Before the NFL gets together for the annual Draft Combine in Indianapolis and the tape gets tossed out the window as teams become enamored with workout results – not really, but you get the point – it was time to offer up our second mock draft of the season. So we’re taking a broader look at this NFL Draft class, the top prospects, and positions that each team could target before the free agency period kicks off. All with two round for you to enjoy!
- Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns have a mandate to add talent and this new regime doesn’t seem too concerned with finding a quarterback rather trying to add talent in other spots. Garrett fits that mold as a franchise building block.
Ultra-productive throughout his SEC career, he’s got prototypical size with a long build, supernatural athleticism allowing him to explode off the ball and also bend to get around opposing blockers. He’s also no slouch against the run. As long as Garrett shows a full recovery from a few minor injuries suffered in 2016 he’s the best player in this class and a logical pick at the top of the draft.
2. San Fransisco 49ers – DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The combine should help establish a bit more of a consensus at the top of the quarterback class. As things stand right now it’s a bit of a pick your flavor type class with lots of upside and intrigue but few guarantees.
The combine won’t clear things up for the 9ers who can pick the best player available – likely Jonathan Allen who doesn’t fit with them as they’ve already picked similarly skilled d-lineman in the past two first rounds – or the quarterback that most suits the new management team.
Kyle Shanahan has shown great adaptability as an offensive play caller with his quarterbacks, meaning it really comes down to who he (and the organization) thing can be turned into a franchise quarterback. Watson’s poise and big game talent – in addition to his ability to throw on the run, make quick decisions, and serviceable accuracy – make him the pick for now.
3. Chicago Bears – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
If there is a consensus top quarterback in the class that seems to be Trubisky, who’s seemingly receiving interest from of all of the quarterback-needy teams at the top of the draft. However, given Trubisky’s limited tape – 13 career starts – his stock is much more volatile and could be severely affected by interviews, workouts, and measurements coming up in Indianapolis.
His accuracy and feet are extraordinary – two of the most important traits to have in a quarterback – but he’s far from a sure thing as his deep ball accuracy, propensity to hold onto the ball too long, and struggles in big games are big question marks.
With the Bears seemingly ready to move on from Jay Cutler this pick makes sense, as would taking Allen if Chicago wants to strengthen their defense.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State
Between last year’s free agency and draft, the Jaguars managed to make some significant upgrades defensively while also adding important building blocks for their future. Given the promise their young offense showed in 2015, that seemed like enough for them to make a big jump. Instead, the offense took a huge step backward.
A way to get things back on track is to take Fournette who fits the NFL’s golden rule of drafting running backs in the top 10 as long as they’re big and fast. Two boxes the former Tiger checks off in abundance.
Hyped since his days as a high school phenom, Fournette is the closest thing to Adrian Peterson we’ve seen in a while. With that type of devastating power to annihilate defenders who dare get in his way. If the smooth hands he’s shown at times can be developed enough to round his game out, watch out.
5. Tennessee Titans (LAR) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Titans have endless options with multiple high picks, their needs prior to free agency are wide receiver and finding more playmakers on defense, particularly against the pass. Lattimore has started only one season for the Buckeyes but he’s the whole package with size, and the ability to turn and run with the best of them.
Still a bit more unrefined than others in a fantastic cornerback class, as he’s not the smoothest in his route recognition or in his underneath coverage. But the upside is incredible – did we mention he has excellent ball skills – and could push him way up.
Here he’s a bit of a shocker as the second defender taken but in a modern NFL that requires top corners, he gets pushed up.
6. New York Jets – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
Hooker’s another Buckeye phenom in the secondary who merits a pick this high based on his supreme upside despite not much on field experience.
The Jets need help on the backend of their defense though they could also opt for a quarterback or more help on offense (Fournette could be in the mix if he remains around). With the defensive back group, this loaded the options defensively are just too many to pass up.
Hooker is one of the best center fielding safety types that’s come along in a while. His ability to cover the entire length of the field makes him special as do his big time ball skills. He’ll miss the combine due to surgery on a torn labrum and a hernia which could hurt his stock but given his incredible upside, it’s hard to see needy teams letting him fall very far.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
The Chargers have assembled some fine young talent on the defensive side, especially on the front seven. The offense could use a few key additions as well particularly on the offensive line but ultimately Adams’ talent in a need area like safety is took great to pass up.
