Emily Kaplan, national NHL reporter: As the Chicago Blackhawks prepare for an eventual world without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, I see them depending a lot on Alex DeBrincat for scoring. The 20-year-old winger quietly (because of the Blackhawks’ struggles) scored 28 goals this season. Though he exceeded even Chicago GM Stan Bowman’s expectations in Year 1, there’s a reason Chicago drafted DeBrincat: he finds a way to score.
Cornerback: This has been an area of need ever since Josh Norman’s infamous departure. Next to James Bradberry, newly signed Ross Cockrell should slot in as the new No. 2 corner. Even still, the Panthers could use as much help as they can get with the position still in a less than ideal state.
Running Back: The release of Jonathan Stewart means Carolina should be looking for another member of the backfield to complement 2017 first-round pick Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers will give Cameron Artis-Payne, a 2015 fifth-round pick, the first crack at replacing Stewart but another young, between-the-tackles runner should be brought in for depth and insurance purposes.
Expect the Titans to trade back if possible on draft day. Davenport could be a nice replacement. If Leighton Vander Esch were to slip this far, the Titans would take him. A sleeper pick, and likely pick if they move back, would be Florida State’s Josh Sweat.
Without many pressing needs, the Falcons should look to take advantage of a deep defensive tackle and offensive line class. Coaches speak glowingly about Payne’s maturity and consistent improvement over his time at Alabama.
If the Panthers have confidence in Artis-Payne to take Stewart’s vacant role and therefore hold out on selecting a running back until Day 3, then Kalen Ballage could be the answer. He’s an athletic phenom and proved it at the Combine (6-1, 225 pounds, 4.46 40-yard dash, 33.5 vertical). At Arizona State he showed his stuff as a powerful runner who still possessed breakaway speed and could catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s not exactly the same size as Stewart (5-10, 240 pounds) but he has the skills to be an excellent third option in the run game with the chance to compete for some meaningful touches.