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2017 NFL Draft: A look at the first nine picks

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How might the draft play out before the Bills are up at ten?

As you are well aware by now, the Buffalo Bills have the tenth pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. There are a number of players they could use the pick on, but what they do is largely going to be shaped by what happens with the teams in front of them.

There are a number of different directions most of these teams could go. It’s also entirely possible that any of these picks (aside from the first one) could be traded, although in such a deep draft it’ll be hard to convince teams to move up when there’s plenty of talent to be had later on.

So how might the first nine picks play out? Let’s take a look.

1. Cleveland Browns

The Browns are taking Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett first overall. No need to dwell on it.

2. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers, like most teams who are picking this early in the draft, have a number of holes. The most notable is at quarterback, where journeyman Brian Hoyer is expected to open up the season as the starter.

Interestingly, though, many expect the 49ers to take Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. While Thomas is a top-end talent, it would mark the third straight draft that San Francisco used their first pick on a defensive lineman. New 49ers general manager John Lynch could also use the pick to target one of the draft’s top players at his old position of safety, such as Ohio State’s Malik Hooker or LSU’s Jamal Adams.

3. Chicago Bears

The Bears had been expected to take a quarterback, but they decided to address the position by signing free agent Mike Glennon to a three-year deal. They could use the position to give Glennon some weapons in the passing game, given that top receiver Alshon Jeffery headed off to Philadelphia while former first-round pick Kevin White has been entirely underwhelming as a pro.

More likely, however, is a move to address the secondary. The Bears were very interested in former Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore before he signed with New England, but were only able to come away with Prince Amukamara to shore up the outside. As a result, it’s entirely possible they’ll be interested in the draft’s top cornerback, Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore. One of the safeties could be in play, as could Thomas if he makes it past San Francisco.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are a true wild card in this draft. They frequently end up picking somewhere in this range, and they’ve been known to dish out a few surprises come draft day.

At this point, it’s expected that they’ll target LSU running back Leonard Fournette, which would put an end to T.J. Yeldon’s underwhelming tenure with the team. They’ve invested enough in the wide receiver position over the last few years, but after shipping Julius Thomas off to the Dolphins they could use the pick on his replacement, Alabama tight end O.J. Howard.

5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams)

The Titans finished just outside of the playoffs, but thanks to last year’s trade of the first overall pick to the Rams they’ll have two first rounders this year, including this pick at fifth overall.

The Titans have glaring holes at wide receiver and defensive back, which puts them in the same boat as the Bills (just five picks earlier). If they want to go with a new top target for Marcus Mariota, they’ll likely have their pick of the top receivers in the draft, such as Clemson’s Mike Williams or Western Michigan’s Corey Davis.

If they want to fix up the secondary, they should still be able to select a top-tier defender but may miss out on one of the safeties. Most mock drafts have Lattimore still on the board, and if he’s available it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if the Titans selected him. Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is also a possibility; he’s a top five talent, but injury issues have him sliding down many boards.

6. New York Jets

This is the first spot in the draft where quarterback is a real possibility. At this point the top quarterback on the Jets’ depth chart is soon-to-be-38-year-old Josh McCown, who would hardly inspire confidence even if he were ten years younger. The top quarterbacks in this draft, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, are very much in play for this pick.

If they decide to pass on the quarterbacks, one of the safeties could be in play here. They could also pick a wide receiver to replace the departed Brandon Marshall, or they could take a running back to eventually replace the 31-year-old Matt Forte.

7. Los Angeles Chargers

Anthony Lynn’s new team is most likely going to use this pick to help bolster the league’s 29th-ranked scoring defense. The safeties, as always, are in play here (assuming they’ve made it this far). They could go with Allen and pair him with Joey Bosa for the next decade up front. They may even be interested in Alabama’s Reuben Foster, the top linebacker in the draft this year.

One other point to consider: Philip Rivers is 35, and backup quarterback Kellen Clemens turns 34 in June. If they don’t like how the top of the draft falls defensively, they may opt to select their quarterback of the future here.

8. Carolina Panthers

Sean McDermott’s old team needs serious help in the secondary, where they struggled mightily after losing Josh Norman in free agency (they ranked 29th in pass defense last year and allowed Atlanta’s Julio Jones to rack up 300 yards in one game). If any of the top three defensive backs are left, they’re prime targets here. If not, they could bolster the pass rush with Allen, Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, or Michigan State’s Malik McDowell (although the last two would be a bit of a reach).

Offensively, the could use a speedy wideout to replace Ted Ginn, Jr., who signed with the Saints in free agency. Washington’s John Ross, who set an NFL Combine record in the 40-yard dash, would be an upgrade at the position and allow big-bodied receiver Devin Funchess to move into the slot. Howard is another possibility, given that longtime standout Greg Olson is likely nearing the end of his career.

Finally, running back is a strong possibility as well. The Panthers struggled without Jonathan Stewart last year, and they could use someone like Fournette, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

With most of their offense fairly settled, and no offensive linemen worthy of a top 10 pick this year, the Bengals are most likely going to address their defense with this pick. Foster is a strong possibility, as is the other top linebacker in the draft, Temple’s Haason Reddick. Allen could fortify the pass rush up front, as could one someone like Barnett or McDowell (although, again, both would be reaches).

The possibilities at defensive back open up a bit here. Even the second tier of players could be considered worthy of this pick, such as Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey or Ohio State’s Gareon Conley. If they do want to address the offense, a top-tier running back could solidify what has been a committee approach over the last few seasons.