Here is my Post Free Agency 2017 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by updates heading into the NFL Draft on April 27, 2017.
This is not a mock draft where I substitute my judgement for that of the teams. I try to research the opinions of those who most closely follow NFL teams like scouts, insiders and beat writers from all of the NFL cities. I then try to make the most educated prediction as to which way each team will go in the draft.
I start out by targeting each team's most obvious need, and then try to home in on the most logical pick based upon value and need as roster cuts and free agency transpires.
My mock draft has been linked by DC Pro Sports Report, Walter Football, The Huddle Report, and EDS Football, in their Mock Draft Databases, so click their links to check out all of their draft related content!
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M:
It's not a great year to own the No. 1 overall pick if you need a QB. Cleveland not only seems locked in to keeping the top selection, but committed to taking Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett as well.
2. San Francisco 49'ers – Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford:
If San Francisco is sold on one of the QB's in this year's draft class, they need to pull the trigger. Otherwise, they should look into trading down for additional picks. Local product Solomon Thomas of Stanford, a high character talent, seems to be the consensus pick at No. 2 for the 49'ers.
The Bears would be ecstatic if DL Jonathan Allen of Allen of Alabama is still available at pick No. 3. While he might not have the upside of Myles Garrett, Allen not only has the ability to play any position on the defensive line in any type of scheme, but he's probably the best player at the present time heading into the draft.4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU:
After a few up and down seasons the jury is still out on Blake Bortles. Bortles probably can't be judged until the Jags put together a legitimate running game, and Leonard Fornette of LSU is the type of game changing back that could transform the way a defense schemes against an offense, thereby freeing things up for Bortles to show his true worth, or lack thereof.
5. Tennessee Titans (from the Los Angeles Rams) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU:
The Titans have needs at both safety and cornerback, but after signing Logan Ryan in free agency safety is probably the biggest priority. Jamal Adams of LSU is probably as talented as OSU safety Malik Hooker, but is more polished and NFL game ready at this point.
6. New York Jets - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson:
This year does not offer a great QB class, but the Jets really have no option but to find a franchise signal caller going forward, as they flat out wasted a second round pick on Christian Hackenberg last year. Unlike the other candidates in this draft class, Deshaun Watson of Clemson has proven himself in big game situations on the national stage.
The Chargers could solidify one of the top cornerback groups in the league with this year's top prospect, Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State.
Despite inexplicably extending Jonathan Stewart's contract yet again, the Panthers still need a quality running back. Assuming Stewart will be doing the grunt work (if healthy), a game changer like Christian McCaffrey coming out of the backfield could help out Carolina's passing game as a nice contrast to Cam Newton's bigger, yet slower receiving targets.
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama:
Releasing Rey Maualuga should allow the Bengals to move away from being big and slow at linebacker towards being quicker and just as stout if they can grab their primary draft target, Alabama ILB Reuben Foster.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mitchell Trubiski, QB, North Carolina :
11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee:
The Saints need a defensive end to potentially replace free agent Paul Kruger. Derek Barnett of Tennessee may not be a freek athlete, but he was one of the most productive defensive ends in SEC history, which means he's really good.
12. Cleveland Browns, from the Philadelphia Eagles – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State:
After beefing up their offensive line in free agency and accumulating picks the past few years, the Browns need to find a franchise QB. However, they also seem enamoured with local product, Malik Hooker of Ohio State. In this scenario I have Cleveland trading their 1st Round pick in 2018 to New England for QB Jimmy Garoppolo, which probably stands to end up being somewhere between picks No. 1 and 12.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU:
The Cardinals have several needs, but secondary is perhaps the biggest. Tre'Davious White would make a nice pair opposite of fellow LSU alum, Patrick Peterson.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from the Minnesota Vikings) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan:
No team has missed more on receivers in the NFL Draft in recent history than the Eagles. Corey Davis of Western Michigan may not be a big name, but he is big time player who might end up being the class of the draft at his position.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri:
The Colts need to improve their pass rush, and Charles Harris of Missouri is projected as the best OLB in a 3-4 scheme entering this year's draft.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson:
With Steve Smith retiring, the Ravens need another weapon at receiver. Mike Williams of Clemson is the possession receiver than they need to give Joe Flacco a go-to target.
17. Washington Pigskins – Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State:
The Pigskins need help for their front seven on defense, with the line being their most glaring need. While Malik McDowell needs a forever home in terms of position after play nose tackle and base end in Michigan State's 4-3 defense, he may project best at the next level as a 5-technique in a 3-4 system.
18. Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington:
After addressing CB and S in free agency, the Titans should look to improve their offense in the draft. After pursuing DeSean Jackson in free agency, they seem to be looking for a speed receiver, and nobody in the history of the Combine has been faster than John Ross of Washington, who matched his speed with production.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State:
With Doug Martin having fallen out of favor after getting suspended under the NFL drug program, the Bucs need a new weapon out of the backfield for Jameis Winston. Local product Dalvin Cook of Florida State projects as the type of three down option that has teams reconsidering running backs as 1st Round options.
20. Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin:
Denver is hemorrhaging on their offensive line, and could use talent at tackle and guard. Ryan Ramczyk is the best left tackle option on the board this year, which is exactly what the Broncos appear to be looking for.
21. Detroit Lions - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan:
Detroit needs playmakers at every level on defense, but no need is more glaring than a defensive end to play opposite of Ezekiel Ansah. Whether it's Taco Charlton, Derek Barnett or Takkarist McCinnley, look for the Lions to take the best rush end still available on their board.
The Dolphins still need a temporary and long term option at safety after signing T.J. McDonald, who is suspended for the first 8 games this season. Gabril Peppers of Michigan can fill the newly coveted role of a hybrid safety/linebacker that can play three downs in today's pass happy NFL.
23. New York Giants - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama:
By drafting an elite receiving tight end who can also in line block like O.J. Howard of Alabama with needs on the offensive line and at receiver, the Giants could kill two birds with one worm.
24. Oakland Raiders - Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State:
The Raiders are likely going to draft a corner with their first pick, and Gareon Conley of Ohio state, while light on experience, is one of the more physically gifted defensive backs in this year's draft.
25. Houston Texans - DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame:
Brock Osweiler flamed out in his first year in Houston. While the Texans appear playoff worthy aside from their situation at QB, they need to look to their future immediately with Tony Romo opting for the big broadcast booth in the sky and no other viable veteran options.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Cam Robinson, T, Alabama:
The Seahawks are probably at point where they will take the best available offensive linemen, as they need to rebuild their once potent running game. Cam Robinson may or may not be a left tackle in the NFL, but even if he ultimately kicks to the right side, the Seahawks can't be choosy after only adding a few band-aids for the position in free agency.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado:
If one of the top three QB's are still on the board, the Chiefs could very well go in that direction. In this scenario that is not the case, so they could look to find a cornerback capable of playing man coverage opposite of Marcus Peters.
The Dallas defense outperformed their talent last season. The Cowboys desperately need a game changing defensive end or 3-technique tackle. Takkarist McKinnley of UCLA may be a bit undersized for a 4-3 scheme, but he's a high character version of the much maligned Randy Gregory.
29. Green Bay Packers - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple:
Despite re-signing Nick Perry, the Packers could still use another playmaker at OLB, which would allow the declining Clay Matthews to be more flexible and move from outside to inside on passing downs. Haason Reddick of Temple, who can also play both inside and outside, is just an elite football player who fits perfectly in the Packer mould.
Pittsburgh always needs tweener pass rushers at the key OLB spot in their 3-4 defense, and Tim Williams of Alabama projects as an ideal on field fit.
31. Atlanta Falcons - T.J. Watt, LB/DE, Wisconsin:
Whether it's DE, DT, or CB, the Falcons Super Bowl debacle showed their need for playmakers on defense. An elite edge rusher, whether it's from strongside linebacker/defensive end like would be ideal, and T.J. Watt of Wisconsin fills both of those descriptions with his versatility.
32. New Orleans Saints (from the New England Patriots) - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vandy:
32. New Orleans Saints (from the New England Patriots) - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vandy:
Whether he plays inside or outside, Zach Cunningham of Vandy would help New Orleans replenish their defense with elite players at a position of need.
33. Cleveland Browns - Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC:
The Browns can use all the talent they can get. Adoree' Jackson of USC is raw, but he's also a 1st Round talent who is just as versatile and probably a better football player than his more hyped counterpart, Gabril Peppers.
34. San Francisco 49'ers - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech:
Patrick Mahomes is the rising name in this year's draft, and could ultimately see himself go in the 1st Round. On the other hand, he has some major issues with his game not having played in a pro-style system, and is purely a developmental project. With the 49'ers having signed a serviceable stop gap option at QB in Brian Hoyer, San Francisco seems like a logical landing spot for the talented, yet extremely raw signal caller.
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - David Njoku, TE, Miami:
The Jags cut ties with Julius Thomas, and are once again in the market for a pass catching tight end. David Njoku of Miami is an athletic freak who could make up for some of Thomas' deficiencies in the route running and effort department.
36. Chicago Bears - Budda Baker, S, Washington:
The Bears could use an upgrade at safety. While he might be undersized, Budda Baker of Washington is simply a football player, which would make him a value pick if he drops into the 2nd Round.
37. Los Angeles Rams - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama:
The Rams have been hemorrhaging corners in free agency in recent years. Marlon Humphrey of Alabama is a 1st Round talent who could get pushed down to the 2nd Round due to an extremely deep cornerback draft.
38. Los Angeles Chargers - Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina:
"L.A.C." is hoping that Keenan Allen returns to health and regains his spot as their No. 1 receiver. Even if he does, the Chargers still lack a true No. 2 option to play opposite of him.
39. New York Jets - Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida:
David Harris isn't getting any younger, and Jarrad Davis of Florida, despite some history of injury, is a gifted athlete for someone who can play the inside linebacker position.
40. Carolina Panthers - Garrett Bolles, T, Utah:
Garrett Bolles is a nasty tackle, but could see his draft stock slide just a bit given a lack of upside due to his age (27) having served a Mormon mission before attending college.
41. Cincinnati Bengals - Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State:
The Bengals need help at DE, and Jordan Willis of Kansas State might be one of the most underrated players in this year's draft.
42. New Orleans Saints - Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA:
The more solid defensive players the Saints can add the better. Fabian Moreau is an athletic corner who could slide a little given a ruptured pectoral muscle that he suffered at his UCLA Pro Day.
43. Philadelphia Eagles - Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn:
Obi Melifonwu is the athletic freak of this year's draft, and is versatile enough to play either corner or safety given his size, speed and strength.
44. Buffalo Bills - Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida:
Quincy Wilson of Florida should be able to start at nickle come day one, but also played outside at Florida, which is where he ultimately projects in the NFL.
45. Arizona Cardinals - Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida:
The Cardinals need a disruptive 5-techniqe. Caleb Brantley of Florida is a big man who can hold the point of attack, but also has some disruptive qualities.
46. Minnesota Vikings - Ryan Anderson, ILB, Alabama:
The Vikings need to replace both Chad Greenway at linebacker and Sylvester Floyd at defensive tackle. Ryan Anderson of Alabama should be able to step in and fill Greenway's shoes relatively quickly at weak-side linebacker.
47. Baltimore Ravens - Taylor Moton, T, Western Michigan:
Taylor Moton of Western Michigan would provide the Ravens with a bookend for Ronnie Stanley at right tackle.
48. Indianapolis Colts - Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky:
With Andrew Luck at QB, the Colts simply can't get enough help on their offensive line. Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky may not have the physical attributes to play tackle in the NFL, but at the worst case scenario his projects as a high end offensive guard, which would give Indianapolis options.
49. Washington Pigskins - Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee:
It's a fine line between whether you can say the Pigskins are deep at running back, or if they have no running back. Alvin Kamara of Tennessee projects as a much coveted three-down back in today's NFL.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M:
Signing J.J. Wilcox in free agency was more of a bandaid than a long term solution for the Bucs in their secondary. Justin Evans of Texas A&M hits as hard as a strong safety, but can cover like a corner. A lack of fundamental skills like open field tackling is the only issue that makes him more of a developmental player than a sure fire 1st Rd. pick.
51. Denver Broncos - Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi:
The Broncos need a playmaking target at tight end in their run based, play action offense. Evan Engram very well may be the best pure receiver at the tight end position in this year's draft.
52. Cleveland Browns (from the Tennessee Titans) - D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas:
The Browns just need to keep accumulating talent, and D'Onta Foreman of Texas is a big back with just enough shimmy to give Cleveland a strong running game when coupled with their revamped offensive line.
53. Detroit Lions - Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State:
Detroit needs a playmaker at middle or weak-side linebacker. Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State is a gifted athlete and productive college player who could allow current MLB Tahir Whitehead to either move on, or move outside.
54. Miami Dolphins - DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State:
The Dolphins need a defensive end to play opposite of Cameron Wake, and in state product DeMarcus Walker of Florida State was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football.
55. New York Giants - Dan Feeney, G, Indiana:
The Giants have had issues with their offensive line for years. Dan Feeney projects as a top tier guard in the NFL, but also has the ability to play RT. Feeney would be an immediate plug and play for the G-men at RT, as they can ultimately decide whether or not to kick him inside for the long term.
56. Oakland Raiders - Ryan Glasgow, DT Michigan:
Oakland is getting better quickly, but they still need to add some run stoppers to their defensive line.
57. Houston Texans - Roderick Johnson, T, Florida State:
The Texans desperately need a right tackle. Roderick Johnson of Florida State is a 6'7 left tackle in college who probably protects to the right side in the NFL as a better run blocker than he is in pass protection.
58. Seattle Seahawks - Kevin King, CB, Washington:
Even if Seattle doesn't trade Richard Sherman, they are still in the market for another corner. At 6'3, Kevin King of Washington is just what Pete Carrol and the Seahawks look for in a cornerback to fit into their system.
59. Kansas City Chiefs - Davis Webb, QB, Cal:
Kansas City is definitely looking for a developmental QB to ultimately replace Alex Smith in this draft. If they can land one of the top three signal callers in the 1st Rd., I think they might go in that direction. Otherwise, they will be content to land a longer term prospect like Patrick Mahomes of Texas A&M or Davis Webb of Cal.
60. Dallas Cowboys - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington:
After losing Morris Claiborne in free agency, the Cowboys could be looking for a long term option at corner. Sidney Jones of Washington was a mid-1st Round prospect before suffering a heartbreaking Achiles injury at his Pro-Day, but Dallas has shown a propensity for taking injury and character risks with their 2nd Round selections.
61. Green Bay Packers - Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan:
Small in stature or not, Jourdan Lewis is probably the best cover CB in this year's draft. In a worst case scenario where Lewis' size doesn't translate to the NFL, he still locks down a team's nickle spot for years to come. The other concern about Lewis is a recent domestic violence charge, although his girlfriend at the time may have been the initial aggressor.
62. Pittsburgh Steelers - Desmond King, CB/S, Iowa:
Pittsburgh has slowly been rebuilding their secondary. Desmond King of Iowa is a bit undersized, but he's a ball hawk with elite return skills. He probabably projects as a nickel in NFL, or as a safety. Either way, the Steelers are a team that will find a way to use a true football player like King at one of their areas of need.
63. Atlanta Falcons - Teez Tabor, CB, Florida:
Depending on whether you go by where he values himself, NFL teams WERE valuing him, and where he logically projects based upon his horrific time in the 40 at the NFL Combine, there are few players in this year's draft as polarizing as Teez Tabor. If you can get past his measurables and attitude, Tabor was actually a pretty good college football player.
64. Carolina Panthers (from the New England Patriots) - Cooper Cuff, WR, Eastern Washington:
The Panthers need an option at wide receiver who can gain seperation from opposing defensive bcks, and if there's one thing that Cooper Cuff of Eastern Washington proved during the Senior Bowl practices, it's that he can get open and catch the ball against elite competition.
Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson Adam Bisnowaty, T, Pitt Pat Elflein, G, OSU Carl Lawson, DT, Auburn Ethan Pocic, C, LSU Daeshon Hill, DE, Texas A&M James Conner, RB, Pitt Dorian Johnson, G, Pitt Antonio Garcia, T, Troy Teez Tabor, CB, Florida