Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 NFL Mock Draft - Pre Draft







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 ReportWalter 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!

1st Round

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 the type of game changing back that could transform the way a defense schemes against an offense. 

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. New York Jets - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: 

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. Mitchell Trubisky seems to the be most polished and pro ready QB in this year's class despite only playing one year as a starter at North Carolina.

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 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 could help out Carolina's passing game as a nice contrast to Cam Newton's bigger, yet slower receiving targets. 

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Jonathan Allen, DT, 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. Foster's Alabama teammate, Jonathan Allen, is a safer pick and also fills a position of need at defensive tackle where could be another disruptive run stuffing option next to incumbent Pro Bowler, Geno Atkins.

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 receiving target like Mike Williams would fill one of many big needs opposite of fellow Clemson player, Sammy Watkins.

11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: 

The Saints have three early picks, as well as three big 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. Cleveland Browns (from the Philadelphia Eagles) – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: 

The Browns have three 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; and 3) Stay at No. 12 and select the best QB available on their draft board.

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) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: 

The Eagles don't have a starting caliber corner on their roster heading into the draft. Many scouts think that Gareon Conley of Ohio State is a better pro prospect than his teammate, Marshon Lattimore.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri:

The Colts need to improve their pass rush, and Charles Harris is projected as perhaps the best and most versatile 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, and perhaps over the past several years. 

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 playing everywhere from nose tackle to 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 like Washington's.

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. 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, even if he has some legit character questions.

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, which is exactly what the Broncos appear to be looking for.

21. Detroit Lions - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple:

Detroit needs playmakers at every level on defense. Having a football player who can fit in as three down player at weakside linebacker like Haason Reddick on the board when the Lions pick at #21 would be their dream scenario.

22. Miami Dolphins - Takkarist McKinnley, DE, UCLA:

The Dolphins could use another pass rusher. Takkarist McKinnley is coming off of shoulder surgery, but has a fantastic motor and would be a great fit as a pass rusher opposite of Cameron Wake.

23. New York Giants - David Njoku, TE, Miami:

A tight end in name only, David Njoku is simply a huge athlete who lines up in the slot. While he offers little in terms of blocking and has poor hands, he's a threat to score in any type of match up given his size (red zone), speed (versus linebackers), strength (versus DB's) and athleticism (yards after catch).

24. Oakland Raiders Kevin King, CB, Washington:

The Raiders are likely going to target a corner with their first pick in terms of need and value, and Kevin King is a long and athletic corner who 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, don't count out a pre or early-season move on Romo.

26. Seattle Seahawks - Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin:

The Seahawks will probably take the best available offensive linemen, as they need to rebuild their once potent running game. Ryan Ramczyk 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 Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama:

Despite his issues, Reuben Foster is still probably going to land in the first round. Kansas City could be looking for an upgrade over Wilson Ramick, or a successor for Derrick Johnson. Either way, Foster could be a steal...IF he can keep his nose clean going forward.

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 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 the declining Clay Matthews to be more flexible and move from outside to inside on passing downs. T.J. Watt of Wisconsin is simply a football player who fits perfectly in 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 on field fit. 

31. Atlanta Falcons Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan:

Whether it's DE, DT, or CB, 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 an ideal fit if he were to slide to the end of the first round.

32. New Orleans Saints (from the New England Patriots) - Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU:

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. Tre'Davious White of LSU would be a great value at the end of the first round in a deep draft class at corner. 

2nd Round

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 first round talent who is just as versatile, and probably a more skilled player than his more hyped counterpart, Gabrill Peppers. 

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 translate to the NFL game. On the other hand, Webb has a better arm and body than his former Cal teammate and 2016 #1 overall pick, Jared Goff. 

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 :

The Bears merely have a stop gap option at QB in Mike Glennon. 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. 

37. Los Angeles Rams - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC:

After losing their best receiver in Kenny Britt to free agency, who was truly just a mediocre starting receiver, the Rams now have no viable wide out options for whoever their QB is. 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. 

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 - Garrett Bolles, T, Utah:

After addressing their primary need at QB, the Jets can look at at best player available approach at a position of need and target a player who slid out of the first round like Garrett Bolles, a nasty tackle, who could see his draft stock slide just a bit given a lack of upside due to his age (27) due to having served a Mormon mission before attending college. 

40. Carolina Panthers - Cooper Kuff, WR, Eastern Washington:

The Panthers need to find a wide receiver with speed to compliment their bigger, but slower targets. Cooper Kuff 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. 

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 solidify their secondary and pass rush, Jarrad Davis would be an ideal fit as a three down linebacker. 

43. Philadelphia Eagles - Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan:

The Eagles are looking for a safety, and could even land a part time running back as a bonus in the versatile Jabrill Peppers of Michigan. 

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 CB class. 

45. Arizona Cardinals - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado:

If the Cardinals elect to go elsewhere in the first round, they need to go with a CB in the second round. Chidobe Awuzie of Washington is a big player could be paired opposite of Pro Bowler, Patrick Peterson and make the Cardinals secondary elite again. 

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 weak-side linebacker, and could slide into the second round due to durability concerns despite elite athleticism and football character. 

47. Baltimore Ravens - Derek Rivers, OLB/DE, Youngstown State: 

The Ravens' defense runs on 3-4 OLB's who can get to the passer. While Derek Rivers doesn't have a big school pedigree, Youngstown State is a good football school, and Rivers has NFL pass rush skills.  

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 he projects as a high end offensive guard, which would give Indianapolis options on their line.

49. Washington Pigskins - Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

The Pigskins are in the market for a 3-down NFL back. Alvin Kamara of Tennessee is the least experienced of the top RB prospects in this year's draft, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to the wear and tear that can come at his position. 

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State: 

The Bucs have a lot of solid talent at DE who can play base, but no true impact players in the pass rush game. Jordan Willis of Kansas State is a high motor kid who simply gets to the passer, and can immediately play on passing downs in the NFL as he bulks up. 

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 in the NFL, but has freakish athleticism and hands for a man of his size. 

52. Cleveland Browns (from the Tennessee Titans) - Budda Baker, S, Washington

The Browns just need to keep accumulating talent, and Alvin Kamara of Tennessee is a three down back who could give Cleveland a strong running game when coupled with their revamped offensive line. 

53. Detroit Lions - DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State:  

The Lions are looking for a pass rusher to play opposite Ziggy Ansah. DeMarcus Walker is one of the most underrated players in this draft, and has the size to be the base end Detroit is looking for in addition to his elite pass rush history at Florida State.

54. Miami Dolphins - Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Anthony Steen is a decent back-up at C/G, but is too injury prone to rely upon as a starter. Dan Feeney might be the best overall draft prospect at G in this year's draft, and should become a starter from day one. 

55. New York Giants - Ryan Anderson, LB, Alabama:

The Giants could stand to upgrade a each of their three linebacker positions. Ryan Anderson of Alabama would be an ideal fit, as he's versatile enough to play either inside or outside in their 4-3 system. 

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 cornerback to fit 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 1st Round, I think they might go in that direction. Otherwise, they will be content to land a longer term prospect Nathan Peterman of Pitt, who projects as a smart and efficient game manager in a "west coast 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 opposite of Byron Jones. Josh Jones of NC State is a free safety like Jones, and in Dallas' Tampa Two defense, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is ideally looking for two free safeties to assume duties in deep coverage. 

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 - Marcus Sanders-Williams, S, Utah

Pittsburgh has slowly been rebuilding their secondary. Marcus Sanders-Williams of Utah is a turnover machine at free safety, who would give the Steelers a playmaker at safety that the haven't had since Troy Polamalu retired. 

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 at that position and is worth a gamble in round two that his rehab goes well and 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. 

Next Up (in no particular order): 
Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M 
Desmond King, CB/S, Iowa 
Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida  
Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina 
Taylor Moton, T, Western Michigan 
Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State 
Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, OSU 
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Cordrea Tankersly, CB, Clemson