So, this will be my only foray into the actual mocking of the 2017 NFL Draft. I have seen my share of mocks so far and I commend my colleagues at Philly Sports Network for all the mocking that has been mocked.
For those of you keeping score at home, MY following mock draft does NOT allow for trades (got that, Liam? Although, damn, I’d love your scenario to happen for the Eagles in your most recent mock, methinks you dream too much, my friend), and it is not what I WOULD do if the teams’ picks were mine, but what I best figure the teams to do themselves.
This is an important distinction to make, because some front offices are lacking in common sense (hint: watch the QB’s I have flying off the board), and I don’t EVER want to be confused for ANYONE in the Browns Front Office.
Not now. Not ever.
With that said, here we go a-mocking…
Myles Garrett – Defensive End, Texas A&M
The Cleveland Browns have started 26 different quarterbacks, since 1999 and they still don’t have their franchise signal caller on the roster. However, Myles Garrett is one of the best overall prospects to enter the draft in some time. Garrett could transform the Browns’ defense on day one, and they could still use the picks they’ve stockpiled in the rest of the draft to trade back up and select a quarterback if they’d like to go in that direction.
- San Francisco
Mitchell Trubisky – Quarterback, North Carolina
SURPRISE! When Kyle Shanahan took over the Atlanta Falcons offense in 2015, Matt Ryan was nothing more than a slightly above average starting quarterback. It also seemed as if, other than Julio Jones, the unit lacked talent at the skill positions. Two years later, Matt Ryan is an NFL MVP and the Falcons are in the Super Bowl. Wherever he’s been, Shanahan has been able to get the most out of his quarterbacks. Since it seems like his first choice under center, Kirk Cousins, is going to remain a member of the Redskins, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky is the next best option. Trubisky is mobile, has a big arm, and can make any throw on the football field.
The biggest knock on Trubisky is the fact that he played in a spread system in college. But, as we’ve seen with players like Marcus Mariota and Cam Newton, spread quarterbacks can have plenty of success in the NFL with good coaching and talent around them.
3. Chicago Bears
Jonathan Allen – Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Aside from physical freak-of-nature Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen is the best overall prospect in this draft class. With a skill set similar to star interior defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and Fletcher Cox, Allen will be a dominant force on the inside once he gets the hang of NFL speed. If recent first round picks DeForrest Buckner and Arik Armstead were for some reason members of this draft class, Allen would likely go ahead of both of them. The Bears have other pressing needs at tackle and cornerback, but Allen is too talented to pass up, despite some having his stock dropping due to some medical concerns.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Jamaal Adams – Safety, LSU
Jacksonville would benefit from talent at a lot of positions, especially on offense. They have a shaky quarterback, an aging veteran at tight end, and a major lack of speed in the backfield. However, Jamaal Adams would just be too good for the Jaguars to pass on at #4. After losing Johnathan Cyprien in free agency, the Jaguars have a hole at safety. Cyprien was good in Jacksonville, but Adams would be a massive upgrade. Though his 4.56 forty time at the Combine is a bit concerning, Adams still draws comparisons to former NFL stars like Sean Taylor and Darren Woodson. He is a leader, a tone setter, and an all around great football player. Pairing him with Tashaun Gipson, Jalen Ramsey, and A.J. Bouye could give the Jaguars one of the NFL’s best secondaries.
- Tennessee Titans
Marshon Lattimore – Cornerback, Ohio State
Last season, the Titans were just one win away from finishing the season atop the AFC South. Instead, they watched the playoffs from their homes for the eighth straight year. The Titans showed that they have the building blocks for an incredibly successful future, but a generally inept defensive secondary greatly limited what they were able to accomplish. CB Logan Ryan and S Johnathan Cyprien were signed in free agency to help aid the issue, but the Titans till lack a true #1 cornerback. Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore would give them just that. Though Lattimore was only a one year starter at Ohio State, his elite athleticism, prototypical size, and ability to play physically at the line of scrimmage make him an outstanding corner prospect, in the same tier as Jalen Ramsey was in last year. A lockdown corner could take the Titans to the next level.
