Mock Draft season is officially in full flow. With the NFL Combine kicking off Tuesday 28 February, I thought I would do a Mock Draft prior to the Combine affecting players positions on big boards. It will interesting to see how my Mock Draft shakes out and changes after we get times and measurements of this years set of top collegiate athletes. Send me your thoughts @TomLikeNFL or write your own Mock Draft and send me a photo to compare. One rule – no trades!
With the 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft…
(1) Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE/ OLB, Texas A&M
The Browns go best player available with the first overall pick and don’t reach for one of the Quarterbacks. The Browns get themselves a talented pass rusher who possesses all the tools to dominate at the NFL Level. Garrett could be a key piece on the young Defense Cleveland are building, who will consistently terrorise Dalton, Flacco and Roethlisberger in the AFC North. Garrett is the consensus number one player in the Draft class.
N.B. Garrett is the 4th Defensive player selected 1st overall since 1995 and also the 22nd Defensive player to go 1st overall out of 82 NFL Drafts.
(2) San Francisco 49ers – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
The 49ers have an extremely talent poor roster and need to start getting better on both sides of the ball. The 49ers Defense that took them to three straight NFC Championship Games had two studs and leaders in the middle with NaVarro Bowman and Patrick Willis.
I am extremely high on Foster and believe he’s a can’t miss who could be an extremely productive starter early in his career. He has all the traits to develop into an All-Pro calibre player. New GM John Lynch will instantly upgrade his young Defense with this pick as he pairs an alpha, tone setter in Foster – next to a top 5 LB in Bowman. With the ‘twin towers’ up front, San Francisco could start to build a young and dynamic Front Seven here.
(3) Chicago Bears – DeShone Kizer, QB, Norte Dame
Sooner or later Bears Head Coach, John Fox, will have to find a Quarterback. Fox needs someone he can point to ownership and say, ‘this is the guy the Chicago Bears need to build around.’ I have Kizer as the first QB off the Board with his cannon of an arm, athleticism and ability to make all the throws. Kizer could develop into a franchise QB as a pocket passer, showing he can distribute the ball all over the field, and drop passes into tight windows.
(4) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama
The Jaguars are a team who constantly seem to be ready to take the next step yet never do. The Jaguars hit with Jalen Ramsey in the first round last year and got a steal with Myles Jack in the second. Here Jacksonville goes back to the watering hole and gets themselves a stud Defensive Linemen with proven production. Allen also who comes from arguably the most ‘Pro-friendly’ Defense in College Football. Allen next to Malik Jackson with Dante Fowler Jr. on the edge, could be giving OCs headaches in the AFC South for many years to come.
(5) Tennesse Titans (from LA Rams) – Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
One of the most complete Safety prospects to come out in the past decade. Jamal Adams is a ferocious competitor who has an ‘alpha’ mentality and can be an immediate leader in any secondary around the League. Adams is at his best in run support where he quickly identifies the danger and uses great closing speed to shut down any potential big gains. He excels in both zone and man coverage, and would be a tone-setter for the Titans – who is ready to play Day 1.
(6) New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Jets are in a re-build and have an extremely talent poor roster. Revis fell off a cliff in 2016 and the Jets could look to Draft a no.1 Corner who they plug in their line up for the next decade. Lattimore’s athleticism and intelligence pop off the screen and he’s proved he can excel in press, man or zone coverage. The Jets would get a steal taking Lattimore with the sixth pick.
(7) LA Chargers – Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
Malik Hooker has an exceptional range and is a true ball hawk in the back end. The Chargers have a young and exciting Defense with play makers at the CB position. Adding Hooker to the mix could turn this promising Defense into a legitimate contender to shake up the pack in the AFC West. Hooker has the potential to be one of the best Safeties in the NFL, early in his career.
(8) Carolina Panthers – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
This pick could revolutionise the Carolina Panthers Offense. While I am unsure whether Fournette would thrive working out of the shotgun – the Panthers could have one of the leagues most diverse Offenses if they utilise the skill sets of Cam, Fournette and their receiving corps. Fournette is a physical and bruising down hill slugger who looks to intimidate and bully Defenses every time he touches the rock. Fournette up the gut – boot leg with Cam finding Olsen, Benjamin or Ginn – or a keeper with Cam running himself for the 1st down on the boundary.. So many options for the Panthers to be creative if they take Fournette here.
(9) Cincinnati Bengals – Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford
A Defensive Linemen who can line up inside or outside and brings explosiveness and strong hands with a ridiculously quick get off. Thomas could be a force on this aging Bengals roster and inject some much-needed juice into their Front Seven. Thomas could develop into a true game wrecker on obvious passing situations.
(10) Buffalo Bills – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Buffalo Bills might finally find a Quarterback. If Trubisky falls to 10 – I believe the Bills will be too tempted by the prospect of taking a signal caller who could potentially turn this franchise around. Trubisky’s biggest fault is his lack of experience, having only started 1 year for the Tar Heels. However, this season he showcased that he is an accurate Quarterback who can make all the throws, can diagnose pressure and showed enough athletic ability to give teams caution not to pin their ears back and allow him to break contain.
