McKin­ley could be choice at No. 29


A look at how the first round may un­fold

With few ex­cep­tions, most of the NFL’s prom­i­nent free agents have now found new homes or re­turned to their orig­i­nal ones. With team needs across the league more clearly de­fined as the draft ap­proaches, here’s mock draft 4.0 for 2017:

1. Cleve­land Browns — Myles Gar­rett, DE, Texas A&M:

Free agency only al­ters so much. Gar­rett is still widely re­garded as the best in­com­ing player, and the Browns con­tinue to lack a pass-rush­ing force in a di­vi­sion where all of their op­po­nents fea­ture es­tab­lished quar­ter­backs. There’s no rea­son for Cleve­land brass to over­think this pick, es­pe­cially since none of this year’s pass­ing prospects have yet to dis­tin­guish them­selves as wor­thy of a se­lec­tion this high.

2. San Fran­cisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stan­ford:

He’s a three-down player, one who can play in­side or out, and — un­like some other prospects at the top of the board — isn’t sad­dled with any ques­tions re­gard­ing in­juries or in­ex­pe­ri­ence. New co­or­di­na­tor Robert Saleh, for­merly an as­sis­tant in Seat­tle, would surely love to add one more stud to a de­fen­sive line that al­ready fea­tures for­mer first rounders Arik Arm­stead and DeFor­est Buck­ner.

3. Chicago Bears — Ja­mal Adams, S, LSU:

It’s been years since the Mon­sters of the Mid­way had a beastly hit­ter ca­pa­ble of set­ting the de­fen­sive tone from the safety spot. Adams lays down the law with a vengeance in run sup­port and un­der­neath cov­er­age yet is also per­fectly ca­pa­ble of play­ing the slot in nickel pack­ages or hold­ing up as a last line of de­fense on deep balls. Even with vet­eran Quintin Demps com­ing aboard, Adams could be far too tempt- ing to by­pass.

4. Jack­sonville Jaguars — Leonard Four­nette, RB, LSU:

This team con­tin­ued to in­vest big money into its de­fense, but now it’s time to spend a valu­able pick on a lack­lus­ter ground game — one that hasn’t pro­duced a 1,000-yard rusher since 2011. Four­nette can pro­vide plenty of pro­duc­tion while es­tab­lish­ing a phys­i­cal pres­ence that’s sure to please new foot- ball boss Tom Cough­lin and sub­stan­tially ease the bur­den on QB Blake Bor­tles.

5. Ten­nessee Ti­tans (from Rams) — John Ross, WR, Wash­ing­ton:

He’s far more than pure speed, though his 4.22 40-yard dash time is rea­son enough to con­sider tak­ing him this early. But Ross is also an ef­fec­tive route run­ner who could quickly be­come a trusted target for QB Mar­cus Mar­i­ota. And given his po­ten­tial to loosen de­fenses for Ten­nessee’s tail­backs, spruce up the re­turn game and the like­li­hood he prob­a­bly won’t be avail­able when the Ti­tans pick again at No. 18, this is the spot to spring for Ross.

6. New York Jets — Ma­lik Hooker, S, Ohio State:

He had seven in­ter­cep­tions in 2016. The Jets had eight. A free safety who cov­ers a lot of ground is also a nice weapon to de­ploy against the AFC East ri­val Pa­tri­ots and Dolphins, two teams that prom­ise to put the ball in the air quite a bit. And though quar­ter­back could be tempt­ing, would the Jets re­ally carry four arms for a second straight sea­son?

7. Los An­ge­les Charg­ers — Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama:

The Bolts’ de­fen­sive makeover would look aw­fully good if Allen and DE Joey Bosa are paired as Mr. In­side and Mr. Out­side for the next half-dozen years. Allen’s ver­sa­til­ity and abil­ity to im­pact all three downs would also be nicely lever­aged in new co­or­di­na­tor Gus Bradley’s scheme.

8. Carolina Pan­thers — Marshon Lat­ti­more, CB, Ohio State:

Might help be on the way for a team that sur­ren­dered nearly 35 more yards per game through the air in the sea­son af­ter it let CB Josh Nor­man walk out the door?

9. Cincin­nati Ben­gals — Derek Bar­nett, DE, Ten­nessee:

At 6-3 and 259 pounds, he isn’t quite as big as Cincin­nati’s pro­to­typ­i­cal edge player. But Bar­nett is a con­tanst pres­ence in op­pos­ing back­fields and would wreak the kind of havoc a de­fense that’s re­gressed in re­cent years needs.