Adams if fairly complete in his game showing the ability to competently play in a two-deep look and also cover the slot. Where he truly excels is as an in the box enforcer where his downhill athleticism shines as he’s able to light up opposing playmakers and quickly close on run plays and short passes. As the NFL trends towards more and more five defensive back sets – meaning fewer classic linebackers – safeties of Adams’ ability have become much more valuable assets.
8. Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
What a coup to get Allen this low – which seems improbable but it wouldn’t be the first time a top defensive tackle prospect’s dropped further down than predicted, think Leonard Williams for example.
With the need of more talent on the edge as well as the possible departures of one or both of the Panthers star defensive tackles, Allen is a perfect fit. The added advantage of getting a top three player in the class at eighth overall is also noteworthy. Solomon Thomas could also be an option here but if Allen’s still around he’s a no-brainer selection.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Foster to Cincinnati seems like a perfect match as they’re desperate for more athleticism in their linebacking core and Foster is the rare linebacker that’s deserving of a top 10 pick. His shoulder injury could see him drop some but he’s also receiving some attention from teams picking higher than 10.
Foster is a complete linebacker with lots of power to unleash on running backs and ball carriers coming downhill. He’s also a beast covering the entire field sideline-to-sideline and has some impressive coverage skills. Most intriguing is his ability to close and tackle in space where he misses close to nothing and often limits potential big gains to short yards due to his great ability to read and quickly close down on plays. A special player.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The big question here for the Bills is how they’ll move forward at quarterback. If Tyrod Taylor stays they already have a young raw apprentice in Cardale Jones and can focus on other areas of need. If they decide to part ways, regardless of what veteran they pick up DeShone Kizer and Patrick Mahomes could be in play much like DeShaun Watson or even Mitch Trubisky – who are far from locks to go higher.
If Taylor remains help at receiver is necessary and with last year’s top two picks – Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland – fully healthy defensive help is already on the way. Especially with a new coach that doesn’t rely on having skilled man cornerbacks on the boundary.
That opens the door for Williams who would continue the Clemson to Buffalo pipeline and add a big target to a group that’s already loaded with speed. With Taylor being at his best throwing deep Williams’ big catch radius and propensity for making contested catches should go a long way.
11. New Orleans Saints – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Thomas could go higher than this given that he’s become one of the hottest prospects on the scene. As we enter the meaty part of draft season he’ll have some questions to answer regarding his size and fit, though most teams are certain to overlook that if he blows up the combine as his tape would suggest he will.
But that means he’ll need to have a big combine so the pressure is on. Even with a showing close to expectations, Thomas should still warrant this high a pick and a team like the Saints should be ecstatic to take him as they attempt to add talent all over the defense and could also go with a playmaker in the secondary. A front three of Sheldon Rankins, Cameron Jordan, and Thomas would be pretty fearsome
12. Cleveland Browns (via the Philadelphia Eagles) – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Browns can hope for things to play out this way, or might just value Patrick Mahomes along Kizer’s level and be happy with whoever drops. They also have ample draft capital to move up and take a quarterback in the top 10 if they fell the need.
This pick will certainly be interesting. Kizer has at times shown all the tools to succeed and be a high-level starter but that’s been on a very inconsistent basis. He’ll require time and patience, plus a little coddling after an emotionally draining final season in South Bend.
Given the Browns new management’s ability to stay patient so far Kizer might workout with the right plan in place.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Cards are set up fairly nicely in this scenario and in this class as their need for a cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson will easily be filled in day two with the wealth of talent available.
Arizona is also in need of another wide receiver after Michael Floyd didn’t work out and Larry Fitzgerald isn’t immortal either, sooner or later the team will need to find his heir as well. Enter Davis who won’t be able to participate at the combine due to an ankle injury. That’s a shame considering Davis has the speed outrun Williams and be in play as the top receiver in the class. Regardless he should still go high thanks to his complete skill set including great size, hands, and speed.
14. Indianapolis Colts – Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
The Colts have plenty of needs the biggest of which is on the offensive line where protection has to be better. However, the 2017 class doesn’t have a tackle deserving of this high a selection and Indy already selected an interior linemen in the first round last season.
