Our five favorite picks from Round 1
A wild (as expected) first round is in the books, and it’s time to take a quick look back at some of the carnage. With eight of the first 12 players taken being from the offensive side of the ball, teams picking outside the top 10 were able to feast on premium defensive talent still on the board. Here is a look at five of our favorites from tonight’s selections:
Round 1, pick No. 11: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Saints were able to sit at their No. 11 pick and watch the best cornerback in the draft class fall into their laps due to the run on offensive players in the top 10. Lattimore is a smooth athlete that makes sticky man coverage look easy. Lattimore was targeted 41 times in 2016 and only allowed 18 receptions for 226 yards and one TD. He is also a solid tackler who didn’t miss one of his 37 solo tackle attempts in 2016. Lattimore should be able to start immediately for the cornerback-thirsty Saints, as his 86.0 coverage grade in 2016 would represent an upgrade for New Orleans.
Round 1, pick No. 14: Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee
Derek Barnett was arguably the best pure pass-rusher in the draft class. In 2016, Barnett recorded 13 sacks, 24 QB hits, 41 hurries, and two batted passes on his 390 pass-rushing snaps, but he is no one-year wonder. Barnett had 10 sacks, 10 QB hits, and 42 hurries in 2015 and 11 sacks, nine QB hits, and 27 hurries in 2014. The three-year pass-rushing production of a combined 34 sacks on an SEC team is rare. The Eagles landing a pass-rusher the caliber of Barnett at pick No. 14 represents one of the better values and selections of the first round.
Round 1, pick No. 15: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
As fluid as this draft was expected to be, Hooker was slotted to the Chargers in seemingly every mock draft the last two months. Considering his elite skill-set, the Colts had to be stunned to see him still on the board at pick No. 15. While Hooker is a subpar tackler, he notched three interceptions in his first two games as a starter for the Buckeyes in 2016, and added four more throughout the season. Last year’s first-round pick, safety T.J. Green, struggled throughout his rookie year with the Colts in 2016, but Hooker’s ability to take away the deep middle with his superior range and ball skills should allow Green to transition to his more natural position of strong safety.
Round 1, pick No. 17: Jonathan Allen, DI, Alabama
Allen had to be at the top of Washington’s wishlist heading into the night, but the franchise had to be shocked to find him still available at pick No. 17. While the Alabama standout has some medical concerns with his shoulder and did not test like an elite player at the combine, he was PFF College’s Player of the Year in 2016 after racking up 13 sacks, 13 hits, and 41 hurries to go with 33 run stops. Allen will step in for the departed Chris Baker (signed with Buccaneers), who was the top-graded Redskins interior defender last season.
Round 1, pick No. 27: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Desperately needing a cornerback, the Bills banked on the depth of the class by bypassing the chance at the draft’s best in Lattimore at pick No. 10 and trading back 17 spots with the Chiefs. The strategy worked to perfection, as they were able to accumulate an extra third-round pick for tomorrow and Kansas City’s 2018 first-round pick, and still lock in one of our favorite corners in the class. After giving up six touchdowns and a QB rating-against of 114.4 in 2015, White was outstanding in 2016. He cut his touchdowns-against total in half, and tallied 14 pass breakups while lowering his QB rating-against to 61.0. He is capable of playing outside or in the slot, and should be a solid replacement for Stephon Gilmore, who signed with the Patriots in free agency.