The 2017 NFL Draft will be like nothing we’ve seen before. Sure, yeah, the NFL draft dates back to 1936 and the common era draft has been intact since 1967, but this year we head into draft day with everything up in the air. This year, more than any other year, the draft is defined by one word: unpredictable.
Cleveland has an easy choice in defensive end Myles Garrett at No. 1, but with an owner banging on the table for a quarterback head coach Hue Jackson is under a lot more pressure than he should be facing a slam-dunk prospect, especially in a draft so scant with quarterbacks.
Also around the league, San Francisco has a first time GM in John Lynch, who has zero front office experience. The Bills GM Doug Whaley is on the hot seat and needs a big weekend to save his job. Then there is the Washington Redskins who don’t even have a GM after team president Bruce Allen unceremoniously fired Scot McCloughan.
Then there are the players. Thirty-two players will be selected in Round 1, but you could argue that 40 to 45 players are first-round caliber thanks to eye-popping depth at cornerback, safety, pass rusher, tight end, and running back.
Who wins out in the end? Only time will tell. But for as things look now, here is my best assessment. While this is the last mock draft for Round 1, don’t worry. This will not be the final mock draft for the 2017 NFL Draft.
1.) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
This pick has training wheels on it. Cleveland, please, don’t mess this up.
2.) San Francisco 49ers: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Niners really want to trade down, but besides the Browns, who would deal so much capital to move up and reach for Trubisky? Maybe a deal gets down, but if not, Trubisky still goes second overall. The Niners cupboards are bare. Sticking Trubisky on the bench for a year would allow for Kyle Shanahan to groom him for 2018.
3.) Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St.
I would like to see Jamal Adams go here, but the Bears signed Quintin Demps in free agency and have virtually no cornerback talent on the roster. Lattimore, has some injury concerns, but also is, arguably, the most talented cornerback in the draft.
4.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jacksonville is a bit of a wild card. If Trubisky gets past San Francisco, maybe Cleveland and them make a deal. If they stay, they could go for any defensive linemen, a safety, even tight end. But pound-for-pound, Fournette is a can’t miss prospect.
5.) Tennessee Titans: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Speaking of can’t miss prospects. Adams, is the real deal. A two year starter, Adams was the leader on LSU’s defense. He can lineup in the box and provide run support, play zone, or move down into the nickel. Adams, is the perfect piece for a Dick Lebeau defense.
6.) New York Jets: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
It’s rare that a tight end goes this high, which alone tells you something about Howard’s makeup. He wasn’t used much as a receiving threat at Alabama, instead he was used as an in line blocker (something few college prospects do anymore). But when he is used as a weapon, Howard can do damage as shown in the 2015 National Championship game where he brought in five catches for 208 yards and two TDs.
7.) LA Chargers: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
A surprise pick here. Philip Rivers is the franchise and his receivers haven’t stayed healthy. Williams, is the massive target that the Bolts usually go for. He came back from injury in 2016 to post 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. Rivers can find use for a 6’3″ weapon with numbers like that.
8.) Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey has steady climbed throughout the draft process and landing in Carolina is a perfect fit. It takes pressure off of Cam Newton and helps take some of the load off of veteran back Jonathan Stewart. Not to mention, that McCaffrey can be deployed all over the field, giving Newton a seriously dynamic safety valve.
9.) Cincinnati Bengals: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
For the longest time, the strength of the Bengals was the defense and the strength of the defense was on the line. Now due to age, injury, and free agency departures the Bengals need to address this area. Thomas, would fit in well as a moveable chess piece. He and Geno Atkins as interior rushers on passing downs would be terrifying.
10.) Buffalo Bills: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St.
The Bills secondary was hit hard in free agency, especially at safety. Hooker, has rare, albeit raw, talent. The former-Buckeye has only played football for five years and 2016 was his only season as a starter, but the numbers don’t lie: 74 tackles, 11 passes broken up, and seven interceptions for a whopping 181 return yards.
11.) New Orleans Saints: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
If Allen were to fall this far, it would make New Orleans a very happy franchise and with some concern over his shoulders it could very well happen. Allen, can help both against the run and the pass, something the Saints would welcome after 14th and 32nd, respectively. Allen, lived in opponents’ backfields the past two seasons tallying 30.5 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks.
12.) Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
After failing to trade up and take Trubisky, the Browns appease their owner and take Watson to be their quarterback of the future. And, honestly, having a National Champion as your Plan B isn’t too shabby. He has some accuracy issues, but Hue Jackson is the quality coach that gets his players to reach their potential.
13.) Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Cardinals are dealt a big blow with Watson being taken right before them. Watson, has been the Cardinals guy for some time. But like Cleveland, it’s on to Plan B. Mahomes, has an absolute howitzer of an arm, but questions always arise about quarterbacks from the Air Raid offense. Mahomes, could buck the trend with quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians at the helm.
14.) Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Eagles landing Barnett is a match made in heaven. Barnett, broke Reggie White’s school record for sacks in a career. When you dethrone one of the all-time greats that’s worth taking note. Barnett, is equally good at setting the edge as coming off it. He would excel on a line with Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham.
15.) Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Another player who has risen throughout the draft process, Reddick is an athletic freak. He was a walk-on at Temple as a safety, then moved to defensive end, then at the Senior Bowl was moved to linebacker and dominated there as well. Wherever the Colts line him up, inside or out, Reddick will be a terror.
16.) Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Steve Smith retired following the 2016 season, leaving big shoes to fill. The Ravens hope Davis can do the trick. Davis has good size at 6’3″ and DOMINATED at Western Michigan. How well did he do, you ask? How about 46 touchdowns in three seasons? Yeah. That happened. Paired with Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, the Ravens could deploy quite the trio.
17.) Washington Redskins: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Jackson is explosive. That simple. Whether it’s in track, returning punts, or shooting up draft boards. No matter what he does, Jackson is explosive. A riser throughout the process, landing in DC and learning from Josh Norman, could turn Jackson from an explosive athletic talent, to a dynamic cornerback in a year or two.
18.) Tennessee Titans: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Titans GM Jon Robinson got his start in New England. What do the Patriots love on offense? Two tight end sets. While Delanie Walker is still hyper productive, he is getting up there in age. Pairing Njoku opposite Walker for a few years before replacing him, would be quite the tandem.
19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St.
Tampa reunites Jameis Winston with a friendly face from his college days in Cook. Veteran Doug Martin seems to be on his way out in Tampa and replacing him with Cook, would be a quality move. Despite the familiarity with Winston, Cook ran for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns in three years.
20.) Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
And the first offensive lineman is off the board. With a glut of options here, ultimately, I believe Robinson is the man. Some consider him at right tackle only, some think he could be best utilized at guard, but the 2016 Outland Trophy winner will be a Day One starter no matter where he lines up.
21.) Detroit Lions: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster, has had a bumpy draft process. First, he was excused from the Combine following a dust-up while getting a medical check, then reports came out that he had provided a diluted drug test. Throw in some injury concerns and if he slides it won’t surprise. The Lions will be glad to scoop up a Top 10 talent at this point.
22.) Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Dolphins need help on defense, especially when playing in a division that Tom Brady has dominated for over a decade. How do you beat Brady? Bring pressure. Missouri has been a pipeline for pass rushing talent over the last few years with Harris it’s latest export. In his two years starting, Harris tallied 30.5 tackles for loss and 16 sacks. He will be Cameron Wake’s heir apparent.
23.) New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Ramczyk, had some injury concerns, but his medicals have checked out which is music to the G-Men’s ears. The offensive line has been in shambles for the past few years. Ramczyk, is best suited on the left side which would allow former first-round pick Ereck Flowers to move to the right side. Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger, protecting him is the most important thing for the club to address.
24.) Oakland Raiders: Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Raiders made great strides in 2016…on the offensive side of the ball. After making splash signings at cornerback and safety in free agency, the team ended the season 24th in passing. That is a problem. Kevin King, is a big (6’2″) corner who can play press or zone coverage. He capped off his career as a Huskie with 11 passs breakups.
25.) Houston Texans: Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky
Houston offers some intrigue. Do they really believe Tom Savage is their guy? Do they move up to take a quarterback? Do they take a quarterback here? In this case, I see them going with Savage and protecting him. Lamp, can play any position along the line. That versatility is key as Houston needs help at both spots.
26.) Seattle Seahawks: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
I’ve had this pick happening for most of the draft process. It just makes too much sense. The Seahawks like to do things a little different (Bruce Irvin 15th overall?). In that light combined with an aging Legion of Boom, Melifonwu could be the next generation and has the ability to play either corner or safety.
27.) Kansas City Chiefs: Davis Webb, QB, Cal
The Chiefs are an interesting team as well. They have kicked the tires on a lot of the quarterback prospects in this draft and I mean a lot. Do they trade up for one? If they stay, do they reach for a QB or address another need — like linebacker and pick Jarrad Davis? Ultimately, I think they go QB and take Webb. There has been a lot of love for Webb, who slung it for nearly 4,300 yards and 37 touchdowns in ’16.
28.) Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Charlton, is one of the more raw prospects in this draft, but, man, does he have a high ceiling. He was moved around a lot over his four years in Ann Arbor, but last year he started to put it all together which showed in his 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Cowboys finally get the edge rusher they’ve been looking for.
29.) Green Bay Packers: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
It’s just so Green Bay. Watt, is a lot like when current Packer Clay Matthews came out of USC — an underused player in college who proved to be a better pro. Now, Watt has quite the lengthy injury history, but if he can stay healthy, he could become great. After finally staying healthy, Watt turned in 13 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks.
30.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
This would be a gift for the Steelers. They have been in the midst of rejuvenating there defense for some time now. They got some parts last year in Artie Burns and Sean Davis, but now they have dip back into the linebacker pool. Davis, is an absolute thumper and would pair well with rising star Ryan Shazier.
31.) Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
Another gift. McKinley, has a relentless motor who’s numbers got better each year. While he is a raw prospect, McKinley has the speed and temperament to excel in Atlanta’s fast flowing defensive system. In a division with Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Jameis Winston, there’s a premium on pass rushers like this.
32.) New Orleans Saints: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
With the QB’s off the board, New Orleans selects the local kid. White, is one of the steadiest prospects in the draft and could be a Day One starter for the Saints. While he is on the smaller size, White was a four year starter in the SEC with proven ball skills. He ended his time in Baton Rouge with a career best 14 pass breakups.