (2006-10).
He started his coaching career at Virginia (1994-96) as a graduate assistant. From 1997-99 he was the linebackers coach at Boston College, then at Penn State in the same position during the 2000 season. From there, he went on to be the defensive coordinator at Virginia from 2001-05. He brings years of coaching experience (23 at the college level) to a young group of players. However, he is somewhat new to the NFL as this is only his third year in the league and his first as a linebackers coach (previous two as the tight ends coach for the Lions).
Jarrad Davis, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Nick Bellore and Steve Longa
The meeting room for linebackers features many new faces, almost as many new as familiar.
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jarrad Davis returns as the unquestionable leader and face of the group. He produced well in his first season with 96 tackles, two sacks and one interception. Davis showed potential to be the leader of the Lions defense for years to come.
The other returning Lions are Reeves-Maybin, Bellore and Longa. Reeves-Maybin began to gain more of a role late in the season as he tallied 14 tackles and a half sack in the final four games and could compete for a starting position in 2018.
Bellore figures to impact special teams. Bellore, out of Central Michigan University, showed his ability to be a leader and has quickly become one of the most versatile players on the Lions roster. In addition to special teams, he contributed two starts in Week 3 and 4. Furthermore, he took on the new role of fullback on offense. He even caught his first career touchdown pass against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13.
Longa is another contributor to special teams who will compete with Bellore for backup reps on the defense. He could see an increased role due to Bellore’s increase in usage on offense.
Devon Kennard (NYG), Christian Jones (CHI) and Jonathan Freeny (NE)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Newly added linebackers Devon Kennard, Christian Jones and Jonathan Freeny will compete for starting roles.
Kennard comes to Detroit from the Giants and looks to be a solid scheme fit in 3-4 packages. The Lions will incorporate Matt Patricia’s multiple defensive system. Thus, adding players to fit multiple packages adds depth and versatility to that side of the ball.
Jones joins the Lions from division rival, Chicago. He will be in competition for a starting role after a breakout 2017 season. Jones started 16 games and recorded 90 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble.
Freeny is a signing made for depth. He has been an experienced locker room presence and has worked with Patricia in New England, winning Super Bowl LI.
The group features a lot of new faces and young returning players. It will be a position to watch going into OTAs and training camp.
Who will distance themselves as the starters and show playmaking ability within Coach Patricia’s new system? Will the Lions add more talent in the draft to increase competitiveness? The Lions linebackers will be important to help stop the run and assist in pressuring the quarterback.
Are they up to the task? Can Jarrad Davis take the next step toward becoming a stalwart in the Lions defense like Chris Spielman?
Featured image by AP Photo
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The Game Haus is back with another edition of Draftmas. This is the 22nd edition of Draftmas and it focuses on the Oakland Raiders.
Courtesy of USATSI
The Oakland Raiders had one of their best seasons since 2002. The 2017 Raiders went 12-4 but their postseason seemed to end for them before they even started. When Derek Carr went down in Week 16, Raider Nation and probably even the players and coaches knew their was no way to go far in the postseason. With Connor Cook behind center, the Raiders lost their first playoff game since 2002. The 2018 Raiders do have a lot of great pieces coming back to the team. Seven Raiders went to the Pro Bowl, a franchise-high since 1991, and the most players for any team in 2017.
PICKS AND NEEDS
The Raiders have eight picks in this draft, with one in each of the first six rounds and in the seventh round they have two picks.
First Round: (1) No. 24
Second Round: (1) No. 56
Third Round: (1) No. 88
Fourth Round: (1) No. 129
Fifth Round: (1) No. 168
Sixth Round: (1) No. 208
Seventh Round: (2) No. 242 and No. 244
Running Back: Yes, the Raiders do likely have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield now, but that still doesn’t fill the void in the at the running back position. I could see the Raiders finding a back later in the draft, most likely late Day 2.
Middle Linebacker: The Raiders need a rugged and power middle linebacker in that 3-4 scheme. They have Pro Bowler Khalil Mack on the outside, but they need a force up the middle as well.
Conrnerback: In this league, you can never have too many good corners. Oakland could definitely use another good corner to play with Sean Smith and complete their secondary.
