Mock Draft 1.0

With months of analysis and speculation behind us, the 2017 NFL draft is a week away. Creating a mock draft and guessing what each team will do is truly an constantly evolving process. Here’s how we think things will shake out.

  1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: There’s some talk by the so called “experts” that the Browns will take quarterback Mitch Trubisky here instead of Myles Garrett. Simply put: they’re wrong. Garrett is the consensus highest rated player in the draft and he confirmed this with not only a dominating combine performance, but also by showing a lot of character participating in his Pro-Day and actually improving his 40-time in the process. With his ability to consistently disrupt the opponent’s backfield and put pressure on the quarterback (47 TFL and 31 sacks in just 34 games in college) he has the look of a potential superstar and game changing player, something Cleveland desperately needs.
  2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: Although the 9ers have used their past two first round picks on the defensive line, Thomas fills an immediate need for help with the pass rush and has the ability to line up at multiple positions. Like Garrett, Thomas posted a sub 4.7 40-time while weighing 270+ pounds, and would most likely be considered a potential number one overall pick in many other draft years.
  3. Chicago Bears – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: The Bears need help in the secondary, but I think Lattimore is a bit of a reach here due to his injury concerns. They’ll instead go with more of a sure thing and bolster their defensive line by selecting a player who can wreck havoc lining up inside or outside. Adding Allen to a group with Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard should give Chicago a solid d-line for the future.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: He’s best player on the board at this point, and widely considered the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. Jacksonville simply cannot afford to pass up this opportunity to add a player with the talent level he posses. This move would take pressure off struggling QB Blake Bortles, and give them a true offensive weapon in their backfield that they’ve been lacking since Maurice Jones-Drew left town. Fournette eased concerns regarding his weight by shedding 12 pounds after the combine (where he ran an impressive 4.51 second 40 at 240 pounds) and weighing in at 228 for his pro-day.
  5. Tennessee Titans – Jamal Adams, S, LSU: With Malik Hooker still recovering from multiple surgeries back in February and Adams turning in a much improved 40-time at his pro-day (4.56 to 4.45), the Titans will go with the rangy LSU product who can play both safety positions. He works well playing down near the line of scrimmage, and has the speed to drop into coverage. Adams compares to fellow former LSU safety Landon Collins and has great leadership ability. His addition should improve a weak secondary in need of some help.
  6. New York Jets – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: There’s so many reports about the Jets being infatuated with Trubisky that either their GM Mike Maccagnan is throwing up the greatest smoke-screen in pre-draft history, or they have a rat in their front office and they’re truly in love with this kid. Still in need of a franchise quarterback, they take another stab at it here. He’s the most “pro ready” of any QB prospect, consistently goes through his reads and also has the ability to run for positive yardage when things break down. The main concern with him is he’s only started 13 games in college, which is hauntingly reminiscent of a quarterback previously drafted by the Jets, Mark Sanchez.
  7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: A dynamic playmaker with the range and ball-skills to match, Hooker would have gone sooner if he wasn’t recovering from the aforementioned surgeries. San Diego Los Angeles (still feels weird) finally finds their replacement for Eric Weddle, who was clearly missed in 2016. Hooker should immediately help a pass defense that gave up 249 yards per game last season, ranked 20th in the league.
  8. Carolina Panthers – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Howard grades out better than any player at the position in the past several drafts, and excels in the blocking game. Also an explosive play-maker, he’ll give QB Cam Newton a new weapon down the middle of the field to work opposite (and learn from) the still somehow underrated Greg Olsen. They could also take a much needed running back here and go with either Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey, but I think the lack of depth in this draft at the tight end position make them go with Howard here.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: The Bengals need a receiver on the outside to take attention away from A.J. Green, and also fill the void left by the departed Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, who they both sorely missed last season. Davis has great size (6’3″, 209 lbs.) and is more of a big play threat than a possession receiver. (In an interesting note, Davis declined to run the 40 at both the combine and his pro day, a rarity for a top prospect receiver.)
  10. Buffalo Bills – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: Lattimore is the classic case of “what could have been” if not for injuries. His history of hamstring injuries, compounded with his hip flexor strain suffered at the combine definitely raise some level of concern about his durability. A phenomenal athlete who would fill a needed position, as the Bills are pretty thin at corner after losing Stephen Gilmore to New England. Some see Lattimore as a top-5 level talent, and if he’s still available at this point they’ll take the risk that comes along with selecting him and gamble on him panning out.
  11. New Orleans Saints – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: The Saints,much  like many teams picking early in the draft, have a need for an edge rusher. They could pair him with Cam Jordan, or even use him as a standup linebacker in 3-4 looks, as he’s is a big body (6’6″, 277 pounds) with above average athletic ability. He entered last season having only started 4 games previously and is still raw in terms of pass rush moves and technique, yet he still put up 9.5 sacks. This guy has tons of upside and all-pro potential, with his floor being that of a solid NFL starter.
  12. Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: The Browns are ecstatic here that Watson is still available with their second. They get the best overall player in the draft at #1, and their possible quarterback of the future as well here.  He’s a two-time Heisman trophy finalist, and although he may not have all the measurables or statistics, one thing is clear: this guy is a competitor. He’s a gamer and possesses all the intangibles required to succeed at the toughest position in the NFL.
  13. Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech: With Trubisky and Watson both off the board, the Cardinals waste no time and select a signal-caller of their own. Carson Palmer is getting up there in age, and bringing in someone for him to mentor sooner rather than later makes sense here. Perhaps this is a reach and they could possibly go with receiver Mike Williams, but I think they’ll take Mahomes even though he’s a bit of a project. They’ll select him here simply because he has the potential to be their starting signal-caller of the future.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: McCaffrey is one of the most intriguing players in the draft, as mocks have him going anywhere from the top 10 to falling all the way to the second round but I think he’ll fall somewhere in between. Mark my words: this guy is going to wreck shop on NFL defenses if he’s utilized the right way and his unique skill set is taken advantage of. I envision him lining up in the backfield and motioning out to the slot pretty regularly as he has great hands and route running ability. He lacks elite power and speed, but more than makes up for it with his vision and elusiveness. (That isn’t to say he’s slow either, posting a 4.48 in the 40) He’s put up over 3,600 yards from scrimmage over the past two seasons, and is a dangerous punt and kick returner as well. Just about the only thing this guy can’t do with the ball in his hands is throw it.
  15. Indianapolis Colts – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: With the great Frank Gore turning 34 years old, the Colts will look to the future at the running back position and select Cook to replace him. They’d be able to move Gore to a complimentary role and allow him to mentor Cook, who’s had some character issues. (3 arrests since high school, including robbery firing a weapon on school property, and a battery charge. All charges were either dropped, or he was found not guilty) On the field, Cook needs to improve in pass protection if he wants to be a 3-down back in the NFL, and 13 career fumbles raise some concerns in as well. Also of note is his medical history, with hamstring issues in 2015 and 3 shoulder surgeries since high school (1 rotator cuff and 2 on his labrum). All that being said, Cook is an explosive, homerun-hitter type of player who seems to always be at his best against the toughest opponents and when the lights are the brightest. If he can get the off the field issues in order, he could be a rookie of the year candidate.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: General manager Ozzie Newsome seem to have a pretty strict “best player available” approach when it comes to the draft, especially the first round. That being said, I believe receiver Mike Williams fits that ideology, while also filling a need for them here. Even though they selected Breshad Perriman in the first round of the 2015 draft, they’ll go back to the position here to get quarterback Joe Flacco some more help. Williams doesn’t possess elite speed, but he looks every bit the part of a solid “chain mover” and great target in the redzone as well at 6’4″ and 218 pounds. Even though the speedy John Ross is still available at this point, Baltimore instead goes with Williams as he is a more proven talent, and his skill-set would seemingly compliment Perriman better than Ross would.
  17. Washington Redskins – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Washington needs some speed in their front seven, and Foster can provide just that. Winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker, Foster has great sideline-to-sideline speed to help against both runs to the outside and in pass coverage. Struggles with tackling technique and dropping his head have led to problems with stingers, but this is believed to be correctable and he projects as a 4-3 weakside or 3-4 inside linebacker with Pro Bowl potential. His mishap at the combine and a “diluted sample” drug test could definitely cause him to fall.
  18. Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington: After using the first pick on defense, the Titans go to the other side of the ball and add another weapon for QB Marcus Mariota. Despite an ACL tear in 2015, Ross bounced back strongly enough to be named second-team All-American after posting 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has elite speed (4.22 40 time) and scored 23 touchdowns in just 112 touches during his college career. He can offer help immediately as a kick returner and slot receiver, with deep-ball potential lining up on the outside as well.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Extremely productive and a constant disruption in the opponent’s backfield, Barnett is a monster. He was the first freshman to ever start on the defensive line for The University of Tennessee and went on to have 20.5 tackles for a loss, good enough to lead the SEC, in addition to 10 sacks. He’ll occasionally get caught guessing snap counts, but is great at using his hands to throw opposing linemen off balance and can also drop into space in zone coverage.
  20. Denver Broncos – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple:  An athletic player with a nose for the ball, Reddick could be what Denver needs after the departure of Demarcus Ware. He’s a different type of player who’ll probably play the weakside position or middle, but is similar in that he has great range and play-making ability. Adding him to a group that already includes Brandon Marshall, Von Miller and the young Shane Ray has Denver set up fairly well for the future with their group of linebackers.
  21. Detroit Lions – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State – Although he’s slightly overshadowed because he played across from Lattimore, Conley is a solid corner who has most things NFL teams look for:  solid size and length, good speed, and ball skills to match. Detroit needs help in several areas, and their secondary seems like as good a place to start as any. They could take a linebacker like Jarrad Davis or DE T.J. Watt, but I think Conley at this point has too much upside for them to pass on.
  22. Miami Dolphins – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama – The highest rated offensive lineman falls all the way to Miami, who are in the market for a new tackle after trading away Brandon Albert to Jacksonville. His inconsistencies are the only reason he falls this far down, and he could definitely be picked sooner because of his position and the lack of starting caliber offensive tackles in this year’s draft class. He’s a bit of a project but has all the potential to be their left tackle of the future.
  23. New York Giants – Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah: Despite only playing one year of FBS football, Bolles has elite athletic ability and quickness but will be a project because of his rawness.  The Giant have their fingers crossed that they’ll be able to get Robinson, but since he’s gone, they’ll waste no time and select the second best OT in the draft.
  24. Oakland Raiders – Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: The Raiders need some help getting to the quarterback, as they were ranked dead last in the NFL last season in sacks with a measly 25, and Williams should be able to slide in on the other side of All-Pro Khalil Mack and improve their front seven. A second-team All-American, Williams operated mostly as a pass-rush specialist for Nick Saban, and will have to polish other aspects of his game to be able to stay on the field at the next level.
  25. Houston Texans – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: Check out the Texans depth chart at quarterback: Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. Could either really be worse than Osweiler was for them last year? Sadly, the answer is probably yes. They’ll take Kizer here and hope he can develop. He’s raw and may not be able to start right away, look for them to add another veteran depending on how training camp goes, or possibly even sooner.
  26. Seattle Seahawks – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA: An ever-improving and relentless pass rusher, Seattle will be thrilled if McKinley slips to them. McKinley has steadily improved and become more and more of an impact player over the last 3 seasons, showing massive amounts of potential. The Seahawks will scoop him up here in hopes that they can keep his development on the right track. They could also go with Washington corner Kevin King in this spot.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma: Everyone deserves a second chance, and the Chiefs have shown they’re willing to provide on with their previous signing of receiver Tyreke Hill. Mixon has tons of talent and his running style can work in virtually any scheme, with some scouts mentioning he reminds them of Le’Veon Bell. Andy Reid won’t hesitate to take a chance on him here and hope the off the field troubles stay in his past.
  28. Dallas Cowboys – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin: Jerry Jones will call this pick in as fast as any he’s made during his last 273 years of ownership for the Cowboys. (Just kidding, he’s only 134 years old) You just know that Jerry envisions T.J. turning into the type of player his brother has been over in Houston. T.J. in his own regard is a solid player although he’s only started one season.
  29. Green Bay Packers – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: The Packers need to improve a pass defense that ranked second worst in the league last season, giving up over 4,300 yards through the air. Humphrey becomes the 6th player taken in the first round from the Crimson Tide, and should be able to step in and start immediately. He excels more in zone coverage and is somewhat prone to getting burned by the deep ball, but has all the physical tools to develop into a solid man coverage guy.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers – David Njoku, TE, Miami: The Steelers would be thrilled to get Njoku here and add them to their already potent offense. He can line up basically anywhere on the field and although he isn’t a great blocker, has shown willingness to improve in that area. This would help add a threat down the middle of the field for their offense, and he’s probably the best player available at this point.
  31. Atlanta Falcons – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky: Lamp would fill an immediate need an right guard for the Falcons, as guard Chris Chester has retired this off-season. Lamp can play virtually any position along the line, and with a top offense currently at it’s peak, Atlanta can’t afford to squander the opportunity they have to get back to the big game. Solidifying or even improving their offensive line would allow them to take a step forward from what was an amazing year statistically for their offense.
  32. New Orleans Saints – Kevin King, CB, Washington: There’s not many corners who are 6’3″ and run a 4.43 40 yard dash. Scouts aren’t completely sold if he can be a full time cornerback, or if he needs to be relegated to safety. and for now he’s best suited to zone coverage as he’s prone to getting burned and lacks the elite recovery speed to make up for it. Even still, he’s a prospect with a ton of potential who has experience lining up in the slot, in addition to playing some safety as well.
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