The NFL regular season is two weeks from being over and for teams not going to the playoffs it’s time for GM’s to get ready for the NFL Draft. This week we will take a look at what many will call a way too early glance at the draft with our own 2017 Mock Draft – Round # 1
1. Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Allen (Alabama) DL – Allen is just simply too talented and can help improve an incredibly weak run defense. The Browns are in need of multiple improvements on both sides of the ball but Allen is simply too talented to overlook.
2. San Francisco 49er’s: Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) OLB/DE – This is an interesting pick because the 49ers could go with either a QB, OL, S, or ILB. Garrett’s ability as a pass rusher may be too tempting for them to pass up. It will give them their Aldon Smith 2.0 to help create a more consistent pass rush and take pressure off their secondary. However, as long as Chip Kelly is their coach, don’t be surprised if they go with a mobile QB like Watson or Kizer that fits their current offensive scheme.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Cam Robinson (Alabama) OL – Again, here is another example of a team possibly going multiple directions when it comes to what position to focus on improving. The problem they had in 2015 was protecting Bortles and after this last offseason, it still seemed to be their largest weakness. Obviously, more than their offensive line needs to improve, but they need to address their biggest issue. Robinson has been a dominant force at Alabama against top-tier talent in the SEC. He has proved that he is a player that is a day one starter which could help be a large contributor to improving the Jaguars overall offense. Especially with the weapons they have. That’s if Bortles can help his team by showing he should be considered a franchise QB.
4. Chicago Bears: Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) S/LB – Peppers is a freak when it comes to athleticism. He is a guy the Bears could move all over the field and has loads of similarities to Tyrann Mathieu for Arizona. He has the ability to help sure up some of the key weaknesses in the Bears secondary which needs to happen. The Bears front seven looked better this season behind the play of Hicks, Floyd, and Young but their inconsistent secondary took away from their performance. If they can get healthy and improve at the safety position, that defense could really surprise some people in 2017. The only remaining issue, which is a BIG one, is their lack of options at quarterback. That being said, Peppers is just a player that can make their defense more reliable and there isn’t a QB that seems to be worth a 4th overall pick.
5. Tennessee Titans (trade from Los Angeles): Teez Tabor (Florida) CB – Now this is an interesting opportunity for the Titans who could really use more reliability at corner. Tabor has great size complimented by speed. He shows to have the ability to contribute quickly. The only real question is can he tackle consistently enough to be a number 1 corner.
6. New York Jets: Leonard Fournette (LSU) RB – The Jets are a team that simply can’t pass on a player with the size and explosiveness of Fournette. He has size, speed, and agility that is unlike any other running back in this year’s draft. Forte is still showing he has some gas left in the tank but is 31 years old and Fournette is someone you can compare to Demarco Murray, which anybody would love to have (minus the eagles…). The only cause for concern is durability with a number of injuries he has dealt with this season.
7. Carolina Panthers: Adoree Jackson (USC) CB – For some reason, Adoree Jackson has been overlooked due to USC struggling at the beginning of the season. What’s funny is that Jackson won the Thorpe award. That is given to the nation’s top defensive back and with Peppers and Tabor being in the mix says a lot! He has outstanding athleticism and is a player that’s not getting the recognition he should be in many mock drafts. For teams that need a cornerback as badly as the Panthers do, Jackson is someone they need to take.
8. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett (Tennessee) DE – Here is a player that many people don’t know about which makes him a “boring” pick. But this is a player that has shown that he is ready for the next level coming off a 12 sack season. Barnett has great burst and toughness that will help improve a weak Saints defense with a poor front seven. He fits their scheme perfectly but how he performs at this year’s combine will truly dictate how high he actually goes in the draft.
9. Cleveland Browns (trade from Philadelphia Eagles): Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin) OL – Everyone knows that the browns have a long list of needs. Especially at offensive line, outside of Joe Thomas, they flat-out CAN’T protect any of their quarterbacks. Ramczyk comes from Thomas’ alma mater which obviously produces some talented offensive lineman. The browns truly need to focus on building at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball before they can ever expect to produce winning seasons. Many people think this would be too high for Ramczyk or the Browns should use this pick to draft a wide receiver but what good does it do if you can’t protect your quarterback long enough to pass to them? This is the RIGHT pick, not the sexy one.
10. San Diego Chargers: Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame) OT: Now this should be an obvious choice due to how weak they are at the offensive tackle position. How can it be considered a bad choice for picking a guy who was a two-time All-American? McGlinchey is a player who has a high motor, great size, and durability. He was on a terrible team this year but he actually played extremely well if you watched Notre Dame. He deserves to go higher than what people think he should, which is why McGlinchey could be a day one starter and a consistent contributor for years to come.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Mitch Trubinsky (North Carolina) QB – The first quarterback off the board and he only has 13 career college start under his belt. That being said, he shows tremendous arm talent and good size. The lack of starts though is a little nerve-racking. He fits their style of offense perfectly with him being mainly a pocket passer and having the ability to take deep shots, which Bruce Arians loves to do.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster (Alabama) LB: Foster was voted the nation’s best linebacker and the Bengals desperately need an upgrade at inside linebacker which Foster would definitely be. Very similar to CJ Mosley who has been great for the ravens. Foster is absolutely a day one starter and someone who can immediately contribute at a high level. The only question some have, is he an average player that was on an amazing defense which made him look better than he is? In response to that, make sure you pay close attention to him in Alabama’s bowl games and you’ll see for yourself.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams (Alabama) LB – Tim Williams is exactly what the Colts need! Especially with how poor their linebacking core has been in regards to stopping the run and creating pressure on the quarterback. Williams has great size a fantastic technique. Dalvin Cook being available at this point is very difficult for the Colts to pass up at this spot. But what is important is becoming a better overall football team. They can focus on signing or trading for a running back in free agency and not drafting one and having the same issues in 2017. It’s time the Colts start implementing a defensive minded approach to 2017 to make themselves contenders for the AFC title once again. Their offense has the capability to move the ball and put points on the board. The reoccurring issue is they can’t hold teams to fewer points than their top 10 offense can put up.
14. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams (Clemson) WR – Buffalo has a major lack of talent at the Wide Receiver position outside of Sammy Watkins, who always seems to be hurt. Mike Williams will give them more size and a downfield threat which will make secondary’s play off the ball to take away the threat of Watkins, Williams, or Goodwin hitting them deep. That will open things up even more for McCoy. Mike Williams is the piece of the puzzle that needs to be added to make their offense more complete.
15. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) CB: Stockpiling on cornerbacks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having depth and young talent at that position is something that will never hurt a team’s chances of becoming better defense. Humphrey gives the Titans a cornerback who is an outstanding tackler and has solid ball skills. The addition of Humphrey and Tabor immediately makes the Titans secondary deeper and more talented.
16. Baltimore Ravens: John Ross (Washington) WR – Now here is a guy who has big play written all over him. Ross has elite route running ability, good hands, and great speed. He is average in size but helps strengthen an aging receiving core in Baltimore. Steve Smith Sr. is about to hang up the cleats and Mike Wallace is deep ball only receiver who can’t be relied on to be a WR1. Ross is similar to a Randall Cobb and that wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Ravens to have.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (trade from Minnesota Vikings): Desmond King (Iowa) CB – Philadelphia started the season as a dominant defense, then everything began falling apart. The secondary began giving up big plays and simply not playing with consistency. King has had an outstanding college career and a great tackler who has outstanding ball skills. The main concern for King would be, does he have the speed to match NFL receivers. King could be one of the NFL’s best nickel corners or the Eagles could use King as a CB2 and be more than happy.
18. Green Bay Packers: Malik McDowell (Michigan State) DE/DT – Here is a player who was an absolute force off the edge this season for the Spartans. He has outstanding speed for a player his size. Durability and strength may be an issue but his NFL comparison would be Deforest Buckner. McDowell is a player that fits Dom Capers 3-4 scheme perfectly as a DE. With Mike Daniels at the nose, Green Bay could really strengthen the defensive line with the addition of McDowell.
19. Washington Redskins: Lowell Lotulelei (Utah) DT – Washington definitely needs a boost on the defensive side of the ball if they want to pose a legitimate threat to the Cowboys or the Giant, especially at defensive tackle. Lotulelei doesn’t have the size they may be hoping for. However, he has great strength, burst, and a relentless motor. He never takes a play off or loafs, which all coaches’ love. This is a player that could rotate in with Baker and by midseason be Washington’s number 1 defensive tackle.
20. Miami Dolphins: O.J. Howard (Alabama) TE – Tight end has been a weakness for the Dolphins for years and here is a player that could finally give them that extra offensive weapon they need. Howard would be most like Jimmy Graham if I were to compare him to an NFL tight end. Howard has incredible speed and agility for a player of his size at 6’6” 242 pounds. He has shown he has above average blocking ability but does need to improve if he is going to help in the run game. Definitely worth the 20th pick in the draft.
21. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: JuJu Smith Schuster (USC) WR – Some critics would say that Schuster doesn’t play with consistent effort and at times “takes plays off”. That is something where coaches have to find a way to motivate the young superstar caliber receiver. Having him opposite of Mike Evans would make the Buccaneers offense very dangerous and give them a chance to be the top team in their division. The defense has been dominant over the latter half of the season. Their offense just needs that extra spark with a young talent to step in and make them more complete. He has the hands, the size, and the speed. Now it just comes down to if he is willing to commit and go all out every play.
22. Denver Broncos: Dan Feeney (Indiana) OG – There are players on the board that are much more talented at the skill positions but it’s about selecting the players that will make your team better. The former super bowl 50 champions have shown they are struggling to protect their QB. Feeney is hands down the best guard in the draft this year. His addition would help the aging Broncos offensive line and give them a serious boost in pass protection. Feeney also was a two-time first team All-American and has the ability to be a day one starter.
