By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Thirty-two teams are just days away from an NFL Draft they each hope is a franchise changer.
With all the preparation complete, all that’s left is putting the Browns on the clock with the No. 1 pick come Thursday evening. So what could happen? Just about anything.
Let’s make our projections:
Note: Selections are based off what the writer believes could happen, not necessarily what the writer would do.
1.) Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, edge rusher, Texas A&M
Ignore the posturing around the league — the Browns will get this decision right, taking the best player in the draft class in Garrett, who’s monster athlete and should be a force rushing in the NFL. Oh, and what about that quarterback the Browns have so long desired? That’s coming.
2.) New York Jets (from 49ers; trade picks Nos. 6, 2018 1st-rounder) — Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina
The first big splash of the draft comes with the second pick. Rookie general manager John Lynch gets his trade down, catching the Jets in a pinch to get their quarterback. After impressing in New York recently, Trubisky is the Jets’ guy. So begins what should be a crazy draft.
Note: Draft picks are valued in front offices are generally valued on a chart like this, though that’s just a guide.
3.) Chicago Bears — Jamal Adams, safety, LSU
The Bears brass will likely be calling the Jets, Chargers and Panthers with interest in moving down to the sixth, seventh or eighth picks. The 49ers will beat the Bears to the Jets’ need, and Chicago will utilize its third pick on Adams, the all-around safety prospect. While Ohio State safety Malik Hooker will be an interesting option, Adams is a tremendous leader who has the potential to transform a secondary.
4.) Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, running back, LSU
The Jaguars have some interesting young pieces on their defense, and the possibility of Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas will be intriguing, but Fournette could be a star in the NFL. He has outstanding size at 240 pounds and excellent open-field speed.
5.) Tennessee Titans — Jonathan Allen, defensive end, Alabama
Even with the concerns over his arthritic shoulders, Allen lands in the top five. Allen’s shoulder condition isn’t expected to be a factor until he nears the age of 40, and though wear and tear will come, Allen should still be a steady pass rusher.
6.) San Francisco 49ers (from New York Jets) — Solomon Thomas, defensive end, Stanford
Congratulations, John Lynch. After striking with the Jets’ urgency to beat the Browns for Trubisky, he still gets Thomas, the dynamic defensive end out who’s explosive off the snap in gaining leverage with his first steps. The 49ers will be considered big winners on Day 1.
7.) Los Angeles Chargers — Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State
Though the Chargers may want to do something sexy for their first year in a soccer stadium, they will instead opt to massively improve their coverage. Lattimore gives them a shutdown cornerback with great size and length for the position.
8.) Carolina Panthers — Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford
A trade with the Bears for the third pick will be intriguing for Dave Gettleman, who knows well the Jaguars’ interest in Fournette. Instead, Jacksonville will hold steady with the No. 8 pick and choose McCaffrey over Dalvin Cook, believing in his outstanding athleticism and versatility in an offense.
9.) Cleveland Browns (from Cincinnati Bengals; trade picks Nos. 12, 52) — Deshaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson
The Bills hosted Watson in Buffalo last Friday and aren’t exactly 100 percent committed to Tyrod Taylor after nearly letting him walk. The Browns know this well and after missing out on Trubisky will use one of their two second-round picks (52nd overall) to move up and get their quarterback. Watson would bring a winning track record to a city desperate for victories.
10.) Buffalo Bills — Malik Hooker, safety, Ohio State
While there was legitimate interest in Watson, the Bills prioritized a major upgrade for their defense. In comes Hooker, the safety with special ball skills. His instincts in coverage are remarkable, allowing him to make a break for a pass before it’s even thrown.
11.) New Orleans Saints — Mike Williams, receiver, Clemson
Clemson wouldn’t have completed its championship game comeback without Williams making some incredible catches in coverage. That’s a trend for the 6-foot-4 target who compares to Alshon Jeffery with his ability to track the ball in the air.
12.) Cincinnati Bengals (from Cleveland Browns) — Derek Barnett, defensive end, Tennessee
With Barnett a strong option at No. 9, the Bengals get him three picks later after trading down. Barnett dominated the SEC during his three years starting with the Volunteers, tying the late, great Reggie White with 32 sacks at Tennessee.
13.) Arizona Cardinals — Corey Davis, receiver, Western Michigan
Once hoping for Williams, the Cardinals will instead take their chances with the high potential of Davis, who couldn’t be stopped in the MAC. Davis recorded 97 catches, 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. At 6-foot-3, he would offer Arizona a complement to and potential replacement for Larry Fitzgerald.
14.) Philadelphia Eagles — Gareon Conley, cornerback, Ohio State
The Eagles will be tempted by John Ross, who would bring elite speed to back young franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. Instead, Philadelphia will prioritize its defense and take Conley, who would bring a much-needed upgrade to the secondary.
15.) Indianapolis Colts — Takkarist McKinley, defensive end, UCLA
New general manager Chris Ballard experienced success in the Bears’ and Chiefs’ front offices because of wise picks that prioritized the front seven. In his first draft in charge of the Colts, he will look to one of the defensive standouts still available and take McKinley, the athletic pass rusher out of the Pac-12.
16.) Baltimore Ravens — O.J. Howard, tight end, Alabama
Breathe, Ozzie Newsome. The wait is over. Craziness in the early first round brings Baltimore the monstrous presence of Howard. It would be a major surprise if he fell to the 16th pick, but the draft is full of surprises. And Joe Flacco would be thrilled to have a target like Howard in his offense.
17.) Washington Redskins — Haason Reddick, linebacker, Temple
The Redskins have plenty of options in play, including the consideration of running back Dalvin Cook. Instead, they prioritize the defense and take Reddick, the terrific athlete at linebacker. Reddick has risen up many draft boards as his quick twitch became more of a marvel. Even though Reddick is undersized, his ability to hit the point of attack will be greatly desired.
18.) Tennessee Titans — John Ross, receiver, Washington
This pick should be a no-brainer for the Titans, who are still building around Marcus Mariota. Ross didn’t get his island at the NFL Combine, but his record-breaking 40 time will be of great use in Tennessee. He would be a dynamic playmaker for a young offense that should take another step forward in 2017.
19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State
After being passed up by the Panthers, Cook goes off the board 11 picks later and stays in the state of Florida. The Buccaneers would have an impressive young offense in the works with Cook joining Jameis Winston and Mike Evans in Tampa.
20.) Denver Broncos — Cam Robinson, tackle, Alabama
Many factors led the Broncos from a Super Bowl championship to missing the playoffs, and while the quarterback position was of course the greatest focus, Denver didn’t provide Trevor Siemian with much help up front. John Elway knows what a quarterback needs to be successful, and that will come to mind when he takes Robinson.
21.) Dallas Cowboys (from Detroit Lions; trade picks Nos. 28, 92) — Marlon Humphrey, cornerback, Alabama
Seeking a cornerback in the first round, the Cowboys jump up seven spots to claim Humphrey, who surprisingly fell out of the top 20. Humphrey is a physical corner who poses a tough matchup in coverage for any receiver.
22.) Miami Dolphins — Taco Charlton, defensive end, Michigan
Four years removed from high hopes with Dion Jordan, the Dolphins are looking for a replacement after he was released. They go for Charlton, the All-Big Ten pass rusher who posted 9.5 sacks last season at Michigan. Charlton boasts ideal size and athleticism for his role, moving with a quick twitch at 6-foot-6 and 277 pounds.
23.) New York Giants — Garett Bolles, tackle, Utah
The Giants added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. Now they need to make sure Eli Manning can stay upright long enough to utilize his playmakers. Bolles would be an excellent addition, bringing Manning a tackle with good athleticism for the position.
24.) Chicago Bears (from Oakland Raiders; trade picks Nos. 36, 111, 2018 3rd, acquire pick No. 168, 2018 5th as well) — DeShone Kizer, quarterback, Notre Dame
The Bears have their quarterback. With the Texans looking for a young arm at No. 25, the aggressive Bears brass jumps ahead and chooses Kizer over Patrick Mahomes. In turn, the Bears send a second- and fourth-round pick in this draft and their third-round selection in 2018, while gaining a fifth-rounder from the Raiders, who have the luxury to move down.
25.) Houston Texans — Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech
Bill O’Brien is content with what just ensued, believing in his chances with Mahomes, who boasts the most powerful arm in the class. While Mahomes may be the fourth quarterback to go, he has potential to be the best of this bunch. The Texans will let him develop for a redshirt season.
26.) Seattle Seahawks — Tre’Davious White, cornerback, LSU
With the offensive line taking steps forward, the Seahawks look to improve the Legion of Boom and take White. He was All-SEC last season while showing his abilities as a tough matchup against some talented receivers.
27.) Kansas City Chiefs — Reuben Foster, linebacker, Chiefs
The fall of Foster sends him near the bottom of the first round, where the Chiefs are licking their chops. Foster hasn’t helped his draft stock in the past months, but that shouldn’t overshadow his work as the heart of that Crimson Tide defense.
28.) Detroit Lions (from Dallas Cowboys) — David Njoku, tight end, Miami
The Lions are interested in Foster, but Bob Quinn instead goes for Njoku, adding another target for Matthew Stafford. It’s still good value in trading down.
29.) Green Bay Packers — T.J. Watt, linebacker, Wisconsin
Ted Thompson is under pressure to improve his defense, which is wasting away the prime of Aaron Rodgers. While cornerback is a consideration — Adoree’ Jackson, Kevin King and Quincy Wilson are still on the board — the Packers stay in state and take Watt. By adding a tenacious outside linebacker, Green Bay improves its pass rush and gives the secondary a boost in turn.
30.) Pittsburgh Steelers — Davis Webb, quarterback, California
There are plenty of directions the Steelers can go with this pick, but they take a quarterback after facing the possibility of Ben Roethlisberger retiring. Webb would be the fifth quarterback off the board, and he’s a player with high upside and the need for grooming.
31.) Atlanta Falcons — Charles Harris, linebacker, Missouri
Fresh off blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl, the Falcons are left wondering how it all could’ve been different if the pass rush was able to get home on Tom Brady and the Patriots. With that in mind, they add another piece to the front seven in Harris. He fits Dan Quinn’s schemes well as an athletic linebacker who can get after the quarterback.
32.) New Orleans Saints — Obi Melifonwu, safety, UConn
One of the most intriguing players in this draft class goes in the first round, with the freakishly athletic Melifonwu getting picked over Jabril Peppers with the 32nd pick. The Saints scored with Williams at No. 11 and now add an important piece to their defense.