With Robert Mathis getting long in the tooth more talent needs to be added to the defense as well, particularly up front. McKinley might not yet be a household name but he plays with a relentless attitude and is a spectacular athlete that really creates havoc for opposing offenses. That would be big for Indianapolis.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings) – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Eagles will be targeting the two top receivers but in this scenario, they miss out on both. No need to cry for the Birds as they get their choice of the second best cornerback in the class, a can’t-lose situation with this group.
Jones continues the great tradition of Husky cornerbacks who’ve gone on to do big things in the league. He might not be the bulkiest but at 6-feet he’s plenty long enough and he’s the most complete cornerback in this class; press, off, man, or zone he does it all at a high-level and he’s shown ball skills to make quarterbacks pay as well. Added advantage he’ll lower his helmet and lay the wood when tackling on the perimeter. At 15 overall he’d be a true steal.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Sooner or later the run on cornerbacks had to start and we get a little movement here with back-to-back players being taken at the position.
The Ravens have been lacking their patented bite defensively the last few years and need to get back to that. After adding some nice talents in the front seven in the 2016 draft its time to fix the back end that’s very much in need of repair.
Tabor isn’t perfect, he isn’t the biggest and he’s not the most physical in run support and will suffer a bit in press against bigger wideouts. But his ball skills and stickiness in man coverage make him a coveted prospect. On tape, he looks better than Vernon Hargreaves III the 11th overall pick in last year’s class.
17. Washington Redskins – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
McDowell is a player who seemed like a sure fire top 10 pick going into the season and has many more doubters after its end. As we get into the testing portion of the draft McDowell’s length and athleticism should allow him to standout and his stock should rise again.
He’s unique in his bendiness for someone so long and could really be a force in the future. The Redskins need to add talent across the middle of their defense so they’ll have options but McDowell’s upside might make him the most appealing of all.
18. Tennessee Titans- John Ross, WR, Washington
The Titans could go after a receiver at pick No. 5 and take the best receiver remaining here at 18 or they could go after their top player up top and try to add receiving weapons right here. In this scenario, they might be a bit disappointed not being able to snatch up Davis or Williams but they can’t be too disappointed picking up Ross who’d stretch opposing defenses vertically and open up space underneath.
Ross isn’t just fast, he has smooth hands and is a fantastic player in the red zone using his agility to his advantage. So far he’s much more of an outside receiver than a potential slot option who can carve you up with his routes but that’s still fine for the Titans.
Ross’ biggest questions are his injury history that forced him to lose significant time with the Huskies including an ACL tear. If all checks out and he runs in the 4.3 range as anticipated it’ll be hard to keep him out of the first round.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
The Buccaneers at this point could go several different routes, most intriguing of all being Ross who gets taken just one pick earlier. Dalvin Cook could also make sense as the running game was a mess at times in 2016 and Jameis Winston would surely love another Seminole on his squad – let’s not forget the RB class is deep and Tampa has other needs.
A bigger need for the Bucs is in the secondary where they’re still missing a high-level strong safety ever since the Mark Baron “experiment” didn’t work out. Peppers might not be perfect for everyone but he’s a phenomenal athlete with some nice tackling instincts and is a superb blitzer. He’s getting knocked for his coverage skills and only one career interception by some but he’s a much better cover safety in man than most you’ll find coming into the league. As a downhill destroyer strong safety who can be flexed and used in different ways in sub packages he has lots of value and is a great pick at 19 for Tampa Bay.
20. Denver Broncos – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
It might seem improbable and it is, but if Cook did for some reason slip this is likely his floor unless something comes out at the combine that changes things.
Cook could drop for several reasons; he’s not a 220-pound back which is the profile of who’s getting picked high in the last few classes, he has an injury history that could scare off some including nagging shoulder injuries, and he’s a running back in a very deep and talented class. If the Colts, Eagles, and Bucs go different directions a path to Denver isn’t that unlikely.
Cook is the pick here because he’d add speed and playmaking to a Denver offense that needs it. Cook might not be huge but he runs low to the ground and has nice vision on interior runs allowing him to do damage in all types of ways. He’s a threat to take the ball to the house on every play and his receiving ability make him a big factor in that part of the game as well.
The Broncos could, of course, address bigger needs like the offensive line or even the defensive trenches, but if a top talent like Cook is still around it would be foolish to pass up.
21. Detroit Lions – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Lions have some pieces in place though they’re still far from having their roster set in all areas. A big time pass rusher opposite Ziggy Ansah would go a long way in pushing their defense to the next level giving them a pair of imposing bookend rushers.
Charlton would be a local pick and similar to Ansah he’s long and arrives at the draft having been a bit of a late bloomer.
Charlton’s always flashed on tape with his long limbs and ability to bend and play well in pursuit. But this season he found another gear, and another one still in the last two big games of the season as he dominated against Ohio State and then in the bowl against Florida State. Charlton needs to be more consistent and his get-off the line isn’t elite, but he’s got a dangerous spin move and some impressive bend for a guy with his length. He could go a bit higher than this with good showings the next few weeks.
22. Miami Dolphins – David Njoku, TE, Miami
The new NFL year hasn’t even begun officially, yet the Dolphins have been very active cutting several players and even agreeing to a deal for Julius Thomas (in principal) with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Thomas is a nice and needed addition at a very modest price, but that shouldn’t keep Miami from drafting another player at the position who has lots of similar qualities to Thomas in his prime. Njoku isn’t the most developed at the position and he won’t blow anyone away as a blocker but his physical upside plus his talent as a red zone target make him very intriguing for the NFL.
He’ll absolutely be a name to look out for at the combine as he could really blow it up and go higher than this, but he fits what Miami is looking for to perfection. At a certain point, we see teams all the time get enamored with upside and that’s bound to happen with Njoku this draft cycle.
23. New York Giants – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Barnett has been incredibly productive in the SEC and even showed surprising ability to bend in 2016 – a big question mark going into the year – on top of some impressive well-rounded skills including some sneaky cover skills.
Yet Barnett keeps dropping a bit as his square build and average first-step has some doubting his ability to continue his success in the pros.
The G-men have built some great teams around stacked defensive lines, so they shouldn’t worry too much about how Barnett dropped down to hear rather just snatch him up and let him get after the quarterback.
24. Oakland Raiders – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Raiders defense while improved in some areas in 2016 was severely lacking in talent at middle linebacker and Cunningham could instantly turn that weakness into a strength.
The Vanderbilt leader is able to cover everything sideline to sideline an has some phenomenal instincts that often find him making plays in the opposing backfield. He also shows some promising skills in coverage, particularly as an underneath zone defender. He isn’t perfect and can sometimes get swallowed up by blocks, but as long as he’s got muscle up front protecting him he can be a high-level 100-tackle per season type guy. A big time pick for the Raiders who could also add talent at cornerback or pull the trigger on a running back (maybe Christian McCaffrey?).
25. Houston Texans – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Howard could have realistically gone 10 to 15 picks higher given his outstanding showing at the Senior Bowl but outside of a few teams there just wasn’t an obvious fit.
Howard is very much in play to be the top tight end taken this season even if I’m predicting Njoku going higher.
For the Texans and Bill O’Brien, he’s a great fit as a complete player at the position who could be used in lots of different ways. This would also allow him to use more two tight end sets, giving Lamar Miller more blockers and whoever is at quarterback would have another safety blanket.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Finally, the first offensive linemen taken, in what would be an unlikely scenario given the need all over the NFL but in a class this poor with this much talent in other areas the run might start a bit later around the end of the first/begging of the second round.
Robinson has had some very inconstant tape the last two seasons but he’s also arguably the offensive tackle in the class with the highest upside and at 21 he’s by far the youngest and most experienced – not to mention big game tested.
The Seahawks are desperately in need of more talent on the line and particularly at tackle, they’ve also shown a willingness to gamble on high upside o-linemen form the SEC in the past and Cam certainly fits the bill.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Don’t sleep on the chiefs surprising us all and pulling the trigger on Mahomes here, though he doesn’t seem to fit the West-coast system. An outside pass rusher as Tamba Hali gets older and Justin Houston has missed lots of time could be another underrated pick that few are thinking of right now.
For the time being they take a cornerback (which again you can’t really go wrong with this year) to fill in opposite Marcus Peters. Humphrey has the upside to go much higher than this but he’ll have to show some fluid hips as he does have some questions regarding his ability to turn and run. While also having to prove that he’ll be a competent deep threat defender as he allowed too many long bombs this season.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Cowboys just need to add more talent defensively and they should be pretty set, particularly more pass rush could significantly upgrade their unit.
