2017 NFL Mock Draft: Dolphins add an elite pass-rusher to their defense

A versatile, playmaking safety is one of the most important positions in football, but also one of the toughest to find because they have to do it all (cover, blitz, defend the run, etc.). More than half of the league is looking for that type of player, and this draft class has several promising prospects who might fit that description.

Michigan's Jabrill Peppers needs to improve in coverage, but he is an elite athlete with rare skills. LSU Tigers 's Jamal Adams might not be elite in any one area, but he has shown flashes of being above average in several areas. And Ohio State Buckeyes 's Malik Hooker is still scratching the surface of what he can do, but the athletic traits and natural instincts have been clear on the field for the Buckeyes this season.

Last year, safeties Karl Joseph and Keanu Neal weren't considered locks to be drafted in the first round, but both were selected within the top 20 picks. With the strong need for playmaking safeties across the NFL, prospects like Peppers, Adams and Hooker have a chance to be drafted very early next spring.

Round 1

1. Cleveland Browns

DeShone Kizer , QB, Notre Dame Fighting Irish : The Browns' search for a quarterback of the future continues with Robert Griffin III being placed on injured reserve, and Kizer could be a name high on their list with his intelligence, poise and physical tools at the most important position.


2. San Francisco 49ers

Deshaun Watson , QB, Clemson Tigers : San Francisco has the worst quarterback depth chart in the NFL (yes, worse than the Browns). Watson is unpolished in areas, but he is an above-average athlete with a terrific arm who would fit well in Chip Kelly's offense.


3. Miami Dolphins

Myles Garrett , DE, Texas A&M: With a chance to select the best player in the draft, the Dolphins can't pass up Garrett. The team needs to get younger at defensive end and Garrett is a cornerstone prospect.


4. San Diego Chargers

Jabrill Peppers , SS, Michigan Wolverines : Peppers might not be a clear prototype for a traditional position, but his athleticism, toughness and ball awareness will make a defense adjust their scheme around his strengths.


5. New York Jets

Teez Tabor , CB, Florida Gators : The Jets continue to give up big plays in the passing game and need help in secondary. Tabor has the aggressive instincts and play speed to see the field early in his career.


6. Chicago Bears

Brad Kaaya , QB, Miami (Fla.): Unless Jay Cutler changes the narrative in 2016, the Bears would be wise to invest in a long-term option at quarterback if a prospect like Kaaya is available.


7. Jacksonville Jaguars

Malik McDowell , DT, Michigan State Spartans : Jacksonville has invested heavily in the defensive line, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Jaguars do so again if a talent like McDowell is available for them.


8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jamal Adams , SS, LSU: The Buccaneers addressed the secondary in the first round of last year's draft, but need more help, especially at safety where Adams would be an upgrade over Chris Conte .


9. New Orleans Saints

Tim Williams , OLB, Alabama Crimson Tide : The Saints struggled to consistently pressure the opponent's backfield last year and didn't do much to upgrade the issue over the offseason. Williams would change that.


10. Carolina Panthers

Marlon Humphrey , CB, Alabama: Carolina has several questions marks on its cornerback depth chart, but adding Humphrey, who is NFL-ready right now, would help change that.


11. Tennessee Titans

Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State: Only a redshirt sophomore in his first year as a starter, Hooker has performed like an All-American so far this season, flashing first-round traits. He's still inexperienced in areas, but his upside is off the charts.


12. New York Giants

Leonard Fournette , RB, LSU: The Giants' running back depth chart has been damaged due to injury, with the team averaging under four yards per carry. Seeing what Elliott is doing for Dallas, Fournette will be appealing to New York.


13. Detroit Lions

Jonathan Allen , DE, Alabama: With Devin Taylor possibly hitting free agency after the season, the Lions could be looking to add a defensive end opposite Ziggy Ansah. Allen provides versatility to rush the passer and stop the run from various positions.


14. Cincinnati Bengals

Derek Barnett , DE, Tennessee Volunteers : Barnett isn't elite in any one area, but his well-rounded skill set and intangibles will endear him to NFL coaches.


15. Indianapolis Colts

Dalvin Cook , RB, Florida State Seminoles : A player in the trenches on either side of the ball is the bigger need, but Cook would give the Colts' sputtering offense a legitimate backfield weapon that will open up the passing game.


16. Arizona Cardinals

Desmond King , CB, Iowa Hawkeyes : Besides All-Pro Patrick Peterson , Arizona is using a patchwork crew at cornerback. King would provide instant depth and give the Cardinals a long-term starter opposite Peterson.


17. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)

JuJu Smith-Schuster , WR, Southern California Trojans : The Titans have plenty of bodies on the wide receiver depth chart, but no true difference-maker. A target like Smith-Schuster would help the development of Marcus Mariota .


18. Washington Redskins

Reuben Foster , ILB, Alabama: The Redskins' defense has struggled against both the pass and run this season and needs more speed at linebacker. Foster plays fast and looks for the violent collision on each snap.


19. Kansas City Chiefs

Mike Williams , WR, Clemson: The Chiefs are among the league leaders in pass attempts this season, which should change when Jamaal Charles is closer to full health. But if Alex Smith is going to be throwing that many times, he needs more help at wide receiver.


20. Buffalo Bills

Cam Robinson , OT, Alabama: The Bills' offensive line has been up-and-down this season, especially with the uncertainty at right tackle. Robinson would provide positional depth and a long-term answer on the right side.


21. Houston Texans

Eddie Jackson , SS, Alabama: The safety position is not a strength on the Houston roster and Jackson, a former cornerback, has the athleticism in coverage and toughness against the run to start early in his NFL career.


22. Seattle Seahawks

Dan Feeney , OG, Indiana Hoosiers : The Seahawks have several question marks up and down the offensive line, and Seattle will likely still be looking for answers in next year's draft.


23. Baltimore Ravens

Carl Lawson , DE, Auburn Tigers : Lawson isn't without his question marks due to lack of size and strong durability concerns, but his ability to infiltrate the pocket makes him an attractive NFL prospect.


24. Green Bay Packers

O.J. Howard , TE, Alabama: If tight end Jared Cook proves to be just a one-year stopgap option, Howard would be a great fit in Green Bay's offense with his route-running and ball skills.


25. Oakland Raiders

Christian McCaffrey , RB, Stanford Cardinal : It doesn't matter if he's lined up in the backfield or out wide, McCaffrey would add another dimension to the Oakland offense. The Raiders would be wise to keep him in the Bay Area if they get the opportunity.


26. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Sidney Jones , CB, Washington Huskies : The Browns' secondary has been routinely torched this season with upgrades needed across the board. Jones has the ball awareness, athleticism and toughness to play man or zone, outside or inside.


27. Denver Broncos

Raekwon McMillan , ILB, Ohio State: Denver locked up Brandon Marshall long-term at linebacker, but more depth is needed. McMillan has thumping power to be a dominant run stopper.


28. Dallas Cowboys

Dawuane Smoot , DE, Illinois Fighting Illini : With Randy Gregory a mystery, Dallas needs to address the pass rush and add depth at defensive end. Smoot is a tick undersized, but his quickness and motor allow him to consistently disrupt the backfield.


29. Pittsburgh Steelers

Marquis Haynes, OLB, North Carolina: Haynes has a very lean body type and won't be a fit for every scheme, but his pass rush potential makes him worthy of first-round consideration.


30. Atlanta Falcons

Charles Harris , DE, Missouri Tigers : The Falcons' pass rush has been sporadic this season and hasn't lived up to the vision of head coach Dan Quinn. Harris has the edge quickness and burst to capture the edge and give blockers trouble.


31. New England Patriots

Jake Butt , TE, Michigan: With Martellus Bennett likely to spend only one year in New England, Butt could be on the Patriots' radar as a talented complement to Rob Gronkowski .


32. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Cordrea Tankersley , CB, Clemson: The Eagles are very thin at cornerback on the depth chart, especially with Nolan Carroll on a one-year deal. Since becoming a starter last season, Tankersley has continued to improve.


*The draft order was determined based on projected order of finish.

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