Carolina Panthers

2017 NFL Draft: With less than a week to go, here’s how we expect Round 1 to play out

NFL Draft 2017: Panthers preview

With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of options to address several needs. Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue breaks down who the team might pick in the first round and offers other names to look out for.
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With the No. 8 pick in the NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have plenty of options to address several needs. Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue breaks down who the team might pick in the first round and offers other names to look out for.

The 2017 NFL Draft is about a week away, but much remains in question as to which top prospects will go where – and when.

I’ve projected the Panthers’ picks twice now, but what about the rest of the league?

Here’s what I think every team will do in the first round:

Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) has long been considered the draft’s top player. Sam Craft AP

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, defensive end, Texas A&M

This is really a no-brainer for the Browns (who could still somehow find a way to screw it up). Garrett is without a doubt the consensus No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, and can be an immediate game-changer.

Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas is the second-best edge rusher, but also the second player selected in our mock draft. MARK LAMBIE AP

2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, defensive end, Stanford

The 49ers have been overhauled, and a complete and versatile piece in a major defensive role would be a great piece for any new coach to have. Thomas can play inside techniques as well as outside and has the talent to make a day-1 impact.

Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore’s physicality and athleticism make him a must-get piece for the Bears. Patrick Semansky AP

3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, cornerback, Ohio State

This is a popular pick for Chicago, although questions about Lattimore’s hamstring issues come up nearly as often. Still, Lattimore’s physicality and athleticism make him a must-get piece for the Bears. Another popular pick for the Bears here is Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen.

LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) goes before the Carolina Panthers have a shot at him, at No. 4 to the Buffalo Bills. Butch Dill AP

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, running back, LSU

Jacksonville’s heavy interest in Fournette’s power-back style is matched by their need for an offensive playmaker. Fournette fits the bill.

Alabama’s O.J. Howard could elevate the Titans offense. Chris Carlson AP

5. Tennessee Titans: O.J. Howard, tight end, Alabama

O.J. Howard would give Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota an easy and talented receiving target, and his blocking skills can help Mariota on the run. Howard is the player who could help elevate this offense. This pick could also be Clemson’s Mike Williams.

LSU safety Jamal Adams is the prospect who could convince the Jets to pass on a quarterback despite a huge need. Gregory Payan AP

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, safety, LSU

It would be very tempting for the Jets to go quarterback here, but Adams may be just too good of a prospect to pass up with their first pick as the team tries to rebuild across the board.

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Ohio State safety Malik Hooker’s length, athleticism and skills in coverage make him a near-certain top-10 pick. Paul Vernon AP

7. San Diego Chargers: Malik Hooker, safety, Ohio State

Perhaps the best possible fit for a Chargers team looking to push its defense to the next level is a playmaker like Hooker, whose length, athleticism and skills in coverage make him a near-certain top-10 pick.

The Carolina Panthers can use Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (5) all over the field offensively. Thomas Boyd AP

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, running back, Stanford

The Panthers need immediate change on offense after a dismal 2016 season. McCaffrey would be both a top-10 running back and a top-10 receiver prospect, and the Panthers will get two for the price of one – and be able to use him all over the field offensively.

Missouri defensive end Charles Harris has risen quickly up draft boards in the past few weeks. Jeff Roberson AP

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Charles Harris, defensive end, Missouri

Harris’ stock has soared in recent weeks and he could arguably be a better NFL player than Derek Barnett – a popular choice at this pick. The Bengals need a pass-rusher and Harris is as fluid as he is athletic.

And the first quarterback off the board is ... North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky. Robert Willett

10. Buffalo Bills: Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, North Carolina

The Bills need a quarterback, and they’ve been courting Trubisky heavily in the past few weeks.

Tennessee edge rusher Derek Barnett broke Hall-of-Famer Reggie White’s school record for sacks. Wade Payne AP

11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, defensive end, Tennessee

Barnett is a highly efficient pass rusher who could bring some teeth to the Saints’ defense.

Could Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes be the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback of the future? Ross D. Franklin AP

12. Cleveland Browns: Patrick Mahomes, quarterback, Texas Tech

This pick could easily be Deshaun Watson of Clemson, but regardless, the Browns need a quarterback. This is a good place to get one.

Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers has the potential to play multiple positions in the NFL. Paul Sancya AP

13. Arizona Cardinals: Jabrill Peppers, safety, Michigan

The Cardinals lost safety Tony Jefferson in free agency. With Peppers, they get back a prolific safety as well player who can be used literally all over the field – something this team would certainly implement under Bruce Arians’ creativity.

Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is one of the better cornerback prospects in this draft, and Philadelphia needs one badly. Patrick Semansky AP

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Gareon Conley, cornerback, Ohio State

Conley is one of the better corner prospects in this draft, and Philadelphia needs one badly. Conley will be here at No. 14, but will be gone by No. 43 – this is the time to snag him.

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Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk is one of the few offensive tackles with first-round potential. David J. Phillip AP

15. Indianapolis Colts: Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle, Wisconsin

The Colts need to stock their offensive line, and Ramzcyk is one of only a few tackle prospects who could go in the first round. This pick could also be exchanged for a pass-rusher, another high area of need.

UCLA’sTakk McKinley, right, has the perfect combination of size and speed the Ravens need badly for an outside linebacker/edge rusher hybrid. Rick Bowmer AP

16. Baltimore Ravens: Takk McKinley, linebacker/defensive end, UCLA

McKinley could fit the enormous need the Ravens have for an outside linebacker/edge rusher hybrid – he has the perfect combination of size and speed for such a role.

17. Washington: Dalvin Cook, running back, Florida State

Cook is an incredibly dynamic running back prospect with both the ability to be an every-down back as well as a receiving threat. Washington needs a player like this in its offensive system.

Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis (84) might be the best receiving prospect in the draft, and this would make him another target for Titans QB Marcus Mariota. LM Otero AP

18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, wide receiver, Western Michigan

Davis is probably the best receiving prospect in the draft (although this pick could also be Clemson’s Williams). This just continues to stock the targets for Mariota.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon (25) has immense on-field talents and significant off-field problems. Alonzo Adams ASSOCIATED PRESS

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Joe Mixon, running back, Oklahoma

Mixon on the field is probably one of the best – if not the best – in the running backs class. He also was caught on tape punching a woman and breaking her jaw in college, and received a one-year suspension, community service and probation. Tampa Bay took a chance on quarterback Jameis Winston amid heavy off-the-field concerns, so it seems possible they could do the same with Mixon. Tampa Bay would probably prefer Cook if still available.

Temple defensive end Haason Reddick would fill Broncos’ need for a dynamic pass rusher if he’s available at No. 20. Michael Conroy AP

20. Denver Broncos: Haason Reddick, linebacker, Temple

It’s actually pretty likely that Reddick is gone before this, but the Broncos want another quality linebacker and would hit the lottery if Reddick is here at No. 20.

Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster (10) could be a bargain here if Lions can overlook his off-the-field issues. Vasha Hunt AP

21. Detroit Lions: Reuben Foster, linebacker, Alabama

This pick could switch with Denver and the Lions could get Reddick instead, but whichever ’backer they pick will be a very welcome addition to the defense. If the Lions can overlook Foster’s off-field issues he could be a bargain.

Western Kentucky’s Forrest is probably the only first-rounder to consider at guard. David J. Phillip AP

22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, guard, Western Kentucky

The Dolphins need to add some depth at guard and Lamp is probably the only first-rounder to consider. Miami is a good candidate for a trade back, as well, and another popular pick for the team via draft analysts is Alabama’s Allen.

Utah offensive lineman Garett Bolles is a little nasty, and the Giants could use a tackle-transplant. Michael Conroy AP

23. New York Giants: Garett Bolles, tackle, Utah

The Giants really blew it on Ereck Flowers last season, and need a tackle transplant. Bolles is a little nasty and could give quarterback Eli Manning’s protection some edge.

Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt’s athleticism offers an intriguing option for the Raiders. Michael Conroy AP

24. Oakland Raiders: T.J. Watt, linebacker, Wisconsin

Watt isn’t just here because his famous brother boosts his stock – he’s actually this good. Oakland badly needs an edge at linebacker and Watt’s athleticism offers an intriguing option.

Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) could go much earlier, but if he’s there the Texans will scoop him up. Ross D. Franklin AP

25. Houston Texans: DeShaun Watson, quarterback, Clemson

This pick could easily be Mahomes (projected earlier to Cleveland), but regardless, the Texans really need a quarterback after the Brock Osweiler fiasco.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin King, cornerback, Washington

This seems like a no-brainer. Seattle can continue to add to its strong defense with a local prospect Seahawks fans love.

Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) is a solid match for the LB-starved Chiefs. Phelan M. Ebenhack AP

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Jarrad Davis, linebacker, Florida

The Chiefs need some help at linebacker, and Davis might be a solid match here. Kansas City could also be a viable trade partner for a team.

If Obi Melifonwu, left, is around at this pick, the UConn safety is an easy sell for the Cowboys. Jessica Hill AP

28. Dallas Cowboys: Obi Melifonwu, safety, UConn

If Melifonwu is around at this time, it’s an easy sell for Dallas – the Cowboys need a safety, and Melifonwu is about as athletic they get.

Colorado defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, a hybrid nickel/safety, is a perfect fit for the Packers. Almost too perfect. Reed Saxon AP

29. Green Bay Packers: Chidobe Awuzie, defensive back, Colorado

This almost seems too perfect for the Packers, who lost safety/nickel corner hybrid Micah Hyde in free agency. Awuzie is probably the best in the draft as this type of hybrid player, and is still quite under the radar.

Miami tight end David Njoku is a receiving threat, and that’s something the Steelers could use. Michael Conroy AP

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Njoku, tight end, Miami

Pittsburgh wants another receiving threat, and Njoku’s ability in that regard would lend a fearsome combination with Antonio Brown. This pick could also be Clemson’s Williams.

Youngstown defensive end Derek Rivers could be a bargain for the Falcons. Michael Conroy AP

31. Atlanta Falcons: Derek Rivers, defensive end, Youngstown State

Don’t let the small-school reputation fool you – Rivers is an absolute monster off the edge. The Falcons need help in their pass-rush and Rivers could be a bargain.

Penn State wide receiver Chris Godwin has the receiving skill the Saints need after trading Brandin Cooks to New England. David J. Phillip AP

32. New Orleans Saints: Chris Godwin, wide receiver, Penn State

After trading Brandin Cooks to New England, the Saints need to turn some focus on their receiving room. Godwin is one of the best receivers in this draft class and can run anything on the route tree.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue