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Viking Update final NFL mock draft, Round 1

Late-rising concerns, scheme fits and legal issues cause some minor tweaking in our NFL final mock, just on time for draft day.

OVERVIEW: It’s draft day and there still isn’t a general consensus at the top of the draft and the top of the positional rankings as to who are the top guys. As the draft order currently stands, we can’t justify a quarterback going before pick No. 12, despite needs at the top. We’re looking defense-heavy in the top 10, including the first three picks being defensive players for the first time since 1992 (Steve Emtman, Quentin Coryatt and Sean Gilbert). Here’s our last word on the 2017 draft, which will likely blow up when someone trades into the top 10 and sends the dominoes tumbling.

1. Cleveland – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. The Browns need a quarterback badly, but there simply isn’t one that warrants selection at this spot. Garrett is a freakishly good athlete who can create a difference on the field from Day 1. He put the exclamation point on his spot at No. 1 by taking part in a full pro day when he didn’t have to. He wowed the scouts and became the consensus No. 1 overall pick. Don’t buy the hype about not being certain. The Browns know who they’re taking.

2. San Francisco – Solomon Thomas, DT, Stanford. John Lynch has made a slew of midlevel signings, but filled short-term needs at quarterback (Brian Hoyer), wide receiver (Pierre Garcon) and linebacker (Malcolm Smith). One area left untouched in free agency has been defensive line because, whether it was Thomas or Garrett, it’s hard to go wrong here. Thomas has drawn comparisons to Aaron Donald. If he comes close to that, he’s a perfect pick for a new regime looking to build the foundation of a franchise.

3. Chicago – Jamal Adams, S, LSU. We’ve been liking a safety here for quite some time, waffling between strong safety Adams and free safety Malik Hooker. For a lot of teams, Hooker might be the preferred choice. But, not the Bears. They’ve used their last two first-round picks on wide receiver Kevin White and Leonard Floyd. White has played in just four games in two seasons, breaking his leg twice, and Floyd played in 12 games last year while hobbled by injuries. While Adams and Hooker are different players technically at the same position, Adams’ cleaner bill of health wins out the day for a franchise burned by injuries of recent top picks.

4. Jacksonville – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. I’m not a big fan of this pick, but there is so much buzz coming out of Jacksonville that Fournette is the pick. The Jags have wasted a lot of resources on running back in the past since trying to replace Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, including in free agency (Toby Gerhart, Chris Ivory) and the draft (T.J. Yeldon, Denard Robinson). Throughout it all, they’ve yet to find that magic cure to replace their past superstars. Fournette is the best option yet and, while I think this is too high to take him, apparently those in Jacksonville don’t.

5. Tennessee (from L.A. Rams) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State.  Wide receiver is an option, but with two picks in this round and no wideout worthy of being taken in this spot, the Titans take the combination of the best player available and their most glaring need. Tennessee had the 30th pass defense last season and much of the reason was due to having a combination of aging veterans and erratic young players, Lattimore could step in immediately and upgrade the position. He has a history of hamstring injuries, but, when healthy, he can be a shutdown corner and the Titans need one badly.

6. New York Jets – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State. His stock could be dropping somewhat and there are a lot of options here given the blood purge the Jets have undertaken with the organization since the end of last season. The Jets could jump on a quarterback, trade out of this spot for a team looking to land a QB, or go in a different direction. But, if they pick for need vs. talent, the secondary is a complete and utter mess. If Lattimore is still on the board, he’s the pick here, but with him gone, Hooker is the top remaining defensive back on the board. A hot spot for a trade if someone has a QB they feel they have to have.

7. Los Angeles Chargers – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama. The Chargers have bigger needs on offensive line, but there isn’t one worth taking at this spot. Allen is a legitimate top-five pick and the best defensive tackle in the draft. Lining him up next to Joey Bosa could give the new-look Chargers one of the most daunting defensive fronts in the AFC. If one of the top two safeties drops, that could be a consideration because they still miss Eric Weddle, but Allen is just too good to pass up.

8. Carolina – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford. Just as I’m not sold on Fournette at No. 4, the same applies here. Fournette would have an ideal landing spot here, but, with him gone, it doesn’t change the need for a running back to be the long-term answer (Jonathan Stewart is on a one-year deal). McCaffrey can actually fill two roles as a slot receiver and a running back and, with Cam Newton in need of more weapons, he can kill two birds with one stone.

9. Cincinnati – Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee. The Bengals’ primary needs are in the trenches on both sides of the ball. They need help on the offensive line after losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, but, as we’ve already discussed, there isn’t a tackle or guard worth taking yet. That isn’t true on defense. Barnett has a lot of Tamba Hali traits to him and could be a dominant outside linebacker or add 20 pounds and be a high-end defensive end. Either way, he will be an upgrade from Day 1.

10. Buffalo – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama. The Bills need to add more weapons to the passing game and Howard is a rare tight end that can create big plays downfield in the order of a Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. He has the ability to be a lead dog receiver and help take some of the heat off Sammy Watkins. With a new coaching staff and a new scheme in place, the Bills can make some noise on offense. If Mike Williams is still available, he could make the decision more difficult, but Howard is a rare tight end that can create a lot of mismatches and will make the Buffalo offense more two-dimensional than it was last season.

11. New Orleans – Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple. The Saints need help at all three levels of the defense and there are multiple ways this pick could go. They could add inside linebacker Reuben Foster (if they buy his Combine story of overhydrating because he was sick), DE/OLB swingman Takkarist McKinley or cornerback Gareon Conley, but Reddick is a fast-rising prospect who increased his stock at the Senior Bowl, showing he has the versatility to be a power edge rusher.

12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. The Browns claimed they were looking at him with the first pick and there have been rumors that they would trade up to get him for a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the draft. If he could fall back to this point without sacrificing draft picks, it would be a bonanza for the Browns and a strong step in the right direction moving forward – hopefully ending the franchise revolving door that is pushing 20 years of futility.

13. Arizona – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. The Cardinals have been linked to a quarterback here and, if that’s the case, they could look at Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes at this pick. Either is a possibility, but the Cardinals have found ways to fill their needs at quarterback with veterans like Kurt Warner and Carson Palmer, and Williams is a talent that doesn’t come around all that often. With Michael Floyd gone and Larry Fitzgerald likely entering his final season, they need to find a replacement and who better for a talent like Williams to learn from than a Hall of Famer like Fitzgerald.

14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota) – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama. The Eagles have been very aggressive in free agency, addressing the offensive side of the ball, but have largely ignored defense to date, cutting CB Leodis McKelvin and losing CB Nolan Carroll to free agency. The Eagles have replaced depth along the defensive line with veterans Timmy Jernigan and Chris Long, but have yet to do anything in the secondary. Nobody gave up more pass plays of 30 yards or more and they lost both starters, making this more of a pressing need early in the draft.

15. Indianapolis – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. The Colts have needs on both sides of the ball, but one of the primary needs is to protect franchise player Andrew Luck. It’s rare when a draft can go this deep in before the first offensive tackle comes off the board, but this isn’t a top-heavy year for offensive linemen. Running back and linebacker are options, especially if Christian McCaffrey made it past the top 10, but the Colts’ priority is keeping Luck healthy. They’ve addressed a lot of needs in free agency, but offensive tackle hasn’t been one of them.

16. Baltimore – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. If not for an ankle injury that required offseason surgery, he would likely be gone by this time. While the Ravens don’t tend to spend a lot of money on outside free agents, they are very good evaluators of talent. An offensive tackle is a distinct possibility here, but Ozzie Newsome has always been a G.M. that has been known for making value picks. Davis has the potential to be a star in the NFL and could be the guy who replaces the retired Steve Smith or free agent loss Kamar Aiken.

17. Washington – Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA. The Redskins needed to upgrade the defensive line and edge rush linebacker positions. In McKinley, they get a player who could provide an upgrade that has been missing and only got more pressing when starters Chris Baker and Ricky Jean-Francois left via free agency. Wide receiver is a possibility here, but the Redskins need to improve their defense if they’re going to return to the playoffs and getting a pass rusher would be an immediate upgrade. This is higher than a lot of analysts rank him, but he brings versatility to the table and that’s what the Redskins need if they want to compete for a playoff spot again.

18. Tennessee – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama. The Titans already addressed a glaring need at cornerback with the pick obtained from the Rams in the Jared Goff deal, and they now have to go after their two primary weaknesses – an inside linebacker or a wide receiver. Foster doesn’t come without reservations. He has a history of shoulder injuries and his diluted urine sample at the NFL Scouting Combine automatically puts him the league’s drug program and will result in yearlong testing. As a result, those are potential red flags that could put Foster in free-fall. In our mock draft alone, he has dropped from the Bengals at No. 9 to the Saints at No. 11 to the Colts at No. 15 to this spot. Will his drop go even farther? Don’t bet against it.

19. Tampa Bay – David Njoku, TE, Miami. Running back will get strong consideration here, but the plan is to open things up for Jameis Winston. They’ve added DeSean Jackson to give Mike Williams someone to clear things out for and adding Njoku, who can stretch the seam down the middle, will give the Buccaneers a diverse offensive attack they will need to keep pace with the other offenses in the division.

20. Denver – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin. The Broncos struggled badly on the offensive line last year and swapped out disappointing free agent Russell Okung with Menelik Watson. But that doesn’t cure the problem; it simply changes the faces but not the dilemma. He has only been a starter for one year so there is a smaller sample size than most to work with, but he has the talent and comes from a program known for having NFL-ready O-linemen. That combination makes Ramczyk a relative value pick at this spot with a solid upside to lock down a roster position for the next few years.

21. Detroit – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. When Ziggy Ansah went down last year, the lack of depth along the defensive front became painfully obvious. The team added DE Cornelius Washington in free agency, but more help is needed because the Lions need to provide a better pass rush if they want to get back to the playoffs. Charlton may not be this high on a lot of boards, but the fans of Michigan know what they have in him and the Lions likely aren’t lost on that.

22. Miami – Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky. The Dolphins had a porous offensive line last year and cut Branden Albert due to his $8.9 million salary. If the offense is going to do anything, the Dolphins are going to have to upgrade their offensive line. The plan is to move Laremy Tunsil to left tackle to take over for Albert and slide Lamp in next to him, potentially turning a 2016 weakness into a 2017 strength.

23. New York Giants – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah. The Giants’ offensive tackles were about as bad as any tackle pairing in the league last year and they did nothing in free agency to replace either of them. Bolles has some downside, but, if coached up properly, he could be a big contributor, which is needed more urgently now with Eli Manning turning the corner on the final portion of his career.

24. Oakland – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State. McDowell is a controversial pick because he came across poorly in the Combine interview process – coming off as arrogant and throwing shade on his own coaches and teammates. But, he has the tools to be a Pro Bowl player, which will get a scouting staff like the Raiders’ attention in a hurry. It’s their M.O. This pick should come down to someone like McDowell or safety Jabrill Peppers, both of whom fit the Raiders’ model of first-round drafting.

25. Houston – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. The Texans thought they had solved their long-term revolving door at quarterback when they signed Brock Osweiler to a mega-deal last year in free agency. We all know how that turned out. He’s gone and the Texans gave up their second-round pick to get rid of him. With Tony Romo no longer in the equation, the Texans need to lock down the position because everyone else in the division is locked and loaded to knock the Texans off their perch and the easiest way to do that is to go into the season with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden as their quarterbacks. Watson is my favorite QB in this year’s class and if he falls to this spot, the Texans should be thankful.

26. Seattle – Kevin King, CB, Washington. A lot of teams likely wouldn’t view King as an ideal candidate to be a first-round pick, but he fits the established profile of Seattle defensive backs. Pete Carroll has “a type” when it comes to defensive backs, especially cornerbacks, and King fits that model better than most available corners at this spot. With the indication that Richard Sherman won’t end his career in Seattle, they will need a replacement to eventually fill that void.

27. Kansas City – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech. The Chiefs have been linked to quarterback, but this could be the ideal spot to see Kansas City trade down to a team in need of a QB looking to jump up and take the biggest gunslinger in this year’s draft class. The offers they could get for this pick if Mahomes is still on the board could be significant. Alex Smith could be the mentor to get him ready for Andy Reid’s offense, but this pick (if Mahomes hasn’t been snapped up already) could have more long-term value moving it than using it.

28. Dallas – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan. The Cowboys never shy away from playmakers or players who come into the league with tons of talent, but some question marks surrounding them. Peppers could end up being the poster child for the emerging position of safety/linebacker that seems to be a trending topic these days and a position that is likely to grow in the coming years as the proliferation of passing continues to morph in the NFL. Peppers is a difference-maker who was almost impossible to miss when you watch Wolverines games, and his talent (and name recognition) will be almost impossible for Jerry Jones to pass up on a defense that lost some key pieces in the offseason.

29. Green Bay – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State. The Packers were using a wide receiver at RB last year. Early on in the process of rating draftees, there was a case being made that Cook might be the best NFL-ready back of all of them. Since then, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey have vaulted ahead of him. This could easily come down to cornerback or Cook, because the Packers have a major need at corner and they’ve added even more losses in the offseason. The Packers don’t spend heavily in free agency on outside players. They keep themselves strong through the draft and Cook could make an immediate impact on the offensive side of the ball.

30. Pittsburgh – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida. Linebacker was a need before the Steelers lost Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons to free agency and they have done nothing to replace them. The only offseason signing has been to re-sign aging James Harrison. Davis has the ability to be a three-down linebacker, but his injury history will likely be the biggest question mark. If the Steelers are convinced he has a clean bill and can hold up for several years, he is the perfect type of player to come to the Steelers and have a strong career.

31. Atlanta – Dion Dawkins, G/T, Temple. The Falcons replaced Chris Chester with Hugh Thornton to provide a lateral move at guard, but Matt Ryan took too many big hits last season and the Falcons need an upgrade. Their biggest need was defensive line, but they were aggressive in free agency. Dawkins may be a bit of a reach here, but he provides versatility in that, if he doesn’t start immediately, which isn’t a given, he can be a primary backup at multiple positions. The Falcons aren’t going to be in a position to land a player who can do what Dawkins can do if they don’t take him here.

32. New Orleans (from New England) – Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU. There is always the inclination to give Drew Brees more weapons, especially considering that this pick was acquired by trading Brandin Cooks to the Patriots. But, if the Saints are going to legitimately compete for the NFC South title in a division that has produced the last two NFC champions, they need to continue to upgrade their defense. White can be an immediate upgrade at the cornerback spot and team up with Dalvin Breaux and Sterling Moore. However, with the fifth-year option in play, a trade could bring a small harvest of picks and there will be calls coming in for this spot.

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