10. Buf­falo Bills — Mike Wil­liams, WR, Clem­son:

Buf­falo re-com­mit­ted to QB Ty­rod Tay­lor for the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, yet might be wise to give him a big-time target af­ter the team’s wide­out corps was raided dur­ing free agency. Wil­liams’ red­zone pres­ence would cer­tainly be a boon to a team that pro­duced only 17 touch­downs through the air in 2016.

11. New Orleans Saints — Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama:

Maybe a pass rusher or cor­ner would be more ideal for this long-reel­ing de­fense. But Foster can roam side­line-to-side­line and de­liv­ers bad in­ten­tions with each thun­der­ous hit. And he might just fill a void the Saints haven’t suc­cess­fully ad­dressed since Jonathan Vilma’s de­cline.

12. Browns (from Ea­gles) — Mitchell Tru­bisky, QB, North Carolina:

With a 68% com­ple­tion rate in 2016, the north­east Ohio na­tive could pos­sess the ac­cu­racy, mo­bil­ity and moxie to ef­fec­tively op­er­ate Hue Jackon’s of­fense ... even­tu­ally. How­ever even a player with just 13 col­lege starts might stand a good chance of quickly over­tak­ing Cody Kessler and Kevin Ho­gan on this depth chart.

13. Ari­zona Car­di­nals — De­shaun Wat­son, QB, Clem­son:

Does Carson Palmer have one more re­bound in him at age 37? Does he even have an­other sea­son in his right arm be­yond the 2017 cam­paign? Even if the an­swer to those ques­tions is “yes,” this might be the Cards’ best op­por­tu­nity to ob­tain their next fran­chise passer. Let­ting Wat­son mar­i­nate un­der the tute­lage of Palmer and Bruce Ari­ans could also be the op­ti­mal way to pre­pare him for the big stage.

14. Ea­gles (from Vik­ings) — Mar­lon Humphrey, CB, Alabama:

Philly did a nice job re­vamp­ing its re­ceiv­ing corps dur­ing free agency. Now per­son­nel boss Howie Rose­man must turn to the draft to re­plen­ish his sec­ondary, and the Ea­gles des­per­ately need an up­grade at cor­ner in a di­vi­sion that con­tains so many dan­ger­ous wide­outs.

15. In­di­anapo­lis Colts — Chris­tian McCaf­frey, RB, Stan­ford:

Even at 33, RB Frank Gore proved in 2016 his tank hasn’t run dry. But McCaf­frey’s abil­ity to play in space could open up a whole new world of pos­si­bil­i­ties when team­ing him with fel­low

Stan­ford prod­uct An­drew Luck.

16. Bal­ti­more Ravens — Charles Har­ris, DE, Mis­souri:

The lat­est prod­uct from Miz­zou’s pipe­line of de­fend­ers could help re­vi­tal­ize Bal­ti­more’s flag­ging pass rush. Har­ris’ al­ready im­pres­sive ar­ray of moves off the edge would only im­prove un­der the guid­ance of gray­beard Ter­rell Suggs.

17. Wash­ing­ton Red­skins — Jabrill Pep­pers, S, Michi­gan:

He might find him­self fill­ing as many roles for the ‘Skins as he did for the Wolver­ines. But even if Pep­pers sim­ply fo­cuses on play­ing safety, this de­fense would be in bet­ter shape. And wouldn’t it be fun to see the dis­rup­tion he and Su’a Cravens could cause in sub pack­ages?

18. Ti­tans — Haa­son Red­dick, LB, Tem­ple:

Oh the ways de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Dick LeBeau could de­ploy a chess piece like Red­dick, who had 22½ tack­les for loss last year as a de­fen­sive end. And be­sides be­ing an edge pres­ence, he’s shown dur­ing pre-draft work­outs that he might be able to play in­side line­backer in base pack­ages, too.

19. Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State:

You know for­mer Semi­noles QB Jameis Win­ston would love for this to come to fruition. Cook can do it all and could be a workhourse af­ter av­er­ag­ing more than 250 touches dur­ing his three sea­sons with FSU. He might be an es­pe­cially po­tent re­ceiver against de­fenses forced to fo­cus on con­tain­ing WR Mike Evans and newly ac­quired deep threat De­Sean Jack­son.

20. Den­ver Bron­cos — O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama:

Never mind that Den­ver’s pass­ing attack needs di­ver­sity be­yond De­mary­ius Thomas and Em­manuel San­ders, Howard is just too good a foot­ball player not to take here. And aside from his ob­vi­ous re­ceiv­ing gifts, he might even pro­vide enough block­ing to get the Den­ver run game back into gear.

