The 2017 NFL Draft, which takes place in Philadelphia come April 27th, will undoubtedly be one of the most interesting drafts in recent history. I’ve really studied this draft class and listened in on a lot of expert opinions, and can formally conclude this draft is loaded with a lot of talent; on both sides of the ball. This mock draft will have some shakeups to it, as I expect there to be a lot of fireworks come April.
- Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett- Defensive end (Texas A&M)
This pick should not come as a surprise as the Browns have positioned themselves to land arguably the best player in the entire draft. Garrett is a freak athlete and would give the Browns a feared pass rusher for the first time in years.
2. Washington Redskins (49ers trade pick and mid round pick to Redskins for quarterback Kirk Cousins) Jonathan Allen- Defensive tackle (Alabama)
The Redskins might publically be saying they won’t deal Kirk Cousins, however, I believe the 49ers, who covet Cousins, will get them to bite in dealing the 2nd pick in exchange for Cousins and Washington’s pick. The Redskins lost Chris Baker, their best interior defensive lineman in free agency, and Allen would be the ideal pick for them to replace Baker. Win-win for both sides.
3. Chicago Bears: Mike Williams- Wide receiver (Clemson)
Okay, this might seem like a huge stretch, but hear me out. The Bears seem ready to hand the quarterback duties to their big free agent acquisition Mike Glennon. The Bears could continue to add to their already impressive young defense, or as I would suggest, they cold get Glennon a playmaker at the wide receiver position. The Bears have a lot of depth at wide receiver, but no one stands out. Williams would stand out and replace Alshon Jeffery nicely, all while giving Glennon a young receiver to grow with.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams- Safety (LSU)
The Jags have totally killed it in the free agency period adding defensive players such as Calais Campbell to their pass rush, AJ Bouye to corner and Barry Church at safety. With Tom Coughlin, the former head coach of the Giants, now the VP of Player Personnel, it seems as if his goal for the Jags is to build a strong defense, much like the Giants had in Coughlin’s era. Adding a dynamic safety like Adams would improve this up and coming defense immensely.
5. Tennessee Titans: Malik Hooker- Safety (Ohio State)
Much like the Browns, the Titans have done a wonderful job loading up on draft picks over the last few years. The Titans have a few needs, but none stand out more than safety. The Titans did add Jonathan Cyprien in free agency, but they should not be done addressing that position. Hooker is a fantastic playmaker and would help the Titans solidify their secondary for the next decade.
6. Arizona Cardinals (Jets trade pick to Cardinals for 13th pick and later picks) Solomon Thomas- Defensive end (Stanford)
The Jets trading back to add more picks would be the wisest decision for them. Of course, for a team as depleted as the Jets, adding playmakers immediately might seem like a good idea, but for a team that needs a lot of help, adding more picks to trade back would help them in the long-term. With the Cardinals moving up, I think the way to go is to replenish their defense. The team lost Calais Campbell in free agency who was their best defensive lineman. They are counting on Robert Nkemdiche to step up, but Thomas would be a huge addition to their pass rush as his stock has only continued to rise.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jabril Peppers- Safety/Linebacker/Cornerback (Michigan)
With the Chargers missing out on Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker, I think they could surprise people and select Peppers here. The Chargers offense is solid, they can add to the offensive line later in the draft. Getting a fearsome playmaker like Peppers would really ignite the Chargers defense. I would think they would try to groom him at safety with their safety position being paper thin, which would really help the Chargers create a new brand of defense.
