With only 8 teams left standing in the 2017 NFL season, that marks the start of the offseason for the other 24 clubs. While it’s nearly impossible to predict the NFL Draft (especially at this time of the year), it’s always a fun thing to project and look at from a fan’s point of view.
The 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with talent, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, but lacks that top-end tier of QBs. Even after Deshaun Watson’s historical performance in Clemson’s defeat of Alabama in the National Championship, will that be enough to jolt him up draft boards and see him be the first gunslinger selected? Find out below:
1. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
No matter how many mock drafts I do from now until April, this pick will remain the same. With no elite talent at the QB position, Sashi Brown decides to for the generational talent in Myles Garrett. Garrett is a game changer on defense with elite pass rush ability who stands out against the run as well. The Browns get a defensive cornerstone and tremendous building block.
2. San Francisco 49ers: QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
This pick of course is pending the coaching change in San Francisco. Ultimately, I think the new coaching regime will want to go for “their guy” under center. This draft class lacks the top-end QB talent, but Deshaun Watson is clearly the top talent at the position as you saw him solidify that status with a jaw-dropping performance in the National Championship.
3. Chicago Bears: DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
As much as the Bears may be tempted to go QB here, assuming John Fox remains the head coach, he’ll be on an extremely tight leash. He won’t have time to develop a project under center such as DeShone Kizer. Fox needs to bring in players who will make an impact from the get-go. Jonathan Allen has been the anchor on Alabama’s defense for the past couple seasons, and that’s exactly what he’ll be in Chicago.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State)
With the regression of Blake Bortles this past season, the Jaguars are in need of players to take the heat off the passing game. Dalvin Cook at 4 may seem like a bit of a reach, but I consider him in the same prospect tier as Ezekiel Elliott, who went #4 in last year’s draft. Cook is an electric runner who can even make contributions as a downfield receiver.
5. Tennessee Titans via Rams: WR Mike Williams (Clemson)
The Titans could use that legitimate #1 option in the passing game. They have a lot of flexibility with another 1st round pick and can afford to go for a slight reach here in Mike Williams, the top WR in the draft. While Williams isn’t an elite WR talent, he has #1 WR potential in the NFL. He has a big frame with a wide catch radius and the ability to make big catches, as you saw in the National Championship game.
6. New York Jets: S/LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
As much as the Jets need a QB, they can’t accept defeat on 2nd round pick Christian Hackenberg just yet. Todd Bowles will be pleasantly surprised to see Jabrill Peppers available at the 6th pick. Bowles utilized Deonne Bucannon effectively during his tenure as defensive coordinator in Arizona, and he now gets a similar weapon in Peppers. The only difference, Peppers is an elite athlete.
7. San Diego Chargers: QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
With a head coaching decision still pending for the Chargers and Philip Rivers nearing the end of the road, I can see the new head coach draft his QB of the future. Mitch Trubisky is the most accurate passer of any signal caller in the draft and possesses surprising athleticism. This pick will shake things up a bit.
8. Carolina Panthers: RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
Perhaps the most polarizing prospect in the entire draft class, the Carolina Panthers select Leonard Fournette to match with Cam Newton in what will make a dynamic QB-RB tandem. Newton needs help on the offense and a RB like Fournette would help take the pressure off. Fournette looks like a good fit in Carolina. His highlight video speaks for itself.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
With guys like Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson aging at defensive end for the Bengals, they’re in dire need of pass rush help and youth on the ends. Derek Barnett enjoyed an extremely productive career in the SEC and all but solidified his 1st round status with a great showing in Tennessee’s bowl game.
10. Buffalo Bills: DL Solomon Thomas (Stanford)
Even though it appears the Bills are dead-set on letting Tyrod Taylor walk into free agency, I don’t think they address the QB position in the top ten with both Watson and Trubisky off the board. Solomon Thomas has steadily blown up draft boards, and he very well could find himself inside the top 10 come April. His versatility will be coveted in the new head coach’s scheme, who has yet to be named.
11. New Orleans Saints: LB Reuben Foster (Alabama)
It seems like the New Orleans Saints are always in need of help on defense. They go for arguably the best player on the board in Reuben Foster. The leader and signal caller of Alabama’s elite defenses of the past couple seasons, Foster does just about everything well and lacks any big weaknesses to his game. Foster will be the leader in the middle of New Orleans’ defense for years to come.