- New York Jets
Deshaun Watson – Quarterback, Clemson
Unless the Jets think that the future of the franchise is Christian Hackenberg, they must draft a quarterback in the first round. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson may not be the best player available at #6, but the Jets need to capitalize on any opportunity they have to acquire a potential franchise signal caller. Watson’s skillset is somewhat similar to Dak Prescott, though he is a bit faster and has a bigger arm. What’s concerning about Watson is that he’s prone to turnovers; he threw 17 interceptions last season. He is far from being NFL ready, but his upside is as high as any other quarterback in this draft class.
- San Diego Chargers
Malik Hooker – Safety, Ohio State
The injury bug is something you simply can’t control in the NFL. For the past two seasons, its biggest prey has been the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers actually have a pretty talented roster, but they haven’t stayed healthy collectively for long enough to take advantage of it. Phillip Rivers is still a Pro Bowl quarterback, Melvin Gordon made great strides last year, Joey Bosa is heading towards becoming an elite edge rusher, and Jason Verrett is a very talented cornerback. It is most certainly not time to panic if you’re a Chargers fan, but rather hope and pray that your team stays healthy in 2017. That being said, the Bolts still need to replace long time star Eric Weddle, and Malik Hooker of Ohio State would be the perfect player to do that. Hooker’s ability to play centerfield and tackle is very similar to Weddle, and he is actually a better athlete than Weddle was in his prime. This seems like a no-brainer.
- Carolina Panthers
Leonard Fournette – Running back, LSU
Fresh off of a Super Bowl loss, the Carolina Panthers laid a massive egg on the 2016 season. Luckily for them, almost everyone from their 15-1 campaign in 2015 is still around. Alarming, however, is how much QB Cam Newton seemed to regress last season after earning NFL MVP honors the year before. The best thing the Panthers can do for Newton in 2017 is what they did two years ago to help him guide his team to the Super Bowl: give him a running game. Johnathan Stewart is a capable back, but he’s not someone that you can center your offense around. LSU’s Leonard Fournette could be just that. Fournette is not a back that could have success in any system, but Mike Shula’s offense is perfect for his physical, straight-line running style. If Fournette can get his weight down to around 230, he would have limitless potential in Carolina.
- Cincinnati Bengals
Solomon Thomas – Defensive End, Stanford
After making the playoffs in each of the previous five seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals were a big disappointment in 2016. Their biggest team need is on the offensive line, where they’ve lost Andre Smith, Andrew Whitworth, and Kevin Zeitler in the last two years. Unfortunately, this year’s draft class is nowhere near as rich in offensive line talent as recent classes have been. So, it would only make sense for them to go with a best player available approach if they stay at pick #9. That player, in this situation, would be Stanford’s Solomon Thomas. Thomas’ skill set is very similar to that of last year’s third overall selection, Joey Bosa. He has the athleticism and pass rush moves to play outside, and the strength required to play inside. A dominant and versatile player like Thomas could help the Bengals get back to the top of the AFC North.
- Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams – Wide Receiver, Clemson
Bills WR Sammy Watkins has struggled to live up to his potential thus far in his career because he has not been able to stay on the field. Because of this, Tyrod Taylor has spent much of the last two seasons working with mediocre wide receivers. Additionally, a lack of threats on the outside make it easier for defenses to put extra players in the box to stop LeSean McCoy. Mike Williams, who many scouts regard as the best WR prospect in the draft, could line-up opposite Watkins, a fellow Clemson alum, and give Taylor two big time wide receivers. If Watkins were to struggle again with injuries this season, the Bills wouldn’t be frantically searching for a temporary replacement.
- New Orleans Saints
Reuben Foster – Linebacker, Alabama
If Drew Brees is your quarterback, you have a good chance to win football games. When you add Adrian Peterson, it gets better offensively. For the New Orleans Saints, however, their defense has been so terrible in recent years that they’ve been nothing more than a mediocre football team. When they traded Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, the Saints made it clear that they want to address their massive lack of talent on defense. Despite the now-famous questionable urine sample, selecting Reuben Foster of Alabama would begin the process of transforming the unit. Foster’s athleticism allows him to be a true three down linebacker in the NFL, and he could have a lot of success in an ILB duo with Stephone Anthony.
- Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
DeShone Kizer – Quarterback, Notre Dame
What? Another Quarterback reach, you ask? Yep. Until the first draft actually happens where I witness QB’s that don’t deserve it NOT ACTUALLY GET DRAFTED TOO HIGH, I’ll play the odds that teams continue to over reach for Pro Sports’ most important position. So, after taking Myles Garrett at #1, the Browns could select their quarterback of the future at #12 in DeShone Kizer. Kizer has perhaps the highest upside of any quarterback in the draft. But, as with Watson, he is far from being ready for the speed of the NFL game. The Browns have viable transition options on their roster in Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler, and letting one of those guys play this year could give Kizer time to develop under Hue Jackson.
- Arizona Cardinals
O.J. Howard – Tight End, Alabama
The Arizona Cardinals were easily the NFL’s biggest disappointment in 2016. Their roster is Super Bowl caliber, but it simply didn’t come together. If they manage to better protect their aging quarterback, Carson Palmer, the Cardinals could hoist the Lombardi trophy next February. There aren’t any offensive linemen worthy of this high a selection, so the Cardinals’ next best option to better protect Palmer is to give him a weapon; specifically, a security blanket. Arizona hasn’t had a viable option at tight-end in years, and adding Alabama’s O.J. Howard to the fold would instantly take their offense to new heights. Replacing Larry Fitzgerald has to be at the forefront of GM Steve Keim’s mind, and adding an elite TE could be the best way to do that.
- Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
Derek Barnett – Defensive End, Tennessee
The Eagles addressed their big need at wide receiver in free agency, signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Those acquisitions allow them to look elsewhere in the draft. After releasing Connor Barwin, the Eagles need an edge rusher for Jim Schwartz’s 4-3 defense. Tennessee’s Derek Barnett might be the best fit in the entire draft for that position. Barnett is a relentless player who abused SEC competition every single week for three years, breaking Tennessee’s career sack record in the process. He could help the Eagles take the next step. If not for the Gareon Conley potential rape allegation, he may have gone right here. Instead, the Eagles get their cornerback(s) in later rounds, just like their Running Back.
- Indianapolis Colts
Jabrill Peppers – Safety, Michigan
When you fire your general manager, you clearly are not happy with your team’s roster. The Colts have talented players on their roster, such as Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Vontae Davis, but the roster as a whole has a colossal lack of talent. The lack of talent is most prominent on the defensive side of the ball, and selecting Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers would go a long way towards fixing the problem. Peppers is incredibly smart, versatile, and athletic. He is the kind of player that can transform a defense, something the Colts desperately need.
- Baltimore Ravens
Christian McCaffrey – Running back, Stanford
At this point in the process, the fact that I have McCaffrey lasting this long may be the biggest surprise in the whole draft. Unlike a lot of teams picking in this area of the draft, the Ravens are a pretty balanced team without a ton of glaring holes. An area that they need to improve on offense is the backfield, where they’ve struggled to find consistency ever since Justin Forsett’s Pro Bowl year in 2014. The Ravens could use a new edge rusher, but, at this point, that position would be better addressed in the second round. Selecting Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey would give the Ravens a true three-down running back. Since winning the Super Bowl in 2013, the Ravens have been pretty average. A consistent threat in the backfield would allow them to take a big step forward.
- Washington Redskins
Dalvin Cook – Running back, Florida State
Like the Ravens, a three down runner would allow the Washington Redskins to take a massive step forward in 2017. They have their quarterback in Kirk Cousins, two solid receivers in Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson, an elite tight end in Jordan Reed, and a great offensive line made up of players like Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams. FSU’s Dalvin Cook would put the finishing touch on the Redskins’ offense and turn an already talented unit into an elite one. Kirk Cousins has been good without a consistent run game, and he could become great with one.
- Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis – Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
With the Titans’ second first round pick, they will likely have the chance to add talent to an average receiving core with one of the draft’s three best wideouts. While John Ross would certainly be an attractive option at #18, Western Michigan’s Corey Davis is closer to the type of receiver Mike Mularkey and Jon Robinson likes. Davis’ size, speed, physicality, and attention to detail make him possibly the best receiver in the draft, but the fact that he went to a small school could lead to him slipping down several teams’ boards.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Taco Charlton – Defensive End, Michigan
The Buccaneers have taken steps forward each of the last two years. If they want to do the same in 2017, they need to improve their pass rush. Michigan’s Taco Charlton isn’t in the same class with Garrett, Thomas, and Barnett, but he has great value as a prospect at pick #20. He likely won’t be a game changing pass rusher, but Charlton’s skill set will allow him to help a team and be productive.
- Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk – Tackle, Wisconsin
Just a year removed from a Super Bowl victory, the Broncos still have almost all of the core pieces that carried their team to a championship. Their biggest weakness, as was the case on their Super Bowl team, is still the offensive line. So, taking the best tackle in the draft, Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, would make a lot of sense. Additionally, the value of the player would match the value of the pick. Like the Chargers with Hooker, this seems like a no-brainer.
- Detroit Lions
John Ross – Wide Receiver, Washington
After losing Calvin Johnson to retirement, the Lions’ passing attack struggled to make plays down the field last season. As good as Matthew Stafford looked at times in Jim Bob Cooter’s dink and dunk offense, his talents are being wasted in a short passing attack. Adding John Ross of Washington would bring the Lion’s offense an entirely new dimension and would likely make Stafford a lot more comfortable. Ross, who broke the combine record for the forty yard dash, would fix the problem the Lions have with a lack of speed.
- Miami Dolphins
Marlon Humphrey – Cornerback, Alabama
The Dolphins surprised a lot of people last year. After a dismal 1-4 start in which they were consistently outmanned by opposition, a 9-2 record to finish the season put the Dolphins in the playoffs. If QB Ryan Tannehill continues to play at the level he did last year, they could be right back in the postseason in 2017. A position that needs improvement, however, is cornerback, where veteran Byron Maxwell is their only viable option. Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey would give the Dolphins a long, physical corner, like Maxwell, who can match up with other teams’ #1 receivers.
- New York Giants
David Njoku – Tight End, Miami
If not for the Cowboys’ remarkable year, the Giants would have won the NFC East in 2016. The acquisitions of Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and Janoris Jenkins in free agency paved the way for a successful season led by a dominating defense. However, the offense struggled at times to move the ball, often having to fully rely on explosive plays from Odell Beckham, Jr. They need a RB, but the top three backs in this class will likely be gone by this point. Drafting Miami’s David Njoku would both fill a need and be in the best player available conversation. Along with the additions of WR Brandon Marshall and perhaps a running back later in the draft, Njoku could help turn the Giants offense from a weakness into a strength.
- Oakland Raiders
Zachary Cunningham – Linebacker, Vanderbilt
Other than perhaps only the Patriots, the Oakland Raiders have the best top-to-bottom roster in the NFL. If Derek Carr hadn’t broken his fibula in Week 16, there’s a good chance that they would have finished the year hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Instead, they were embarrassed in the first round of the playoffs and now have to regroup before going for glory again. Finding a need on the Raiders roster is a difficult task, but after losing Malcolm Smith to the 49ers in free agency, adding an inside linebacker would greatly assist their defense. Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is a similar player to Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David, and his ability to fly around and make tackles could take the Raiders to incredible heights.
