In my previous article, we went over the possible NFL draft offensive 1st round picks. Today we’ll switch to the defensive side of the ball. Every year we see how important it is the get defensive playmakers. In recent years, we’ve seen teams like Seattle, Carolina, and Denver have their defenses terrorize opposing offenses on their way to getting to the Superbowl. As they say, offense wins the game, but defense wins championships. So, with that said, let’s get right to the possible NFL draft defensive 1st round picks.
Jonathan Allen – Alabama
Malik McDowell – Michigan State
Caleb Brantley – Florida
As most football fans already know, the winner of the lines wins the game. That’s what these 1st 2 sections will be all about. Allen is a terror in the middle of the line. he could go as high as 2nd and can fit both as a 3-4 end or a 4-3 DT. McDowell is another one that can fit in both a 4-3 and a 3-4. He’s is bigger than Allen. He is much taller and will help with knocking balls down at the line of scrimmage. Brantley fits more as a 3-4 end. People are very high or low on him. Some have him as a definite 1st round pick. Others have him dropping to round 3. No matter what he has the talent to get his name called on day 1.
Myles Garrett – Texas A&M
Derek Barnett – Tennessee
Solomon Thomas – Stanford
TJ Watt – Wisconsin
Taco Charlton – Michigan
Charles Harris – Missouri
Takkarist McKinley – UCLA
Garrett and Barnett all had prolific college careers. Both had over 30 sacks over the last 3 years. Garrett is more athletic and is what teams look for in the prototypical pass rusher. He is expected to be taken #1 overall by the Cleveland Browns. Barnett is expected to fall outside the top 10, likely to be taken in the teens. The team that takes will likely be very happy with what he brings to the table. Thomas is more of the potential rather than production guy. People like his athleticism and the pass rush ability he showed his senior year. He will also be a guy that is considered by the 49ers with the #2 overall pick in the draft.
TJ Watt is the younger brother of NFL superstar JJ Watt. Unlike JJ, TJ is about is about 40 pounds lighter, but like JJ, TJ knows how to get to the QB. He will likely fit as a 3-4 edge rusher. Charlton has 1 of the most impressive tapes of anyone on this list. He likely fits as a 4-3 DE, but he’s a very impressive player no matter where he plays. Harris and McKinley both fit in the same mold as Watt, a 3-4 edge rusher. Harris has shown good improvement as a player every year. McKinley has a lot of athleticism and reminds people of what Akeem Ayers was supposed to be.
Rueben Foster – Alabama
Zach Cunningham – Vanderbilt
Haason Reddick – Temple
Rueben Foster is a beast. He is a complete LB and one of the most complete players in the draft. He had an altercation with a medical person at the combine that got him sent home. People are now worried about his character. However, in terms of talent, you won’t see much better. Zach Cunningham is a solid linebacker. In this draft, which lacks for depth inside, he rises pretty high. He must work on his tackling technique a bit, but he is great running sideline to sideline. Reddick is a fast riser. He’s a fast LB that can run all day. Like Cunningham, he may not be a franchise type guy, but he is very good.
Malik Hooker – Ohio State
Jamal Adams – LSU
Budda Baker – Washington
Jabrill Peppers – Michigan
Obi Melifonwu – UConn
This year’s class of safeties are one of deepest, in terms of talent, that we’ve seen in recent times. Hooker is a pure centerfielder. He can run from side to side and cover the entire deep center of the field. Adams plays faster than his timed speed. He is better as an SS and can cover 10-15 yards to the ball carrier as fast as anyone. Baker is arguably the most complete safety. He can play centerfield, but also can come up and make the tackle. He’s not as good as Hooker and Adams at what they do, but better than they are at their weaknesses.
Peppers is a wildcard. He not great in coverage and not big enough to be an SS/LB, but he’s a great athlete. The question is who will be the team to take a chance on an athlete with no position. Melifonwu had a spectacular combine and may have crept his way into the back end of round 1. He has bust potential, but like Peppers, he’s a big-time athlete. So, I expect someone to take him and try to mold him into their system.
Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State
Marlon Humphrey – Alabama
Gareon Conlan – Ohio State
Sidney Jones – Washington
Adoree Jackson – USC
Quincy Wilson – Florida
Jourdan Lewis – Michigan
Lattimore is the most impressive athlete of the group. Even more, his change of direction is a beautiful thing to watch. Consequently, there is a worry that he might have hamstring issues, which hurt him. However, his talent will be too much for him to fall out the top 10. Marlon Humphrey isn’t spectacular, but he’s a gifted athlete. He played in a system that is as close to an NFL system as there is and he played well in it. He is expected to go in the top 20. Conlan is a bit of a sleeper in that he isn’t being talked about. But he was good all year, a good athlete, and has good size. He is best as a press corner but can play in zone.
Sidney Jones is a wildcard. To begin with, some considered him the best CB in the draft. Above all, he did not allow a TD against him the entire year. However, he tore his Achilles on the Washington Pro Day. He’s out 4-6 months, but should still come off the board in round 1.
Jackson has the ability and fluidity to be a very good CB. Problem is, he takes too many chances. Additionally, his return ability raises his stock. In fact, he could be the most dynamic returner in college football. Wilson has been a bit inconsistent. But he is a big, strong, press corner. However, people are all over the map with him. Lewis is more of a slot CB but is very good at it. Because the slot WR has become such an important part of offenses, being a guy who can defend the slot now has a lot of value. In that case, he may sneak into the 1st.
All in all, this is one of those drafts that if you hit on 2 or 3 picks, you can turn around your entire team. There is enough depth that you may get a 2nd round talent that falls to round 4. However, with that much talent, if you miss on a couple picks early, especially in round 1, you can fall behind everyone else. In a league where winning and losing comes down to 1 score so many times, getting the right 1st round pick could be the difference between playoffs and watching at home. Hopefully, after reading this and the last article, your team gets that player or 2 to put them over the top. All in all, enjoy the 2017 NFL Draft.