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Ben Volin’s 2017 NFL mock draft

Lineman Myles Garrett was a force on defense for Texas A&M.
Lineman Myles Garrett was a force on defense for Texas A&M.sam Craft/AP

1. Cleveland Browns

Needs: QB, CB, DE, TE, S, WR

Projected pick: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Comment: The Browns have all kinds of flexibility with Picks 1 and 12 in the first round, plus three more in the top 65. They take a potentially game-changing edge rusher at No. 1, then get to work trading up to land a quarterback.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Needs: QB, WR, OLB, OT, S, CB, G

Projected pick: S Jamal Adams, LSU

Comment: The 49ers have so many holes, they badly need to trade down and accumulate more picks. If they can’t, taking a QB here is tempting, but instead they go with Adams, the best player available who will instantly upgrade their secondary.

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3. Chicago Bears

Needs: QB, CB, S, OT, WR, OLB, TE

Projected pick: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Comment: The Bears need secondary help, but they really need a quarterback. Watson is not the third-best player in the draft, but GM Ryan Pace needs to be bold after two bad seasons, and Watson’s college résumé shines the brightest among this draft’s QBs.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Needs: OT, TE, DT, QB, WR, OLB

Projected pick: DT Solomon Thomas, Stanford

Comment: The draft pool doesn’t match the Jaguars’ need at offensive tackle, and they can grab a tight end in a later round. But they have a hole in the interior of their defensive line, and Thomas is a safer pick than Jonathan Allen, who has injury red flags.

5. Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Needs: TE, ILB, CB, G, OLB, S

Projected pick: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

Comment: The Titans are a wild card on the trade front, with Picks 5 and 18 plus two third-rounders giving them good flexibility. TE O.J. Howard is tempting here, but they take Lattimore to pair with Logan Ryan as an immediate upgrade to the secondary.

6. New York Jets

Needs: QB, WR, TE, CB, C, ILB

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Projected pick: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

Comment: The Jets, like the 49ers, need a trade-down to accumulate more picks. If they’re stuck at No. 6, QB Mitch Trubisky is certainly a possibility, but the secondary also needs major improvement, and Hooker has tremendous range and ball skills.

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Needs: ILB, OT, OLB, NT, CB, QB

Projected pick: DE/OLB Derek Barnett, Tennessee

Comment: Another team that could be in the hunt for Howard (as a future replacement for Antonio Gates), and Alabama OT Cam Robinson makes sense here, too. But you can never have enough pass rushers, and Barnett will look good playing opposite Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

8. Carolina Panthers

Needs: DE, RB, OT, CB, G, WR

Projected pick: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU

Comment: The Panthers badly need another defensive end to supplement the aging Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers. But we all know they love to pound the football. Jonathan Stewart is now 30, and getting a workhorse in Fournette is too hard to pass up.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Needs: DE, DT, OLB, G, CB

Projected pick: DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama

Comment: Most of the needs are on defense, and Allen would look great on the interior next to Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. LB Reuben Foster and DE Taco Charlton are other intriguing options, but the Bengals can usually find linebackers and defensive ends in later rounds.

10. Buffalo Bills

Needs: WR, S, RB, OLB, TE, CB

Projected pick: WR Mike Williams, Clemson

Comment: The Bills need to get Tyrod Taylor some help, and fast. Sammy Watkins is seemingly always hurt, Robert Woods left for the Rams, and the No. 2 receiver as of now is Philly Brown. Enter Williams, a big, physical receiver who has the potential to dominate right away.

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11. New Orleans Saints

Needs: CB, DE, OLB TE, QB

Projected pick: CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

Comment: We all know the Saints need a cornerback, and the 11th pick is the perfect spot to draft a long-term starter. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley would have been the obvious pick here, but a recent rape allegation removes him from consideration, leaving Humphrey as the pick.

12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Needs: QB, CB, DE, TE, S, WR

Projected pick: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina

Comment: Here’s betting the Browns don’t actually pick at 12; we’re expecting a move-up to get their quarterback. But they don’t even have to do that in our mock draft, as Trubisky falls to 12 and becomes their latest QB savior.

13. Arizona Cardinals

Needs: G, ILB, TE, QB, S, WR

Projected pick: ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama

Comment: Bruce Arians is never afraid to take on players with potential character issues, and he will focus on Foster’s speed, instincts, and explosive hits rather than his diluted drug test at the combine or the incident with the hospital worker there.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Needs: DE, CB, S, G, RB

Projected pick: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan

Comment: Another team that would’ve quickly used this pick on Conley, the Eagles also need an edge rusher to complement Chris Long and Brandon Graham. So we give them Charlton, a massive, 6-foot-6-inch edge-setter and disrupter who had 10 sacks and 13½ tackles for loss in 2016.

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15. Indianapolis Colts

Needs: CB, OT, G, DE, ILB, RB, S, OLB

Projected pick: OT Cam Robinson, Alabama

Comment: The glaring weakness of Ryan Grigson’s teams the past few years has been in the trenches, on both sides. Protecting Andrew Luck is paramount, and the Colts race to the podium to draft Robinson, an immediate starter at right tackle and possibly the left tackle of the future.

16. Baltimore Ravens

Needs: DE, OLB, CB, WR, OT, RB

Projected pick: OLB Charles Harris, Missouri

Comment: If any team were to gamble on Conley in the first round, doesn’t it feel like Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens? But they also need pass-rushing help, with Terrell Suggs turning 35 this year. Harris has the right frame to play 3-4 rush outside linebacker.