Defensive Tackle: The defensive tackles on this roster are awful, but they could get whole lot better. Defensive tackle is not a major concern, but the Raiders could get some value from this deep pool of defensive tackles in the draft.
TARGETS AND THOUGHTS
These predictions are without trades.
First Round, Pick 24: Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida
If Jarrad Davis didn’t have some durability issues he could be a Top 15 pick, but most likely he could slip into the late first round to the Oakland Raiders. He shows tremendous Football IQ as he breaks down plays and then attacks. He is very good against the run and his acceleration and closing speed makes him a very good blitzing inside linebacker. Davis also has some pretty fluid hips and can stick with most tight ends and some slot receivers. When you think of middle linebacker dawning the black and sliver, you think of an intimating presence. Davis has that. He wore a neck roll and didn’t wear gloves. That is the pure definition of a nasty Oakland Raider 3-4 inside linebacker.
Second Round, Pick 55: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Two Florida Gators back to back. Teez Tabor another one of the great cornerbacks Will Muschamp played in The Swamp before his departure. Tabor teases the quarterback into making bad plays and he makes them pay for it. And when you turn on the tape, you see that. He plays with the supreme confidence that every great NFL corner has. He has very good ball skills and will come back down with the ball in his hands more times than the offensive player.
Tabor has the size to play the game and his style of play matches up very well with how the Raiders want to us their corners. He can definitely cover the third of the field and shut down most opposing number one and number two receivers right now in the league. And to be a Raider, you have to have some baggage. It’s how Al Davis would have liked it.
Third Round, Pick 88: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
If you need a defensive lineman, one of your first stops is definitely Clemson, S.C. Clemson has produced nine Top 100 defensive linemen since 2007. Last year Watkins led the National Champion Clemson Tigers in sacks from the interior. He is also sneaky athletic and in the 3-4 disguise can help the defense and help Khalil Mack get more chances to get one-on-one matchups.
The Raiders were one injury from a very interesting playoff push. If Derek Carr can come back healthy and if they follow this draft profile, they should have a season that could contend with the 2017 season.
The Outback Bowl doesn’t have the most prospects, but there are a lot of players that will go in the first rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft. Both teams specialize in defense and have the prospects to back that up. These are the best prospects in the Outback Bowl:
Jalen Tabor, CB
Projected Draft Range: First round
Some believe that Tabor is better than former teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, who was drafted by the Buccaneers in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Tabor is a shut down corner, but has good ball skills when the ball is thrown his way. He is well built at six feet and 201 pounds.
Jarrad Davis, LB
Projected Draft Range: First round-second round
Davis has battled injuries this season, but is still one of the best linebacker prospects in the class. In nine games he had 60 total tackles with six for loss. He is good at stopping the run, but needs to work on his coverage skills to stay on the field for three downs in the NFL.
Caleb Brantley, DT
Projected Draft Range: First round-second round
Caleb Brantley (Photo courtesy: wuft.com)
If teams want a run stopping defensive tackle Brantley should be their choice. He sheds blockers with relative ease and gets to the ball carrier. Brantley is even able to take on double teams and still get the stop. The area of his game he needs to work on is his pass rushing. He has recorded just 1.5 sacks this season.
Desmond King, CB
Projected Draft Range: First round-second round
Desmond King (Photo courtesy: hawkcentral.com)
King has some of the best ball skills in the class and had eight interceptions in 2015. That season he even won the Jim Thorpe Award as the best defensive back. He has added value in the return game. King’s speed has come into question by some NFL teams. There is even rumblings of him moving to safety in the NFL.
Jaleel Johnson, DT
Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round
Johnson is a good run stopper as a defensive tackle, but is surprisingly a great pass rusher from the interior too. He has 7.5 sacks this season. Johnson has great size at six feet three inches and 310 pounds. His pass rushing ability may help him move up draft boards.
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Notre Dame may be slumping right now, but people are still raving about how good Kizer is. He has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback: arm strength, accuracy, build and football IQ. His build fits with Hue Jackson very well, as before he worked with Andy Dalton, he preferred big strong armed quarterbacks. The Browns are starting to build a roster, but need a quarterback to help them win games.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If Chip Kelly is still the head coach, he’s going to need some of his type of players to succeed. Watson is appealing because of his dual-threat abilities and should fit right into how Kelly wants to run his offense. At Clemson this season, Watson hasn’t looked quite as good as he did last season, but scouts have enough tape to see what he is capable of.
3. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Three quarterbacks in a row? If these three teams draft in the top three they will all be looking for quarterbacks. The Bears are going to move on from Jay Cutler. Kaaya is more inclined to stay in the pocket than the other two quarterbacks, but has decent mobility himself. He is accurate, has average arm strength and makes smart plays with the ball. One knock on Kaaya is that he doesn’t make the big plays that you would expect out of a highly touted quarterback. He also doesn’t have many impressive wins at Miami
4. New York Jets- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Jets have many issues on offense, including quarterback, but before a quarterback can be successful for them, they need the offensive line to step up. If the Jets can improve their offensive line play and get a running game going, it’s possible one of their young quarterbacks (Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty) can be moderately successful.
5. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The defense hasn’t been great for the Panthers this season, but the running game has also been an issue. A backfield with Cam Newton and Fournette would be hard for any defense to stop. Fournette has been injured this season, but did come back and have a career day against Ole Miss. The Panthers can get a steal here, as Fournette is one of the two best players in this class.
6. San Diego Chargers- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett is the best player in this class, but quarterbacks always rise on draft day. The Chargers got Joey Bosa in the first round this season, and can have one of the best young front sevens in football with Garrett and him paired together. Garrett is a better pass rusher than he is a run stopper, but is still good at stopping the run. He pursues plays very well and is a sure tackler.
7. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Ryan Tannehill is taking baby steps under new head coach Adam Gase, so they will likely want to see how he progresses after another year in the system. Cook can run the ball in between the tackles, but can also be a valuable receiving weapon for Tannehill out of the back field. If Jay Ajayi continues his good play, the Dolphins may be able to address other needs.
8. Indianapolis Colts- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Alabama’s win over Texas A&M was highlighted by a scoop and score by Allen. He is a versatile defensive lineman who can stop the run and rush the passer at very high levels. He has six sacks in eight games for the Crimson Tide. Indianapolis needs to upgraded every position on defense, so they can take the best defensive player available.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
The Bengals picked a corner with their first pick last season, William Jackson III, but Adam Jones’ play has been declining and Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t lived up to expectations. Jackson is a great cover corner, who is one of the most athletic corners in college football. He also can provide a spark in the return game for the Bengals.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida
Tampa Bay needs to improve their defense if they want to continue to grow in the NFC South. They are in the bottom half of the league in pass yards allowed. A lot of scouts have said that Tabor is better than his former Florida teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, who was selected 11th in last years’ draft by the Buccaneers and is having a good season thus far.
11. New Orleans Saints- Jabril Peppers, LB/DB, Michigan
Peppers is the best defensive player in college football this season. He is versatile enough to play corner, safety, linebacker and even return kicks and plays offense for the Wolverines. The only knock on Peppers defensively, is that he isn’t a ball hawk. He has zero interceptions in his career at Michigan, but is a sure tackler and hardly ever gets beat in coverage. The Saints will be happy to have someone so versatile on their defense, which is so bad.
If Gus Bradley wants to bring a legion of boom feel to Jacksonville, he needs to bring a couple more players in. The Jaguars are doing better against the pass this season, but can continue to build in their secondary. Humphrey isn’t necessarily a shut-down corner, but makes plays on the ball when it is thrown his way.
13. Detroit Lions- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Detroit doesn’t have the same defensive line depth they had a few years ago. All four players on the Lions’ defensive line have failing grades according to Profootballfocus.com. Harris follows a line of good pass rushers coming from Missouri, but is really good at stopping the run. He had 18.5 tackles for loss last season for the Tigers.
14. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adams is the best safety in this class (if Peppers isn’t counted). He is really good at stopping the run, but proved he can cover elite tight ends, by holding Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram to 15 yards receiving. The Rebels tried to find Engram in the end zone a couple times, but Adams shut him down. The Titans have a solid pass rush, but can improve their secondary to make their defense more dynamic.
Smith-Schuster had a slow start at the beginning of the season, but is picking it up as of late. He is the best receiver right now in a bad class of wide receivers and has good speed, but sloppy route running at times. The Ravens have Mike Wallave and Steve Smith at wide receiver so replacements will be needed.
16. New York Giants- Malik Mcdowell, DL, Michigan State
Mcdowell can play multiple positions on the defensive line and eats up multiple blockers. This will be great news for the Giants who have an NFL-low six sacks on the season.
17. Tennessee Titans (via Rams)- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Williams is tall and long with a lot of speed, making him a great target for Clemson. He is recovering nicely from his severe neck injury last season. Tennessee needs a good target for Marcus Mariota, other than Delanie Walker, to make their offense more potent.
The Cardinals do have Robert Nkemdiche from the NFL Draft last year, but Calais Campbell can’t play forever. Brantley can be a future replacement for him.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The future of Joe Thomas in Cleveland is in doubt, but to be honest the Browns have a lot of needs. McGlinchey has played both left tackle and right tackle in his college career, but will probably end up as a right tackle in the pros.
20. Kansas City Chiefs- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Marcus Peters has played really well for the Chiefs, but the other corners have not played well. White is a very athletic corner, who is also a leader on the field for the Tigers. LSU awards the number 18 to a player who is a leader and White is in his second straight year with that number. He is a leader among leaders at LSU.
21. Green Bay Packers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King is the best corner against the run in this class. He is also a ball-hawk with eight interceptions last year. His athleticism is apparent on punt and kick returns. The Packers don’t have many good corners so upgrading is key for that position.
22. Houston Texans- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Texans don’t have too many glaring needs. Brock Osweiler is still up in the air, but for now he is still the quarterback. Houston could at the very least use some depth for their secondary. Hooker makes plays at safety, but is a little bit inexperienced.
23. Washington Redskins- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Washington already has a good pass-rush, but if their isn’t a chance to upgrade their offense with this pick, they should continue to build that defense. Barnett is one of the best pass-rushers in the class and can have an instant impact, but has been battling injuries this season.
24. Buffalo Bills- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama
Rex Ryan has the Bills getting to the quarterback this season, but they are in the same boat as the Redskins with this pick. Williams is almost exclusively a pass-rusher, but college football analysts and scouts are raving about the impact he can have at the next level.
25. Oakland Raiders- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
The inside linebackers for the Raiders have played awful. In order to become the elite team they want to be, Oakland needs to improve this position. Davis is one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the country. He is a solid player, but won’t have any elite qualities as a pro.
26. Denver Broncos- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
At 20 years old, Johnson’s body is still developing, but he is already 6’7″ and 311 pounds. He has developed into a great tackle at Florida State, but can blossom in Denver. The Broncos might be relying on an unproven quarterback, so they will need to make his protection a priority.
27. Atlanta Falcons- Dawuane Smoot, DE/OLB, Illinois
The Falcons are another team that has a bad defense that needs improving. Smoot might appear to be a good pass rusher based on his DE/LB capabilities, but is actually a better run stopper.
Reuben Foster just feels like a Steeler. Pittsburgh’s linebackers aren’t that talented and they need inside linebackers to step up. Foster is a sure tackler who might be the most talented linebacker to come out of Alabama in the Nick Saban era.
29. Seattle Seahawks- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Christine Michael has been solid for the Seahawks, but they have a chance to take a guy who might be the most versatile running back in the class. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, runs routes like receivers and is one of the best kick returners in college football.
There has been one constant for the Cowboys in terms of needs and that is defensive line depth. Phillips has five sacks on the season and forced a fumble against Michigan.
31. New England Patriots- Marcus Maye, S, Florida
The Patriots don’t absolutely need safety help, but they will take the bst player available or trade the pick. Maye is the hardest hitting safety in the class and will deter receivers from going across the middle.
32. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)- Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
The Eagles’ defense is having a great year, now that they aren’t on the field so much like they were under Chip Kelly. The weak spot for the defense is the corner back position. Tankersley had five interceptions last season, but isn’t getting thrown at as much this season, and thus has none this season.
The order of this mock draft is determined by loosely predicting how the teams will finish this season.
Desahun Watson is not only a threat to win the Heisman Trophy, but also could be the number one pick in the draft. (Photo courtesy: foxsports.com)
San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If the 49ers have a bad enough year to land the number one pick, they are going to need a new quarterback to run Chip Kelly’s offense, if he is still the coach. It is a weak class for quarterbacks, but they always are picked above value in the NFL Draft. Watson fits what Chip Kelly wants perfectly: He is mobile and accurate. With over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards last season, Watson should be able to have an impact at the NFL level. Watson isn’t the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback and had a bad passing game during a deluge in a win against Notre Dame last season, so he needs to prove that his stature and hand size are capable of being the number one pick. He also needs to show more consistency on deeper throws, but will have a whole season to clear that up.
2. Cleveland Browns- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Browns may also be in the market for a quarterback, but haven’t had much luck drafting them in the first round. They have multiple first round picks, they acquired one from the Eagles, so they can afford to take the best player available. Fournette is a physical freak who is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He is fast, strong and has good vision. LSU’s offense doesn’t allow him to have too much time playing in a passing attack, but he needs to work on his pass catching and pass protection to be more well-rounded.
3. Tennessee Titans- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Titans have a couple of good players on offense now, but still need to improve their defense. Myles Garrett is the best defensive player on the board. He may not fit the Titans 3-4 scheme, but will be able to adapt to it. Garrett should continue to break records for sacks this season and be the premier pass rusher in college football. He needs to continue to progress in his run defense, but should still be picked high without too many improvements in that facet of his game.
4. Detroit Lions- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Robinson can help a terrible offensive line in Detroit. The Lions did draft Eric Decker in last year’s draft, but that isn’t enough to fix that line. Robinson has the size and technique to be the top tackle selected and will have games against Garrett and Tennessee star defensive end, Derek Barnett to prove it.
5. Atlanta Falcons- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Atlanta desperately needs better linebacker play, but could also use pass rushing help. Barnett has over 20 sacks in his first two years of college football. He is a bitter shorter and slimmer than Myles Garrett, but produces almost as much.
6. Cleveland Browns- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Missouri has a good recent history of producing good players from their front seven. Harris was second team All-SEC last season, which is no small feat considering the top of this draft. The Browns continue to take the best player available here and get a player that fits their defense.
Dalvin Cook was injured last season and still played well. (Photo courtesy: tbo.com)
7. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
There is no doubt that it is the year of the running back. Dalvin Cook had a nagging hamstring injury last season, and still rushed for 1,691 yards. He reminds a lot of NFL minds of Reggie Bush because of his speed and elusiveness. The Dolphins have Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi, but Foster won’t be able to play much longer and Ajayi is unproven.
8. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
With another bad year for Jay Cutler, it may be time to move on. Kaaya has a lot of the tools teams want in a franchise quarterback, but needs to continue to increase his efficiency. He completed 61% of his passes last season and NFL teams will look for him to show more accuracy.
9. San Diego Chargers- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Johnson has good size and talent for a cornerstone offensive tackle. The Chargers desperately need offensive line help if they plan on Phillip Rivers being able to play for much longer.
10. New Orleans Saints- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Tabor was just suspended for Florida’s first game for a violation of team rules. His former teammate, Vernon Hargreaves, got drafted eleventh overall, but some people think Tabor is better. New Orleans needs help everywhere defensively and get a player that can contribute immediately.
The Titans just traded away Dorial Green-Beckham, and they were already not great at the receiver position. Marcus Mariota needs someone else to throw to besides Delanie Walker, and Smith-Schuster is the best in the class. He is a polished receiver in every facet of the game and can help stretch the field for the Titans.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Tampa Bay needs to get better defensively to have a shot at winning the NFC South. They have decent safeties, but they can be upgraded. Adams is a play-maker who does a little bit of everything for the Tigers and could make plays for years.
Adoree’ Jackson is one of the best athletes in the class. (Photo courtesy: bleacherreport.com)
13. New York Jets- Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC
Jackson is one of the best athletes in the class (he plays both ways and almost qualified for the Olympics in track in field), and quarterbacks are afraid to throw his way. His interception stats should go up considering the USC secondary is improved. The Jets could get a steal here and improve an average secondary.
14. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
If Cook isn’t the next Reggie Bush, McCaffrey most certainly fits the name. He is elusive, quick, fast and is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. The Giants starting running back is Rashad Jennings, so an upgrade is needed.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
The Jags picked Jalen Ramsey this year, but with the offense rolling, the defense still needs improvements. Jacksonville may move Ramsey to safety to make this work, but it would be well worth it. King had eight interceptions last season and was a huge part in the Hawkeyes having an undefeated regular season.
16. Denver Broncos- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Denver’s defense is amazing, but they do have some holes. Demarcus Ware is aging and a rookie, Adam Gotsis, is starting at defensive tackle. Allen is versatile and productive and would help the Broncos’ defensive line be even better.
17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT/NT, Michigan State
McDowell would be a perfect fit for the Redskins’ 3-4 defense. He does a good job of taking up multiple blockers, which will free-up others to get to the ball-carrier and quarterback.
Jabril Peppers is making the move to linebacker, after having been successful at defensive back. (Photo courtesy: maiseandbrew.com)
18. Buffalo Bills- Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
Peppers is a dynamic play-maker on defense. He is transitioning to linebacker, but will most likely be a defensive back in the NFL. With a player this good on the board, Rex Ryan won’t be able to pass him up.
19. Baltimore Ravens- Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
The Ravens have one of the worst secondaries in football. Their corners are the main problem and Lewis, an All-American, would be an instant improvement.
20. Oakland Raiders- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Nick Saban says that he thinks Howard can be the top tight end taken and a top 20 pick. Who am I to argue with Saban? Howard could block better, but is a good, athletic receiver. Alabama doesn’t always use him, which hurts his production, but it’s not because of his ability to get open. The Raiders can improve their young team by giving Derek Carr another great target.
21. Houston Texans- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Houston does have some holes on their defense and they start at the linebacker position. Brian Cushing is a shell of his former self, and they need to find more depth. Davis is the best linebacker on what should be a top ten defense this season.
22. Indianapolis Colts- Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Walker is the best linebacker in Northwestern, surpassing his head coach Pat Fitzgerald for that spot. The Colts need all the defensive players they can get and Walker can be a serviceable linebacker for a long time.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Ethan Pocic, C/G, LSU
The Chiefs have issues on the interior of their offensive line and Pocic can help at center or guard for them.
Tre’Davious White has been a fixture in the LSU secondary for three years already and will be highly sought-after by NFL teams.
24. Dallas Cowboys- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Dallas has had the same issues for the past several years. They need defensive line depth and help in the secondary. White can be another key piece to help them shut down the pass.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, ND
McGlinchey is taking over at left tackle for the Irish this season, and has Ronnie Stanley’s big shoes to fill. He has to cut down on how many penalties he picks up, but otherwise is fundamentally sound. The Steelers still have holes on their offensive line and need to protect Ben Roethlisberger as he ages.
26. Minnesota Vikings- Connor Mcdermot, OT, UCLA
Mike Zimmer has the young Vikings’ defense playing really well, but their tackles did not play well last year. If they want to protect Teddy Bridgewater and possibly extend Adrian Peterson’s career, they will take a tackle here.
27. Cincinnati Bengals- Pat Elflein, C/G, Ohio State
Russell Bodine hasn’t been playing well at center for the Bengals and taking Elflein can help their only weakness on the offensive line.
Kevin Minter did not have a great season for the Cardinals last season. If he doesn’t rebound, an upgrade will be needed. Reeves-Martin was All-SEC second team last season and could be a key to a successful season for the Volunteers this season.
29. New England Patriots- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Patriots need pass rushers desperately. Lawson has battled injury, but when healthy he has been a force for Auburn.
30. Seattle Seahawks- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
Seattle’s offensive line issues have been well documented. Feeney is the best pure guard in the class and could be a ten year starter in the NFL.
Mike Williams missed last season, but looks healthy now. (Photo courtesy: tigernet.com)
31. Green Bay Packers- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Last year the Packers’ leading receiver was James Jones. If they take Mike Williams, they can put him and Jordy Nelson on the outside and move Randall Cobb to the slot.