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Although free agency doesn’t ever necessarily end, the biggest moves have already been made. Old needs have been filled by free agent signings, while many new needs have been created thanks in part to departures. As we slowly depart from all of the free agency buzz, we get closer to the 2017 NFL Draft. What better way to celebrate that than with a two-round mock draft? Without further ado, let’s begin.
1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Is it really up for debate?
Myles Garrett is a physical specimen. The edge rusher out of Texas A&M has size, speed, strength, athleticism and knows how to play the game. His ability to bend off the edge is unparalleled for someone his size. When he performed at the Combine, he looked like a god amongst men. Barring injury, Garrett may be the most sure-thing pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Browns need a difference maker like that on their defense. After years of being one of the worst teams in the league, adding Garrett would bring them one step closer to becoming a good team again.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Solomon Thomas, DL/EDGE, Stanford
The 49ers could still pick a quarterback at No. 2. However, the recent signings of Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in addition to constant Kirk Cousins trade rumors say otherwise. Because of that, they select one of the best defensive prospects in this draft instead.
I know what some of you may be thinking: another defensive lineman? And yes, the 49ers have taken defensive linemen in the first round two years in a row. However, Solomon Thomas is simply too good to pass up.
Whether you rank Thomas as a defensive lineman or as an edge rusher, theres no denying that he’s one of the best defenders in this class. His athleticism for his size is very impressive. He shows off great closing speed and has great acceleration off the snap. He also packs a powerful punch, has a solid array of hand moves and is very good as a run stuffer.
The 49ers have a lot of needs all across the depth chart, so they really can’t afford to reach. Thomas would be a great value pick with a sky-high ceiling.
3. Chicago Bears- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Although the Bears signed Mike Glennon, they could still pick at quarterback in the first round. However, that doesn’t mean they have to. Their secondary still needs help, despite the additions of Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps and Marcus Cooper. They need a player who can step in immediately and make an impact. Jamal Adams could be that guy.
Adams is a prototypical strong safety: a physical, hard-hitting tackler with good size who is also sharp in coverage. His fluid hip movements are among the top in the class. While he only had one interception last year, he had four in 2015, so the ball skills are definitely there. He is also a fantastic leader who will step in on Day 1 as a presence in the locker room.
Chicago’s defense has been getting better in recent years, but it still is a good secondary away from becoming elite. Adams can help bring the Bears back to their “Monsters of the Midway” persona.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jaguars, who have aggressively attacked free agency for the second year in a row, appear to be almost set on defense. They are solid at pretty much every position. Offensively though, not so much.
What was once the strength of the team is now a major question mark. Their offensive line is shabby, their running back committee of T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory failed to live up to expectations, and their wide receivers had a down year (thanks largely in part to Blake Bortles’ awful season). This isn’t the year to pick a new quarterback, but it is the year to select one of best running back prospects of the 21st century.
Despite having a disappointing vertical jump, Leonard Fournette absolutely killed the Combine. It’s not very often that you find a 240-pound running back who can run a 4.5 40-yard dash. Had he participated in the bench press, he likely would’ve at least come close to Samaje Perine’s 30 reps. The game tape backs this up, too. He runs with such vision, agility and poise, yet looks like a bulldozer at the same time. NFL’s Lance Zierlien compared him to Bo Jackson – yes, the Bo Jackson – which shows just how great of an athlete he is.
Being a low-market team, Jacksonville needs a star. Fournette would bring some much-needed identity to their roster.
5. Tennessee Titans (via Rams)- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
After an aggressive approach to adding secondary talent in free agency, the Titans are in a great position to pick the best wide receiver available in the first round. In this case, that’s Clemson wideout Mike Williams.
At 6’4″ and 218 pounds, Williams has the size to be a dangerous possession receiver in the pros. His height, hands and body control all make him a force to be reckoned with, especially on jump balls. He has an incredible ability to make almost any catch thrown at him, which bailed Deshaun Watson out on a few occasions.
A lot of people don’t notice it, but the Titans are very close to becoming a Super Bowl contender. They have a young, franchise quarterback, a dominant run game paired with an elite offensive line, and one of the better all-around defenses in the league. The only thing that they’re missing is a true No. 1 receiver. Williams can be the final piece to their puzzle.