12. Cleveland Browns via Eagles: S Jamal Adams (LSU)
After picking Myles Garrett to kick off the 2017 NFL Draft, there are an array of different routes the Browns could go here. They have their choice of any corner in the draft, they can continue building up the trenches or even take a project at QB like DeShone Kizer. Ultimately they decide to upgrade their weak safety group with Jamal Adams. Adams is the top safety in the draft who can deliver big hits or make plays back in coverage. A very instinctive player who can be a leader in the defensive backfield.
13. Arizona Cardinals: QB DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
Carson Palmer has no more than a couple seasons left in the tank. The Cardinals make a wise decision here as they select their QB of the future in DeShone Kizer. Kizer has all the tools to be an elite QB in the NFL, but the right situation and coaching is pivotal. Learning under Bruce Arians and Palmer will benefit him.
14. Indianapolis Colts: OT Cam Robinson (Alabama)
After going with an Alabama offensive linemen in the 1st round of last year’s draft, Ryan Grigson does the same in 2017. Cam Robinson still requires some grooming at the blindside, but he also has substantial upside. Robinson will protect Luck’s back for years to come.
15. Philadelphia Eagles via Vikings: WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan)
With a solid rookie year in the books for Carson Wentz, he is desperate for playmakers on the offense as the Eagles field arguably the worst WR corps in the league. Corey Davis is a dynamic talent at WR who possesses great burst and ability after the catch. Davis is a huge upgrade who will make an immediate impact for Philadelphia.
16. Baltimore Ravens: CB Quincy Wilson (Florida)
With a handful of needs here, the Ravens decide to take first dibs at the corner position, selecting Quincy Wilson. Wilson has everything the Ravens look for in a corner, he has size, athleticism and lockdown ability.
17. Washington Redskins: S Malik Hooker (Ohio State)
With emerging passing attacks in the NFC East, the Redskins need to continue building the secondary. Malik Hooker would provide a rangy safety with ballhawk capabilities for the ‘Skins. An instant upgrade and future playmaker for Washington.
18. Tennessee Titans: CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor (Florida)
After going with Mike Williams at #5, the Titans address another need, this time going with a corner. Tabor is a very instinctive corner who can stick on receivers like glue. He has big-time coverage skills and is always a threat to pick off passes thrown his way.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR John Ross (Washington)
After Mike Evans, the Buccaneers have a very weak group of weapons in the passing game. Jameis Winston needs some help if he wants to continue to ascend into that top tier of QBs. John Ross is an explosive playmaker with top-end speed. He’s electric with the ball in his hands and would provide a tremendous threat alongside Evans.
20. Denver Broncos: TE O.J.Howard (Alabama)
While they have yet to name their successor to Gary Kubiak, a guy like O.J. Howard seems like a safe pick for the Broncos with a need at TE. Howard is the leader of a deep TE class. He has great receiving skills with mismatch size along with good blocking ability. An instant weapon for the Broncos.
21. Detroit Lions: DL Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
Malik McDowell currently ranks #2 on my overall big board, but I’m not sure NFL general managers feel the same. McDowell has a rare blend of size, athleticism, length and disruptiveness. The sky is the limit for him and he can serve as a defensive cornerstone for Detroit and fill the void left behind by Ndaumkong Suh who departed several years ago.
22. Miami Dolphins: EDGE Tim Williams (Alabama)
With Mario Williams on his way out and Cameron Wake nearing the end of the road, Miami is desperate for a boost in the pass rushing department. Tim Williams is explosive off the edge and may slide into the twenties due to character concerns. However, the payoff could be huge for Adam Gase and co. Williams will be a difference maker late in games for the ‘Phins.
23. New York Giants: DL Taco Charlton (Michigan)
I think O.J. Howard would be ideal here for the Giants, but with him off the board, they turn to re-tooling the defensive line. Taco Charlton was a late bloomer at Michigan, but he brokeout this year and possessed the ability to single handedly take over football games. The Giants continue to get stronger on defense.
24. Oakland Raiders: LB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt)
The biggest need for Oakland is clearly help at the linebacker position. While I’m not high on Zach Cunningham as most, he’s a decent LB prospect who will shore up the middle of Oakland’s run defense. A clutch player who can be the leader for the Raiders coming out of the SEC.
