7.) San Francisco 49ers – QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Chip Kelly may think he can resurrect Colin Kaepernick’s career, but he could use a plan B. Lynch has surprising athleticism for a 6’7 QB and ran plenty of read option plays at Memphis with 13 rushing TDs in 2013. Lynch has had success in the read option scheme which makes him a good fit for Kelly’s offensive strategy. The arm talent is there as well for Lynch to be a solid starter before the end of his rookie deal.
8.) Miami Dolphins – CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
The Dolphins don’t have much at cornerback besides the 33-year-old Brent Grimes and could use a top-tier cover guy. Hargreaves is smaller than ideal, but has shown elite coverage skills throughout his college career.
9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – DE Shaq Lawson, Clemson
The Bucs have a lot of glaring needs, but a defensive end who can pressure the QB is near the top. An explosive pass rusher like Lawson falling to the ninth pick is too fortunate for the Bucs to pass up.
10.) New York Giants – LB Myles Jack, UCLA
I know the Giants never take a linebacker in the first round, but they badly need some talent at the linebacker position and Jack has the potential to be special. His athleticism gives him sideline-to-sideline range, the ability to cover anyone, and makes him a dangerous blitzer. The Giants could rebuild their defense around Jack in the middle.
11.) Chicago Bears – DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
The Bears would be pleasantly surprised to see Buckner fall out of the top 10 as defensive line is one of their biggest needs this off-season. By the end of 2015 the Bears were starting three defensive linemen they signed off the street during the season. Adding Buckner to NT Eddie Goldman and DE Ego Ferguson would give the Bears three promising young d-linemen for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to develop.
Buckner has the size (6’7 | 290) to handle double teams, the strength to set the edge against the run, and is quick enough to occasionally get to the QB as his 10.5 sacks last season attest to. He is strong enough to move inside if needed on passing downs and his combination of power, long arms and unusual quickness for his size could make him an effective interior pass rusher. Buckner also showed a knack for batting down passes with five pass deflections last season. He is polished enough to play right away and has the potential to be the total package at DE.
*If Buckner is gone at 11, which he very well may be, I could seen the Bears selecting Bama DE A’Shawn Robinson.
12.) New Orleans Saints – DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
The Saints need to rebuild their entire defense and Billings is a great start in the middle. He an elite run stopper who can collapse the pocket from the nose tackle position and is one of the safest bets in this draft.