Look at the teams picking atop this year’s NFL Draft: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Jacksonville, Tennessee and the Jets. At least four of those teams need a quarterback.
Just don’t expect a quarterback to go No. 1 overall – or even No. 2.
“No, the best talent in this draft is on the defensive side of the football, so you absolutely would have to go with Myles Garrett at No. 1,” CBS Sports senior NFL Draft analyst Rob Rang said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The conversation would start at No. 2 with Jonathan Allen from Alabama and Solomon Thomas from Stanford. You can go through the rest of the edge rushers, the safeties, the cornerbacks in this class.”
Still, Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson are projected first-rounders.
“The top quarterback in this class is Mitch Trubisky,” Rang said. “He only has 13 career starts. I love Deshaun Watson, not only because of the poise he’s demonstrated throughout his incredible career while at Clemson, and the fact that at the Combine he was the best quarterback on the field. It just kind of builds up his mystique as being able to raise his level of play in the biggest of big moments. At the same time, the elite talent in this class is along the defensive line, so if you are desperate for a quarterback at this point, those teams are going to invest a lot of money in those free-agent quarterbacks, consequences be damned.”
While Trubisky entered the Combine as the best quarterback, Watson left with the “biggest buzz.”
“When you create that buzz in Indianapolis, that carries over,” Rang said. “Deshaun Watson was the quarterback who did that, just like he was in the national championship game. That is why he is going to wind up being a riser throughout this combine process. I still think that Mitch Trubisky is the best quarterback and will be the first quarterback selected, but Deshaun Watson is the quarterback who has the most buzz at this point.”
The biggest concern about Watson, Rang said, is turnovers. Watson threw 30 interceptions over his last two seasons. Still, he has all the tools to succeed at the next level and could go in the top 10.
As for running backs, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are all first-round talents, but a lot of value could be found later in the draft.
“There really could,” Rang said. “One of the running backs I just love is James Connor from Pittsburgh. His battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is, of course, well-documented. He didn’t run real well at the Combine, running in the 4.6s. But at the same time, he has the power and he has the determination that I believe is going to help him be successful.”
Connor would be an ideal back for New England, which could lose LeGarrette Blount to free agency.
“James Connor is the type of player that Bill Belichick has found (success with),” Rang said. “(Belichick wants someone) who is going to come in and be kind of that sledgehammer between the tackles. Connor would be one of those players that I think could be very successful in that type of role.”