6. New York Jets- Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Jets could use an upgrade in the secondary (more than one, in fact), but this year’s defensive back class is stacked. They could get a solid starter later in the draft. For now, they’ll improve at the most important position: quarterback.
Mitch…err…Mitchell Trubisky is the safest quarterback pick in this class. What he lacks in elite size, he makes up for in intelligence. He is arguably the best decision maker in this year’s group. He rarely makes mistakes: his 68.2% completion rate was fifth in all of college football last year, and he only threw six interceptions. His arm strength, while not elite, is a very underrated aspect of his game.
Although many see Deshaun Watson as the best athlete in this quarterback group, Trubisky puts up an argument, as well. He finished just one tenth of a second behind Watson in the 40-yard dash, and he put up the second-best quarterback time in the three-cone drill. This athleticism shows up on tape too, as his ability to escape pressure in and out of the pocket is apparent.
As of now, the Jets’ starting quarterback is Bryce Petty. Which is fine, if you’re aiming for the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. If Trubisky falls to No. 6, New York would certainly be intrigued.
7. Los Angeles Chargers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Two safeties in the top 10? While this rarely ever happens, this year’s duo of Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker is more than worthy. As I mentioned earlier, Adams is a the prototypical strong safety. If that’s the case, then Hooker is the prototypical free safety.
Although 2016 was his first season as a starter, Hooker looked right at home with the rest of Ohio State’s talented secondary. His ball skills are arguably the best in this year’s safety class: he had seven interceptions this past year. These stats reflect his performance in tape, as well. His instincts to get to the ball are apparent in just about every play. He is a rangy defender in every sense of the word.
Hooker still has some issues with tackling, but those will likely change with time. The Chargers haven’t quite recovered at the safety spot since Eric Weddle left. Adding Hooker in the first round would fix that.
8. Carolina Panthers- Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
After a dominant 2015, the Panthers’ defense wasn’t nearly as good as it was in 2016. They weren’t all that active in free agency to change that, so most of their upgrades will have to come through the draft. They signed team legend Julius Peppers, but he isn’t a long-term solution at defensive end. Derek Barnett could be.
Barnett is a tenacious pass rusher with sky-high production. In three years at Tennessee, he totaled 32 sacks. It’s hard not to do well when you have stellar hand usage and power like he does. He has the strength to plug up holes in the run game, and can also shed blockers to get to the quarterback. Although he wasn’t all that impressive at the Combine, his athleticism is an underrated aspect of his game.
Carolina has suffered major blows in two straight seasons with the losses of Josh Norman and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, respectively. Adding a productive pass rusher like Barnett could help ease that pain.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The Bengals could definitely pick a linebacker here. However, with the falling stock of Reuben Foster, there aren’t really worth picking at No. 9. This year could be a great chance to add a dangerous lineman next to Geno Atkins.
Jonathan Allen fell slightly due to his shoulder issues. While the injury should raise a few doubts about his long-term durability, it shouldn’t override the fact that his tape is among the best in this year’s NFL Draft. He is a powerful, smart lineman who is a disruptive force in the backfield. He’s good at stopping the run and rushing the passer, which is rare for a 3-4 defensive end.
Allen didn’t play in a 4-3 scheme at Alabama, but a transition might do him better. Besides, he wouldn’t have to turn the corner as much as a 4-3 defensive tackle, which is one of the weaknesses in his game. A duo of Atkins and Allen up front would be a nightmare for any opposing offensive line.
10. Buffalo Bills- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The loss of Stephon Gilmore gives the Bills a big hole in their secondary. While they still have Ronald Darby, they’ll need one more corner to shut down some of the dangerous receivers in the AFC West.
Marshon Lattimore has been rising up draft boards as of late, and rightfully so. He blew up the Combine; his 4.36 40-yard dash, 38.5-inch vertical jump and 132-inch broad jump were all among the best for defensive backs this year. He is an athletic shutdown corner who can match up with almost any wide receiver. His fluid hips and great footwork are apparent when he drops back in coverage.
