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. The second Mock Draft reflects the NFL Combine, early Pro Days and free agency signings. That one can be viewed HERE. This is my final Mock Draft and unlike the other Mock Drafts, it has 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. The second and third round can be viewed HERE. 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: 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 Bears need secondary help and by signing QB Mike Glennon and QB Mark Sanchez, it appears they will address quarterback later in the draft. I could also see them going with Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore. Secondary seems to make the most sense for them at this pick with two great options that would fill a big need.
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): Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore – The Titans were 30th against the pass last year, so they need an elite cornerback or safety coming out of this draft. Lattimore is the best cornerback prospect available 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. If the Bears draft Lattimore, look for the Titans to go with Adams.
6) New York Jets: North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky – The Jets need someone they can develop at quarterback and 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 that should be ready to log snaps this year. If they do not go with a quarterback, look for them to address the secondary, running back or even tight end.
7) Los Angeles Chargers: Ohio State S Malik Hooker – I have had them going defensive line in this spot, because they were 30th in the NFL in rushing touchdowns allowed (20), but they also need some help in the secondary and Hooker is one of the best defensive backs in this draft. They were 20th against the pass last year, so adding a playmaking safety would be a welcome addition for this defense.
8) Carolina Panthers: Alabama TE O.J. Howard – I think they can wait until a later round for a running back and they resigned RB Jonathan Stewart this off-season, so they do not need to go with a running back in the first round. TE Greg Olsen is starting to become an older player and adding Howard would give them a ton of flexibility in two tight end sets. He could also have a mentor that is one of the best in the game before taking over as the star tight end a couple years down the road.
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: Clemson WR Mike Williams – The Buffalo Bills are contemplating not picking up the option on WR Sammy Watkins and they would need an impact receiver to replace him if they make the decision that Watkins is not durable enough to be in their long-term plans. You can never have too many wide receivers, so picking Williams gives them the flexibility to move on from Watkins, but does not mandate that they cannot keep him if they change their mind.
11) New Orleans Saints: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett –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. 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 needs some pass rush.
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: 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. Arizona lost DT Claudius Campbell to the Jacksonville Jaguars and while replacing him is not an immediate priority, I do not think Allen is going to slip past the Arizona Cardinals. He slightly disappointed in the draft evaluation process, but the value would be too good to pass on him.
14) Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Florida State RB Dalvin Cook – Cook is one of the most versatile running backs in the NFL Draft and the Eagles do not have a featured running back on their roster. Cook would give the Eagles a running back that is a duel threat both on the ground and in the passing game.
15) Indianapolis Colts: Stanford Cardinals RB Christian McCaffrey – McCaffery 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 worry about an explosive passing game led by QB Andrew Luck.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey – Humphrey is one of the fastest and most athletic players in this draft and he would be a welcome addition to the Ravens defense. They could go wide receiver here as well, but I think Humphrey is a big need for a team that still needs to upgrade the secondary. His 4.41 second 40-yard dash speed would give them a burner on the outside that can keep up with opposing star receivers.
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: Western Michigan WR Corey Davis – The Titans were not able to make a move in free agency to sign a wide receiver, so they will need to address that position in the NFL Draft. Davis has both the speed to be a deep threat and the size to be a red zone threat. It would be a welcome addition to a team in need of more targets for QB Marcus Mariota.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 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 Buccaneers addressed receiver in free agency, so this allows them to look at adding an impact defender that they can move between linebacker and safety.
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: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk – Ramczyk has good size at 6’ 6” and 315 lb. and he should be able to contribute immediately in 2017. The Texans do need a quarterback, but they cannot pass on a tackle this good and there are other quarterback options in the later rounds. Their line is in need of major work too, so this would be both the best available player and an area of need.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Washington CB Kevin King – King was dominant at his Pro Day and the NFL Combine and he is moving up draft boards at the right time. At 6’ 3” and 190 lb., he has the size that Seattle likes in their cornerbacks. He also can run the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and he has a 39.5” vertical jump. I originally had Seattle going offensive line here, but I think there is reason to believe they may move on from CB Richard Sherman in the next couple of years and King would give them a great prospect to develop into a shutdown corner.
27) Kansas City Chiefs: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer – Kizer is 6’ 4” and 230 lb. and he has the arm to make all the NFL throws. The Chiefs have to start thinking about a quarterback to replace QB Alex Smith and Kizer would have time to develop before having to play, because Smith is not a free agent until after 2018.
28) Dallas Cowboys: UCLA CB Fabian Moreau – The Dallas secondary was a big weakness at times last year and the Cowboys could definitely be in the market to improve in that area. Moreau is ridiculously fast, running his 40-yard dash in 4.35 seconds. His combination of speed and size will warrant consideration at the end of the first round.
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: 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. The Steelers need someone to replace veteran ILB Lawrence Timmons, who signed in free agency with Miami. He would be a player that could contribute immediately and keep their strong run defense toward the top of the league in 2017.
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): UConn S / CB Obi Melifonwu – He is an intriguing prospect at 6’ 4” and 224 lb., so some team may fall in love with his size and draft him in the first round. He projects as either a safety or a cornerback and would be a welcome addition to a secondary that needs some playmakers in the secondary.