- Houston Texans
Evan Engram – Tight End, Ole Miss
With competent quarterback play last season, the Texans could have been Super Bowl contenders. They have a ton of speed on offense and one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. A position that the Texans could stand to improve offensively other than quarterback, though, is tight-end. There’s a chance that Mississippi’s Evan Engram falls into the second round, but Houston can’t afford to take a chance of missing out on the best pure pass catching tight end in the draft. His technique is iffy, but Engram is a willing blocker with incredible speed for his size and position. No matter who the Texans have under center in 2017, Engram would be of great assistance to them.
- Seattle Seahawks
Cam Robinson – Tackle, Alabama
Seattle still has a championship caliber roster, but they must improve their protection of Russell Wilson if they ever hope to win another Super Bowl. At pick #26, Alabama’s Cam Robinson could fill a need, and be the best player available. With solid coaching, Robinson’s strength and experience in a pro style offense at Alabama could make him a solid starting left tackle for Seattle’s offense.
- Kansas City Chiefs
Malik McDowell – Defensive End, Michigan State
Kansas City has a very balanced roster with talent at every single position, but they’ve struggled in recent years to get pressure from the interior defensive line. Losing Dontari Poe in free agency won’t make getting that pressure any easier, so the Chiefs could afford to add a player who could play defensive end in their 3-4. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell has the talent necessary to produce at a high level from that position, but concerns with attitude and effort could cause him to fall far into the first round. Andy Reid and his staff would be the perfect fit for McDowell and his character concerns.
- Dallas Cowboys
Tre’Davious White – Cornerback, LSU
The Cowboys have lost both of their starting corners from 2016, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, in free agency. So, why not replace one former LSU star with another? Tre’Davious White could pair with Orlando Scandrick to give the Cowboys a seamless transition. His athleticism, ability in man coverage, and knack for playing special teams could make Claiborne a distant memory for the Cowboys.
- Green Bay Packers
Haason Reddick – Linebacker, Temple
I had the opportunity to watch the Packers play in person earlier this season when they came to Nashville to play the Titans. In an extremely one-sided affair, one word came to mind when watching the Packers’ defense: slow. Temple’s Haason Reddick, who is a bit of a wildcard when it comes to what position he’ll play, would be a great choice to fix that problem and would seem to be the kind of player GM Ted Thompson likes. Reddick will likely play many roles on the defense he ends up joining, and the Packers would seeimingly be the best fit for his services.
- Pittsburgh Steelers
Jarrad Davis – Linebacker, Florida
Like most of the teams picking this close to the end of the first round, the Steelers don’t have many visible weaknesses. They would certainly benefit from adding a safety, but at this point there isn’t a prospect at that position that matches the value of this pick. Instead, it would make sense to add an inside linebacker in the wake of Lawrence Timmons signing with the Dolphins. The Steelers could pair Florida’s Jarrad Davis with Ryan Shazier to form the most athletic duo of inside linebackers in the NFL. Davis’ speed and high character make him a great fit for the Steelers defense.
- Atlanta Falcons
Forrest Lamp – Guard, Western Kentucky
The Falcons were just a few plays away from winning the Super Bowl less than two months ago. Because their team is so young collectively, they didn’t really lose anyone outside of the coaching staff in free agency. Thus, the roster is set for another run. They could, however, stand to get younger at RG, a position that veteran Chris Chester has held down for some time. If they were to select WKU’s Forrest Lamp, he Chester’s presence would give the Falcons the option to let Lamp sit and learn for a while.
- New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)
Sticking with the theme from their first selection at #11, the Saints must continue improving their defense. The best player available to do that is Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt. Watt is an edge player, but he isn’t one of the twitchy pass rushers that will already be off the board. He’s a bit more of a balanced player who can do a lot of things really well, including rushing the quarterback. Watt and Foster would be a heck of a first round haul for the Saints.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports