With only one week left of the regular season, more and more teams (and fans) are looking ahead to the offseason. The centerpiece of the NFL offseason of course is none other than the NFL Draft. This year’s class includes a great group of impact players, where do they land?
In this mock draft I went against the grain a bit and included some players you typically wouldn’t see in most mock drafts at this stage in the process. Mock drafts are all about projecting – a lot will change from now until April.
1. Cleveland Browns: EDGE Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
No brainer. Garrett is the best player in the draft. He may also be the best overall individual off the field as well. Regardless, he’s just what the Browns need as they lack a pass rush significantly.
2. San Francisco 49ers: OT Cam Robinson (Alabama)
At this point, there are no quarterbacks worth a first round selection, let alone the second overall pick. Let’s think about protecting that investment, whoever he may be, with the best offensive lineman in the draft.
3. Chicago Bears: DE Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
Somebody needs to be able to stop the run and the Bears have little interior line depth as it is. Allen is a force to be reckoned with against the run and will show you burst here and there on passing downs.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: S/LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
This isn’t really fair. Peppers may be just as valuable as Myles Garrett, if not moreso with his play making ability with the ball. Peppers is a natural defender that will thrive almost anywhere. It’s not a far stretch to say that he may be at the level Charles Woodson was nearly 20 years ago, who ended up winning the Heisman Trophy, of course.
5. Tennessee Titans via Rams: WR Mike Williams (Clemson)
Despite the emergence of Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe, the Titans could still benefit from having a true #1 receiver. Williams has thrived in Clemson behind a scrambling quarterback that keeps his eyes downfield. Marcus Mariota has been a dynamite quarterback so far this season having been on a tear the last month and a half, so treat him to the last piece of the offensive skill player puzzle.
6. New York Jets: CB Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State)
A long, physical cornerback with play making ability could really make a big difference in this secondary. Buster Skrine is a nickelback at most and Revis can’t play forever, if he’s even retained for 2017.
7. San Diego Chargers: EDGE Tim Williams (Alabama)
Joey Bosa’s already proving to be an asset, despite his holdout which caused him to miss much needed training camp. Getting an edge rusher in space with a guy like Tim Williams could really make the job of the secondary quite easy.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Rueben Foster (Alabama)
It’s time to make some coaching changes in Cincinnati and which also comes with personnel changes. Vontaze Burfict won’t be a Bengal in 2017 with the way his antics continue. Pave the way for the future with Reuben Foster. I’m not that keen on inside linebackers this high, but I think he’ll address some concerns in coverage with off-season workouts and lateral improvement. He’s a leader and he’s a defensive run stuffer fit for the AFC North.
9. Carolina Panthers: RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
This is too easy. Fournette, with a clean bill of health, may be a better pure runner than Ezekiel Elliott. Think about that. Jonathan Stewart isn’t a guarantee for 16 games and never really has been. He’s also 30 in March and will be entering his 10th season. Cam Newton, Leonard Fournette, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen… Is this Madden 17?
10. Cleveland Browns via Eagles: DL Caleb Brantley (Florida)
The Browns offense needs work, and a quarterback, but the defense is also just atrocious. The pass rush was significantly upgraded with Garrett, but the defensive line needs to be able to sustain blocks and plug gaps. Brantley’s motor needs work, but he’s a five technique that can help eat up blocks so the likes of Christian Kirksey and Garrett can make plays behind them that are not seven yards down field.
11. Arizona Cardinals: DL Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
Frostee Rucker and Calais Campbell are both free agents. Campbell is likely to be re-signed, with 33 year old Rucker gone. Robert Nkemdiche is certainly able to fill the void, but depth is still crucial. McDowell is the best player on the board as well.
12. Buffalo Bills: OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
McGlinchey has been a stud for the Notre Dame offensive line, despite some struggles this season for everyone in South Bend, Indiana. The Bills need work on the right side of the offensive line and McGlinchey has the versatility and skillset to play anywhere.
13. Indianapolis Colts: OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
Ramczyk is an experienced starter, but not all at the FBS level. He sat out in 2015 as a redshirt after coming over from UW-Stevens Point as a first team All-WIAC selection. The Colts absolutely have to keep Andrew Luck alive.
14. Philadelphia Eagles via Vikings: CB Cordea Tankersley (Clemson)
Tankersley has shown significant progression in some crucial areas in 2016 and I think he can carry that momentum to the NFL. His strength and above average instincts make him valuable against the run and he’s long when defending the pass.
15. New Orleans Saints: CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor (Florida)
The secondary just doesn’t do enough for the Saints to stay in ball games. There’s some question marks all over to be honest, as this team continues to throw us off with inconsistent play. Tabor is a play maker that can get the ball back to Drew Brees and the offense
16. Tennessee Titans: EDGE Charles Harris (Missouri)
Harris is a very dominant edge rusher, but I’m not ready to give him a high grade as a 34 rusher having to play in space. Harris has a high motor and can make big plays that lead to turnovers.
17. Baltimore Ravens: CB Jourdan Lewis (Michigan)
While undersized, Lewis makes up for it with play making ability and strength against the run. He’s a relentless defender not unlike Arizona’s Tyrann Mathieu.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
Smith-Schuster is a dynamic play maker that could take the stress off of Mike Evans who leads the NFL in targets through 16 weeks with 119. Jameis Winston needs an offensive line, but the value here is just too good to pass up.
19. Denver Broncos: CB Adoree’ Jackson (USC)
I have complete faith in Jackson’s ability in man coverage, as he’s shown improvement in 2016. He’s an exceptional athlete with a lot of versatility that Wade Phillips could play with from day one.
20. Washington Redskins: OT/G Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
Lamp is likely going to move into guard at the next level, but I think he’s going to be a damn good one. Western Kentucky’s offensive line ranks quite highly (per FootballOutsiders.com) and he plays a huge role in that ranking. The Redskins could afford to add depth and possibly a new starter on the left side.
21. Green Bay Packers: G Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame)
The Packers may have a void if they don’t have TJ Lang signed by March. While Jason Spriggs may be filling in nicely, the Packers could move him to the left and toss Nelson in to secure the run game on the right.
22. Miami Dolphins: S Jamal Adams (LSU)
Adams is quite the talent and the Dolphins could use more run support from their safeties, while not sacrificing too much in coverage. Free safety is the biggest need between the two, but I’m also not ready to rule Adams out as a FS at the next level with his athleticism and twitch.
23. New York Giants: OT Roderick Johnson (Florida State)
The Giants are lacking any push in the run game on the right side of the line. Johnson’s pass protection still needs a bit of refinement, but he’s got left tackle potential, with the ability to play immediately on the right side.
24. Kansas City Chiefs: QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
As I said in a previous comment, I’m not really ready to give any quarterbacks a first round grade at this point. However, Trubisky has exceptional intangibles, good size and a solid arm. Alex Smith is on contract through 2017 and the Chiefs would be smart to get someone to groom behind him.
25. Houston Texans: CB Tre’Davious White (LSU)
I was a big fan of White last year and he’s done a nice job in 2016 for the Tigers. What he lacks in run support, he makes up for in length and instincts in man coverage. The Texans can get to the quarterback, but the secondary needs to be able to make plays on the ball
26. Detroit Lions: DT Charles Walker (Oklahoma)
Some are questioning Walker who walked out on his team after suffering a concussion earlier in the season. Regardless, he’s apparently taking the off-season to get back to 100% and prove he’s a top 15 pick, which is what his talent suggests at times. His motor draws some concern, but he’s a heavy handed lineman that is a force against the run. He’s not afraid to get in the quarterbacks face on passing downs.
27. Seattle Seahawks: WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan)
This kid is special. He’s not the fastest receiver or most athletic player on the field, but he’s shown the ability to create separation and make plays in the middle of the field. Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are targets #1 and #2, but Davis could provide something needed in this offense.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
The Steelers are going to draft the best player available and at this point it’s Davis. He’s got a lot of range and can wrap up ball carriers with ease. This is almost unfair.
29. Atlanta Falcons: S Marcus Maye (Florida)
A lot of Florida defenders coming off the board and for good reason. I think Maye will make a case to be a first round pick with his coverage skills and exceptional instincts. The Falcons secondary has improved compared to previous years, but there is much room for improvement.
30. Oakland Raiders: TE Jake Butt (Michigan)
The Raiders lack a true receiver at tight end that can create separation. Butt can work the seams and across the middle in Derek Carr’s down field offense.
31. Dallas Cowboys: DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
There’s a lot to like about Barnett. He’s not exceptional in any one area, but his balance overall is a huge commodity. He’s shown ability to play in space as well, something the Cowboys could toy with.
32. New England Patriots: EDGE Carl Lawson (Auburn)
Lawson is a high motor guy that very well could be a top 10 pick come April. But should he fall this far, the Patriots would selection the best player available and grab the talented edge setter who doesn’t shy away from putting major pressure on the quarterback as well.