With the 2016 NFL regular season dying down and the playoff picture becoming more and more clear each week (although still a bit fuzzy), looking ahead to the off-season becomes more relevant each week, especially for teams who are already out of the playoff picture. A lot is guaranteed to change from now to April, but it’s always fun to experiment with NFL mock drafts.
As I was going through the draft board, pick by pick, I couldn’t help but notice that we’re in for one of the best drafts we’ve seen in a while. There are impact players up and down the board who could prove to be fun fits with their respective projected teams.
The QB class remains a huge question mark. Will the Browns gamble and take their hopeful franchise QB at the top of the board? Or will they instead take the best overall player in the class? They possess two 1st round picks along with the Tennessee Titans. The 2017 NFL Draft will prove to shake up the NFL landscape in a huge way. Check out my 1st mid-season mock draft of the 2016 season:
For more draft updates throughout the next few months, follow me on Twitter @JonValencia_WiB.
Unhappy with your team’s pick(s)? Provide who you would prefer in the comments below!
1. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
While they’ll be tempting to go QB at the top of the draft, Sashi Brown is smart enough to know they need to continue to build the rest of the team before drafting their franchise QB. Myles Garrett is hands down the best prospect in the draft. Provides Cleveland with a lethal pass rusher who will be a perennial Pro Bowler.
2. San Francisco 49ers: QB DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
Chip Kelly’s offense revolves around the QB – he finally gets his guy, something he as without during his tenure in Philadelphia. In what I consider to be an enigma of a QB class, Kizer is the top QB at the moment. His combination of build, arm and mobility make him a good fit in Kelly’s offense.
3. Chicago Bears: QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
It’s quite clear that the Jay Cutler era is all but over in Chicago. Early reports have linked the Bears to Mitch Trubisky. No player in all of college football has seen such a rise in draft stock. Trubisky has arguably the highest ceiling of any QB in the class and buzz throughout the next several months should carry him into the top 5.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
As tempting as Jabrill Peppers would be at this slot, the Jaguars elect to instead take arguably the best prospect in the draft behind Garrett. Allen has been a dominant force on Alabama’s prestigious defensive line throughout his career. His versatility, size and athleticism would be coveted in Jacksonville. Games are won in the trenches.
5. New York Jets: S/LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
While QB certainly is an option here for the Jets, I can see them going for a veteran like Tony Romo instead of burning a top 5 pick where they can instead take an impact player. I think Todd Bowles is the selling point which would bring Peppers to the Big Apple. Peppers is the most versatile player in the draft and can be a toy in Bowles’ defense – like he had in Deonne Bucannon back when he was defensive coordinator with the Cardinals.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: DT Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
There’s an array of ways Cincinnati can go with this pick, but ultimately I think they’ll go BPA at this stage. Malik McDowell is one of my favorite prospects in the draft as a disruptive interior force. Just imagine pairing him with Geno Atkins on that defensive line.
7. Carolina Panthers: CB Jalen Tabor (Florida)
It’s evident that the Panthers have missed the presence of Josh Norman on defense this season which forces them to use a top 10 pick on a corner. “Teez” Tabor has the size, speed, instincts and aggressive style that will make him a perfect fit in Rob Rivera’s defense.
8. Tennessee Titans: CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) [Rams]
The CB unit for the Titans has been their weakest link all season long as they’ve been without that pure #1 corner. Marlon Humphrey has pure lockdown skills and can make the big play.
9. Green Bay Packers: RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
While this pick may go against Ted Thompson’s typical draft strategy, the Packers are desperate for playmakers on what has been a disappointing and dull offense in 2016. Say what you want about Fournette, but he’s arguably the best prospect to come out since Adrian Peterson. Will provide an instant spark to what has been a dreadful running game.
10. New Orleans Saints: LB Rueben Foster (Alabama)
There are a handful of defensive options here for the Saints, but ultimately they go out and get Rueben Foster – a player who will serve as the leader in the middle of that defense for the next decade. If you think Reggie Ragland was good last year, Foster is on a whole different level. The 3rd ‘Bama defensive player selected in the top 10.
11. San Diego Chargers: S Jamal Adams (LSU)
With the departure of Eric Weddle this past offseason, the Chargers’ defense has struggled in 2016. Jamal Adams is a legitimate top 10 talent who can play all over the field and excels in the box. A game-changer who will provide an instant impact.
12. Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Tim Williams (Alabama)
With a bunch of needs, the Cardinals elect to go BPA and get arguably the best pure pass rusher in the draft. Tim Williams is a force at getting to the QB. The Cardinals may need another pass rusher to compliment the emerging Markus Golden if Chandler Jones hits the free agent market.
13. Tennessee Titans: WR Mike Williams (Clemson)
Finally we see the first WR go of the board. The Titans have a stable of capable WRs, but lack that true #1 threat for Marcus Mariota to rely on – that’s exactly what Mike Williams provides. He has made a plethora of big catches at Clemson which at times has made Deshaun Watson look better than he actually is. Mariota to Williams will be a fun tandem to watch for years to come and adds an extra dimension to a rising offense.
14. Indianapolis Colts: S Malik Hooker (Ohio State)
The defense continues to be a liability in Indianapolis. Hooker will provide the Colts with a game changer at the safety position that they’ve lacked since Bob Sanders left. While still raw, Hooker’s ceiling is through the roof as a rangy ballhawk.
15. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR John Ross (Washington)
Aside from Mike Evans, the Buccaneers are without any reliable playmakers in the passing game. John Ross has blown up this year and his stock will only go up after the combine. Elite with the ball in his hands with killer speed. The Corey Coleman of this year’s class.
16. Buffalo Bills: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
With Sammy Watkins unable to stay healthy and Robert Woods possibly hitting the free agent market, the Bills are desperate for WR help. Smith-Schuster is an impact WR with tremendous upside.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE Carl Lawson (Auburn)
Another one of my favorite prospects in the draft, you won’t see anyone play harder than Carl Lawson. While size and durability remain a concern, he shows flashes of dominance as a pass rusher – a glaring need for Pittsburgh.
18. Cleveland Browns: QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson) [Eagles]
While they held off on QB at the top of the draft, they get a pleasant surprise as Deshaun Watson falls into their laps at 18. While it’s been a “down” season for the Heisman hopeful, Watson has flashed franchise QB potential. This mid 1st round QB may actually workout for the Browns.
19. Miami Dolphins: DE Charles Harris (Missouri)
The priority for Miami this season should be getting younger on the edges with both Mario Williams and Cameron Wake nearing retirement. Harris has been flying under the radar among premier pass rushers who possesses great edge quickness and burst.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Quincy Wilson (Florida) [Vikings]
As tempting as WR is for the Eagles to address at this point in the draft, corner remains another priority and liability on the team. Quincy Wilson has size, speed and is a great ballhawk on the outside which is a trait Philadelphia’s defense will covet.
21. Baltimore Ravens: CB Sidney Jones (Washington)
The Ravens could use help on the outside of their secondary. Sidney Jones has the instincts, ball skills and size that make him a nightmare for opposing QBs.
22. Detroit Lions: RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State)
Matt Stafford has quietly turned in an MVP type season – doing so without a competent running game. While guys like Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are solid, they can’t be trusted in a feature back role. Cook provides an instant spark to Detroit’s backfield with his speed and shiftiness.
23. Atlanta Falcons: DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
The Falcons are in dire need of capable edge setters which is exactly what Derek Barnett provides. While I’m not as high on Barnett as most, he’s an all around good DE who should be a quality starter for the Falcons. A powerful presence who can set the edge.
24. Houston Texans: OT Cam Robinson (Alabama)
It’s odd to see the first OT go off the board in the late 1st round, but that’s just the way the draft board pans out. Cam Robinson has franchise tackle potential, but his off-field issues may drag down his draft stock. With Duane Brown aging, it’s time for the Texans to get their blindside tackle of the future and Robinson is a great value pick here.
25. Washington Redskins: OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
With the possibility of Trent Williams moving to guard looming, the Redskins decide to address offensive tackle. Ryan Ramczyk has seen the biggest increase in draft stock among all OTs this season. Provides Washington with a solid offensive linemen and more protection for franchise QB Kirk Cousins (assuming he re-signs).
26. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Brad Kaaya (Miami)
This may come as the biggest ‘reach’ in the 1st round, but we tend to see teams at the tail-end of the 1st round take a QB in hopes that he can be groomed as their future franchise QB. Brad Kaaya has that type of upside, and looks the part of an Andy Reid QB. With Alex Smith aging and heading for decline, this pick is necessary.
27. New York Giants: TE O.J. Howard (Alabama)
The Giants have cycled through TEs year after year. With an improved defense this season (as you would expect), they have the ability to go for a “luxury” pick. O.J. Howard is the top TE prospect and putting him in this offense would be scary. He fits the bill as a modern day TE as he can block and create mismatches with his size and athletic ability.
28. Denver Broncos: LB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt)
While Denver’s defense has remained a sturdy unit this season, the loss of Danny Trevathan on the inside of the LB corps is evident. Zach Cunningham is among the safest picks in the draft and will create another great inside tandem with Brandon Marshall for Denver. He doesn’t have plus athleticism, but he has a nose for the ball and has elite run defense potential.
29. Seattle Seahawks: G Pat Elfein (Ohio State)
The Seahawks would be wrong not to offensive line with their 1st round pick. They lack experience and talent up front and need to give Russell Wilson some help. Elfein could possibly be the most talented all around offensive linemen in the draft. Has tons of experience and can start from day one. Would allow last year’s 1st round pick Germain Ifedi to move to tackle.
30. New England Patriots: RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)
All signs have pointed to Christian McCaffrey going to the Patriots. Is there a better natural fit than that?
31. Oakland Raiders: LB Raekwon McMillian (Ohio State)
The AFC champion Oakland Raiders (wow) continue to build their front 7 with the selection of Raekwon McMillan. He’s gradually gotten better each year and still possesses upside. Fits the bill as your typical Oakland Raider with his instinctive, hard hitting playing style. Can man the middle for Oakland’s defense.
32. Dallas Cowboys: CB Desmond King (Iowa)
It would be extremely interesting to see which route your Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys would address (that was painful to say). Ultimately I think they’ll go BPA here which happens to be Iowa’s Desmond King. With Mo Claiborne set to his the free agent market and vets like Brandon Carr and Orlando Scandrick failing to stay consistent, Dallas will be in the market for a corner. King plays with physicality and instincts and would be a great addition to the Dallas secondary.