Our first 2017 mock draft was in May, after the 2016 NFL Draft was complete. A lot has changed. Our 2nd 2017 NFL Mock draft was in November, as the college season unfolded and the NFL season took shape. With the NFL regular season over, and one game left in the 2016 college football season, here’s our latest:
1 Cleveland: Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC. It’s sexy to push a defensive player 1st overall, and maybe that happens if the Browns deal draft picks for Jimmy Garoppolo. But with two Top 10 picks, I’d opt for finding a cheap QB in the draft, and then building the offensive line in free agency. Either way, the Browns can’t go into next year with Cody Kessler as the #1 option at QB. Trubisky, an Ohio native, only has 13 career starts.
2 San Francisco: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson. It’s funny how everyone loves a new QB, and then picks apart the guys who are in their 2nd year as a starter. In the right NFL system, I think Watson will be a very good pro. The Titans built the OL, and Mariota has done wonders with no stars at receiver. The difficult question here: Who is the head coach? And the GM?
3 Chicago: Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama. At 6-foot-3, 300-pounds, he can play inside or out, but seems to excel as a disruptive force on the interior. In Chicago’s 3-4, could he play on the outside, opposite Hicks (7.0 sacks). Toss in Floyd and McPhee, and you’ve got the makings of a very strong front seven to pressure Stafford and Rodgers in the NFC North.
4 Jacksonville: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. Maybe he’s the next Julius Peppers. Defensive players who have gone #1 in the last 25 years haven’t really panned out for whatever reason. He’s certainly an imposing physical specimen. But here’s a fact: Garrett didn’t do much in the SEC. While Garrett had 32.5 sacks in his career, only 12 of them came against SEC competition.
5 Tennessee (via LA): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. Could be the next pro from Clemson in a lineage that has featured Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant. Very excited to see Williams vs. Marlon Humphrey of Alabama in the title game.
6 New York Jets: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame. The Jets have many needs. The secondary, the linebackers, and the offensive line all have holes. It all boils down to their front office: Do they think Kizer could be a franchise QB? I do. The Raiders drafted Derek Carr (in the 2nd round) and built around him. The Jets should do the same with Kizer. They’re an unwatchable mess on offense. They should consider getting whatever they can for matt forte and Brandon Marshall while there’s still value. Tear it all down, start it all over.
7 San Diego: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin. There’s some buzz that he’s the best lineman in the draft, and in a down year for tackles, he’s passed Cam Robinson of Alabama as the best. Already has a 1st round grade. His hip surgery may prevent him from going this high. The key to San Diego next year is simply staying healthy. That’s been the biggest issue the last two years.
8 Carolina: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Keeping this after the last mock draft because I had a dream about how defensive backs will have to make a decision to take Cam Newton or Fournette on the read option (assuming Riverboat Ron keeps it in the playbook). This combination would be terrifying.
9 Cincinnati: Malik Hooker, DB, Ohio State. The Ed Reed comparisons are legit. A ball hawk with absurd closing speed (watch him cover ground here). Wasn’t in the last mock draft because the word was he was staying in school; he said as much a month ago.
10 Buffalo: Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan. More and more NFL teams are finding holes in his game – he’s not excellent in coverage, he tends to freelance a bit – but the guy makes plays, and he can be a factor in special teams. It’s anyone’s guess what happens with the coach and QB in Buffalo, but Peppers would go a long way to helping that rancid defense.
11 New Orleans: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida. The defense is slowly improving, but the secondary was still shredded on a weekly basis, and finished 25th in yards per play allowed. Is there a division with three better young(ish) QBs than Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston and Cam Newton?
12 Cleveland (via Philadelphia): Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee. They’ll probably extend Jamie Collins in the offseason. Imagine if his wingman was Barnett, who had 33 sacks in three seasons with the Vols. Some scouts I’ve spoken with think the difference between Barnett and Garrett in college wasn’t that significant. We’ll see what happens in the pros. The Browns finished last in sacks with just 22.
13 Arizona: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan. Gave up two TDs against FSU, though one was not totally on the 1st team All-American. When not targeting Patrick Peterson, opposing QBs had a field day. The Super Bowl window isn’t closed. The 2nd option would be to help that offensive line that struggled after a good 2015.
14 Indianapolis: Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford. I know there are offensive line needs, but Thomas would have an immediate impact, helping out an anemic pass rush that featured 35-year old Robert Mathis (who is retiring) and 34-year old Trent Cole. I also think it’d be very difficult for the Colts to pass on Dalvin Cook here, given Frank Gore is near the end of a sterling career.
15 Philadelphia (via Minnesota): Sidney Jones, CB, Washington. If Mike Williams is on the board here, I think he’s the pick; I also think they’ll give Corey Davis a long look. Philadelphia needs a top shelf cornerback to help that terrible secondary. Jones wasn’t targeted once by Alabama in the National semifinal; he was only targeted nine times in the first six games.
16 Baltimore – Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU. Cook should go off the board higher, but I absolutely can’t see him getting past the Ravens, which could use one more playmaker with WR Steve Smith retiring, and the team struggling to find a running game (bottom 10 in every category).
17 Washington – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA. Put up quiet numbers in 2015 (7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks) playing in the shadow of senior Kenny Clark, but blew up as a star this year, with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss (20th in the country). There’s plenty of change coming to Washington, with the 30-year old receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson likely not returning, and defensive linemen Chris Baker and Cullen Jenkins free agents as well.
18 Tennessee – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson. This draft is stacked at cornerback, and the Titans need one (or two) badly. Who is the best corner? That’s a wide open question. The 2014 draft was loaded at corner. Five went in the first round. The first one taken – so far – has been the worst (Justin Gilbert of Cleveland).
19 Tampa Bay – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama. Foster has such good potential that the Bucs, in a year or two, could have the best trio of linebackers in the NFL along with Kwon Alexander and LaVonte David. There is a need in the middle of the line to help McCoy, but OLB Daryl Smith turns 35 in March, so I’d lean that way.
20 Denver: DeMarcus Walker, DE/DT, Florida State. Totally dominated Michigan last week (one sack, 4 TFL), capping an outstanding season (20.5 TFL, 16 sacks). Ole Miss was down a bit this year, but look at how Walker manhandled their offensive line in the season opener.
21 Detroit: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida. The battle for who was the better cornerback on the Gators was fierce, as Wilson and Tabor had excellent careers. Tablor allowed one touchdown all season. The Lions secondary remains a wasteland outside of Darius Slay. They were last in completion percentage allowed (72 percent) and last in passer rating (105.0).
22 Miami: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Humphrey started the season with a tipped pick-6 against USC. He’s likely going to end it Monday going up against Clemson star Mike Williams in a fantastic matchup. The Dolphins needs feel similar to the Redskins, Raiders and Falcons – the offense is impressive, but the defense needs work.
23 New York Giants: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. The offensive line and the running game were abysmal. Want to extend Eli Manning’s career? Protect him. Want to give defenses more to worry about besides Odell Beckham? Find a running game. New York had one 90-yard rusher this season (rookie Paul Perkins).
24 Oakland: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State. Good pass rusher, strong against the run, and led the Spartans in tackles for loss this season, and was 2nd last year. Whether it’s in the secondary or up the middle, the Raiders have work to do on defense, giving up the most yards per play in the NFL (6.1). They should spend their first three picks on defenders.
26 Green Bay: Taco Chalton, DE/Edge, Michigan. He was utterly dominant against Ohio State (2.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss) and then very good against FSU (2 TFL, 1 sack). Julius Peppers was 2nd on the Packers in sacks (7.0) but he turns 37 in a couple weeks.
27 Seattle – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The offensive line has been the team’s biggest weakness this season, and it’ll be the Seahawks top priority in the offseason.
28 Pittsburgh – Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama. The Steelers keep whiffing on pass rushers in the draft, but perhaps they’ll strike gold in the Tide superstar. Williams had a staggering 16 TFL and nine sacks this year after 10.5 sacks and 12.5 TFL last season. He did have an arrest in September and his background will be scrutinized closely.
29 Atlanta – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The offense grabs the headlines, but the defense has improved this year thanks to the emergence of pass rusher Vic Beasley – well, it was improving until CB Desmond Trufant went down. There’s a need at linebacker, too.
30 Kansas City – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. You could say they need to improve the front seven on defense – which is still living off reputation, but wasn’t very good this year – but at some point, you’ve got to move the ball on offense. If you’re wondering where Juju Smith-Schuster is on this list, he said on snapchat last month he’s not leaving school early. If he does, he’ll be in the first round. Tyreek Hill was a major factor for the Chiefs, but he’s 5-foot-10, 185-pounds, how long can you rely on him as your #1 offensive game-changer?
31 New England – Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford. Don’t try to fight it – this should happen. It needs to happen. That’s three mock drafts in a row!
32 Dallas – Charles Harris, DE, Missouri. Talented, but has a penchant for a big game – three sacks against Georgia – and then vanishing (1/2 sack total in seven other games). His tape against Georgia is very impressive.