14. Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings) — Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: At 6-3, 213 pounds with all the skills necessary to blossom into a bona fide No. 1 target, Davis is exactly the kind of prospect Philly would be wise to pair with second-year QB Carson Wentz, who only connected for eight touchdowns with his pedestrian group of wide receivers in 2016.
By Michael Bennett
The NFL scouting combine is over, and here is the first post-combine mock draft:
1. Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: The 6-4, 272-pounder justified his pre-combine hype by running a 4.64 40 and posting a 41-inch vertical leap. But more importantly (still), his highlight reel reveals a freakish talent who averaged more than 10 sacks and nearly 16 tackles for loss during his three seasons for the Aggies. No matter how enamored the Browns might be with any of this year’s quarterback prospects/projects, Garrett is simply too good to pass up.
2. San Francisco 49ers — Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama: Free agency will significantly shake up subsequent mock drafts, and the Niners could be on the verge of one of the league’s biggest overhauls. But until we know more — especially regarding this team’s empty depth chart at quarterback — new GM John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan must focus on acquiring top-shelf talent with the first pick of their tenure. A once-proud defense allowed the most points and yards in 2016 and was also the worst against the run. Even though DT Earl Mitchell has already signed a four-year deal and joins the club’s most recent first rounders (Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner) on the D-line, new coordinator Robert Saleh learned that talent and depth up front will unleash the back seven while he was an assistant in Seattle. Allen is a highly talented, disruptive player who should be a factor on all three downs.
3. Chicago Bears — Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Another club sure to be in the quarterback market, whether it’s sooner or later this offseason. But the Bears have been looking for a solution at safety for years, and that was evident in 2016 when they got exactly one interception from the guys on the back line. It would probably be a very good idea to pluck a playmaker like Hooker, a rangy type who might actually make Aaron Rodgers think twice the next time he challenges Chicago deep.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: The Jags are in good shape defensively but enter 2017 needing to do more to support QB Blake Bortles. One way to do that is by revitalizing a ground game that last featured a 1,000-yard rusher when Maurice Jones-Drew was in his prime in 2011. New personnel czar Tom Coughlin has vowed to field a more physical team, and Fournette’s power could certainly set the tone his potential new boss seeks. Third-year RB T.J. Yeldon could also shift into a third-down role that might better feature his talents.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) — John Ross, WR, Washington:His draft stock may be moving even faster than his legs. Ross was also projected to Tennessee in our previous mock draft, but the Titans may no longer be able to wait until the 18th pick to secure his services. Just imagine how his combine record 4.22 40 speed would impact an offense that can bludgeon teams on the ground but currently doesn’t have a deep threat to really make defenses pay for loading up against RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. QB Marcus Mariota has the accuracy and arm strength to leverage Ross’ wheels on quick hitters or on deep routes. Ross would also enhance Tennessee’s return game.
6. New York Jets — Jamal Adams, S, LSU: GM Mike Maccagnan has been busy creating $46 million in cap space by cutting most of his established veterans. He may also dump this pick given the needs throughout his roster. But if the Jets stay put, Adams could be a strong possibility given he could provide the athleticism, playmaking and leadership this defense now lacks in the secondary.
7. Los Angeles Chargers — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: His skill set — the ability to set the edge in a base defense and serve as an interior pass rusher in sub packages — has been compared to that of the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who used to play for new Chargers coordinator Gus Bradley. Thomas would be a great addition to a team transitioning to a four-man front.
8. Carolina Panthers — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Head coach Ron Rivera wants Cam Newton to incur less punishment and that means fewer running opportunities for the 2015 MVP. But Carolina needs to remain balanced offensively, and Cook’s receiving ability would make him a nice partner (and eventually replacement) for Jonathan Stewart, who will be 30 this year and has never started more than 13 games in a season.
9. Cincinnati Bengals — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: With Dre Kirkpatrick headed for free agency, former first rounder Darqueze Dennard failing to establish himself as a starter, and Pacman Jones turning 34 this season, corner is a position where the Bengals must restock — and Lattimore is arguably the best of a deep group this year.
10. Buffalo Bills — Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: The Bills must decide by Saturday afternoon if QB Tyrod Taylor will be on their roster in 2017. But if they decline his $31 million option, they could still surround his replacement with a decent offensive line, an excellent run game and a promising receiver — not quite a supporting cast of the caliber Dak Prescott enjoyed in 2016, but close enough to significantly reduce pressure on a rookie quarterback. However Watson’s combine performance bolstered the notion he’s probably capable of stepping into a starting role quickly.
11. New Orleans Saints — Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: The Saints have repeatedly attempted to address their secondary, yet their pass defense was the league’s worst in 2016. Whether it’s picking a pass rusher or a quality corner like Jones, New Orleans must find ways to complement its offense while slowing opposing passers in what has become the NFL’s premier quarterback division.
12. Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles) — Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina:Reports out of Cleveland during the combine claimed the Browns like Trubisky, an Ohio native, so much that he’s in play to be the No. 1 overall pick. That seems awfully rich for a player with just 13 college starts, though rolling the dice on him here seems more reasonable — especially since Hue Jackson and Co. would have the option of basically redshirting Trubisky in 2017. But he was awfully sharp in combine drills and might not struggle to adapt to the pro game as much as early speculation suggested.
13. Arizona Cardinals — DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: He’s 6-4, 233 pounds and comes with a big arm and an agile mind — similar attributes to previous Bruce Arians disciples like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. However unlike that trio, Kizer needs a lot of seasoning — his inconsistency during combine drills mirrored his 2016 season — and he’s hardly ready to start Week 1. But Arians and GM Steve Keim know they need to be prepared for whenever veteran Carson Palmer is ready to pass the baton, which could be in 2018.
15. Indianapolis Colts — Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: The Colts have long paid little more than lip service to fixing a defense which has had one player reach double-digit sacks in the last three seasons — free agent OLB Erik Walden. And with Robert Mathis retired, Indianapolis has serious issues up front. Barnett had 23 sacks during his last two years for the Vols and seems ready to walk into the NFL as a three-down player.
16. Baltimore Ravens — Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: Baltimore certainly needs to get younger on the edge as OLBs Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil continue to wind down. But it might be awfully tough for GM Ozzie Newsome, with the Crimson Tide coursing through his veins, to pass on Foster, despite his recent shoulder surgery andan incident at the combine that earned him an early ticket home. Still, the thought of teaming Foster with fellow ‘Bama alum C.J. Mosley — especially after ILB Zach Orr was forced to prematurely retire — would be awfully tempting for a defense that would become quite imposing with this duo covering the field in nickel packages.
17. Washington Redskins — Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Coach Jay Gruden is apparently looking for an added dimension from his backfield. McCaffrey’s Velcro hands and sterling cutting ability and route running was on full display at the combine, and he’s clearly capable of manning the slot in addition to potentially being a nice change of pace to Rob Kelley. McCaffrey is also a weapon on special teams, and Washington’s offense may need extra help wherever it can be found if WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon sign elsewhere.
18. Titans — Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan: His willingness to work out at both linebacker and defensive back at the combine showcased an impressive competitive streak and is also a microcosm of Peppers’ versatility — which includes return skills and the ability to fill in at tailback in a pinch (probably a skill the Titans won’t need). Still, after packing 13 additional pounds onto his frame (without any apparent reduction in quickness), Peppers appears primed to effectively line up all over the field regardless of down and distance.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi: Did anyone raise their pre-draft profile more last weekend? At 6-3 and 236 pounds, Engram is almost the exact size Jordan Reed was when he entered the NFL in 2013. The difference is Engram blazed a 4.42 40 time (Reed, one of the NFL’s premier receiving tight ends, ran a 4.72 by comparison) while catching pretty much everything thrown in his direction. Engram’s size is comparable to the Bucs’ Mike Evans, but his speed in the seams could beautifully complement the oversized (and often overworked) wideout.
20. Denver Broncos — O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Denver could opt for an O-line upgrade here, but adding Howard to a passing attack that was far too reliant on WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders — and hasn’t had much of a receiving threat at tight end since Julius Thomas’ departure — might be an even more effective way to help young QBs Trevor Siemian and/or Paxton Lynch.
21. Detroit Lions — Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: His sweet feet were on full display in Indianapolis, and he’s got a mean streak that the folks in Motown would surely appreciate. Last year’s first rounder, Taylor Decker, played capably at left tackle but could flip to the right side if Bolles proves the better option on QB Matthew Stafford’s blind side.
22. Miami Dolphins — Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky: The Fins suddenly need a guard with Laremy Tunsil shifting into his more natural left tackle role, and Jermon Bushrod unsigned. Maintaining the line’s level of play is certainly in the best interest of Miami’s backfield as QB Ryan Tannehill recovers from his season-ending knee injury while RB Jay Ajayi looks to provide more consistent week-to-week production in 2017.
23. New York Giants — Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: One way to bolster New York’s offensive balance and improve QB Eli Manning’s production (and longevity) is to bolster the blocking. Despite his relative inexperience — Ramczyk played only one year of major college football — he seems equipped to immediately step in at left tackle, allowing the Giants to flip Ereck Flowers to the right side, where his skills seem better suited.
24. Oakland Raiders — Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: He could be ideal for a team that relies too heavily on defensive player of the year Khalil Mack to pressure passers. Charlton’s height (6-6) also allows him to disrupt passing lanes even when he can’t actually reach the quarterback.
25. Houston Texans — Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: He’s got the size (6 feet, 201 pounds) and ability that could allow this defense to maintain its top-ranked level even if forced to replace breakout free agent CB A.J. Bouye.
26. Seattle Seahawks — Cam Robinson, T, Alabama: Whether he plugs in at right tackle or guard, he’s a mauler who could revitalize the running game that typically portends a strong Seattle offense. A line that had plenty of cracks in 2016 needs to be plugged.
27. Kansas City Chiefs — Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Slotting him here is no indictment of his talent, more a function that many teams selecting before Kansas City don’t have a pressing need for a receiver or not one in Williams’ 6-3, 225-pound mold. Still, posting a nice 40 at Clemson’s pro day will only boost his stock after he declined to run at the combine. Williams is arguably as good as any receiver available this year and a player Kansas City might actually have to trade up to get. His gifts and red-zone prowess would seemingly be the perfect package to add to an offense that was running through speedy WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce by the end of last season.
28. Dallas Cowboys — Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: With three starting defensive backs heading into free agency, Dallas’ primary need may be in the secondary. But team brass seems more interested in addressing the pass rush through the draft after being disappointed by Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory in recent years. Mizzou has cultivated a lot of capable defensive ends over the years and plucking Harris could be the best way to relieve the burden on what could be a new-look pass defense.
29. Green Bay Packers — Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU: One reason QB Aaron Rodgers had to be so good down the stretch last year was because he had to compensate for a secondary that was scalded pretty much on a weekly basis, with most of the blame lying with the corners.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers — Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: Has any player had a better offseason than Reddick, who burst onto the national radar at the Senior Bowl before shining again at the combine? With ILB Lawrence Timmons’ time in Pittsburgh apparently coming to a close, Reddick could be a natural fit who would add every-down versatility while forming a nice duo with Ryan Shazier.
31. Atlanta Falcons — Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA: As the Super Bowl illustrated, the Falcons could use more talent and depth on the edge during passing downs aside from NFL sack champion Vic Beasley. McKinley could break in as a situational player on sub packages while refining skills that need polish before he’s ready to emerge as a starter.
32. New England Patriots — David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.): Martellus Bennett could be headed for a post-Super Bowl payday elsewhere. Rob Gronkowski’s back is a perennial concern. But the Patriots rely on gifted tight ends in their offensive array, and Njoku, who doesn’t turn 21 until this summer, could keep the position settled for the long haul.