A final look at how we think the first round could play out on Thursday night
It's NFL Draft time! Let's have one final look at a mock draft to see how things could turn out in the first round tonight.
1. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns really can't mess this up. Garrett is the best talent in the draft and the opportunity to get a quarterback can occur again later in the first round. The defensive end helps a lethargic pass rush that struggled at times to get to the quarterback last season. There are some vulnerable offensive lines in the AFC Central.
Related: Exclusive Q&A with Myles Garrett
2. San Francisco 49ers
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Much like the Browns, the 49ers had an anemic pass rush so Thomas is a good fit here. San Francisco was gashed on the ground by opponents so Thomas instantly comes in and upgrades a D-line that got pushed around often. San Francisco is a trade candidate here. A whole host of teams could move up to get a guy like Jonathan Allen or even a quarterback.
3. Chicago Bears
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
This is where things could get interesting as Chicago could go in a couple of directions. The Bears are in need of defensive line help as well as beefing up their secondary. They could go Marshon Lattimore here, as the team intercepted just eight passes last year. Adams had a great pro day at LSU and has the swagger to help the back end of any defense. Chicago would best be served by trading down, but it remains to be seen if any team has an appetite for moving up.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
The Jaguars could go Leonard Fournette here, but I don't know if their offensive line is good enough for him to be effective. Instead, they replace some of their defensive tackle defections and go with Allen on the inside. Some of the talk lately says that this team could go quarterback here, but then again that's a smoke screen in my opinion. Jacksonville also would strongly consider trading down, if the right deal presents itself.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams)
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
This was the 31st-ranked pass defense last year and the additions of Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cyprien are nice, but more is needed. I have a feeling they'd go Adams here if he was available. Lattimore was pretty solid at Ohio State and can step right in to help.
6. New York Jets
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Jets have pretty much admitted to their fans that this season is going to be a rough one. Many think the team could go QB here or maybe even Leonard Fournette if he’s still on the board. But tight end has been a black hole for this offense lately, producing just 18 catches for 173 yards and no touchdowns all of last season. Howard could be a game-changer as a receiver and he's a pretty good blocker. I think waiting for a shot at USC quarterback Sam Darnold in 2018 would be better for the Jets.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
I really wanted to give the Chargers Leonard Fournette, as it would be a splashier pick for Los Angeles’ newest team. However, Hooker is too good to pass up, especially for a defense that had all kinds of issues in the secondary last season. Health is a bit of a concern with Hooker, but he would fill a need for a team that played much better than its 5-11 record.
8. Carolina Panthers
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Many have Christian McCaffrey going here, especially since they have Fournette off of the board already. My problem with the LSU running back is that you can't run over as many NFL guys as you do in college. He's going to find a lot of openings if the Panthers run more of the read option with Cam Newton. Fournette makes too much sense here, although McCaffrey could be in play too.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Cincinnati’s defense is aging a bit and it's showing with the fact that the Bengals struggled against the run and didn't have a ton of sacks in 2016. I wish there were some better linebackers here, because I think that's a bigger need, but Barnett helps up front. Barnett had the most sacks in Tennessee history with 33.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Tyrod Taylor needs more weapons around him. Sammy Watkins and Charles Clay are always hurt and the rest of the wide receiving corps is highly mediocre. Buffalo would really like to get O.J. Howard here, but I think he’ll be long gone. Williams has good size, speed and athleticism and can instantly step in. The Bills were last in the NFL in 2016 in yards after the catch (YAC).
11. New Orleans Saints
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Man, this defense needs help on every level. The Saints had just 30 sacks last season and a secondary that routinely got gashed. Now, if they trade for Malcolm Butler, this pick will change, but I like Conley's size and the fact that he's a little underrated considering former teammates Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore were taken ahead of him and got more attention leading up to the draft.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Cleveland gets its quarterback with the second of their first-round picks. To me, I'd rather have Deshaun Watson because he's been starting longer. Trubisky started last season for the Tar Heels and played really well, but he is still probably at least a year away from being a factor in the NFL.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Mahomes has been a fast riser who the Cardinals tab as Carson Palmer’s successor. Palmer is 37 years old and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Mahomes’ skill set and the numbers he put up in the Red Raiders’ wide-open, pass-friendly offense may be too tempting for Bruce Arians to pass up. This would give Mahomes a season to learn under Arians and Palmer. Deshaun Watson doesn’t seem to fit Arians’ preference when it comes to QBs.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings)
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Eagles could use McCaffrey as a Swiss Army knife-type of player, and line him up all over the field and as a kick returner on a special teams. Think a younger, bigger version of Darren Sproles. My problem is that this doesn't fill the biggest need for Philadelphia, which has a gaping hole at cornerback. Howies Roseman, the Eagles’ executive vice president of football operations, has to prove to me that he will go substance over flash, meaning he will go a different direction than McCaffrey.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
If this plays out, this is a bit of a steal considering Foster was a fairly clear-cut top-10 pick earlier in the process. His stock has been falling first due to his inability to test at the Scouting Combine and now because of the diluted sample he provided in Indianapolis. If the Colts choose to take a chance and trust his track record at Alabama, Foster should be able to help a run defense that gave up 120.4 yards per game last season. If not Foster, they could go offense live or cornerback, two other critical areas of need.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Joe Flacco needs more weapons especially with the retirement of Steve Smith and the departure of Kamar Aiken. Davis was very good in the MAC and doesn't have any issues with his hands. The Ravens also could go with Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson. But I think Davis has a chance to be a productive NFL wideout.
