It’s just over a month until the start of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, where College Football’s brightest stars will get the call to the podium and officially become NFL players. So it’s time for us to join the cool kids club, and submit our very own 2017 Mock Draft, so without further ado, (Fake) Cleveland Browns are on the clock…
1 – Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
This almost seems procedural now that Garrett will go first overall this year, similarly to Jadeveon Clowney just 3 years ago. The kid is a beast, who has elite physical attributes and look destined for a perennial All-Pro career. There’s some question as to whether tohe Browns will move down, but you simply can’t pass up on Garrett.
2 – San Francsico 49ers: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
After Garrett there are a lot of really good players who could easily be taken in any order here; and with San Fran looking likely to play the waiting game on Kirk Cousins in 2018, they pass on a QB and get Thomas who can play anywhere along the defensive line. A 49ers team with so many holes can utilise him as a DT or DE and cause havoc for opposing Offensive Lines.
3 – Chicago Bears: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
Another team who could well have taken a QB before signing Mike Glennon are similar to the 49ers where they have a lot of defensive holes, so they take the guy with the highest ceiling of anyone bar Garrett in the draft with Hooker. Despite only one full year of starting experience, he has shown great instincts and could be the next Earl Thomas for the Bears.
4 – Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
The reigning 2016 off-season winners, did well in Free Agency this year, and have addressed several needs on the defensive side of the ball. So let’s give them Leonard Fournette, who would give them a huge upgrade on the Chris Ivory/T.J. Yeldon hybrid backfield they ran last year. Fournette has the potential to be as impactful as Ezekiel Elliot was to the Cowboys; despite their differing running styles.
5 – Tennessee Titans (from Rams): S Jamal Adams, LSU
Tennessee reap the rewards of dealing away the number 1 overall pick a year ago with a Top 5 selection here; and they’ll be delighted if Jamal Adams falls to them. He was a true leader of the LSU defence at Safety and really starts to make the Titans look scarily good on that side of the ball.
6 – New York Jets: QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson
With the past few drafts, we’ve been blessed with some good QBs in the first couple of rounds, and we see the first QB off the board at 6. You’re all familiar with therm dumpster fire right? Well the Jets QB room was worse than that, and I still don’t think they buy Hackenburg as the long term solution. Enter DeShaun Watson who was a stud for Clemson and could finally give them a young stable QB to lean on for years.
7 – Los Angeles Chargers: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
The Chargers could be a sleeper team for people this year; they have some incredibly talented players on their team, but being bitten by the injury bug killed their season. Ideally they would be hoping for Hooker or Adams to fall this far so they get a sorely missed replacement for Eric Weddle, but Foster is just as impactful as the aforementioned safeties; and can give the Chargers young defence a huge leader and playmaker.
8 – Carolina Panthers: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama
The Panthers love taking a defensive player in the first round, and this year is no different as they add Allen who falls a little way down given his talent. There’s been some strange doubts about the Arthritis in his shoulder that some teams may overthink and put him further down draft boards. But he has huge upside and could re-establish the Carolina Defensive Line’s dominance once again.
9 – Cincinnati Bengals: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Another defensive back with only one year of experience but making the most of his opportunity whist at Ohio State; just like Hooker before him. The Bengals secondary was an absolute mess towards the end of the season and after Sidney Jones’ unfortunate injury at his pro day, Lattimore is the best CB left in the draft class.
10 – Buffalo Bills: WR Mike Williams, Clemson
Now that the Tyrod Taylor debate has settled down and he will stay in Buffalo (the whole world breathes a sigh of relief), they can give him an extra weapon on the outside in Mike Williams. Taylor has loved Watkins, when he’s been able to stay on the field; so giving them a very similar receiver will give defences nightmares, not to mention Shady McCoy in the backfield.
11 – New Orleans Saints: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
The Saints defence was sneaky good down the stretch last year, a nice change from the real doormat that had been in place in 2015 letting teams walk over them. With Nick Fairley and Cameron Jordan forming a nice pairing upfront; we could add Barnett to the mix and really make it a group to fear in an NFC South stacked with good D-Lines.
12 – Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): QB Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame
Here we go again, Cleveland take another swing at a starting QB for the future, but this may well be their best chance yet for one to stick. Kizer could be argued as the best QB in the draft class. He’ll have threats on the outside and at TE with Barnidge to make it work. They also finally have an Offensive Line that can hold up and protect their QB.
13 – Arizona Cardinals: QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Just a season after leading the league in offensive yards, the Cardinals took a huge U-Turn and struggled to move the ball through anyone not named David Johnson. Part of that is down to Carson Palmer nearing the end, and Trubisky could be the ideal replacement when Palmer does ride off into the sunset. A cool pocket passer who’s accuracy is his strongest weapon, and a year to study will give them the Aaron Rodgers-style replacement.
14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings): CB Teez Tabor, Florida
A month ago, this would’ve no doubt been a Wide Receiver, but with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, they can afford to focus on other areas. Tabor would improve on a fast rising defensive unit that lacks a true CB1 to help their secondary that faded drastically last season.
15 – Indianapolis Colts: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
It’s one of the worst kept secrets that the Colts O-Line is horrendously bad right now, especially against the Pass Rush, and they badly need some protection for Andrew Luck. Ramczyk (who’s name I have to paste every time I use it), is the best tackle in the class and was even predicted Top 10 earlier this off-season so would be a welcome addition to this Colts team.
16 – Baltimore Ravens: WR John Ross, Washington
With Steve Smith Sr. retiring and Kamar Aiken heading to pastures new; the Ravens WR corps is a bit thin right now with only an ageing Mike Wallace and unproven Breshad Perriman. Enter John Ross, the new NFL Combine 40 yard dash record holder. We’ve seen in the past that Joe Flacco loves quick receivers to hit Home Runs, a la Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones etc. so Ross fits the profile to a tee.
