The 2017 NFL Draft is six weeks away, and in the coming weeks, we’ll work on creating a community big board, but in the meantime, NFL.com draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has his latest big board. It is no surprise that Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett tops the list. He is projected by virtually everybody to go to the Cleveland Browns.
The San Francisco 49ers hold the No. 2 pick, and will have their choice of any player, except Myles Garrett. There is a good chance they address the defense at No. 2, but there are some offensive weapons, and of course the chance to trade down.
Jeremiah’s big board following Garrett has LSU safety Jamal Adams climbing from No. 4 to No. 2. Ohio State safety Malik Hooker had previously been No. 2 but dropped one spot, while OSU cornerback Marshon Lattimore had been No. 3 and dropped six spots. Lattimore dealt with a hip issue at the Combine, which might explain the drop. Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas and LSU running back Leonard Fournette arrived at No. 4 and No. 5.
The free safety position is a tough one to figure. The 49ers are expected to give Jimmie Ward a shot there, with Eric Reid likely moving to strong safety following the release of Antoine Bethea. But are either of the two safeties the guy to take at No. 2? Here’s what Jeremiah had to say about each of the safeties.
Adams has ideal size, versatility, and explosiveness for the position. He lines up as both the high safety and in the box. Against the pass, he is at his best roaming underneath or matching up in the slot. He can range and make plays from the deep middle, but he's more valuable closer to the line of scrimmage. He doesn't have a lot of ball production but he provides a physical presence and delivers huge hits on opposing pass-catchers. He is at his best in run support. He is quick to key and explode to the alley. With outstanding range against the run, he makes a lot of plays from the opposite hash. He is a dynamic athlete, and I've been told his intangibles are off the charts. He will be a tone-setter for an NFL defense, and he's ready to play right away.
Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I've ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he's reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league's best safeties very early in his NFL career.
Do you have a preference between these two? Or are you jumping on the growing Solomon Thomas bandwagon?