How he fits: The Giants had a good record last season, but a playoff loss to the Packers showed how far they still have to go thanks to big holes at running back, offensive line and, shockingly for the Giants, defensive line. Tight end may not have been at the top of their list, but Engram should be a wonderful complement to Brandon Marshall, giving Eli Manning multiple big targets to look for when Odell Beckham Jr. is locked down.
22: Dolphins Bolster Pass Rush with Charles Harris
Charles Harris, Linebacker, Missouri
Harris did not play football until his junior year of high school but it came naturally to him, and he was a solid player at Missouri for three years with 18 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss in 35 games. His impact is limited by the fact that he is undersized and is not particularly adept at stopping the run, but if a team lets him focus on getting to the quarterback, he has the skill to contribute.
How he fits: The Dolphins lucked into Laremy Tunsil as a long-term solution at left tackle last season because of some unfortunate social media shenanigans, and this year they rolled the dice again by taking a player who is still clearly learning his position but could be a great pass-rusher eventually.
21: Lions Pass on Reuben Foster, Take Jarrad Davis
Jarrad Davis, Linebacker, Florida
He is two years removed from his most productive college season, and lacks consistency in his technique, but he has the type of character on and off the field that has teams willing to look past his shortcomings and potentially even his injury history.
How he fits: The Lions were a playoff team last season, and solved their offensive line depth problems through free agency, so adding a solid prospect at linebacker seems like a wise move for a team that needs to fix a lot of small problems if they want to get to the next level. They passed on Alabama lineback Reuben Foster, who is a top-5 talent, but turned in a diluted drug sample prior to the draft.
20: Broncos Make Garett Bolles the 1st Offensive Lineman Taken
Garett Bolles, Tackle, Utah
Bolles turns 25 in May and only had one year as a starter for Utah after transferring from a junior college, with a long history of off-field troubles giving him a late start. While that probably gave teams pause, his massive frame, that could seemingly take on quite a bit more weight, and his athleticism project him as an impact left tackle for the Broncos.
How he fits: Blaming last year’s failures on the retirement of Peyton Manning ignores how ineffective Manning was in 2015 despite the Super Bowl win. A team that still has one of the game’s most exciting defenses, even with the retirement of DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos decided to bulk up on the offensive line. A draft had never previously had to wait this long for an offensive lineman to be selected.
19: Bucs Give Jameis Winston Some Help
O.J. Howard, Tight end, Alabama
The second-fastest tight end at this year’s combine (his 4.51 40-yard dash was within a tenth of a second of all but three wide receivers), Howard’s production over four years was not all that exceptional thanks to an offense that under-utilizes tight ends, but he has the size and skillset to thrive in a pro offense. He may not be ready to contribute as an in-line blocker right away, which could limit his playing time, but there is little reason to believe that is not a skill he could develop.
How he fits: Jameis Winston and Mike Evans form one of the best quarterback-wide receiver combinations in football, and the Buccaneers showed solid improvement overall last year. To build on that success, Tampa Bay continued the run on Alabama players by taking Howard, who gives Winston another enormous target to look for in the red zone.
18: Adoree’ Jackson Will Help Titans’ Return Game
Adoree’ Jackson, Cornerback, Southern California
An All-American in track, and a two-way performer for the Trojans as a cornerback and wide receiver, Jackson has shown steady improvement in terms of his coverage ability. His lack of size, and his inability to provide run-support could limit his ability to contribute on the outside in coverage, but he has the makings of an elite return specialist, so even if he is limited to being a slot corner on defense he can likely still provide enough production to justify a high draft pick.
How he fits: With a second pick in the first round, the Titans were working with house money and decided to go with an intriguing option at defensive back rather than rolling the dice on the character of Reuben Foster, a linebacker who is still hanging around despite top-ten talent.
17: Redskins Get a Steal With Jonathan Allen
Jonathan Allen, Defensive line, Alabama
In 2016, Allen won the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski awards signifying him as the nation’s top defender on the nation’s top defense. He is small for a tackle, and potentially not long or fast enough to play on the end, so picking him will be acknowledging that there will be an adjustment period regardless of his tremendous success in college. But he was a key part of a wildly successful defense, and is the type of player who tends to outperform his measurables.
How he fits: The Redskins could use some skill players on offense, as well as some offensive line depth, but the team’s defense was its weak point last year. They lucked out with Allen, a top-five pick on talent, falling to them all the way at No. 17.
16: Ravens Shore Up Defense with Marlon Humphrey
Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, Alabama
Smaller than Washington’s Kevin King, and lacking King’s top-notch instincts, Humphrey succeeds thanks to top-end speed (4.41-second 40) and his ability to adjust and recover when he makes an initial mistake. He will likely need some time to adjust to the N.F.L. game before he has a chance to truly succeed.
How he fits: Ozzie Newsome does not have a great track record in terms of 1st round picks, but looking to fill in depth all over the field, he went for Humphrey despite a potentially far superior player in King being available. Humphrey is the first Alabama player taken in this draft, despite being ranked below a number of his teammates.
15: Colts Go With Ball-Hawk Malik Hooker
Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
Recruited as a basketball player, Hooker only has one year of starting under his belt, but he did a lot with that one year, intercepting seven passes. He is still learning the position, and is more developed in coverage than he is at stopping the run, but a patient team willing to let him grow into the position will likely be rewarded with a star player. His first few years may be awkward however, as he has to refine his tackling technique and let experience help him on plays where instincts and athletic ability are not enough.
How he fits: The Colts are committed to building a defense that will hold up its end of the bargain with Andrew Luck and the team’s offense. Hooker has the athletic ability to control the middle of the field for Indianapolis once he gets comfortable in the pro game.
14: Eagle Shore Up Defense With Derek Barnett
Derek Barnett, Defensive end, Tennessee
After three years of intense production in the hyper-competitive SEC (he broke Reggie White’s school sack record), Barnett disappointed at the combine by showing off that the concerns about his speed were warranted. He can make up for that lack of burst with excellent technique, but with non-ideal size and an inability to keep up with faster quarterbacks, he will need the perfect situation to thrive.
How he fits: It is hard to say if the Eagles’ 3-0 start was a mirage, or if it was a sign of what the team is capable of at full-strength, but Philadelphia believes it has a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz and now will look to support him with offensive skill players and defensive depth. They went with the latter, adding a defensive end that has some serious question marks despite great production.
13: Cardinals Take Tough Linebacker Haason Reddick
Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple
A running back and safety in high school, Reddick was a walk-on at Temple but showed off an impressive combination of athletic abilities at the scouting combine, helping him back up his progression as a pass-rusher over the last few years. He has retained his coverage abilities from his time as a defensive back, which will keep him on the field for third downs, but he will have to fight for everything he gets as a smaller linebacker.
How he fits: The Cardinals’ world-beater offense simply fell apart last season despite nearly the entire team returning from the previous year’s 13-3 squad. Suddenly a team that seemed to have all of the position players they needed find themselves looking for long-term solutions at quarterback and wide receiver to help support the dominant David Johnson. Reddick, however, was too irresistible of a solution at linebacker.
12: Texans Trade Up to Take Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson
A two-time finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Watson went 32-3 as a starter in college, and he managed to score 75 points against the punishing Alabama defense over the course of the last two national championships. He does not currently possess the necessary accuracy on deep passes to be a true star at the next level, and if he wants to continue to be a threat as a mobile quarterback he will probably need to add some size to his slender frame.
How he fits: The Browns traded the No. 12 pick to the Texans in exchange for a package that reportedly includes the No. 25 pick and a 1st rounder in 2018. Watson may be a bit of a project at the pro level but that immediately makes him better than any of the Houston quarterbacks in recent memory who all were highly-paid spaceholders.
11: Saints Take Top Cornerback, Marshon Lattimore
Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State
He is ridiculously fast (4.36-second 40), excels in both vertical leap and broad jump, and had the production on the field to justify his measurables after a slow start to his college career thanks to ailing hamstrings that eventually required surgery. He has the coverage skills to be a shutdown corner and the strength and instincts to beat receivers for the ball when he is challenged. The only real knock on him is a lack of experience against top competition.
How he fits: It is a broken record to say the Saints have needs on defense, as the Drew Brees era has been almost entirely defined by the team lighting up a scoreboard on offense only to have their defense let the other team keep pace. Lattimore is a step in the right direction as the top cornerback in the draft.
10: Chiefs Trade Up to Get QB Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Texas Tech
Mahomes is a big brash guy who put up huge numbers in the Texas Tech offense in college. He was a bit of a reach this early in the draft, but with an ability to extend plays with athleticism, and then find players down field, he could develop into something special if a team can afford to be patient. He has probably the strongest arm in this draft.
How he fits: The Bills traded the No. 10 pick to the Chiefs for the 27th selection in this draft, a 3rd rounder, and Kansas City’s 2018 first rounder. The Chiefs made the move because they need a long-term solution behind Alex Smith. It seems like a perfect situation for Mahomes to learn the game.
9: Bengals Take Speedster John Ross
John Ross, Wide receiver, Washington
Sure he’s small, but with a 4.22-second 40-yard dash and a 133-inch broad jump, teams are unlikely to get hung up on height or weight. His 23 touchdowns on just 112 touches will not hurt his stock any either, though an ACL repair in 2015 and a history of trouble in both knees will likely result in teams poring over his medical reports searching for red flags.
How he fits: Trying to get back to the playoffs after a one-year absence, the Bengals need talent and depth on both the offensive and defensive lines. Instead, they reached for a wide receiver who can fly.
8: Christian McCaffrey Goes to Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey, Running back, Stanford
McCaffrey’s career at Stanford was nothing short of incredible, with the versatile running back piling up 5,128 yards from scrimmage and 31 touchdowns in just 37 games. He had his most productive season as a sophomore, with injuries limiting him some as a junior, but his combination of elite running ability, elite speed, and elite skills as a receiver, make him the type of do-everything back that many teams love. The only worry is that his lack of size and tackle-breaking ability, along with his overuse in college, could result in his body breaking down.
How he fits: The Panthers were in the Super Bowl two years ago, but were an also-ran in 2016 as the team seemed to fall apart. They are still set at quarterback, but could use plenty of offensive skill players to complement Cam Newton. McCaffrey is a one-man offensive depth chart, and could be something special when working with Newton.
7: Chargers Take Clemson Receiver Mike Williams
Mike Williams, Wide receiver, Clemson
Not to be confused with the various other Mike Williamses that have come along over the years, this one is the Clemson star who had 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016 after missing all but one game in 2015 due to a freak injury in which he fractured his neck by hitting his helmet into a goal post following a touchdown. He has all the measurables teams look for in a receiver, and beyond some occasional drops, and apprehension about a player with a previous neck injury, there is little question that he is the best receiver in the draft.
How he fits: Even after hitting a home run with Joey Bosa last year, the Chargers had holes all over the team’s defense, as well as a need to develop an eventual replacement at quarterback for the aging Philip Rivers. Mike Williams, the top receiver on the board, proved too enticing to pass up.
6: Jets Get Safety Jamal Adams
Jamal Adams, Safety, Louisiana State
He is not the fastest safety (4.56 in the 40-yard dash) or the strongest (18 bench press reps) but his instincts in pass coverage, and his stellar run support, make him top-five in talent in this draft class, and a potential franchise cornerstone for a team willing to bet big on a position that is not often among the first few picks. Among his few weaknesses is an inability to intercept passes. His father, George, was a running back taken with the 19th pick in the 1985 draft who split six seasons between the Giants and Patriots.
How he fits: As much as the Jets have a need at quarterback, they may be even more desperate in the secondary where Darrelle Revis fell off a cliff last season. The team has now selected a defensive player with their last nine first round picks, but Adams seems remarkably safe to be a building block for the team.
5: Titans Take Wide Receiver Corey Davis
Corey Davis, Wide receiver, Western Michigan
With an incredible 5,285 career receiving yards at Western Michigan, Davis steps into the N.F.L. as the top route-running receiver in his class. He may not have the top-end speed that some teams cherish, but he makes up for it with red-zone ability. The biggest concern, beyond his speed, is the fact that he had a fairly high number of drops, which could discourage quarterbacks from trusting him.
How he fits: Drafting early thanks to last year’s trade with the Rams, the Titans improved a great deal last season and are now filling in the missing pieces to allow them to go from good to great. Wide receiver was a major need, and even if Davis was not the top talent available, he was the top talent at the position they felt they needed the most help at.
4: Jaguars Select RB Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State
Fournette became a household name as a sophomore, as he lit up opposing defenses by rushing for 1,943 yards and 22 touchdowns. Injuries prevented him from repeating that success as a junior, but he is still believed to be the top running back in his draft class, and a special player at the position even if he will disappoint anyone expecting for the second coming of Cowboys superstar Ezekiel Elliott. Fournette does not offer a lot in the passing game, but is a throwback to the power runners of yesteryear, and if given a plum situation like the one Elliott had, he could do something great with it.
How he fits: The Jaguars had a major letdown season in 2016, failing to live up to their preseason hype, and they were left with needs at tight end, running back and defensive depth. Tom Coughlin, the team’s new executive vice president of football operations, is an old-school guy and Fournette is an old-school pick.
3: Niners Pick Stanford’s Solomon Thomas
Solomon Thomas, Defensive line, Stanford
A defensive end in a 3-4 defense in college, he will likely be asked to play tackle in the pro game, and because of that he may need to add some bulk to his athletic frame. Even at a lower weight, he has proven adept at working against the run and the pass as a strong player (30 bench press reps) who is deceptively fast. He had 11.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for a loss over his last two seasons at Stanford.
How he fits: The 49ers have a talent deficiency at virtually every position, so swapping picks with Chicago in order to get two more picks in this draft made sense. They kept it local, drafting a kid from Stanford, and he will have plenty of time to determine his N.F.L. position as the 49ers look to rebuild their entire defense.
2: Bears Trade Up and Take QB Mitch Trubisky
Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
Only a one-year starter at quarterback in college, Trubisky is still learning the position, but has already shown a great deal of accuracy and arm strength. A solid performance at the scouting combine proved that his mobility will not be a concern, and he is thought to be the personality type that will make him a solid leader on the field. He played almost entirely out of the shotgun in college, and will be a project for a team rather than a Day 1 star, but in this draft class he seems like the best bet at his position.
The trade: The 49ers agreed to swap top picks with the Bears in exchange for 3rd and 4th round picks in this year’s draft and a 3rd rounder in 2018. The selection of Trubisky was a major surprise, as on talent he was not considered a top-ten pick, but as the best quarterback in the draft class he was determined to be a need for Chicago, and with Cleveland lurking as a team hoping to draft him as well, they clearly believed they could not wait.
Myles Garrett a Safe No. 1 for Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, Defensive end, Texas A&M
He is a 6-foot-4, 270-pound pass-rushing defensive end who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, and has a 41-inch vertical leap. He’s got especially long arms, doesn’t bother with social media, and is just as likely to be found reading a book as he is listening to music or watching a movie. Warren Sapp may not think he qualifies as a special prospect, but virtually everyone else who has seen him, or watched him star for the Aggies, thinks he can dominate at the N.F.L. level. He is this draft’s closest approximation of a sure thing.
How he fits: Cleveland’s top needs are quarterback and the secondary, but adding an absolute monster on the defensive line would help any team, and by all accounts Garrett is the type of player a team builds itself around. The Browns pick against at No. 12, so Mitchell Trubisky could still be available for them then, thus giving the team a major asset on both sides of the ball.
Let’s Talk About Explosive Hips
All languages evolve, of course, but few have spread as quickly as draftspeak, a growing dialect of American sport. It is used exclusively to evaluate athletes, often with dollops of flair and no hint of irony, and is most commonly spoken and heard in the lead-up to the N.F.L. draft, which begins on Thursday. It looks like English but sounds like gibberish, at least to the uninitiated. Mostly, it is made up of straight-faced jargon and biological terms connected by adjectives and action verbs. Read more and take our draftspeak quiz here.
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