Here is my Pre Draft 2017 NFL Mock Draft. It will be followed by my final mock heading into the NFL Draft on April 27, 2017.
This is not a mock draft where I substitute my judgment 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 based upon that information.
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. There are no clear cut QB prospects, and even consensus No. 1 draft prospect Myles Garrett is not a sure thing. Despite some recent smoke screens about liking Mitch Trubisky, Cleveland seems locked in to keeping the top selection and taking Garrett.
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 to help them build around in their new "Seattle" style 4-3 defense. With that said, it looks like San Francisco is the team that is the most willing to trade down when it comes to those who hold top five picks.
3. Chicago Bears - Jamal Adams, S, LSU:
The Bears are looking to build down the middle of their defense, and Jamal Adams of LSU is a prototype free safety.
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 Fournette of LSU is only the type of game changing back that could transform the way a defense schemes against an offense, but he's the between the tackles back that new coach Tom Coughlin loves to build around.
5. Tennessee Titans (from the Los Angeles Rams) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State:
The Titans have needs at both safety and cornerback. If the Titans stay put at No. 5, Marshon Lattimore of Ohio State is the top option at corner in this year's draft, although they could find themselves in prime position to trade down with a team looking to leapfrog the Jets and take Mitchell Trubisky.
6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with the New York Jets) - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina:
The Browns have four options to find their QB of the future in this year's draft: 1) Trade up and grab Mitch Trubisky, whom they are rumored to be enamored with; 2) Trade for a proven commodity in New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo; 3) Stay at No. 12 and select the best QB available on their draft board; and 4) Hope a viable QB is available at pick #33, or use that pick as part of a deal to trade back into the first round. As of Tuesday night, reports have Cleveland attempting to pre-negotiate 3-4 draft day deals to move up from pick #12 into the top 8.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State:
The Chargers have had a hole at safety since letting Eric Weddle leave in free agency. Malik Hooker of Ohio State is by far the most gifted safety in this draft class when it comes to pass coverage.
8. Carolina Panthers - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford:
Despite extending Jonathan Stewart's contract, the Panthers still need a quality running back. Assuming Stewart will be doing the grunt work, if he can stay healthy, a game changer like Christian McCaffrey could help out Carolina's passing game out of the backfield and change the way opposing defenses scheme against Cam Newton and the Panthers.
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama:
The Bengals could be the first team who will have to address whether or not to pass on the talented yet troubled linebacker, Reuben Foster, who would certainly fill a need in replacing Rey Maualuga.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson:
If Mitchell Trubisky is off the board by the time the Bills pick, they will have to determine if they have a high first round grade on a secondary option like Deshaun Watson of Clemson. If not, a big target like Mike Williams would fill a big need opposite of fellow Clemson receiver, Sammy Watkins.
11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee:
The Saints have three early picks, as well as needs at defensive end, linebacker and cornerback. Derek Barnett is a natural pass rusher who can help take some pressure off of their secondary.
12. New York Jets (projected trade with the Cleveland Browns, from the Philadelphia Eagles) – 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 after they wasted a second round pick on Christian Hackenberg in last year's draft. If they have an equal grade on Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson, as many think they may, a trade down for more picks while still landing Watson would be a great move.
13. Arizona Cardinals - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama:
The Cardinals have several needs. O.J. Howard of Alabama would not only plug Arizona's hole at blocking tight end after losing Darren Fells in free agency, but he would give Carson Palmer another big target in the receiving game to help compliment Larry Fitzgerald. .
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from the Minnesota Vikings) – Kevin King, CB, Washington:
The Eagles don't have a starting caliber corner on their roster heading into the draft. With Gareon Conley's draft status in limbo, Kevin King would have a similar draft grade and be a fit in Philadelphia.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri:
The Colts need to improve their pass rush, and Charles Harris is projected as perhaps the best pass rushing 3-4 OLB entering this year's draft.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan:
With Steve Smith retiring, the Ravens need another weapon at receiver. Corey Davis of Western Michigan is the best all around wide receiver in this year's draft class when it comes to combining size, speed and yards after catch.
17. Washington Pigskins – Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama:
The Pigskins need help for their front seven on defense. Jonathan Allen is one of the better football players in this draft, but may slide from the early to mid first round due to his position and concerns about several severe shoulder injuries/surgeries.
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 for an elite college team last season.
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. Dalvin Cook of Florida State projects as the type of three down back that project as first round picks, assuming the team is not concerned with his fumbling and off the field issues.
20. Denver Broncos– Cam Robinson, T, Alabama:
Denver is hemorrhaging on their offensive line, and could use talent at tackle and guard. Cam Robinson is the best tackle option on the board this year. In the worst case scenario, Robinson kicks inside to guard, which is also a need for the Broncos.
21. Detroit Lions - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple:
Detroit needs playmakers at every level on defense. Having a top weakside linebacker like Haason Reddick on the board when they pick at #21 would be their dream scenario.
22. Miami Dolphins - David Njoku, TE, Miami:
Despite trading for Julius Thomas, the Dolphins could use a playmaker at tight end. David Njoku of Miami is essentially a big receiver who, despite questionable hands, has the ability to take to the house due to his size (vs. corners), his speed (vs. linebackers) and his athleticism (yards after catch).
23. New York Giants - Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin:
The Giants are still looking for a left tackle to solidify their offensive line. Ryan Ramczyk is not only arguably the best left tackle in the draft, but his limited play at the D-I level (one year at Wisconsin) gives him a high upside for a team to work with.
24. Oakland Raiders - Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU:
The Raiders are likely going to target a corner with their first pick, just don't expect Marc Davis to sign off on someone like Gareon Conley who has a black cloud floating over his head with a pending sexual assault charge. In terms of need, character and value, Kevin King of Washington best fits the Raiders MO.
25. Houston Texans - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech:
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 on the market. At this point, their attention appears to be on local product Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech, If the Texans pass on Mahomes.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Garett Bolles, T, Utah:
The Seahawks will probably take the best available offensive linemen, as they need to rebuild their once potent running game. Garett Bolles has a low upside due to his age (24), but should be an immediate upgrade over anything that the Seahawks currently have at left or right tackle.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - Takkarist McKinnley, DE, UCLA:
The Chiefs are a playoff caliber team with aging linebackers. Even if their pass rushers remain healthy, and Justin Houston's health is a major concern, Kansas City needs to look to the future and/or add depth. Takk McKinnley of UCLA is a prototype 3-4 outside linebacker, who backs up his rush skills with a high motor that translates well against the run.
28. Dallas Cowboys - 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. While his primary question is his level of competition in college, the Cowboys should have few concerns considering the return they got on his former UConn teammate, Byron Jones, who had similar measurables at the Combine two years ago.
29. Green Bay Packers - T.J. Watt, LB/DE, Wisconsin:
Despite re-signing Nick Perry, the Packers could still use another playmaker at OLB, which would allow Clay Matthews to move inside on passing downs. T.J. Watt of Wisconsin is simply a football player who fits the Packer mold.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama:
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 fit.
31. Atlanta Falcons - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan:
The Falcons Super Bowl debacle showed their need for playmakers on defense. An edge rusher who can set the edge like Taco Charlton of Michigan would be a nice fit if he were to slide to the end of the first round.
32. New Orleans Saints (from the New England Patriots) - Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC:
If the Patriots don't trade Malcom Butler to the Saints to reclaim their original first round pick, New Orleans will be in the market for a starting caliber corner. Gareon Conley is obvioulsy a risky pick, but the Saints showed their willingness to take character risks by signing Adrian Peterson in free agency.
33. Cleveland Browns - Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State:
The Browns can use all the talent they can get. They'lli have to scramble to do their homework on Ohio State's Gareon Conley after he was charged with rape, but if they are comfortable with they find, they'd be landing a huge bargain. Then again, there are some big "ifs" here, and there is little time to investigate.
