JACKSONVILLE – Jamal Adams is rated highly for a reason.
"He's going to be a premier player," ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Thursday.
Here's why Kiper projects Adams to the Jaguars at No. 4:
Because not only is the LSU safety one of the draft's top five or six players overall according to Kiper, he also fits what Kiper believes the Jaguars need when selecting at No. 4 overall in the April 27-29 2017 NFL Draft.
"They need somebody on that back end that can play at that super-high level, and Adams can do that," Kiper said.
While there is a perception among some that the Jaguars need running backs or offensive linemen early in the draft, Kiper said value does not merit a player at those positions to be taken so early.
"When you're talking about four, you've got to get that second- or third-best player on your board – and at worst, the fourth-best player on your board," Kiper said. "Offensive tackles – nobody's in that category. The player that does fill a need is Jamal Adams."
Kiper called Adams "an outstanding player" who "can do anything you want."
"He can cover on the back end," Kiper said. "He tackles well and he works hard, so … it's a question of where you fit him in. I gave him to Jacksonville at four. Chicago certainly could use a player of his capability. He's going to go very high. I'd say anywhere in that top three, four, five he could go and I think he would be a heck of a pick for Jacksonville."
Kiper projected Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett to the Cleveland Browns at No. 1 overall, then projected North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2 and Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen to the Chicago Bears at No. 3.
Kiper on a conference call Thursday also covered draft-related topics including:
*Running backs.Kiper said he doesn't expect teams to trade up in the first round for backs such as Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State. He said neither player projects as well as Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State last season when Elliott went No. 4 overall to Dallas. He projected Fournette to Carolina at No. 8 and Cook to Cleveland at No. 12.
*Pass rushers. Kiper said he considers Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton the best pass-rushing defensive end in this year's draft. He projected Charlton No. 19 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
*Cornerbacks.Kiper also said he expects multiple cornerbacks in the first round. The first cornerback selected in his mock was Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore to the New York Jets at No. 6 overall. "He has a higher ceiling of any of the other corners," Kiper said of Lattimore. He also projected Teez Tabor of Florida to Arizona at No. 13, Quincy Wilson of Florida to Philadelphia at No. 14, Marlon Humphrey of Alabama to Tennessee at No. 18, Cordrea Tankersley of Clemson to Seattle at No. 26 and Sidney Jones of Washington to Dallas at No. 28.
*Tight ends.Kiper called this a "great tight end class," adding, "If you want a tight end, this is the year you should be able to get one." He projected O.J. Howard of Alabama to the New England Patriots at No. 32.
*Offensive tackles.Kiper projected three offensive tackles in the first round: Cam Robinson of Alabama to San Diego at No. 7, Garett Bolles of Utah to Denver at No. 20 and Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin to the New York Giants at No. 23. "It's not a great year at all," he said. "It's probably a mediocre year for offensive tackles."