17. Washington Redskins

Needs: RB, TE, DT, DE, CB

Projected pick: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

Comment: The Skins need to improve all three levels of their defense, but owner Daniel Snyder loves the flashy, offensive picks, and they need to give Kirk Cousins more help. This one comes down to Howard, Christian McCaffrey, and Dalvin Cook, and we go with McCaffrey, the running/receiving/returning triple threat.

18. Tennessee Titans

Needs: TE, ILB, CB, G, OLB, S

Projected pick: TE O.J. Howard

Comment: We’d be more surprised if the Titans end up picking at Nos. 5 and 18 rather than trading down from one or both spots. But in this scenario, after filling their need at cornerback at No. 5, the Titans come back and give Marcus Mariota another weapon in Howard, one of the best tight end prospects in years.

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19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Needs: RB, TE, OLB, CB, S, C

Projected pick: RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

Comment: Even if the Bucs do keep Doug Martin after an injury-plagued 2016, they still need another back to supplement Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers. Cook, a dynamic rushing/receiving threat, would be a fan favorite in Tampa Bay, where he’d be reunited with fellow Seminole Jameis Winston.

20. Denver Broncos

Needs: TE, OT, ILB, WR, G/C

Projected pick: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin

Comment: The Broncos have been using Band-Aids on their offensive tackle spots the last few years, and need to do a better job of protecting Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch. Ramczyk is athletic and technically sound, and while he’s coming off a torn labrum, the Broncos can afford to bring him along slowly.

21. Detroit Lions

Needs: CB, DE, OLB, S, WR

Projected pick: CB Tre’Davious White, LSU

Comment: Most of the Lions’ needs are on defense, where they could use a young pass rusher, a run-stuffing linebacker, and several defensive backs. Another team that could use Conley, the Lions instead draft White, a four-year starter in the SEC.

22. Miami Dolphins

Needs: DE, OLB, CB, G, S

Projected pick: LB Haason Reddick, Temple

Comment: The Dolphins could use another pass rusher to eventually replace 35-year-old Cameron Wake, but they also need linebacker help, and Reddick gives them a little bit of everything. He has the versatility to play inside or outside linebacker, and can get after the quarterback.

23. New York Giants

Needs: TE, RB, OT, OLB, MLB

Projected pick: TE David Njoku, Miami

Comment: After spending big in free agency to fix the defense last year, the Giants now have to focus on the offense, where they have two glaring needs: running back and tight end. Njoku is a bit raw, but he’s an explosive athlete who could be a great red zone target for Eli Manning.

24. Oakland Raiders

Needs: DT, CB, MLB, RB, TE, OT

Projected pick: DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State

Comment: The Raiders could use this pick on a running back, and Conley might be too enticing to pass up. But their biggest need is at defensive tackle, and McDowell is a disruptive presence who had 24½ tackles for losses last year and should be an immediate NFL starter.

25. Houston Texans

Needs: QB, OLB, CB, OT

Projected pick: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech

Comment: The Texans’ need for a quarterback is one of the big wild cards of the draft. DeShone Kizer looks the part with a 6-4, 233-pound frame, but Mahomes is a much better fit. He has a huge arm, a lot of swagger, and a Texas pedigree that Texans fans will love.

26. Seattle Seahawks

Needs: OT, CB, DT, RB, G

Projected pick: CB Kevin King, Washington

Comment: The Seahawks could certainly use a young cornerback, especially since Richard Sherman might not be in Seattle for the long-term. We all know they like big corners, and there happens to be a 6-foot-3-inch, 200-pound cornerback in their backyard in King, a University of Washington star.

27. Kansas City Chiefs

Needs: DE, ILB, G, S, QB

Projected pick: LB Jarrad Davis, Florida

Comment: The Chiefs are another wild-card team in the quarterback market — at some point, they need to draft one to succeed Alex Smith — but defensive captain Derrick Johnson will be 35 this year, and they would be well-served to draft his replacement. Davis has great instincts and leadership.

28. Dallas Cowboys

Needs: CB, S, TE, DE, OLB, OT

Projected pick: DB Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Comment: Watch for Conley here, but we have the Boys taking another red-flag player in Peppers. He had a diluted urine sample at the Combine and doesn’t have a set position, but he is a playmaker on defense and in the return game, and Jerry Jones loves playmakers.

29. Green Bay Packers

Needs: G, RB, CB, NT, ILB

Projected pick: G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

Comment: The Packers need help at running back, cornerback, and linebacker, but nothing says “Packers” like taking a guard in the first round. Lamp has the versatility to play both guard and tackle positions and would be a solid pickup to help protect Aaron Rodgers.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Needs: OLB, CB, TE, ILB, S, OT, QB

Projected pick: DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA

Comment: The Steelers still badly need to improve their secondary, as we all saw in the Patriots’ dismantling of them in the AFC Championship. But they also need to draft an edge rusher to eventually replace soon-to-be-39-year-old James Harrison, and McKinley is a relentless rusher.

31. Atlanta Falcons

Needs: OT, TE, CB, DT, DE, S

Projected pick: TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss

Comment: The Falcons don’t have many holes on their roster, giving Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff, and Scott Pioli the luxury of drafting the best player available. The Falcons could use another tight end, and Engram is a speedy, versatile playmaker who would look great in that offense.

32. New Orleans Saints (from New England)

Needs: CB, DE, OLB TE, QB

Projected pick: DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State

Comment: The Saints need to rebuild their defense, and after grabbing a cornerback at No. 11, they fortify their defensive line with Willis, a three-year starter and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 with 11½ sacks and 17½ tackles for losses.

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No first-round pick: Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin