This is the first of three installments where I will dive into my picks for the first round of the NFL draft. This week I look at the top 10 and who I think fits where. This class is very interesting because of the talent everywhere outside of quarterback. It is very likely there won’t even be a quarterback selected in the first round which would be the first time since 1996. With that in mind; here is my top 10.
Fournette had a year marred by injuries, but he is still the best player in this class. He was extremely productive in his career at LSU and has all the tools to be an every down back in the NFL. The Browns have so many holes in their roster that they simply need to take the best available player, and I believe that is Fournette. They are also in a great position to take him there and either wait or trade up to the late first round to take a quarterback (Deshone Kizer). That would give them a great young combo at two extremely important positions
DE, Texas A&M
The 49ers have many holes. Just as the Browns the pick ahead of them it would have been ideal to take a quarterback in this slot, but there simply isn’t a guy worth taking at 2. One area the 49ers can seriously improve in is their pass rush. They are in the bottom five in the league and with an aging Ahmad Brooks it isn’t getting any better. Garrett is an athletic freak who could turn into a complete superstar. The 49ers need a difference maker and Garrett has all the tools to be that guy.
The Jaguars came into the season looking to take the next step and potentially make a playoff run. That dream came to a swift end. Both sides of the ball have underperformed all season and it truly has been miserable in Jacksonville. There is still hope that the players they signed last offseason will turn around on the defensive end and it seems likely that they will give Blake Bortles another year. By drafting Robinson they get a legitimate starting left tackle to protect Bortles and help create holes for T.J. Yeldon. This is a slam dunk pick for them.
While the defensive end of the ball is definitely the strength of the Bears it could still use a big playmaker. Jabrill Peppers is easily the best all-around athlete in this draft and by adding him they could go from a good defense to a potentially great one. The Bears have a long way to go offensively and by solidifying the defense they have a great base to build around for years to come.
Clearly all the money spent the past two offseasons in defensive backs hasn’t paid off. Revis looks like a shell of his former self and Buster Skrine has been well, a bust. The Jets defense was supposed to be the strength of the team in 2016, but it has been anything but that. Wilson has great coverage skills and even better ball-hawking ability which is the makings of an elite NFL corner. The NFL is a passing league and if they want to bring back the Jets defense of old; then they need a shutdown corner. Quincy Wilson may very well be that guy.
This pick comes at the courtesy of the L.A. Rams in what looks like a great trade for the Titans. Tennessee has been a great story this season and may even make the playoffs. With that being said they still have issues. As much as I love the development of Mariota and the one-two combo of Murray and Henry they lack a big playmaker. At 6’1 he has good size and when you couple that with great ball skills then you have a true number one receiver. Williams will give Mariota exactly what he needs to take his game to the next level.
This has been a lost year for the Panthers, but it provides them a unique opportunity to get a difference maker early in the draft while they are still a good football team. As productive as Jonathan Stewart has been over the years in Carolina he is no longer the dynamic back he once was. By taking Cook they get an electrifying running back who can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as hit it hard between the tackle. He also has the ability to take a 5 yard run and make it a 50 yard touchdown. As one of the fastest players in the draft he will provide some much needed energy to the Panthers offense.
The Saints have been uncharacteristically bad on offense the past few weeks, but I am not worried. The offense will figure itself out and the same issue that has plagued the Saints for years will still be there. They need to seriously upgrade their defense and it starts with getting themselves a pass rusher. Barnett has a great combination of size, speed, and strength. To go along with that he plays with a great motor and one serious attitude. In his career at Tennessee he racked up 32 sacks. That is tied for a school record with Reggie White. That is some pretty good company. This guy is one of my favorite players in the draft and New Orleans will be lucky to get him.
This pick comes courtesy of the Eagles. The Browns can go a few ways with this pick. They could go QB and grab UNC’s Mitch Trubisky or Notre Dame’s Deshone Kizer, but for me Trubisky is just another overhyped player coming into the draft and Kizer is not a top 10 talent considering all the refining of skills he still requires. They could also go defensive line here and grab Jonathan Allen from Alabama, but the best move here is is to take Reuben Foster. He is the most complete linebacker in college football with a great skillset that translates well to the NFL. Foster could be the anchor for the Browns defense for years to come.
The Chargers have had a pretty unlucky season. This is not a team that deserves to be picking in the top 10, but here we are. The offense will be able to hold their own against most teams because of the all-time underrated Philip Rivers and the emergence of Melvin Gordon. The defense, however, could use some help. The departure of Eric Weddle in the offseason has really hurt this unit and are sorely in need of a playmaker on the back end. Jamal Adams has the ability to play inside and outside of the box as well as make game changing plays. Adding him to a unit with Joey Bosa, Denzel Perryman, and Manti Te’o and you have a great young defensive core. Adams will be a great fit in San Diego.