It’s about that time. With many teams now officially eliminated from playoff contention, the offseason officially begins. Which means that NFL Draft talk and speculation will resurface after a few months on hiatus.
It’s never too early to look ahead and prepare for this year’s draft, which means it’s never too early to breakout the mocks drafts and attempt predicting the picks just 4 months in advance. You may be better trying to finesse your way across Interstate 80. Perhaps some of you may want to after seeing who your team selects.
Speaking of I-80, a team from Ohio currently own the top pick in the draft. The Cleveland Browns have an array of options at the top of the draft, but there is a clear choice that they would be stupid to pass on. Owning two top 10 picks, perhaps they can hold off on a QB until later? The QB class lacks that “can’t miss” prospect. Guys like: Trubisky, Watson and Kizer are all in the same tier, but who will be the first one off the board and where will they land?
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1. Cleveland Browns (0-14) – EDGE Myles Garrett (Texas A&M)
There’s no way around it, Myles Garrett is far and beyond the top player in the draft. Sashi Brown won’t pass on a generational talent and a game changer of a pass rusher like Myles Garrett in favor of another potential whiff at the QB position. Cleveland possesses another top 10 pick. With no clear QB standing out above the rest in this class, they can let the board fall to them.
2. San Francisco 49ers (1-13) – QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
It didn’t take long for the first QB domino to fall as Deshaun Watson goes off the board at #2 as the top QB taken in the 2017 NFL draft. It’s vital that Chip Kelly has the right piece under center to run his offense, and he finally gets a chance to get his guy. Watson may not be the #1 QB on all boards, but I feel like Chip would take a liking to Watson’s college success and dual threat ability. San Francisco is desperate for a new face to their franchise, who better than Watson?
3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) – DL Jonathan Allen (Alabama)
While I don’t have Jonathan Allen rated as high as others, it’s clear that the media likes him along with most NFL teams I would assume. Allen definitely has a long career ahead of him and can be a staple on Jacksonville’s defensive line for the next decade. Allen has received a lot of hype and even a handful 1st place Heisman votes after leading Alabama’s defense this season. Depending on who they hire at head coach, I could see the Jaguars going with a QB here.
4. Chicago Bears (3-11) – QB Mitch Trubisky (North Carolina)
The Bears have reportedly expressed interest in Mitch Trubisky at this early stage of the process. With Jay Cutler all but out of Chicago, they need a new face to their franchise. Trubisky is the most accurate QB in the class and has franchise QB potential. He could easily be the best QB out of this draft when it’s all said and done.
5. Tennessee Titans (4-12) via Rams – S/LB Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)
I may be going out on a limb with this pick, but the Titans are a team with their future already set. With a top 5 pick acquired from another team, they’re in a position where they can afford to go with a luxury pick. The team could really use a playmaker in their back 7 to bring their defense to the next level. Peppers is an elite athlete who just keeps getting better at the game – he would be a great asset for the Titans for years to come.
6. New York Jets (4-12) – RB Leonard Fournette (LSU)
I really think the Jets would be tempted to go QB here in DeShone Kizer. However, they’ll settle for the polarizing RB prospect. Fournette would bring a whole new dynamic to the Jets offense and give them a dominant force handling the rock. A huge playmaker on an offense desperate for just that.
7. San Diego Chargers (5-11) – S Jamal Adams (LSU)
While the Chargers are in desperate need for offensive line help, no one in this class is worth taking with a top 10 pick. Jamal Adams is a great player with special instincts and nose for the ball. Adams is one of the best players in the draft class and would fill a void at the safety position left behind by Eric Weddle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team like the Cardinals trade up to flip the Browns as both need a QB.
8. Cleveland Browns (5-11) via Eagles – DL Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
This pick may go against the grain a little bit, but hear me out. Malik McDowell will blow up at the combine and gain monumental ascension in draft value and there’s no doubt in my mind he falls out of the top 10. Now that that’s out of the way. Sashi Brown displayed in his inaugural draft that he’s not afraid to target a single position group. After snagging Garrett at the top, they continue to build the front 7 with Malik McDowell. McDowell has huge size at 6’6” and compliments that with elite athleticism and a great skillset. Sashi Brown is all about analytics, and the size/length/athleticism factor will pay dividends in this selection. The Browns get the top 2 players on my big board and set up their defense to be insanely disruptive up front. I’m scared just thinking about these two playing together.
