NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock answered questions about the 2017 NFL Draft for more than two hours on a teleconference Monday, and suggested various prospects as strong potential fits for a number of NFL clubs. College Football 24/7 compiled a quick look at some of the connections Mayock made between a dozen clubs and their potential draftees.
Ohio State safety Malik Hooker "fits the Chargers like a glove," Mayock said. And with the No. 7 overall pick, either Hooker or LSU safety Jamal Adams would represent good value for the club at a position of need. Mayock noted that both the New York Jets (No. 6) and the Chargers need help on the offensive line, but there isn't an offensive lineman who would represent good value for either club that early in the draft.
What kind of impact would LSU RB Leonard Fournette make for the Panthers, who hold the No. 8 pick? How about fewer hits on franchise QB Cam Newton? The team that Fournette selects will be choosing to make him a 20-25-carry workhorse, per Mayock, the kind of commitment to the running game that would help protect the starting quarterback. "It would play to Newton's strength off of play-action," Mayock said. "... It would help protect him. I think Fournette is a nice fit with what Carolina does."
Don't put it past the Tennessee Titans to invest not only one first-round pick in the secondary, but two. The club holds the Nos. 5 and 18 selections, and could select one of the draft's two elite safeties -- Ohio State's Malik Hooker or LSU's Jamal Adams -- with its first choice. At No. 18, a cornerback could be in play, perhaps Alabama's Marlon Humphrey or one of the Florida Gators' duo of Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson.
2017 NFL DRAFT
Three players who aren't considered first-rounders to potentially fill the Colts' need on the defensive line on the draft's second day: FSU's DeMarcus Walker, Ohio's Tarell Basham, Kansas State's Jordan Willis, or Villanova's Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Myles Garrett might be the popular choice for the Browns' selection at No. 1 overall, but Mayock says he's not the only one who should be under consideration for the pick. Alabama DL Jonathan Allen is actually a safer pick, per Mayock, and would also be a good option for the Browns at No. 1. If Cleveland is looking for an impact pass rusher off the edge, Garrett is the man, and his pro potential comes with a higher ceiling than Allen's, per Mayock. With Allen, the Browns would be getting a player who can be disruptive inside or outside. "He can be too quick or too strong for both guards and tackles," Mayock said.
The first round should offer three good possibilities at wide receiver -- Clemson's Mike Williams, Western Michigan's Corey Davis, and Washington's John Ross -- and Mayock believes they could all be taken in the range of 10-20. Sitting squarely in the midst of that range are the Eagles, who have a need at the position and, if they want a receiver there, a style choice to make between the three. "Ross is intrigiung to me from the Eagles' perspective. He's the best vertical threat in the draft, and they desperately need speed. ... Williams creates his own space. I think he welcomes press coverage. In terms of red-zone scoring production, he's best because of his catch radius and physicality. All three bring different things to the table." If the Eagles don't go for a receiver at No. 14, watch for Washington CB Sidney Jones, per Mayock.
If the Dolphins want a linebacker with the No. 22 pick, they can all but forget about Alabama LB Reuben Foster; he should be gone by then. But three possibilities after Foster include Vanderbilt's Zach Cunningham, Temple's Haason Reddick, and Florida's Jarrad Davis, Mayock said.
Dates: Feb. 28-March 6
TV: NFL Network
The Saints should be looking for cornerback help, and this is the right draft to do it. Mayock suggested the club might take a defensive player at a different position in the first round, because of the strong depth at cornerback, and wait until later rounds for a corner. A few options could include a second-round possibility like UCLA's Fabian Moreau, to Colorado's Ahkello Witherspoon, who could be available as late as Round 4. "He's a heck of a football player," Mayock said. "He's already got a good feel for press coverage." Another for Saints fans to watch out for: Houston CB Howard Wilson, whose skill set Mayock compared to his former Cougars teammate and 2016 first-round pick William Jackson.
The Raiders could use some help on the interior of the defensive line, particularly in the area of pass rushing. Mayock suggested several possibilities who wouldn't necessarily require Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie to use the No. 24 overall selection: Florida's Caleb Brantley, Charlotte's Larry Ogunjobi, Tulane's Tanzel Smart and Michigan State's Malik McDowell.
Mayock on tight end prospects O.J. Howard of Alabama and David Njoku of Miami: "Both are worthy of the No. 20 pick, and both would fit in Denver."
The Bengals should be rooting for quarterbacks and running backs to go off the board ahead of their pick at No. 9, Mayock said, because they likely won't be in the market for either that early in the draft. A defensive end, however, would suit Cincinnati just fine. "(Tennessee's) Derek Barnett could well be sitting on the board there, as well as (Michigan's) Taco Charlton," Mayock said. "No. 9 is a little high for (Charlton), but he fits what that defense does."
Is it time for the Patriots to put a young, promising tight end behind Rob Gronkowski? This wouldn't be a bad draft to do so. "(Alabama's) O.J. Howard probably doesn't get to the end of the first round, but he fits what they like," Mayock said. "This is a great tight end class. New England has a bunch of options at that position and they can get a good one anywhere in the first three rounds."
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.
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