The Chargers could use more interior talent on their defensive line. Here's a big disruptive nose tackle to help free up Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Corey Liuget has been declining over the past few seasons, and Los Angeles could get out of his contract with big savings by cutting him after in the offseason.
Payne dominated at the point of attack in 2017, stuffing runs while showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. On the year, he totaled 53 tackles, two half-sacks, three passes batted, an interception and a touchdown reception. I heard general managers and scouts raving about Payne all season.
Scouts were already raving about Payne's potential in the preseason. He was the Crimson Tide's best defensive lineman in 2017, following Jonathan Allen's moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 319) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. When given the opportunity to rush the passer in 2016, Payne was impressive, and sources have said that he helped set up sacks for Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson that season.
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Luke Joeckel started at guard for the Seahawks in 2017. I don't think much more really needs to be said. Here's an upgrade.
Price (6-4, 315) impressed NFL evaluators, both with his work in fall training camp and in the games of the 2017 season. They say that Price plays within himself. They like his awareness and call him an above-average athlete. He isn't overly fast or twitchy like the Pouncey brothers, but Price has movement skills and is better than average in space. The sources also like that Price handles big nose tackles well, which can be difficult for centers and is a hard-to-find talent. As a result of his well-balanced play, Price is being viewed as a prospect who could go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. One team source thought that if Josh Garnett and Laken Tomlinson were worthy of first-round picks, then Price could be as well because they feel Price is a better prospect than either Garnett or Tomlinson. Teams are projecting Price to be a starting center in the NFL, but he also has the flexibility to play guard.
19.Dallas Cowboys:Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Cowboys could use an interior disruptor at the point of attack.
Bryan (6-4, 295) broke out in 2017 with 40 tackles with six tackles for a loss and four sacks. In speaking with some scouting sources, Bryan has drawn comparisons to the Chiefs' Chris Jones or the Broncos' Derek Wolfe. Some announcers have compared the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Bryan to J.J. Watt, and in terms of style of play, Bryan is reminiscent of Watt, although not consistently. Bryan has a tremendous get-off with serious explosion off the snap. He also has developed strength with active hands to shed blocks. Given his length, Bryan can play end or tackle, plus be an ideal candidate for five-technique.
I heard from sources a while ago that Bryan was going to declare for the 2018 NFL Draft, and scouting contacts project him to the first or second round. Bryan is a great athlete who is big, strong, fast and agile. He had a late start in football, however, from growing up Wyoming, and that shows up in him not demonstrating good instincts. Bryan is inconsistent while lacking feel and pass-rushing moves. Considering his late start in football, he would have likely been better off in his long-term football career to return to school and gain playing experience before going to the NFL and taking on pro offensive linemen. Some team sources have told me they were grading Bryan as a second-rounder, but think he could end up being a first-round pick because of his great skill set, which is expected to shine at the NFL Scouting Combine and in pre-draft workouts.
The Lions have had a terrible rushing attack for years. This pick could change that instantly.
Team sources say that Love is better than other smaller backs who have gone in the first round, like David Wilson or Jahvid Best. They think that Love is more on a par with Chris Johnson coming out of East Carolina, except Love isn't as straight-line fast as Johnson, but possesses more elusiveness and moves in the open field. While Love is extremely fast, he is a tougher running back than one would think given his size. He has excellent balance and is able to pick up yards after contact. Scouts have told me that they rate Love higher than Christian McCaffrey for the ability to run between the tackles in the NFL. Love has great vision that, combined with his speed, makes him deadly. One college director told me, "If the other nine guys do their job for a few seconds, this guy is gone."
In 2017, Love averaged a staggering 8.1 yards per carry for 2,118 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also caught six passes for 33 yards. Sources say Love has more receiving potential for the NFL than the numbers illustrate.
The Bills could use an interior disruptor after trading away Marcell Dareus.
In 2017, Wilkins made 60 tackles with 8.5 for a loss and four sacks. He was disruptive at the point of attack, showing speed to create havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Wilkins is a great athlete for his size and has the versatility to play a variety of techniques. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder has a nice skill set with upside and could also fit as a 3-4 defensive end.
Wilkins played well for Clemson in 2016 as part of a tough defensive line that controlled the point of attack. The sophomore had 48 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 10 passes batted on the year. Because of injuries, Wilkins played a lot of defensive end. He showed nice athleticism and versatility, but is at his best on the inside, using his mismatch speed against guards. Wilkins made 33 tackles and two sacks as a freshman in 2015.
This is the Chiefs' first-round pick traded to Buffalo when Kansas City moved up to pick No. 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft for Pat Mahomes. The Bills' actions indicate that they really don't view Tyrod Taylor as the future and their long-term starter. I think the regime in Buffalo will target its own quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
In speaking to multiple teams, they had second-day grades on Mayfield, but that doesn't mean he won't go in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. In speaking to one playoff general manager, they thought Mayfield could go in the bottom of the first round, behind the top quarterback prospects.
Mayfield (6-2, 214) is a gritty gunslinger who has an "it factor" to his game. He doesn't have a strong arm, but it is good enough to make the throws required in the NFL. One of Mayfield's most impressive strengths as a passer is being able to locate the ball well and throw receivers open. He is very good with his timing and trajectory on passes to hit receivers on the run and set them up for lots of yards after the catch. Mayfield is very skilled to loft in touch passes downfield and throws a very catchable ball. He has excellent mobility to dodge sacks, escape pressure and extend plays with his feet, plus he throws well on the run.
Sources say Mayfield can have issues reading defenses, and his field vision needs to improve. He can struggle to throw the ball in tight windows when being forced to operate out of the pocket. One big area of focus for Mayfield is his footwork as he gets happy feet in the pocket. One college scouting director told me that Mayfield's feet are terrible and he will need a lot of development there for the NFL. A NFC general manager said they have concerns about how Mayfield will perform when teams force him to stay in the pocket. They also have concerns that Mayfield beat up on a lot of weak Big XII defenses and feel there is the chance that he gets exposed against NFL defenses. Evaluators who have seen Mayfield in person would estimate him to be around 5-foot-11 or 6-foot. While there have been some successful short quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson, that is the exception to the norm for quarterbacks who are below 6-foot-2.
Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes in 2017 for 4,627 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns and one receiving. In 2016, Mayfield completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,965 yards with 40 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He picked up six rushing touchdowns as well.
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The Rams could use a corner upgrade across from Trumaine Johnson, and the position will be a huge need if he isn't signed to a long-term contract. Here's a corner who has some similarities to Janoris Jenkins, one of the astute picks made by Les Snead.
Jackson is a bit of a love/hate prospect as some scouts say they see him as a first-rounder and others think he belongs on Day 2 because of playing discipline and size. However, all the scouts say Jackson is extremely fast, so he will be a good matchup corner to line up against speed receivers. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder is athletic to run the route and prevent separation, but he is a gambler and could stand to play with more discipline for the pros. Scouts tell me that Jackson is talented, but has a ton of issues to work on, and that might include some hard lessons versus pro receivers. Still, he has great speed and serious coverage skills to run the route and prevent separation. Jackson is a track star and is expected to run an eye-popping 40 time that could push him higher. The scouts who like Jackson compare him to Janoris Jenkins, and Jenkins would have been a first-rounder had it not been for off-the-field issues.
Jackson had 49 tackles with 10 passes broken up and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he recorded 39 tackles with eight pass breakups and two interceptions.
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24.Carolina Panthers:Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio
Carolina could use a young pass-rusher to replace Julius Peppers and/or Thomas Davis, neither of whom can play forever. Here's a player who could help the Panthers at both spots.
Davenport (6-7, 256) is another small-school prospect who has earned a Senior Bowl invitation. He has length and athleticism to play on the edge in the NFL. In 2017, Davenport notched 55 tackles with 17.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, four passes batted and three forced fumbles. He totaled 6.5 sacks as a junior after notching four as a sophomore. Edge defenders with length are always in demand, so if Davenport plays well at the Senior Bowl, his stock could really rise. Scouts from multiple teams have told me that Davenport is a good player and impressed them in 2017, but they thought the top-16 is too high for him. They think the back half of the first round is possible.
The Titans could use more edge rush and talent in their front seven.
Hubbard totaled 43 tackles, seven sacks, 13.5 tackles for a loss and two forced fumbles in 2017. In 2016, he collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two passes batted. While rotating into the game as a sophomore, Hubbard showed his potential with 6.5 sacks. He also had 28 tackles with an interception that season.
The 6-foot-5, 266-pounder has a great skill set, but never produced up to it. Hubbard has a serious combination of size, speed, and athletic ability that should help him to rise during the pre-draft workouts, however. Some team sources feel that Hubbard was an underachiever and should have turned in a lot more production over his collegiate career.
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The Jaguars have some young talent at receiver, but they could lose both Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee in free agency. Here is a weapon for Blake Bortles.
In 2017, Sutton recorded 68 catches for 1,085 yards with 12 touchdowns. He totaled 76 receptions in 2016 for 1,246 yards - a 16.5-yard average - with 10 touchdowns in 2016. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder has size to him, and in 2015, he showed big-play ability by averaging 17.6 yards per catch. For the year, the redshirt freshman totaled 862 yards and nine touchdowns on 49 receptions.
Scouting sources really like Sutton and think he is a mismatch weapon. One playoff general manager said they loved Sutton and thought he could end up becoming the best receiver from his draft class. Another scouting director told WalterFootball.com that, in studying up on players before hitting the road for college training camps before the 2016 season, Sutton's tape really stood out, and he continued to impress them in 2016. Sutton is a long-strider, and sources say his speed is comparable to TCU's Josh Doctson, who the Redskins took in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
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The Falcons could lose Ricardo Allen in free agency, so they could target a safety to pair with Keanu Neal.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Reid played really well in 2017, impressing NFL scouts. Sources who are tough graders said they thought Reid had first-round potential for the 2018 NFL Draft. They say that Reid doesn't have Earl Thomas-like range as a free safety or Kam Chancellor-like size as a strong safety, but he does everything well. Reid is a good free or strong safety with the ability to run and tackle. They say that he is a polished, clean, good all-around safety similar to HaHa Clinton-Dix coming out of Alabama.
Reid had 99 tackles with six passes broken up and five interceptions in 2017. He totaled 57 tackles with seven breakups in 2016. The junior is the younger brother of 49ers safety Eric Reid, a first-round pick out of LSU in 2013.
Pat Mahomes was a finalist for the Saints' first-round pick last year, and New Orleans could target a similar heir apparent to Drew Brees in the 2018 NFL Draft with Lamar Jackson. After sitting behind Brees for a year or two, Jackson could be dynamite in the Saints' offense.
In 2017, Jackson completed 59 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also averaged 6.9 yards per carry on the ground on his way to 1,443 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Some team sources think that Jackson is worthy of being a top-10 pick and will rise in the leadup to the 2018 NFL Draft, similar to Pat Mahomes last year. One general manager told me they think Jackson could be deserving of going high in the first round because he's a taller and better version of Michael Vick.
Jackson has a great athletic skill set, including a powerful arm that can make all throws the NFL requires and some rare passes. While his tremendous running ability gets a lot of attention, Jackson is better passing from the pocket than he is given credit for. Jackson will take some shots and deliver good passes in the face of the rush. He also handles Bobby Petrino's scheme well. Jackson can be inconsistent with his accuracy, and he needs to add weight to his frame for the NFL. He also needs to develop maturity in his leadership skills as he can be of one of the guys too much.
Jackson (6-3, 205) set college football on fire in 2016 while winning the Heisman Trophy. He was a massive point-producer for the Cardinals. Jackson completed 56 percent of his passes for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the year. He also ran for 21 touchdowns and 1,571 yards while averaging six yards per carry.
The Steelers could use a safety to pair with Sean Davis.
In 2017, Harrison totaled 74 tackles with three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and four passes batted. He has played really well as an enforcer in the middle of the field. Aside from coverage issues, Harrison had a quality 2016 season as the strong safety when he totaled 86 tackles with seven passes broken up and two interceptions.
Harrison (6-3, 216) is a tough run defender who has the athletic skills to cover, but he has issues covering receivers in man coverage. Team sources have said an example of that is Clemson's Hunter Renfrow really abusing Harrison in the past, and that is why Minkah Fitzpatrick served as the coverage safety for the Crimson Tide. Playing zone in the middle of the field is a better fit for Harrison. Because of some coverage limitations, Harrison is a strong safety type for the NFL.
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The Vikings could use a young corner to replace Terrance Newman, and Mike Zimmer is always targeting cornerbacks early in drafts.
Davis (6-1, 203) is a good corner who has size, length and press-man ability. He has nice quickness in the short part of the field and can battle big wideouts. Davis is a physical defender who really competes, but he does struggle with deep speed. The junior notched 36 tackles with 11 passes broken up, one forced fumble and an interception in 2017. As a sophomore, he totaled 46 tackles, 10 passes broken up, one forced fumble and zero interceptions. Davis recorded three interceptions with 56 tackles and eight passes broken up as a freshman.
The Eagles could use a more young talent at offensive tackle given the age of Jason Peters. Philadelphia could draft a right tackle like Brown, and then move Lane Johnson to the left side.
Brown (6-8, 360) is a massive blocker who was a physical blocker for the Sooners. He opened a lot of holes for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine in 2016. Brown did the same for others as a starter over the past few seasons. Brown can use his strength and physicality to toss a lot of defenders to the ground as he can be a flat-out bully on the field. However, he needs to improve his pass protection for the NFL. Some team sources say they don't see Brown as a first-rounder; they think he will be a second-round pick and a starting right tackle at the next level. He also could be a big guard, but his height is less than ideal for throwing lanes on the inside.
The Patriots could use more young talent for their front seven and more pass rush off the edge.
In 2017, Landry totaled 38 tackles with 8.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The senior was manhandled by Notre Dame, struggling against a freshman right tackle and, on a few snaps, against left tackle Mike McGlinchey. Landry was moderately better, but still underwhelming, against Clemson. He missed the final five games of 2017 with an ankle injury.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Landry had an impressive junior season as an edge rusher for Boston College, recording 16.5 sacks, 22 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, four passes batted and 51 tackles. He contributed as a sophomore with 60 stops and 4.5 sacks. Landry would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
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