Taco Charlton

NFC East Rumors: Redskins, Cowboys, Giants

Jay Gruden studied this year’s quarterback class extensively, watching every throw each of the high- and mid-tier prospects made. The sixth-year Redskins coach said he did more work on this year’s QB class than he had in any draft since 2011, when the Bengals, Gruden’s employer at the time, selected Andy Dalton. In addition to Dwayne Haskins‘ arm strength, Gruden said the one-year Ohio State starter’s presence reminded him of Cam Newton.

They’re all pretty confident kids, bright-eyed. I was impressed with the entire class,” Gruden said, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “But (Haskins) has a demeanor and aura about him, kind of similar to Cam Newton coming out, just an aura of confidence. There’s something about him. When you’re around him, you feel like he’s got it, everything’s going to be OK — that he’s going to be successful, because he believes it.”

Haskins and Case Keenum will split the Redskins’ first-team reps, with Colt McCoy still out because of his fractured fibula injury. However, McCoy is expected to participate partially in Washington’s minicamp and be ready for training camp, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). While Gruden said Haskins is no lock to play this year, nearly every recent first-round passer chosen becoming a first-season starter points to the newcomer taking the reins early.

Here is the latest from the NFC East, shifting to news out of Dallas:

  • The Cowboys will not have Taco Charlton in action for a bit. The former first-round pick underwent ankle surgery recently, Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets. While Watkins describes this as a minor procedure, Charlton will likely miss Dallas’ offseason activities. He is expected to be ready for camp. This marks the second operation Charlton has undergone this offseason. Shortly after the Cowboys’ 2018 season concluded, the 24-year-old defensive end had shoulder surgery.
  • One of Charlton’s defensive line mates may have to face the prospect of missing regular-season time. Tyrone Crawford was popped with a misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly related to the March incident at a Florida bar, Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com writes. An affidavit indicates Crawford, after being removed from the bar, threw punches at multiple security officers and hit at least one of them. This seems likely to produce a suspension for the veteran defensive lineman.
  • Cowboys seventh-round running back Mike Weber injured his knee over the weekend, but it appears he avoided a serious setback. Weber went through an MRI but was back on the practice field Sunday, per Breer. Weber is expected to compete for time behind Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-round pick Tony Pollard, with Weber profiling as more of a traditional back compared to the versatile Pollard. The Cowboys lost previous Elliott backup Rod Smith to the Giants in free agency.
  • Mike Remmers will not have a free pass to the Giants’ starting lineup. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter named incumbent Chad Wheeler the first-string right tackle last week, but that was before Remmers was signed. “It is up to (Wheeler) to hold that position,” Hunter said, via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. “It is up to everyone else to beat him out.” Remmers’ contract (one year, $2.5MM), history (64 starts) and connections to Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur would point to him having the upper hand. Wheeler took over for Ereck Flowers early last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ third-worst full-time tackle. The Giants were connected to multiple free agent right tackles this offseason.

Injury Notes: Gronk, Mack, Pack, Eagles

A third Rob Gronkowski injury absence appears to be in the cards. The Patriots will not deploy their All-Pro tight end to play Sunday against the Titans, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. While Gronkowski is traveling with the team to Nashville, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter), he’s expected to be held out. Gronk missed games against the Bears and Packers but played in Buffalo on the Monday night in between those tilts. He’s been dealing with back and ankle trouble. While the Patriots have been able to win without their top pass-catcher, these repeated absences are obviously a concern for the future Hall of Famer’s availability for New England’s stretch run and potentially his post-2018 NFL future. It’s likely the Pats are attempting to rest Gronk now to hopefully see him healthy for key late-season games and the playoffs, but that can’t be considered a lock given his extensive injury history. Gronkowski hitting his incentive targets may now be unrealistic as well.

Here’s the latest from the Week 10 injury front.

