The anticipation is rising, there is a great deal of excitement in the air and hope for the future fills every fan’s minds. The NFL Draft is tonight! Here is my one and only mock draft for the 2017 NFL Draft. I think that there will be a few trades that will happen tonight but I will not include any of them below and will just have the teams pick in order.
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE
The “smart” move. Garrett is the top pass rusher in this draft and will greatly improve the Browns pass rush. With new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a great pass rush is a major piece to the overall success of the defense. I still wouldn’t be surprised if they took Trubisky here but they will likely try to draft him or another quarterback later in this round.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S
New 49ers General Manager John Lynch knows the importance of the safety position and Adams is the best safety in the draft. The 49ers’ defense needs to improve significantly from last year and adding Adams will be a big step in the right direction. He is athletic and has great coverage skills.
3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas, DE
The Bears face Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford twice a year and they need to be able to generate some pressure to have a chance of stopping these two quarterbacks and their respective offenses. Thomas is great player and should be a major asset to their defense.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB
If this draft had better offensive line talent, the Jaguars might’ve picked a lineman here. A running back of Fournette’s caliber will greatly aid quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense as they have struggled to consistently run the football well the last three years. The Jaguars could go QB here but I think they are not ready to give up on Bortles yet.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB
I’m expecting the Browns to trade up to this spot and draft Trubisky but if they don’t, Lattimore is a good fit for Tennessee. They need some help on the defensive backend as they cannot go into next season with Bryce McCain as the starter, alongside free agent acquisition Logan Ryan. Lattimore is thought to be the best cornerback in the draft and if the Titans draft him, he will immediately step into one of the starting roles in their defense.
6. New York Jets: O.J. Howard, TE
Ah the Jets… It can be a bit difficult to predict who the Jets may draft but one thing is certain; Jets fans are likely to boo the pick, no matter who it is. Howard would be a good fit with the Jets as he can stretch the field, a great pass catcher and block well. The Jets could go defensive line here, or quarterback if the right one is available. Trading down is also a possibility as the Jets have numerous holes to fill.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S
Under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Chargers will need a great play-making safety in their new defense and someone to play the Earl Thomas role. Hooker projects to have similar play-making skills to Ed Reed. A secondary of Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Malik Hooker will present challenges to opposing offenses.
8. Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DE
The Panthers may draft Christian McCaffrey here but with a declining Charles Johnson and a 37 year old Julius Peppers as two of their top three defensive ends, Allen would be a great fit. He would be able to learn from a future Hall of Famer in Peppers and provide much needed depth for the Panthers pass rush. Allen has some lingering concerns regarding a shoulder issue though which is why he might fall out of the top five. If the shoulder isn’t a major issue, this pick will be a steal for the Panthers.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB
Foster is the best linebacker on the board. His stock has been falling lately due to an incident he had at the NFL combine, where he got into an argument with a medical worker over the medical checks. The NFL sent him home from the combine soon after due to “personal reasons.” He also tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the combine, reportedly due to excessive water drinking. Right now, the Bengals are thin at linebacker and with Kevin Minter and Vontaze Burfict being free agents next year, the Bengals need to groom a replacement.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR
Outside of Sammy Watkins, the Bills do not have any other great options at wide receiver. Mike Williams is a perfect fit for this team as he is a big target and will be able to compete for jump balls on the outside and complement Watkins. The Bills may target a linebacker here if they decide to draft a receiver in a later round.
11. New Orleans Saints: Marlon Humphrey, CB
The Saints’ defensive backfield is in need of a great deal of help. Humphrey is perfect for them as the Saints do not have a true number one corner on their roster right now and he can come in and fill that role. Fellow cornerback Gareon Conley may have been an option here but he is falling down draft boards drastically due to sexual assault allegations.
12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB
Cleveland gets their quarterback. I think Cleveland may have to trade up to get him though, in order to bypass the Jets, who could take him. Trubisky may have only started 13 games in college but he shows a great deal of upside and if Cleveland sits him for one or two years to groom him, he could turn out to be the best quarterback in this draft.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB
Carson Palmer is not getting any younger and the Cardinals need to find and groom their quarterback of the future. Mahomes is perfect for the Cardinals as he has a cannon for an arm, which is something that head coach Bruce Arians loves to have in his quarterbacks, due to his propensity to call deep passing plays. Much like Trubisky, Mahomes is raw but if he can sit and learn behind Palmer for a year or two, he could turn out to be a great player.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB
This is a perfect place for McCaffrey as Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has shown from his time in Kansas City as an offensive coordinator, that he knows how to utilize quick, great pass catching running backs to great success. McCaffrey will be able to run between the tackles, lineup in the shotgun and run outside or even lineup as a slot receiver. He is a great route runner for a running back and has good hands. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was converted to a slot receiver at some point later in his career.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, DE
The Colts have several needs such as defensive back and offensive line but pass rusher is also a massive need. Barnett is a fantastic pass rusher and in three years at the University of Tennessee, he was able to become the all-time school leader in sacks, breaking the record set by NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White. The Colts are very thin in the pass rush department and Barnett will bring some much needed depth and production to that position.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Cam Robinson, OL
After losing offensive tackle Ricky Wagner in free agency, the Ravens will need to replace him and as many NFL scouts and analysts believe that this a very weak offensive line class, the Ravens will need to grab a quality tackle as quickly as possible. Robinson is a fantastic power run blocker and road grader and with him on the team, the Ravens may be able to improve their struggling running game from last year. Wide receiver and pass rusher are also possibilities here.
17. Washington Redskins: Jarrad Davis, LB
The Redskins defense struggled last year and their linebackers were a rough spot in the defense. They added Zach Brown in free agency but it was only for a one year deal. Davis is a great fit as he is athletic, very physical and is a great tackler, something which is huge need. The Redskins could take Gareon Conley but I think he will fall out of the first round due to the allegations that he is facing.
18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR
With their first pick, Tennessee improved their secondary and with this pick, they give quarterback Marcus Mariota a great weapon in Davis and maybe the best wide receiver in the draft. Davis is a fantastic competitor, excels in catching the deep and intermediate balls and has greatly improved his route running. All of these attributes will aid the Tennessee offense tremendously as they struggled with deep passing plays last year.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB
Doug Martin is still in Tampa but they struggled to run the ball when he was out with injuries and dealing with a suspension. Cook is arguably the best running back in this draft and if the Buccaneers select him, reuniting him with his former Florida State teammate quarterback Jameis Winston, and having Mike Evans at wide receiver, the Buccaneers could have a top flight offense this season and be very difficult for opposing defenses to handle.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OL
The Broncos offensive line was terrible last year. They struggled to run block and pass block, making lives very difficult for their running backs and young quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. If the Broncos want to have any chance of improving on offense, they will need to improve their offensive line. Ramczyk was a great run and pass blocker at Wisconsin and is athletic. Adding him to the offensive line will start to make lives comfortable for those at quarterback and running back for the Broncos.
21. Detroit Lions: Haason Reddick, LB
The Lions are in desperate need of help at the linebacker position as they only return one starter from last year. The Lions run a base 4-3 defense, which fits Reddick perfectly as he is the perfect size to play the WILL linebacker position. He is a dynamic and explosive playmaker that excels in space and coverage. With Aaron Rodgers in the division, the Lions must have a linebacker who can both get after the quarterback, or cover a tight end or running back.
22. Miami Dolphins: Forest Lamp, OL
With Laremy Tunsil moving from guard to left tackle, the Dolphins will need to draft someone to take over his spot. Lamp is arguably the best guard prospect in this draft and is projected to be a plug and play starter from day one. With Lamp, the Dolphins will be able to protect quarterback Ryan Tannehill and pave holes for running back Jay Ajayi.
23. New York Giants: David Njoku, TE
Njoku has tremendous upside and has the ability to become a star tight end in the league. The Giants struggled with production from their tight end group last season and with head coach Ben McAdoo coming from the Mike McCarthy coaching tree, he loves to have a tight end that stretches the field and creates mismatches. Njoku will create these mismatches and give quarterback Eli Manning a big, athletic target across the middle of the field.
24. Oakland Raiders: Kevin King, CB
The Raiders secondary had issues covering receivers last season and adding King will help improve this group. King is 6’ 3” and is very good at covering receivers on the outside and forcing them out of bounds. This fits this defensive scheme perfectly, as it is led defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. who comes from the Seattle Seahawks defensive school of thought, which favors press cornerbacks in their defense.
25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB
Finally, the Texans have found a quarterback. Watson may not have as big of an upside as Trubisky, or Mahomes but he may be more ready to play right away. The Texans have struggled for years at quarterback and it seems to be the only thing that has prevented them from going deep into the playoffs and having success. Watson doesn’t have a huge arm but he is mobile and has great leadership.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bolles, OL
Seattle have massive holes on the offensive line. They have struggled the last few years in pass protection which has caused quarterback Russell Wilson to become beat up the last couple of seasons. The Seahawks need to protect their franchise quarterback and Bolles is a step in the right direction.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: John Ross, WR
Ross broke the NFL combine record this year in the 40 yard dash and is a home-run threat. Kansas City could use some more weapons and with Jeremy Maclin becoming a free agent soon, some depth at the wide receiver position is needed. If Watson was still on the board, Kanas City may have selected him to groom him behind their current starting quarterback, Alex Smith.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Charles Harris, LB
Dallas needs a pass rusher desperately. They struggled to rush the passer last year and it was evident in their loss to the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs last season. Harris plays with great energy and has great speed. He has issues dropping into coverage but rushes the passer well so Dallas may just utilize him as a pass rush specialist.
29. Green Bay Packers: T.J. Watt, LB
Watt is the popular, trendy pick for the Packers. Watt may have only played one full year as a linebacker but he was very productive at Wisconsin, notching 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss. He plays with a very high motor, is great with his hands and is a good tackler. Outside of Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, the Packers do not have much depth at the outside linebacker position so Watt will provide some much needed help on that front. While some pass rushers may be more NFL ready than Watt, he probably has the highest potential out of all of them.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, LB
Outside of a 38 year old James Harrison and Bud Dupree, the Steelers do not have much of a pass rush and they struggled last year when these two players were not on the field. McKinley has a great work ethic and closing speed but is a bit raw as a pass rusher. With time though, he should be able to become more polished.
31. Atlanta Falcons, Taco Charlton, DE
These last three picks have been pass rushers and that trend continues here. Vic Beasley is their top pass rusher but as this is a quarterback-driven league, the more pass rushers a team has the better. Charlton is an impressive 6’6″ and is very athletic and is a good pass rusher. He struggles against the run but that can be improved.
32. New Orleans Saints: DeShone Kizer, QB
The Saints could go defense with this pick but as quarterback Drew Brees is 38 years old, it’s time for the Saints to draft and groom his successor. Kizer has a massive arm and can make every NFL throw and is athletic. His mechanics need some work as he can be too reliant on his arm strength at times but if he can sit and learn from Brees and head coach Sean Payton for a year or two, Kizer could be very successful in the future.