Being a sports fan is a wonderful thing. Unlike weekly television shows, which go on hiatus for long stretches, there is never a down time in the sporting world. Yes, each sport has its season. But when one ends, another is just beginning.
So while it was sad to see the NFL season come to an end back in February, when the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons, there was a ray of light. The MLB season was getting ready to roll as Spring Training was underway. The college basketball world was gearing up for its stretch run. The NHL and NBA were each getting close to the close of their regular seasons.
Since that time, the North Carolina Tarheels won the NCAA Tournament. The MLB regular season has gotten underway. And the NHL and NBA started their postseasons. But now it is time for the NFL to jump back into the spotlight for a bit.
That is because the 2017 NFL Draft is nearly upon us. The first round will take place next Thursday, April 27th. While I do not follow college football very closely, I cannot help but get excited when the draft rolls around. It is always fun to see what players each team add to their rosters.
But even more importantly, it is always a fun time predicting each pick. And that is where a good mock draft comes into play. So while I am not the most informed fan in terms of knowing the players that will be selected, I am still a football fan. And the next few slides will run through my predictions for all 32 first round picks!
1) Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M: You can argue all you want that the Browns need a quarterback. But they also desperately need defense. Given this quarterback field seems to be on the weaker side, and the team has another pick at 12, the signal caller can wait. Cleveland gets a top notch defensive player that they will look to anchor around for years to come in Garrett.
2) San Francisco 49ers – QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson: Like the Browns, San Fran can go in a few different directions. That’s because they were so bad that they have plenty of needs. One of these teams are going to throw everyone for a loop by taking the first quarterback. And I do not think the wait will be long. The Niners pull the trigger and hope Watson is their man for years down the road.
3) Chicago Bears – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford: The Bears can use plenty of help on the defensive side of the ball. Almost every position on that side of the ball can be upgraded with this pick. It will come down to either Thomas or Marshon Lattimore. While the secondary help would be huge, the Bears cannot pass on the upside of Thomas. The man from Stanford will look to bring back the power to the defense in the Windy City.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama: Not often do you see a tight end go this early in the draft. But with Julius Thomas now in Miami, the Jags are in need of some weapons on offense. Howard will do just that. He will immediately become one of the team’s best offensive talents, and will likely be used heavily when it comes to getting the ball in the end zone.
5) Tennessee Titans – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State: The Titans have two major needs. Their secondary and their wide receivers. They will be absolutely ecstatic to see Lattimore there at five. With there being no clear cut number one wide-out, taking the corner is an easy choice here. Lattimore is not only one of the more talented players in the draft, but he also fills that huge hole the club has.
6) New York Jets – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU: The Jets need a lot of help on offense. A quarterback is certainly a strong possibility here. But my gut tells me they pass and chance they get the guy they want at pick 39. With Matt Forte now over 30, the team will look for their back of the future. Sure Bilal Powell is a nice back, but he is no Fournette. The J-E-T-S will just not be able to pass on the talent as they look towards the future.
7) Los Angeles Chargers – CB Malik Hooker, Ohio State: No surprise, Ohio State gets their second player taken and we are only seven players deep. The Chargers will need to upgrade the defense in some shape or form with this pick. Being in a new home, there will be plenty of spotlight on them. While most may point to safety here, I’m taking the corner.
8) Carolina Panthers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford: Alabama isn’t the first or second team that will see two players taken in the first ten picks, as Stanford sees their second player go here. It is time to find the heir apparent to Jonathan Stewart and all of his injury issues. The Panthers will look to give Cam Newton another weapon he can work with in the coming years. Their offense can certainly use a few upgrades and it will all start here.
9) Cincinnati Bengals – LB Rueben Foster, Alabama: Everyone is saying Foster will slide down the board following a failed drug test. But guess what. The Bengals have a history of taking guys with red flags. So they will look past the drug test, and base their pick solely on the need to improve their defense and Foster’s talent. I could see them trading down if they feel Foster is their guy and they feel comfortable in him sliding.
10) Buffalo Bills – QB Mitch Trubisky, UNC: The Bills need a young face to build their franchise around. Sammy Watkins has been to up and down in his career, mainly thanks to injuries, to be considered the name fans clamor for. As much as I love LeSean McCoy, he is getting up there in age. If Trubisky can prove to be that guy, the Bills can find themselves on the up and up in the next few years.
11) New Orleans Saints – S Jamal Adams, LSU: Talk about a perfect match. The Saints can use some help in the secondary. Adams is from LSU. So why not keep the youngster in the same state. Fans will likely love the pick, as they will be very familiar with the name. He will certainly fill a need for the team. Appeasing the fans is just the frosting on the cake.
12) Cleveland Browns – LB Haason Reddick: The Browns started things off by helping the defense. Most will be clamoring for them to take a QB here. But with two off the board already, the Browns will pass and continue to build the defense. Defense wins championships. So the Browns will put a major focus on that side of the ball in the first round. With plenty of picks in this draft, they will avoid reaching for the wrong QB and hope the right one falls to them in the second round.
13) Arizona Cardinals – DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama: The Cardinals could go in a number of different directions. They could opt to take a new signal caller. They could try to upgrade their receiving corps. Or they could tackle any number of defensive positions. So they simply opt for the best available player. And that player is Allen, who simply shouldn’t be on the board at this point.
14) Philadelphia Eagles – WR Mike Williams, Clemson: The Eagles have added several wideouts this offseason. But remember, Alshon Jeffery is only playing on a one-year deal. So the team could very well look for someone who they could rely on in years to come. That is where Williams comes in. He can sit back this season, around fourth on the depth chart, and learn. Then moving forward, he can elevate himself into Wentz’s top target.
15) Indianapolis Colts – OL Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin: The Colts need to find a way to keep Andrew Luck on his feet and healthy. That starts by protecting him no matter the cost. That starts by using a first-round selection on an offensive lineman. Ramczyk is the best name out there this year in my eyes, so that’s where I see them going with this pick.
16) Baltimore Ravens – WR John Ross, Washington: The Ravens have not really had much luck with wide receivers as of late. They really haven’t had a true number one in I don’t know how many years. Kamar Aiken is now in Indy. So the team is in desperate need of upgrading the position. I would be shocked if they didn’t go the route of a wide receiver.
17) Washington Redskins – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan: Way back before draft season kicked into high gear, I recall seeing Peppers name as a top five or so pick. Lately, it seems like he could fall out of the first round. So I am going to split the difference and have him fall somewhere in the middle of this round. Yes he has flaws, but he also has plenty of talent. The Redskins will take the gamble.
18) Tennessee Titans – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan: The Titans addresses their first big concern with their first pick. Now they take care of prime need number two. That comes in the form of someone who can catch passes. Davis will be the guy the Titans hope breaks their streak of busts at the position in the early rounds.
19) Tampa Bay Bucs – DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee: At this point in the first round, the defensive lineman are starting to get a bit jumbled in terms of where they rank. The Bucs have a few needs they could focus on, but I see them looking to address the defense. Barnett happens to be my next rated player who fits their needs. So that’s where I have them going.
20) Denver Broncos – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama: The Broncos could use some upgrades along the offensive line. If they want their offensive weapons (CJ Anderson, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders) to be used properly, they need to keep who ever is under center on their feet. Robinson comes from a school that has produced plenty of NFL starters, so the Broncos will hope he is the next one in that long line of names.
21) Detroit Lions – DL Taco Charlton, Michigan: This is where the “uneducated” part of me comes out. As a fan, I can’t help but root for a guy named Taco to get drafted. I have seen his name bandied about in the first round in a few mock drafts, but not all. The Lions need defense. Charlton is from Michigan. So Lions fans will be screaming “We want Taco!”.
22) Miami Dolphins – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida: I am going to stick with the theme of a player staying in the same state. I see Davis as a solid upgrade for the Dolphins defense. As the top remaining defender on my board who is not in the secondary, I think this would be a good fit.
23) New York Giants – OL Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky: The Giants have had some success in the past drafting lineman in the early rounds. Yet, they still always seem to have a need there. So while they have had guys work out, they could still use some more reinforcements. Lamp fits what they like to do. So there will be a new Lamp in town when the Giants suit up for their first game.
24) Oakland Raiders – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State: Conley simply put should not be on the board this late. But my gut tells me that the corners slide a bit as there seems to be a rather large group bunched together in the rankings. Once one goes, many more will follow. So be prepared to see a handful of cornerbacks coming in the next eight picks.
25) Houston Texans – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech: The Texans need a new quarterback. Plain and simple. Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden simply are not going to cut it. Mahomes will serve the role of hometown hero, as he played college ball in Texas. So what better combo, right? Mahomes will look to be the savior in Texas.
26) Seattle Seahawks – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU: The Seahawks could certainly use help in the secondary. Richard Sherman is not getting any younger. White is next on my list at the position. So that’s why he is my pick here for Seattle.
27) Kansas City Chiefs – LB Charles Harris, Missouri: I struggled a bit in nailing down this pick. I considered several offensive players, as I do feel that is their prime weakness. But as much as I wanted to go offense, I just couldn’t find the guy I felt was the right fit. So by default, I ended up on my top rated remaining defensive player, Charles Harris.
28) Dallas Cowboys – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama: The cornerback train continues. And it will for a few more picks. The Cowboys need secondary help more than anything else. They land on Mr. Humphrey.
29) Green Bay Packers – CB Kevin King, Washington: Just like the Cowboys, Green Bay is in need of some assistance in the secondary. Next stop on the cornerback train, Kevin King.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC: Last one, I promise. The Steelers have a few holes on the defensive side of things. I also considered a tight end here, as I think Ladarius Green is a bust. But at the end of the day, I still see corner as their top need where there is still a player I see fitting.
31) Atlanta Falcons – TE David Njoku, Miami: Njoku could very well be gone by now. But tight ends rarely get love in the first round of the NFL Draft. That is why I see him taking a bit of a fall. The Falcons already have a potent offense. But every since Tony Gonzalez retired, they really haven’t had a player at the position that fans know. Njoku can make a dangerous offense even more deadly.
32) New Orleans Saints – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State: Cook is a great compliment to Mark Ingram in my eyes. The Saints used to be all about the air game. But now that Brandin Cooks is gone, things could very well shift more towards a ground attack. Things started in that direction in more recent years, and the transformation becomes complete with this pick.
So there you have it! Do you agree with any of my picks? Who do you want your favorite team to pick? Tell us in the comments!