|NFL Mock Draft – 2/24/2017|
|1. Cleveland Browns
DE – Myles Garrett: Texas A&M
The Browns are rumored to have a grade on Garrett that supersedes any other player in the 2017 draft class by a wide margin. There’s no reason at this point to believe they are blowing smoke, although I am still of the mindset that Cleveland ultimately moves down from this spot and acquires more draft picks including another first for 2018.
|2. San Francisco 49ers
WR – Mike Williams: Clemson
Kyle Shanahan knows all too well that having a stud at wide receiver is going to be a must have in the NFC West. Williams stock has not breached the top 5 yet, but this is a combination of need and potential for a first year head coach that’s taking over a team that’s devoid of game changers in the passing attack.
|3. Chicago Bears
DE – Solomon Thomas: Stanford
The Chicago Bears need to have an imposing force on the edge of the defensive line to maximize their value on 2016 first round pick, Leonard Floyd. In discussions, I have repeatedly heard that both scouts and general managers are much higher on Thomas’ game play than draft analysts and he is viewed as not only comparable, but possibly a better option than Alabama’s Jonathan Allen.
|4. Jacksonville Jaguars
S – Jamal Adams: L.S.U.
This is an interesting situation to monitor as John Cyprien doesn’t appear to be headed back to Jacksonville leaving a hole at strong safety. Jamal Adams is the highest ranked prospect on our board and an instant impact player that has potential to be a game changer in an increasingly talented Jaguars defense.
|5. Tennessee Titans (via LAR)
DT – Jonathan Allen: Alabama
This would be an easy pick for the Titans as Allen is a top 10 talent in this draft and it fills a position of need. With two picks out of the first 18 in the draft, Tennessee will have a chance to still grab a highly talented CB later on and improve the overall defense rather quickly.
|6. New York Jets
QB – Mitch Trubisky: N. Carolina
The quarterbacks in the 2017 class have rankings scattered all over but Trubisky continues to move up boards. The Jets have no choice but to look at quarterback early this season after botching the resigning of Fitzpatrick and drafting 3 players (in 4 years) at the position that most likely will never be starting caliber NFL signal callers.
|7. Los Angeles Chargers
S – Malik Hooker: Ohio State
The Chargers have a need at safety and taking Hooker in the top 10 can easily be justified by his high ceiling. It would be the perfect fit for Malik as he could adjust to the pro level, refine the holes in his game and have a front 7 in front of him that generates enough pressure to mask his few deficiencies and create multiple turnover opportunities.
|8. Carolina Panthers
RB – Leonard Fournette: L.S.U.
Carolina needs to improvise some ways to take pressure off of franchise quarterback Cam Newton. Adding a stud at runningback immediately changes the offensive dynamic and gives Cam the ability to relax more and dictate to the defense what the offense prepares for on game day.
|9. Cincinnati Bengals
RB – Dalvin Cook: Florida State
The NFL can be a bit of a copy cat league, lending runningbacks a boost in 2017 off of Ezekiel Elliott’s 2016 rookie impact. The Bengals are starting to develop holes across the roster but after Bernard and Hill (free agent in 2017) both saw their seasons end to injury while Burkhead enters free agency, Cincinnati may opt to solidify the position.
|10. Buffalo Bills
CB – Marshon Lattimore: Ohio State
The Bills find a player with solid potential at a position of need in cornerback Marshon Lattimore. With Stephon Gillmore unlikely to be franchise tagged (at this point), Buffalo has a rather large void in the secondary that probably can’t be filled with the myriad of under performers currently under contract.
|11. New Orleans Saints
DE – Charles Harris: Missouri
The Saints are thin across the defensive line and adding a talented pass rusher to a division that has some of the better passers in the NFL is more of a must than a maybe.
|12. Cleveland Browns (via PHI)
QB – Deshaun Watson: Clemson
Right now, the Browns could pass on a quarterback at the top and possibly still have their pick of the litter at 12, which is one of the bigger reasons I think Cleveland trading down from the #1 is a very likely possibility. While we’re not as high on Deshaun as some, Watson would give Hue an opportunity to develop a quarterback with a high enough ceiling that he could become the long term answer for the Browns at the most important position on the field.
|13. Arizona Cardinals
ILB – Reuben Foster: Alabama
If Foster is still available at this point, I believe it would come down to Reuben or tight end O.J. Howard. Either would be a solid addition to the Cardinals but Foster fills a bigger need.
|14. Indianapolis Colts
TE – O.J. Howard: Alabama
Having holes at other positions but no other player on the board rated as high, the Colts snag one of our top 5 prospects in this draft class, O.J. Howard. Possessing all the attributes you look for in the position along with game changing ability, Howard is an instant impact player and a steal at #14 overall.
|15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)
CB – Quincy Wilson: Florida
If both Wilson and wide receiver Corey Davis are available at #15 it won’t be an easy decision, but the Eagles have to get able and talented bodies at cornerback. Wilson would likely be a day one starter opposite of second year pro, Jalen Mills.
|16. Baltimore Ravens
OT – Cam Robinson: Alabama
This pick is dependent on whether or not Ricky Wagner resigns. This could be a position of need with an Alabama prospect available (I’m looking right at you Ozzie).
|17. Washington Redskins
S – Jabrill Peppers: Michigan
The reports that Peppers may fall out of the first round are definitely premature as Jabrill will test well at the combine, alleviating fears and improving his hype. The Redskins need talented, defensive play-makers and Peppers would be a day one starter at strong safety.
|18. Tennessee Titans
CB – Jalen Tabor: Florida
The Titans have now taken two serious steps for improving the defense by coupling the early selection of Jonathan Allen with the mid-round selection of ‘Teez’ Tabor. With an already established ground game and franchise quarterback in the grooming, Tennessee can make a move to dominate the AFC South by building up the defensive side of the ball.
|19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR – Corey Davis: W. Michigan
Tampa Bay has their franchise quarterback and one lethal threat at wide receiver in Mike Evans. Getting a threat on the opposite side of the field with game changing potential will alter how defenses have to plan against emerging star, Jameis Winston.
|20. Denver Broncos
OT – Garrett Bolles: Utah
The Broncos will need to bolster their pass protection in order for any of the young quarterbacks on the roster to emerge as legitimate passers and potential franchise quarterbacks. Bolles is more polished than Ramczyk and can step in quickly.
|21. Detroit Lions
CB – Sidney Jones: Washington
Cornerback Darius Slay should have his name mentioned more considering his high level of play, but the Lions are in desperate need of getting someone reliable across the field. Jones has a high enough ceiling to be an eventual #1 CB so having him compete with underwhelming 4th year player Nevin Lawson for the #2 spot early in camp lends to an improved secondary to start the season.
|22. Miami Dolphins
DE – Derek Barnett: Tennessee
The Dolphins need to prepare for life after Cameron Wake, and that need is expedited thanks to Mario Williams poor play in 2016. Barnett is a workhorse with some physical limitations but his production is worthy of the 22nd overall selection.
|23. New York Giants
OT – Ryan Ramczyk: Wisconsin
In talking with a fellow writer that hails from the ‘Big Apple’, the Giants have already made the decision to move Erick Flowers to right tackle and it’s just a question of if they can find someone to take over on the left. Ramczyk could answer that question and make an immediate improvement to not one, but two spots on the Giants o-line.
|24. Oakland Raiders
CB – Marlon Humphrey: Alabama
After receiving a 4 year contract extension, head coach Jack Del Rio will now get the chance to continue building his defense. The Raiders need to add weapons in the secondary and Humphrey can immediately contribute as a nickel back.
|25. Houston Texans
QB – DeShone Kizer: Notre Dame
The Texans will take a shot on a quarterback somewhere in this draft, making it possible to relieve themselves of the dead weight that is Brock Osweiler in 2018. Kizer will probably go in the first round off of potential alone, but if this is Houston’s choice in the first it will probably lead to Bill O’Brien’s termination no later than 2019.
|26. Seattle Seahawks
LB – Tim Williams: Alabama
Head coach Pete Carroll has no qualms with bringing in a player that may have character concerns. Tim Williams would add a scary element to fill out an underrated linebacking unit and create even more pressure for an already skillful Seattle front 7.
|27. Kansas City Chiefs
RB – Christian McCaffrey: Stanford
This mock pick is based on the fact that Jamaal Charles is still in recovery, may not be ready to start the 2017 season and the Chiefs can save nearly $7mil in cap space by releasing him. Spencer Ware is a competent stopgap but adding McCaffery, a player that has better 3 down potential than his detractors can admit, gives Kansas City not only a viable day one weapon but a better security blanket than Charcandrick West if Ware were to be injured or fail to improve on his 2016 numbers.
|28. Dallas Cowboys
WR – John Ross: Washington
The Cowboys have found their offensive core in runningback Ezekiel Elliott, wide receiver Dez Bryant and new starting quarterback, Dak Prescott. Now they can add to that group by bringing in a legitimate #2 target in John Ross and further spread out defenses that struggled to find ways to contain ‘Zeke’ in his rookie season.
|29. Green Bay Packers
DE – Taco Carlton: Michigan
The Packers will look towards the future at outside linebacker and take a player that has stock all over the board. Charlton will need to adapt quickly as applying pressure up front will be needed to help a secondary that has issues.
|30. Pittsburgh Steelers
OG – Forrest Lamp: W. Michigan
For the Steelers, this is about best value with the 30th overall pick. Having insurance across the entire line and a future starter for when Ramon Foster nears the end of his contract makes enough sense for Pittsburgh to pull the trigger on the most talented interior lineman in this class.
|31. Atlanta Falcons
DE – DeMarcus Walker: Florida State
The Falcons need to continue to find ways to increase the pass rush. Enter DeMarcus Walker, a forceful defender with a ceiling that could easily see him outplaying this draft spot.
|32. New England Patriots
CB – Adoree Jackson: U.S.C.
The Patriots kill two birds with one stone with the drafting of cornerback Adoree Jackson. They add a special teams presence that was lacking in 2016 and add depth to a position that will need to stay at a high level with the impending departure of free agent, Logan Ryan.