23. New York Giants: Dalvin Cook (Florida State) RB – Cook going 23rd will be a shock to some people and the Giants have swung a missed BIG with drafting guys to be their workhorse back. Perkins had some decent games but a player like Cook will finally give the Giants a run game they so desperately need. Cook has elite vision and patience to let plays develop. That is also complemented with great speed and agility. He could be their day 1 starter and give them that missing piece that they really haven’t had since the Bradshaw and Jacobs days. What I mean by that is they finally should be able to run the ball with some consistency. The only real issue he needs to work on is pass protection to make himself a complete player.
24. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson (Clemson) QB – 2nd QB off the board should be Watson based on his production in that last two seasons. Now, the numbers and performances is big games were great. But, the big issue is consistency because this season Watson had games against weak opponents where he really struggled. All of that being said, he is still a quarterback with great mobility that approaches each passing down with a throw first mindset. Being a mobile guy that can run is something NFL teams want their QB’s to have but not use more than they have to in order to stay healthy. Watson has the arm talent and with Osweiler showing to be a very bad investment, the Texans may not want to pass on a guy like Watson at 24.
25. Oakland Raiders: Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) LB – Cunningham is a great player on a bad team which is why many of you may not know who he is. He has a great motor and decent size at 6’4” 230 pounds. He is coming off a very solid season with Vanderbilt having tallied 118 tackles and 16.5 for loss which shows he can get penetration. Oakland has arguably the best offense in the NFL but their defense is mediocre at best. Khalil Mack and Bruce Irving off the edges gives them outstanding pass rushers but their interior is their weakness. Giving up 117 yards per game to opposing teams on the ground puts them at 25th against the run. Cunningham could give them a much-needed boost in improving their run defense.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Sidney Jones (Washington) CB – The Falcons are a team that needs to build on defense to become super bowl contenders. Jones is a solid corner who is a little undersized but has the ability to be in the right position to make plays. He isn’t a guy that will win the 50-50 ball as much as fans may hope. But, he plays consistently and has great speed to help protect against the deep ball. Coming out of the PAC-12, which is probably the most pass heavy conference in college football, he has done more than enough to show scouts he is ready for the NFL. He is a player that could be used mainly as a nickel corner in his rookie season but moved to CB2 later on.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: Raekwon McMillan (Ohio State) ILB – The Steelers are in an interesting situation due to Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons both being in the final years of their contracts. Timmons is getting up there in age and Jones is a younger talented pass rusher. They’ve already had luck in the past with drafting inside linebackers out of Ohio State (Ryan Shazier). McMillan has been the Buckeyes best linebacker for the last two years and could really help give the Steelers run defense a much-needed boost. Some experts have him going in the mid-2nd round but with the Steelers need at linebacker and the former Butkus winner still being available, he is a must pick for them.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Roderick Johnson (Florida State) OT – Johnson has great size at 6’6” 325 pounds and is a great run blocker. He needs some improvement on his footwork when it comes to pass blocking. However, with how badly the Seahawks need to improve their offensive line play to help protect Russell Wilson, Johnson is a solid pick. With some coaching and practice against Seattle’s outstanding pass rushers, he could become a midseason starter for the hawks.
29. Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton (Michigan) DE/DT – The lions picking 29th?!?! Who would have ever thought that would be the case? They have improved drastically but the defense still needs work. Charlton is a guy they could desperately use at the defensive end position. Great strength and speed for a player his size (6’4” 285 pounds). He has the ability to get up and knock down the check down passes at the line of scrimmage as well, which is something that is commonly overlooked when it comes to evaluating players. His burst and motor makes him a solid front 3 pass rusher, which the lions need to consider adding. Charlton would be the smart choice for Detroit at 29.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: DeShone Kizer (Notre Dame) QB – The Chiefs have a solid football team across the board but the one area where they show inconsistency and weakness is at quarterback. Alex Smith is a possession quarterback who rarely takes shots downfield, which hinders their offense. If the Chiefs are going to become the front-runners of a very tough division, they need a big play QB. Kizer could be that guy if he gets his accuracy dialed in. He has the arm strength but there are times where he misses the easy throws that would result in critical first downs that keep your defense off the field. If they can work out those kinks then they would have a player that could have easily gone top 5 in this year’s draft. His mobility also makes him a guy that can make things happen on busted plays whether it be through the air or on the ground. I would compare him to a Jameis Winston.
31. New England Patriots: Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) RB – Now the Patriots could probably use an offensive tackle, linebacker, or wide receiver more than a running back. However with McCaffrey being a perfect fit for what the Patriots love to do with their running backs in the passing game, makes him the right choice. His speed and open field ability to make a normal play a big play is something I don’t see Belichick passing by. The former Heisman candidate is also a player you can line up in shotgun formations and count on to gain consistent yardage between the tackles.
32. Dallas Cowboys: Charles Harris (Missouri) DE – The Cowboys are having a season that nobody would have anticipated but they still need to improve somewhat on the defensive side of the ball. Harris is a perfect fit for Rod Marinelli and his 4-3 defense. Harris is the best player in a 4-3 scheme left on the board at this point and having 12 tackles for loss along with 9 sacks makes him a great addition. Finally, Harris has great size and speed that will give the Cowboys line more depth and a consistent pass rush.