2017 NFL Mock Draft

Kicking off Joe’s return and the addition of some new writers (!!!), we have a T minus one hour NFL mock draft. We didn’t factor in trades and we aren’t trying to predict the decision of each team. We make one pick at a time based on team needs, fit, and players already off the board. The number one pick goes to Cleveland and should be a gimme, but what with all the (usual) pre-draft noise, we did our due diligence from the top down:

  1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett is widely seen as the consensus first overall pick and an even better prospect than Jadeveon Clowney and Mario Williams, the last two pass rushers taken first overall. Garrett solidified his status as the top pick at the combine where he finished top five in 40 time, bench press, vertical and broad jump among all defensive linemen. Myles had made his mark in the FBS as a pass rusher, but his run defense has quietly improved over his college career. He consistently beats pulling guards to their spots with his crackling speed and when he anchors down, he is too strong to be washed down. His rare athleticism allows him to completely shut down read options on his own, an unmistakable asset in the pros. The Browns have desperately needed a quarterback for years, but reaching for one with their first pick when there are many better prospects would be a huge mistake. A strategy that would build the foundations of a solid team rather than throwing a quarterback into the fire would be a smart way to avoid yet another disaster under center.
  2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams is the most well-rounded prospect in an absolutely loaded secondary class this year. He can drop back into coverage, he is strong enough to disrupt tight ends at the line of scrimmage, and he can be an aggressive tackler in the box. The 49ers don’t need to spend this pick on Solomon Thomas because they invested their last two first rounders in defensive ends, Arik Armstead and Deforest Buckner. Their weak defense gave free rein to QB’s going deep and running backs to gash the second level. Jamal Adams is the perfect pick to make them rethink those decisions.
  3. Chicago Bears: Malik Hooker is the best centerfielder prospect in this class. He has excellent range, ball skills, and anticipation that allow him to be a ball hawk who generates picks year after year. The Bears have some semblance of a secondary right now with Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos, the latter of whom is a physical hard-hitting safety with below average coverage skills. Malik Hooker is a perfect fit to mask that deficiency in the back end of the Bears’ defense.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen is the most decorated defender from the past college season taking home the Nagurski, Bednarik, and Lombardi awards. Allen is the most versatile defensive lineman and played all along the loaded Alabama front. He excelled at rushing the passer and stopping the run, thereby showcasing his myriad abilities whether lined up on the edge or inside. His best fit in the NFL will probably be between the gaps due as he doesn’t have tremendous athleticism, but uses his power very well. Two shoulder surgeries has his draft stock falling, but he is still a top five player in this class.
  5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore is widely seen as the best cornerback because of his athleticism and flashes of being a lockdown corner. The Titans are very thin at the cornerback position, so Lattimore would be an immediate upgrade and a potential day one starter at the position. Lattimore has enough size at 6’0” 194 lbs to play outside. His biggest weakness right now is being able to use all his tools to become the football player the team drafting him hopes he can be. No one doubts his athleticism (4.33 40 and 38.5” vertical), but his play wasn’t indicative of someone who could put up those numbers. Hamstring injuries and one year of starting experience are also seen as knocks on his game. Given all these minor concerns, Lattimore is a rare athlete who is scheme-friendly and a willing tackler, which is a plus at the cornerback position.
  6. New York Jets: Marlon Humphrey is a physical press corner the Jets need. He is big enough to play outside and violent enough to disrupt receivers on the line. He complements his jamming ability with ferocity as a tackler and tries to rip the ball loose. This pick has a tainted past as the Jets took Dee Milliner in 2013 with the ninth pick. Both came from a loaded Alabama defense and put up eerily similar stats (3 and 2 interceptions in their second to last and final years). Both stand at 6’0” 190+ lbs and tested similarly at the combine. Humphrey has issues covering deep passes and gives up a lot of yards per catch. However, with all the athleticism Humphrey has as a track star and the physicality from being in Alabama, the Jets can hope Revis will be able to mold him into a lockdown corner instead of falling off like Milliner.
  7. LA Chargers: Solomon Thomas has been flying up draft boards after a strong bowl game and an exemplary combine workout. Last year, the Chargers strengthened their front line with the Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa, and they should do the same this year. Solomon Thomas can move along the defensive line and rush from the inside or outside. He explodes off the ball and demonstrates great strength for his size. His biggest concern is that he lacks the length to play outside, but lacks the stature to play inside. However, his athleticism and motor will help him be a productive player as he adds on size and strength to play at the next level.