17. Washington Redskins
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
It's hard to figure out what team president Bruce Allen will do now that following the firing of former general manager Scot McCloughan in early March. I could see the Redskins going safety since that's a huge hole despite the addition of free agent D.J. Swearinger. I also could see them taking wide receiver John Ross to be the speedster to replace DeSean Jackson. In the end, I think Washington takes Cook in hopes of finding an every-down running back it can rely on given its current options on the roster.
18. Tennessee Titans
John Ross, WR, Washington
Ross will open things up for this emerging offense. He ran a 4.22 40 at the Combine and has shown that he can stretch the field. His injury history is a bit of a concern, but there may be too much big-play potential to pass up given the current makeup of the Titans’ wide receiver corps. Ross brings some flash as a kick return specialist too.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
Tampa Bay's secondary is getting older so the back end could use some fresh blood. The Buccaneers have made some shrewd additions this offseason with DT Chris Baker and WR DeSean Jackson signing as free agents. Melifonwu tested really well at the Combine and was the lone bright spot for a bad Huskies defense last season.
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Even though this offensive line class may not be all that great, there are some decent options available, including Ramczyk. Utah’s Garett Bolles and Alabama’s Cam Robison, if either is still on the board by this point, are options as well. The Broncos couldn't get much going on the ground last season and Russell Okung left in free agency. Denver has added veterans Ron Leary and Menelik Watson, but it wouldn’t hurt to add some fresh faces to the mix as well.
21. Detroit Lions
Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Reddick has flown up the charts the most and it's because of incredible testing. He showed well at the Combine as well as the Senior Bowl. He's athletic enough to be an edge rusher as well as playing linebacker. Detroit's front seven needs help with DeAndre Levy leaving. Only one Detroit linebacker had sacks last year.
22. Miami Dolphins
Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Miami's defense tied for the most yards allowed per carry (4.8, with San Francisco) last season. Harris played well at Missouri against SEC competition. The Dolphins could go linebacker here, but they need to get more pressure up front.
23. New York Giants
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Njoku is a New Jersey native who is a freak athlete. The Giants added Brandon Marshall in free agency, so wide receiver is not a need. New York does need to address linebacker, defensive line and offensive line at some point in this draft, but it’s hard to pass up this value in the first round. Eli Manning will gladly take all the weapons team will give him.
24. Oakland Raiders
Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Raiders’ pass defense allowed the most completions of 20 or more yards last season and the secondary will look different next year with the departures of D.J. Hayden and Nate Allen. King brings size (6-3) to the cornerback position, and he allowed just one touchdown pass over his final 28 games with the Huskies. The Raiders also could add another piece for the front seven, as defense is a bigger need than offense right now.
25. Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Texans struck out in trying to bring Tony Romo on board, so they may take a chance on Watson in hopes of solving their quarterback question. Opinions are mixed on the two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, but he would likely compete for the starting job against Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden right away. Watson clearly needs to improve his technique, accuracy and decision-making, but there may not be a better opportunity for him than to wind up in Houston and be tutored by head coach Bill O’Brien.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Seahawks allowed 42 sacks last year and it seemed like Russell Wilson was always on the run. Robinson's got great size and arm length to help out on the outside where they were especially vulnerable. If not Robinson, the choice could be Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp or Utah’s Garret Bolles.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
The Chiefs have several needs, but with Derrick Johnson set to turn 35 as well as coming off a ruptured Achilles, I think they go linebacker. Davis' injury history probably hurt his stock some, as he was hurt frequently during his time with the Gators. Still, the Chiefs probably would have liked Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes here. They also could go with Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Takkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA
Dallas needs secondary help after four defensive backs left via free agency. But the Cowboys also need help in their front seven and McKinley's motor rarely stops. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli needs playmakers in order to help out a secondary that’s going to look quite different in 2017 and may be overmatched at times.
29. Green Bay Packers
T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
Green Bay fans are probably real familiar with what the younger Watt is capable of. He began his career as a tight end before moving to linebacker and edge defender. Watt had 10.5 sacks in his first year as a starter in the tough Big Ten.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The Steelers’ secondary infused some youth last year and go in that direction again in 2017. Peppers has good open-field tackling skills and should help a Pittsburgh defense that was gashed by slot receivers. Peppers also can help out in special teams should the Steelers want to lighten Antonio Brown's load.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
McDowell should benefit from Vic Beasley Jr. getting double-teamed up front. McDowell has top-10 talent, but some of the intangibles are an issue. Consistency was a problem for the former Spartan, who could turn out to be a huge value in this spot. Falcons need to get more help up front for Beasley.
32. New Orleans Saints (from Patriots)
Budda Baker, S, Washington
Baker is on the smallish side, but the Saints need help in in all levels of their defense. He is a big hitter and could play a little nickel if New Orleans chose to use him in that spot. The Saints also could go with Adoree’ Jackson if they want more of a playmaker and potential special teams weapon.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.