The Daily Briefing Tuesday, March 21, 2017

AROUND THE NFL

The NFL has had a Super Bowl crime wave for years, only realized in 2017 when TOM BRADY instantly noticed that his jersey was pilfered.  And it turns out an executive with a Mexican newspaper was the culprit, stealing priceless artifacts in plain sight and absconding with them over the border.  This from Ken Belson of the New York Times:

 

Tom Brady’s missing jersey from Super Bowl LI has been found in Mexico, apparently in the possession of a newspaper editor who had a media credential for the event and, the authorities say, more: other game-day clothing and equipment from Brady and another player, possibly from other Super Bowls.

 

It took an investigation by the F.B.I. and the police in Houston, where the game was played, as well as Mexican authorities and the league, to find the coveted jersey. Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots, said the jersey was missing from his bag shortly after he returned to the locker room, celebrating his team’s historic come-from-behind victory against the Atlanta Falcons last month.

 

The trail, with the aid of video taken by cameras near the locker room, led to Mauricio Ortega, the editor of La Prensa, a medium-size daily in Mexico City, league officials said.

 

There, the authorities confronted Ortega, who, they said, turned over not only Brady’s Super Bowl LI jersey, but another of his jerseys, from Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., as well as a helmet thought to belong to Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, who was the most valuable player of Super Bowl 50 in 2016.

 

All three items have been returned to the United States and are being authenticated. The items could be used as evidence if Ortega is charged in the case. Solving the riddle of where Brady’s jersey — or now, jerseys — had gone now raises questions about security and vetting of the thousands of journalists who cover the event, including 5,700 this year alone, several hundred of them from Mexico, where the N.F.L. is making a push for new fans.

 

It really wasn’t an NFL “vetting” problem, Ortega was an actual member of the media, not an imposter as some reporters were first hoping.  It was an NFL security problem though and the habit of allowing media members to roam in the actual locker room practically unobserved is what may be called into question, something Belson discusses:

 

In recent years, some people who have received credentials have appeared at the Super Bowl simply to hang out or add to the spectacle, particularly on the Monday before the game, when the news media is allowed to interview players from both teams in what increasingly is a slickly produced television show. Some people with credentials dress in outrageous outfits and ask players embarrassing questions.

 

There was no sign on the website of La Prensa that Ortega wrote about the most recent Super Bowl or others, though he did write an article about the regular-season game in November.

 

Fox Sports, whose reporter Jay Glazer broke the news of the found Super Bowl LI jersey, broadcast a video that it said showed Ortega walking into the locker room and exiting with what looked like something under his shirt.

 

The parent company of La Prensa, OEM, one of the largest media companies in Mexico, said in a statement that Ortega resigned March 14, in a move company officials believed was related to health problems he had said close family members were having.

 

The statement said that “with total surprise and disappointment,” the company learned of the investigation and “energetically condemns” the behavior. It said officials had no knowledge of his involvement in the removal of the items. A person who answered the phone at La Prensa’s offices said there was no additional comment and hung up when asked for more information. There was no answer at OEM’s offices.

– – –

A larger question is whether the N.F.L., having been stung by the embarrassing theft, will alter reporters’ access to the locker room or teams, which traditionally has been seen as vital for obtaining details and comments unavailable to viewers at home. Jim Steeg, who ran the Super Bowl for the N.F.L. for more than 25 years, said the thefts were an inevitable result of an expanding postgame celebration.

 

In years past, only camera operators and a handful of media were on the field after the Super Bowl. Now, hundreds of reporters, as well as family and friends of the players, are on the field. This creates a festive atmosphere, but also additional headaches for security staff.

 

In the past, the players ran back to the locker rooms together and met privately with their coaches and team owners behind closed doors before reporters eventually would be let in, in a more organized fashion. Steeg recalled preventing the Rev. Jesse Jackson from entering the locker room after the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986 because the team was meeting privately.

 

Unlike reporters of years ago, more now carry backpacks with their computers and other equipment that, in theory, could be used to stash equipment.

 

Steeg said that during his years running the Super Bowl, he had crews of security staff in both locker rooms around the clock to prevent any equipment from being stolen. But on game day, he said, it has become far more chaotic.

 

“It was almost inevitable that this happened,” Steeg said. “Now you literally had something taken not only out of the locker room, but out of a bag in the locker room.”

 

– – –

COMPETITION COMMITTEE REPORT

 

This comes out of left field – the Competition Committee wants to shorten regular season overtimes to 10 minutes.  NFL.com:

 

Is overtime about to get a makeover?

 

When the NFL Competition Committee gathers for next week’s Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, shortening the game’s “fifth quarter” will go under the microscope.

 

NFL Network’s Judy Battista tweeted Monday that the committee will propose reducing both preseason and regular-season overtime periods from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Postseason games would keep the traditional 15-minute time limit.

 

Why the proposal?

 

Battista reported the committee believes there is a “real disadvantage” for a team playing an entire 15-minute overtime period before having to turn around and play a Thursday night game the following week.

 

NFL Research @NFLResearch

There have been 83 regular season overtime games in the last 5 seasons

 

22 of them (26.5%) featured an OT period that lasted 10+ minutes

 

The idea is simply in the proposal stage right now — and not guaranteed to pass — but it’s certainly one of the more intriguing potential rule changes in some time.

 

In addition, Battista reported the committee also will propose to have officials, probably the referee, to be phased in to full-time positions by 2020.

 

So, if the DB’s math is correct and nothing changed with overtime strategy – both dubious propositions – we could expect about four ties cluttering the standings per season.

 

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com expounds on that:

 

Get ready to kiss your sister more frequently.

 

The prospect of a 10-minute overtime period, coupled with the two-possession overtime rule, will result in more ties in the regular season.

 

Overtimes already are taking longer, given that the team that kicks off to start the period gets a possession if the first team to have the ball scores three points. That rule, which should have been adopted for the postseason only already is causing teams to play deeper into the fifth period during regular season games.

 

When the overtime rule was changed seven years ago, NFL coaches apparently wanted that rule to apply for all games because they wanted to avoid having different rules for the regular season and for the postseason.

 

So, of course, the solution to longer overtime periods will be to adopt a different rule for the regular season and the postseason by reducing the length of the extra session to 10 minutes. Then again, the rules for the postseason already were different, given that in the playoffs the 15-minute sessions will continue indefinitely until someone scores.

 

The better approach would be to simply get rid of the two-possession rule for regular season games. This will increase one-possession overtimes (and in turn shorten the process) by allowing a team who wins the toss to kick a field goal and walk away.

 

In the postseason, the two-possession rule not only should survive but also be expanded to guarantee a second possession regardless of whether the team receiving the opening kickoff scores a field goal or a touchdown. If the league is willing to have different regular-season rules by reducing overtime to 10 minutes, why not ditch the two-possession rule under the single-elimination rounds?

 

So he really wants teams to once again take the kickoff in OT, move 30 or 40 yards and kick a field goal to win? 

 

NFC SOUTH

 

ATLANTA

With the new stadium coming around third base and heading towards its opening, there is an extension for team president Rich McKay.  Josh Alper at ProFootballTalk.com:

 

Rich McKay has worked for the Falcons since 2004 and the relationship is set to continue through 2022.

 

The Falcons announced on Tuesday that McKay has signed a five-year contract extension to remain in his roles as team president and CEO. McKay is also the president of AMB Sports & Entertainment, which oversees the Falcons, the MLS Atlanta United and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

 

The stadium opens this year as the new home for both the Falcons and the MLS expansion club. The team’s release announcing McKay’s extension called his work “pivotal” in the “negotiation, development and progress of building” their new home.

 

McKay also serves as the chairman of the NFL competition committee. He has been on that committee since 1998, although he was pulled off of it for a couple of years as punishment after the Falcons were found to be pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. He was off the committee in 2013 and 2014 before being reinstated ahead of the 2015 season.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS

The Saints already have the first round pick of New England.  Now, the Patriots could have the first round pick of New Orleans.  Mike Giardi of CSNNE.com:

 

CSN’s Mike Giardi reports the Saints are ‘enamored’ with Malcolm Butler and that the parameters for a deal between the team and the cornerback are ‘mostly’ in place.

 

@MikeGiardi

Don’t read too much into silence on Butler front. Focused on Saints. Parameters of deal mostly in place. Some quibbling over guaranteed $$$

 

@MikeGiardi

As for compensation for Butler, can’t be discussed until he signs tender but both sides know what it will take to get deal done…

 

@MikeGiardi

Sense i get is there’s a bit of a game of high stakes chicken on compensation front, but Saints enamored with player

 

Once the Saints and Butler have reached agreement, the ball goes back into the Patriots’ court. They can either match the offer or let Butler go to New Orleans at the cost of the Saints’ first-round draft choice. The third option, of course, is that the teams work out a trade, but that’s contingent on Butler signing the contract the Patriots tendered him prior to free agency. If he’s unsigned, he can’t be traded.

 

AFC WEST

 

OAKLAND

The Raiders have signed former Bills number one QB EJ MANUEL.  He will battle CONNOR COOK for the job of backing up DEREK CARR.  The current OC of the Raiders, Todd Dowling, was Buffalo’s quarterbacks coach in 2014. 

 

For what it’s worth, the DB thinks that Manuel, much like Byron Leftwich did with the Steelers, could settle in and have a nice career as a backup.

 

AFC EAST

 

NEW ENGLAND

With MALCOLM BUTLER in the wind, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald looks at the idea that CB DARRELLE REVIS could make his way back to Foxboro/Foxborough:

 

Darrelle Revis wants to play football for an NFL team in 2017. He wants to resurrect what’s left of his career, after turning into an old, overweight, receiver-friendly cornerback last season with the Jets.

 

Instead of avoiding Revis Island last season, opposing quarterbacks would often look in his direction to make plays. It was a far cry from the seven-time Pro Bowler who had made receivers invisible during his previous nine seasons in the league.

 

With the Patriots possibly needing another cornerback, the notion of Revis returning to Foxboro became a hot debate topic last week once criminal charges against him were dismissed Wednesday stemming from an altercation that occurred on a Pittsburgh street last month.

 

When it comes to a Revis encore with the Super Bowl champs, it’s really a two-sided issue. Would the veteran cornerback, who won a ring with the Patriots during the 2014 season, want to return, and work that hard again, knowing what’s expected in Foxboro? More importantly, would the Patriots even want him back, especially after watching that mammoth drop-off in performance last season?

 

Let’s take it from the Revis side first. After walking out of the courtroom Wednesday, Revis claimed he had lost 10 pounds, hired a new trainer, and was “excited” for the 2017 season after being dumped by the Jets, who basically decided that eating the remainder of his contract was better than keeping him in their secondary.

 

That’s left Revis a free agent, but not so free given the legal entanglement was finally cleared up. Revis might still face league sanctions, but the worst appears behind him.

 

Said Revis outside the courtroom: “I can really focus on what team I can fit with, the best system and team and coaches.”

 

Revis should know the best system, the best team, and the best coaches work in Foxboro. While the Pennsylvania native indicated he’d love to play with the Steelers, the former shutdown corner has to know the best chance to revive his career — and erase the images of getting torched by even second-rate receivers last season, — is in again hooking up with Bill Belichick and letting the Hoodie bring out whatever good football is left in him.

 

Knowing and doing, however, are two different things.

 

Now that Revis has a ring, is he willing to pay the price every day, not to mention, sign a minimum deal? The Jets are still paying him $6 million this season no matter what. If the Pats pay him peanuts to come aboard for a year, for instance, could he live with playing on the cheap?

 

Revis is usually all about the money, unless he’s setting up his next payday, which is how it was in 2014, when he joined the Patriots after being cut loose from Tampa Bay. He was coming off a down season following ACL surgery, not nearly as dominant as previous years. So he had a prove-it year with the Patriots, even though the two-year deal was nothing to sneeze at — even if the huge cap hit built into the second year was never realistically going to be picked up.

 

Revis could return a second time at a cut rate, if he’s motivated, and Belichick believes he had something left.

 

If he truly wants to resurrect himself, if he wants to prove he has something left, and wants to cement his Hall of Fame credentials, Foxboro is the only place for him.

 

Think about it, does he really want the lasting image of his career to be as a big, fat Jet who couldn’t hack it, or play competitively?

 

Calls made Friday to his representative to weigh his interest in returning to the Patriots — or discern whether there had been any discussions with the Pats — weren’t returned.

 

That brings us to the Patriots’ side. Would they want him? If Belichick was convinced Revis could help, an attempt would likely be made if there was an opening at corner. Just as an aside, word has it, the idea of moving to safety came up the last time there was a negotiation between the two sides, and Belichick shot it down because he didn’t think Revis’ skills translated to the position.

 

Obviously, there are some issues to get past, ones that don’t include whether or not Revis can still play. In the two years since leaving Foxboro, Revis has taken a few shots at Tom Brady as well as Belichick and the organization, particularly during Deflategate.

 

“(The Patriots) have a history of doing stuff,” Revis told the Daily News in the summer of 2015. “You can’t hide that. . . . Tom was there when they did that stuff in the past. New England’s been doing stuff in the past and getting in trouble. When stuff repeatedly happens, then that’s it. I don’t know what else to tell you. Stuff repeatedly happened through the years. You got SpyGate, you got this and that and everything else. Obviously in those situations in the past, (the NFL) had the evidence. So, they did what they needed to do.”

 

There was also something Revis appeared to have posted on his Instagram account, claiming he did Belichick and Brady a favor by coming to Foxboro, and they wouldn’t have won another championship without him.

 

So there’s baggage. Personal baggage. Can the Patriots get past that? Maybe. It’s not as if he hadn’t said some negative things before he arrived in 2014, and he and Belichick cleared the air before that tour, so we’ll see.

 

Revis would take some of the pressure off Stephon Gilmore, should Malcolm Butler ultimately depart, which remains a big if at this point. He might also be a good mentor for Cyrus Jones. Without question, there are a lot of issues in play.

 

Bottom line, if Belichick is loading up for championship No. 6, which surely looks to be the case, and he thinks Revis can contribute, he’ll be in the conversation, especially if Butler departs. Can Belichick be completely comfortable with Gilmore and Eric Rowe as his top two corners, with Jones in the slot?

 

On the flip side, if the Hoodie thinks Revis is done, or won’t fully commit, no amount of pleading will change his mind about bringing him back. Fuhgeddaboudit. It’s a non-starter. End of discussion.

– – –

Michael David Smith at ProFootballTalk.com notes that the smart guys in Vegas have looked at what Belichick and company have done this offseason – and pronounced it good:

 

After the Patriots won Super Bowl LI, the Vegas oddsmakers installed New England as the favorite to win Super Bowl LII. And after making some impressive moves in free agency, the Patriots are even stronger favorites now.

 

According to Bovada, the Patriots opened as 5-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl but moved to 4-1 favorites after the first week of free agency.

 

The arrivals of Stephon Gilmore, Rex Burkhead and Lawrence Guy in free agency have counteracted the losses of Martellus Bennett, Jabaal Sheard, Logan Ryan and Barkevious Mingo. The Patriots also traded for Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy and Dwayne Allen and managed to retain three of their own free agents, Dont’a Hightower, Duron Harmon and Alan Branch.

 

The last team to repeat as Super Bowl champion was New England, in Super Bowls XXVIII and XXIX (after the 2003 and 2004 seasons). Now the Patriots are looking to do it again, and they look like they have a great chance.

 

 

 

NEW YORK JETS

The Jets have signed QB JOSH McCOWN.  It’s still not a pretty QB picture with Gang Green.  USA TODAY:

 

The New York Jets have made a long-awaited move for a veteran quarterback.

 

Josh McCown agreed to a one-year deal with the team on Monday, his agent Mike McCartney confirmed on Twitter. NFL Network reported the contract was worth $6 million, which was fully guaranteed.

 

McCown, who turns 38 in July, met with the team over the weekend. The Jets also met with free agent quarterback Chase Daniel on Monday, according to multiple reports.

 

McCown played in just five games last season and was limited by a shoulder injury. He has never played a full 16-game season in his career. McCown also visited with the Dallas Cowboys, but Kellen Moore was re-signed as Dak Prescott’s likely backup.

 

In New York, he could serve as a bridge starter while the team prepares his eventual successor. Last year’s starter Ryan Fitzpatrick remains an unsigned free agent, while Geno Smith opted to sign with the New York Giants.

 

Bryce Petty started four games last season in place of Fitzpatrick but threw just three touchdowns and seven interceptions before a torn labrum ended his season. Christian Hackenberg, last year’s second-round pick, has yet to see any NFL action.

 

 

THIS AND THAT

 

 

FORMER PLAYERS

Former WR Mike Thomas, he was with the Jaguars, is in trouble with authorities near Atlanta.  First Coast News:

 

Mike Thomas, who spent three and a half seasons in Jacksonville, was arrested on aggravated assault, cruelty to children and battery charges on Sunday, according to the Sandy Springs Police Department.

 

Thomas was also charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony.

 

Jacksonville selected Thomas in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

 

Thomas played six seasons in the NFL, but only appeared in 61 games in his career. He caught 171 receptions for 1,768 yards as a member of the Jaguars.

 

He was traded to the Detroit Lions in the middle of the 2012 season. Thomas also played for the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals before moving on to the Canadian Football League.

 

He hasn’t played professional football since 2014.

 

WSB-TV Atlanta has more:

 

A former NFL player is accused of attacking his fiancee in a home in which a child’s birthday party was going on.

 

Michael Thomas walked into the Fulton County Jail courtroom wearing a blue inmate uniform. It’s a different uniform than the one people are used to seeing on him. Thomas played for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2009 to 2012.

 

According to a Sandy Springs police report, a woman said Thomas started beating her early Sunday morning with an open and closed fist and then began choking her.

 

“They could hear loud banging, screaming. They could hear a female, you know, crying for help,” Sgt. Sam Worsham, of the Sandy Springs Police Department, told Winne.

 

The police report lists warrant for aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and child abuse in the third degree.

 

The report said six juvenile females were inside the home for a birthday party at the time of the assault.

 

“They could hear the altercation going on upstairs,” Worsham said.

 

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke to Thomas inside the Fulton County Jail. He told Winne he and his fiancee had argued.

 

“I never hit her. I never intentionally hit her,” Thomas told Winne.

 

He suggested the allegation he strangled her is false and said he did not commit any crimes.

 

Thomas confirmed there was a gun found inside his briefcase but told Winne he has a concealed weapons permit.

 

He told Winne he felt as if “being a black man in Sandy Springs” had been a factor in his arrest.

 

Worsham told Winne that accusation has no merit.

 

“We strive on treating everyone fairly, equally,” Worsham said. “The men and women who wear this uniform are sworn to an oath.”

– – –

This update on another murder trial for former Patriots and U. of Florida TE Aaron Hernandez:

 

A former friend of Aaron Hernandez told the jury at the ex-NFL star’s double-murder trial Monday that Hernandez opened fire on a car because he believed two men inside had taunted him at a Boston nightclub.

 

Alexander Bradley testified about the shootings on July 16, 2012. Bradley said Hernandez ordered him to pull up next to the victims’ car at a stop light, then repeatedly fired a revolver into the car. Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu were killed.

 

Relatives of the men wept as Bradley testified, prompting Judge Jeffrey Locke to call for a brief recess during Bradley’s testimony at Suffolk Superior Court.

 

Bradley said Hernandez used a racial epithet and said, “What’s up now?” before firing.

 

The former New England Patriots tight end is accused of killing the men after de Abreu accidentally bumped into Hernandez and spilled his drink at the club. Hernandez is also charged with witness intimidation for allegedly shooting Bradley in the face months later after he became worried that Bradley would tell authorities about the earlier shootings. Bradley lost an eye in the shooting.

 

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty. During opening statements to the jury, his lawyer pointed the finger at Bradley, saying he shot Furtado and de Abreu over a drug deal.

 

Bradley is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for shooting up a bar in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2014. No one was hurt.

 

Hernandez is already serving a life sentence in the 2013 fatal shooting of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player.

 

 

KAEP ATTACKED

The President of the United States used his bully pulpit to note that fear of his presidential tweeting power is preventing QB COLIN KAEPERNICK from receiving the contract he otherwise would deserve.

 

President Donald Trump criticized free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick at a rally in Louisville on Monday, saying the people of Kentucky “like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

 

Trump began the tangent about Kaepernick by referring to him as “your San Francisco quarterback—I’m sure nobody’s ever heard of him.”

 

 “There was an article today, it was reported, that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” Trump said, referring to an article by Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman published Friday. “I said, ‘If I remember that one I’m gonna report it to the people of Kentucky—because they like it when people actually stand for the American flag.”

 

“First, some teams genuinely believe that he can’t play,” Freeman quoted an anonymous AFC general manager as saying. “They think he’s shot. I’d put that number around 20 percent.

 

“Second some teams fear the backlash from fans after getting him. They think there might be protests or [President Donald] Trump will tweet about the team. I’d say that number is around 10 percent. Then there’s another 10 percent that has a mix of those feelings.”

 

Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem last season to protest police brutality, reportedly plans to stand for the anthem next season.

 

Please note, this is the definition of “bully pulpit”

 

A bully pulpit is a conspicuous position that provides an opportunity to speak out and be listened to. This term was coined by President Theodore Roosevelt, who referred to the White House as a “bully pulpit”, by which he meant a terrific platform from which to advocate an agenda.

 

We’re not really calling Trump a “bully”, nor are we not calling him one.

 

Meanwhile a former coach of Kaep’s, the legendary Jim Harbaugh, is telling teams that they can make Kaepernick great again with just a little good, solid coaching.  Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com:

 

The coach who went to a Super Bowl with Colin Kaepernick thinks another team could get to the Super Bowl with Kaepernick, if he gets the chance.

 

Jim Harbaugh said on PFT Live that Kaepernick, whom he coached in San Francisco, still has all the tools he displayed when he took the league by storm in his first year as a starter. Harbaugh said NFL teams have reached out to ask his opinion of Kaepernick, and Harbaugh tells them they should sign him.

 

“I’ll tell you the same thing I tell them: I think he’s an outstanding player and I think he’s a great competitor who has proven it in games and has the ability to be not only an NFL starter but a great NFL player,” Harbaugh said.

 

Harbaugh said he thinks NFL teams aren’t as patient as they need to be in developing quarterbacks, and he thinks a smart team will take the time to work with Kaepernick to make the most of his physical tools. That team, Harbaugh believes, will win multiple Super Bowls.

 

“He’ll have a great career and be a great quarterback, win championships,” Harbaugh said.

 

Now the question is whether any team will give Kaepernick that chance.

 

 

2017 DRAFT

 

Today’s Mock Draft come from Chad Reuter at NFL.com.  He is not a fan of QB MITCHELL TRUBISKY and we like the idea of RB CHRISTIAN McCAFFERY with Andy Reid (who once had Russell Westbrook) in Kansas City.

 

1 – Cleveland

Myles Garrett – DE, Texas A&M

Garrett confirmed at the combine what everyone knew: He’s a fantastic athlete.

 

2 – San Francisco

Jamal Adams – S, LSU

Kyle Shanahan is playing the waiting game for Kirk Cousins, so the 49ers look to instead add a leader in the secondary.

 

3 – Chicago

Solomon Thomas – DE, Stanford

Thomas is an outstanding player with position versatility the Bears will appreciate.

 

4 – Jacksonville

Leonard Fournette – RB, LSU

Jacksonville gets an elite back to pair with T.J. Yeldon, with Chris Ivory possibly a cap casualty.

 

5 – Tennessee

Corey Davis – WR, Western Michigan

Marcus Mariota could use some receivers. Now.

 

6 – New York Jets

Marshon Lattimore – CB, Ohio State

The Jets are lacking talent at cornerback, so one of the Buckeyes’ talented corners should find a home in NYC.

 

7 –  Los Angeles Chargers

Malik Hooker – S, Ohio State

Hooker’s range and ball skills are worthy of a top-10 pick.

 

8 – Carolina

John Ross – WR, Washington

Finding speed at the receiver position should be a priority for the Panthers.

 

9 – Cincinnati

Jonathan Allen – DE, Alabama

The Bengals might see a younger version of Geno Atkins in Allen.

 

10 – Buffalo

Mike Williams – WR, Clemson

Tyrod Taylor’s back in the fold, so finding him dependable targets becomes a high priority.

 

11 – New Orleans

Derek Barnett – DE, Tennessee

Barnett pairs well with Cameron Jordan in bringing pressure into the opponents’ backfield.

 

12 – Cleveland

Deshaun Watson – QB, Clemson

If Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t come to Cleveland, I won’t be surprised if Hue Jackson pushes to use some of the team’s extra picks to get Watson.

 

13 – Arizona

DeShone Kizer – QB, Notre Dame

Carson Palmer is nearing the end of his career, and Kizer’s a good fit to learn and emulate the former No. 1 pick’s game.

 

14 – Philadelphia

Gareon Conley – CB, Ohio State

Philly finds a new starting corner.

 

15 – Indianapolis

Reuben Foster – LB, Alabama

Foster has some red flags for teams, but his talent won’t allow him to leave the top 15.

 

16 – Baltimore

Cam Robinson – OT, Alabama

This feels like a Michael Oher-type bargain for Ozzie Newsome, getting a new right tackle to replace Ricky Wagner.

 

17 – Washington

Jabrill Peppers – S, Michigan

Now that Peppers showed he’s perfectly capable of handling deep-half responsibility, the Redskins will grab him.

 

18 – Tennessee

O.J. Howard – TE, Alabama

Free-agent signings allow the Titans to bolster their offense with two first-round receiving threats.

 

19 – Tampa Bay

 Dalvin Cook – RB, Florida State

Cook’s shoulder surgeries might drive down his value, but it is interesting to think about him joining former college teammate Jameis Winston.

 

20 – Denver

Garett Bolles – OT, Utah

John Elway needs a reliable pass protector to keep Paxton Lynch (or Tony Romo?) upright.

 

21 – Detroit

Taco Charlton – DE, Michigan

Charlton stays in-state to help Ziggy Ansah bully passers in the NFC North.

 

22 – Miami

Haason Reddick – LB, Temple

Reddick’s climb up draft boards during the postseason lands him in Miami.

 

23 – New York Giants

Malik McDowell – DT, Michigan State

Power, length, and athleticism? Sounds like a Giant to me.

 

24 – Oakland

Montravius Adams – DT, Auburn

Jack Del Rio gets his quick and strong pass rusher inside.

 

25 – Houston

Mitchell Trubisky – QB, North Carolina

Trubisky will need time to develop, but has the skills to be a good QB.

 

26 – Seattle

Ryan Ramczyk – OT, Wisconsin

Signing Luke Joeckel was nice and all, but Ramczyk will be a very good starter once his hip has healed.

 

27 – Kansas City

Christian McCaffrey – RB, Stanford

The release of Jamaal Charles makes finding a speedy and elusive back a necessity; enter McCaffrey.

 

28 – Dallas

Marlon Humphrey – CB, Alabama

Humphrey’s physicality and speed will endear him to Jerry Jones.

 

29 – Green Bay

Forrest Lamp – G, Western Kentucky

T.J. Lang signed with the Lions, so the Packers plug in Lamp.

 

30 – Pittsburgh

Takkarist McKinley – LB, UCLA

James Harrison can’t play forever, and Jarvis Jones is a free agent.

 

31 – Atlanta

Jordan Willis – DE, Kansas State

Willis really impressed with his athleticism at the combine, so now it’s unclear if he’ll even be available at this spot.

 

32 – New Orleans

Tre’Davious White – CB, LSU

New Orleans uses the Brandin Cooks trade to add a talented cover man.