  8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette is the most exciting running back prospect this year, the recipient of high praise since his high school days as he was dubbed the next Adrian Peterson. Fournette is a violent, downhill runner with breakaway speed and vicious power. Arm tackles are by all means useless against him and Fournette falls forward for a few yards every run. He is the rare bell cow in an NFL moving towards committee teams want to trust with the ball 25 times a game. His game isn’t limited to between the gaps either because he has enough speed to get to the edge and be a home run threat. His biggest weakness as a player is his lack of elite agility to make cuts or make defenders miss. He also missed games due to an ankle injury. A team drafting Fournette can mitigate his weakness by using him exclusively as a downhill runner instead of letting him make decisions and finding lanes to cut into. Having Fournette take the pressure off the passing game will help Cam Newton escape his post-MVP slump.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster is a violent football player who fits into the AFC North’s old school brand of football. Outside of another linebacker infamous for brutality, Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals have no presence in their second level. Foster is seen as the best true linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly, combining powerful hits and reliable coverage. Minor injury concerns do exist, but the Bengals would be wise to select him if they want to overtake the Steelers in this division, who can run the ball at will.
  10. Buffalo Bills: Gareon Conley is a top cornerback prospect who is overshadowed by teammate Marshon Lattimore. Conley is a long defender with good footwork to match patterns step for step in man coverage. Conley also possesses great hands and ball skills for a corner. His biggest weakness is his poor hand usage where he plays tight, but gives up a free release. The Bills can still find use him as they’ve shown they can groom cornerbacks like Ronald Darby or the recently departed Stephon Gilmore.
  11. New Orleans Saints: Haason Reddick is a versatile athlete whose stock has risen after the college football season. He can play defensive end or outside linebacker that drops into coverage. He is very quick as a pass rusher and can get around the edge in a hurry. Even though he uses his speed well to win, scouts want to see him learn to translate speed into power which will be tough for him since he weighed in at 237 lbs. The Saints need talent on their defense in the front 7 and Reddick can fill in at defensive end or will.
  12. Cleveland Browns: O.J. Howard is considered the safest prospect in this draft despite not putting up gaudy stats at Alabama. Howard is a do-it-all tight end with spectacular athleticism in the passing game and great blocking skills in the run game. The Browns need to build talent around whatever quarterback they plan to use for the future whether that be Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler, or a draft pick next year. Howard is the safety blanket quarterbacks covet and is seen as least as good a tight end prospect since Rob Gronkowski.
  13. Arizona Cardinals: Kevin King is a prototypical athlete NFL teams love. He is 6’3”, runs a 4.43, and can jump out of the gym. He disrupts receivers’ and quarterbacks’ timing with his unnatural length. His timed speed and game speed do not seem to match up though, but in Arizona with the uber-athletic Patrick Peterson, he should be able to learn how to translate his athleticism onto the field in 2017 without having to line up against true number one receivers game after game.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles: Quincy Wilson (the fifth cornerback taken so far!) is an instinctive and physical cornerback that lacks no confidence on the field. He is a big corner that is quick in short spaces and can finish plays with a hard tackle. His agility and ability to play in the open field is a bit of a question mark, but given the Eagles’ need at cornerback, they can use a player of Wilson’s caliber.
  15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett is one of the more productive pass rushers in this draft that doesn’t rely on raw athleticism to beat his opponent. He has great bend to get around the edge and quick hands to stop tackla tackle’s punches before they hit. The biggest separation between Barnett and Garrett is the 4.88 40 time Barnett has, which makes scouts wonder if he is a good enough athlete to be productive in the NFL. However, the Colts, who have gaping holes in the front seven, need to draft the best defensive player available and Barnett is that player.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis is viewed as the best wide receiver prospect in this draft despite not attending a big name school. He has the size, speed, route-running, ability after the catch, and strength to win any one on one matchup. His biggest concern is his drops, but he still has great hands and is very productive. The Ravens need a true go to receiver with Steve Smith’s retirement, and Davis is the prototypical #1 wide receiver in the NFL.
  17. Washington Redskins: Zach Cunningham is an absolute tackling machine that is overlooked because of another SEC linebacker prospect, Reuben Foster. Cunningham is a very productive tackler who diagnoses plays well and gets rid of would-be blockers. He isn’t fast enough to be a sideline to sideline linebacker, but Redskins’ new addition Zach Brown was brought in to do that. Cunningham excels in the run game and is an immediate upgrade over Mason Foster.
  18. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams is a big bodied wide receiver who turns 50/50 balls into 90/10 balls. Williams knows how to use his height to box out and win contested catches. He isn’t a track star by any means and has sustained a major injury in his career, but the Titans need a big receiver to help Marcus Mariota.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Budda Baker is a versatile safety/corner that provides instant impact for any team. He is a physical hitter in the run game and an impressively fluid defender against the pass. He is a bit undersized at 195 lbs to be a safety which is seen when bigger running backs or tight ends match up against him, but the Buccaneers need help at safety after losing a starter this year.
  20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson is a strong and powerful left tackle that can move people in the run game and hold his own in the pass game. Robinson is too strong to be beat when he sets his feet well and has great recovery speed when he doesn’t. However, his feet are slow more often than not, which makes scouts think he might not be a franchise left tackle who can handle speed off the edge, instead, a rock at right tackle might be more suitable. The Broncos need help at both tackles and they can’t go wrong with Cam.
  21. Detroit Lions: Charles Harris is a speed rusher who can fire off the ball faster than most tackles can react. Harris comes from Missouri, a school well-known for their pass rushing prospects. He can fly off the snap and bend the edge before the lineman can slide his feet all the way around. The biggest knock on Harris is his lack of many pass-rushing moves in his repertoire. He has no bull rush and his spin move needs much improvement. The Lions have Ezekiel Ansah, another speedy rusher, who can help him with his transition to the NFL.
  22. Miami Dolphins: Tre’Davious White is an excellent cornerback with coverage skills every team can use. He sticks to his receiver on an island and has great change-of-direction to mirror every route. He is a bit undersized which is why he is lower on draft boards than his talent level would indicate, but the Dolphins are void of cornerback talent and can use him outside or in the slot if they have to.
  23. New York Giants: David Njoku is an athletic tight end with a very impressive combine showing that boosted him into the first round. He excels after the catch and is a willing blocker. However, he has inconsistent hands and a weak lower body, so his willingness to block might not matter if he lacks the strength to execute. The Giants haven’t had a good tight end in a long time, so adding Njoku to an already great receiving trio would only help Eli Manning as he ages.
  24. Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis is a physical downhill linebacker who isn’t scared to hit. He tackles well and jams tight ends at the line of scrimmage. He needs to improve fighting off blockers and reading plays, but the Raiders need help in their front 7 outside of their defensive ends, and Davis would be a the answer as a physical presence at the second level.
  25. Houston Texans: Forrest Lamp may turn out to be the best offensive lineman in this draft. He is extremely strong in the run game and can handle almost every pass rushing move thrown at him. His game against Alabama was extremely impressive in which he was able to move Jonathan Allen, something no one has really done, but also handle Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams off the edge. The Texans need help at basically every position on the line and Lamp can start his career at guard if necessary.
  26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Ramczyk is seen as the top left tackle prospect in this class. He is a technician who wins from being fundamentally sound instead of overpowering defenders. His weaknesses can be seen against better athletes who can run around the edge or spin back inside exposing Ramczyk’s lack of athleticism. The Seahawks have needed offensive line help since Wilson has come into the league and Ramczyk, despite his flaws and injury recovery, can help them right away.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs: Malik McDowell is an extremely underrated prospect who played on an underwhelming Michigan State team. McDowell has the motor, strength, speed, burst, and power to win anywhere on the line of scrimmage. However, he demonstrates a lack of complete focus which may be attributed of MSU’s deficiency of talent, but regardless McDowell’s play certainly warrants a first round grade.
  28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton is a unrefined pass rusher who still was productive despite not being the best he can be. Lacking supernatural athleticism, he consistently wins with a quick first step. He can also translate his speed into power well. His biggest flaw is that he isn’t really polished for someone who isn’t athletic, so his production might not translate to the NFL. But Rod Marinelli has a track record of molding talent from raw prospects and Dallas needs pass rushing help both now and for the future.
  29. Green Bay Packers: T.J. Watt was a productive pass rusher who isn’t in the first round merely due to his last name. He is relatively new to defense, so his best days are still ahead of him, but still wins with an exceptional burst and somewhat refined technique. His athleticism isn’t spectacular and he still has a huge learning curve because he hasn’t played on the edge his whole life, but a patient organization like the Packers is a great landing spot.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Williams is the last immediate impact rusher in this draft class. He is a great athlete and shows great bend around the edge. He has his issues against the run however meaning he might be a third down specialist early in his career. But with Big Ben contemplating retirement and cap hits of Brown and Bell coming, the Steelers need to go get a guy who can help now in the pass rush.
  31. Atlanta Falcons: Jabrill Peppers is a great athlete with no defined position. The Falcons have needs at safety, linebacker, and slot defender. Peppers has experience in man coverage which suits the Falcons defense well if he were to be their nickel corner. But he has experience in zone and against the run when he played linebacker at Michigan. He is a bit undersized so he might have to start as a hybrid safety like Tyrann Matthieu to begin his career. But if Peppers can get his athleticism and potential to transfer onto the field, the Falcons will be looking at a very good defense to complement their stellar offense for years to come.
  32. New Orleans Saints: Teez Tabor was widely considered a first round pick and better than teammate Quincy Wilson before he ran a 4.6 40 at the combine. Tabor had all the numbers to prove he is better in coverage than Wilson and even on film his 4.6 did not seem to be an issue. The Saints have a desperate need at corner after not trading for Malcolm Butler (yet!), and Tabor is the best corner available at this pick. This might be a reach for most, but outside of a bad 40, Tabor was regarded as a top 5 cornerback prospect.

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