Lawson on his end will have lots of questions to answer regarding his injury history which kept him out of almost two full season before returning in fine form in 2016. When healthy Lawson is strong at the point of attack, uses his hands well, and has good athletic traits to explode off the ball and bend the edge. Durability is obviously the big concern. After having gambled on Jaylon Smith a year ago Dallas could do it again.
29. Green Bay Packers – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Green Bay needs more cornerback help – theirs actually quite a few needs for this team despite their endless double-digit win seasons – and they’ll still have an abundance of choice with White and Quincy Wilson both notable first-round talents still available.
White has been a known name for a while and after a promising sophomore season and a much more inconsistent junior year he really played well as a senior.
Long and athletic, White will mix it up and is a threat when playing the ball as well. The Packers could use a go-to guy on the outside and White has that sort of talent.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Pittsburgh will have options as they try to add depth offensively and find a few more legit playmakers to bring the black and gold back to its regular ways on defense.
Wilson is so talented and suited to the modern NFL – meaning he’s big, can press, and is physical at the point of attack with plenty of speed down the sideline – that he could easily be off the board in the top 15. Given how stacked this cornerback class is he becomes the sixth cornerback taken and ninth defensive back.
The Steelers went with a cornerback last time around in the first round and could also opt to add a pass rusher which is another strong class this season. For now, Wilson stops his fall at 30 and the Steelers should be lucky to snatch him up.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Tim Williams, OLB/EDGE, Alabama
The Falcons did so many thing right in 2016, particularly on offense, and it’ll be hard to repeat. With that, the young defense that really blossomed towards the end of the year and through the playoffs will have to carry more of the load.
Vic Beasley is already leading the NFL in sacks and Atlanta has a nice rotation of interior guys but a true factor opposite Beasly could really allow this defensive front to make a huge jump. Williams might not fit perfectly given he’s a bit of a tweeter similar to Beasly but Dan Quinn’s system can fit two guys with similar burst and speed (plus lack of size) similar to how Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin worked together.
Add Williams’ speed and pass-rushing ability to the mix and this could be a great young front line for a long time. The Alabama product will have some big questions to answer regarding an arrest prior to the 2016 season and rumors surrounding his drug use. At this point, his talent far outweighs the risk for a team like the Falcons.
32. New England Patriots – Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
The Patriots just won the Super Bowl without their first round pick last season and they always seem content to trade down and add picks so take this selection with a grain of salt. The Patriots do however need to add more dynamic linebackers and edge rushers, lucky for them this class isn’t just loaded at corner but amongst the pass rushing core as well.
Harris had a down year to some extent – though he was still ultra productive in the SEC – and he might be just a one trick pony but that one trick is very coveted. Harris possesses an explosive first step off the line and has a devastating spin move. He’s not the most consistent against the run but for now, New England just needs to add more athleticism on the edge and Harris certainly fits the bill
33. Cleveland Browns – Ryan Ramczyk, LT, Wisconsin
34. San Francisco 49ers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
35. Jacksonville Jaguars – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
36. Chicago Bears – Budda Baker, FS, Washington
37. Los Angeles Rams – ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama
38. Los Angeles Chargers – Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
39. New York Jets – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
40. Carolina Panthers – Taylor Moton, RT, Western Michigan
41. Cincinnati Bengals – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
42. New Orleans Saints – Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple
43. Philadelphia Eagles – Curtis Samuels, WR/RB, Ohio State
44. Buffalo Bills – Obi Melifonwu, S, Uconn
45. Arizona Cardinals – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
46. Minnesota Vikings – Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
47. Baltimore Ravens – T.J. Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
48. Indianapolis Colts – Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
49. Washington Redskins – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
50.Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Eddie Jackson, FS, Alabama
51. Denver Broncos – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
52. Cleveland Browns (via the Tennessee Titans) – Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M
53. Detroit Lions – Jarrad Davis, OLB, Florida
54. Miami Dolphins – Derek Rivers, EDGE, Youngstown State
55. New York Giants – D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
56. Oakland Raiders – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
57. Houston Texans – Marcus Maye, FS, Florida
58. Seattle Seahawks – Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State
59. Kansas City Chiefs – Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
60. Dallas Cowboys – Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
61. Green Bay Packers – Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
62. Pittsburgh Steelers – Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
63. Atlanta Falcons – Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
64. New England Patriots – Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech