There were a good 24 hours or so leading into Thursday when people started buying into the idea that Cleveland would take QB Mitchell Trubisky over Garrett. Wisely, the Browns stuck to the program and nabbed the top available prospect. With Garrett and Jamie Collins, the rebuilding Browns finally can start formulating something of a defensive identity. Garrett’s exceptional upside as an edge rusher also should allow Collins to play more of a free-flowing role—he’s best utilized as a movable part, not necessarily as a pass rusher. That the Browns even considered Trubisky so late in the process says a lot about their current situation at quarterback, but they could not risk leaving Garrett on the table.
Scouting report: Over his three seasons at Texas A&M, Garrett averaged 15.7 tackles for loss and 10.3 sacks per year. Garrett has been the consensus No. 1 prospect in this draft class for months, and with good reason. He possesses a rare combination of size, strength and athleticism. He is absolutely explosive off the snap. He can cover a ton of ground with his first couple steps. His numbers in 2016 did not measure up to expectations, but some of that had to do with the nagging ankle injury he suffered early in the year, though he does take some plays off.
Pick 2 and the first massive surprise of the night. The Bears sent picks 3, 67, 111 and a 2018 third-rounder to the 49ers to move up one spot for Trubisky. That’s a pretty strong indication that a) the Bears believe Trubisky is destined to be a star, and b) multiple teams were lining up for Trubisky (or San Francisco at least made Chicago believe that). It is a massive commitment that comes right after the Bears signed Mike Glennon in free agency. Is Trubisky here to take the job in 2017 or to sit and watch? Given the price, it almost has to be the former. This is a huge gamble by the Bears on a quarterback who drew mixed reviews throughout the draft process.
Scouting report: What stands out about Trubisky is his feel for the pocket. He manipulates the pocket with controlled footwork, sliding left or right to find a throwing lane. Defenses have to account for his scrambling ability, but he is patient looking for a pass against pressure. With just 13 starts under his belt, he enters the NFL with less experience than the rest of this quarterback class, and he will need to improve his consistency in his throwing mechanics.
Rookie GMs aren’t supposed to pull off coups like the one John Lynch delivered in Round 1. In dealing the No. 2 pick to Chicago, Lynch added three extra picks (two this year, one next) plus still landed Thomas, a player linked to the 49ers for weeks. With the 49ers expected to shift to a 4-3 scheme, Thomas best fits as a three-tech, but he can work inside or out. His presence alongside DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead will allow San Francisco to be very flexible up front. The 49ers also have five more picks within the top 111 this year, thanks to the Bears’ generosity.
Scouting report: A dominating force at Stanford, Thomas recorded 16.0 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. His athleticism shows when he breaks off a spin move or stunts. Thomas (6' 3", 273 pounds) can also drive O-linemen back on their heels, both off the edge and when stunting or angling inside. He is a bit of a “tweener” and can get stuck in hand-fighting and lose his leverage. The other glaring issue on his tape is in his finishing. He’s young, though, and will not turn 22 until December.
The Jaguars’ brass spoke all off-season about the need to improve the run game, and this is a pretty clear attempt to do so. Fournette immediately leaps to the top of the depth chart, skipping past Chris Ivory (whose contract now looks rather expendable post-June 1) and T.J. Yeldon. The Jaguars may have to tweak their offense some to mesh Fournette with Blake Bortles—the former is a downhill power back, the latter has been at his best out of the gun. The expectation will be that Fournette can bring Jacksonville magic like Ezekiel Elliott did in Dallas last year. Reality may paint a bleaker picture given the roster around Fournette, but he’s definitely a special talent. The Jaguars did leave a lot of defensive talent on the board here, so this has to pay off.
Scouting report: An ankle injury limited Fournette to just seven games last season, but he still averaged 120 yards rushing per contest. As a sophomore in 2015, he logged 1,953 yards rushing and 23 total touchdowns, finishing sixth in Heisman voting. Despite his 6-foot, 240-pound frame (he slimmed down to 228 between the combine and LSU’s Pro Day), Fournette is more than a power back—he has 4.5 speed to get to the edge, and he can pull away in the open field. He can run outside the tackles and turn upfield, but he is not going to shake defenders with lateral movement.
A prime example of how the pre-draft build can be misleading. Davis had to sit out the combine and Western Michigan’s pro day because of an ankle injury, so many predicted a draft-night slide. But nothing ever changed the fact that Davis is an outstanding talent and the most pro-ready receiver in this class. The Titans managed to find some production last season in guys like Rishard Matthews, but no one on their roster can match Davis’s all-around game. Assuming his ankle is back to 100% sometime this summer, he can be the No. 1 receiver on the Titans’ roster in short order.
Scouting report: Davis concluded his Western Michigan career as the all-time leading receiver in FBS history, with 5,278 yards. His 331 career receptions also placed him first in MAC history and fourth in FBS history. Shy of being a run-blocking force, there is nothing a coordinator can ask of Davis that is problematic for the 6' 3", 209-pound receiver. He possesses a well-versed understanding of the route tree, and the crispness with which he runs those routes keeps defenders guessing. Davis wastes little time getting upfield and fights for the ball on contested catches, though drops can nag him at times.
The start of the draft worked out like a dream for the Jets (unless they secretly had their sights set on Trubisky)—a QB and a RB went in the top five, meaning they had their choice of Adams and O.J. Howard, among others. Adams is the right pick. Only the NFL’s aversion to taking safeties in the top five kept Adams from being a lock in a spot higher than this. He has all the makings of a defensive centerpiece at the next level. His arrival in New York might signal that Calvin Pryor’s days are numbered, because Adams should spend most of his time in the box and over the slot. Regardless, Jets coach Todd Bowles will max out the ways in which Adams can be useful.
Scouting report: Adams was a first-team All-SEC and second-team All-America this past season, as he notched 76 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss. At 6' 0", 214 pounds, he isn’t the biggest safety in the world, but he’s cut and plays with that hitter’s mentality. He flies downhill, yet maintains enough control to react to any change of direction from the ballcarrier. Though he’s no slouch in pass defense, Adams shines against the run; he tackles like a linebacker, and he reads plays like one as well. Adams can get burned, on occasion, with his aggressive approach against the run.
The Chargers always looked like a potential sleeper landing spot for a wide receiver—Keenan Allen has had a hard time staying healthy, and they relied on players outperforming expectations last year. Williams gives QB Philip Rivers a big, physical receiver, something with which Rivers always has had great success. The cost of this for the Chargers is that they had to pass on safety Malik Hooker and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, both of whom could have upgraded a defense that’s still shy on talent. Hooker, in particular, set up as a natural fit. Williams will make plays downfield, on slants and in the red zone. Will he make enough to help make up for any defensive issues L.A. has?
Scouting report: Williams returned from a freak neck injury to catch 98 passes for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns as Clemson won the national title in 2016, all good enough to land him a first-team All-ACC spot. At 6’ 4”, Williams’s size and speed make him a dangerous player, and he arrives with an NFL-ready slant route and a talent for snaring deep tosses. But he’s not as polished a route runner as others in this receiving class. If he doesn’t improve in that area, he’ll be limited to a big-play option, as opposed to a high-volume receiver.
Remember all that talk about how McCaffrey didn’t have a “natural position fit” in the NFL and how teams would have to tweak their offenses to fit him? Forget it. It was ridiculous all along. McCaffrey ran between the tackles with great effectiveness in college, and he has the pass-catching chops to smoke defenses from the slot. He brings a completely different element to the Panthers’ offense, one that QB Cam Newton should benefit greatly from having. McCaffrey is a better fit for this scheme than Fournette, who was rumored to be in the Panthers’ sights as well. Carolina’s secondary and lines still need addressing at some point, but McCaffrey is as clean a prospect as there is in this draft.
Scouting report: 2016 was a down year for McCaffrey, yet he still racked up 1,603 yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing two games with injury and sitting out of Stanford’s bowl game to prepare for the draft. The 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up is an impressive athlete (he crushed the combine) and a master at changing direction and dominating one-on-one situations. At 5' 11" and 202 pounds, he also excels in the passing game, where he is a natural route runner with good hands. He’s not built to be a prototypical 230-pound., bell-cow back, and he likely won't shine as a blocker.
What was viewed as an elite draft for defensive talent sees six offensive players off the board in the first nine picks. Go figure. As was the case with Davis at No. 5, Ross’s health issues did not hold him back at all come Round 1. Heading into this draft, the Bengals needed to find help for A.J. Green, who was surrounded on the depth chart before Thursday by names like Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. Ross is the explosive game-changer that was missing—the question is if he can stay on the field.
Scouting report: Ross scored 19 touchdowns last season—one rushing, one on a punt return and 17 receiving, a number which topped the Pac-12. He also racked up 1,150 receiving yards, the fourth-highest single-season total in Washington’s program history. Ross (5' 11", 188 pounds) is dynamic; he’s a big-play threat who can make an impact around the goal line as a route runner. He’s also blazing fast, running a record-breaking 4.22 40-yard dash at the combine. Injuries are a concern though—he missed the 2015 season with an ACL tear, an injury that came on the heels of a torn meniscus during the 2014 season and subsequent microfracture surgery.
How ‘bout that? As rumor had it all day long, the Chiefs swung for the fences, moving up a whopping 17 spots in Round 1 at the cost of picks 27, 91 and a 2018 first-rounder. But with Cleveland and Arizona lurking at picks 12 and 13, respectively, Kansas City had little choice if it wanted to guarantee itself Mahomes. The gunslinger from Texas Tech lands in a perfect situation, with a QB-friendly coach in Andy Reid, a veteran in Alex Smith to hold down the fort and an opportunity to take over the starting job soon. The rub: The Chiefs paid a huge price for a developmental quarterback, choosing Mahomes over Deshaun Watson. This is the type of move that can make or break a front office.
Scouting report: Mahomes was a human highlight reel at the college level, consistently churning out big plays both through the air and on the ground. He has the arm to flick a sidearm toss on the run 50-plus yards just as naturally as he can stand in the pocket and zip a bullet to the far sideline. That said, Mahomes faces the steep learning curve that comes with a transition from Texas Tech’s system to the NFL. He will have to adjust to working under center, at least on occasion, while digesting reads and coverages.
Teams chasing defensive players have to be giddy at the offense-heavy top 10. Without having to move up the board at all, the Saints managed to land the top prospect at a position of extreme need. Lattimore could have landed in the top five (as many predicted he would, with Tennessee) and no one would have batted an eye. He’s a physical cornerback who can live on an island but who also will step up and help against the run. The Saints try to fix their secondary seemingly every season. This might finally get them there.
Scouting report: After struggling with hamstring issues through his first two years at Ohio State, Lattimore burst onto the scene in 2014, finishing the year with four interceptions, 41 tackles and 14 pass breakups, plus a second-team All-Big Ten nod (first-team by the coaches). He’s a cornerback with wide receiver quickness and a linebacker’s mentality. While Lattimore has decent size (6' 0", 193 pounds), it’s his aggressive style that makes him an imposing force. He has an explosive burst and is a punishing tackler. The technique isn’t exactly clean, and his desire to land a huge hit can leave him out of control. Long-term durability is also a concern.
Three quarterbacks in the top 12, three pricey trades up for the teams that took them. For the Texans to get from No. 25 to here, the cost was that 25th pick plus a 2018 first-rounder. Remember, the Browns already own Houston’s 2018 second-rounder, as part of the Brock Osweiler salary dump. But the Texans could not carry a playoff-ready roster into next season with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden manning the QB depth chart. Watson threw too many interceptions in college and he’ll need time to transition into Bill O’Brien’s offense, but he is the most talented quarterback there by a wide margin. This has to work, because the Texans mortgaged their ‘18 draft to solve a mess of their own creation.
Scouting report: Watson took Clemson to back-to-back national title games, winning in 2016—he was at his best in big games for the Tigers. An exceptional athlete, Watson can roll into an incredible rhythm as a passer. He shows enough presence to manipulate DBs with his eyes and footwork, and he can pass comfortably in the pocket or on the move. Watson can be sloppy at times, tossing interceptions or missing big plays. And he will risk injury if he runs in the NFL as much as he did in college.
Of course. Thanks to their uses of guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Deonne Bucannon, the Cardinals have been as creative as any team in the league at finding spots for talented players. Now, they’ll do it again with Reddick, the college DE-turned-NFL linebacker (probably). The Cardinals’ linebacking corps now includes Reddick, Bucannon and Chandler Jones, meaning that that it will be as dynamic and athletic as just about any group in the league. There are some concerns about Reddick’s transition, but this is a good fit. Were the Cardinals caught off guard, though, by the early QB run? They certainly could have considered a quarterback or TE O.J. Howard here, to ensure their future on that side of the ball.
Scouting report: A former Temple walk-on, Reddick finished this past season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks en route to a first-team All-AAC nod. He impressed at the combine, (4.52-second 40, 36.5" vertical, 133" broad jump) and is a showstopper in one-on-ones. Reddick’s effort level is high, and his footwork allows him to excel. But the 6' 1", 237-pound Reddick, who was a multi-year starter at defensive end, will now have to learn the intricacies of playing an off-ball linebacker role.
This is a good pick. It’s a relatively safe pick. It does not address the Eagles’ biggest need, which is at cornerback, and it also ignores a couple players who slipped down the board. The real positive is in pairing Barnett’s skill off the edge with Jim Schwartz’s scheme. Barnett can line up wide and worry about little else beyond penetrating into the backfield, which is exactly the type of role that should play to his strengths as a pass rusher. Brandon Graham, Chris Long and Barnett make for a talented DE trio from which Schwartz should be able to find a lot of sacks.
Scouting report: Barnett set a school record for sacks at Tennessee, finishing a celebrated career with 33. He had 13 this past fall, earning first-team All-America honors. At 6' 3" and 259 pounds, Barnett isn’t a mountain, but he plays with enough force to be able to hold the line. And he uses technique and high-level effort to dominate as a pass-rusher. Barnett is a good tackler, but his reliance on snap-timing can lead to inconsistency. Plus, his lack of lightning quick feet allows linemen to negate him if they land the first blow. He may be limited to a hand-in-the-dirt, 4–3 DE role.
Again, with teams crawling over themselves to land offensive weapons in the early picks, there were defensive players available mid-Round 1 that no one thought would be there: Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and, of course, Hooker. The Ohio State safety should slot right in as the Colts’ free safety, which prevents Indianapolis from having to piece together that spot—Darius Butler was a possible CB-to-S mover. Hooker’s past health issues probably didn’t hurt him as much in Round 1 as his lack of physicality did (and the huge run on skill positions). The Colts don’t need him to be a thumper, just to keep doing what he did for Ohio State vs. the pass.
Scouting report: A high school standout on the hardwood, Hooker bloomed late on the football field. In 2016 at Ohio State, his first year as a starter, he claimed an All-America nod and first-team All-Big Ten, as he recorded 74 tackles and picked off seven passes. Hooker possesses blazing speed as well as natural football instincts. He’s still a bit of an unfinished product, having only started playing the sport as a junior in high school, and he’s not as good against the run as the pass—tackling is a weakness. But it’s still borderline ridiculous the amount of ground Hooker can cover when the ball is in the air.
Cornerback was a need for the Ravens, even after they signed Brandon Carr this off-season. Was it more of a need than other spots on the field, like offensive tackle or pass rusher? Was Humprey a better value than, say, a tumbling O.J. Howard? It doesn’t feel like it right away. Humphrey fits the physical prototype at cornerback, but he has a lot of technique clean-up to do before he can be trusted by his lonesome vs. premier NFL receivers. The ceiling is high, without question, but how long will it take him to get there? Ozzie Newsome has been known as a staunch best-player-available GM come draft time. Not sure he hit that mark here.
Scouting report: The son of Bobby Humphrey, who rushed for 3,400-plus yards at Alabama and was a Round 1 pick in the 1989 supplemental draft, Marlon Humphrey notched 81 tackles, five picks and 13 pass breakups in his two post-redshirt seasons with the Tide. He also ran track as part of the 4x400 relay team. Humphrey’s calling card is his physicality. The 6-foot, 197-pounder lives to make receivers’ lives uncomfortable, working to drive them toward the sideline and off their routes. He brings that same mentality to run defense, too. The downside is that he lives on the edge of drawing penalties, and if he whiffs at the line, he is susceptible to the downfield home run.
Headed into the draft, this was a difficult pick to peg because the Redskins’ needs up front did not seem to match with the value expected to be here. Even with Allen’s spotty medicals at the combine (arthritic shoulders), Washington could not have imagined he would slip to the back half of Round 1. So, when he did, this was an obvious selection. Allen’s presence will make Washington’s previously porous front much more difficult to run against, and it will ratchet up the pass rush—either via Allen himself bringing heat, or by Allen drawing attention from his teammates.
Scouting report: Allen ended a celebrated career at Alabama in 2016 by winning the Bednarik Trophy as the country’s top defender and garnering first-team All-America honors. He also finished seventh in Heisman voting, with 69 tackles and 16.0 tackles for loss. Allen (6' 3", 286 pounds) is a versatile inside-out threat who saw a healthy amount of snaps as a 3–4 end for Alabama, but who can also kick further inside as a penetrating tackle or push further outside to change an edge-rushing look. Though he’s solid against the run, he’ll need to be even more of a presence in that regard if he stays primarily in an end role.
Cornerback and wide receiver always was the clearest path for Tennessee in Round 1. Mission accomplished in Corey Davis and now Jackson. The combination of Jackson’s playmaking skills on defense, explosive talents as a return man and out-of-this-world athleticism put him in the first-round mix. How successful this pick turns out to be depends on whether or not Jackson can make up for his deficiencies on defense. He has the speed, obviously, but not the size or obvious strength. It’s a bit high for my tastes, but there aren’t a lot of athletes like Jackson.
Scouting report: Jackson became one of college football’s most entertaining players because of his play-making ability and speed at whichever position he’s put at, though particularly as a return man, where he has a remarkable ability to create space even when there is none, and even off some difficult, one-hopped kicks. As for his corner abilities, he won two consecutive Pac-12 long jump titles, a skill that’s noticeable in how he leaps to break up passes and make plays on the ball. Size and length are an issue, particularly as an outside CB, and he at times is not strong enough on his tackles. His appeal as a player comes more from the explosiveness and versatility he brings in his other roles rather than his corner skills alone.
Jameis Winston likely hoped the Buccaneers would draft Dalvin Cook, because he and Cook played together for a season at Florida State. The Tampa Bay QB should not have any complaints about how this played out, though. Howard has the type of mismatch-creating abilities as a receiver that’s perfect for the modern NFL, and he’s a blocker with an advanced skill set. The run game still is a bit unsettled, but Tampa Bay now has Howard and Cameron Brate to pair in two-TE sets, with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson outside. Look for Winston to have a huge 2017 season.
Scouting report: Howard had two 100-yard games in his Alabama career: the 2015 College Football Playoff title game vs. Clemson and the ’16 College Football Playoff title game vs. Clemson. To top it off, he earned MVP honors in the first victory, hauling in five passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Howard has physical measurements (6' 5" and 251 pounds, with 33 3/4-inch arms) comparable to tight ends like Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates, but he could still benefit from getting bigger. Howard’s combine numbers all put him at or near the top of his position group, and while he’s a red-zone threat who also blocks well, his inconsistent production at Alabama may be a slight concern.
Howard would have been tough to turn down had he made it one more spot. This, however, is where the Broncos always appeared to be headed in Round 1. The only real mystery was which tackle they would choose here in an attempt to fix their O-line. Bolles will be old for a rookie, but he also should be penciled in as Denver’s Day One starter on the left side, with Donald Stephenson and Menelik Watson battling it out on the right. Bolles’s ability on the move will give him a chance to be an elite run blocker within the Denver scheme.
Scouting report: After a winding road that included a two-year Latter-day Saints mission, a stop at Snow College (Utah) and one year at Utah—where he earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors—Bolles will be a 25-year-old NFL rookie. He moves like a tight end playing offensive tackle, and displays just as much comfort exploding to the second level as he does attacking laterally. While Bolles chalks up the blocking “W” on most snaps, when he doesn’t he usually winds up either on the ground, or turned 180° and locked on to an opponent while facing his own backfield. He’ll have to be ready to play early, even though he has just one year of FBS experience.
The Lions had arguably the worst linebacking group in the league during the 2016 season, and they were not in much better shape headed into Thursday. Enter Davis, a three-down defender who just needs to stay healthy. He was unable to do so at Florida, but Detroit obviously feels comfortable enough with him after all the headaches caused by DeAndre Levy’s injury issues in recent seasons. Davis shouldn’t leave the field much—his coverage skills will keep him out there in sub-packages. Davis’s career always will be compared with that of Reuben Foster, still on the board here.
Scouting report: Davis boasts a nearly complete package as a linebacker, but injuries prevented him from reaching his full potential with Florida. The 6’ 1”, 238-pounder racked up 201 total tackles (20 tackles for loss) and 5.5 sacks in 38 games played as a Gator. On the field, Davis’s unparalleled aggression and explosive speed send him running all over the field and make him a dangerous blitzer. There’s no doubt that he can be a three-down linebacker in the NFL, and he could compete for a starting job as a rookie.
When one thinks of the “ideal” size for a 4-3 defensive end, a guy like Cameron Wake doesn’t necessarily fit the bill. Neither does Harris, but that did not keep the Missouri product from creating havoc off the edge as a college star. Outside of Wake, there simply was not enough meaningful depth at defensive end on the Dolphins’ roster, so Harris should find himself with an ample shot at playing time. Of note is that Miami also passed on Reuben Foster, as well as on Forrest Lamp, who could have slotted in as a starting guard for them out of the gate.
Scouting report: The 6' 2", 256-pounder finished his career at Missouri seventh all-time on the school’s career sacks list despite his decision to jump to the NFL before his senior season. He logged 9.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss last season. Harris aggressively times the snap before unleashing his speed and, at times, a vicious spin move. His main weaknesses are his lack of size and his rush defense. Teams will not mind running right at him if he doesn’t play with more strength. Still, his motor should serve him well in the NFL.
If you happened to follow the SI draft rankings, it was Engram and not David Njoku who slotted in as this class’s No. 2 TE, behind O.J. Howard. In that context alone, this is a sneakily strong pick by GM Jerry Reese. It’s also a classic Giants pick, as it bypasses the team’s glaring need at linebacker despite Reuben Foster’s fall and Zach Cunningham’s availability. Offensive tackle could have been in the cards, too, but this pick will continue to push the Giants toward a throw-first-ask-questions-later offense. Engram, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard … how does a defense defend this attack?
Scouting report: Engram finished out his Ole Miss career by nabbing a First-Team All-America spot, thanks to his impressive 65 catches, 926 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He may be more of a slot receiver than tight end, even though the latter is—for the time being—his official position. Engram’s explosive speed makes him a dynamic player. The glaring downside is that he doesn’t block like a tight end—at least not to the point where an NFL team would want to lean on him in the run game.
Conley was a sure-fire first-rounder for the last several weeks, until a rape allegation against him came to light. Teams spent the past 48 hours digging into that situation, so the Raiders must feel like Conley has been honest in claiming the allegation is false. (Conley has not been charged.) From a talent perspective, Conley had an argument to be the second cornerback off the board. He is a potential shut-down guy for an Oakland defense that had few answers on the outside last season. How long will his off-field situation drag out, and what will be the outcome?
Scouting report: Conley ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash and a blazing fast 6.68 three-cone at the combine, and that quickness shows up in his coverage. He stays right in receivers’ hip pockets down the field, with enough speed to turn and run up the sideline. His lack of a physical presence, though, can be a problem against the run and on screens his direction. Conley is outstanding working outside the numbers. He’s not as crisp when teams challenge him toward the middle of the field, in part because he tends to allow free releases.
The Browns stayed the course at No. 1, grabbing Myles Garrett. And then … well, things got weird. After trading away the 12th pick and a shot at Deshaun Watson, the Browns dropped back 13 spots and nabbed one of the more divisive members of this draft class. Peppers is a freaky athlete, one who can contribute on special teams and even offense. But what will he be for the Browns beyond that? Probably a slot CB/safety hybrid with extreme upside, but this still came out of nowhere given the team making the pick. Keep in mind: Cleveland has three second-round picks, plus the extra 2018 first it added earlier Thursday.
Scouting report: The Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year and a Heisman finalist (albeit a bit of a surprise one), Peppers did a little of everything for the Wolverines last season. He could be anything: linebacker in base, slot corner against an extra receiver, safety, pass rusher—whatever a play required. At 5' 11" and 213 pounds, Peppers could handle those varying responsibilities thanks mainly to his exceptional athleticism. There may not be a defender in this draft who covers ground faster, and he will be a fun special teams tool, but questions linger about what role he’ll play in an NFL defense.
The defending NFC champions only had six picks to begin with in this draft. They just gave up two of them (95 and 249) to move up five spots for McKinley. That’s the type of risk a team can take when it feels like it’s one guy away from a championship—the Falcons obviously were about as close as it gets to reaching the mountaintop last season. McKinley’s status for the start of 2017 is in doubt because of his post-combine shoulder surgery, but he should make an impact opposite Vic Beasley once he does get on the field. He thrived last season after UCLA transitioned from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
Scouting report: This past season, McKinley finished second in the Pac-12 in tackles for loss (18.0) and third in sacks (10.0). He can stand up or play with his hand in the dirt, and his speed and motor make him a valuable asset. But he’s a work in progress as a pass rusher. He makes a ton of effort plays, but those plays are there to be had because his initial probing tends to come up empty. McKinley required shoulder surgery (torn labrum, fractured glenoid) after the combine, so he won’t be available immediately.
A long wait for the Bills after trading away pick No. 10, but it would have been hard to screw this up too badly at No. 27, with Buffalo now holding Kansas City’s picks at 91 and in the first round next year. And this definitely is not a miss. White may not wholly replace the departed Stephon Gilmore, but without question he should help the Bills navigate past that difficult free-agent loss. White’s a rangy corner who can match up with receivers both outside and in the slot—a nice piece for new coach Sean McDermott.
Scouting report: White started 47 games for LSU, including 11 as a true freshman, and he already has the game of an NFL man-coverage corner. He’s aggressive and handsy to the point that he almost dares officials to flag him for pass interference—and they rarely do. He’s a long and lean cornerback (5' 11", 192 pounds, 32 1/8-inch arm length) who thrives on athleticism and timing. There are still concerns as to whether White can be physical enough. Bigger-bodied playmakers might be able to knock him around some, and he likely won’t be a huge help against the run.
The hype on Charlton peaked around pick No. 9 (Cincinnati). This is a far more appropriate range for him, considering that he has shown flashes of brilliance but is still very much a work in progress. And if that’s your scouting report as a defensive lineman, there are few coaches better to help mold your development than Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. While Charlton is steady enough against the run that he can be trusted on early downs, Marinelli figures to unleash him most often bending the edge vs. the pass. This fills a need for Dallas, and at a good value.
Scouting report: Charlton blew up as a senior in Ann Arbor, notching 10.0 sacks for loss and 13.5 tackles in 2016 despite missing two games with an ankle injury. At 6' 6" and 277 pounds, Charlton was a versatile and athletic piece up front for the Wolverines. He flipped from left end to right end, and back, without any issues. And his motor doesn’t stop. He still has to show, however, that he can be more consistent setting an edge vs. the run and that he can step back into coverage. He'll need to get quicker off the snap, too.
The Browns traded back into Round 1, coughing up picks 33 and 108. Surely, this had to be for the quarterback, right? Or not… The Browns chose a different direction, opting to snag Njoku to pair with Gary Barnidge at the tight end spot. That’s a potentially lethal 1-2 punch—Njoku is very raw, but he could be a dominant pass-catching TE down the road. There is, of course, the lingering question of who exactly is throwing the football to Njoku, Barnidge and the Browns’ receivers. Right now, it would be either Cody Kessler or Brock Osweiler. Cleveland had multiple chances to add another name to that mix Thursday and declined.
Scouting report: Njoku posted a 16.2 yards-per-catch clip last season, while reeling in 43 grabs and scoring eight times. According to MockDraftable.com, which tracks players’ measurements and testing numbers, one of the closest skill-position comparisons to Njoku from a physical perspective is Cam Newton, a 2011 draft pick. The Miami product is a freak—measuring at 6' 4", 246 lbs., he ran a 4.64-second 40 at the combine, with a 37" vertical, 133" broad jump and a 6.97-second three-cone time. On the negative side, he’s not a good blocker and drops have nagged him.
The Steelers will try again to find a pass-rushing complement for James Harrison, whom one would assume at some point in his 50s or 60s will have to stop playing football. Watt has a chance to finally end the search. He tested extremely well at the combine, and he plugs in much better in the Steelers’ 3-4 attack than he would have with a 4-3 scheme. The coaching staff in Pittsburgh won’t have to worry about effort here, either—he’s at full speed, all the time. He may never be an All-Pro, but this is a solid find at pick 30.
Scouting report: The younger brother of Chargers fullback Derek Watt and that J.J. guy in Houston, T.J. Watt battled back from knee injuries in 2014 and ’15 to earn second-team All-America honors as a redshirt junior. His numbers: 63 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and a pick-six. Not bad for a guy who was recruited as a tight end and just moved to an edge-rusher role two seasons ago. Watt is a high-motor defender who can toss blockers off-balance with his hand usage. He also tested out surprisingly well at the combine (37” vertical, 128” broad, 4.13-second short shuttle). He could be a three-down OLB/DE hybrid out of the gate.
Seattle dropped back again, this time out of the first round in exchange for San Francisco’s picks at 34 and 111. And while the 49ers certainly could have rolled the dice on a quarterback here, adding Foster to earlier pick Solomon Thomas has the makings of an all-time steal. Take away Foster’s hospital incident in Indianapolis and his diluted-sample drug test, and he had a case to be the pick at No. 2 overall. He and NaVorro Bowman together—assuming Bowman stays on track in rehabbing his Achilles injury—could bring back memories of the Bowman-Patrick Willis tandem.
Scouting report: The 2016 Butkus Award winner for the nation’s top linebacker and a first-team All-American, Foster racked up 115 tackles last season. Thirteen of those tackles were for loss, and he also turned in 5.0 sacks. The aggressive Foster (6' 0", 229 pounds) was a dynamic, tone-setting presence in the middle of Alabama’s defense, and his speed/strength combo should translate well to the pros. Questions linger about the health of his shoulder and concerns were raised when he was sent home early from the combine after a spat with a hospital worker.
Player comparison: Ryan Shazier with NaVorro Bowman upside
An interesting conclusion to a wild night. This is the pick that the Saints acquired for trading Brandin Cooks to New England, but there weren’t many (any?) folks predicting they’d use it on a tackle. That’s not to say it is a nonsensical selection. Andrus Peat, the Saints’ 2015 first-rounder, has settled in at guard, and veteran Zach Strief turns 34 in September. So, the Saints got a jump on any potential future headaches by bringing in Ramczyk. The knock: It probably does not make New Orleans any better in 2017 unless Strief is headed out the door early. The defense could have used another body here.
Scouting report: After spending time at three other colleges, Ramczyk made his FBS debut at Wisconsin last fall. He wasted no time making his presence felt, starting all 14 games for the Badgers and landing on the All-America first-team. There is a certain tranquility to watching Ramczyk work. He never panics, even when a defender manages to gain a step on him; he never lets the play speed up his own process. But his current health is a question mark; he required hip surgery after Wisconsin’s season and was unable to participate in combine drills. He also must improve against counter moves.
An early reminder that Day 2 will be loaded with talent. King is not as complete a cornerback as his former Washington teammate, the injured Sidney Jones, but he checks off the size-speed combo at cornerback. He gives the Packers a potential top-two outside cornerback.
Scouting report: Although he didn’t receive nearly as much national attention in 2016 as fellow Huskies defensive back and draft prospect Budda Baker, King was a critical component of a terrific Washington defense led by coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski that fueled a College Football Playoff berth. King turned heads with his coverage this season, and he tested extremely well at the combine, posting top-two marks among players at his position in the vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle. His plus size (6' 2", 178 pounds) is another bonus.
This is the Seahawks’ third trade down already—this one (for picks 35 and 187), plus two on Thursday. Jacksonville made the move to ensure it could nab Robinson, the potential first-round lineman who, along with Forrest Lamp, made it to Day 2. It remains to be seen if Robinson will be a guard or tackle for the Jaguars in 2017, but his future should be as a potential franchise LT.
Scouting report: Robinson was the 2016 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s top interior lineman. He’s incredibly strong, with the size (6' 6", 322 pounds) and length (35 1/2" arms) to project as a franchise left tackle. When he’s not moving forward with the initial punch, he can sit and absorb contact from oncoming rushers. But he doesn’t end many plays by burying his block, and he needs to refine his pass-blocking technique. Another concern: Robinson was arrested during the summer of 2016 on a marijuana charge and illegal possession of stolen firearms. The case was dropped shortly thereafter.
Seattle finally decides to use its pick, and with it nabs the prospect in this class with perhaps the most room between his ceiling and floor. Make no mistake about it: McDowell is immensely gifted physically; this is a great scheme for him, too. The Seahawks just have to keep him motivated. Don’t forget, they passed on Forrest Lamp and multiple available CBs here.
Scouting report: McDowell was named first-team All-Big Ten last season, despite missing the final three games of the year with an ankle injury. He has excellent size (6' 6", 295 lbs.) and moves with impressive lateral quickness. He’s also versatile, but his motor is a concern. He was less dominant when Michigan State struggled. Also, his pass-rushing technique needs work, and he has been unable to take advantage of his stature to plug passing lanes.
Love the player. Curious about the aggressive move up the board to get him, given the cost—Arizona shipped picks 45, 119, 197 and a 2018 fourth-rounder to Chicago for this selection and 221. It seemed on the surface like a leap up for a QB, but the Cardinals seem content to keep putting that off. Baker and Tyrann Mathieu together at safety provides even more versatility to a defense loaded with it.
Scouting report: A track star in high school, Baker led the Huskies with 71 tackles last season, including 9.5 for loss. He is a rangy, instinctive defender who can operate pulled up close to the line but also has the speed to cover a ton of ground. His size (5' 9", 195 pounds) is a weakness, but it didn’t stop Baker from being a dynamic playmaker at Washington. His tackling doesn’t qualify as a huge issue because of how many plays he does finish, but backs that see him coming downhill can reroute and catch him leaning.
Buffalo traded down in Round 1, then goes up in Round 2—picks 44 and 91 to the Rams for 37 and 149. The Bills did so because they needed a wide receiver and missed out on the top three guys Thursday night. Jones should be their No. 2 guy opposite Sammy Watkins right away.
Scouting report: Jones is the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader with 399, and he has the single-season record (158), as well. He has football in his blood: His father Robert won a Super Bowl as a linebacker with the Cowboys, and his uncle also played in the NFL. He has excellent hands, good arm length and very good footwork and balance. Many of his receptions came from quick screens in ECU’s wide-open offense, and he lacks elite speed, so how he uses his 6' 2" frame on deep balls may determine his NFL success.
There is a very real chance Lamp develops into this draft’s top lineman, so count it as a win for the Chargers that he fell into their laps at No. 38. They’ll have to use later picks on defense, but this is a clear best player available-meets-need scenario. Lamp’s arrival is great news for both RB Melvin Gordon and QB Philip Rivers.
Scouting report: Lamp was named first-team All-Conference USA in both 2015 and ’16, and he is one of the best athletes in this lineman class. Lamp is quick enough to fire out as a lead blocker on screens, and he fires off the line with the urgency needed to lay down second-level cover. He’s also difficult to beat around the edge. He does allow defenders to beat him off his inside shoulder, at times—playing more squared up at guard might help mitigate that minor issue. Lamp is an effective run blocker because of how well he moves, but he rarely overwhelms defenders.
Two picks, two safeties for the Jets, who just remade the back end of their secondary with Jamal Adams and Maye. That’s a lot of physicality and versatility paired together, and it’s obvious Todd Bowles helped drive those picks. But back-to-back safeties when there are so many other needs here?
Scouting report: A broken left arm ended his senior season after nine games, but Maye remained in the discussion as a player worthy of an early-round pick based on his track record. He's a heavy, downhill tackler but not the most consistent. He is capable of maneuvering around bigger bodies near the line of scrimmage. In his standout junior year, he also forced four fumbles. He has the aggression to cover ground in the back third, but lacks the patience and consistency to be a reliable last line of defense, and has struggled to stay with shifty receivers.
Hoo boy, that Carolina offense is going to be fun to watch. Both Samuel and first-round pick Christian McCaffrey are uber-athletic running backs with potential out of the slot. It's fair to wonder, though, if this was overkill. If McCaffrey’s getting touches all over the field, how is Samuel getting involved? The Panthers still have needs at CB, DE and OT.
Scouting report: You can view Samuel as multi-purpose threat or a tweener. He ran for 1,286 yards and 15 TDs and had 107 catches for 1,249 yards and nine TDs at running back and receiver at Ohio State. He ran a 4.31 40 at the combine—at that speed and with his production at Ohio State, teams will find somewhere to put him. At 5' 11", 196 pounds, teams probably don’t think he’ll be able to take the punishment of being a full-time RB.
Both Cook and Joe Mixon were still sitting on the board at 41, so the Vikings made a move up to address their RB situation (48 and 128 to Cincinnati). Cook isn’t a “clean” prospect, necessarily, but he was our top-ranked back. He’s a dynamic playmaker that will bolster that offense.
Scouting report: In his three seasons with the Seminoles, Cook averaged just shy of 1,800 yards from scrimmage per year, scoring 48 total touchdowns. He can turn the smallest opening into a huge gain, and he has exceptional vision to the outside and in the open field. He's shifty when he has defenders in one-on-one spots, but doesn't waste a lot of energy in the backfield. Cook is a special talent and a three-down NFL back. He does bring a history of injuries and off-the-field legal situations, including a 2015 misdemeanor battery charge that was dropped, and he fumbled 12 times at FSU.
This is a minor upset. The Saints used one of their two first-rounders on their secondary (CB Marshon Lattimore), and they have both Jairus Byrd and Vonn Bell at safety. Williams is an excellent ballhawking, center-fielder type safety—the Round 2 version of Malik Hooker—but this is another team that seemed primed to address other needs.
Scouting report: Williams left early for the draft after averaging 10 starts per year over his three seasons in Salt Lake City, then challenged Obi Melifonwu for the combine’s best performance by a safety. Williams’s open-field tackling skills make him a reliable last line of defense at free safety: He locks on and refuses to let go, and even when he is at a physical disadvantage, he’ll use an opponent’s own momentum against him. He doesn’t have the speed to make up for an imperfect angle, but his vision often helps him make the right decision in time to stop the big play.
Sidney Jones’s Achilles injury would have made him a significant gamble in the first round. In Round 2, though, he’s a value. Remember, he was thought of as a potential top-10 pick before that setback at his pro day. He’s a tall, physical cornerback who can lock down on the outside. When he gets healthy again, the Eagles could have a star.
Scouting report: Jones spent the 2016 season as the leader of Washington’s powerful group of defensive backs, earning first team All-Pac 12 honors, but his draft stock took a hit when he tore his Achilles tendon at the Huskies’ pro day. His poorly timed injury aside, Jones has all of the makings of a top NFL cornerback. He dominates the field with his footwork and speed, sticking to his receiver while also anticipating the play, and he excels at getting his hand on the ball to disrupt incoming passes. Jones needs to bulk up some and needs to fully regain his speed after surgery, but he has all of the needed characteristics to compete outside in the NFL.
The Rams throw a curve ball with their first pick of the 2017 draft, taking Everett, a player cut from the same TE/slot receiver mold as Evan Engram. This comes one year after L.A. nabbed TE Tyler Higbee in the fourth round. Everett has upside as a pass catcher, but this is early for him and there were a lot of defensive options on the board.
Scouting report: After UAB shut down its football program at the end of 2014, Everett stayed in-state and made an instant impact upon transferring to South Alabama, leading the Jaguars in receiving in 2015 with 575 yards and eight touchdowns (plus four short-yardage touchdown runs). He didn’t start playing football until his final year of high school, and that rawness shows up in his route-running and his limitations as a blocker, but he draws defenses’ attention with how well he moves in the open field and his sure hands on contested catches.
Just like that, we have a tight end run on our hands. The Bears needed depth at the position—Zach Miller’s been banged up a lot, Dion Sims has never had 300 yards receiving in a season and the rest of the depth chart is thin. Shaheen’s solid pass catching, suspect blocking combo actually will fit well with those other options. But there were a lot of other directions Chicago could have gone here.
Scouting report: The 6' 6", 278-pound tight end was recruited to play basketball in college (he transferred to Ashland to focus on football), but he still boasts footwork and speed from his hoops days, even after bulking up by almost 80 pounds. Shaheen set Ashland's record for most touchdowns in a season (16) in 2016, and to top it off, he ran a 4.79 40 at the NFL combine. However a TE of his size will frequently be expected to block in the NFL, and Shaheen still needs to improve those skills. The debate over whether he can play against significantly harder opponents will follow him until he proves otherwise.
This is a steal. Not everyone charged with evaluating the draft was on board with Wilson as a first-rounder, but he landed as our No. 2 cornerback. He plays an aggressive and physical game outside—desired traits in general, but even more so since the Colts took a less physical safety in Malik Hooker. Wilson and Vontae Davis together will be a handful.
Scouting report: Wilson finished off his three-year Florida career by logging 33 tackles, three interceptions and six pass break-ups in his last season. He fits the outside cornerback mold. He’s big (6' 1", 211 pounds) and likes to play in the hip pocket of the receiver he’s defending. A no-fear, no-nonsense defender, Wilson allows few easy catches in coverage and doesn’t mind getting dirty in the run game. His overall technique needs work, and he can find himself spinning as he tries to recover when he fails to land the first blow at the line. Still, he has the look of an early contributor—particularly in man coverage.
The Ravens had the chance to nab a pass rusher in Round 1, but went with CB Marlon Humphrey instead. They addressed their edge situation well here, as Bowser has the potential to be an explosive OLB in Baltimore’s system. He only just now appears to be starting to unlock his capabilities, so the future should be very bright.
Scouting report: For teams seeking a high ceiling, look no further than Tyus Bowser. The 6' 3", 247-pound linebacker also played basketball for two seasons at Houston before fully committing to football. He’s got the explosiveness and the footwork of a dual-sport athlete, but he’ll also bring some of the growing pains, and he’ll need some coaching to fully take advantage of his physical traits. Still, he earned second-team All-American Athletic Conference honors despite only playing in eight games in 2016.
The Bengals have never shied away from players with red flags, so they always shaped up as a possible match for Mixon. That’s also true because of their need at running back. Cincinnati’s current backfield bruiser, Jeremy Hill, has proven ineffective. Even at his best, he never had the upside of Mixon, who might have pushed into the top 10 without that horrible off-field incident while he was at Oklahoma. The talent is not a question, at all. There are a lot of other questions, though. He has been under a microscope from NFL evaluators after he punched a woman in 2014. Can the Bengals trust him?
Scouting report: Talent-wise, there may not be a more impressive skill-position player in the 2017 draft class. But Mixon comes with heavy baggage on account of a 2014 assault charge—the ugly video showing Mixon punching a woman in the face during a disagreement surfaced last year. He served a year-long suspension as a freshman at Oklahoma, before rejoining the active roster in 2015. Last season, he broke DeMarco Murray’s program record for all-purpose yards, finishing with 2,331 yards, 1,812 of those from scrimmage. He also scored 16 total touchdowns. Mixon is a three-down back with the size to withstand a heavy NFL workload.
Recreating as much of the Alabama defense as possible through this draft is not the worst strategy ever. After swiping Jonathan Allen for their line in Round 1, the Redskins now can drop Anderson in at OLB. The latter doesn’t appear to have upside as a premier pass-rushing linebacker, but he’s solid and experienced across the board.
Scouting report: Anderson had to fight to see the field at Alabama, but he was brutally effective once he earned a starting role, leading the Crimson Tide last fall in tackles for loss with 19 while tying for second on the team in sacks with nine. As those stats reflect, he has the toughness to work his way into the backfield and relies on effort and elite technique to make plays. He’s well-disciplined but not as athletic as might be expected of an Alabama linebacker, which can create problems in pass coverage.
Evans slid a little bit under the radar within a deep and talented safety class, but he is not out of line here. Because of the way he clobbers people, he’s better playing closer to the line. He can drop back and play deep, though, so Tampa Bay can mix and match him with new addition J.J. Wilcox and incumbents like Chris Conte.
Scouting report: Evans doesn’t have one standout skill, but he can take on everything an NFL safety might be asked to handle, from playing in the box to covering slot targets. He arrives at each hit looking to knock the ball loose and send a message, though he doesn’t always make clean contact. He led the Aggies with four interceptions in 2016 and could bring value as a kick returner as well—he has a 90-yard return on his record.
The Broncos were not good enough up front on offense last year, so they took Garett Bolles in Round 1. And they were pushed around too much on defense, too, which makes Walker’s presence a strong addition. He can play end in a 3–4, and he’d also help the transition should Denver utilize more 4–3 post-Wade Phillips.
Scouting report: Walker could have entered the draft after his junior season, but the 6' 4", 280-pound defensive end returned to Florida State to post even bigger numbers as a senior (21.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks). He’s well skilled in using his hands to fight off blocks and has good awareness to read the quarterback and try to bat down passes. However, Walker will be a vulnerability against the run unless he can add a lot of strength, and he lacks ideal bend for an NFL edge rusher.
Unable to find the right pairing in Round 1, the Browns finally added to their QB competition with the 52nd pick. Kizer was far better in 2015 than he was in 2016, but either version could wind up bumping Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler down the depth chart. There’s not as much of a gap between Kizer and, say, Mitchell Trubisky as their respective selection spots would indicate.
Scouting report: Kizer finished his Notre Dame career as one of the most prolific passers in program history, and while the Irish stumbled to a 4-8 finish in 2016, Kizer’s stat line (2,880 yards passing, 21 TDs, 10 INTs and 525 yards rushing) was solid nonetheless. He is a prototypical NFL quarterback prospect (6' 4", 233 pounds) with quick, active feet, the athleticism to hurt defenses on the ground and the arm to fit the ball into tight windows. That said, he left a lot of yardage on the field with errant throws last fall. His timing was a split-second off on several throws per game.
Once a first-round contender, Tabor’s stock tumbled quite a bit after he topped 4.6 seconds in his combine 40. So, the straight-line speed may not be there, but Tabor is quick enough to succeed as an NFL cornerback and he has the alpha-dog mentality required for such a task. We had him ranked No. 52; he went No. 53, so that’s pretty spot on.
Scouting report: The man in the middle for Ohio State’s outstanding defense, McMillan earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American in 2016. Some scouts were down on him after a slow start to last year, but say he improved as the season went along. Critics question if McMillan can cover, but he moved pretty well at the Combine (running a 4.61 40) and his pro day, possibly putting those fears to rest.
Applaud the thinking here by the Dolphins, who knew they still needed an infusion of athleticism at linebacker despite how satisfied they seem to be with Kiko Alonso. McMillan is a three-down guy, whether Miami opts to use him in the middle or on the outside. The surprise, if there is one: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham’s still available.
Scouting report: The man in the middle for Ohio State’s outstanding defense, McMillan earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American in 2016. Some scouts were down on him after a slow start to last year, but say he improved as the season went along. Critics question if McMillan can cover, but he moved pretty well at the Combine (running a 4.61 40) and his pro day, possibly putting those fears to rest.
By taking Evan Engram in Round 1 (a pick that drew an A-minus grade here), the Giants sort of pushed themselves out of the early O-line market. This was a good range for the D-line, however, and the Giants needed help there after losing Johnathan Hankins. Tomlinson is a big, difficult-to-move body for the middle.
Scouting report: It was easy to overlook Tomlinson at Alabama given the plethora of stars that surrounded him on the Crimson Tide defense, but he's emerged during the draft process as a top-level run defender. Tomlinson is strong enough to hold a double team and swift enough to move around bodies at the line of scrimmage. He also has developed great hand-work, a strong rip move, and the propensity to knock down passes with his long arms. Two torn ACLs may scare teams, but his athleticism would allow him to fit with just about any scheme, wherever he ends up.
It’s obvious from how these last few drafts have gone down that teams are placing a high priority on having not just one, but two standout safeties. In Melifonwu and Karl Joseph, the Raiders are there. Melifonwu’s post-combine hype outpaced his still-developing game, but he’s a unique physical specimen capable of handling a variety of roles.
Scouting report: A four-year starter at UConn, Melifonwu possesses rare physical traits—he had the best vertical jump and broad jump at the combine regardless of position, and good luck finding many other 6’ 4”, 224-pound safeties, let alone ones that can run a 4.4 40. He hits another gear when closing in on an open-field tackle, but when those opportunities don’t naturally come his way he can get caught up in the trash in the middle of the field.
Finally. Cunningham should not have made it this far, plain and simple. The knock on him has been his ability to wrap, which will have to be more consistent at the next level for him to remain a 100-tackle defender. The Texans already have Brian Cushing and Bernardick McKinney inside, where Cunningham will have to play in their 3-4. Does this pick signal an impending end of the line for Cushing’s Texans career?
Scouting report: A first-team All-America selection in 2016, Cunningham led the SEC with 125 tackles. Cunningham (6' 3", 244 pounds) reads plays with the diagnostic efficiency needed to be a potent NFL linebacker. His patience and agility set him apart, and he’s also effective in coverage. But he doesn’t have much in the repertoire to come unglued once a guard or even a tight end latches onto him. He needs to play a free-flowing spot, without a lot of heads-up showdowns against bigger players. And, in spite of all his tackles, his tackling fundamentals could be improved.
On the surface, the plan with this pick would have to be that Pocic will play guard—he was a center for LSU—and Germain Ifedi will kick out to right tackle. Granted, figuring out the Seahawks’ plans up front is a football Rubik’s Cube. Pocic is a solid player. We’ll see how Seattle unscrambles its pieces.
Scouting report: At 6' 6" and 310 pounds, Pocic has the frame to play every offensive line position, and he did just that at LSU, starting 26 times at center, nine at guard and once at tackle. Across the line, he was a good run blocker for Leonard Fournette, moving well laterally, showing off solid base strength, and using his hands effectively. The downside of his versatility is that his NFL role is unclear, as he's a bit tall for center and not quite strong enough to be a top-tier guard. He ought to become more powerful; for now, he rarely pushes back defenders. He could be particularly useful in a zone scheme.
When Kpassagnon was walking through the halls at the combine, fans headed for the NFL Experience at the same building peeled off and just started watching him. At 6' 7", 289 pounds, he is a massive, freakish specimen. He’ll probably be a DE in the Chiefs’ 3-4 front; he can slide further outside and add pass rush, as well. Kansas City will have to coach him up, but the baseline is fascinating.
Scouting report: Kpassagnon dominated inferior competition at Villanova, but he possesses a combination of size and speed that's rare at any level. At 6' 7" and 289 pounds, he ran a 4.83 40 and tied Myles Garrett for the second-best broad jump among D-linemen at the combine. Coaches will certainly be intrigued by his long frame, but they’re going to have to be patient and hope he develops the instincts needed to be an effective NFL pass-rusher.
Awuzie is a very good football player. He belonged in the second round—despite a little Round 1 hype—and he doesn’t bring the natural gifts of others in this class, but he gets the job done. The Cowboys absolutely had to have an upgrade at the cornerback spot, and Awuzie gives them a player they can count on without hesitation. He’ll be helpful outside and in the slot.
Scouting report: Awuzie is a versatile player who spent time at every spot in the secondary while at Colorado but excelled as a nickelback during the Buffs’ surprising 2016 campaign. He made several big plays as a blitzing weapon creeping in from the slot to shoot around the edge, and his nine career sacks are the most ever by a Colorado defensive back. He has the speed to run with most outside receivers but can struggle at times to lock onto smaller, quicker targets in open space.
The Packers keep stockpiling players in the secondary—Jones on top of earlier pick Kevin King. That loss to the Falcons in the NFC title game clearly stuck in their minds, as their banged-up secondary could not match up. Jones doesn’t necessarily have a clear path to playing time right away, but Morgan Burnett’s a soon-to-be free agent.
Scouting report: An exceptional athlete whose 4.41 40 at the combine was the second-fastest among all safeties, Jones arrives at the ball looking to send a message with each hit—although that singleminded focus can lead to some big whiffs. His slow play recognition puts him at risk of being exposed for big plays, but he at least has the athleticism to cover for some of those mistakes. At 6’ 1” and 220 pounds, he will provide more value in the box than he will in coverage.
Man, how many wide receivers do the Steelers need? If they’re all on the field together, this offense is going to be borderline unstoppable. But Pittsburgh, perhaps wisely, does not want to put all its eggs in the Martavis Bryant basket, and it has yet to see Sammie Coates take off as hoped. Smith-Schuster is a big-bodied guy who will win the one-on-one matchups he will be handed in that offense.
Scouting report: Smith-Schuster’s 2016 production (70 catches, 914 yards, 10 TDs) didn’t equal his production level in ‘15 (89 catches, 1,454 yards, 10 TDs), but it remained a key element of USC’s offense. The 6’ 1”, 215-pound receiver has a game that should translate well to the next level, as he couples a physical presence with explosive yards-after-catch capabilities. He may be pigeon-holed as a ”possession receiver” because of how well he works the short and intermediate ranges, but he averaged 14.5 yards per catch as a Trojan (16.3 in 2015). Still, with a 4.54-second 40, there may not be an elite downfield element to his game.
Buffalo sent picks 75, 149 and 156 to Atlanta for this spot, which is a decent price to pay for a 12-spot boost. However, Dawkins is one of the last O-linemen with obvious starter potential as a rookie, be it at guard or tackle. The Bills could let him compete either spot—Jordan Mills is hardly a lock at right tackle.
Scouting report: A starter at left tackle each of the past three seasons, Dawkins could end up as a long-term option at guard for an NFL team. He was a first-team All-AAC honoree last season from his OT spot, though, so he might at least get a shot outside. Dawkins projects better inside because he is big and strong but not necessarily known for his athleticism—he can bully opponents in close quarters. He’s effective as a pass blocker, if not all that smooth in that role. He keeps his feet moving and can adjust to both speed and power rushes.
And there’s the other Day 2 offensive tackle capable of stepping in as a rookie starter. The Panthers overpaid for Matt Kalil to play LT, so this is probably a safety net on the right side for Michael Oher, whose concussion issues have put his future in jeopardy. Moton is a mauler—a plug-and-play option for the Panthers’ revamped offense.
Scouting report: Moton exited Kalamazoo as Western Michigan’s all-time leader in starts—he made 52 of them over four seasons, split between right tackle and guard. Moton played OT as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, before kicking inside. He was named first-team All-MAC this past season. He could project to either slot for an NFL team, thanks to his run-blocking pop. Moton gets low off the snap and drives his assignment out of the picture. He hammers defenders with down blocks, too. The question will be if he has the requisite footwork to live on the edge at the next level, or if he has to be a guard.
Mentioned Ogunjobi in a “draft crushes” post the other day—he’s legit. There may be sexier, higher-upside picks still out there, but he’s going to make an impact for however many snaps Cleveland can find for him. He can play nose or DE in a three-man front, and his addition as a three-tech alongside Myles Garrett’s selection at 1 certainly equips the Browns to trot out a lot of maneuverability along the line.
Scouting report: With 65 tackles (13.5 for loss) and 3.0 sacks last season, Ogunjobi became the first player in Charlotte’s brief program history to land on the All-AAC First Team. Ogunjobi currently stands as Charlotte’s all-time leader in tackles (217) and sacks (13.0). He was a handful for O-linemen at the Senior Bowl, causing problems for them the same way he did for Charlotte’s opponents—with a quick get-off and a noticeable mix of quickness and power. He’s not the biggest interior D-lineman (6' 3", 305 pounds) and can be wiped out of the picture by double teams, but he defends the run well enough to project to three- or four-man fronts.
Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster and now Witherspoon. That’s a potential impact playmaker at all three levels of the defense. Witherspoon can be an antidote against teams with big receivers, because of his height and ability to go up for the ball. Whether or not he can be more than that remains to be seen.
Scouting report: Witherspoon earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors this past season with the Buffs, finishing his career at Colorado with three interceptions and 24 passes defended. A lanky corner at 6' 3" and 198 pounds, Witherspoon didn’t struggle as much with speed as one might expect from a larger corner. He also has great hands and ball skills, but wasn’t able to turn as many opportunities into interceptions as he could have. Witherspoon excelled in press man coverage, but against the run he wasn’t the surest tackler.
This makes sense if one believes that Christian McCaffrey was a candidate for the Saints in Round 1—Kamara’s a three-down back who’s dangerous in the open field. But New Orleans coughed up a 2018 second-rounder (and 2017 seventh) to get him, already has Mark Ingram, and still needs a pass rusher. The value for Kamara here is good. The fit? Eh.
Scouting report: Kamara began his college career at Alabama, and after some injury struggles and behavioral issues, he reinvented himself at juice and spent two seasons at Tennessee. Injuries limited his workload, but he still finished the 2016 season with a team-high 1,188 all-purpose yards. Kamara has a quick burst and good field vision, and can find and create holes for breakthrough runs—and as indicated from those all-purpose yards, he can be utilized on special teams as well. But his past injuries and his lack of a heavy workload makes it hard for a team to know exactly how much it’ll be getting out of the talented RB.
Here’s the defensive-line depth that the Jaguars had to find, after spending their first two picks on the offensive side of the football. Smoot doesn’t really threaten the status quo above him on the depth chart—he’s a rotational piece on this roster, and there arguably were higher-upside DEs still available. This is way early based on our board.
Scouting report: Smoot led the Illini in sacks in 2015 as part of a defensive line that also featured NFL talents Jihad Ward and Carroll Phillips. Smoot can get skinny to dart through traffic and get to the ball before blockers have time to react. He has an array of moves to bring pressure off the edge, but his best weapon is his speed. He can occasionally get tossed aside or physically overwhelmed when he doesn’t keep his legs under him.
This is another good one in terms of value, but confusing in terms of team fit. Kupp is a polished receiver capable of handling a heavy workload. He’ll have to prove he can live outside, though, and the Rams just used a Round 2 pick on a slot-type TE in Gerald Everett.
Scouting report: A four-time consensus first team FCS All-American (and three time Academic All-American), Kupp enjoyed a very successful pre-draft period, including a great Senior Bowl, after a stat-stuffing career at Eastern Washington. He has the buildand physicality to become a productive outside receiver, and excels at creating space for himself after the catch. His route running could use work, and as with all small-school prospects, the level of competition that may have inflated his mind-blowing numbers will be questioned.
A doozy of a find in Round 3, and well worth trading up from No. 79 to get him. Elflein was the best center in this draft—he can be Minnesota’s man in the middle for years to come, assuming he wins that job out of camp. If he doesn’t, he can start at guard.
Scouting report: Elflein toyed with leaving for the NFL after the 2015 season but instead returned to Columbus, moved from guard to center, and earned the Rimington Trophy given to the nation's top center in the fall. At 6’ 2” and 305 pounds, his awareness and rush blocking on the second (and even third) level stick out. While he’s still improving as a pass blocker from the center position and has a tendency to speed up too much on running plays, Elflein’s experience and versatility at multiple positions on the line should help him immediately at the next level.
The Chargers will exit Friday with an offensive line that looks remarkably more put together than it was when the night began. Feeney and Round 2 selection Forrest Lamp both can be starters next season, perhaps paired together at the guard spots—the former definitely will be there; Lamp could push for a tackle job.
Scouting report: Despite missing four games last season due to a concussion, Feeney garnered first-team All-America honors. It may have been as much a lifetime achievement award as anything—Feeney was a 46-game starter for Indiana, from 2012-16. (He took a medical redshirt in 2013, after suffering a Lisfranc injury.) Feeney started five games at right tackle last year, but his future is at guard, where he was a dominant blocker. Feeney’s footwork is exceptional, particularly when he’s asked to pull or find a LB on the second level. He may not have the power to thrive in a man-blocking scheme, but should be a plug-and-play option for a team using zone principles.
A bit of a curious one, if only because the Titans sent picks 83 and 124 to New England for this selection and No. 200. The Titans also already brought in Corey Davis, so they should be set at the receiver spots now. If Davis is the high-volume guy, Taylor can be their big-play, speed option.
Scouting report: Taylor finished third nationally in receiving yards in each of the past two seasons as the biggest home run threat in Western Kentucky’s wide-open offense. His strength and creativity make him a valuable target over the middle, but Taylor battles too hard for contested catches downfield to be confined to a slot role. He had the best three-cone drill time at the combine, a testament to his ability to get up to top speed quickly after changing direction, which the Hilltoppers employed often on quick screens and comeback routes.
No knock intended on Willis, who tore up the combine, but his actual tape suggested more of a late-Round 2/early-Round 3 value. It’s a good find for the Bengals where they got him, because they needed someone else capable of pressuring the QB off the edge.
Scouting report: There's no doubting that Willis has displayed the motor and production to excel in the NFL—in 2016, Willis made 52 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, which was good enough to be named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. The 6' 4", 255-pound defensive end (who could potentially flex to linebacker in a 3–4 defense) had a stellar combine, putting up the fastest 40 time of the defensive linemen (4.53) and the second-highest vertical leap (39 inches), and has been rising draft boards ever since. He has been complimented for excellent hands that give him a distinct advantage in one-on-one battles.
There are times when players just look like they belong on a certain roster. That’s the case here with Wormley, a hard-nosed defender who can make noise inside or outside. Maybe not necessarily a steal here, but certainly a strong value—Wormley is a top-50 player in this class.
Scouting report: Wormley finished the 2015 campaign with 14.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, then added another 7.5 and 5.5, respectively, as a senior. At 6' 5", 298 pounds, he played the vast majority of his Michigan snaps at defensive end, and he could land there in the NFL. But he does more damage between the tackles than he does encircling the pocket. He is a DE-DT hybrid, with an emphasis on the DT skill set. Because of his bulked-up frame, Wormley could help any defense set an edge vs. the run. But he is not, and likely never will be, an elite pass rusher in the traditional sense.
The Deion Jones pick last year worked out like gangbusters, so the Falcons went back to the well to pick up Jones’s former teammate—a player not entirely dissimilar from Jones himself. Nothing wrong with adding depth at linebacker, but Atlanta had much more of a hole at guard.
Scouting report: Riley started just one year at LSU, but he formed a formidable duo with Kendell Beckwith—the pair were the only players from the same school to both finish top 10 in the SEC in tackles. He’s a speed-first linebacker in the mold of former teammate Deion Jones, though he can’t quite match Jones’s play strength. Riley is comfortable in coverage and can sort through traffic up front to impact a play. He’s at his best as a tackler when he can shoot into the backfield and dictate tempo. On the flip side, when he’s forced to play passive he can be a little slow to recognize play-action and other misdirection.
Anzalone is an ultra-athletic linebacker who just could not stay healthy at Florida. If he does, he easily could be the best playmaker in the Saints’ linebacking corps—and that’s as of 2017, not beyond. It’s a risk, but also addresses a need for New Orleans as it tries hard to fix its defense.
Scouting report: Anzalone plays without a governor, taking on big bodies at the line and using his top-shelf pursuit speed to shoot into the backfield cover a lot of east-west ground—he had the third-fastest 40 time among non-Jabrill Peppers linebackers at the combine. When Anzalone lets himself get locked onto a defender, he doesn’t always have the strength to shed him and get to the ball. He had his last two seasons cut short by injuries—a shoulder injury in 2015, a broken forearm in ’16—that should raise some concern about his ability to hold up as an every-down player over 16 games.
Three straight picks on the offensive side of things to open the draft, so the Panthers could load up defensively from here out. Hall slots in as a rotational pass rusher, behind the Julius Peppers/Charles Johnson tandem. Learning from those players will give Hall the best chance to unlock a more complete game.
Scouting report: Hall, who spent his college career playing opposite No. 1 pick Myles Garrett, is packed with potential. Boasting a 6' 5", 266-pound frame, he's quick off the snap, applying immediate and strong pressure. He recorded 13 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season, which is down a bit from 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2015. Hall made the switch from linebacker to end in college, so how well he responds to NFL instruction may determine the direction of his career.
Four picks, four defensive players for Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome. Certainly can’t blame him for doubling down at OLB—Terrell Suggs is nearing the end of his career and Elvis Dumervil’s contract ran out after the ‘16 season. Williams was a pass rush-only player for much of his Alabama career and might be again, but he’s exceptional in that role.
Scouting report: Williams lived behind the opposition’s line at Alabama. He is a flash at the snap—he’s into his second and third steps, attempting to turn the corner on an offensive tackle, seemingly before anyone has the time to blink. And Williams (6' 3", 244 pounds) has a motor that runs constantly. He did admit at the combine that he’d failed drug tests in college, and he has room for improvement against the run. While he can drive blockers back when he has a little momentum, he’s not necessarily built to help set an edge.
Stewart is a lightning bolt with the ball in his hands—a raw receiver in his technique, but an exciting playmaker who can be used in myriad ways. He’s also something of a luxury pick, for a team with no room for one. There’s already speed in the Jets’ receiving corps.
Scouting report: Heaven help the defense that gives Stewart enough space to get up to full speed going north-south. He will torch all 11 defenders once he gets pointed toward the goal line. If the pass isn’t right on the money, however, don’t count on it being caught. The Tide often worked around their leading receiver’s shaky hands last season by weaponizing his speed on sweeps and tap passes that stretched the defense from sideline to sideline. His physicality suggests he could hold a similar role as a pro.
With a safety and cornerback under their belts already, the Colts found themselves a pass rusher at 80. He played a lot of hand-in-the-dirt DE for Ohio, but he really looks the part of a 3-4 edge rusher, which is where he’ll be with the Colts. Very good value at this spot in Round 3.
Scouting report: One of the best pass-rushing defensive ends in the country last fall, Basham put up 11.5 sacks in 2016 (tied for fifth among players from Group of Five schools) and played a vital role on Ohio’s sixth-ranked run defense. He uses his hands well to work through blockers and generates great burst off the snap to get upfield, though sometimes linemen can catch him off-balance and wash him out of the play. Basham has a great motor and finishes plays with a flourish.
We’re at pick 81, and this is another player who had Round 1 buzz not that long ago—there was not a huge gap in talent between what was there late-Day 1 and what was here late-Day 2. The torn pec at his pro day no doubt hurt Moreau’s stock a bit, but he’s an aggressive playmaker outside.
Scouting report: Last fall Moreau led the Bruins with 10 passes defended, and his closing speed is a big reason why: He can quickly shut a window that may look open to a talented quarterback, flashing the 4.35 40 speed he showed at the combine. He seems to welcome physical play and making his presence felt against the run, and by meeting the coveted 6’ 0” threshold he should be trusted to keep that style up in the pros. Moreau tore his pectoral muscle during the bench press at UCLA’s pro day and had surgery soon after, but that recovery shouldn’t impact his rookie season past the opening days of training camp.
Denver wanted to add a playmaker in this draft, it was just a matter of when the move would come. Here, the Broncos may have outdone themselves, if Henderson is as shifty an NFL receiver as he was in college. At minimum, he’s a TD threat every time he returns a kick or punt.
Scouting report: Despite missing two games with an ankle injury, Henderson scored 23 total touchdowns across the receiving and return games (fourth in the FBS) and earned Conference USA's offensive and special teams player of the year honors. He measured in at 5’ 11", 199, but played much larger than that, running with great balance in the return game, using his body to shield the ball from defenders when leaping for a catch, and attacking blocks on run plays. Still, he might have to move to the inside at the NFL level, and he will definitely need to develop a fuller route tree.
The wait through 82 picks (including a trade down Friday) was a long one for the Patriots. Landing Rivers could make it worthwhile. He’s a hard-working edge rusher who will provide the defending champs some depth on passing downs. There were some folks who thought he could sneak into Round 1, so mid-Round 3 is a decent spot to find him.
Scouting report: Want to know how much Rivers dominated against FCS competition? He had set Youngstown State’s record for career sacks by his junior season. Rivers (6' 4", 248 pounds) finished with 37.5 sacks and 56.5 tackles for loss. He’ll transition to linebacker in the NFL, but teams have to like his speed on the edge, which he can use to either race past his blocker or bull rush. To succeed at the next level, however, Rivers will need to develop some moves to pair with his quickness. He showed limited ability to fight off blocks once his man got his hands on him.
Jameis Winston might not have to do anything other than drop back and heave it deep this season. Godwin is a go-and-get-it receiver on the outside, joining a pass-catching corps that already included Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and first-round pick O.J. Howard.
Scouting report: A national audience was introduced to Godwin at the Rose Bowl, when he set Penn State bowl game records for receptions (9) and receiving yards (187) while scoring twice against USC. The measuring tape at the combine didn't show a special receiver, as Godwin is slightly undersized, with average weight and relatively short arms. But he was in the top tier in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, and bench press, and he uses that size and speed to make big plays down the field and find space on intermediate routes. He doesn't possess exceptional hands in contested situations, despite a couple of highlight grabs.
Guess the Patriots were bored after all. After waiting all the way until No. 83 to make their first pick of the draft, they turned around and dealt picks 96 and 124 to Detroit for this spot. Garcia is a developmental talent at tackle, and the Patriots have the pieces in place to buy him some time.
Scouting report: Garcia is one of those tackle prospects NFL coaches drool over, because he fits the mold of a franchise left tackle. The challenge is in figuring out exactly how long that development process will take. Garcia (6’ 6”, 302 pounds) did start 42 games at left tackle for Troy, and he was a first-team All-Sun Belt member last season. His athleticism will be a building block, whether he sticks at left tackle or moves to the right side. He moves his feet with the nimbleness of a tight end, but will the overall technique catch up? Will he have enough power to stalemate NFL rushers?
You’ll likely hear a lot about Hunt being “underrated,” but … well, if everyone thinks that, is he really underrated? No matter the label, Hunt is a talented, almost Dalvin Cook–like back who can help on all three downs. The Chiefs traded up for this selection.
Scouting report: At 5’ 10” and 208, Hunt has a good amount of tackle-breaking muscle and strength for his stature, and he creates space in traffic and has impressive foot quickness. He’s also excellent when it comes to ball security—he fumbled just once in his three seasons and 32 games at Toledo (which totaled 520 rushing carries). Hunt is a well-rounded, versatile back who can be used as a pass-catcher as well, but he still needs work in pass protection and doesn’t have excellent burst.
The Eli Manning succession plan is in place. That's at least in theory what was happening with this pick. The first-round hype on Webb earlier this week was hard to figure, but as a sit-and-wait QB in this round, it’s a fit. If he turns out to be that Round 1-caliber player, the Giants will have their answer whenever Manning calls it a career.
Scouting report: Blessed with the prototype size that NFL teams want in a quarterback, Webb (6’ 5”, 229 pounds) also tested well for his position at the combine. He’s nowhere near a dual-threat QB, but he does show mobility in adjusting within the pocket. Webb split his college career between Texas Tech and Cal, throwing for a combined 9,852 yards and 83 TDs. Neither of those offensive schemes are all that NFL-friendly, so Webb faces the same learning curve other quarterbacks from those programs have. His accuracy is hit or miss, and he makes some sloppy mistakes in his reads.
Here’s the thing about Vanderdoes: If the Raiders get the healthy, 2014 version of him, he’s a guy they can pencil in as a potential starter up front. Oakland did not have a lot of meaningful depth inside on defense, so Vanderdoes restocks the pile.
Scouting report: A former five-star recruit, Vanderdoes burst onto the scene at UCLA as a true freshman but never quite reached his full potential. A torn ACL in the season opener cratered his 2015, and he didn’t seem the same when he returned last fall. The question is whether he can with time return to the star in the making he was before the injury. The 6' 3", 305-pound defensive tackle has solid athleticism, and he can generate power to penetrate into the backfield. But after ballooning up to 340 pounds while battling injuries, he’ll need to cut weight and keep it off.
Bill O’Brien has said he wants to lighten Lamar Miller’s workload some this season, and Foreman absolutely will help do that. He’s a big back who runs like a small back—the cutting ability and speed could help him churn out yards in that Houston scheme.
Scouting report: The winner of the 2016 Doak Walker Award, given to the top running back in college football, Foreman has great feet and quickness for his size, and can make good cuts. He shed some weight leading up to the draft, weighing in around 233 pounds at the combine (he was close to 250 during the season). His size and power makes him reliable in short yardage, but he still has the speed and burst to break away for a big play. He can get lost or lazy with blocks in pass protection, and his seven fumbles in 2016 will be concerning, as will his limited experience as a pass-catcher.
There’s the cornerback—everyone figured Seattle had to take at least one in this draft. Griffin fits the Seahawks’ mold, for sure. He’s a big cornerback who loves to stick his nose in on the action. The scheme out west also should help cover up any flaws in his game.
Scouting report: Griffin is one of the fastest corners in the draft and picked off four passes last season for the Knights. He's also one-half of college football’s best story, going to UCF with his twin brother, Shaquem, who had his left hand surgically removed as a child. Shaq had 28 pass breakups in the past two seasons playing at both left and right corner as well as seeing some time at safety.
Kind of a perfect mid-to-late Round 3 pick. Johnson has obvious bright spots in his game, including his ability to mix and match coverages. He’s also got a long way to go before he’s a complete product. Wade Phillips is a great defensive coordinator if a player needs development, though, and Johnson’s movable skills will give Phillips some options.
Scouting report: At 208 pounds, Johnson has a safety's size, but a corner's athleticism, and BC utilized that versatility, starting him at free safety, strong safety, and corner over the last two years. He's liable to take a bad first step or hesitate for a second too long while reading the offense, but otherwise has solid technique in coverage—finishing ninth in the ACC with .92 pass breakups per game—and is a very sound tackler. Don't expect Johnson to make too many highlight reel hits or picks, but his ability to play all over the defensive backfield makes him a valuable asset.
Lewis is undersized and doesn’t have great speed, but he still might have been a top-50 pick were it not for his pending trial on a domestic violence charge. Like Awuzie, the Cowboys’ pick at 60, Lewis can handle himself outside but might be a better fit in the slot—those two together might be interchangeable. It’s an “A” range pick with a dark cloud hanging over it.
Scouting report: Lewis does not have ideal size (5’10”, 188 lbs.) or speed (4.54-second 40 at the combine), but neither prevented him from being one of the stickiest cover corners in the Big Ten. He was a member of the first-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten teams in 2016, as well as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (top DB). Michigan credited him with a program-record 45 pass breakups for his career. He thrives on his footwork, which is just as effective over the middle as it is downfield. Combined with his smallish size, it’s also why he might be seen a slot defender in the NFL. Lewis was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic assault in March; he pleaded not guilty.
Can the Packers get Adams to keep the light flipped on? The Auburn product flashed dominance at times, and he can bring it from several spots in the 3-4 alignment, but the glimpses of brilliance only made his long quiet stretches more frustrating. With Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels already in place, Adams could be eased into action.
Scouting report: Following in the Pat Sims/Nick Fairley mold of interior difference makers from Auburn, Adams started 26 consecutive times for the Eagles and finished on the All-America Second team at the end of '16. Adams utilizes top-end burst off the snap, often becoming the first defender to engage a lineman. And he sets a good base, rarely getting knocked back. But he can lower his head to his own detriment and struggles at times to find a second push to disengage a solid block. His motor seemed to improve as a Plainsman.
The highlight reel for Sutton is loaded with plays where he shows incredible instincts and makes plays on the football. He didn't show that talent all the time, in large part because of injury issues, hence his Round 3 landing spot. He should get some chances as a return man.
Scouting report: Sutton’s speed is his money-maker. It can erase mistakes he makes in man-to-man coverage, help him close on routes out of the reach of most corners and burn opponents once he gets the ball in his hands. He took three punts back for touchdowns in his college career, scaring most teams off of kicking to Tennessee by his senior season. A four-year starter in the secondary, he broke the school record for passes defended. At 5’ 11” and 186 pounds, he’s susceptible to more physical receivers who can body him up.
The Seahawks’ earlier third-round pick, Shaq Griffin, already plays with the type of physical mentality this franchise loves. Ditto Hill, who provides needed depth behind Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas at safety. He’ll be around the ball whenever he’s on the field.
Scouting report: Hill partnered with Jabrill Peppers at the second level of a Michigan defense that gave up the fewest yards in the nation in 2016, and he was one of just six safeties (including Peppers) to run a sub-4.5 40 at the combine. Hill is a sure tackler who rarely makes mistakes in the open field and usually takes the most efficient path to the ball. That skill may have been born out of necessity, as he struggles to sift through the trash if he gets caught up in a crowd and needs to move east-west to make a play.
It's not hard to see why the Lions looked this way: They don’t have much at receiver behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, and they really could use a physical weapon outside. Golladay could be that, in time. Right now, he’s a big body in need of a lot of refinement.
Scouting report: Golladay spent the 2012 and ’13 seasons at North Dakota, where he caught 99 passes for 1,313 yards and nine TDs. He transferred to Northern Illinois and redshirted the following year, then posted the first back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns in program history; he had 1,156 yards and eight touchdowns last season as he garnered first-team All-MAC status. His height/weight/speed marks are almost identical to those of top-10 pick Mike Williams, and Golladay offers some of the same ability to win vertically, too, albeit with a raw game. His routes aren’t all that sharp, and he has to play to his size more, but the upside is there.
Another in-your-face cornerback with size joins a secondary that's suddenly chock full of them. Tankersly might remind Dolphins fans of veteran Byron Maxwell or 2016 draft pick Xavien Howard—he has that same physical (to a fault) approach. He could be a very good cornerback, or he could be a guy teams attack.
Scouting report: Tankersley led the 2015 national runner-up Tigers with five interceptions, then added four more during last season’s title run, including two in the ACC championship game and one in the CFP semifinal. His competitive streak comes through in the way he hounds top receivers, and his ball skills help him make the most of the opportunities he gets when quarterbacks make mistakes in his direction. He has the length (he measured 6’ 1” at the combine) and speed (4.40 40 at the combine) the NFL covets on the outside, but he will occasionally guess wrong and leave himself exposed to the big play.
Williams is not going to replace Larry Fitzgerald, ever. He could learn quite a bit from the potential future Hall of Famer, though. Williams uses his body well in positioning and with the ball in his hands, and he has just enough speed to take the top off a defense. Keep an eye on him in 2018 or ’19.
Definitely do not mind the Eagles doubling down on cornerback Friday night—it was a trouble spot on their depth chart, and Sidney Jones (their Round 2 pick) likely won’t be available until at least October. Douglas doesn’t have a ton of speed, but he has size, length and a knack for getting in front of receivers.
Scouting report: Douglas led the nation with eight interceptions in 2016, his only season as a starter after joining the Mountaineers as a junior college transfer in ’15. A 6’ 2” cover corner most comfortable manned up on the other team’s top receiver, he thinks about where the ball is at all times and tries to make a play on it on every snap. He’s not always quick enough to beat his man to the spot on slant play, but he targets his hits efficiently once he arrives. He struggles to stick to his man on extended plays—if he allows separation early, he often doesn’t have the speed to close that gap down.
Is that enough weapons for Marcus Mariota yet? Add Smith to the Titans’ earlier haul at wide receiver: Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor. Smith is similar in game to Delanie Walker, so it’s interesting that the Titans did not go find a completely different type at the position.
Scouting report: A high school weightlifter, Smith is certainly not lacking in strength, and his solid hands and overall athleticism make him appealing to teams. His football career nearly ended when his pregnant girlfriend dumped a pot of boiling water on him after an argument in Nov. 2016. Despite suffering significant burns—and facing plenty of questions—Smith returned to the field a few weeks later. He is a reliable pass catcher who has good speed for a tight end and is able to move down the field on his routes. He has the strength to be a powerful blocker, but needs work at that segment of his game, as he at times can get lost or overmatched too easily.
A 4.4 speed guy with 6-foot height, Langley checks off those important NFL cornerback boxes. Beyond that, this might have been a round early for Langley considering how raw he is—the Broncos have enough DBs to afford him development time, but it could be a while before he’s ready to contribute on a regular basis.
Scouting report: Langley transferred to Lamar after falling out of Georgia’s plans in the secondary, and after dabbling at receiver he returned to corner, finishing 2016 with six interceptions, seven pass breakups and two punt return TDs. He has the size and speed teams are looking for at corner and will need to sharpen his instincts to stay connected with NFL-caliber route-runners.
Malik McDowell, the Seahawks’ second-round selection, is a player the Seahawks can move around and ask to get after the quarterback. Jones is more of a space-eater and likely an early-down defender, so that makes for a strong pairing of D-line picks Friday.
Scouting report: Jones’s length is going to give opponents problems along the interior of the line. He’s 6’ 5” and has 34 5/8-inch arms, strong enough to push the pocket and long enough to bat down passes at the line (he had 10 PBUs in his career). Jones definitely fits better in a 3–4 scheme with his run-stopping abilities. He overcame a rare, painful disease in high school to put weight back on and be a second-day draftee.
The Saints entered the draft needing a DE to line up opposite Cameron Jordan, and they might have found an under-the-radar answer in Hendrickson. He’s not a clear-cut, overnight starter in the NFL—a lot of what he does comes from pure effort, as opposed to elite skills—but he’s at least a rotational defender.
Scouting report: Hendrickson was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year last season, finishing with 9.5 sacks, but his burst off the line also showed up in his four blocked kicks, which tied for the national lead. He spent most of his college career lined up with his hand on the ground but fits better at outside linebacker in the pros, where he can better go after offensive tackles with speed rather than raw power. When he does get caught up against bigger blockers, he keeps his motor running and uses his hands to work free.
Rookie GM John Lynch killed it through the early rounds in this draft, but trading up (109 and 219 to Minnesota) for Beathard is a little ugly. The price tag wasn’t that high; the expectations probably won’t be, either. Beathard has a future in the NFL, because of what he can do as a pro-style passer. It’s just not as a starter.
Scouting report: The winningest QB in Iowa football history, Beathard passed for 2809 yards en route to a Rose Bowl berth his junior year, but his output dropped due to injuries to himself and receivers, throwing for only 1929 yards his senior year. Beathard played in a pro-style offense at Iowa and gets the ball off very quickly, throwing darts to his receivers across the middle and down the sidelines (though he’s also capable of the occasional deep ball.) His offensive line wasn’t the best in 2016 so he was often rushed in the pocket, and he’s not afraid to use his legs if he sees a hole.
Not only do the Steelers land a hometown favorite with this pick, they get a physical option who can take a few carries off LeVeon Bell’s tally. He’s more than just a great story—he can hammer defenses between the tackles, and he showed some surprising pass-catching ability in 2016.
Scouting report: In one of the most inspiring stories of the season, Conner returned to the field last fall after overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Then he rushed for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016, good enough for first team All-ACC honors. He became the ACC’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (56) and rushing touchdowns (52), and he earned the Brian Piccolo Award for the conference’s “most courageous” player. On the field, the 240-pounder doesn’t have elite speed to make defenders miss, but he does have the physicality and power to bully his way past his opponents (as well as obvious mental toughness and resilience). He also proved himself as an effective pass catcher in ’16, which could help his stock.
The arrow started pointing way up last year, so if Darboh can keep that momentum going the Seahawks will have something here. He brings size and sub-4.5 speed to the outside, with great body control along the sideline. Seattle might be able to slip him into the slot at times, too. He's not a No. 1 receiver, but he's a decent option in a complementary role.
Scouting report: Darboh started 28 games over three years for the Wolverines, catching 151 passes for 2,062 yards and 14 touchdowns. Darboh’s ball skills really stand out on tape—if the 6’ 2’’, 214-pound wideout got his hands on the ball, he usually caught it. He isn’t the speediest receiver, but Darboh makes up for it with great route-running. He ran the full route-tree at Michigan, with lots of success over the middle. He never really lit up the stat sheet though, and was really inconsistent, with one-catch games followed by eight catches.
The Bucs closed the night by sending picks 125 and 204 to the Jets for Beckwith, a former teammate of Kwon Alexander at LSU. It might be a redshirt pick, because a.) Beckwith tore his ACL in November, and b.) there’s not an obvious spot for him in the rotation, aside from adding depth.
Scouting report: Beckwith tore his ACL before the Citrus Bowl in December, but even with the injury knock on his resume, teams will not overlook his physicality and aggressiveness. Beckwith is adept at reading the play, moving quickly to the ball carrier and making the second-level tackle. However his speed (or lack thereof) could make him a liability in pass coverage.
Scouting report: A tenacious tackler, Biegel was a leader on Wisconsin’s defense and put up big numbers in his three seasons as a starter, totaling 30.5 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks in his sophomore and junior seasons before injuries shortened his senior year. Biegel has a great feel for the game and makes excellent reads and flies to the ball. However, the 6' 3", 246-pounder needs to get a lot stronger to succeed at the next level. He can be easily overpowered by blockers and taken out of the player. His foot injury from his senior season could also be a concern.
Scouting report: Penetrating defensive tackles are all the rage for the NFL right now and Johnson fits the bill. He had 10.0 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks last season (both Iowa team-highs) and 12.5 sacks for his career. The 6’ 3”, 316-pound DT plays faster than his size and tested speed would indicate—his 5.38-second 40 time was slower than all but one other D-lineman at the combine, although he fared better in agility tests. Johnson is quick off the snap, then works hard with his hands to stay free for the tackle. His effectiveness against the run will dictate how often he can be on the field.
Scouting report: Westbrook was a surprise Heisman finalist this fall after exploding for 1,524 yards (sixth in the country) and 17 touchdown catches (tied for third). His slight frame makes contested catches a challenge, but he is an electric slot weapon and vertical threat that gets up to top speed in a flash, routinely splits closing defenders after the catch and doesn’t go down as easily as his size might indicate. Before his arrival at Oklahoma via junior college, Westbrook was arrested twice on domestic violence complaints from the mother of two of his three children.
Scouting report: Thompson was an indispensable part of a Colorado defense that led the Pac-12 in opposing passer rating and helped the Buffaloes win 10 games in 2016. A starter at strong safety (the same position played for the Minnesota Vikings by his brother, Cedric), Thompson logged 64 total tackles, including two for loss, recorded 14 passes defended and grabbed four interceptions in his final season in Boulder. Thompson may not possess ideal physical tools, but his ability to make plays on the ball will translate to the NFL and should, at the very least, earn him a roster spot as a reserve defensive back.
Scouting report: Before a broken leg cut his senior year short, Jackson was the heart of Alabama’s defense, a team captain and playmaking free safety who owns the school record for interception return yards. He doesn’t pack much of a punch when he makes contact, but his speed and nose for the ball set the tone for his Crimson Tide teammates who did. A torn ACL in early 2014 forced Jackson’s move to safety, but he can still drop down to cover the slot effectively. He scored five non-offensive touchdowns at Alabama (three pick-sixes, two punt returns) and should make an immediate impact on special teams before he can claw his way up the safety depth chart.
Scouting report: Jenkins has all the physical attributes teams could want in a safety with his 6' 1", 214-pound frame and 4.51-second 40-time and 19-rep combine performance. His 2016 production at Miami—76 tackles, two interceptions—reveal exactly the type of player he is. Jenkins is superb at stepping up to stop the run but can be cautious on the pass, hesitant to break too early. He’s a sure tackler who hits hard but can sometimes fly in too hot and miss his target. He brings plenty of experience after starting at some point in all four of his seasons at Miami.
Scouting report: Perine set Oklahoma’s career rushing record with 4,122 total yards in just three seasons. At 5' 11" and 233 pounds, he’s a good sized power back with a lot of strength who can muscle through defenders, though he doesn’t have elite burst or speed. He can get complacent on runs rather than making moves to break free in traffic, and though he can handle a big load, he’s more likely be used as a secondary back rather than a No. 1 guy right away.
Scouting report: Johnson, a 2016 first-team All-ACC member, started the final 39 games of his Pitt career at left guard. He didn’t test through the roof in any agility drills at the combine (5.27-second 40-yard dash, 8.39-second three cone, 5.09-second short shuttle), but his athleticism in the run game is noticeable. There were plays in which he fired to the second level with such speed that it would have been easy to mistake him for a fullback. He can be almost too quick at times, to the point that defenders simply sidestep his charge. Still, he’s a consistent blocker on the move and a steady pass protector.
Scouting report: Lawson turned in a strong freshman year for Auburn, with 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks. Who knows what might have been the next two seasons, had injuries not stalled Lawson’s emergence. He missed the 2014 season with a knee injury and sat out a chunk of the ’15 season with a hip injury. He rose back to stardom in 2016, putting together an All-SEC showing: 30 tackles, 14.0 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks. His long-term health will be a concern, though. The sack total is encouraging, to be sure, but he brings immediate value as a rugged run defender on the edge.
Scouting report: At 6' 3", Reynolds is a tall weapon with strong hands that he utilizes effectively against defenders in coverage. In averaging 17 yards per catch last fall, he solidified himself as a huge downfield threat. He tends to make too many puzzling drops, and though he has excellent height, his lanky frame (194 pounds at the combine) may be a concern to some.
Scouting report: 2016 was supposed to be a triumphant sendoff for Hollins, who joined North Carolina as a walk-on. However, a broken collarbone limited him to seven games after he showed big potential as a junior. Still, there’s a lot to like about Hollins, namely his 6' 4", 221-pound frame and impressive speed that helped him score 20 touchdowns on 81 career catches and average over 20 yards per catch. He also has loads of special teams experience. He’ll need to develop his route tree more in the NFL after being used primarily as a vertical threat, and he’s an ineffective blocker for his size.
Scouting report: Cohen is the most electric back you’ve never heard of, a blur of body feints and hesitation moves so crisp that defenders have a hard time even getting a hand on him. In his senior season at North Carolina A&T, Cohen compiled 1,588 yards on 7.5 YPC and 19 total touchdowns to finish his college career as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-time rushing leader. The biggest knock on Cohen is his diminutive stature (5' 6", 179 pounds), but he makes up for his size with top-end speed (he clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine) and quickness. Cohen is a dynamic change-of-pace spark that pretty much any NFL offensive coordinator could put to good use.
Scouting report: After three years of mostly special-teams snaps, Gedeon became a staple of the Wolverines’ top defense in 2016. Last season, he started all 13 games for Michigan and was named the team’s top linebacker after recording a team-leading 106 tackles and 15.5 tackles for loss. At 6' 3" and 247 pounds, his size and strength are key factors in his potential, and he has the speed that NFL teams look for. He excelled at the combine, leading the linebackers in the bench press (27 reps). While the toughness is there, he lacks speed. He doesn’t have a great burst, and his footwork can be sloppy.
Scouting report: The 5' 11", 210-pound Utah running back had quite the journey here, playing for Hargrave Military Academy, UConn and an NJCAA school before landing at Utah … where he decided to retire early in the 2016 season. But after injuries to other Utes backs, he decided to return and finished the season with 1,407 rushing yards. He’s extremely quick, boasting the second-fastest 40 of all running backs at the combine. But there’s no doubt teams likely have questions about his abrupt retirement, legal issues involving credit card theft that led to him leaving UConn and his admitted issues with painkillers in the past. The talent is there, but can he take the pressure of playing in the NFL?
Scouting report: Siragusa started 41 straight games for the Aztecs, leading the way for all-time FBS rushing leader Donnel Pumphrey and earning third-team All-America honors in the process. Siragusa is thickly built and uses his low center of gravity (and his 10 5/8" hands) to control one-on-one battles. But he stands to improve in pass protection, where he can be a bit passive, unbalanced, and slow off the snap. That said, he has the potential to be a useful lineman for a team with a downhill running attack, as he is capable of pulling even if he's not generally great in open space.
Scouting report: Teams eyeing Nicholson are weighing what they could turn him into rather than what he already is. Nicholson presented well at the combine with his 4.42-second 40-time, and he has the right build at 6' 2" and 212 pounds. But while his production at Michigan State wasn’t lackluster, it wasn’t eye-popping either. He had just four picks and four passes broken up in his college career, and while his 169 tackles in the past two seasons are a decent total, he misses far too many. Basically, Nicholson is a project who will have to prove that his on-paper explosiveness can translate into greater playmaking.
Scouting report: Maybin’s career at Tennessee ended on a sour note. After entering 2016 as a prime candidate for national awards, Maybin started (and appeared in) only four games because of a shoulder injury. Yet Reeves-Maybin showed prior to last season that he’s a savvy playmaker who excels at running down ball carriers in space. His package of skills should override concerns about the shoulder injury, for which he reportedly underwent surgery last year. Reeves-Maybin could be a major asset in packages designed to stop the pass, as he’s capable of covering plenty of ground to snuff out short and intermediate looks.
Scouting report: Ebukam was a third-team FCS All-American last season, after posting career highs in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (9.5). He finished his career with 24.0 sacks and 38 tackles for losses, playing off the edge. His size, or lack thereof (6' 3", 240 lbs.) signals a likely move to a 3-4 OLB role at the next level.
Scouting report: Wilson’s decision to enter the draft was a bit of a surprise, as he had just one full season of starting experience. Though not as seasoned as other prospects, Wilson's ball-hawking skills can't be doubted. He picked off five passes last season to help earn first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors, and he consistently displayed great burst to the ball. At a lean 184 pounds, Wilson’s frame is definitely undersized, but he is a decent tackler and could improve as he packs on muscle. He missed most of the 2015 season with a torn ACL.
Scouting report: Thirty-five FBS players finished 2016 with double-digit touchdown catches, and Roberts was the only tight end among them. He finished sixth in the country with 16 TDs, including two three-score games, in his first season as a starter and consistent contributor within the Rockets’ offense. Roberts is not the relative burner like other tight ends in this draft, but his feel and physicality inside the 20s makes his 6’ 4”, 270-pound frame an enticing target for QBs. He’s a better blocker than some of his peers, but there’s still work to be done.
Scouting report: It shouldn’t be overlooked that a 6' 3", 208-pound receiver ran the third-fastest 40 of any receiver at the combine—and Malone finished behind two much smaller speedsters. Tennessee only unlocked his potential last fall, when he finished with a team-high 972 yards and 11 touchdowns, but Malone’s size-speed combo makes him a lethal deep-ball threat. He tracks the ball well in the air and has a subtle feel for positioning that gives him space to snatch it away from the man covering him before turning on the jets.
Scouting report: Sharpe started 26 of Florida’s 27 games over the past two seasons at left tackle. He has denied a rumor circulated during the combine that he was legally blind in his right eye. He only spent three years in college before turning pro, and there are signs his 6' 6", 343-pound frame could be molded into a technically sound NFL tackle. He doesn’t produce the type of power that would let him dominate in the run game—often the best outcome is a stalemate—and his lateral quickness is only just good enough to survive on the edge.
Scouting report: Davenport didn’t face elite competition in college, but he has good size for a tackle, at 6' 7" and 318 pounds with 36 1/2-inch arms. He looks the part more than many other small-school offensive linemen, but teams will have to be patient as he adjusts to blocking bigger, faster opponents. The cousin of NBA forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Davenport didn’t get a single FBS offer out of Paulsboro High School in New Jersey, but he grew into a three-time first-team all-conference tackle and, last season, a D-II All-America selection.
Scouting report: Wise emerged as a pass-rushing force late in his college career. Over his last two seasons at Arkansas, Wise Jr. amassed 80 tackles, including 16 for loss, and 11.5 sacks. He offers excellent physical tools (6' 5", 271 pounds) for his position, and his strength and motor make Wise Jr. a disruptive presence on the edge. Even though Wise Jr.’s burst and mobility leave something to be desired, he stops ball carriers in their tracks and won’t give up on plays. Wise Jr.’s college track record doesn’t suggest he can develop into an elite NFL lineman, but he could become a productive piece in a 4–3 scheme.
Scouting report: Pumphrey led the nation with 2,133 rushing yards and became the NCAA’s leader in career rushing yards in 2016, setting the new record of 6,405 yards in San Diego State’s win over Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl. To top it off, Pumphrey had 231 receiving yards in 2016 and 416 in ’15. The back is a playmaker with tremendous initial speed and burst, and great vision of the field and his routes as a pass-catcher. His ability to make plays as a slot receiver will be a huge part of a team’s decision to choose him, because despite his prolific career at SDSU, he’s 5’ 8” and 176 pounds—the second lightest player at this year’s Senior Bowl (a kicker was No. 1). Some teams will simply be too scared to take a back that small—even if there aren’t many other weaknesses to complain about.
Scouting report: Mitchell Trubisky's favorite target in Chapel Hill was also a two-time All-America return man. His first NFL impact will be as a returner, where he reads blockers well and attacks open space. He has also become a solid receiver, with good footwork and quick cuts, particularly to the outside. But his small (5' 8") frame and solid but unspectacular hands will limit his usefulness in that realm.
Scouting report: BYU’s all-time leading rusher, who ran for a total of 3,901 in his career, ranked No. 5 in the nation for rushing yards per game in 2016. He finished his senior season with 1,375 yards despite missing three games due to an injury. Williams has a strong, muscular build and good footwork and movement with an ability to make tacklers miss and extend plays (his stiff arm also helps with this). The 6' 0", 212-pounder is not a particularly versatile back, and a 4.59 40 at the combine didn’t help his own cause in an extremely crowded and talented field.
Scouting report: An aerospace engineering major at Tennessee, Dobbs is the type of high-character quarterback that will earn a few years of seasoning from a patient coaching staff. He helmed a handful of productive offenses in Knoxville, but sometimes he hurt his team by trying to do too much, whether those efforts lead to forced interceptions or untimely sacks. Dobbs is eager to tuck the ball and run when things start to break down, and although his standout open-field speed makes him a threat to score every time he gets past the line of scrimmage, that habit will need to be broken in the NFL.
Scouting report: Harlow started every game for the Beavers as a sophomore in 2014, but he suffered a season-ending leg injury in ’15, cutting that season and his ’16 season short. The 6' 4", 303-pound Harlow projects to be a better fit at guard in the NFL; he was consistently strong off the snap at Oregon State and grinds through every play, but he lacks the speed and overall athleticism to stand up to NFL pass rushers.
Scouting report: Banner’s weight will be an ongoing storyline, as well as an ongoing challenge, in the early years of his pro career. The charismatic tackle, whose biological father is 11-year NFL tackle Lincoln Kennedy, ballooned to 381 pounds by the final game of his USC career and has slowly been slimming down in the lead-up to the draft. A three-year starter at right tackle, he has north-south mobility that belies his size and makes him a run-blocking weapon. His lateral limitations could ultimately force him inside to take some pressure off him in pass protection.
Scouting report: A walk-on at Michigan, the redshirt senior developed into a reliable run-stuffer on the Wolverines’ defensive line. After missing the end of his fourth year with an injury, he put up arguably his best stats in 2016, putting up 9.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. He shared the 2016 Dick Katcher award, given to Michigan’s top defensive lineman, with Chris Wormley, quite the feat on a stacked line that includes projected first rounder Taco Charlton. He has an athletic build (6' 4", 299 pounds) and his strength is evident in his tackling ability—he has a tremendous amount of power and is able to push opposing players out of the way with his hand strength. He has high energy and is constantly moving—he never gives up on a play—but his pass rushing movement and abilities are limited and leave something to be desired.
Scouting report: Chesson was a standout player for the Wolverines in 2015, earning All-Big 10 first team honors and the Bo Schembechler Award for team MVP, but a knee injury in the Citrus Bowl to close out that season reduced Chesson to modest numbers in his final year. He has good foot quickness and balance, though he lacks explosive playmaking ability after the catch. He’s a strong and aware route-runner with good hands—according to Pro Football Focus, he dropped just two of 35 catchable targets in 2016—and though he lacks some muscle and build, he isn’t afraid to lay himself out in traffic to make the grab.
Scouting report: Clemson’s offense belonged to Deshaun Watson, but Gallman, who shared the team’s 2015 Co-MVP award with his QB, was an integral part of its overall success. He finished his Tigers career with 3,429 rushing yards and 34 total rushing touchdowns, adding 473 receiving yards with two touchdowns. As the Tigers’ No. 1 back, he proved he’s a workhorse who can handle a heavy load, and he has good burst, strength and an aggressive run style. His overall speed may be a concern (he ran a 4.6 40 at the combine), and he doesn’t have great balance, but he can be utilized effectively, particularly on short down situations and in the red zone.
Scouting report: One of the 2016 season’s breakout receiving stars, Hansen was Davis Webb’s primary target at Cal, finishing with 92 catches for 1249 yards and 11 touchdowns in his redshirt junior season. Virtually unknown before the 2016 season, Hansen exploded onto the scene, flashing great speed and trusty hands that made him one of the best wideouts in the Pac-12. Hansen is outstanding in single coverage and great in the screen game, though he’ll be criticized for the simplicity of routes he ran in Sonny Dykes’s Air Raid offense. It’s a deep draft for receivers, but Hansen is one of the most complete products this class has to offer.
Scouting report: Coming from the same defensive line that has produced Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, Watkins has both the pedigree and the production to be an asset in the NFL. The 6' 3", 309-pound defensive tackle helped lead the Tigers to a national title with 12.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last season. Watkins moves well in the interior and has the quickness to chase down the ball in the backfield, but he can overpowered by stronger guards or double teams, particularly as the game wears on. He’ll also turn 24 during his rookie season.
Scouting report: Mack tops record books as USF’s and the AAC’s all-time leading career rusher with 3.609 yards and the school’s career touchdown leader with 33. A three-time All American Athletic Conference first-team selection, he rushed for 1,000 yards in three straight seasons, and proved himself to be a reliable pass-catcher as well. Mack is explosive, with excellent initial burst; his fluid movement and speed allows him to break away from defenders, but he lacks the power and strength to run through them, and excels in space rather than in traffic.
Scouting report: Unfortunately for Butt, an ACL injury at the Orange Bowl placed him at the center of the discussion over whether or not draft prospects should suit up for bowl games. He’s said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from that injury, but his status for the start of 2017 is very much up in the air. When healthy, Butt is a reliable target who can go get it in the red zone—he scored 11 career TDs for Michigan. He is a classic tight end, complete with experience as an in-line blocker in a pro-style system. He won’t wow scouts the way guys like O.J. Howard or David Njoku have.
Scouting report: At 6' 4", 225 pounds, Kittle may be a little undersized to be the ideal NFL blocking tight end, but his athleticism—he ran a 4.52 40 at the combine—combined with his blocking skills make him appealing to teams. Kittle could slot into an offense at the H-back, but his route running abilities leave plenty to be desired. He can line up in a number of places on the line of scrimmage (combo back), and the Iowa offense used him to take advantage of weaknesses and gaps in the opposing defenses.
Scouting report: Morgan, a late bloomer out of Germantown High in Philadelphia and a walk-on at Kutztown State, was given the Gene Upshaw Award for the best Division II offensive lineman. At 6' 3" and 313 pounds, he played left tackle at Kutztown, but played guard during the Senior Bowl. He will certainly have to address concerns that he excelled against lesser competition and he could have a tough transition period in the NFL.
Scouting report: Brown was a veteran member of a unit that finished 26th in the nation in scoring defense. He’s a compact missile up near the line, streaking through gaps before interior blockers can close them, and his speed allows him to handle receivers coming out of the backfield and some slot assignments capably. However, he struggles to gear down fast enough in the backfield to read the play and change directions with the flow of the play, and he needs to wrap up more consistently.
Scouting report: Kazee shined as a foundational piece on an Aztecs defense that helped the program post 11 wins in consecutive seasons, winning the Mountain West Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2015 and 2016 while racking up 104 solo tackles and 15 interceptions combined. Kazee showed well at the senior bowl, but he lacks favorable size for his position (5' 10", 184 pounds) and didn’t distinguish himself with his 40-yard dash time (4.54 seconds) at the combine. There’s also the matter of Kazee’s college competition: He rarely faced elite wideouts in the MW.
Scouting report: Leggett tied the single-season school record for touchdown catches by a tight end in 2015, then came back and caught seven more last fall despite an extremely quiet September. He built solid chemistry with Deshaun Watson up the seam and can be tough for defenses to handle once he hits his stride. Leggett will make his mark as a “move” tight end: When he’s split out away from the line, his feel for unmarked space both in the open field and the red zone causes big problems for defenses. In more traditional alignments, he’s a consistently willing but inconsistently effective blocker.
Scouting report: It was a bit of a surprise that King returned to Iowa in 2016 rather than enter the draft early. After all, he was the Jim Thorpe Award winner (top defensive back) as a junior, and a first-team All-American. His interception total dropped from eight that year to three in his final Iowa season, although he also averaged 65 tackles and 981.5 return yards over the 2015-16 campaigns. King displays incredible awareness for what’s developing in front of him, and plays with an edge downhill, including vs. the run. His limited size (5' 10", 201 pounds) and some stiffness in his hips could force a move to safety.
Scouting report: Elder plays with a swagger that belies his size (5' 10", 183 pounds), pestering his marks and letting the opposing sideline know when passes fall incomplete. He picks up receivers coming out of the backfield and trusts his instincts when selling out for big plays, fighting off physical receivers and blocking backs to get to the ballcarrier. He can get lost in zone coverage at times, and his play speed is just O.K., but he rarely takes a false step, which may make him a candidate for full-time slot duty early on.
Scouting report: Elliott has two things going for him: He was named first-team all-conference all four years with the Tigers, and he hails from the same university as Stephen Gostkowski (it never hurts to share something in common with the NFL’s best kicker). Elliott succeeded in pretty much every facet of his game; he made every attempt inside of 30 yards in his career and showcased the ability to hit long field goals; he had three of six onside kicks recovered in his career; and he had over 60% of his kicks land as touchbacks. He won’t get the treatment that Roberto Aguayo received last year, but Elliott is well worth a Day 3 pick for a team that is seeking security at kicker.
Scouting report: The talk around Jeremy Sprinkle at the Senior Bowl was not about his Arkansas-record 11 receiving touchdowns or his block-and-catch utility, but centered around a shoplifting incident that got him suspended from the Belk Bowl. He's since apologized and has received the backing of Arkansas' coaching staff, allowing scouts to focus on what Sprinkle did before then. Adding a little more bulk at the pro level will help develop into a quality blocker. He did not get many passing looks in a run-first offense, but he has the speed and awareness to find openings in the secondary, and good enough hands to make the catch.
Scouting report: An undersized linebacker (6' 0", 231 pounds), Brown specializes in sideline-to-sideline coverage and was one of UCLA’s best defenders in a difficult season for the Bruins. Brown filled the leading tackler role after the departure of Myles Jack, logging 105 stops in his senior season, seven for loss, and three interceptions. Maybe the most notable stat during his senior season was his 15 passes defended, showcasing his ability to cover slot receivers and quicker tight ends. He’s probably too undersized to start at the WILL position in the NFL, but could work as a 3–4 linebacker or as a chameleon a la Deone Bucannon.
Scouting report: Hill is a potential gem if developed properly. A first-team all-conference selection last season, Hill rumbled for 1860 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2016 as the centerpiece of Wyoming’s offense. Scouts have noted his small hands and stature (he stands at only 5' 9"), but watch his film and you’ll find a patient back with advanced field vision and the ability to push for extra yards when run plays are stuffed. His 4.54 speed isn’t blazing, but he’s a capable and intelligent running back that should get a long look by any teams seeking a trusty third-down option.
Scouting report: A preseason injury to Vanderbilt’s projected starter in 2015 forced Holden from right tackle to left tackle and he never looked back, manning the blind side for the final 25 of his 37 consecutive starts. He’s much more trustworthy as a run blocker than in pass protection, where he doesn’t have enough balance, quickness or strength to keep up with elite edge rushers. His stock rose considerably in the postseason, starting with positive reports from the East-West Shrine Game, so there could still be progress to be made ahead.
Scouting report: Hairston (5' 11", 196 lbs.) played wide receiver for the Owls—hauling in 20 receptions—until he switched to cornerback his redshirt junior season at Temple. That WR-to-CB transition tends to help with route recognition, and that’s probably where Hairston shines most. A draft-and-develop defender.
Scouting report: Eluemunor grew up in London and moved to the U.S. at 14 to play football. After a junior college stint, a redshirt year and a season as a reserve guard, he won the Aggies’ starting right tackle job last summer. He showed the ability to anchor in protection against some of this year’s top pass rushing prospects during A&M’s grueling tour of the SEC. He has plenty to learn in the way of technique, and better instincts would help his lateral quickness, but the strength of his base should be able to keep him afloat early on in his career.
Scouting report: Johnson was an All-ACC first-teamer in both 2015 and ’16, although he did not develop during the latter season the way many expected he would. Johnson opted to turn pro anyway, banking on his experience (31 starts), size ((6’ 7”, 298 pounds) and the relatively weak OT class to give him a boost. There’s plenty to work with if the team that drafts Johnson is a little patient. His frame allows him to cover a lot of ground in pass protection, and he can lock out defenders in the run game with his reach. The overall technique, though, is very inconsistent and often will leave Johnson struggling to keep his feet under him.
Scouting report: During his sophomore campaign in 2015, Walker tallied 19 tackles for loss and four sacks, and opened the ‘16 season with potential Heisman aspirations. But injury knocked him out of the preseason for two weeks and left him looking flat-footed and sluggish the first few games of the season. Coaches and scouts say that the 6' 1", 238-pounder is a leader on the field, bringing another level to his game, and he’s skilled at reading plays and jumping routes, but he sometimes ends up a step or two behind the ball.
Scouting report: McNichols, a two-time All-Mountain West second team selection, rushed for 3,205 yards and 44 touchdowns during his three years with the Broncos. A bit undersized at 5' 9" and 214 lbs, McNichols isn’t going to break many tackles, but he’s got good vision and can be tough to take down in space. With over 1,000 yards receiving at Boise State, McNichols is also true receiving threat out of the backfield, and will create mismatches with either a linebacker or safety.
Scouting report: Milano was an all-around contributor for Boston College’s notoriously hard-nosed defense, with 6.5 sacks in each of the last two years and a total of three blocked punts in his career. He can throw aside blockers to pursue the play, but teams can neutralize his impact by running right at him and testing his play strength. Milano’s athletic limitations show up against quality competition, and he won’t be able to handle many NFL slot targets in open space.
Scouting report: A two-time All-Pac-12 honoree who logged 43 starts during his run with the Utes, Asiata—brother of Minnesota Vikings tailback Matt Asiata—was a rock on a line that helped Utah post at least nine wins in three consecutive seasons. Asiata offers favorable size (6' 3", 323 pounds) for an interior masher, and he’s versatile enough to line up at multiple positions up front. Asiata’s strength (he recorded 35 repetitions on the bench press at the combine) should enable him to excel at opening up holes for running backs. He could develop into a real force in the trenches.
Scouting report: At 5' 10", 185 lbs., with sub-4.4 speed, Agnew is a slot corner all day at the next level. He broke up a San Diego-record 59 passes during his career there. As a rookie, his impact may be felt fastest on special teams, both as a potential gunner and as a return man. You can’t teach the type of speed he has.
Scouting report: A serious deep threat at West Virginia (he averaged 22.4 yards per catch last season), the 5' 11", 191-pound Gibson hopes to a vertical element in the NFL. He ran a 4.50 40 at the Combine, but reportedly improved to 4.39 at his Pro Day. Gibson had 80 catches, 1,838 yards and 17 TDs over his last two seasons.
Scouting report: The other half of Youngstown State’s killer pass-rushing duo last season, Moss isn’t as exciting a prospect as former teammate Derek Rivers. Moss did have 11.0 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss himself last season. He is a reliable defenders on all three downs, with a enough burst off the edge to make some plays. Give it some time, and he might be a serious threat for an NFL defense.
Scouting report: Lee tallied 20 tackles for loss over his senior season, including 5.5 in a single dominant performance against Syracuse. The 6' 3, 240-pound linebacker surprised with a 4.6 40-time that increased his viability as an inside rather than strongside linebacker. He also has a quick first step and good closing strength, though he struggles maintaining leverage against linemen and still doesn't have elite sideline-to-sideline speed. He makes up for it with savvy, having been taught to constantly keep his eyes in the backfield.
Scouting report: Decoud bounced from DII Chadron State to Northwest Missippi Community College and finally to Oregon State. He was a press corner for the Beavers, at 6' 2", 206 pounds. Decoud is physical and reads the ball well, but may be lacking the quickness to stay at cornerback, hence the talk of a move to safety.
Scouting report: Adams ran a 4.44 40 at the combine, but he plays faster than that on the field. He flies on tape, and USF was sure to get the ball in his hands as a receiver, rusher and returner. He rushed 23 times last season and scored five times. Adams had consecutive 800-yard receiving seasons and averaged 29.1 yards per kick return as a junior. He looks thinner than the 189 pounds he’s listed at, but you’d risk losing some speed if you add weight to him. Get him the ball in space and let him go.
Scouting report: Peterman was the rare graduate transfer with two years of eligibility left when he moved from Tennessee to Pittsburgh in 2015. He threw just 43 passes for the Volunteers, but took over the Panthers’ starting gig in September ’15 and held it for 24 games, throwing for 5,142 yards, 47 TDs and 15 INTs as Pitt’s quarterback. While he doesn’t have the physical upside of others in this class, he does check off a lot of boxes: experience in a pro-style system, good timing on his throws, willingness to stick in the pocket and take a hit. He can carve out a long NFL career, but it just might be as a backup.
Scouting report: Another year in Athens may have helped McKenzie’s stock since he’s probably a Day 3 guy this year, but there’s still plenty of good when it comes to the Bulldog. At 5' 7" he can only line up in the slot, so he’ll have to be a better technician on his routes. His 4.42 40 was fast, but not that fast. McKenzie racked up 633 receiving yards last year as Georgia struggled to figure out its quarterback position. His versatility comes in the return game, where he had six returns in three years for Georgia.
Scouting report: Allen’s draft stock has everything to do with him checking off the height/length/speed boxes at cornerback—he’s 6’ 3”, 215 lbs., with 34" arms and a sub-4.5 40 time. He also did not even start playing CB until 2014—he was a receiver before then—and has just 12 starts under his belt at the position. His height alone makes it tough for receivers to go right at him. There’s something to work with here.
Scouting report: Over his final two seasons at the FCS level, Saubert caught a combined 111 passes for 1,356 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was a movable chip in the Bulldogs’ offense, attacking defenses from a variety of alignments. Saubert ran a 4.65-second 40 at Iowa State’s Pro Day, to go along with his 22 bench-press reps and 33" vertical at the combine. Saubert uses his height to his advantage, particularly when attacking the gap between the second and third levels, but he’d be much higher on NFL radars if he was better at actually catching the ball.
Scouting report: At 6’ 2” and 201 pounds, DeAngelo Yancey has the size of an NFL receiver, but does he have the technique? He utilizes his height to grab balls out of the air over his defenders, but he can struggle when it comes to turning on the jets to get away from them.
Scouting report: Dielman started every game in 2014 and ’15 for Utah, but a leg injury limited him to just five games his senior year. The 6' 5", 309-pound center can stand his ground against defensive linemen, but he’s not as adept when it comes to side-to-side motion—he’s stronger when pushing vertically up the field. He’s athletic, but will need to put on some muscle in order to compete in the NFL.
Scouting report: In 2016, Taylor racked up 136 receptions for 1803 yards, including 12 touchdowns for Louisiana Tech. The 5’ 8”, 178-pound receiver is incredibly adept at switching directions, dodging receivers and shedding tackles. He could find his place in the NFL as return man.
Scouting report: Godchaux cracked LSU’s starting lineup just a few games into his freshman season and never looked back, finishing second on the team in sacks in each of the past two years. He has a strong first step for a 6’ 3”, 310-pound tackle, and when he can put his man on his heels he knows when to break free and make a play on the ball. He can let himself get taken out of the play too easily, but he has the focus to shut down plays that flow back his way.
Scouting report: Logan never got more than 150 touches in a single season, but by his senior year he had established a consistent role as the Tar Heels’ quicker complement to physical feature back Elijah Hood, and he stepped up to carry the load when Hood missed the Sun Bowl for undisclosed medical reasons. His 4.37 40 was the fastest among running backs at the combine, and that straight-line speed catches defenses by surprise and poses coverage problems for front-seven defenders who have to cover him on screens or in the slot. Don’t count on him to pass block or make much hay between the tackles.
Scouting report: A cog at right guard for Miami the last three seasons, Isidora has all the tangibles that NFL teams are looking for—size (6' 3", 306 pounds), skills and leadership ability. He struggled with foot injuries earlier in his career, but that seems to be a thing of the past.
Scouting report: Donahue spent two seasons at Palomar (Calif.) College before transferring to West Georgia ahead of the 2015 season. He finished his brief career there with a whopping 37.5 tackles for loss and 25.5 sacks, including a conference record 13.5 last season. At 6' 3" and 248 pounds, he’s undersized, even for a 3–4 OLB, but he dials it up from zero to 100 in a hurry post-snap and doesn’t stop until he makes a play.
Scouting report: Jones is another small-school running back who put up a monster season in 2016—finishing with 1773 yards, 17 touchdowns and four games of 200-plus yards rushing, on top of 28 catches for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He left his mark by closing his college career with a 301-yard performance against North Texas. Jones has a stocky build and decent speed, running 4.56 at the combine, and whichever team drafts him may occasionally split him out wide. He’ll probably need some seasoning before he receives stable snaps, but he’s another high-production running back who may be undervalued once the later rounds arrive.