1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
It’s a no-brainer pick, and even Cleveland won’t mess this up. Pass rushers are the second most-valuable position in the game after quarterback, and Garrett has all the traits to be an elite, annual double-digit sack prospect. He’s not a sure thing, and his rush plan and hands will need some work, but there is no reason to doubt that he’ll reach his ceiling quickly in the NFL. Garrett will be the cornerstone of the Browns rebuilt defense, which suddenly won’t look all that rough in the front seven with Emmanuel Ogbah, Garrett, Danny Shelton, Jamie Collins and Christian Kirksey.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
In our current state of being totally clueless about what John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are going to do at #2, I’m trusting Lynch to hearken back to what he knows best and Shanahan to support him if he doesn’t love any quarterback in the class. Lynch will see a lot of himself in Adams, a blue-collar, hard-working, leadership-oriented safety with versatility and terrific instincts. The 49ers defense desperately needs a shot-caller in the secondary, and Adams steps in right away to help build up a unit that was atrocious last year.
3. *TRADE* Buffalo Bills: Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
I think the Bills love for Trubisky is real, and while the Bears like the quarterback class, they’re fine with rolling the dice and vying for Deshaun Watson later in the draft. Tyrod Taylor has two years left on his deal, and with only 13 games of college experience, Trubisky could use the time to continue to develop behind the Bills’ starter. Head coach Sean McDermott’s job is likely secure for a couple of seasons, and the Buffalo brass’ dissatisfaction with Taylor as a starter has been well-documented. If the Bears (or 49ers) will accept an offer, I think this is a trade with a decent chance of happening.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jacksonville needs a starting running back and they reportedly love Fournette, so the only thing stopping this pick from happening is another team jumping ahead of them. A powerful inside runner with physicality and burst, Fournette is more limited than I care for in a top ten running back, but NFL teams obviously do not share my concern. He’ll certainly give Jacksonville stability in their backfield, and a much-needed workhorse to lean on in place of Blake Bortles shouldering the load.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Tennessee desperately needs cornerback help, and Lattimore has star potential despite his lack of experience. His size, athleticism and ball skills make him a lock top ten pick, and although I believe the Titans will try to trade down a few spots, they may have a hard time finding a suitor.
6. New York Jets: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
If Calvin Pryor is to play closer to the line of scrimmage, the Jets need a safety with ball skills, range and instincts to man the center-fielding spot in single-high looks. Enter Hooker, who will need to brush up on his angles in run support, but has the physicality and tackling ability to eventually become a stud all-around safety.
7. San Diego Chargers: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The Chargers have to be the least-discussed top ten team in draft history, as it seems we’ve heard absolutely nothing about what their intentions are with the 7th overall pick. Safety is a need, but with Adams and Hooker off the board, the Chargers could address wide receiver, offensive line or continue to build out the defensive front. Allen is a great fit next to Brandon Mebane inside, as a technically sound three-technique who can serve as defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s version of Michael Bennett with his inside-outside versatility.
8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Panthers don’t build their team through the typical position groups outside of quarterback, as pass rushers, cornerbacks and offensive tackles have taken a backseat over recent years. This pick should come down to a defensive end or McCaffrey, and I think Carolina’s desire for an all-around offensive weapon for Cam Newton will win out. McCaffrey can play in the backfield or in the slot, and while he may not be a heavy-workload back, his versatility will give Carolina a threat they don’t currently possess.