34. San Francisco 49'ers - Davis Webb, QB, Cal:
Unless the 49'ers know something about the availability of Kirk Cousins next year that the rest of us don't, they need to find a long term signal caller. Like many prospects in this draft class, Davis Webb of Cal is inexperienced and comes from a system that doesn't immediately translate to the NFL game. On the other hand, Webb has a better arm and body than his former Cal teammate Jared Goff, who was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 Draft.
35. Jacksonville Jaguars - Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi:
The Jags cut ties with Julius Thomas, and are once again in the market for a pass catching tight end. Evan Engram of Mississippi is an athletic freak who could make up for some of Thomas' deficiencies in the route running and effort department.
36. Chicago Bears - DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame:
DeShone Kizer has an NFL arm and a XFL maturity level, which should be okay with a rebuilding team like Chicago, who can let him sit and learn the NFL game for a year or two under stop-gap option, Mike Glennon.
37. Los Angeles Rams - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC:
After losing their best receiver in Kenny Britt to free agency, the Rams now have no viable wide out options. JuJu Smith-Schuster of USC is the type of possession receiver who could help take some attention away from their best play-maker, slot receiver Tayvon Austin, who has struggled when asked to carry a heavier load in the receiving game.
38. Los Angeles Chargers - Tyus Bowser, DE/OLB, Houston:
The Chargers could use a 3-4 OLB to play opposite of Melvin Ingram, and Tyus Bowser of Houston might be the most underrated defensive player/pass rusher in the draft.
39. New York Jets - Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky:
After addressing their primary need at QB, the Jets would be able to take a best player available approach at a position of need and target a player who slid out of the first round like Forrest Lamp, a small school left tackle who many scouts project as a Pro Bowler at guard.
40. Carolina Panthers - Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington:
The Panthers need to find a wide receiver with speed to compliment their bigger, but slower targets. Cooper Kupp didn't run the best 40-yard-dash at the Combine, but he used his quickness to consistently get open against bigger school corners at the Senior Bowl. In fact, the thought of adding Kupp along with Christian McCaffrey is down right scary.
41. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma:
Jeremy Hill appears to be on the outs in Cincinnati, and the Bengals are rumored to be the floor for the troubled, yet talented Oklahoma running back, Joe Mixon.
42. New Orleans Saints - Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida:
If the Saints can add to their secondary and pass rush with their first two picks, Jarrad Davis would be an ideal fit as a three down linebacker and help to solidify all three levels of their defense.
43. Philadelphia Eagles - Marcus Sanders-Williams, S, Utah:
The Eagles are looking for a safety, and Marcus Sanders-Williams of Utah is a late riser in this year’s draft process.
44. Buffalo Bills - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama:
Marlon Humphrey of Alabama should be able to start at corner for the Bills come day one, and would represent a first round talent in an extremely deep class at his position.
45. Arizona Cardinals - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado:
If the Cardinals elect to go elsewhere in the first round, they probably need to go with a corner in the second round. Chidobe Awuzie of Washington is a big player could be paired opposite of Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson to help make Arizona’s secondary elite again after recent injury issues and losses to free agency.
46. Minnesota Vikings - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vandy:
The Vikings need to replace both Chad Greenway at linebacker and Sylvester Floyd at defensive tackle. Zach Cunningham of Vandy should be able to step in and fill Greenway's shoes relatively quickly at weakside linebacker.
47. Baltimore Ravens - Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State:
The Ravens' defense runs on 3-4 OLB's who can get to the passer. To put things simply, Jordan Willis of Kansas State may be the most underrated player/pass rusher in this draft, and can certainly put some heat on opposing quarterbacks with his quickness and motor.
48. Indianapolis Colts - Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee:
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 he projects as a high end offensive guard, which would give Indianapolis options on their line.
49. Washington Pigskins - Derek Rivers, OLB/DE, Youngstown State:
The Pigskins need help for their front seven on defense. With plenty of questions about their pass rush, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State has NFL pass rush skills despite his small school pedigree.
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama:
The Bucs have a lot of solid talent at defensive end who can play the boundary, but no true speed rushers who can put up big sack numbers. Ryan Anderson of Alabama is a bit of a 'tweener, is a speed rusher who can get to the passer.
51. Denver Broncos - Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland:
The Broncos need a legit tight end in their play action based offense. Adam Shaheen of Ashland is an old school tight end who will block first at the NFL level, but has freakish athleticism and hands for a player of his size.
52. Cleveland Browns (from the Tennessee Titans) - Budda Baker, S, Washington:
The Browns just need to keep accumulating talent. Budda Baker of Washington is a bit undersized, but he’s football player who plays big and makes plays.
53. Detroit Lions - DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State:
The Lions need a base end to play opposite of Ziggy Ansah who can still get to the passer. At 280 pounds DeMarcus Walker of Florida State has the size to set the edge, but still put up an amazing sack total against fairly decent competition in the ACC.
54. Miami Dolphins - Dan Feeney, G, Indiana:
Anthony Steen is a decent back-up at both interior line positions, but is too injury prone to rely upon as a starter. Dan Feeney might be the best overall draft prospect at guard in this year's draft, but actually has the skill-set to play every position on the offensive line.
55. New York Giants - Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State:
The Giants could use an impact defensive tackle, and Malik McDowell not only projects as disruptive player out of the 3-technique, but he can also play base end in clear running situations.
56. Oakland Raiders - Chris Wormley, DE/DT Michigan:
Oakland is getting better quickly, but they still need to add some run stoppers to their defensive line. Chris Wormley could be a run stopping defensive end in the NFL, or a disruptive defensive tackle, and would provide value to a 4-3 system team looking for a base end who can kick inside on passing downs.
57. Houston Texans - Roderick Johnson, T, Florida State:
The Texans desperately need a right tackle. At 6'7, Roderick Johnson of Florida State played left tackle in college, but probably protects to the right side in the NFL as a better run blocker than he is in pass protection.
58. Seattle Seahawks - Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado:
Even if Seattle doesn't trade Richard Sherman, they are still in the market for another corner. At 6'3 and 200 pounds, Ahkello Witherspoon of Colorado is just what Pete Carrol and the Seahawks look for in a big cornerback to play in their system.
59. Kansas City Chiefs - Nathan Peterman, QB, Pitt:
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 first round, I think they might go in that direction. Otherwise, they will be content to land a longer term prospect like Nathan Peterman of Pitt, who projects as a smart and efficient game manager in a “west coast” style offense, just like Alex Smith.
60. Dallas Cowboys - Josh Jones, S, N.C. State:
After losing J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church in free agency, the Cowboys need immediate help at the safety position to play next to Byron Jones. While Josh Jones of N.C. State is a free safety like Jones, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli essentially plays two free safeties in his “Tampa two” system.
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 nickel spot for years to come. The other concern about Lewis is a recent domestic violence charge.
62. Pittsburgh Steelers - Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan:
Pittsburgh was rumored to be one of the few teams that were intrigued by Jabrill Peppers before his diluted urine sample at the Combine. While he now comes with some off the field concerns in addition to questions about his on field position, the Steelers can afford to take that gamble late in the second round.
63. Atlanta Falcons - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington:
Atlanta could use some play makers in their secondary, and while Sidney Jones suffered an unfortunate injury at his Pro Day that may keep him out of the 2017 season, he was projected by some to be one of the two best corners in a very deep draft class before his injury, and is worth a gamble in round two that his rehab goes well enough that he ends up seeing the field by mid-season.
64. Carolina Panthers (from the New England Patriots) - Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida:
As the Panthers learned last season, you can never have enough good corners. If Quincy Wilson of Florida slides into the late second round due to a deep draft class at his position, Carolina would be wise to pounce.