25. Houston Texans: OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
The Texans need a lot of help on the offensive line. With Duane Brown dealing with injuries and aging, they need a younger solution at left tackle. Ryan Ramczyk is a plug and play and will instantly provide a starter and upgrade on Houston’s offensive line.
26. Atlanta Falcons: DE Charles Harris (Missouri)
Even with the emergence of Vic Beasley as one of the league’s top pass rusher, they still need a boost on the defensive line. Charles Harris will be a solid starter at the next level and can develop nicely under Dan Quinn. His spin move is lethal.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: G Dan Feeney (Indiana)
The Chiefs are desperate for help on the interior of their offensive line. Dan Feeney is a plug and play who will be a starter for the next decade or so at the guard position. This pick has Andy Reid written all over it.
28. Dallas Cowboys: EDGE Takkarist McKinley (UCLA)
I think the Cowboys would be tempted to go after one of the top corners remaining on the board, but ultimately they go for another pressing need at the edge position. Takkarist McKinley enjoyed a breakout season for the Bruins and will be a great fit in Dallas. He has the upside Jerry Jones covets.
29. Seattle Seahawks: OT/G Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
I don’t think the Seahawks go in any other direction than offensive line in the 1st round. Forrest Lamp is my top offensive line prospect. He presents versatility along with tremendous ability as a pass blocker. Russell Wilson would be sure to advocate this selection.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Dewaune Smoot (Illinois)
While Bud Dupree has emerged quite nicely as a pass rusher, James Harrison is on his way out and will require a replacement. The Steelers take advantage of the deep class of pass rushers late in the 1st round. Dewuane Smoot presents good potential for the Steelers.
31. Green Bay Packers: CB Desmond King (Iowa)
The secondary for Green Bay was in shambles all year long. Desmond King is a physical, scrappy corner who presents the versatility to shift back to safety if need be. He’s the prototypical Packers defensive back who stays in the Midwest.
32. New England Patriots: DE Carl Lawson (Auburn)
After getting rid of Chandler Jones, the pass rush for the Patriots took a hit. Carl Lawson is a prototypical Patriot who plays with a non-stop motor and always give 100% effort. He lacks the length you’d like to see, but he has speed coming off the edge and is as disruptive as they come.
33. Cleveland Browns: CB Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
34. San Francisco 49ers: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
35. Jacksonville Jaguars: S Budda Baker (Washington)
36. Chicago Bears: QB Brad Kaaya (Miami FL)
37. Los Angeles Rams: TE David Njoku (Miami FL)
38. New York Jets: OT Garrett Bolles (Utah)
39. San Diego Chargers: DL Caleb Brantley (Florida)
40. Carolina Panthers: CB Cordea Tankersley (Clemson)
41. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
42. New Orleans Saints: RB/WR Curtis Samuel (Ohio State)
43. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Sidney Jones (Washington)
44. Buffalo Bills: QB Pat Mahomes (Texas Tech)
45. Arizona Cardinals: OT Roderick Johnson (Florida State)
46. Minnesota Vikings: G/C Pat Elflein (Ohio State)
47. Baltimore Ravens: WR Isaiah Ford (Virginia Tech)
48. Indianapolis Colts: CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)
49. Washington Redskins: RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DL DeMarcus Walker (Florida State)
51. Denver Broncos: CB Gareon Conley (Ohio State)
52. Cleveland Browns via Titans: CB Jourdan Lewis (Michigan)
53. Detroit Lions: CB Tre’Davious White (LSU)
54. Miami Dolphins: WR Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma)
55. New York Giants: RB D’Onta Foreman (Texas)
56. Oakland Raiders: CB Chidobie Awuzie (Colorado)
57. Houston Texans: DL Lowell Lotulelei (Utah)
58. Atlanta Falcons: DL Chris Wormley (Michigan)
59. Kansas City Chiefs: LB Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State)
60. Dallas Cowboys: CB Cam Sutton (Tennessee)
61. Seattle Seahawks: LB Ryan Anderson (Alabama)
62. Pittsburgh Steelers: DL Montravious Adams (Auburn)
63. Green Bay Packers: RB Jamaal Williams (BYU)
64. New England Patriots: DL Elijah Qualls (Washington)