This is the fourth and final first-round NFL Draft projection from The Star. This is the fourth and final first-round NFL Draft projections from The Star. You can find version 1.0, which was released in early March, here and version 2.0, which was released a week ago, here. And you can find version 3.0, which was released on Sunday, here. A quick disclaimer: Each mock draft is based on individual film work, research and recent transactions.
1. Cleveland Browns
OLB/DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: Come on, Browns. Do the right thing here.
2. San Francisco 49ers
CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State: I don’t buy the QB talk here. They’ll get better value in the second round. I think they’re trying to goad Cleveland into giving up a haul of picks for the right to take Trubisky. Thomas was my pick here for my first three mocks but Lattimore is one of the best corners to come out in years, a potential shut-down guy.
3. Chicago Bears
DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford: Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bears try to move down here with someone enchanted by Trubisky. But if they have to stay, a stud like Thomas — an athletic, aggressive and productive player — would be a solid addition to the Bears’ front seven.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU: New boss Tom Coughlin loves to build his teams around the downhill running game. If the Jaguars aren’t committed to replacing Blake Bortles just yet, a stud like Fournette could take some pressure off him.
5. Tennessee Titans
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Delanie Walker is coming off a Pro Bowl season, but he’s 32 years old. Besides, the Titans use a plethora of two tight-end sets, and Howard — a clean prospect who is one of the most complete players at this position in years — absolutely fits into what they want to do. But keep an eye on the Browns, who could leapfrog the Jets and take Trubisky if they get skittish.
6. New York Jets
S Jamal Adams, LSU: Marcus Gilchrist is coming off major knee surgery, and Adams is another clean player, a do-it-all safety with off-the-charts intangibles that have drawn comparisons to Chiefs star Eric Berry.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
S Malik Hooker, Ohio State: Hooker hasn’t been able to work out for teams, but his tape is fantastic — he’s drawing comparisons to Ed Reed — and he might be the first safety taken despite the injury issues that have prevented him from workout out for teams. He could be the Earl Thomas-esque alley-filler new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley needs to make his defense sing.
8. Carolina Panthers
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford: McCaffrey would give the Panthers a tremendous safety valve for Cam Newton, someone who can move chains as a receiver and running back. Clean player, too.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
DE/DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama: The Bengals need edge help, and Allen — high-character prospect — would be a superb pick as a two-down edge rusher in the rough-and-tumble AFC North who kicks inside on passing downs.
10. Buffalo Bills
WR Mike Williams, Clemson: Teams have been able to focus far too much attention on Sammy Watkins the last few years. Williams is a big-bodied stud with a little Michael Irvin in him.
11. New Orleans Saints
OLB/DE Haason Reddick, Temple: Taking Reddick is essentially like killing two birds with one stone for the Saints, who need lots of help at linebacker and also need to improve a flagging edge rush.
12. Cleveland Browns
QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina: The Browns still get their guy in Trubisky, a Berea, Ohio, native who has a quick release and strong arm but only 13 starts under his belt. Don’t rule out a trade up for him, either.
13. Arizona Cardinals
QB Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech: The Cardinals have to start planning for Carson Palmer’s eventual departure at some point. I could see Bruce Arians’ liking Mahomes’ moxie and cannon for an arm.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves pass-rushing defensive ends, and Barnett — who could go higher than this — would be a nice value at this point.
15. Indianapolis Colts
OLB Takk McKinley, UCLA: McKinley is coming off a shoulder injury, and he’ll be out four-to-six months, but he’s a good athlete with some edge-rushing skill. He’ll be worth the wait for a team that signed some veterans to hold down the position for a year.
16. Baltimore Ravens
OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky: In the AFC North, you better be able to move people and assert your physicality up front. Lamp is a boss who is worthy of this pick and can even play some tackle, if necessary.
OLB Charles Harris, Missouri: Washington has been taking a hard look at running backs, with McCaffrey and Cook reportedly making visits. But they also need an edge rusher, and Harris — a good athlete who didn’t test well — already has a great feel for edge rushing, plays his tail off and has some edge to him.
18. Tennessee Titans
WR John Ross, Washington: The Titans need a deep threat badly, and the dynamic Ross — who blazed a 4.22 at the Combine — fits the bill. He’d go even higher than this without his injury history, and still might.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: The Bucs can add some serious juice to their offense by selecting Cook, who could team with quarterback Jameis Winston and Mike Evans to form their own version of Dallas’ mid-90s “triplets.”
20. Denver Broncos
LT Garett Bolles, Utah: The Broncos could really use some offensive-tackle help, even though they’ve added Menelik Watson to the mix. Enter Bolles, a nasty player who tested off the charts at the Combine and has massive potential in a zone scheme. Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk or Alabama’s Cam Robinson could also be the pick here.
21. Detroit Lions
TE David Njoku, Miami (Fla.): Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster had been the pick here, but his recently-revealed diluted urine sample could cause his stop to drop. So the Lions, in their neverending quest to provide Matthew Stafford with help, add a raw tight end with Pro Bowl potential. Also keep an eye on an edge rusher.
22. Miami Dolphins
T/G Cam Robinson, Alabama: The interior d-line class is weak and Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp is gone, which means I’ve got to turn to the next best guy on the board. That happens to Robinson, a big, athletic player in a terrible offensive line draft.
23. New York Giants
OT Ryan Ramcyzk, Wisconsin: A torn labrum has dropped his stock some in this scenario, but not a ton. This is a bad O-line draft, and he remains a solid prospect at a position of need. He’s worth the risk, considering what else is out there.
24. Oakland Raiders
CB Marlon Humphrey, Oakland: Humphrey has good bloodlines — he’s the son of former Broncos running back Bobby Humphrey — and he plays the game with aggression and physicality. He’s athletic, too, and fills a need for a cost-effective corner in 2018.
25. Houston Texans
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson: The Texans need a quarterback, and Watson — a winner with name recognition who has visited the Texans — could be a nice fit.
26. Seattle Seahawks
CB Kevin King, Washington: The Seahawks need a corner, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see them go right down the road and select King, a rangy (6-3), super-athletic corner who fits their Cover 3/Cover 1 style.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
CB Adoree’ Jackson, Southern California
Whoo boy. This is a tough situation for the Chiefs, who — in this scenario — miss out on the draft’s top three corners and top three quarterbacks. But there are some intriguing options left.
First of all, I still think a quarterback is in play here, especially if Watson or Mahomes remains on the board. And someone like Kizer, who is the biggest (6-4, 230) of the bunch with a gun, intelligence and mobility, would be a sneaky-intriguing pick, questions about his makeup be darned.
If the Chiefs made this pick, it means Andy Reid feels he can reach him. He is very articulate, very smart and I do think he could hang in the Chiefs’ quarterback room with Alex Smith, who knows how to prepare. If the Chiefs made this pick, I would understand it and like it. Any quarterback pick would also mean Reid and general manager John Dorsey, both of whom are entering the last year of their deals, plan on being here a while. If I were a Chiefs fan, I’d be happy about that.
But let’s say the whispers about his makeup — and Notre Dame’s strange 4-8 season — are real. Kizer’s out. And let’s say the buzz surrounding Cal quarterback Davis Webb –who is getting some late push as a possible first-round choice – isn’t real, either (though it might be). That shifts the focus to a position player — presumably one that could help immediately — and Jackson fits the bill, big time.
Look, he’s not very big (5-10, 186). But he does pass the physical boxes the Chiefs look for; he tested very well in the various athletic drills, and his arms (31 3/8 inches) are almost as long as Marcus Peters’ (31 1/2 inches), despite being two inches shorter. His hands (9 1/4 inches) are actually bigger (8 3/8 inches).
Plus, his athleticism is terrific, and his ball skills are real. Jackson picked off five passes in 2016, and he recorded 16 passes defensed. He’s confident and cocky, and he’d form a terrific, passionate tandem with Peters. There’s a reason he’s on my 2017 all-juice team.
By the way, Jackson has the additional benefit of being an absolute stud — stud — as a returner, which is secretly a need with the desire to get Tyreek Hill more involved in offense (he’ll still return most kicks), the offseason departure of Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas heading into a contract year. Jackson averaged nearly 30 yards a return on kicks with two touchdowns and 15.8 yards on punts with two touchdowns in 2016. He even has some history as a receiver, catching 39 passes for 628 yards in his career.
But if Jackson is gone, another top corner — like Humphrey, King, Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White or Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie — could make sense. So would Dalvin Cook, if he’s still on the board some how, or a top edge rusher like Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt, who could be counted on to step in and play as early as 2018.
And if the Chiefs are interested in gambling, Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell — a hot-and-cold player with all-pro potential — or Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster would be intriguing boom-or-bust picks. Foster is a top-10 talent, but if they pass on him, remember they simply don’t value the position he plays as much as other teams do.
But if the Chiefs take him, I’d be in on that. The guy apparently loves football, and he covers more ground than any linebacker I’ve seen in a while. But he’s had injury issues (concussions, shoulder), he had a diluted urine sample at the combine and he also got into an argument with a hospital worker that got him sent home. That’s enough red flags to potentially keep him out of the first round. The only other thing that keeps me from making the pick for the Chiefs is, again, they just don’t value inside linebacker as a premium position. But if they took Foster, it means they feel he’s special enough to buck that trend, and I’d feel pretty good about that if I was a Chiefs fan.
28. Dallas Cowboys
DE/LB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin: Besides solid production and a familiar last name, Watt tested very well at the Combine and could be a very nice addition to an edge rush that needs help.
29. Green Bay Packers
RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee: It would be unusual for the Packers to take a running back this high, but Kamara — a super quick, explosive pass-catching back — would be an outstanding fit with the running back-needy Packers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan: Edge rusher is an obvious need, but Davis can provide protection for Martavis Bryant, and if he was healthy throughout the predraft process, there’s a good chance he’d go higher than this. He still might.
31. Atlanta Falcons
DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State: After adding former Chiefs Pro Bowler Dontari Poe, the Falcons continue to build up their front seven with an intriguing edge rusher who can rotate in with Ra’Shede Hageman and Brooks Reed.
32. New Orleans Saints
ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama: The Saints traded star receiver Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots for this pick, and the guess here is that they’re serious about improving a weak defense. If so, a Foster — a run-and-hit stud — would be unreal value at this point. Also keep an eye on a cornerback like Louisiana State’s Tre’Davious White.
Other Chiefs’ projected draft selections
OLB Tarell Basham, Ohio (59th overall): Edge rusher with upfield juice who interviewed with the Chiefs at the Combine.
QB Nate Peterman, Pittsburgh (91st overall): Has some issues throwing the deep ball but is a smart, high-floor prospect who has handled complex verbiage, throws with anticipation and has enough athleticism to execute the Chiefs’ zone stuff. Could be a capable No. 2 quarterback as soon as this year. Fits the Chiefs’ mold when it comes to what Andy Reid wants in a quarterback. If he’s off the board, someone like Miami’s Brad Kaaya would fit the bill, as well.
DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State (104th overall, comp): Super-productive sack master who knows the game and could potentially help as a five-technique as early as this year.
TE George Kittle, Iowa (132nd overall): No. 2 tight end Demetrius Harris got in some trouble recently, and talented backups James O’Shaughnessy and Ross Travis have let to establish themselves as reliable targets. Kittle is a plus athlete who can offer a bunch as a run blocker in a era where tight ends can’t block anymore.
WR Chad Williams, Grambling (170th overall): Williams is big enough (6-1, 207) with athleticism and ball skills who can be an intriguing West Coast offense receiver.
RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana-Lafayette (180th overall, comp): McGuire has some home-run ability and he interviewed with the Chiefs at the Combine. Intriguing developmental guy.
ILB Jordan Evans, Oklahoma (216th overall): Evans is a plus athlete who is dinged as a finesse player but has played a lot of football and is a very intriguing developmental player at a position of need.
FB Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech (218th overall, comp): Starter Anthony Sherman is entering the last year of his deal, and Rogers looks like a classic West Coast fullback.
OG Jordan Roos, Purdue (245th overall, comp): The Chiefs have options at left guard, including Parker Ehinger and Zach Fulton, but Fulton is entering the last year of his deal and Ehinger is coming off a knee injury. Roos is a good athlete who put up an absurd 41 reps on the bench press and also visited the Chiefs during the predraft process.
2017 NFL Draft
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27
Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday, April 28
Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday, April 29
THE STAR’S 2017 NFL DRAFT PREVIEW
Terez A. Paylor, firstname.lastname@example.org