NFL Draft: First Round Picks
By Nick Athan
With the pre-season schedule set to be announced this week, and the regular season schedule the week after, the NFL Draft is upon us. I’ve already ushered in my first 7-Round projection for the Kansas City Chiefs. Now let’s unveil my picks for the first round of this year’s 2017 NFL Draft.
Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garret (Texas A&M) – There’s no doubt he’s the top player in the NFL Draft. Sure, there are questions about his character, but there is no denying, his overall ability to become and NFL star, has no glass ceilings.
- San Francisco 49ers – DE Solomon Thomas (Stanford) – With the bay area 49ers sitting second in this draft, they have scouted, tugged, pulled and measured every inch of Stanford Defensive End, Solomon Thomas. In my view, he’s the most ready-made college player available in this draft.
- Chicago Bears – DE Jonathan Allen (Alabama) – Make it three in row on defensive ends in the NFL draft. Yes, the Bears have other needs especially at cornerback and quarterback, but unless they trade back, Allen is the man that could be their pick.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – CB Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) – This is an interesting team, that has so much talent, but never the coaching to deliver the goods. With the Bears passing on Lattimore, the Jaguars would be foolish not to add the drafts premier cornerback.
- Tennessee Titans – WR Mike Williams (Clemson) – The Titans already possess some solid receivers but they lack a true number one. In selecting Williams, they’ll give franchise Quarterback, Marcus Mariota the precise weapon, it needs to be a wild card or division contender in 2017.
- New York Jets – RB Leonard Fournette (LSU) – Most people have the Jets focusing on Tight End, O.J. Howard, but Fournette makes more sense. Just the fact he didn’t go in the top five, the Jets should be jumping for joy they have a franchise running back in the fold.
- Los Angeles Chargers – S Malik Hooker (Ohio State) – The Chargers might be the weakest defensive team in the AFC West. By adding Hooker to their defensive backfield, he gives them an, Eric Berry, type of defender they’ve coveted for a long time.
- Carolina Panthers – TE O.J. Howard (Alabama) – Though this team desperately needs to improve its offensive line, and the running back position, Howard is the best pure five-tool tight end prospect to come out of college since, Tony Gonzalez.
- Cincinnati Bengals – OT Cam Robinson (Alabama) – Some draft experts have Robinson sliding into the latter stages of the first round but that won’t be the case. He’s the best tackle in this draft, and the Bengals offensive line, isn’t good enough to compete for a post season slot in 2017.
- Buffalo Bills – QB Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina) – Most people feel he’s the best quarterback in this draft, though I disagree. Even though the Bills our touting Clemson Quarterback, DeShawn Jackson, I think Trubisky makes better sense to offset the talents of current Quarterback, Tyrod Taylor.
New Orleans Saints – WR John Ross (Washington) – He’s the fastest man in this draft and probably the best overall fit for the Saints high octane offense. Granted the Saints are the most intriguing team in this draft, adding the speedy Ross makes more sense than upgrading the defense.
- Cleveland Browns – S Jamal Adams (LSU) – If they keep this pick, which I suspect they won’t, with so much money spent on the offense in free agency, adding Adams to their defensive secondary would be a shrewd move for a franchise that doesn’t make many of them.
- Arizona Cardinals – DE Tarkarist McKinley (UCLA) – Though his 2016 season was lackluster, he’s still one of the top defensive ends in this draft class. Sure, the Cardinals would be wise to add a young quarterback, but not at this draft slot.
- Philadelphia Eagles – S Gareon Conley (Ohio State) – The run on high quality safeties continues in the first round. Sure, Head Coach, Doug Pederson could add some offensive pop with this pick, but that would be a mistake in my view.
- Indianapolis Colts – LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) – Yes, it’s too high to take the LB/S but he’s the most versatile defender in the 2017 draft class. New General Manager, Chris Ballard, reshaped the Chiefs fortunes by focusing on the defensive side of the ball. That trend will continue in his new gig.
- Baltimore Ravens – WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan) – There is no question that Davis is ready for the NFL Stage, and the Ravens who love to play solid defense, would be wise to add Davis to their 2017 secondary.
- Washington Redskins – DE Hasson Reddick (Temple) – The depth at the defensive end position in this draft is alarmingly outstanding. Yes, the Redskins have other needs, like quarterback, tight end and wide receiver, but they can’t pass on Reddick.
- Tennessee Titans – DE Jordan Willis (Kansas State) – He might be the fastest riser in this draft. At Kansas State, he dominated Big 12 competition. However, if you’re not convinced he’s worthy of pick this high, ask me that question in five years, when he’s made a string of Pro Bowls.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State) – Passing on the local Florida product makes little sense. Granted this team has other needs, but Cook is the best overall running back in this class, and would be a perfect fit long term for the Bucs.
- Denver Broncos – OG Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) – The Broncos missed the playoffs a year ago because their offensive line betrayed their ability to run former Head Coach, Gary Kubiak’s complex offense. Adding Lamp, the best interior Guard in this draft, is a no-brainer for Denver.
- Detroit Lions – LB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) – His draft stock is rising, and I’d be shocked if he gets this far, so the Lions better take him if he is available. However, with so many teams like the Dolphins, Raiders and Chiefs coveting Cunningham, watch for a trade that could net Detroit additional picks – especially if a team falls in love with a young quarterback.
- Miami Dolphins – LB Jarrad Davis (Florida) – Already blessed with a solid defense, and needs along the offensive line, I can’t see Miami looking past one of the kids in their own back yard. In my view, he’s a winner and can’t miss NFL player.
- New York Giants – DT Caleb Brantley (Florida) – Back to back Gators in this round. Of all the Defensive Tackles in this draft, Brantley has some serious upside. Yes, his technique needs work, but he’s a high-energy defender that fits well within the defensive schemes for the Giants.
- Oakland Raiders – OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin) – Logically, if not for a run with defensive players, the Badger standout tackle would likely have been a Top 12 pick. Fortunately, for the Raiders, and to the detriment of the AFC West, he’s still on the board.
- Houston Texans – QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) – I know this is a player that Chiefs Chairman, Clark Hunt covets, but with Tony Romo headed to the broadcast booth and Brock Osweiler sold to the Browns, the Texas flame thrower will compete for a starting spot in 2017 in Houston.
- Seattle Seahawks – CB Quincy Wilson (Florida) – If Seattle deals Richard Sherman prior to the draft, they’ll need another young corner to insert in their secondary. Though I’m not as sold on Wilson as his teammate, Teez Tabor, he’s a better fit in Seattle.
- Kansas City Chiefs – RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) – Yes, Clemson Quarterback, Deshaun Watson is still on the board, but I can’t see Head Coach Andy Reid and General Manager, succumbing to the pressure of the fan base to start Watson over their lame duck Quarterback, Alex Smith, this season instead of 2018.
- Dallas Cowboys – LB T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) – The standout Badger linebacker could find a long and successful career in Big D with the Cowboys. To be honest, he’s one of my favorite linebackers in this draft and will certainly enhance the Cowboys biggest areas of needs entering the draft.
- Green Bay Packers – CB Tre’Davious Wite (LSU) – It would be shocking if he drops this far, but it happens every year. He’s certainly a Top 15 caliber pick, but with so many corners available in rounds one and two, that in my view have equal abilities, someone must slide.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – TE David NJoku (Miami) – He’s such a highly regarded tight end prospect that would create another offensive weapon for Steelers Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. With 2017, likely being his swan song in the NFL, why not give Big Ben another prime-time target.
- Atlanta Falcons – DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee) – If there was a weakness on the Falcons last season, they needed a better outside presence on the defensive line. In adding Barnett at the end of round one, they should be grateful he’s still on the board. If he can adjust to the NFL speed, he should impact their 2017 defense.
New Orleans Saints – QB DeShaun Watson (Clemson) – If he gets past the Bills and the Chiefs, the Saints would be wise to take arguably the most gifted quarterback in this draft. For Watson to make it in the NFL, there are only three teams he can land – the other two Kansas City and Arizona. Still the pick has risks considering, Drew Brees and Chase Daniel sit atop the depth chart, Watson would be the heir apparent once Brees retires, or gets traded.