  • Better news for the Bears. They’re in line to have both Khalil Mack and Allen Robinson back on Sunday when they face the Lions, per the Associated Press. Mack is no longer on the injury report after missing the past two Chicago games because of an ankle malady. His defensive player of the year chances took a hit because of this hiatus and Aaron Donald continuing another all-world season but Mack figures to still be in the running and can help a team attempting reach the playoffs for the first time in eight years.
  • The Lions‘ Robinson coverage options will be limited. Darius Slay is out for Week 10, joining guard T.J. Lang in that regard. Slay’s played in each of Detroit’s previous eight games and hasn’t missed time since 2016 but is battling a knee injury. A neck ailment will sideline Lang, who also missed time because of a concussion this season.
  • A tough injury night against the Patriots will have after-effects for the Packers. Kevin King will not play Sunday against the Dolphins because of a hamstring injury. Bashaud Breeland, whom ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky notes appeared to impress the Packers in his Green Bay debut, figures to see more time.
  • Both Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are going to miss Sunday night’s Eagles-Cowboys game, but Corey Graham will return after missing four games, per Sirius XM Radio’s Adam Caplan (on Twitter). After claiming Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers earlier this week, surely due to injuries affecting the aforementioned duo, the Eagles have seven corners on their roster.
  • Taco Charlton and Connor Williams aren’t playing for the Cowboys on Sunday. Xavier Su’a-Filo appears to be the choice to replace Williams at left guard for Dallas, per executive VP Stephen Jones (Twitter link). A full-time Texans starter the past two seasons, Su’a-Filo has not played this season. Williams is down with a knee injury.

Cowboys, Taco Charlton Agree To Deal

The Cowboys have agreed to a deal with their first-round pick, former Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton, per Clarence Hill of the Star Telegram (Twitter link).

Taco Charlton

Charlton saw action in all four of his years with the Wolverines, and he was particularly effective last season in racking up personal bests in tackles (40), tackles for loss (13.5) and sacks (10). That production helped convince the Cowboys to use the 28th pick on Charlton, who’s set to make over $10MM in guarantees – including $5.43MM-plus via signing bonus – on his rookie contract.

While the Cowboys went an NFC-best 13-3 last year, they did it without an elite pass rush, ranking a decent 13th in sacks and a below-average 26th in quarterback hurries. No one on the team finished with more than six sacks, leading owner Jerry Jones to make it clear early in the offseason that upgrading the pass rush was in order. The Cowboys’ hope is that Charlton will do that, while further defensive help could come from second- and third-round cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. They’re among eight unsigned Cowboys draft picks, with Charlton being the only member of their class with a contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Notes: Mixon, Raiders, Dolphins

Some assorted draft notes from around the AFC…

  • Half the league didn’t have embattled running back Joe Mixon on their draft board, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Meanwhile, other evaluators believe he was the best overall running back if they were only evaluating on-field skills. ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter adds that only four teams said they would consider drafting Mixon. We can assume that one of those four organizations was the Bengals, who selected the running back in the second round.
  • The Raiders selected UConn safety Obi Melifonwu in the second round, although Rapoport tweets that the organization was close to selecting the defensive back in the first.
  • The Dolphins ultimately selected defensive end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick on Thursday night. However, if the Missouri product hadn’t been available, the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero says (via Twitter) that the team would have selected Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton.
  • The Broncos were rather committed to selecting Florida State defensive end DeMarcus Walker. In fact, general manager John Elway revealed that he was willing to trade up if he needed to. “We made a lot of attempts to get up in (second round) to trade for Walker,” Elway told Troy Renck of Denver7 (Twitter link). “Things worked out.” Walker was selected by the Broncos with the 51st overall pick.
  • Good news out of Houston: Rapoport tweets that the Texans don’t believe running back D’Onta Foreman needs surgery on the stress fracture in his foot. The team found “no progressions in the injury at rechecks,” which apparently made them comfortable enough to select him in the third round.

Falcons, 49ers Looking To Trade Up

The Falcons and 49ers are looking to trade up, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The 49ers, unsuccessfully, tried to pry the No. 21 pick from the Lions just moments ago. If the Falcons go pass rusher, the names to remember are Taco Charlton, Tarell Basham, or Jordan Willis, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com tweets.

With 22 picks in the books, other notable names remain on the board including Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, FSU running back Dalvin Cook, UCLA linebacker Takkarist McKinley, and embattled Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley.

Inside linebacker is a need for the Niners, so they could potentially be looking to move up for Foster. McKinley would be a good fit for Atlanta as they seek a pass rusher that isn’t among the three listed by Pauline.

Fins Eyeing Derek Barnett, Charles Harris

The Dolphins have defensive ends Derek Barnett and Charles Harris high on their draft boards, league sources tell Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, and would consider selecting either with the No. 22 pick.Derek Barnett (Vertical)

Miami does have other needs, and could consider other positions in the first round. In PFR’s live mock draft, for instance, I sent Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp to South Beach. Indeed, if Barnett and Harris are both off the board by the time the Dolphins’ turn comes around, the club may be open to targeting higher-rated players at positions other than defensive end, per Salguero. Edge rushers such as Michigan’s Taco Charlton and UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley don’t figure to interest Miami as much as Barnett or Harris, and the Dolphins may go another direction if those are the best defensive ends available.

The Dolphins “love” Barnett, as Salguero reported last month, and there’s a chance the Tennessee product could still be on the board at pick No. 22. Barnett posted 33 sacks over the past three seasons, and was a highly productive player at the collegiate level. Doubters, however, point to Barnett’s poor measurables which could indicate a lack of explosion. Harris, meanwhile, is shooting up draft boards after putting up 16 sacks for Missouri from 2015-16. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com compares the 6’3″, 253-pounder to NFL edge rusher Connor Barwin.

While Miami re-signed Andre Branch and extended Cameron Wake this offseason, the club still desperately needs depth at defensive end. Wake is now 35 years old, and the only other pass rushers on the roster aside from Branch are 32-year-old William Hayes and Terrence Fede, the latter of whom hasn’t made an impact in three NFL seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Live NFL Mock Draft

The 2017 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and Pro Football Rumors is back with its second mock draft of the year. While our initial mock attempted to project what will happen in Round 1, we’ve taken a different approach for mock draft 2.0.

PFR editor Zach Links and I conducted this live mock draft on Tuesday morning, rotating picks and breaking down what we would do were we in charge of these selections. We posted each pick on Twitter, followed by a short explanation of our thought process on this page.

Here’s the complete mock:

1. Cleveland Browns (Zach) – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M

I suspect this is the easiest pick either one of us will make all day. Garrett is the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Browns would be foolish to go in any other direction at the top of the draft.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Dallas) – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Reports that the 49ers are considering a quarterback with the second overall selection stand out as a potential smokescreen, and instead San Francisco uses the No. 2 pick to bolster its defense. Hooker, who recently earned a full medical clearance following combine rechecks, has been commonly linked to the Chargers as a perfect fit for Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. But the 49ers are running the same defensive look as the Chargers under new DC Robert Saleh, and Hooker would give the team a centerfielder with the upside of an Earl Thomas. San Francisco’s plan to convert nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward to safety won’t stop it from adding Hooker, who is possibly the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect.

3. Chicago Bears (Zach) – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford 

Dallas’ bold pick left my Bears with a golden opportunity. The Bears could go safety or cornerback in this scenario, but the talent of Thomas is too good to pass up. Thomas can be used on both the inside and outside of the Bears’ defensive line and I see him as one of the safest talents on the board.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Dallas) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

No, we didn’t forget the Jaguars used a top-five pick on Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and then handed a $67.5MM contract to A.J. Bouye in free agency last month. But one of Ramsey’s key selling points last year was his versatility: while he’s a shutdown corner at his best, Ramsey can man the slot, cover tight ends, and dabble at safety. As such, adding Conley doesn’t mean Jacksonville is facing cornerback overload, especially given that NFL clubs are in the nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Conley is viewed as a safer prospect than his Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, and he’d give the Jaguars a Broncos-like secondary.

5. Tennessee Titans (Zach) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans, arguably, get the best cornerback available in the draft even though they are the second team to address the position. No, we don’t have a ton of film to go on for Lattimore, but his combine numbers indicate that he could be a megastar. Few teams in the NFL would have a young cornerback duo like the Titans if they can pair Logan Ryan with Lattimore.Mitch Trubisky Instagram

6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Jets) (Dallas) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

In need of a franchise quarterback, the Browns send the No. 12 and No. 52 pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 6 with the intention of drafting Trubisky. It’s a slight overpay for Cleveland (at least, based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s draft value chart, which is likely what the Browns front offices uses), but it does the deal anyway to land a long-term option under center. Given that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly pressing the club to select a quarterback early — and the fact the Cleveland may still be considering Trubisky with the first overall selection — landing the UNC signal-caller at No. 5 for the cost of a mid-second-round pick is a move the Browns can’t pass up.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Zach) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

In this scenario, it seems like Allen’s subpar workouts have led to a bit of a drop. His size (6’3″) is a bit of a concern, but he has the ability to be an effective defensive end while spending some time on the inside as well. Allen would look great lining up on the opposite end of Joey Bosa.

8. Carolina Panthers (Dallas) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Sitting at pick No. 8, the Panthers certainly have options. General manager Dave Gettleman & Co. could go after a running back like Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, bring in a young edge rusher to play alongside veterans like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, or even reach for an offensive tackle given Michael Oher‘s health questions. With Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown having defected via free agency, the Panthers need another wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin. Enter Davis, who topped 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Zach) – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster’s stock, by all accounts, is slipping after he turned in a diluted urine sample and got into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine. However, with other teams in the market for an inside linebacker (like the Jets at No. 12, for example), it would be somewhat risky to trade down into the teens and expect Foster to still be there. The Bengals have been willing to overlook character concerns in the past, so I see no reason why they can’t do the same here and land the Alabama star.

10. Buffalo Bills (Dallas) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU

While the Bills gave Jordan Poyer a four-year deal with $6MM in guarantees earlier this offseason, I’m still not convinced Buffalo views him as a definite starter. Those questions come to the forefront with Adams still on the board, and the Bills don’t hesitate to take the LSU defensive back. With ex-Packer Micah Hyde also in the fold, Buffalo can field one of the more diverse and flexible safety tandems in the league. Adams is viewed as a leader in the locker room, and has been favorably compared to former Cowboys All Pro Darren Woodson by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.

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Draft Rumors: 49ers, Jets, Fins, Mixon,

The 49ers are willing to trade the second pick in the draft, which has been the case since at least February. They’ll “listen to anything,” said general manager John Lynch, who revealed that teams have shown interest in acquiring the selection (via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area). Regardless of whether they trade the choice, the 49ers won’t have top prospects like Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas or Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey in for pre-draft visits. “I think we know those guys pretty well,” stated Lynch (Twitter link via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com). They did work out Cal quarterback Davis Webb on Tuesday, per Wagoner. Webb is gaining momentum as a potential first-rounder.

More on the draft:

  • The Jets worked out North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky on March 30, but they’ll take another look at the 22-year-old Thursday in the form of a pre-draft visit, reports Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. There are some members of the organization who are quite bullish on Trubisky, Mehta writes. The quarterback-needy Jets, who are set to pick sixth, have also met twice with Texas Tech signal-caller Patrick Mahomes.
  • With their first-rounder, No. 30, the Steelers plan to select the best defensive back available, says Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (video link). That could be Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, whom GM Kevin Colbert “loves,” according to Kinkhabwala. Head coach Mike Tomlin said last month that the Steelers need DBs capable of playing man coverage, noting that New England quarterback Tom Brady roasted their secondary in January’s AFC championship game.
  • The Dolphins’ previously reported visit with Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton took place Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.The team also hosted Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis, who, like Charlton, is a prospective first-rounder. PFR’s Dallas Robinson currently has Miami taking Charlton at No. 22 overall.
  • Speaking of the Dolphins, they’ll meet with Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt this week, and he’ll also visit the Saints, 49ers and Broncos in the coming days, relays Jeremy Bregman of NFL.com. The brother of Texans superstar J.J. Watt may end up coming off the board in Round 1.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon is “absolutely in play” for the Vikings in Round 2 (No. 48 overall), Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller told Matt Vensel, Andrew Krammer and Michael Rand of the Star Tribune. Along with Minnesota, the Saints, Bengals and Raiders have shown the most interest in Mixon, per Miller. The Raiders seem like a curious fit, though, given Mixon’s past and owner Mark Davis’ zero tolerance policy regarding domestic violence.

Draft Visits: McCaffrey, Conley, Mixon, Taco

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, whose stock is so high that he could be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, will visit the Redskins and Broncos, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com). Given where they’re slated to select (Washington’s at No. 17, Denver’s 20th), those two teams could have difficulty reeling in McCaffrey, though it would make for an especially interesting story if he ended up with the Broncos. His father, Ed McCaffrey, was a standout receiver in Denver from 1995-2003. While there, he caught passes from quarterback John Elway, who’s now the Broncos’ general manager.

More of the latest high-profile draft visits:

  • Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley has already visited the Titans (along with the previously reported Cowboys and Browns), and will meet with the Bengals and Jets, writes Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com. Conley seems like a shoo-in to go somewhere in the first round, and PFR’s Dallas Robinson currently has him going 11th overall to New Orleans.
  • Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon visited the Buccaneers this week, tweets Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. The potential second- or third-round pick could be a fit for a Tampa Bay team whose incumbent starting running back, Doug Martin, isn’t a lock to remain with the club. Even if Martin doesn’t lose his roster spot, he’ll still miss the first three games of next season as a result of a suspension.
  • Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton visited the Lions on Friday, per Rapoport (Twitter link). As Rapoport further notes (and as was previously reported), the Cowboys and Dolphins are also among the teams interested in Charlton, who’s coming off a 10-sack season with the Wolverines.
  • Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs visited the Steelers on Monday and will also meet with the Chiefs, relays Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Dobbs, who was a two-year starter with the Volunteers, could go as high as the second or third round, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. (via Mike Griffith of SEC Country).
  • Kansas State defensive lineman Jordan Willis visited the 49ers on Wednesday, reports Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. Willis figures to go late in the first round or early in the second, which could make him a target for the 49ers at No. 34 overall.

PFR’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

The 2017 NFL draft is less than a month away, and while the first overall pick may be nearly set in stone, the rest of the first round is as muddled as its ever been. A lot can and will happen between now and April 27th, and there are still plenty of teams near the top that could go in a number of different directions on draft day.

Pro Football Rumors’ first mock draft of 2017 is below. To be clear, this is our projection of what will happen – not necessarily the choices we would make – based on reports and information gathered from beat and national writers, our general assessment of this year’s crop of prospects, and, of course, team needs. Let’s dive in:

2017 Mock Draft 1.0 (Vertical)

1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M
The easiest prediction of the first round, Garrett was considered the favorite to be selected first overall for much of the collegiate season. Nothing Garrett has done since the 2016 campaign concluded has changed that outlook, and the Browns reportedly have an “astronomical grade” on the Aggie edge rusher. At the scouting combine, Garrett weighed in at 272 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, and posted 33 bench press reps. Cleveland was “blown away” by the numbers, and it will pick Garrett knowing he can single-handedly alter their front seven.

2. Carolina Panthers (projected trade with San Francisco)Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
Rumor has it the Panthers are interested in acquiring the No. 2 pick from the 49ers, and I’ve projected that trade will indeed occur (last week, I examined what sort of package Carolina may need to sacrifice in order to move up). While Leonard Fournette could also garner consideration, the Panthers will take Thomas, another signal that Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman values the defensive line above all else. Veteran defensive ends Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers are only signed through 2017, and Thomas would give the Panthers long-term security on the edge. He can slide inside, as well, protecting Carolina against free agent defections by Star Lotulelei and/or Kawann Short.

3. Chicago Bears – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
While the Bears have a number of needs on both sides of the ball, they could stand to add another cornerback, and in Lattimore they’ll secure the best CB in the draft. Chicago did add Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in free agency, but Amukamara signed a one-year deal and Cooper has done nothing to prove he’s a starting NFL defensive back. Former first-round pick Kyle Fuller‘s time with the Bears may be coming to an end, and Lattimore would give Chicago shutdown corner potential from day one. Chicago hosted Lattimore on a predraft visit on Monday.O.J. Howard (Vertical)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Defense shouldn’t be a problem in Jacksonville this season, as the team has invested heavy resources — both dollars and draft capital — on the defensive side of the ball over the past two years. The Jaguars’ offense, however, ranked just 27th in DVOA in 2016, and while much of the struggle can be attributed to Blake Bortles and a poor front five, Jacksonville isn’t going to replace Bortles immediately, and there are no offensive linemen worthy of the No. 4 pick. Instead, the Jags will select one of the safer players in the draft, pinpointing Howard to replace free agent whiff Julius Thomas, who was traded to Miami last month.

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The Titans could still use help at both wide receiver and cornerback, but with another pick in Round 1 to address other needs, general manager Jon Robinson goes with the best player available and selects Allen. At least one AFC personnel director believes Allen’s shoulder issues could lead to a draft-day tumble, but Allen would give Tennessee a truly dominant defensive line. He’d team with lineman Jurrell Casey and Sylvester Williams and edge rushers Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan on one of the league’s more underrated front sevens.

6. New York Jets – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Gang Green isn’t in a great position at No. 6. Lattimore and Howard may have been the club’s best options, but they’re now off the board, and it’s difficult to see the Jets selecting another linebacker or defensive lineman given their first-round investments over the past several years. Under center, New York seems to want to give 2016 second-rounder Christian Hackenberg a chance to play, and the team’s visits with this year’s top quarterback prospects are largely viewed as smokescreens. Safety probably isn’t a priority for the Jets, but the the team simply needs talent, and Hooker is the best player left.

7. Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Hooker is a better fit for new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme, but Adams will work as well. While he’s not the center fielder that Hooker is, Adams offers the type of versatility the Chargers covet. Los Angeles has yet to replace Eric Weddle, who left after the 2015 season, and while it re-signed Jahleel Addae last month, Adams would serve as an improvement over Dwight Lowery. The Bolts could begin eyeing a long-term replacement for Philip Rivers this year, but they won’t use the seventh pick to find their franchise quarterback.

8. San Francisco 49ers (projected trade with Carolina)Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Even after signing 13 external free agents, the 49ers still have holes all over their roster. Foster would be in consideration for San Francisco even if it holds on to the No. 2 selection, but in this scenario, the club has traded down to acquire more assets while still getting the player it originally targeted. Foster has some negatives — a February shoulder surgery, a dust-up with a hospital worker at the combine — but he’s unquestionably one of the more talented players in the 2017 class. An inside ‘backer by trade, Foster would likely slide into the weak side in the Bay Area given the presence of NaVorro Bowman.

9. Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
If the Bengals have a “type,” it’s productive players from the SEC. During Marvin Lewis‘ 14-year run as head coach, Cincinnati has selected a first-round SEC prospect half the time. Barnett fits that mold, as he topped Reggie White’s Tennessee sack record of 33 in only three years. Doubters, however, worry Barnett’s physical traits don’t match his production. But the Bengals need to upgrade on defensive end Michael Johnson, who hasn’t posted an above-average season since 2013. Wide receiver could be another option here, as could a trade back, especially if quarterback-needy clubs want to jump ahead of Buffalo, New Orleans, and Cleveland.

10. Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Corey Brown. Andre Holmes. Dezmin Lewis. Brandon Tate. Jeremy Butler. Those are the names on the Bills’ wide receiver depth chart behind Sammy Watkins. It’s the worst group of supplementary pass-catchers in the NFL, and while Buffalo’s offense is heavily run-focused, Tyrod Taylor still needs someone to throw to besides Watkins. Davis comes from a small school, but he’s been extremely productive against lesser production, topping 1,400 receiving yards in each of the last three seasons. He’d immediately become the Bills’ No. 2 receiver.

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