21. Detroit Lions — Taco Charl­ton, DE, Michi­gan:

The Lions ad­dressed their of­fen­sive line is­sues in free agency and could look to the draft to bol­ster the de­fen­sive side of the trenches. Charl­ton has huge up­side and might be the kind of weapon who makes life dif­fi­cult for Aaron Rodgers, al­ways a pre­req­ui­site of any NFC North de­fense.

22. Miami Dolphins — Gareon Con­ley, CB, Ohio State:

This ac­tu­ally feels like a spot where the Fins might be best served to trade out and ac­crue more picks. But Con­ley could help a pass de­fense that was burned for 30 touch­downs in 2016.

23. New York Giants — Garett Bolles, OT, Utah:

Ar­guably this year’s top left tackle prospect, he could not only strengthen pro­tec­tion on QB Eli Man­ning’s blind side but also al­low Ereck Flow­ers to shift to right tackle, which seems to be his more nat­u­ral po­si­tion.

24. Oak­land Raiders — Ma­lik McDow­ell, DT, Michi­gan State:

The Silver & Black are in dire need of an in­te­rior de­fen­sive pres­ence who can ei­ther make like eas­ier for DE Khalil Mack and OLB Bruce Irvin — they com­bined for 18 of the club’s league-low 25 sacks last year — or make teams pay for schem­ing against the duo.

25. Hous­ton Tex­ans — For­rest Lamp, OL, Western Ken­tucky:

Whether Tony Romo or Tom Sav­age is tak­ing the snaps next year, it would be­hoove the Tex­ans to im­prove the block­ing in front of their next quar­ter­back. Lamp looks ready to check that box on Day 1.

26. Seat­tle Sea­hawks — Ryan Ram­czyk, OT, Wis­con­sin:

This team has to ob­tain some bona fide block­ing tal­ent in or­der to keep QB Rus­sell Wil­son in­tact and re­store the for­merly feared run game.

27. Kansas City Chiefs — Corey Davis, WR, Western Michi­gan:

The 6-3, 213-pounder might emerge as this year’s top re­ceiv­ing prospect. Un­fortu- nately, an an­kle in­jury has pre­vented him from con­firm­ing that dur­ing the pre-draft process. But he and Tyreek Hill could give Kansas City its most for­mi­da­ble tan­dem since Car­los Carson and Stephone Paige in the ’80s.

28. Dal­las Cow­boys — Tre’Davi­ous White, CB, LSU:

A sack-gen­er­at­ing “war daddy” would def­i­nitely make sense if Dal­las can find one here that fits its scheme. (Fat chance.) But White would also be a huge help af­ter the mass free agent ex­o­dus from the Cow­boys sec­ondary.

29. Green Bay Pack­ers — Takkarist McKin­ley, OLB, UCLA:

One way to help a be­lea­guered sec­ondary is to amp up the pres­sure. With Julius Pep­pers gone, McKin­ley could step in on pass­ing downs while he learns the ropes from Clay Matthews and Nick Perry.

30. Pitts­burgh Steel­ers — David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.):

As good as Heath Miller was, the Steel­ers haven’t re­ally had a game-break­ing tight end since Eric Green briefly teased Pitts­burgh with his tal­ents two decades ago. But Njoku has the goods to take a some­times un­stop­pable of­fense to a whole new level.

31. At­lanta Fal­cons — Budda Baker, S, Wash­ing­ton:

If Keanu Neal is de­vel­op­ing into At­lanta’s ver­sion of Kam Chan­cel­lor, Baker might just be able to be­come their Earl Thomas. Baker can cover the slot, hit, play deep — just the kind of as­set a still-de­vel­op­ing unit could re­ally use.

32. Saints (from New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots) — Evan En­gram, TE, Mis­sis­sippi:

They must get QB Drew Brees some kind of new toy, right? It’s not easy to en­vi­sion a hy­brid of Jimmy Gra­ham and Brandin Cooks, the fa­vored tar­gets that have been taken from Brees. Yet En­gram has 4.4 speed (al­most at Cooks’ level) and a 6-3, 234-pound build (a mini-Gra­ham). Given those mea­sur­ables, his route run­ning and re­li­able hands, we’d have to think En­gram could be some­thing truly spe­cial in this of­fense.


Solomon Thomas could help the 49ers’ de­fen­sive line.


UW’s Ryan Ram­czyk could be a good fit for the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, who need some help pro­tect­ing Rus­sell Wil­son.


UCLA’s Takkarist McKin­ley could give the Pack­ers some pass-rush­ing help.

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