As­sess­ing the first round fol­low­ing fi­nal pro days

Run­ning back may be Pack­ers’ fo­cus


LSU’s April 5 show­case was the last ma­jor event on this year’s pro day cir­cuit, which brings an­other log­i­cal way­point to re-as­sess the first-round of the NFL draft board: 1. Cleve­land Browns — Myles Gar­rett, DE, Texas A&M: He’s been the pre­sump­tive top pick since the col­lege bowl sea­son ended and may have only ce­mented his sta­tus af­ter em­brac­ing his pro day — even with vir­tu­ally noth­ing to gain by par­tic­i­pat­ing — and blaz­ing an­other 4.6 40-yard dash time. Since sacks be­came an of­fi­cial stat in 1982, no Browns player has recorded more than 14 in a sea­son, per­haps one more rea­son the fran­chise has yet to reach a Su­per Bowl. Gar­rett has the tools to be a 20-sack guy.

2. San Francisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stan­ford: One of the draft’s cleaner play­ers, Thomas is pro­duc­tive (8½ sacks, 14 tack­les for loss in 2016) and ver­sa­tile enough to move around the line of scrim­mage. De­spite in­vest­ing their last two Round 1 picks in de­fen­sive line­men, the Nin­ers had the worst de­fense in the NFL last year and could not stop any­one on the ground. Thomas could make an im­me­di­ate splash as a three-down dif­fer­ence maker. 3. Chicago Bears — Ma­lik Hooker, S, Ohio State: The Bears haven’t re­ally had an im­pact safety since Mike Brown was in his prime more than a decade ago. Hooker is a thief who could be a huge pres­ence in a divi­sion where the ball is in the air so fre­quently. He had seven in­ter­cep­tions in 2016 (one fewer than the en­tire Bears de­fense) and re­turned three for TDs, one more pick-six than Chicago has man­aged in the past three sea­sons. 4. Jack­sonville Jaguars — Leonard Four­nette, RB, LSU: He’s be­ing men­tioned as the

best run­ning back prospect since Adrian Peter­son was a first rounder a decade ago. Peter­son led the Vik­ings to the play­offs four times, never with the same start­ing quar­ter­back. Four­nette would surely al­le­vi­ate the of­fen­sive load on QB Blake Bor­tles, yet might even make the Jags a bona fide con­tender even if the fran­chise ul­ti­mately de­cides it must make a change un­der cen­ter.

5. Ten­nessee Ti­tans (from Los An­ge­les Rams) — Ja­mal Adams, S, LSU: He blis­tered a 4.33 40 at the Tigers’ pro day, a spec­tac­u­lar time for a safety and fur­ther ev­i­dence of his abil­ity to streak across the field to make a huge hit or break up a pass in a deep quad­rant. Adams’ rep­u­ta­tion as a leader might also make him a cov­eted ad­di­tion to a young team that could seek a foil to QB Mar­cus Mar­i­ota’s un­der­stated style. 6. New York Jets — O.J.

Howard, TE, Alabama: This team hasn’t had much pro­duc­tion from its tight ends since Dustin Keller was a first rounder in 2008. Howard could rem­edy that while serv­ing as a re­li­able op­tion for an of­fense that seems des­tined for a youth move­ment un­der cen­ter. He’s also got the abil­ity to re­place some of the pro­duc­tion lost with the de­fec­tion of uber-sized WR Bran­don Mar­shall while bol­ster­ing the block­ing of an O-line now in flux. 7. Los An­ge­les Charg­ers — Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama: Think new de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Gus Bradley wouldn’t love the op­por­tu­nity to de­ploy Allen, who gob­bled up awards as the na­tion’s top col­lege de­fender in 2016, at all points of the Bolts’ Dline in con­junc­tion with out­side rush­ers Joey Bosa and Melvin In­gram? Allen’s quick­ness will frus­trate guards and cen­ters, and he’ll win plenty of one-onone bat­tles with most tack­les — of­ten by virtue of non-stop ef­fort. 8. Carolina Pan­thers — Derek Bar­nett, DE, Ten­nessee: His per­for­mance in the SEC was off the charts, in­clud­ing 32 sacks and 52 tack­les for loss in three sea­sons. GM Dave Get­tle­man loves a deep and tal­ented D-line, and that could be a big­ger con­sid­er­a­tion this year af­ter the trade of DE Kony Ealy, DE Charles John­son’s re­cent back surgery and DE Julius Pep­pers’ age (37). And in a divi­sion with so many good quar­ter­backs, you can never gen­er­ate enough pres­sure. 9. Cincin­nati Ben­gals — Reuben Fos­ter, ILB, Alabama: He ar­rives at the ball like a sledge­ham­mer, and Marvin Lewis hasn’t had a line­backer with this much side­line-to-side­line range since he coached Ray Lewis. And with Rey Maualuga al­ready gone and Von­taze Bur­fict and Kevin Min­ter only un­der con­tract through the up­com­ing sea­son, it’s a good time for Cincin­nati to ad­dress the po­si­tion. 10. Buf­falo Bills — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: Af­ter Stephon Gil­more bolted to be­come Tom Brady’s team­mate, the Bills find them­selves need­ing premier cor­ner in hopes of slow­ing Brady and Co. the next time they face New Eng­land. Lattimore emerged as a star in 2016 af­ter over­com­ing a his­tory of ham­string is­sues and is the most com­pelling tal­ent at his po­si­tion this year. 11. New Or­leans Saints — Haa­son Red­dick, LB, Tem­ple: Prob­a­bly no player has im­proved his draft stock more in the last three months than Red­dick. He’s a highly ath­letic, dis­rup­tive player who posted 35½ tack­les for loss and 14½ sacks over the last two sea­sons as a de­fen­sive end for the Owls. At 6-1, 237 pounds, he’ll be a line­backer in the NFL, but his skill set should make him a three­down player who should be an ef­fec­tive bl­itzer or edge pres­ence in sub pack­ages. 12. Browns (from Ea­gles) — Mitchell Tru­bisky, QB, North

Carolina: His ac­cu­racy, 70% over the last two sea­sons, could be the at­tribute that brings him home to Ohio. Tru­bisky’s TD-toINT ra­tio (36:6) over the same span also im­presses. But his over­all in­ex­pe­ri­ence (just 13 ca­reer starts) com­bined with a lack of snaps taken un­der cen­ter means he’s un­likely to make the Dawg Pound for­get about Bernie Kosar in 2017.

13. Ari­zona Car­di­nals — Corey Davis, WR, West­ern Michi­gan: He’s big (6-3, 213), smooth and pro­lific, amass­ing a Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion record 5,278 ca­reer re­ceiv­ing yards. Work­ing on the bound­ary, Davis could ini­tially be a nice com­ple­ment to Larry Fitzger­ald be­fore even­tu­ally sup­plant­ing him as the team’s top tar­get. 14. Ea­gles (from Vik­ings) — Kevin King, CB, Washington: Philly has to reload at cor­ner,

and a 6-3, 200-pounder like King could be the right an­ti­dote in a divi­sion pop­u­lated with mas­sive re­ceivers like Dez Bryant, Bran­don Mar­shall and Ter­relle Pryor.

15. In­di­anapo­lis Colts — Takkarist McKin­ley, OLB, UCLA: Both of Indy’s top pass rush­ers from 2016, Erik Walden (free agent) and Robert Mathis (re­tired), are gone, and the de­fense needed to get younger on the edge any­way. McKin­ley is re­lent­less in his pur­suit of quar­ter­backs and plenty ath­letic, a nice com­bi­na­tion at this po­si­tion. 16. Bal­ti­more Ravens — Mike Wil­liams, WR, Clem­son: As USA TO­DAY Sports NFL colum­nist Jar­rett Bell notes, Ravens GM Ozzie New­some doesn’t ex­actly have the Mi­das touch when it comes to pick­ing re­ceivers. But Wil­liams could change that for a team that strug­gled to find the end zone in 2016 and now must fill the void cre­ated by Steve Smith’s re­tire­ment. 17. Washington Red­skins — Jabrill Pep­pers, S, Michi­gan: His abil­ity to de­fend the slot, play line­backer in sub pack­ages and the­o­ret­i­cally ease into a start­ing role on the back end seems to be the kind of skill set a team that fin­ished 25th de­fend­ing the pass could use. And don’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of Pep­pers get­ting some touches on an evolv­ing of­fense that could use more splash plays out of the back­field. 18. Ti­tans — John Ross, WR, Washington: He and his 4.22 40 speed just seem like a seam­less fit for a team that loves to run the ball — and could ben­e­fit from Ross’ abil­ity to stretch de­fenses — and also needs a shiftier tar­get to com­ple­ment Mar­i­ota’s pre­ferred op­tion, TE De­lanie Walker. 19. Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers — Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: Noth­ing should be more im­por­tant to the Bucs than safe­guard­ing QB Jameis Win­ston. And though re­vamp­ing the run­ning game is one way to do that, Tampa can dip into a deep tail­back

class later. First, GM Ja­son Licht should lock down Win­ston’s blind side, which has too of­ten been ex­posed by Dono­van Smith’s strug­gles as a pass blocker. It might be time to move him in­side and put a more nim­ble player like Bolles at left tackle. 20. Den­ver Bron­cos — Ryan

Ram­czyk, OT, Wis­con­sin: LT Rus­sell Okung left in free agency, and the Bron­cos don’t ap­pear to have an in-house re­place­ment of sim­i­lar abil­ity. They need to shore up the block­ing if QBs Trevor Siemian and Pax­ton Lynch are go­ing to have solid op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­tinue their de­vel­op­ment. 21. Detroit Lions — Charles Har­ris, DE, Mis­souri: No team in the NFC had fewer sacks than Detroit’s 26. Har­ris is light­ning quick off the edge and could take some game plan fo­cus off DE Ziggy An­sah, who had a hor­ri­ble 2016 sea­son. 22. Mi­ami Dol­phins — Gareon Con­ley, CB, Ohio State: Only the Browns al­lowed more TD passes among AFC teams in