9. Arizona Cardinals (5-8-1) – QB DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame)
At the end of the top 10, the Cardinals get the scraps of what’s left of the top QB prospects. Now that’s unfair to say about Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. He’s made a countless amount of big plays during his tenure with the Fighting Irish. He presents arguably the biggest upside of any QB in the draft. A year behind Carson Palmer would be a great fit for Kizer who still needs some maturation at the position.
10. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) – LB Rueben Foster (Alabama)
The Bengals don’t have any major needs across their roster, however, they do need some reloading and youth at some – middle linebacker is one of those positions. Rueben Foster out of Alabama is really good value to round out the top 10. Foster is smart, instinctive and just an overall good football player. He runs all over the field to make plays. Foster could be a perennial Pro Bowler, but a definite leader of the Cincinnati defense.
11. Carolina Panthers (6-8) – CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor (Florida)
It’s evident that the departure of Josh Norman has hurt the Carolina Panthers defense more than they would like to admit. They get the luxury of handpicking any cornerback in the class. They elect to go with Jalen Tabor out of Florida. Tabor is a very instinctive player who understands complex coverage schemes. Seems like the type of player Ron Rivera would covet.
12. New Orleans Saints (6-8) – DE Derek Barnett (Tennessee)
New Orleans is desperate for defensive help year after year. While I’m not too high on Barnett, he seems to be high on many draft boards. He’s the prototypical 4-3 defensive end and would fit well in the Saints’ scheme. Has enjoyed a very productive career playing in the tough SEC.
13. Buffalo Bills (7-7) – S Budda Baker (Washington)
This is undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the first round thus far. While Baker is a really good prospect, he hasn’t been projected in this vicinity of the draft, yet. With Buffalo more than likely moving on from Rex Ryan, more than likely a rookie head coach will take the reigns for the Bills. Baker is a difference maker at safety and has special instincts at the position. His contributions to UW’s popular defense has not gone unnoticed. He could be a sneaky 1st round pick.
14. Indianapolis Colts (7-7) – RB Dalvin Cook (Florida State)
It’s time for Andrew Luck to get some help. Offensive line is the main concern on that offense as they struggle to keep Luck upright time and time again. However, with an explosive playmaker like Dalvin Cook on the board, Ryan Grigson can’t pass him up. Cook would add another, exciting element to Indy’s offense. Providing a reliable running game would do wonders for the offense. The Colts have struggled to find a consistent tailback since the Edgerrin James days.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) via Vikings – WR Mike Williams (Clemson)
My dreams have come true. The player atop my Eagles draft ‘wishlist’, Mike Williams is the pick for the Eagles. Everybody knows about Philadelphia’s dreadful WR corps as it very well could be the worst in the league. They instantly lift it from the doormat of the NFL with the selection of Mike Williams. Williams has #1 WR potential with his size, speed and ability to track the ball in the air. Wentz to Williams will be a joy to watch.
16. Washington Redskins (7-6-1) – CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama)
This is a tricky spot for the Redskins with an array of routes they could go. Ultimately I think they’ll play their board which has Marlon Humphrey at the top. Humphrey is a scrappy, physical corner with good size who will be a great compliment to Josh Norman on the outside. They won’t make it easy for opposing WRs.
17. Tennessee Titans (8-6) – WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)
With their 2nd pick of the 1st round, the Titans continue to add playmakers with the bulk of their team set in place. Many may prefer a guy like Corey Davis or John Ross here, but I think JuJu Smith-Schuster would be the pick. He’s the most polished WR of the trio and presents the most WR1 upside. The Titans are sitting pretty after leaving day one with both Peppers and Smith-Schuster.
18. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) – EDGE Tim Williams (Alabama)
With their primary pass rushers in Suggs and Dumervil in their last year or two from retirement, the Ravens are in the market for a young pass rusher, and no one better than Tim Williams. The Alabama product has terrorized SEC offenses. He very well could be the best pure pass rusher in the draft class, aside from Myles Garrett.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-6) – WR John Ross (Washington)
Jameis Winston is desperate for help on that offense. While offensive line would be preferred, I’m sure he’d have no problem throwing the ball to the electric John Ross. The Washington Huskie has enjoyed a huge breakout season as he’s emerged as one of the most explosive players in all of college football. Put the ball in his hands, and he’ll kill you with his speed and elusiveness.
20. Denver Broncos (8-6) – OT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin)
Finally we see the first offensive linemen go off the board. Ramcyzk emerged as a staple for Wisconsin’s offensive line this past season. He didn’t allow a sack all season and stood up in run blocking as well. Can play on either side of the line. The Broncos get a sturdy bookend to sure up their offensive line.
21. Green Bay Packers (8-6) – CB Desmond King (Iowa)
The Packers’ secondary has been among the worst in the league all season, they need any help they can get. Ted Thompson goes for the reliable Desmond King who also happened to play in the Midwest. King is a good all around corner with plus ball skills. He isn’t liable to give up the big play, unlike most of Green Bay’s defensive backfield.
22. Miami Dolphins (9-5) – TE O.J. Howard (Alabama)
The Dolphins have some needs, but they elect to go with the player at the top of their draft board in a luxury pick. O.J. Howard is a rare TE prospect due to his ability to excel in both blocking and the passing game. His combination of size and athleticism make him a mismatch all over the field. Miami adds another weapon to their offense.
23. New York Giants (10-4) – RB D’Onta Foreman (Texas)
The Giants don’t have any glaring needs, but they definitely could use a feature back in their offense. Foreman is a downhill runner with surprising burst to the outside. A complete back who provides the Giants with a legitimate RB for the first time in quite a while. He would add the missing ingredient to their offense.
24. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4) – QB Brad Kaaya (Miami)
There’s going to be a QB that sneaks into the late 1st round whether you like it or not, teams reach on QBs every year, and the Chiefs fall victim to that in 2017. Upside definitely exists with this pick, however. Kaaya has all the tools to be a starting QB in the league. With a year behind Alex Smith and the tutelage of Andy Reid, they could be the perfect fit for him to be developed.
25. Houston Texans (9-5) – OT Cam Robinson (Alabama)
The Texans get a potential steal here in Cam Robinson. The protection policy for Jalen Hurts this past year at Alabama, Robinson has flashed enormous potential. He has some minor kinks to workout, but Bill O’Brien elects to roll the dice on a potential blue-chip player at a vital position.
26. Detroit Lions (9-5) – CB Sidney Jones (Washington)
The Lions have led the NFL in 4th quarter comebacks through 15 weeks of the 2016 season. Detroit decides to take the pressure off Matthew Stafford in the 4th quarter and get him some help on defense. The defense struggled to close games due to their inability to shutdown the pass, Sidney Jones will help from the start.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-5) – EDGE Taco Charlton (Michigan)
Following his dominating performance in the Ohio State game, Taco Charlton’s draft campaign has been on the rise. He’s a player who very well could sneak into the tail-end of the 1st round come April. Charlton isn’t a prototypical fit to Pittsburgh’s defense, but his combination of size, athleticism and ability to get in the backfield is too good to pass up in their eyes.
28. Atlanta Falcons (9-5) – DE Charles Harris (Missouri)
Vic Beasley has been the storyline of Atlanta’s defense as he leads the league in sacks following week 15. Beasley has shifted permanently to linebacker, leaving holes on the edges up front. Charles Harris is an ideal fit in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 scheme. Harris has upside as a pass rusher and can form a great tandem with Beasley in the front 7.
29. Seattle Seahawks (9-4-1) – OT/G Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky)
If the Seattle Seahawks don’t address offensive line in the 1st round, there’s something wrong. Forrest Lamp has steadily creaked up draft boards and for good reason. Lamp has started nearly every single game since his freshman season and hasn’t allowed a sack in the past two years. Lamp is a reliable, sturdy presence up front who gives Russell Wilson much needed help.
30. Oakland Raiders (11-3) – LB Jarrad Davis (Florida)
Reaching the AFC championship game would be the ultimate achievement for the Oakland Raiders. They could afford to fill some holes on defense as they selected Jarrad Davis to man the middle of the LB corps.
31. Dallas Cowboys (12-2) – CB Adoree Jackson (USC)
The Cowboys are sitting pretty after enjoying an extremely successful season in which they reached the Super Bowl. Coming off a Super Bowl loss, Jerry Jones is going to want to make a splash. He does so by selecting the dynamic Adorre Jackson. Jackson isn’t the best pure cover guy, but he’s a playmaker and can be a weapon on both defense and in the return game.
32. New England Patriots (12-2) – WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan)
No, it’s not Christian McCaffery. On the real, how did the other 29 teams let this happen? Letting Corey Davis slip into the lap of the New England Patriots at the bottom of the first round. Davis is an explosive WR with burst after the catch. He would be a tremendous value pick at this point and give the Tom Brady more youth and playmaking abilities in the WR corps.