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With the NFL season now 5 weeks in, it’s time to start looking ahead to April where the biggest and brightest college stars will hear their name called on draft night. The picks aren’t anywhere close to set in stone but let’s take a look to see where GM’s heads might be at now.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
- This Jaguars team could use any help they can get. Adding an elite pass-rushing prospect like Thibodeaux to a defence that ranks second-last in sacks will help. We’ve seen how guys like Myles Garrett, Chase Young, and the Bosa brothers can make a near-immediate impact on their team’s success. Thibodeaux has all the talent to be just as great as all of these guys.
2. Detriot Lions: Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
- While drafting a QB here might be tempting, the value of Hamilton is too great to pass up. With the rise of two-high safety schemes in the NFL, the Lions should look to add Hamilton beside talented safety Tacy Walker. Hamilton will bring a physicality to this Lions defence that head coach Dan Campbell has repeatedly stated that he wants.
3. Houston Texans: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty
- Houston is going to have to trade Deshaun Watson eventually. While it’s still early in Davis Mills’ career, it seems clear he isn’t the future for the Texans. The same goes for Tyrod Taylor. Willis has the athleticism to keep up with NFL defences and he’s not afraid to take a deep shot, though that same willingness to throw deep is something of concern. Adding a raw talent like Willis is a risk, but it’s a risk the Texans should be willing to take.
4. New York Jets: Derek Stingley, CB, LSU
- Stingley is the best prospect on the board, and possibly in this class. Stingley had a wins above-average rate of 0.97, according to PFF, the highest among non-QB’s. He’s struggled in the slot but has shown as an outside corner he can guard anyone he’s lined up against. Stingley will immediately improve a Jets secondary that lacks any proven talent.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (From Miami): Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
- Hutchinson has been flying up draft boards recently. With Brandon Graham and Derrick Barnett, both set to be free agents next year the Eagles should look to add talent through the draft. Hutchinson would immediately bring value to an already talented Eagle’s front.
6. Philadelphia Eagles (From Indianapolis): Andrew Booth Jr., CB, Clemson
- With the pick Philadelphia received from the Carson Wentz trade, the eagles take the best corner on the board. Andrew Booth Jr. will take some weight off of pro-bowl corner Darius Slay. If the Eagles hope to take the NFC East they have to be able to cover both Dallas and New York’s stacked receiving cores. Booth Jr. is a good start.
7. New York Giants: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama
- The Giants should be salivating at this pick. Neal is a top 5 talent in the draft and is by far the best offensive lineman. So far this year the Giants haven’t been able to get a consistent running game with Saquan Barkley, with Neal that problem will be erased. Daniel Jones will get one more year with Evan Neal blocking for him to prove if he’s the real deal or not.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
- Atlanta is looking to rebuild. Matt Ryan turns 37 next year. Unless Atlanta views Josh Rosen as their future they need to draft a QB. Matt Corral is that QB. While undersized Corral has all the intangibles to become an effective starting QB in this league, plus Corral doesn’t need to start right away and can learn under Matt Ryan. With young offensive talents like Pitts and Ridley Atlanta would have a deadly triple threat for years to come.
9. New England Patriots: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida
- While New England desperately needs offensive talent Belichick has shown he’ll prefer to take defence first. With the recent trading of Gilmore and the possibility of J.C. Jackson leaving in free agency New England needs depth and talent at the CB position. Adding a big and aggressive corner like Elam alongside that isn’t afraid to help against the run is a prospect Belichick dreams of.
10. Philadelphia Eagles: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M
- Philadelphia has its 3rd pick in the top ten and while they could use this one to select a QB, it seems like Jalen Hurts isn’t the issue for them. The Eagles offensive line is though however. Lane Johnson has been consistently injured over the past few years, Green should look to eventually replace him in the starting lineup, or have Mailata move to RT and keep Green at his more natural position of LT.
11. Miami Dolphins (From San Francisco): Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
- Miami is allowing 3.2 sacks a game, it’s clear that while young, Miami’s offensive line still needs more help. Adding Linderbaum, a projected center at the next level, will give Miami more POW in the running game and more consistency in the passing game.
12. NY Jets (From Seattle): Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky
- The run on Offensive lineman continues. The Jets declined to select Evan Neal in favour of Derrick Stingley Jr. With the pick they received from Seattle in the Jamal Adams’ trade they’ll settle for Kinnard instead. Kinnard has the ideal size for an offensive tackle and should start on the right side over Morgan Moses. The Jets will hope Kinnard can improve on their O-Line that ranks in the bottom 5 in most metrics.
13. Washington Football Team: Carson Strong, QB, Nevada
- Some people may say that Taylor Heinicke can be Washington’s starting QB for the future. If Washington is picking this early in the draft it would make more sense to go with a more consistent Qb for the future. Carson Strong appears to be a traditional pocket passer, but that’s all Washington would need him to be, their offence is built for a strong-armed QB who can deliver the ball downfield to Mclaurin and Thomas or dump it off to Gibson and Mckissic. Strong is that QB.
14. Minnesota Vikings: DeMarvin Leal, DT, Texas A&M
- Minnesota has been going toe-to-toe with every team they’ve faced. With the addition of Leal, the Vikings get a tenacious run defender who will help keep the ball in Minnesota’s hands. Don’t expect 10 sacks a season from Leal but his pass-rushing upside makes him a talent that Minnesota can’t afford to pass on.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
- It’s time for Pittsburgh to move on from Big Ben and on to Slinging Sam (nickname pending). The Steelers have plenty of draft needs but the chance at getting a franchise QB in Howell is too great to pass. Howell has shown he isn’t ready to take the lead of an NFL offence yet but with Mike Tomlin helping guide him, the Steelers hope they’ve got their guy.
16. Kansas City Chiefs: George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue
- The Chiefs have been the biggest disappointment in the NFL this year. One reason they’re doing so bad is their inability to get to the QB, as of week 5 they rank dead last in sacks. Karlaftis is a high motor pass rusher that will provide an instant boost to their front 7. While Karlaftis needs to round out his game, his ceiling is too high for the Chiefs to not take a chance on.
17. Cincinnati Bengals: Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
- The Bengals lost William Jackson this offseason and while Eli Apple has played surprisingly well, he isn’t a reason to pass on Gardner. Last year Gardner had 6 interceptions and 0 touchdowns on 98 targets, with good size and length to pair. Cincinnati should elect to keep Gardner in the same city.
18. New Orleans Saints: Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State
- The Saints are the most inconsistent team in the league, one week they look like title contenders, the next week they’re losing to the Giants. We haven’t seen much of Michael Thomas in the past 2 years either. Garrett Wilson would slip into the Saint’s starting slot receiver and become an immediate threat alongside Thomas and Kamara.
19. Tennessee Titans: Christian Harris, LB, Alabama
- The Titans add another Alabama linebacker to their roster. Harris, a former defensive back, can hold his own in coverage though you shouldn’t solely use him for that. The main way he’ll help the Titans is in their blitzing. Harris is explosive through the gaps while blitzing, pair that ability with a defence that blitzes 27.6% of the time and you have a lethal combination.
20. Denver Broncos: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
- With both Von Miller and Bradley Chubb set to be free agents in the next 2 years the Broncos should look to the draft to add some EDGE depth. Jackson has the athleticism to be a top edge rusher, while he struggles at times with his aggressiveness against the run, his upside is too great for the Broncos to not nab.
21. Carolina Panthers: Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia
- Jordan Davis would be the final piece to this young, dangerous panthers defence. Davis is possibly the best-run defender in this class. Adding Davis beside Derrick Brown would be a combination likely to scare teams away from running the ball.
22. NY Giants (From Chicago): Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State
- The Giants add another piece to their offensive line. Ekwonu is a powerful run blocker who will maul about anyone you put in front of him. If the Giants want Daniel Jones and Saquan Barkley to succeed in New York they’ll need to build a competent line in front of him. They passed on Rashawn Slater last year, this year they won’t make the same mistake.
23. Cleveland Browns: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State
- The Browns had their choice of many receiving talents here but will choose to stay local with Chris Olave. With Landry and Odell scheduled to be the 2nd and 3rd highest cap hit on the team, it seems wise to find a cheaper option. Olave is the clear-cut best route runner in the draft, he’ll be able to produce day one for the Browns. While he has some concentration drop issues, those can be worked out with time. Olave could finally provide consistent production at the receiver spot that Odell Beckham Jr. has failed to.
24. Detriot Lions (From LA Rams): John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
- A QB at this point would be a reach, so the Lions instead take the most intriguing WR in the draft. Metchie has all the talent to be the best receiver in this class, his route running, speed and release are all among the best. His main concern is strength, Metchie is only 6’0 and 195 lbs and could be pushed around easily by the big-bodied corners in the NFL, though Devonta Smith (someone with a similar frame) hasn’t had any issues. With Metchie the Lions get their #1 receiver for what they hope is the future.
25. Las Vegas Raiders: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington
- Jon Gruden is out as Head Coach of the Raiders, in his regime the Raiders were more unsuccessful than successful in their draft selections. While GM Mike Mayock remains, perhaps with McDuffie they can right their wrongs. McDuffie has the skillset and experience to play inside or outside, that versatility is something the Raiders would love especially with their #1 corner turning 33 next year.
26. Buffalo Bills: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
- With Emmanuel Sanders becoming a free agent next year and Cole Beasley turning 33 the Bills could afford to add some young talent to the receiver room. Burks gives the Bills some size at the position being 6’3”. Arkansas has used Burks all over the field, though 82% of his snaps came in the slot last year. With the Bills, his talents can be maximized with John Allen throwing to him and Diggs taking attention away.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington
- Tampa Bay doesn’t have many holes that need to be filled. Their defensive backs are good when healthy, so there isn’t much reason to select a corner here. However, they could improve their left tackle spot. Donovan Smith has been an average starter for Tampa but isn’t one that they should be excited to stick with. Adding Kirland who has little weakness to his game. While he could serve to add some more strength he projects to be a solid starter at LT for years to come.
28. Green Bay Packers: Adam Anderson, EDGE, Georgia
- The Packers have invested heavily in the EDGE position over the past few years (Za’Darius and Preston Smith and Rashan Gary) and they’ll continue to invest more in spite of that. The Smith brothers have been great additions (note they are not actually brothers) but Gary has been a disappointment, to say the least. Anderson has the upside to be a consistent starter but will begin his career as a rotational piece, and that’s ok. He’s primarily a speed rusher and has shown he’s effective at getting to the QB. He’ll eventually be able to replace Preston Smith and provide some good pass rush to a Packers team that could use it.
29. Los Angeles Chargers: Myjai Sanders, EDGE, Cincinnati
- After Melvin Ingram’s departure, the Chargers have lacked a true edge threat to put opposite Joey Bosa. Myjai Sanders has superb length and a speedy first step which gives him the tools to successfully get to the Quarterback. He has a never-quit mentality that defensive-minded head coach Brandon Staley would love to add to his defence.
30. Dallas Cowboys: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State
- The Cowboys have relied on Demarcus Lawrence to produce a pass rush for the past couple of years, now they have a guy who can take some of that pressure off of him. Harrison can play as an edge in a 4-3 or a 5 tech in a 3-4, his ability to stay on the field is something the Cowboys could use. He has amazing straight-line speed which he has shown he can convert into power. He has a good set of tools that defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would love to get his hands on.
31. Baltimore Ravens: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa
- The Ravens traded Orlando Brown Jr. this past draft and replaced him with Alejandro Villuneava. It’s clear that this wasn’t the long-term plan at RT for the Ravens as he was only given a 2-year deal. With Penning, Baltimore gets a behemoth of a tackle to put at the right side. Despite being 6’ 7” he is surprisingly light on his feet. He plays with urgency during run plays and will do whatever it takes to get the block.
32. Arizona Cardinals: Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
- The Cardinals can wait to take a corner in the next round. Wydermyer is a chess piece that Kliff Kingsbury would love to add to his air riad offence. Wydermyer can line up almost anywhere on the field and produce, his 6’5” frame would be a red zone threat nightmare when combined with Deandre Hopkins. He’s a willing blocker, though he’ll need to improve his strength and point of attack if he wants to stay on the field during running plays. Adding Wydermyer to this already lethal Cardinals offence could be the piece to get them over the top.