(11) New Orleans Saints – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The New Orleans Saints need to get better on Defense. Head Coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis need to improve this rosters Defense if they hope to stand a chance of competing in the NFC South. The Saints gave up the most passing yards in the NFL last season and were 31st in 2015. Marlon Humphrey is a long physical corner, who could excel in man coverage and track the large no.1 Receivers that dominate the NFC South – Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin. Humphrey’s was inconsistent at Alabama and at times gets beat on the ball – even though he is in a perfect position. The Saints would get themselves a new playmaker in the Secondary and a potential lockdown CB.
(12) Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles) – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Cleveland Browns took a game changing talent on Defense with the No.1 overall pick – and they get a game changing talent on Offense with the No.12 pick. Williams has prototypical No.1 Receiver size and is able to highpoint the ball, bullying smaller DBs. He could be a game changer on Offense and an explosive playmaker for this young Cleveland football team.
(13) Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
6 foot 3, 213lbs… No it’s not Larry Fitzgerald, its Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. Davis has the size, speed and production to warrant being looked at as a future No.1 Receiver for the Cardinals. Fitzgerald will be 34 by the start of the NFL season – the Cardinals might just find their long term future at the position with this pick.
(14) Indianapolis Colts – Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU
Andrew Luck gets an explosive weapon to play with here. Dalvin Cook has excellent vision and burst which allows him to routinely rip off long runs, while his receiver like hands make him an every-down back. Cook may just turn out to be the best Running Back in this class.
(15) Philadelphia (from Minnesota) – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
WR is an option here, but the Eagles would be counting their lucky stars after the Saints took Humphrey over Jones. Jones might be the best pure cover Corner in this Draft, and as a former WR he is a turnover threat every time the ball is up in the air. Jones would significantly improve this Eagles secondary and could compete for a starting job day 1.
(16) Baltimore Ravens – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
A name I expect to see rise between now till April. His size and speed make it difficult to block him as he can dip and rip or line up an Offensive Linemen and put them on skates with a ferocious bull rush. Charlton has a nose for the football and would upgrade this Ravens Defensive Line.
(17) Washington Redskins – Budda Baker, Safety, Washington
While undersized, Baker makes up for his lack of stature with a ferocious hitting style and a sideline-to-sideline motor which never stops. Baker could come in and win the starting FS job off Bashaud Breeland Day 1 of OTAs. This pick would give the Redskins a playmaker in their secondary and a player who strike fearing into WRs crossing over the middle of the field.
(18) Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington
Marcus Mariota gets a fun explosive deep threat here. John Ross is lightening fast and can blow the roof off Defences. This would create from for TE Delaine Walker and WR Rishard Matthews to go to work underneath. Mariota could finally get a legitimate deep threat here, who is also a polished route runner.
(19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The most complete TE in this class. Howard was under utilised in the passing game while at the Crimson Tide and will be a welcome addition for Jameis Winston. Howard is a genuine deep threat and can burn opposing LBs in coverage on go routes up the seam. He is also a tremendous blocker and removes the need to bring in an additional Linemen in obvious running situations.
(20) Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Denver Broncos have a championship winning Defense, playmakers at Wide Receiver, a few options at QB and a RB by committee approach. What the Broncos desperately need is to upgrade their Offensive Line – something that resulted in them releasing Tackle Russell Okung. Ramczyk can slide easily and see off speed rushers in pass protection, but is also effective against power rushers. Despite a lack of experience, Ramczyk has all the tools to be able to develop into a franchise LT.
(21) Detroit Lions – Takkarist McKinley, OLB/ DE, UCLA
McKinley is somewhat undersized to play DE, however, he makes up for this with his relentless motor and a speed round the edge which does not diminish as the game goes on. McKinley wins early with speed but has an explosive inside counter move and has the potential to put up double digit sacks every season. His size may have teams concerned about how well he can impact the run game, but McKinley has shown glimpses of being able to stack-and-shift Linemen. Its McKinley’s pass rush ability that will have Defensive Coaches banging the table in the war room.
(22) Miami Dolphins – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Dolphins land themselves a player who many prior to this season believed would be a top-5 pick. Barnett has enjoyed an extremely productive college career putting together three 10+ sack seasons. Barnett wins with power and great instincts, but does not possess elite level speed. Barnett has a great motor but is inconsistent at times against the run. The Dolphins land themselves a solid starter with great upside, who could contribute to a feared pass rush alongside Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh.
(23) New York Giants – David Njoku, TE, Miami
Eli Manning gets another weapon to play with. Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and David Njoku – now that’s an athletic and play making young trio right there. Njoku is an athletic freak at the Tight End position and possesses the tools to be a mismatch against Linebackers, Corners and Safeties. While Njoku is not a great blocker, the Giants will see the massive upside and utilise his game changing talent in the passing game.