2016 than Mi­ami’s 30. Tak­ing Con­ley would give the Dol­phins’ nickel pack­age an im­me­di­ate boost while he ma­tures into a po­ten­tial No. 1 cor­ner. 23. New York Giants — Da

vid Njoku, TE, Mi­ami (Fla.): A gifted 20-year-old who’s poised to ex­tend the Hur­ri­canes’ proud lin­eage at the po­si­tion. A New Jersey na­tive, Njoku could stop the re­volv­ing door the Giants have had at tight end since Jeremy Shockey’s hey­day while mak­ing teams pay for dou­ble cov­er­ing WR Odell Beck­ham Jr. 24. Oak­land Raiders — Jar­rad Davis, LB, Florida: The Raiders are in des­per­ate need of a tal­ent in­fu­sion at the sec­ond level of their 26th-ranked de­fense. Davis is an ath­lete and leader who should quickly be­come the kind of core player who never has to leave the field. 25. Hous­ton Tex­ans — De­shaun Wat­son, QB, Clem­son: With Tony Romo ap­par­ently no longer an op­tion, the Tex­ans must now look to an al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion for their per­pet­ual quar­ter­back­ing is­sues. Hous-

ton is good enough to al­low Wat­son to ac­cli­mate be­hind Tom Sav­age and could even shield him from too much re­spon­si­bil­ity if he was pressed into ser­vice as a rookie.

26. Seattle Sea­hawks — For­rest Lamp, OL, West­ern Ken­tucky: Of­fen­sive line mae­stro Tom Ca­ble could try Lamp at his col­lege po­si­tion, tackle, or line him up at guard, where many scouts project he’ll thrive in the NFL. Re­gard­less of where he played, Lamp would strengthen one of the league’s least ef­fec­tive lines.

27. Kansas City Chiefs — Mar­lon Humphrey, CB, Ala

bama: Op­po­nents have no rea­son to chal­lenge CB Mar­cus Peters when they can pile up the prof­its tar­get­ing the other side of Kansas City’s se­condary. Humphrey’s could help stop the bleed­ing as a No. 2 cor­ner be­fore pos­si­bly har­ness­ing his tal­ents and be­com­ing a per­former close to Peters’ cal­iber. 28. Dal­las Cow­boys — Tre’Davi­ous White, CB, LSU: Time to start re­plen­ish­ing a sec­ond-

ary agency. that was White dec­i­mat­ed­could im­medi-by free ately chal­leng­ing for a start­ing po­si­tion while also con­tribut­ing right away as a dan­ger­ous punt re­turner. 29. Green Bay Pack­ers — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: He could sta­bi­lize a ground game that was de­railed by Ed­die Lacy’s in­con­sis­tency and in­juries. Cook is an ac­com­plished run­ner and re­ceiver ca­pa­ble of do­ing ev­ery­thing in the Pack’s play­book while al­low­ing Ty Mont­gomery to slide into the change-of-pace role that might bet­ter serve a con­verted re­ceiver.

30. Pitts­burgh Steel­ers — Pa­trick Ma­homes, QB, Texas Tech: His buzz con­tin­ues to build af­ter his own im­pres­sive pro day show­ing. Ma­homes has all the phys­i­cal gifts that make NFL coaches sali­vate. But he also might need two full years to learn how a pro of­fense op­er­ates. This could be the per­fect sce­nario given Ben Roeth­lis­berger’s age (35), re­tire­ment musings (which he’s fi­nally put to rest for 2017) and propen­sity to get in­jured. 31. At­lanta Fal­cons — Taco Charlton, DE, Michi­gan: OLB Vic Beasley paced the NFL in 2016 with 15½ sacks but no team­mate had more than five — a prob­lem that was ac­cen­tu­ated when the Fal­cons failed to gen­er­ate any heat on Tom Brady dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ Su­per Bowl come­back. Charlton reg­is­tered 10 sacks last year, and his 6-6 frame en­ables him to bat down balls when he can’t reach quar­ter­backs.

32. Saints (from New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots) — Chris­tian

McCaf­frey, RB, Stan­ford: Sure, it would make sense for the Saints to con­tinue re­build­ing their de­fense. But with WR Brandin Cooks and RB Tim Hightower now gone, could they re­sist pick­ing up a weapon like McCaf­frey, who will rekin­dle mem­o­ries of Reg­gie Bush in New Or­leans. Not only might he be op­ti­mal as ag­ing QB Drew Brees looks to spread the field un­der­neath, but McCaf­frey could ig­nite a re­turn game that’s given the Saints lit­tle spark lately.


Alabama Crim­son Tide de­fen­sive line­man Jonathan Allen goes through pre-draft work­out drills. Allen is ex­pected to be the first de­fen­sive tackle taken in the NFL draft and will likely be a top 10 pick.


Texas Tech quar­ter­back Pa­trick Ma­homes had an ex­cel­lent pro day and has moved up the draft board. He could be a fit for the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers at No. 30 as an un­der­study to Ben Roeth­lis­berger.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.