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Defense: This draft crop is loaded on that side of the ball

NFL mock draft

FILE – In this Nov. 26, 2016, file photo, Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas (90) during an NCAA college football game against Rice, in Stanford, Calif. Thomas is a possible first round pick in the NFL Draft in Philadelphia on Thursday, April 27, 2017.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, FIle)

By Barry Wilner

AP Pro Football Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — DE-FENSE, DE-FENSE.

That’s going to be the area of concentration in this draft, in the first round and through much of the proceedings in Philadelphia. Indeed, the first half-dozen or so selections could come from that side of the ball.

That’s often the fallout when there are no slam-dunk quarterbacks available.

Here’s how we see Thursday night’s first round falling, minus any trades.

1. Cleveland

With the QB class so dicey, especially to start things, Cleveland goes for the potential of a dominant, long-term pass rusher. Some analysts wonder about his passion for football, but …

MYLES GARRETT, DE, TEXAS A&M

2. San Francisco

When in need of defense, go for the pass rusher first, the shutdown cornerback second, the stud linebacker or safety next. So …

SOLOMON THOMAS, DE, STANFORD

3. Chicago

John Fox, a defense-first coach, gets his pick of the top defensive backs for a team that needs help at receiver, on the offensive line, and has settled on Mike Glennon as its QB. Lots of options lead to …

JAMAL ADAMS, S, LSU

4. Jacksonville

Sticking with the theme — Tom Coughlin is running the Jaguars now and he won two Super Bowls with a deep, powerful and fast defensive front …

JONATHAN ALLEN, DE, ALABAMA

5. Tennessee (from Rams)

There’s a great chance the Titans will trade out of this spot. Staying put will lead them to the most promising cornerback in this crop …

MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB, OHIO STATE

6. New York Jets

Offense, offense. New York wouldn’t mind grabbing future all-world tight end O.J. Howard here, except the Jets have no one of note to throw to him. So they try — again — to find their franchise quarterback in …

DESHAUN WATSON, QB, CLEMSON

7. Los Angeles Chargers

San Diego — Oops, that’s one even Roger Goodell might mess up on draft night — make that Los Angeles was hoping one of the top defensive backs remained available here. One did …

MALIK HOOKER, S, OHIO STATE

8. Carolina

This one is easy. The Panthers need a standout running back to balance their offense and make sure there can be a smooth transition from Jonathan Stewart down the line. That RB is …

LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU

9. Cincinnati

Always a haven for players with off-field incidents, Cincinnati fills a linebacking need with a guy who was dismissed from the NFL combine in February and has questions surrounding him about a drug test. If he behaves, the Bengals have an anchor at LB with …

REUBEN FOSTER, LB, ALABAMA

10. Buffalo

Hard, no impossible, to see the Bills passing up a target for Tyrod Taylor or whomever becomes Buffalo’s quarterback down the line. Howard is tempting, but an outside receiver is more tempting …

MIKE WILLIAMS, WR, CLEMSON

11. New Orleans

At some point, the Saints need to think about a young quarterback to groom behind Drew Brees. Maybe in the next round, but with so much juicy defensive talent available, how about …

HAASON REDDICK, LB, TEMPLE

12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia)

Now, for that QB to follow in the footsteps of Otto Graham and Brian Sipe — oh, wait, those were the other Browns. Anyway, it’s a gamble here, yet …

MITCHELL TRUBISKY, QB, NORTH CAROLINA

13. Arizona

Bruce Arians blinks once, twice, three times. Yep, the perfect weapon to balance out his offense (if everyone can stay healthy) is there …

O.J. HOWARD, TE, ALABAMA

14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota)

A terrific pass rusher remains on the board, and though the Eagles need a wideout, they can wait in this deep draft to get him. So the man is …

DEREK BARNETT, DE, TENNESSEE

15. Indianapolis

If Andrew Luck is in the Colts’ draft room, he’s also in the staff’s ear to get him more protection. He is, after all, coming off shoulder surgery. Here’s some help, Andrew …

RYAN RAMCZYK, OT, WISCONSIN

16. Baltimore

A team with mostly mediocre receiving options for Joe Flacco might dip into the wideout and tight end pool more than once this year. As a start …

COREY DAVIS, WR, WESTERN MICHIGAN

17. Washington

Another club with eyes on a young quarterback, but probably not here with the defense needing bolstering and lots of options there. Such as …

TAKKARIST MCKINLEY, DE, UCLA

18. Tennessee

The defense was addressed earlier, so for Marcus Mariota and the passing offense, a potential game-breaking receiver with lighting speed makes sense …

JOHN ROSS, WR, WASHINGTON

19. Tampa Bay

Tampa has an interest in the running backs and offensive linemen still sitting there. With Doug Martin’s status in question, it seems logical to go with the versatile RB …

CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY, RB, STANFORD

20. Denver

When C.J. Anderson went down last season, Denver headed straight into the dumpster. If John Elway is truthful about being satisfied with his quarterback crew, he gets those guys some help now …

DALVIN COOK, RB, FLORIDA STATE

21. Detroit

Back to defense after a short run on offensive players. The Lions get a boost to their cornerbacks group with the third Buckeyes DB chosen in this round …

GAREON CONLEY, CB, OHIO STATE

22. Miami

Miami continues the lovefest for DBs with the fifth one taken and the second from the Louisiana State secondary …

TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE, CB, LSU

23. New York Giants

What, only one offensive lineman off the board? Rejoice, Eli, the Giants have lots of blockers they could grab in this spot, and they gladly take …

CAM ROBINSON, OT, ALABAMA

24. Oakland

Already winners with the vote to allow their relocation to Las Vegas, the Raiders would like to add to their fortune with some help for the D. It comes in the form of …

JARRAD DAVIS, LB, FLORIDA

25. Houston

Had Watson or Trubisky been on the board, the Texans might have pulled the trigger on a quarterback. The others left are even bigger gambles, so the best option is the O-line …

FORREST LAMP, OG, WESTERN KENTUCKY

26. Seattle

The Seahawks would have liked to have Lamp up front, but with the Texans beating them to the choice, they turn to their secondary. An addition to the sputtering “Legion of Boom” in …

KEVIN KING, CB-S, WASHINGTON

27. Kansas City

Best talent still in the mix is where the Chiefs need to go. Some believe they will draft a QB for the future, but more likely it is …

ZACH CUNNINGHAM, LB, VANDERBILT

28. Dallas

Having scored bigtime in recent drafts, particularly last year with Zeke Elliott and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys seem to know what they are doing. Defense is a priority, though a TE to eventually replace Jason Witten is possible …

MARLON HUMPHREY, CB, ALABAMA

29. Green Bay

Folks point to how weak the Packers’ secondary looked late last season, but it was so banged up that backups for backups were playing. With better health expected, DB isn’t the selection. LB is with …

CHARLES HARRIS, LB, MISSOURI

30. Pittsburgh

With Ben Roethlisberger beginning to think about retirement and the Steelers in a good spot to develop a QB for perhaps two years, this is a perfect time to get one. He is …

PATRICK MAHOMES, QB, TEXAS TECH

31. Atlanta

Had the Falcons only been able to keep pressure on Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Addressing that shortcoming …

TACO CHARLTON, DE, MICHIGAN

32. New Orleans (from New England)

Ooh, that hurt. The Saints had their eyes on Mahomes, and there aren’t any other QBs worth this pick. Here’s a chance to spice up the return game and bolster the secondary …

ADOREE’ JACKSON, CB, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

___

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