17 – Washington Redskins: RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
It wasn’t long ago that Cook was right in the mix with Fournette as the best back in the draft class, and he could yet be when all is said and done; but an impressive pre-draft showing from the LSU product has left Cook behind a bit. He would be an extreme upgrade on Robert Kelley, who was fantastic last season, but isn’t the Home Run hitter and 3 down back that Cook is.
18 – Tennessee Titans: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
With the Titan’s second pick in the first round, they help out Marcus Mariota with a big body to catch the football. Davis was huge in his 4 years in college football and is the all-time leader in major college football in receiving yards (5,285). Their two first round picks could be what finally gets the Titans back to the playoffs after a while away from January football.
19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
The Buccaneers addressed one of their big needs at Wide Receiver by adding DeSean Jackson, and the other is Defensive Line, because despite Gerald McCoy’s dominance he’s going to need some help and McKinley had a real breakout year for UCLA last year, fast rising up many team’s draft boards this winter.
20 – Denver Broncos: TE OJ Howard, Alabama
It’s a shame that Howard could genuinely fall this far, as he somewhat resembles a Jordan Reed type player who’s a physical mismatch at the position facing Linebackers or Nickelbacks. But some of the teams immediately above the Broncos have TEs locked in long term and Denver will happily steal Howard at 20th overall.
21 – Detroit Lions: OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
One of the Lions’ main issues last season was the inability to find consistency in the running game, but their Running Backs seem a strong group with Abdullah, Washington, Riddick and Zenner all productive. So if you can give them a Guard who’s been likened to Zach Martin in Lamp, with a really impressive showing at the combine too it’ll help them out a hell of a lot.
22 – Miami Dolphins: OLB/DE Haason Reddick, Temple
Reddick has been flying up draft boards recently, and when you watch the tape it’s not hard to see why. He has incredible athleticism can rush the passers, stuff edge runs by backs and be a vital young piece to a Dolphins defence that had to suffer an ageing Mario Williams on the edge last season. Huge upgrade.
23 – New York Giants: OT Garrett Bolles, Utah
Will the Giants finally get it right drafting an Offensive Tackle this time around? Well Garrett Bolles certainly fits the bill in this category from what we’ve seen so far. He has great athleticism for an Offensive Lineman, and a high ceiling if he can get a bit more bulk on his frame to hold off some of the bigger pass rushers in the league. Got to be better than Flowers right?
24 – Oakland Raiders: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
If we ignore the blip with an injured Derek Carr at the end of the season; the only thing holding the Raiders back from being a real Superbowl contender was their lacklustre secondary. Sean Smith is good on one side, but Conley would be a big upgrade over David Amerson right now and put the Raiders up there with the AFC Powerhouses again.
25 – Houston Texans: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Even if the Texans do manage to get Tony Romo from Dallas, he’s not going to be the long term answer there in say 3/5 years; pretty much where Mahomes would fit in perfectly. Right now he seems to be very green and hunts for the big play, so perhaps sitting behind Romo for a couple years could help him tone it down. He’s also got the physical tools to step in for Romo if his body breaks again and Bill O’Brien could get creative with his new toy.
26 – Seattle Seahawks: DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
The Seahawks would be praying for one of the Offensive Linemen to fall this far, but in my case the top 3 off the board they address another need in Defensive Tackle by taking McDowell who seems to have gone under the radar a bit lately. One of scouts main concerns is his drive and leadership ability, but in a stacked Seattle defence full of leaders it’ll be a perfect fit.
27 – Kansas City Chiefs: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about whether the Chiefs should go for a QB here, but Alex Smith is far from a problem with Andy Reid’s team right now. An ageing Linebacking corps with Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson all getting on a little nabbing Cunningham at 27 could be a great fit as he learns from some of the best in business.
28 – Dallas Cowboys: LB/S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
The Cowboys have to go defence here right? There’s going to be no question that their offence will once again be up there with the best in the league; now they just need to find a way to stop the other team. Peppers has been a name of intrigue in the draft for a while as another Hybrid Linebacker/Safety combo; and with Barry Church leaving for Jacksonville Peppers would be a huge statement in Dallas. Is there a more Jerry Jones player in this draft than Peppers?
29 – Green Bay Packers: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
The Packers add to their interesting group of funny first name players (looking at you Ha-Ha) by drafting Taco Charlton out of Michigan. It’s not secret that the Packers would’ve been better off with 12 year olds defending passes last season; and part of that was the lack of pressure they got on the QB. Charlton would cause havoc on Tackles and could take Julius Peppers place with ease.
30 – Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
With the departure of Lawrence Timmons and the Steelers legend James Harrison likely fighting a losing battle with Father Time, the Steelers are in desperate need of linebacking help here. Davis has the ability to play inside, but can also kick outside and put pressure on the QB on certain packages. Shazier and Davis patrolling the middle of the field could be deadly.
31 – Atlanta Falcons: LB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Let’s get this straight first, teams will be making sure they overlook the name and his big brother before potentially drafting TJ Watt here. But the Falcons, similarly to the Packers have to improve the defence so it can keep up with it’s offence. Dontari Poe was a huge help on the D-Line so we give them an edge rusher to pair with Beasley who teams will be keying in on to stop after racking up 15.5 sacks last term.
32 – New Orleans Saints (from Patriots): RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Is there a more underrated first round talent in this draft than McCaffrey right now? Fournette and Cook get all the attention, but McCaffrey isn’t exactly far behind them; and with mark Ingram hardly in Sean Payton’s good books anymore, they could draft the Stanford RB to be a new 3 down back and be able to take a little pressure off of Brees and the passing attack for once.
Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports