2017 NFL Draft Offensive First-Round Picks

Every year you will see 100 different social media “scouts” give you their impression of the upcoming NFL Draft. And with that, you will see 100 different versions of who they think will go in the 1st round. In all honesty, there are typically about 25-40 guys, depending on how good or bad the draft is, that should get 1st round grades. Since this year is stellar of a draft, I will go over the 1st round guys for defense and offense separately with this article covering the offense. So, without further ado, let’s get to the possible NFL Draft offensive 1st round picks.

Quarterbacks:

Mitchell Trubisky – North Carolina
Deshone Kizer – Notre Dame
Deshaun Watson – Clemson

Unfortunately, this year there isn’t a Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck type of player in the NFL Draft. All the above QBs have issues that can be picked apart. Trubisky is considered by most to be the best of the group, but he has only started for 1 year. Kizer is probably the most physically gifted, but the inconsistency of his accuracy shows up way too much. Watson has accomplished the most of the 3 in college, but he struggles in the pocket too much and has accuracy issues. The next ranked guys that I expect to go in rounds 2 or 3 are Patrick Mahomes, Brad Kaaya, and Davis Webb.

Running Backs:

Leonard Fournette – LSU
Dalvin Cook – Florida State
Christian McCaffrey – Stanford

All 3 of these backs bring something different to the team that drafts them. Fournette is 240 pounds and runs a 4.51 forty. He is a pounder that runs in between the tackles, but enough speed to get to the outside. Cook is smaller at 210 pounds, but he’s a better pass catcher and has more quickness in the hole. He arguably is better overall than Fournette, but some off the field issues may push him to the 2nd half of the 1st round.

McCaffrey is a WR in an RB’s body. That’s not to say he can’t get 20 touches a game and start as an RB, just means he will get 4-5 of those touches as catches out the backfield. He is probably the most versatile of the 3 as he can get 10-15 carries in the backfield, he can play in the slot as a WR, and he can handle punt return and kick return duties. The other RB that has obvious 1st round talent is Joe Mixon, but an off the field, domestic violence, issue caught on camera pushes him down to at least round 2.

Wide Receivers:

Mike Williams – Clemson
Corey Davis – Western Michigan
John Ross – Washington

Just like the RBs, all 3 of these talented WRs bring something different, but they are all extremely good at what they do. Williams is the biggest of the 3 and is great at high-pointing the ball. He has a wide throwing area and has faced the best competition. Davis may be the best overall of the 3. He is a great route runner, spectacular with the ball after the catch, and is faster than Williams. Speaking of fast, Ross broke the combine’s 40-time record by running a 4.22 forty. He is a home run hitter and probably fits better in the slot, but can play on the outside. He reminds me a lot of Brandin Cooks.

Tight Ends:

OJ Howard – Alabama
David Njoku – Miami

Howard is the most complete TE to come out in a very long time. He has the speed to get past most TEs, and the power to run over most DBs. Howard is one of the few TEs now that can catch but also is a very good blocker. He could end up going as high as 4th to the Jaguars. Njoku is more of the new-age TE. He is not the best of blockers, but his athletic ability is off the charts. He can split out wide against a Safety and beat them most of the time. Njoku will be a mismatch nightmare in the NFL.

Offensive Linemen:

Ryan Ramczyk – Wisconsin
Cam Robinson – Alabama
Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky
Garett Bolles – Utah

Ramczyk faces some good competition this year and stood up against all. In fact, he’s someone who is looked at as a day 1 starter at LT. Not a “can’t miss”, but a solid player for 10+ years. On the other hand, Robinson is someone who I think would be better on the right side. He’s a great run blocker, but is inconsistent as a pass blocker, very like Ereck Flowers. However, Lamp is the most versatile of the group. Left tackle may be a bit of a stretch but he ca play RT as well as both guard spots. In addition, Bolles is best for a zone blocking system. He as strong as the other 3, but probably is the most athletic of the group.

 

Above are 15 players that I think can, and most likely will, go in the 1st round. With as much as 25 more players to be named on the defensive side of the ball, it means 1 things, there will be a lot of top notch talent on day 2 of the draft. Consequently, this year’s NFL Draft has an abundance of talent on both sides of the ball. Nonetheless, it’s considered 1 of the deepest drafts of recent times. If you are a team that has multiple 1st or 2nd round picks, congratulations because this is the perfect year to have them. Next up, I’ll be discussing the NFL defensive 1st round picks.




San Francisco 49ers 2017 Mock Draft

The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of holes to fill. A lot. John Lynch made some incremental moves to improve what was one of the most talent-bereft rosters in the NFL in free agency. However, Lynch did not get anything that would tip the 49ers’ hand for their multiple draft picks. The 49ers have ten picks in this draft. While former 49ers GM Trent Baalke’s MO would be to move around with these picks, the 49ers have so many holes I would expect most of these end up being used by the team. The 49ers have the following picks:

1.02 (second overall)
2.02 (34 overall)
3.02 (66 overall)
4.02 (109 overall)
4.37 (143 overall – compensatory pick)
5.02 (146 overall)
5.17 (161 overall – from Washington)
6.14 (198 overall – from Baltimore)
6.18 (202 overall – from Denver)
7.01 (219 overall – from Cleveland)

While I fully expect John Lynch to trade back from second overall to get more draft capital, for this exercise we will assume the 49ers keep all their picks. What will they do with them?

1.02 – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
There are four names timed to the 49ers at #2 overall: Soloman, Myles Garrett, Mitch(ell) Trubisky and Malik Hooker. In a perfect world, the Browns overdraft Trubisky at #1 overall and Garrett falls to the 49ers. More likely they take Thomas to shore up their new 4-3 front. Hooker may be superfluous at this stage, given the 49ers already have several safeties on the roster. This will make three-straight first round Pac-12 defensive linemen for the 49ers. The 49ers taking Trubisky at two is closing the door on Kirk Cousins in 2018, and I don’t think they’re ready to do that.

 

2.02 – T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
The Niners go back-to-back defensive picks, getting much-needed edge rusher help in the form of J.J. Watt’s baby brother. The 49ers need pass-rush help, and ideally, Takkarist McKinley or Tim Williams would be here, but Watt will be the only one of the three still on the board. He has great genes but is injury-prone in his time in Wisconsin. It’s a bit of a reach, but the Niners desperately need an upright edge player like Watt.  In a perfect world they trade back to the 6-8 range, pick up another pick and get Reuben Foster in the first instead, but this is where draft slots play out for the Niners.

 

3.02 – Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR/PR/KR, CB, USC
Jackson makes it the third straight drafted defensive San Francisco 49er. The Niners attacked offense in free agency, so it makes sense they fill in defensively here. Jackson is a bit small for the NFL as an outside CB but has the skills to make it in the slot. The Niners have a need there with Ward moving to safety, and Jaquiski Tartt having questionable coverage skills. The Niners also get their return man, as well.

 

4.02 – Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
A low-ceiling pocket passer, Kaaya was a three-year starter in Miami. He provides the 49ers with a potential QB of the future behind Brian Hoyer if Kirk Cousins falls through in 2018. Kaaya is a safe pocket passer who doesn’t do anything flashy and has a limited ceiling. Sound familiar? He’s basically Kirk Cousins already. Mike Shanahan turned Kirk Cousins into something, and he may see a baby-Cousins in Kaaya. The 49ers could snag him as a potential starter or an identical-styled backup to cousins.

 

4.37 – Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
The 49ers have a questionable running back depth chart, and given Carlos Hyde’s injury history, they need to shore up that position. Perine’s style is similar to Hyde’s, so he should step right in if/when Hyde goes down.

 

5.02 – Javarius Leamon, OT, South Carolina State
Leamon is very raw, but he has tons of potential. The 49ers do not have much in the way of a swing tackle, but Leamon could fit the bill. The 49ers could bring in Leamon to build him up to be the heir to Joe Staley at LT.

 

5.17 – Josh Carraway, DE, TCU
More edge rush help and defensive depth. The main knock on Carraway is that he may not have a love for the game. That was true for Aaron Lynch, as well, who the San Francisco 49ers were able to coach up to usability. He is defensive depth with upside. He’s athletic and speedy but is likely better suited as a pass rush OLB rather than a strong DE.

 

6.14 – Aaron Jones, RB, Texas-El Paso
Jones is a small-school athlete who helped his draft stock at the combine. He had the second-highest SPARQ score among running backs. He’s a speedy change of pace back for the 49ers. UTEP split him out wide at times, speaking to his catching skills. He’s better off going around defenders than through them. Think a low-rent Tevin Coleman.

 

6.18 – Freddie Stevenson, FB, Florida State
John Lynch made it clear the San Francisco 49ers would be making fullbacks great again. He gave Kyle Juszczyk a massive contract this free agency period, and he secures a backup here. Stevenson is the ideal backup FB because he can serve as a special teams ace or practice squad player unless the 49ers need him.

 

7.01 – Brendan Langley, DB, Lamar
Another small school athlete uncovered by his SPARQ score, the 49ers snag another defensive back with upside. He is a former wide receiver, so his ball tracking is exceptional. He’s no guarantee to make the roster, but that’s the life of a seventh-round pick. He needs some seasoning, so he could be practice squad fodder.

 

Noticeably missing from this draft is wide receivers. The San Francisco 49ers have a ton of players that Mike Shanahan and John Lynch need to sort through. They also have a massive amount of defensive backs to sort through but need a good slot guy, so Jackson makes it. They spent a bunch on offense (and are held hostage by Kirk Cousins) so they lean on defense in this draft. GM John Lynch has a lot of work to do, and this year’s draft will be huge to rebuild the 49ers’ defense. The San Francisco 49ers don’t have plans to be great anytime in the near future, so depth and upside is the name of the game, not splashiness.




NFL: Rules and changes being proposed for league meetings

I had an opportunity this week that I would never have imagined. I was a part of a conference call with the NFL. They were previewing some rules changes and other items in advance of the Owners Meetings this week in Arizona.

The conference call opened up with a quick recap of some interesting stats from the previous season. One stat that was brought up that was interesting was how we saw four new teams get into the 2016 NFL Playoffs that were not in there for a while. In fact, they were the Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and the Atlanta Falcons. They also mentioned how we saw roughly 700 yards per game and the average points were 25.4 points per game. Then they started getting into some rule changes that are being proposed at the league meetings in Arizona.

Eliminating the jumper, on field goals, was on of the first proposals. Consequently, the reasoning for removing this from the game is to reduce the potential injuries that could come from players jumping. The NCAA is also pushing this rule. However, the pace of play was the major discussion on the day.

One thing that they want to do is have the refs make the announcement on an instant replay during a TV timeout. It used to be that they would wait until they came back from a television timeout to make the announcement if this gets passed, they won’t do that anymore. Regardless, if they do this, I am hopeful that whoever is calling the game that they are able to bring the TV viewer back into the action.

Several issues were worth discussing during the conference call. However, the one thing I found interesting was that they want to limit overtime games to only ten minutes, instead of fifteen minutes. The league does not expect more ties based on this change. Last year we saw two overtime ties, which ties the record for the most in an NFL season since 1997. Lastly, the Seahawks and Bills proposed that teams are granted more challenges.

It will be interesting to see which of these proposals receive approval at the league meetings.

What changes would you like for the 2017 season? Comment below.




Detroit Lions Will They Find Defensive Playmakers In The NFL Draft?

The Detroit Lions need to get over the hump. And may use another team’s model of drafting players to get there.

While the NFC North team is one on the rise, the fact this organization cannot get past the Green Bay Packers and become the dominant team in the division must weigh heavy on both management and the players.

Detroit has eight draft picks this year. As a result, they could lean heavily toward defense. More importantly, they need to fill needs and depth in all three areas of defense. That is, defensive line, linebacker, and secondary. And adding more picks is not out of the question.

According to prideofdetroit.com, during that 2000 NFL Draft, a young Bob Quinn was fresh out of the University of Connecticut and a lowly player personnel assistant; the bottom of the scouting food chain. Through the course of his tenure with the Patriots, Quinn rose up through the ranks and eventually became the Director of Pro Scouting in 2012. After spending over 15 years as a scout in some capacity, Quinn became the Detroit Lions GM just over a year ago, and the return on that investment for the Lions has been fruitful in terms of talent acquisition, both through free agency and, more importantly, the draft.

Will his experience with the Patriots lead him to trade back in the first round? Hence, adding more picks for an organization that has holes to fill. Consequently, will those moves, much like the ones that Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick makes, help the Lions get past their divisional nemesis?

And more importantly, how will this team improve its defense?

Detroit lacked playmaking on defense last season, generating only 14 turnovers and finishing with the fourth fewest turnovers among all teams in 2016. Of the five teams that finished with a double-digit turnover differential in 2016, four of those teams made the playoffs, two of them went to the Super Bowl and the New England Patriots—with a +12 differential—finished the season as champions.

The Detroit Lions have eight picks this year and it’s a good bet the majority will be focused on the defensive size of the ball. There are holes on offense where quarterback Matthew Stafford could use another wide receiver to play with and depth on the offensive line. But looking at the roster right now, Detroit needs at least one addition to at every unit on the other side of the ball.

Here’s a quick look at how I see the Detroit Lions first three rounds breaking down in April.

First round: No. 21 overall – Haasan Reddick, Linebacker, Temple

Reddick would be an instant starter inside. He has good size at 6-foot-1 and 237 pounds. He is quick, running the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds.

For a team void of playmakers in defense, this makes sense. The Lions currently have just three linebackers – Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow and Antwione Williams – with any real NFL game experience. They need to continue to add to the position this offseason.

If he is there, the Detroit Lions could make this move.

Second round: No. 53 overall – TreDavious White, Cornerback, LSU

He isn’t the ideal height at 5-foot-11 and 192-pounds, but White would make the secondary better in a hurry.

He was a first-team Walter Camp All-American. Likewise, White was an All-SEC selection last year (34 tackles, two INT, team-high 14 passes broken up). In a division that sees the Packers use multiple wide receiver sets and a Vikings team that will throw more this season, the pick may be the key to a better defense.

Third round: No. 85 overall – Jarron Jones, Defensive Tackle, Notre Dame

Jones recorded 45 tackles in 2016. This included 11 for a loss, two sacks, three passes batted and one forced fumble. Regardless, Jones was more active for Notre Dame than the numbers illustrate. Further, he is a disruptive defender who makes plays in the backfield in the ground game. By the same token, he puts heat on the quarterback

Jarron Jones takes up space and could be a plug and play type of guy on the Detroit Lions defense.




2017 NFL Draft: Minnesota Vikings Seven Round Mock

It’s NFL Draft season, and everyone will have their opinions on what a team should or should not do for the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia. I am going to take a look at the Minnesota Vikings, and give my opinion on who they should take in this draft.

Round 2 – Dan Feeney G, Indiana

Feeney would be a dream pick for the Minnesota Vikings in Round 2. They landed their starters at both tackle positions in free agency. Right guard is the last major weakness they have on the offensive line. He is a pro-ready prospect who the Vikings will start from day one, and hopefully many, many more Sundays after that.

Round 3  – Desmond King S, Iowa

The Vikings have yet to find a suitable and reliable counterpart to Harrison Smith.  That could all change here.  While things would have to fall into place for King to slide to round 3, it is possible.  He is a fluid moving safety who can cover like paint, and also come up and lay a big hit in run support.  He’d do well in a Mike Zimmer defense.

Round 3 (from Dolphins) – Montravius Adams DT, Auburn

The Minnesota Vikings were brutal against the run a season ago, and they have yet to address this position in free agency. Adams had an up and down Senior Bowl depending on who you ask.  Still, he’s a SEC battle tested big man, who can create interior pressure and help slow down opponents’ running attacks.

Round 4  – Ethan Pocic C, LSU

Pocic is a guy who is all over the experts’ draft boards.  He is tough as nails player who can also kick over and play guard if needed.  He is too good a value to pass up in round 4 and could battle Nick Easton for the starting center job as a rookie.

Round 4 (from Dolphins) – Kareem Hunt RB, Toledo

I waited until the second pick in round four, and still landed one of the sleeper running backs in this draft. Hunt showed up at the Combine eight pounds heavier than his playing weight at Toledo. He also ran a disappointing 40 time at 4.62.  To me, it’s more important that he’s got the tape that showcases his burst and also soft hands out of the backfield.  He could end up being a hidden gem here.

Round 5 – Taywan Taylor WR, Western Kentucky

The Minnesota Vikings wanted Alshon Jeffrey but lost out, so they want to add a WR to the mix.  Taylor is a compact 5’11, who runs smooth routes and has a sure pair of mitts on him.  He could end up going higher than this, so there was value here in the 5th round.

Round 6 – Dan Skipper OT, Arkansas

The Vikings would be wise to bring in at least one offensive tackle via the Draft.  They did sign Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers, but the depth chart is still paper thin.  Skipper is a huge man who towers damn near the 7-foot mark.  His footwork could stand to improve, but hopefully, the Vikings have time to refine his tools before he’s forced to see any live action.

Round 7 – Ben Boulware LB, Clemson

Boulware is one of my favorite players in this Draft, because of the intensity he plays with.  He isn’t the biggest or most athletic guy out there, but he is a ball of energy and workhorse. It’s easy seeing Boulware start out as a special teams standout before working his way into the rotation.




Los Angeles Rams: Creating an offense key to 2017 Draft

The Los Angeles Rams are a team on the rise. They have a young head coach, a young QB, and a strong defense. The Rams need to focus their 2017 NFL Draft on offense. If they are able to begin transforming the offense, they can be a formidable opponent. Here are a few pieces to place in their offense.

Round One – No Pick

The Rams traded the picks to the Tennessee Titans as part of the deal to acquire the 2016 #1 overall pick.

Round Two – Pick 37

Taylor Moton – Guard (Western Michigan) 6’5” 319lbs

Moton is a massive individual. This includes his arm length and big hands. In fact, bull rushers will not bully him. Moton, for the same reason, is a tremendous drive blocker. His addition would have a tremendous impact on an offensive line in need of help. Furthermore, he would bring a renewed focus to a lacking running game for the Los Angeles Rams.

The acquisition of Taylor Moton would come with some work. He lacks in footwork and punch for a guard. Without the proper techniques, he would be limited to being included in power packages only. This may be fine as a rookie. However, if the Rams want to fix their line for the future they will need to address these issues.

Round Three – Pick 69

Chris Godwin – WR (Penn State) 6’1” 209lbs

Godwin is quietly making a name for himself. He has done nothing but help Penn State over the past three years. The Rams hope he could do that for him. The speedy, but big WR would help make Jared Goff happy. Godwin ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 sec. He would also be a great target in the red zone.

Round Four – Pick 112

Kevin King – CB (Washington) 6’3” 200lbs

King has tremendous size to play the CB position. This allows him to stack up well against bigger WRs. For this reason, he would work well in Wade Phillips defensive system. Similarly, he has tremendous ball skills. He had six career INTs and has only allowed one TD in the last 100+ targets. In addition, his size does not hinder him in the slot either.

The Los Angeles Rams would have to work on King’s feet. They are very slow in press coverage. This allows receivers to be able to shoot right past. His lack of footwork places him in the trail position. He does not have the speed to play catch up if beat.

Round Four – Pick 141

Jalen Reeves-Mabin – LB (Tennessee) 6’0” 230lbs

Reeves-Mabin is a strong downhill player. Therefore, you will always find him around the football. Nevertheless, he rarely over-runs the play. Moreover, he has very good cover skills. As a matter of fact, Reeves-Mabin can run well for a linebacker. This also allows him to be able to stay on the field in passing situations.

The Los Angeles Rams may have to use Jalen Reeves-Mabin in passing situations only. Presently, he lacks some of the size and power to stop runners in their tracks. In fact, If met in the hole he may lose that battle.

He has a marked injury history that could be a concern.

The Los Angeles Rams can make marked improvements with a solid draft. They are still a couple of years away from a return to the playoffs. Consequently, the previous regime left them that way.

Whom do you think the Los Angeles Rams should draft? You can leave your comments below.

Follow Sean on Twitter @NFLINSC, Instagram – @NFLINSC, Snap Chat – @NFLINSC

 

 

 




New York Jets: Three round mock draft for 2017 – Do they take a QB?

It seems that the New York Jets are poised for a successful 2017 season. After going 5-11 during the 2016 season, they purged the roster. They would end up cutting ties with several players including Ryan Fitzpatrick, Darrelle Revis, and Nick Mangold. There were people within the New York sports market who were saying that the Jets need to hit a home run and do very well in both free agency and the draft. If I were the Jets GM, I would look to get these players.

Round 1, Pick 6

Malik Hooker (Safety from Ohio State)

I have gone on the record for the last few months in saying that the New York Jets should not go for a QB in this spot. I am aware that guys like Watson will be available here, but I wouldn’t go for any of them. The Jets have too many holes to fill and should look at other positions to fill before they worry about the QB position. In comes Malik Hooker, who has drawn comparisons to former Ravens great Ed Reed. He ranked third in interceptions with seven last season for the Buckeyes and has a lot of speed that could cause problems for receivers in the NFL. The Jets need a playmaker and Hooker can fill that void.

Round 2, Pick 39

Antonio Garcia (Offensive Tackle from Troy)

As the New York Jets have been getting rid of players this offseason, the offensive linemen have taken the biggest hit. The Jets have parted ways with Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini, two key guys on the offensive line. If Antonio Garcia is still on the board at that point, I would be foolish not to take him if I were the Jets. They need help on that offensive line and Garcia didn’t allow a sack on 900 consecutive snaps while at Troy.

Round 3, Pick 70

Quincy Wilson (Cornerback from Florida State)

The New York Jets lost Darelle Revis in the offseason and Buster Skrine has not played to his full potential since he was drafted. If the Jets were to take Wilson with this pick, they would be taking someone who is proven on the field. He could also help bolster the defense right off the back. In fact. the Jets secondary allowed the fourth most passing touchdowns and came away with the second fewest interceptions. Consequently, both areas could get help with Wilson.

I would like to make one note. Presently, I don’t have the Jets taking a QB in my mock draft for one reason. At this point, heir current QB core is Josh McCown, Christian Hackenberg, and Bryce Petty. Yes, that doesn’t scream a successful 2017 season but I don’t know what Hackenberg or Petty are truly like. We did get a small glimpse of Petty in 2016, but nothing that changes my views on this team.