The NFL Draft is still a few months away, but with only three football games left to play this season, it certainly isn't too early to look ahead to the much awaited first round.
The Baltimore Ravens are picking smack dab in the middle at 16th, and could use a good selection to help get back into playoff contention. With that being said, let's look at some possibilities for both them and the 31 other teams in line to pick on April 27th.
1. Cleveland Browns
The Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
After a disastrous 1-15 season, the Browns have possibly hit rock bottom in a series of possibly-having-hit-rock-bottoms since their return to the NFL in 1999. They hold the first pick in the draft for the first time since 2000 when they selected Courtney Brown, and will be tempted to use it on a quarterback to finally end the generation long drought they've experienced at the position. However, any signal caller at number one would likely be a reach this year, and with their front office showing a focus on maximizing value, the can't miss potential of Garrett makes the most sense here.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The 49ers are in a similarly woeful situation to the Browns, and need a quarterback in a year where no clear number one passer presents himself. That said, adding Allen to a defensive line with Arik Armstead and Deforest Buckner is like adding a third ace to an already stacked pitching staff. He can play almost anywhere on the line and will be a productive pass rusher from Day One.
3. Chicago Bears
The Pick: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
The Bears are yet another team who may be in the franchise quarterback market if they dump Jay Cutler this offseason, but general manager Ryan Pace has done a good job of sticking to his blueprint of building this team from the ground up. He has done well building through both the draft and free agency by adding players such as Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd, and Jordan Howard. Adding the versatile Adams to that mix could help potentially round out a defense he has put some serious work into.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jacksonville is in a bit of a conundrum this offseason after the once promising Blake Bortles had a terrible 2016 season. They could be looking for a quarterback of the future, but the hiring of Doug Marrone potentially signals that they are interested in getting Bortles’ career back on track. A good way to do that would be to supplement his backfield with a generational running back talent, and Fournette fits that bill to a T.
5. Tennessee Titans (from LA)
The Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Titans are in a pretty good position after building their team around Marcus Mariota over the last few years. The bevy of draft picks they received from the Rams in the Jared Goff trade have certainly helped, and it will do so once again as they use this pick to nab a number one wide receiver for their franchise signal caller.
6. New York Jets
The Pick: Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
The Jets could take a shot at a quarterback here, but it still may be too early for that, and they certainly don't have the roster to supplement a young project passer. Instead, they'd be better served to go after the ballhawk Hooker who has drawn some comparisons to Ed Reed, and will pair up nicely with the more downhill player in Calvin Pryor.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
The Pick: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The newly branded LA Chargers have nice players at almost every level of their defense, but could use some depth in the secondary to help round it out. With both Adams and Hooker off the board they can still manage to do so by pairing Wilson with Jason Verrett, who is already one of the best DBs in the business.
8. Carolina Panthers
The Pick: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Panthers have a couple of different needs to fill if they want to get back to the top of the heap next season, but I have them picking the best player still on the board in Foster. With Thomas Davis getting a bit long in the tooth, an eventual Foster and Luke Kuechly pairing would be in the cards, and would terrorize the NFC South for the next decade or so.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
The Pick: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Bengals are a talented team who had just about everything go wrong for them in 2016. They strike me as a squad that could jump right back to the mix in the AFC North next season. Adding some bite to their pass rush would be a good formula for doing so. Enter Thomas, who could step in next to Carlos Dunlap and do exactly that.
10. Buffalo Bills
The Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
It’s hard to get a read on just where the Bills are right now with their franchise. For some reason, they seem to want to push Tyrod Taylor out of the door following two nice seasons, and have kept general manager Doug Whaley in the picture despite some serious mismanagement throughout his tenure. Regardless, Barnett would be a nice pick here for them, and would team up well with last years first round selection Shaq Lawson.
11. New Orleans Saints
The Pick: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
The Saints could use this pick on a quarterback as Drew Brees has been on the back nine of his career for many years now. However, even though that is a factual statement, what's also factual is that Brees has been one of the most productive passers in the league year in and year out. Adding the dynamic young Howard could give Brees a weapon over the middle that he hasn't had since Jimmy Graham, and would help maximize Coby Fleener’s value as a role player.
12. Cleveland Browns (from PHI)
The Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Finally, a quarterback is taken off the board. While I said the Browns are focused on maximizing value, they simply cannot neglect the position again, especially if they do in fact have their pick of the litter at number 12 overall. Trubisky is raw and inexperienced, which is never a good combination, and one year in the ACC as a starter may not be nearly enough preparation to make the jump to the AFC North, especially with a somewhat bare cupboard at the skill positions and offensive line. Still, the Browns have to give their fans some hope that they’ll soon figure things out behind center, and a gamble on Trubisky may be what they have to do.
13. Arizona Cardinals
The Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Cardinals could be targeting several different positons in the first round (including quarterback) but I instead have them making an investment in Carson Palmer. The 2016 Cardinals lacked the mojo they had the season prior as did Palmer, who was shaky throughout the year. If the Cardinals believe he has yet another renaissance in him, adding the 6’4 Njoku may be just what they need to kickstart it.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN)
The Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Carson Wentz’s career in the city of brotherly love is off to a promising start, but he definitely needs some help at pass catcher. The explosive Davis can help fill that void. He has good speed and is creative with the ball in his hands.
15. Indianapolis Colts
The Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Colts need help at a lot of different positions, particularly on defense and the offensive line. However, pairing a talent like Cook with Andrew Luck is too tempting to pass up, and could help put the once perennial contenders back to where they used to be.
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Pick: Jabrill Peppers, Safety, Michigan
The Ravens will continue the rebuild of their defense by adding a promising young player to a back end that already includes Eric Weddle, Jimmy Smith, and Tavon Young. The current perception that Peppers is a generational talent may be a bit off-base, but he is still a talented player who could help this defense in many different ways. Keep an eye on wide receiver, pass rusher, and cornerback here as well for Baltimore.
17. Washington Redskins
The Pick: Takkarist Mckinley, DE, UCLA
The Skins have plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball, and if they manage to keep Kirk Cousins around, they should be fine at quarterback moving forward. Here I have them taking McKinley who they can pair with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith to help pressure NFC East quarterbacks, and attempt a return at postseason play in 2017.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Pick: Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Having already added a wide receiver earlier in the round, the Titans should now turn their attention to stopping them. Tabor will help them with that, and add yet another piece to what is looking like a promising young team.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Pick: Tim Williams, DE, Alabama
The Bucs had a relatively good season in 2016, posting a 9-7 record under second year quarterback Jameis Winston and first year head coach Dirk Koetter. Adding Williams would help them to be even better in 2017 by pressuring Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan with both Williams and the promising Noah Spence.
20. Denver Broncos
The Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos got off to a hot start in 2016, but folded down the stretch to go 9-7 and miss the playoffs. If they're to get back to being a Super Bowl contender they'll need to protect either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch better in 2017. Selecting Ramczyk in the first round is a good start at doing so.
21. Detroit Lions
The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Lions need to get better at every level on defense, and adding Lattmore to their secondary could potentially build strength on strength due to the presence of Darius Slay. They could also look pass rusher or running back in this spot.
22. Miami Dolphins
The Pick: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Dolphins were a surprise playoff team in 2016, but need help on defense before they can be viewed as serious contenders. This pick may be a bit of a head scratcher with Ndamukong Suh already in the picture, but McDowell would only help both Suh and Cameron Wake in 2017 with his massive presence along the defensive line.
23. New York Giants
The Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Giants have what looks like a closing championship window with Eli Manning at quarterback, but will likely stick by their franchise quarterback at least a few more years. In the meantime, a player like Robinson will help keep him upright as he slings it to Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
24. Oakland Raiders
The Pick: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Raiders were one of the best teams in the league this season (with Derek Carr under center) and are pretty much set on offense. Their defense could still use some work though, and adding Lawson to a pass rushing mix that already contains Khalil Mack is a tantalizing proposition.
25. Houston Texans
The Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
This would be the surprise pick of maybe the entire draft, but hear me out. The signing of Brock Osweiler was partially done because of the impatience of owner Bob McNair who desperately wanted to figure the quarterback position out. Assuming McNair has at least partially functioning vision or hearing, he can tell that it didn't work, and likely won't. Osweiler will probably remain in the picture for a little bit longer, but that doesn't mean that general manager Rick Smith will necessarily wager his job security on the embattled signal caller improving in 2017. In Watson, Houston can get a polished young player that needs some work, but will at least challenge for the starting position in 2017. That's about all an otherwise talented Texans team can ask for next season.
26. Seattle Seahawks
The Pick: Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh
The Seahawks were a typically strong team in 2016 expcept for one position group: offensive line. If they want to get back to being a team that perennially has home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, they’ll need to improve there, and Johnson can bolster the interior alongside Germain Ifedi moving forward.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
The Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington
The Chiefs are a pretty loaded team, and could even consider a quarterback here considering their ceiling seems to be defined by Alex Smith. However, I couldn't see Andy Reid quitting on Smith just yet, and investing a pick in a live wire like Ross could be highly beneficial to that commitment. Pairing Ross with Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill seems almost unfair. I'd bet the AFC West would agree.
28. Dallas Cowboys
The Pick: Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
It seems that every few years, a loaded Cowboys team is disappointingly bounced from the divisional round for a variety of reasons. While the even best defense may have had trouble stopping Aaron Rodgers, a player like Walker could've given the Cowboys a bit of a better chance. After missing out on Joey Bosa in 2016, and with the status of Randy Gregory constantly being up in the air, this may be the perfect direction for Dallas to go in come draft night.
29. Green Bay Packers
The Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
This would be an interesting pick given the emergence of Ty Montgomery, but the formal Cardinal teammates could band together to form a dynamic backfield in Green Bay. Given Eddie Lacy’s impending free agency, this could help the Packers to shore up their backfield for the long run.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Steelers have a solid cornerback group in William Gay, Ross Cockrell, and Artie Burns, adding Humphrey into the mix could turn it into a bona fide strength. While they usually tend toward the front seven in the early rounds, this type of pick could round out an already highly improved defense.
31. Atlanta Falcons
The Pick: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
While the hype around King has subsided since earlier this year, he can still be a good NFL player. This may require a position change as suggested by Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, but regardless, King would fit nicely in a secondary that already has Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Keanu Neal.
32. New England Patriots
The Pick: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
What do you get for the man who has everything? Another cornerback I guess. While the Patriots usually address the trenches in a spot like this, White will either prove to be a great sidekick to, or a necessary replacement of soon-to-be restricted free agent Malcolm Butler.