(24) Oakland Raiders – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan
Corner is an option here, especially with Tabor, Wilson and White all on the Board. The Oakland Raiders with Khalil Mack finished dead last in the NFL in sacks in 2016 – somehow behind the Browns and Lions; totalling only 25.0 sacks. McDowell has all the makings of a top-5 pick but has struggled with consistently. He could be an excellent addition on the Raiders D-Line and a nightmare matchup in pass protection with McDowell on the interior and Mack rushing the edge.
(25) Houston Texans – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
The Texans have other needs to address here, however, I believe Tabor could push this Defense over on the top and into a Championship winning unit. Even if A. J. Bouye stays in Houston – I believe this pick still makes sense. Every year since 2008, teams have started to deploy their nickel Defense more-and-more – to the point where ‘nickel’ is now the new ‘base’ Defense. In 2015, teams had 5 DBs or more on the field, 63.4% of the time. Kevin Johnson (24), 2015 1st round pick; A. J. Bouye (25); Kareem Jackson (28), 2010 1st round pick and Jonathan Joseph (32), 2006 1st round pick. If the Texans lose one member of this unit over the next few years (which it most likely will do) Tabor will be an excellent addition who could help make this group into the next Legion of Boom. Tabor is better in off coverage, but he has all the natural talent and athleticism most teams look for in a No.1 CB.
(26) Seattle Seahawks – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
For two straight seasons now, Seattle’s Offensive Line has been their Achilles heel and prevented them from taking the next step. Boles has the necessary size and length to play Tackle in the NFL and is quick out of his stance in pass protection. Bolles also has a mean streak and is nasty in the run game. He is the type of Offensive Tackle any Head Coach would love to let loose run blocking down field.
(27) Kansas City Chiefs – DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Now this would be bold from Andy Reid and the Front Office. Not content with Alex Smith who has a clear ceiling and limitations – Reid gets an explosive young Quarterback to work with and groom who instantly elevates the ceiling of this entire Chiefs Offense. Watson is a proven winner and has shown during his time in College that no stage is too big for him. He has the arm talent, mobility and accuracy of a top QB prospect – however, Reid will have to figure out some of the clinks such as poor reads and forcing balls into coverage which have dogged Watson during his time at Clemson.
(28) Dallas Cowboys – Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
The Cowboys hit on the Draft in 2016 as they found a starting QB, RB and LB (potentially with Jaylon Smith). The Cowboys must address their Defensive needs in 2017 and grab themselves a game changing talent who can help add to the Cowboys’ below-average pass rush. The Cowboys sack rankings the past 5 seasons (starting with ’16): 13th, 25th, 28th, 25th and 20th. Harris has a quick first step and uses a multitude of moves to generate pressure and terrorise opposing QBs. While Harris is an average run defender, he is a polished pass rusher who would be a welcome addition to the Cowboys Defense.
(29) Green Bay Packers – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The Green Bay Packers have been playing with bodies in their secondary for portions of the 2016 and 2015 season. The team also released CB Sam Shields this past off-season. The Packers could do with a lock down corner on Defense who will allow Defensive Co-Ordinator Dom Capers to be more creative with the Front Seven. If White falls this far, he’s a steal at 29. He is a physical press corner who’s size, speed, toughness and cover skills make up for his lack of production during his four years in Death Valley.
(30) Pittsburgh Steelers – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The run on Corners late in the first round continues with the Steelers. Pittsburgh is still in the process of re-building its secondary and the prospect of Quincy Wilson is too tasty to pass up. Wilson has ideal No.1 Corner size and excels in zone coverage where he is able to be aggressive and showcase his elite ball skills. He uses his large frame in the run game, as he is not afraid of contact and regularly breaks free of blockers to shut down runs to the outside.
(31) Atlanta Falcons – Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
When Alex Mack’s gimpy ankle showed up in Super Bowl 51, the New England Patritots exploited Atlanta’s interior Offensive Line – consistently dealing up pressure on Matt Ryan. Chris Chester looked every bit of 34 years old last season and the Falcons clearly need to get better at Guard. While a Tackle at College, Lamp projects as a Guard in the NFL due to his smaller arms and lack of ideal height and length. Lamp could be an excellent addition in pass protection where he is patient and able to go blow-for-blow with Defensive Linemen. But it is run blocking where he would be a huge asset, as he is quick off the snap and can win at the point-of-attack.
(32) New England Patriots – Jabril Peppers, Safety, Michigan
Christian McCaffery would be a fascinating pick here – especially with how the Patriots could utilize his skill set. Peppers is the ultimate Patriot. Tough, competitive, intelligent but most importantly – extremely versatile. Bill Belichick loves nothing more than scheming up creative ways to use Defensive Players under his and Matt Patricia’s system which routinely flips between 3-4 and 4-3 mid-game. Peppers could be a swiss army knife on Defense for the Patriots, lining up as the single high safety, manning up a TE in the slot; or dropping down into the box as a hybrid Linebacker.