When your team faces Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman, Eric Decker and Jarvis Landry two times a year, you’ll need a very good secondary to keep up. Lattimore could help Buffalo retain their status of having a talented group of defensive backs.
11. New Orleans Saints- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Saints traded star wide receiver to the New England Patriots in exchange for a first-round pick. While Drew Brees and Co. could still do well without Cooks, it wouldn’t hurt to add a dangerous weapon to their arsenal.
Corey Davis was a focal point to Western Michigan’s Cinderella season this past year. He is a fantastic route runner with great hands to boot. His numbers in college were incredible; he totaled 5,285 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns in four years. His size (6’3″, 209 pounds) gives him a distinct advantage over cornerbacks, which helps make him a lethal weapon down the field.
With Davis, Michael Thomas and Willie Snead, the Saints won’t miss a beat on the field. That trio would make things easier for when Drew Brees’ successor arrives in the near future.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
With their first pick, the Browns added Myles Garrett, the consensus best player in this year’s draft. Now, they can improve the other side of the ball by adding a quarterback who could possibly put an end to their decade-long woes.
Deshaun Watson plays the part of quarterback incredibly well. He is a winner and a natural leader, which is something Cleveland lacks for the most part. He is a playmaker who is a threat through the air and on the run. While his velocity numbers at the Combine were less than stellar, everything else about his outing was fantastic.
He showed great poise, arm strength and accuracy – from short and long distances. He still has some decision-making flaws to iron out, but playing behind Cleveland’s talented offensive line would make things easier on him. If all goes well, Watson could be the savior at quarterback that the Browns have been dying for since Bernie Kosar left the team in 1993.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Cardinals are coming off of a surprisingly bad 2016 season and an equally awfulness free agency. They lost key defenders like Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson and Kevin Minter. Although a developmental quarterback is intriguing here, they shouldn’t pass on the draft’s best linebacker.
Reuben Foster got kicked out of the Combine due to a spat with a hospital employee, hence his slight drop. However, it is unlikely that the incident will have a huge effect on his overall draft stock.
Foster is a very good athlete with a great nose for the football. He is a hard-hitting tackler who excels in coverage. His instincts on tape are apparent and impressive. He is, in many wayside, the ideal middle linebacker.
Arizona is dangerously close to a massive collapse. Drafting Foster could help prevent that.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Eagles did a great job adding weapons for Carson Wentz in free agency, signing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. While those two weapons will be huge for Philadelphia’s up-and-coming offense, they still could use a dynamic running back. Enter Christian McCaffrey.
With the recent decline in Dalvin Cook’s draft stock, McCaffrey has become the No. 2 running back for a lot of people. He dominated the Combine with his fantastic speed and overall agility. These are apparent in his game tape, too. He has incredible vision, burst and elusiveness.
Plus, McCaffrey is an explosive weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. Adding him would make things a lot easier for Wentz for years to come.
15. Indianapolis Colts- Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
The Colts need help on defense. Where specifically, you ask? Just about everywhere, that’s where. New general manager Chris Ballard has been given a magnificent gift by having Andrew Luck as his quarterback, but he needs a defense to build around him.
Perhaps no player made as big of an impression as Haason Reddick. The defensive-end-turned-linebacker turned heads with his seamless positional transition. He looked impressive in drills that put him in open space at the Combine. His 4.52 40-yard dash, 36.5-inch vertical and 133-inch broad jump are impressive for anyone, let alone a 240-pounder.
His game tape backs these numbers up, too. He is explosive off the snap and shows great fluidity in his motions. The best term to describe him is “twitch athlete”. He could end up being like Leonard Floyd last year: an undersized, yet athletic pass rusher with loads of potential.
Indy can use as much help as they can get on defense. Adding Reddick would help improve their poor linebacker group.
16. Baltimore Ravens- John Ross, WR, Washington
John Ross made headlines everywhere when he ran the fastest time in NFL Combine history. Even before his fantastic display of speed, he was a bonafide first-round pick.
Not only does Ross have elite straight-line speed, but he’s shifty and armed with great elusiveness. This is a great help to him when running routes, as he has the raw athleticism to simply outrun any defensive back. Once he creates separation, he’s off to the races.
Ross’ hands are impressive, as well. He will likely be best suited in the slot in the NFL, but he could likely stay outside if needed.
It seems like wide receiver has been a need for the Ravens since the days of Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton ended. With Ross and Breshad Perriman as weapons, Joe Flacco could lead a dangerous downfield offense.
17. Washington Redskins- Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
The Redskins signed D.J. Swearinger in free agency, but they could still use an upgrade in the secondary.
Jabrill Peppers has fallen down draft boards since the beginning of the year, but he should still be considered a first-round prospect. He brings impressive athleticism and versatility to the table. He can drop back in coverage, tackle, blitz and return kicks at a high level. The only big issue with his game is a lack of ball skills, as his lone interception in 2016 came off of a deflected pass. He’s definitely going to need to work on that to excel at the next level. Besides that though, Peppers is a fantastic player.
Washington fell just short of the playoffs this past year. With a dynamic playmaker like Peppers, they might be able to squeeze in.
18. Tennessee Titans- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Tennessee added a weapon for Marcus Mariota earlier in the draft in Mike Williams. While they added Logan Ryan in free agency, they could use another cornerback.
Quincy Wilson is a well-rounded solid defensive back. He is a big, athletic and physical corner who can take on any wideout. He is a solid tackler, to boot. His ball skills are impressive, and he has good instincts in coverage. He doesn’t have a super-high athletic ceiling like Marshon Lattimore, but he’s a competitive, smart defensive back with true No. 1-cornerback swagger.
As mentioned before, the Titans are just a few pieces away from being a force to be reckoned with. Adding Quincy Wilson would make their defense that more dangerous.
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19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
I’m a big believer in Cameron Brate, who had a very impressive 2016 season. However, if the Buccaneers get the chance to draft O.J. Howard, I doubt they’d be able to pass it up.
Howard is an all-around star. He is a fantastic inline blocker, which is something that very few tight ends in this class can say. At 6’6″ and weighing in at 250 pounds, he certainly has the size that teams love in tight ends.
He’s not just a big brute, though. Howard is an incredible athlete who can catch, run routes and break free in the open field like a receiver. He ran an impressive 4.51 40-yard dash and was a top performer in the bench press, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and the 60-yard shuttle.
The Buccaneers just added DeSean Jackson to a group of weapons which already features Mike Evans, Brate and Doug Martin. If you throw Howard in the group, then Jameis Winston will have a great opportunity to lead Tampa to the playoffs.
20. Denver Broncos- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
The Broncos have done a nice job rebuilding their offensive line in free agency, adding Ronald Leary and Menelik Watson. They could still use some help there, so that’s why they pick a player that many believe to be the best offensive tackle in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Garett Bolles is an incredible athlete for an offensive lineman. He was a top performer in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. This athleticism is apparent on tape, as his footwork is phenomenal. He also displays great leverage while blocking and knows how to use his hands.
He’s only 297 pounds, which is pretty light for a left tackle. If he can bulk up (which can be easily done), then he could become a Pro Bowler in just a matter of years. Denver would love having someone like him protecting whomever their quarterback will be next year.
21. Detroit Lions- Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
The Lions surprised a lot of people by making the playoffs last year. While they have the pieces to do so again, they still need another defensive end alongside Ziggy Ansah. Why not add someone who played college ball just a half an hour away from Ford Field?
Taco Charlton is a well-rounded, talented edge rusher. He’s explosive off the snap and can rush the passer well. He takes good angles to the ball on both running and passing plays. At 6’6″ and 272 pounds, he has fantastic size for a 4-3 defensive end. He struggles a bit with consistency, but that can improve with good coaching.
Detroit only had 26 sacks last year, which was tied for the second-lowest in the entire NFL. Adding Charlton would help fix that.
22. Miami Dolphins- Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
The Dolphins, fresh off of a surprising playoff appearance, appear to be heading in the right direction under head coach Adam Gase. They could still use some help in the interior offensive line, so this selection makes a ton of sense here.
Forrest Lamp played left tackle at Western Kentucky, but projects as a guard at the next level due to a lack of arm length. He is a fantastic athlete who was a top performer at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and broad jump. He also put up 34 reps in the bench press, which was one rep away from the most in the entire draft class. On tape, Lamp is a smart blocker who blends power, athleticism and intelligence quite efficiently.
One of Lamp’s best performances was against Alabama: a team with plenty of NFL-caliber players on its front-seven. If Miami picks him, then they’ll have a stalwart in the trenches for years to come.
23. New York Giants- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Giants’ offensive line was better than people give them credit for last season: they only allowed 22 sacks. However, left tackle is a glaring need on their roster. Ryan Ramczyk could help fill that need.
Ramczyk is the latest player to come out of the offensive-line factory that is Wisconsin. Like his predecessors, he seems destined for greatness at the next level. He is a smart, athletic player with very few weaknesses in his game. He does a great job of keeping a balanced frame, and has an impressive blend of power and light feet.
Ramczyk is currently recovering from hip surgery, which is bound to make him drop a little bit come Draft Day. Nevertheless, he would be a fantastic addition to the Giants’ offensive line.
24. Oakland Raiders- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Dalvin Cook was less than impressive at the Combine. While his performance won’t cause him to drop too much on my board, it might for some teams. Therefore, I have Cook falling to No. 24, where the Raiders can make their offense even more dangerous.
Although his Combine numbers were decent, he’s a great athlete on tape. He displays speed, vision and elusiveness on film. He can cut with the best of them, and knows how to exploit holes in a defense. Cook is also a yards-per-carry machine – his career average is 6.5.
The Raiders lost Latavius Murray in free agency, so they could still use a dynamic back like Cook. He, behind Oakland’s offensive line, could be an All-Pro talent.
25. Houston Texans- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
I’m not necessarily a big fan of the Texans picking a quarterback, as they have big needs elsewhere. However, this mock draft isn’t what I would do, it’s what I think the team will do. If they’re going to pick a quarterback, then they might as well aim high.
Patrick Mahomes has arguably the highest ceiling out of all of the quarterbacks in this year’s draft. He has the raw arm talent that scouts drool over; his 60-mph throws were the fastest balls thrown at the Combine this year. He also has impressive athleticism and knows how to make plays. The biggest downside to his game is his mechanics. While he throws a good ball, the way in which he does it needs a lot of fine-tuning. He also has lack of pro-style offense experience, which will likely prevent him from playing in his rookie year.
Mahomes won’t be able to start right away for Houston, but he’d be their best long-term option at quarterback.
26. Seattle Seahawks- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Seahawks still need help on the offensive line. While Luke Joeckel was a solid, albeit overpriced addition, most of the line still has holes. The guard spot is still up for grabs, and their right tackle is Garry Gilliam. Truth be told, I don’t even know who that is. They need an offensive lineman early. Thankfully for them, one of the best in this year’s class falls to their lap in this mock.
Earlier in the year, Cam Robinson was highly regarded as the best offensive lineman in this year’s class. However, he has fallen a bit in favor of players like Garret Bolles, Forrest Lamp and Ryan Ramczyk. Nonetheless, he’s a talented football player who stood out at Alabama.
Robinson is big and strong, but he has great footwork for a 6’6″, 326-pound tackle. He has solid athleticism and is a mauler when he locks up with defenders. He has some off-the-field issues, but Seattle can afford to take the risk.
27. Kansas City Chiefs- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Rumors are heating up that the Chiefs will be looking at a quarterback in the first round. And who can blame them? They’re set at almost every other position, so picking the successor to Alex Smith wouldn’t be a bad idea. Lucky for them, their future starter could fall right into their lap in the first round.
The buzz surrounding DeShone Kizer has died down significantly since his performance against Texas in September. He still has some fine-tuning to do to his decision making, and he’s not as much of a leader as the other quarterbacks in this class are. However, with a year under Smith, he could develop into a starter by next year.
Kizer has just about all of the physical tools needed to succeed in the pros. At 6’4″ and 233 pounds, he certainly looks the part of an NFL quarterback. He has a very strong arm and, although his 40 time says otherwise, he is a very good athlete who can extend the play with his feet. With time, Kizer could develop into a very good starter in the pros.
28. Dallas Cowboys- Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
Despite having the best record in the NFC, the Cowboys lost the first playoff game they played. While many see this as a disappointment, it wasn’t surprising; Dallas had rookies starting at two incredibly important offensive roles. They will only get better with more experience. As they aim to redeem themselves for the early exit, they’ll need to develop a pass rush.
Takkarist McKinley has a very high athletic ceiling, one that is among the best in this edge rusher class. He is fast in the open field and explosive off the snap. He is disruptive in the backfield as a pass rusher and as a run stuffer. Although he’s still a bit raw, he has the work ethic to iron out some kinks in his game, like a lack of hand usage.
It’s safe to say that the Randy Gregory experiment is just about done in Dallas. Prior to that even, fellow edge rusher Greg Hardy was an off-the-field wreck. In McKinley, the Cowboys would not only be getting a productive pass rusher with a high ceiling, but also one with a great attitude and work ethic.
29. Green Bay Packers- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
If not for the chaotic state of the NFC North, the Packers would have to worry about the state of their roster. They lost a couple of key contributors in free agency on both sides of the ball. While they added tight end Martellus Bennett, they lost a lot more than they gained this year. No loss was arguably as big as the departure of guard T.J. Lang. Dan Feeney fills a huge need for Green Bay, and would be a solid value pick.
One of the first things that I have written down in my notes for Feeney is “bully”. And a bully he is: he is dominant on tape. He has good footwork – his ability to pull is impressive. He also does a good job of keeping a low center of gravity. A two-year captain and a four-year starter, he has the leadership skills that teams love.
The Packers only have a few more years left of having Aaron Rodgers, so protecting him should be a priority. Young linemen like Feeney, fellow Hoosier-alum Jason Spriggs and David Bakhtiari could help keep him upright and add a few more years onto his career.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
James Harrison seemingly never ages. The 13-year veteran, who will be 39 in May, still plays at a high level. Nonetheless, his time in the NFL is running short. The Steelers will need to find his replacement sooner rather than later.
Tim Williams specializes in one thing, and one thing only: rushing the passer. The Alabama product is a freak athlete who is explosive off the snap. He has good hand usage and takes sharp angles to the ball.
Williams has a few issues in his game, though. He needs to bulk up so he can improve as a run stuffer. Who better to teach someone to bulk up than Harrison, who is practically the Greek god of weight lifting? Williams also has off-the-field issues, as he has been charged for gun possession and failed multiple drug tests. Harrison has overcome early off-the-field problems to have a successful career.
Not only would Williams fit with Pittsburgh from a need and talent standpoint, but he would be given a chance to have a fantastic mentor.
31. Atlanta Falcons- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Falcons don’t have many big needs. Besides, what more can you give a team that made it to the Super Bowl? Well, other than Dontari Poe, one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL today. They could use another linebacker alongside Vic Beasley and Deion Jones, though.
Zach Cunningham would be the perfect fit at the weak-side linebacker position that they need. He’s a twitch athlete who is dangerous in the box. He has a great nose for the ball and is a solid tackler. His coverage abilities might be the best in this linebacker class, as well. He’s a bit lanky, but linebackers don’t necessarily need to be big in today’s game.
The Falcons came up short in the Super Bowl despite being up 21-3 against the Patriots at halftime. Part of that was because of their fourth-quarter collapse on defense. With another linebacker with top-tier potential, they won’t have to worry about something like that happening again.
32. New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots)- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Saints made up for the loss of Brandin Cooks with their last pick. While that would be fantastic for their offense, it wouldn’t help their abysmal defense. That’s why they add a cornerback with a lot of potential to tap into in Marlon Humphrey.
Humphrey is raw, but he has the tools to be a very good starter in the pros. He is a fantastic athlete – he was a state champion in track in high school – who can match up athletically with any wide receiver. He is a smart player who can tackle very well. There may be a few inconsistencies in his coverage, but he can recover from mistakes with his athleticism. Press coverage is arguably the biggest hole in his game, as he isn’t too physical at the point of attack.
Humphrey might not be able to start right away for the Saints. However, with some development, he could become a very good cornerback for a secondary that needs talent..