Last year we teamed up with Sports World Radio to bring you Round 1, 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. This year, we plan on doing the same event with the Sports Nerds Network. In order to give you solid insight into what players the teams are going to add in the draft, I must engage in my least favorite exercise, a Mock Draft.
In a lot of ways I think a Mock Draft is pointless, because nobody remembers where a player was taken five minutes after the selection. If a bargain player ends up busting, the player is remembered as a bust. If a reach ends up being a perennial Pro Bowl selection, everyone had him as a good player in his or her mock. Draft picks are judged on how the player ends up doing in the NFL, not how close the player went in an expert’s mock.
Also, everyone can think a player is a second round talent, but if one GM in the NFL thinks the player is an elite prospect, the player is going in the first round. When you consider that no team is going to be honest about where they value these players, this exercise is largely a crapshoot. Still, it makes for interesting speculation leading up to the NFL Draft.
I am not going to do Mock Drafts every week; it would remove the joy from my life. The first one is being released before the NFL Combine and only covers the first round. That was already released in February and can be viewed HERE. This Mock Draft reflects the NFL Combine, early Pro Days and free agency signings. Sometime in the middle of April, I will finalize the first round and release a second and third round so that everyone can look at where I players have heading into our broadcast with the Sports Nerds Network this year. We will have more information on that live broadcast as we approach the NFL Draft.
1) Cleveland Browns: Texas A & M DE Myles Garrett – The Browns need to find a new quarterback, but the problem for the Browns is the quarterback class. There is not a quarterback that makes sense at the top pick and Garrett has the potential to be a franchise pass rusher that averages 12-15 sacks per season for the next decade. At 6’ 5” and 270 lb. he has the size and athleticism to develop into a three-down defensive end. He killed it at the combine by a 4.64 second 40-yard dash, 41” vertical jump and 33 bench reps of 225 lb. He should be the top player selected in the NFL Draft.
2) San Francisco 49ers: Stanford DE Solomon Thomas – The 49ers need an outside pass rusher and Thomas was a big winner at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.69 second 40-yard dash and put up a 35” vertical jump and benched 225 lb. 30 times. They could also go with Alabama DT Jonathan Allen, but there have been concerns about his shoulder and he did not dominate the NFL Combine. I think Thomas may have passed Allen as the second best prospect in this Draft.
3) Chicago Bears: North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky – The Bears need to move on from QB Jay Cutler, who was released earlier this off-season. Trubisky is the top-rated quarterback in this draft. The downside is he only started the 2016 season, but he was terrific with 3,748 yards passing, a 68.0 completion percentage, 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He would give them a prospect that they can develop into a franchise quarterback.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: LSU RB Leonard Fournette – The Jaguars have had major problems running the ball, as RB T.J. Yeldon has been a bust and RB Chris Ivory was a disaster in free agency. Fournette is 6’ 1” and 230 lb. and gives them a player that would bring balance to their offense. His sophomore year, he reminded me a lot of a very good prospect coming out of Oklahoma in 2007, RB Adrian Peterson, although he is probably not as good of a receiver or have the lateral speed that Peterson possessed.
5) Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): LSU S Jamal Adams – Adams is a special player. At 6’ 1” and 212 lb., he is big enough to support the run and he has the speed to help stop the pass. The Titans were 30th in passing yards allowed, so adding an impact safety would go along way to improving this secondary. This is an absolute gift from the Rams, who traded this pick to select QB Jared Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft.
6) New York Jets: Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore – The Jets gave up 3,898 yards passing, 30 passing touchdowns and eight interceptions last year and they are in desperate need of cornerback help. Lattimore is the best cornerback in this draft and at 6’ 0” and 192 lb., he has the size to be a shutdown cornerback in the NFL. He destroyed the NFL Combine with a 4.36 second 40-yard dash and 36” vertical jump.
7) Los Angeles Chargers: Alabama DT Jonathan Allen – Allen is a big defensive lineman that has the size to play on the interior and the speed to play on the outside. San Diego is still rebuilding their defense and he would help a run defense that gave up 20 rushing touchdowns last year, which ranked 30th in the NFL.
8) Carolina Panthers: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook – Cook is one of the most versatile running backs in the NFL Draft and RB Jonathan Stewart is near the end of his career. Cook would give the Panthers a running back that is a duel threat both on the ground and in the passing game. I think his NFL Combine performance could be good enough to vault him into the Top-10.
9) Cincinnati Bengals: Alabama ILB Reuben Foster – The Bengals need an inside linebacker and Foster gives them an elite playmaker that would be able to start in 2017. Some people compare him to former San Francisco 49ers ILB Patrick Willis, although a shoulder surgery will prevent him from participating in the combine. He also yelled at a hospital worker there, which means that he needs to join Cincinnati.
10) Buffalo Bills: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey – The Bills lost starting CB Stephon Gilmore in free agency, so they need to think about drafting a replacement. Humphrey is one of the fastest and most athletic players in this draft and he would be a welcome addition to the Bills defense. They could go wide receiver here as well, but I think Humphrey is better than the cornerbacks available.
11) New Orleans Saints: Ohio State S Malik Hooker – The Saints need defense in the worst way, they were not as bad as 2015, but still finished 31st in points allowed and 27th in yards gained. Hooker is one of the best safety prospects in this Draft and would give them some much needed playmaking ability on defense.
12) Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Clemson QB DeShaun Watson – I have seen Trubisky going in this spot, but I do not think he falls past those bad teams in the Top-5 that need quarterbacks. Head Coach Hue Jackson likes mobile quarterbacks and Watson has done a good job of sending his draft stock trending in the right direction. I think Cleveland has to leave this draft with a quarterback; their roster is littered with disastrous options.
13) Arizona Cardinals: Clemson WR Mike Williams – The Cardinals need to start thinking about a replacement for WR Larry Fitzgerald. Williams is 6’ 3” and 225 lb. and he has both the speed to be a deep threat and the size to be a red zone threat. He did not have the greatest NFL Combine, but I think he wills till be a Top-15 pick. It would be a welcome addition to a team in need of more targets for QB Carson Palmer
14) Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Tennessee DE Derek Barnett – I think they can wait until a later round for a running back and they do not need to go with a wide receiver, because they signed WR Alshon Jeffery and WR Torrey Smith in free agency. Barnett gives them some much needed pass rush off the edge. He had 32 sacks in three seasons and would be a solid addition to a defense that pass rush from the defensive end spot.
15) Indianapolis Colts: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk – Ramczyk has good size at 6’ 6” and 315 lb. and he should be able to contribute immediately in 2017. He did have a hip surgery this off-season; his stock could drop if he is unable to workout with teams prior to the NFL Draft. Still, the hip injury does not figure to impact his 2017 availability and this would be a major upgrade to a very weak offensive line. The Colts have to have better offensive line play if they want QB Andrew Luck to fulfill his potential.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Michigan S Jabrill Peppers – Peppers is one of my favorite players in the 2017 NFL Draft. He is the most versatile player in this draft, as he played 15 different positions on defense, offense and special teams. He was also the recipient of the Lott IMPACT Trophy, given to college’s top overall defender. The Ravens are in need of safety help and he is someone that could play anywhere in their formation. Any team would be lucky to add Peppers to their roster.
17) Washington: Washington WR John Ross – Washington lost both of their starting receivers in free agency and WR DeSean Jackson is one of the best deep threats in the NFL. They need to convince QB Kirk Cousins to stay and giving him weapons is the best way to do that. Ross played only one season and he dominated with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is one of the fastest receivers in this draft and that was confirmed at the NFL Combine, when he ran a NFL-record 4.22 second 40-yard dash. Washington likes flashy picks and a player like this makes a lot of sense there.
18) Tennessee Titans: Alabama TE O.J. Howard – Titans TE Delanie Walker is on the wrong side of 30-years old and they need to find a replacement given the volume of targets Walker has in this offense. Howard is one of the fastest risers in this draft and he would give them a weapon that can learn behind Walker in 2017 and eventually be a weapon that can stretch the field and be the focal point of their passing game.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Stanford Cardinals RB Christian McCaffrey – The Buccaneers need a running back badly and McCaffrey would give them a ton of versatility. He tallied 632 rushing attempts for 3,922 yards, 99 receptions for 1,206 yards, 21 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving touchdowns. He will be ready to play on day one and can line up all over the formation, which would be a nightmare for opposing defenses that already have to concentrate on WR Mike Evans and WR DeSean Jackson
20) Denver Broncos: Alabama T Cam Robinson – This is not an overly strong offensive tackle draft, as sometimes three or four offensive tackles go in the Top-15 of the NFL Draft. Robinson was arrested in Robinson’s hometown of Monroe, Louisiana on drug and weapons charges last year. While those charges were eventually dropped, there are going to be character concerns. Denver needs an upgrade to their offensive line and Robinson has the talent to start on Day 1. I think they will take a chance on him given the strong veteran presence on that team.
21) Detroit Lions: Michigan DE Taco Charlton – The Lions had the second fewest sacks in the NFL (26), so they need to add pass rush in this draft. Charlton led Michigan with 9.5 sacks last year and he has the size and frame to grow into and every down defensive end.
22) Miami Dolphins: Temple LB Haason Reddick – The Dolphins only had 33 sacks last year and they are in desperate need of a pass rusher. Reddick would give them a superior athlete that can run the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds. I think an arrest at Temple from an off-campus fight could keep him out of the top of the first round, but it is going to be too hard for Miami to pass on him.
23) New York Giants: Miami TE David Njoku – I think their preference would be to draft a running back in this spot, but unless they trade up, I do not think the three players worthy of a first round selection will be there. The Giants were just the 28th ranked fantasy tight end offense last year, Njoku would help their passing game tremendously and they can take a running back in the second round.
24) Oakland Raiders: Michigan State DT Malik McDowell – McDowell is going to start rising on draft boards after running his 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds and benching 225 lb. 23 times. At 6’ 6” and 295 lb., he is not a monster that will blow up the running game, but any team in need of pass rush up the middle is going to fall in love with his pass rushing ability.
25) Houston Texans: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer – Kizer is 6’ 4” and 230 lb. and he has the arm to make all the NFL throws. The Texans cannot go into the 2017 season with QB Tom Savage as their starter. Even if they end up acquiring QB Tony Romo, they need to think about the future. Kizer gives them a player that they can develop this year and hope to start in 2018.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Utah OT Garett Bolles – The Seahawks had the lowest payroll at offensive line last year and it was a big reason they failed to win the NFC. Bolles should be able to contribute immediately in 2017. He is one of the faster offensive linemen in the NFL Draft and at 6’ 5” and 297 lb.; he has the size to be a starter this year.
27) Kansas City Chiefs: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis – I think the Eagles being busy in free agency combined with the good combine showing of WR John Ross will cause Davis to slip. The Chiefs have some other needs, but Davis is 6’ 3” and 213 lb. and he has the size and speed to be an elite NFL wide receiver. He would be a welcome addition to an offense that needs a bigger receiver to pair opposite of WR Tyreek Hill
29) Green Bay Packers: LSU CB TreDavious White – All bets are off with the Packers, because if they think a wide receiver is the best available player, they will stay true to the board rather than go with an area of need. They need a ton of cornerback help and White comes from a cornerback rich school and he could be ready to contribute this year.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers: Missouri OLB Charles Harris – The Steelers really need to find an outside linebacker in this draft and Harris was a very productive player with 61 tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles in 2016. Harris could be a 4-3 DE in the NFL, but he is probably more suited for 3-4 linebacker and he would be able to help the Steelers pass rush from the linebacker position.
31) Atlanta Falcons: Western Kentucky OG Forrest Lamp – He was one of my favorite players at the NFL Combine. He can run a 5.00 40-yard dash, but he can also bench 225 lb. 34 times. Walter Football has Lamp going in that spot, NFL.com views guard as one of the biggest needs for the Falcons and Lamp could start this year and also be a backup for veteran C Alex Mack. I think the Falcons just need to add the best available player and this would be smart selection for the Falcons.
32) New Orleans Saints (via England Patriots): Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham – Cunningham tallied 295 career tackles, 39.5 tackles for a loss, six sacks and seven forced fumbles in three seasons at Vanderbilt. New Orleans has a terrible defense and he would give a weak linebacker core a major upgrade. He did not have a great NFL Combine performance, but his draft stock has not slipped much, despite the poor showing. I think he will fall to the back of the first round from the middle of the first round.