8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette- Runningback (LSU)
The Panthers added both Matt Kalil (left tackle) and Captain Munnerlyn (cornerback) in free agency. Both solid moves to positions they desperately needed help with, but with this pick the Panthers could really begin to take shape. Cam Newton got beat up all last season and with Jonathan Stewart beginning to slow down, selecting Fournette would begin to give the Panthers an elite rushing attack, all while taking the heat off of Newton.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster- Middle linebacker (Alabama)
The Bengals need a lot of help, almost everywhere, but selecting Foster would really bring a nasty presence to their linebacking core. Foster is a consistent playmaker and solid in coverage. Pairing him with Vontaze Burfict would really boost the Cincy defense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Corey Davis- Wide receiver (Western Michigan)
The Bills just restructured Tyrod Taylor’s contract, which makes me believe Sean McDermott and his staff are committing to him for at least this season. The Bills had the league’s best rushing attack last year, in part to them having one of the best offensive lines in the game. They also have a strong, young defense but what’s missing from this team is depth at wide receiver. The Bills lost both Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin in free agency and right now, have nothing accompanying Sammy Watkins. If the Bills hope to compete in 2017, give Tyrod Taylor a versatile weapon like Davis, who would take the double teams off of Watkins.
11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore- Cornerback (Ohio State)
The Saints defense is one of the most embarrassing units in all of the NFL. They just added another first round pick via the Brandin Cooks trade to the Patriots, so I would expect them to begin to fix that defensive issue immediately. Adding a shut down corner like Lattimore would help tremendously, especially given the Saints have two promising safeties like Vonn Bell and Kenny Vaccaro.
12. New England Patriots (Browns trade pick and a mid round pick to Pats for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo) Christian McCaffery- Runningback (Stanford)
What an offseason for the Patriots; they lose two defensive starters, they turn around and replace them. They win the Super Bowl with solid receivers, they add a speedster in Brandin Cooks. With this, I really think Belichick and company are driving the price up for Garoppolo. I could definitely see the Pats dealing Jimmy G to get back into the first round where they can make a huge splash and that splash in the form of Christian McCaffery. McCaffery is everything Bill Belichick looks for in a running back; speed and hands. He would pair up nicely with James White and Dion Lewis and really add another dimension to an already imposing offense. Should we stop here and just give them the trophy?
13. New York Jets (from Cardinals) Teez Tabor- Cornerback (Florida)
Assuming the Jets add Jay Cutler at quarterback, it will at least serve as a stop gap for the time being. The Jets have a need almost everywhere on the offensive line, but their defense is their lifeblood and with the team cutting Darrelle Revis, they need to find his replacement and a shutdown corner with them playing in a receiver heavy division. Teez Tabor has incredible ball skills and coverage skills and would for sure, give the Jets a franchise cornerback for the next decade.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Dalvin Cook- Runningback (Florida State)
But Alex, haven’t you argued that the Eagles need to load up on cornerback?! Yes. With Sidney Jones tearing his Achilles (a guy I think the Eagles were really high on) I think they’ll look to continue to add to their offense. There are A TON of corners and pass rushers in this draft (where I think the Eagles will add to later, and I really think Cook is a game-changer. With the front office giving Carson Wentz both Alson Jeffery and Torrey Smith, while replenishing the offensive line, selecting Cook would immediately make this offense lethal. The best friend to a young quarterback is the run game, and with the Eagles vastly improving the pass game, Cook would really make this offense beyond dynamic.
15. Indianapolis Colts: OJ Howard- Tight end (Alabama)
The Colts traded Dwayne Allen to the Patriots, leaving the tight end position very thin. They have added to their defense in a nice way in free agency, and still have a ways to go, but giving Andrew Luck more weapons has to be the priority. Howard is a physical freak and has all the tools to be a superstar tight end in this league. Pair him with Luck and this passing attack, and the Colts could be lethal within time.
16. Baltimore Ravens: John Ross- Wide receiver (Washington)
The Ravens have done a tremendous job in free agency adding to their defense so I think the pick here has to go to getting Joe Flacco more weapons. Ross broke the combine record with the 40 yard dash which, as common sense would tell you, makes him a speed threat. The Ravens are very thin at receiver and with Flacco having a cannon arm, Ross would be the perfect compliment for him to sit back and sling it all over the field.
17. Washington Redskins: DeShaun Watson- Quarterback (Clemson)
The Redskins strike gold in getting the 2nd overall pick to select Jonathan Allen and keeping this pick to select Watson. They give up Kirk Cousins, but in the end, they rid themselves of his contract and set their eyes on the future with Watson. Watson has all the tools to be a great quarterback in this league; speed, arm strength and a good pocket awareness. Pair him with the young offense around him and the Redskins could make a lot of noise.
18. New York Jets (Titans trade this pick and a future pick for Sheldon Richardson) Ryan Ramczyk- Offensive tackle (Wisconsin)
The Titans move this pick to get Sheldon Richardson to add to their defense, while the Jets get this pick and more in dealing him. Like I mentioned before, the Jets have a lot of needs but they are going to have to protect Jay Cutler (assuming he signs here) or whomever the QB is. Ramczyk is a solid tackle and could play the right side with the Jets signing Kelvin Beachum to play the left side. I would say this would be a great start for the Jets.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Juju Smith-Schuster- Wide receiver (USC)
The Bucs signed DeSean Jackson in free agency and they should not stop there in adding playmakers for Jameis Winston. Giving Winston a trio of Mike Evans, Jackson and Schuster would really make the Bucs passing attack a nightmare to defend. The Bucs can use the latter rounds to add to their secondary, running back and offensive line.
20. Denver Broncos: Forrest Lamp- Guard (Western Kentucky)
The Broncos have been linked to free agent quarterback Tony Romo all offseason. That would definitely be a huge addition, but where I believe they need to focus their attention in the draft, is the offensive line. Denver did a nice job signing guard Ron Leary formally of the Cowboys and adding Lamp who can play both guard and tackle would really give their line a boost. If they want to secure Romo, loading up their line to protect him would be the best move.
21. Detroit Lions: Zach Cunningham- Linebacker (Vanderbilt)
The Lions just released DeAnre Levy, their once All-Pro linebacker so I believe they would be wise in grabbing a tackling machine such as Cunningham with this pick. The Lions did a fantastic job loading up their offensive line in free agency, so now they can turn their attention to building a strong defense that would be able to compete with their rival Packers offense. Cunningham would be the first step in doing so.
22. Miami Dolphins: Derek Barnett- Defensive end (Tennessee)
With the Dolphins letting Mario Williams walk in free agency, they were left without a reliable starter next to Cameron Wake on the defensive line. The ‘Phins did trade for mermaid enthusiast William Hayes, but he and Wake are older players and beyond them, the ‘Phins are thin on the pass rush. Selecting Barnett who could learn under someone like Wake and follow in his foot steps would really mold the ‘Phins pass rush to becoming lethal. After all, playing against Tom Brady twice a year; you need a fierce pass rush.
23. New York Giants: Cam Robinson- Offensive tackle (Alabama)
The Giants made a nice signing in adding former Chargers guard DJ Fluker. Fluker will look to rebound after a disappointing stint with the Chargers, and looking at the Giants now, their left tackle spot is very much in question. The Giants spent a high pick on Erek Flowers a few years ago but he has been extremely inconsistent. With the G-Men loading up on their passing attack with Brandon Marshall, they should look to continue to build a strong offensive line to protect Eli Manning with selecting Robinson.
24. Oakland Raiders: Marlon Humphrey- Cornerback (Alabama)
The Raiders offense is essentially set with Derek Carr and the plethora of weapons at his disposal. The one weak spot the Raiders had a year ago was their secondary largely in part to the up and down play at cornerback. Humphrey has tremendous awareness and cover skills and would give the Raiders a shut down, number one corner in a conference that is loaded at wide receiver.
25. Houston Texans: Mitchell Trubisky- Quarterback (North Carolina)
I believe the Texans will miss out on the Tony Romo sweepstakes and turn their attention to the draft. Head coach Bill O’Brien is a solid quarterbacks groomer and would likely be salivating at the chance to grab Trubisky with the 25th pick. Trubisky has been linked as a guy who could really exceed expectations in the right system, but would likely need some time to do so. With O’Brien’s job on the line (I believe) grabbing a young QB with a ton of promise in Trubisky and surrounding him with the weapons Houston has, would likely save his job and the Texans franchise from plummeting.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bolles- Offensive tackle (Utah)
Seattle has one of the league’s best defenses. Seattle has one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Seattle also has one of the deepest wide receiving cores in the league. Where Seattle is really struggling, is their offensive line. The Hawks signed former first overall pick Luke Joeckel in free agency, hoping he could rebound and strengthen their left tackle position, however, they need to continue to bolster it with this draft. Bolles is a solid tackle and would really go a long way in improving a thin unit that needs to protect their franchise guy in order to make another Super Bowl push.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Quincy Wilson- Cornerback (Florida)
The Chiefs have a nasty defense, one of the best in the league for that matter. They lost defensive tackle Dontari Poe in free agency but stole Bennie Logan from the Eagles. With that being said, the Chiefs have a fearsome pass rush and a future hall of fame safety in their defense. They also have one of the best young corners in the league in Marcus Peters, but Peters needs help. Selecting Wilson, who has tremendous size and speed for a corner would really make the Chiefs defense hard to score on, especially with a young corner duo in Peters and Wilson.
28. Dallas Cowboys: TJ Watt- Outside linebacker (Wisconsin)
The Cowboys offense is arguably one of the best in the NFL entering the 2017 campaign. Their defense, well, not so much. They have some solid pieces, however, they are really lacking on the pass rush front. Watt is of course the younger brother to NFL superstar JJ Watt and had a very impressive combine. The Cowboys play in a 3-4 defensive system which would allow Watt to rush the passer a lot like Clay Matthews does in Green Bay. If this little Watt brother turns into half of what his older brother is, the Cowboys will have solidified their defense for a long, long time.
29. Green Bay Packers: Dan Feeney- Offensive guard (Indiana)
I know a lot of expert mocks have the Packers addressing their defense, but the Pack lost their best guard, TJ Lang, to the Lions. Lang was a staple for the Packers line and him leaving to their division rival will surely hurt. I believe the Pack could add to their defense later, this pick is all about getting a younger, mauler on the line like Feeney, to protect Aaron Rodgers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Williams- Outside linebacker (Alabama)
When you think about Steelers football in the good ‘ole days, you think of a nasty, hit-you-in-your-mouth defense. Right now, the Steelers offense is their lifeblood and they have quietly begun bringing back their stifling defense. When you look at Tim Williams you see a guy who can rush the passer, stuff the run and play the pass very well. If he is on the board here at 30, I would imagine Pittsburgh would pounce on taking him to team him up with Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree, giving the Steelers a young and dominant linebacking core.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris- Defensive end (Missouri)
The Falcons surprised a lot of people last year by making it to the Super Bowl. Their offense was a nightmare to stop and their defense, while young, showed a lot of dominance and promise. One area I think the Falcons are a bit thin on is their defensive line. Adding someone like Harris to be the backbone of their pass rush would almost immediately make them a force to be reckoned with in the 2017 season and beyond.
32. New Orleans Saints: Taco Charlton- Defensive end (Michigan)
With the Saints landing this pick via the Brandin Cooks trade to New England, they can again address their anemic defense. I had them taking superstar-to-be cornerback Marshon Lattimore which would really improve their secondary. With this pick, they land a pass rusher in Taco Charlton who can do it all and take the double teams off of Cameron Jordan. Two picks in the first round securing young, defensive studs would really jump-start the Saints defense heading into the upcoming season.
Of course, this is all speculation at this point. Anything can happen given injuries or whatever needs open up for a specific team. I’ll have a second round up within the coming weeks which is likely to change from this one.
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