OVERVIEW: In the first round of a typical draft, teams tend to defer to athletes over needs. But, with the majority of the top free agents scooped up to fill pressing needs, those that have been ignored and are still problems can’t be ignored much longer. As a result, picks made in the second round are often hard targets, which leads to teams trading up or down depending on the players on the board and how badly they feel they need them.
1. Cleveland Browns – John Ross, WR, Washington. The Browns got the best pass rusher and their choice of quarterbacks in the first round. Now they add the darling of the Combine, who set the all-time record for the 40-yard dash (4.22 seconds).
2. San Francisco 49ers – Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn. With all the moves the 49ers have made in free agency, they haven’t addressed the secondary. The new regime released Antoine Bethea and haven’t replaced him … until now.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss. The Jaguars traded away Julius Thomas and have a need here if the offense is going to rebound in 2017. Running back is also an option here, but Engram will give the Jaguars a new element to an offense in need of a rebound.
4. Chicago – Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU. The Bears were a mess at cornerback last year and, despite adding Prince Amukamara and a couple of Tier-2 corners in free agency, White is simply too good for John Fox to let slide by. With safety Malik Hooker in the first round, this pick turns a glaring weakness into a potential strength.
5. Los Angeles Rams – JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC. Rams wide receivers have consistently been weak and they got weaker when they lost Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. If Jared Goff is ever going to succeed, he needs weapons and a local kid from USC can help that cause.
6. Los Angeles Chargers – Dorian Johnson, G, Pitt. The offensive line was problematic before they cut King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker. It was worse after. They got Russell Okung to fill in at the left tackle spot. Johnson fills the need as Fluker’s replacement.
7. New York Jets – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame. We have the Jets biting down hard and not taking their choice of QB in the first round, but they land a nice consolation prize in Kizer. He was seen as a first-round pick, but got checker-jumped by faster rising Patrick Mahomes and finds a home in New York.
8. Carolina – Taylor Moton, T/G, Western Kentucky. The Panthers signed Matt Kalil to a big contract, but he has an injury history and, having lost Mike Remmers at right tackle, at a minimum they need depth and Moton can play either tackle or guard.
9. Cincinnati – Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy. The Bengals lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency and all they added was returning retread Andre Smith. There is clearly going to be a problem here and Garcia’s versatility will be a need plus – even if as a key backup.
10. New Orleans – Tim Williams, DE, Alabama. Wide receiver is an option here, but the Saints have addressed two of the three levels of the defense and now complete the trifecta. Defensive line wasn’t a strength, Paul Kruger hasn’t been re-signed and Williams could slide right into his spot.
11. Philadelphia – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State. Cook was seen as the top running back by some when all you looked at was game tape. His stock has taken a hit, but Ryan Mathews has played (or not played) his way out of town and the Eagles haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since Chip Kelly ran Shady McCoy out of town. Cook could change that.
12. Buffalo – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt. The Bills lost Zach Brown in free agency and need to get a replacement. In Buffalo’s system, Brown can have position versatility and there is a need to keep the middle of the defense strong.
13. Arizona – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida. The Cardinals took a step backward last year in part because of a defense that struggled to close out games and lost Marcus Cooper to free agency. Patrick Peterson needs a running partner and Wilson could quickly become that guy.
14. Indianapolis – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma. He’s the pariah of the draft, but his talent is going to get him off the board at some point – whether here or somewhere else. He’s a first-round talent and Jim Irsay may be suited to sell the idea to the fan base to give Mixon a second chance (in the second round).
15. Baltimore – T.J. Watt, OLB/DE, Wisconsin. The Ravens have a history of drafting players who play the game the right way. Watt is clearly the lesser brother in the family and has an injury history, but he is a tireless worker and, in Baltimore’s scheme, he can fill in immediately and contribute.
16. Minnesota – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida. This is the Vikings first pick, so the rules of immediate need don’t apply. They had a list of players on their draft board that wouldn’t come into play until the draft came to them and 47 players were gone. Given the questions about the future of Sharrif Floyd, who still hasn’t recovered from surgery back in September, they need a disruptive player to line up next to Linval Joseph. Brantley would step into the void and compete for playing time if Floyd isn’t ready and can get some rotational work if he is.
[ LIKE VIKING UPDATE ON FACEBOOK ]
17. Washington – Budda Baker, S, Washington. The top three safeties for the Redskins coming into last season were DeAngelo Hall, Will Blackmon and Donte Whitner – all over 30. The addition of D.J. Swearinger doesn’t change that. Baker helps usher in a changing of the guard.
18. Tampa Bay – Marcus Maye, S, Florida. The Bucs have added talent at key spots, but J.J. Wilcox isn’t the answer as a starting safety and Maye can compete immediately for a starting spot.
19. Denver – Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland. A small-college tight end who can add a layer to the Broncos offense that has been missing. John Elway had Shannon Sharpe and the two did wonderful things together. While Shaheen is no Sharpe, he adds an element to the passing game sorely lacking last year.
20. Cleveland (from Tennessee) – Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee. The Browns have already added dynamic players at DE, QB and WR and now take their run at a running back with their fourth pick of the draft. Kamara will likely be in a committee to start, but has the skill to be a lead dog.
21. Detroit – Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma. The Lions have shifty, but oft-injured Ameer Abdullah, who is ideally set to be part of a thunder-and-lighting dual-threat package. Perine gives Detroit that opportunity because he can gain the hard yards between the tackles Abdullah or Theo Riddick can’t.
22. Miami – Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State. The Dolphins cut Mario Williams and Dion Jordan and, while they still have Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, depth has been depleted. Willis can step in to fill that void and keep the position strong even if one of the starters gets injured.
23. New York Giants – Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston. The Giants have been defined for decades by linebacker play, but that has weakened over the years. Bowser is a reach with this pick, but he has athleticism and could provide a young spark the G-Men need at a weak position not helped in free agency.
24. Oakland – D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas. Most teams wouldn’t consider Foreman a second-round pick, but the Raiders have a pair of speed/receiving backs in place and need to replace Latavius Murray with a back who can bang behind a massive, talented offensive line. He doesn’t fit for most teams here, but he fits for Oakland.
25. Houston – Adoree Jackson Jackson, CB, USC. The Texans have a lot of elite position players, but they don’t have a Percy Harvin-style difference-maker. Jackson can help replace A.J. Bouye if they don’t find an in-house option and give the Texans a return threat that can tilt games, making him worth the investment.
26. Seattle – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida. Before he went to Indianapolis for the Combine, Tabor was viewed by many as the second- or third-best corner in the draft class. A poor performance in Indy doesn’t erase three years of SEC game tape. Pete Carroll will love a guy like Tabor with a chip on his shoulder.
27. Kansas City – Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State. Few coaches can find ways to get players like Samuel involved like Andy Reid. From Brian Westbrook to Jamaal Charles to Tyreek Hill, Reid finds a way to use multi-tool players and Samuel seems like a logical replacement for Charles in the running game.
28. Dallas – Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina. The Cowboys have the firm belief that giving the offense other options to protect Dez Bryant from constant double coverage is imperative. Jones may be the best route-runner in the draft and will do a better job of letting Dak Prescott have alternate options, which can only open things up for Bryant.
29. Green Bay – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado. The Packers secondary was a mess last year and that was before they cut Sam Shields and lost Micah Hyde. Awuzie is a hard-nosed, experienced corner who can compete from Day One to work his way into the lineup.
30. Pittsburgh – Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan. The Steelers like a “type” when it comes to players and Wormley fits that type as a 3-4 defensive lineman. He’s athletic and agile, but not a fierce pass rusher. He’s not asked to do that in the Steelers scheme and he’s a value pick here.
31. Atlanta – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington. A big risk pick here because he ruptured his Achilles and likely won’t be available for this year, but big-picture-thinking teams know that elite players recover from injuries with work ethic. He’s a gamble, but, after re-signing Desmond Trufant long-term, they can afford a redshirt year for a guy ranked as a top CB pre-injury.
32. Carolina (from New England – Marcus Wilson, S, Utah. The Panthers have injury issues opposite Kurt Coleman and, after bolstering their offense with their first two picks, they add a solid impact player at the end of the second round that can push to be a Week 1 starter.