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NFL Mock Draft 2017: Peppers, Garrett continue to be top prospects available

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The 2016 NFL season is six weeks in. Some teams are impressing, while others are disappointing big time. Teams are beginning to scout the college prospects as they prepare for the end of the season and improving ahead of the 2017 season. This isn’t to say they aren’t focused on the 2016 season, but many teams need to start preparing now for the offseason.

Check out our NFL Mock Draft and see who your favorite team will pick based on the order they currently sit.

1. Cleveland Browns- S Jabril Peppers/Michigan

Peppers is the definition of a “Defensive Weapon,” with that being said the Michigan Wolverines are very fortunate to have him at their disposal. I mean he returns kicks, he plays offense, he’s a hell of a safety that can play CB, and he’s played LB this year. There is no position where Peppers is unable to play, in fact, I wonder if Peppers can pass like Boobie Miles. All exaggeration aside, I think he’ll get drafted in the top 5, solely for the reason that he’s just so versatile.

The Browns should trade down from this position if they land here because someone will be desperate to draft one of these QB busts (Kizer, Watson, Kaaya). They do need to keep infusing talent into their organization and Peppers would accomplish just that. They also have the Philadelphia pick also! That’s also going to boost their chances.

2. Carolina Panthers- DE/OLB Myles Garrett/Texas A&M

Garrett might be the most explosive defense of a player that has come out of Texas A&M since Von Miller, and that’s not a lie. I’m not sure if he’s a 3-4 edge or a 4-3 DE with his hand in the dirt. Garrett has been a catalyst for the Aggies success on defense this season, along with S Armani Watts.

The Carolina Panthers need a pass-rusher to spell or replace Charles Johnson. They need a shot in the arm one-way or the other. They could draft Alabama OT Cam Robinson or LSU RB Leonard Fournette, but Garrett would at least give their defense a boost that will give their defense a much-needed boost.

3. Chicago Bears- OT Cam Robinson/Alabama
Chicago is in a tough position, right now they have a path to see their way out of Jay Cutler’s contract, but no QB in any way able to become a franchise guy. They’ll likely have to make a deal with a team to land a QB. This could be Romo, Garroppolo, or possibly for another veteran we don’t know about yet.

As for the Robinson pick, it’s simple. They need to protect whatever QB they bring in. I don’t care about the “character concerns” that may exist; most of these character questions prove to be completely erroneous.

4. San Francisco 49ers- QB DeShaun Watson/Clemson

Chip Kelly may end up pulling a Bobby Petrino or Nick Saban, and I don’t blame him, the NFL owners love head coaches like John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin, guys that don’t interfere with the owner’s authority and agenda. Kelly would be better off going to Texas, USC, LSU, or whatever college job opens up. He’ll regain control of a team again.

If Kelly does stick around, Watson is the one QB in the draft I could see him going for. I firmly believe this QB group is full of hypotheticals and not guys who can become franchise QBs. But Watson’s accuracy is close to Mariota’s. Watson has also proven himself late in games, a trait not many his age have, so I’ll give him that.

5. New York Jets- CB Desmond King/Iowa

The supposed decline of Darrelle Revis has been a topic of conversation this season and for the Jets, a team likely on their way to being back in the top 5, they can draft a man who can replace him. Desmond King, a Thorpe Award candidate once again, would easily be a #2 CB on his first day in camp. This would allow the Jets to have Buster Skrine as an NB, where he’s best suited.

As for the QB position, they selected Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round last season, they should give him a shot in 2017 before falling for another dud QB like Sanchez turned out to be. 2018 is going to have three top 10 graded QBs… Jackson (Louisville), Rosen (UCLA), and Browning (Washington).

6. Indianapolis Colts- DE Jonathan Allen/Alabama

This was the same selection I had for the Colts in the original mock draft in September I had… Allen is the perfect example of what you want as a three tech or five tech in today’s NFL. Particularly in a 3-4 defense in which Indianapolis still plays. It also helps that Allen can create some pass rush in the interior also always an added bonus when you’re talking about a Colts defense that has been utterly pathetic for the past five years.

But somehow if the Colts do end up picking in the top 10 and Leonard Fournette is still on the board, I tend to believe that can be the selection. Let’s face it folks, the Colts only care about putting points on the board. It’s been that way since the Bill Polian era, proving nothing will change.

7. Miami Dolphins- DE/OLB Charles Harris/Missouri

The Miami Dolphins are in a position where head coach Adam Gase wants to change the culture that has existed in Miami for a very long time. From what I’ve been hearing out of Miami, it seems as if veterans Mario Williams and Brandon Albert are likely out the door. If that’s the case still need to replace both of them almost immediately. Of course last years first round pick Laremy Tunsil will take the LT spot left behind by Albert.

That would make this Charles Harris pick that much easier for the Miami Dolphins. Paris is the most talented pass rusher in this draft outside of Myles Garrett, and with Cameron Wake getting up there in age, now might be the perfect time to get a guy who can replicate his production.

8. San Diego Chargers- S Jamal Adams/LSU

The city of San Diego is in the fight of their lives to keep their beloved Chargers in San Diego. While that’s happening, the charger still has a crap ton of needs to get back into relevance.

The bitter divorce that occurred between star S Eric Weddle and the team is something that has happened before with this organization. The charges will be in a position to draft LSU S Jamal Adams, One of the leaders in the Tigers defense; Adams is a guy capable of being the QB of the defense, the same way Harrison and Weddle were for years in San Diego. Jason Verrett should return to full health next year, having a capable player behind him would improve that secondary juristically.

San Deigo could also be in the market for an LT, but if they can keep Phillip Rivers happy, they may try to grab a veteran as opposed to drafting Cam Robinson or Roderick Johnson.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- RB Leonard Fournette/LSU

For the Cincinnati Bengals, this season just physically can’t get any worse. They haven’t had star TE Tyler Eifert, and to lose in the playoffs to hated rival Pittsburgh last January hasn’t helped that team’s confidence.

The Bengals are also in a position where they’re likely going to lose Giovani Bernard to free agency, and they’re going to have to answer whether or not they should keep Jeremy Hill.

If they decide to cut Jeremy Hill, I firmly believe that Leonard Fournette is a more than capable replacement. In fact, I see it as an upgrade for a team that has been seeking to get over the hump for about 10 years.

Fournette is one of the most physically gifted RBs I’ve ever seen. With a QB like Andy Dalton, The LSU star could be an instant hit in the NFL, not saying he’ll put up the same numbers as Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott but it wouldn’t surprise me.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars- LB Rueben Foster/Alabama

Foster is simply another talented LB from the University of Alabama, continuing the tradition that started with Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Foster has been deadly in pursuit this season, being able to get into the opposing backfield with relative ease.

As for the Jaguars, they have veteran I will be Paul puzzle is m as for the Jaguars, they have veteran LB Paul Posluszny, for a team as young as they are, they may be better suited letting him walk at the end of the season for the young Foster, especially if they compare him up with Myles Jack, the 2016 second round pick, from UCLA.
The Jaguars could also be in the market for a LT after former #2 pick Luke Joeckel didn’t quite work out for them there.

11. New Orleans Saints- CB Jalen Tabor/Florida

The man they call Teez, is rated by some of my fellow draftniks, as the top CB in the 2017 NFL Draft class. Tabor, like Hargreaves in the 2016 class, is a player but I don’t have many question marks about. Tabor, unlike Hargreaves, has prototype NFL size. He’s also rated as the top CB by CBS Sports. Tabor has been a huge help to continue the Gators defensive dominance that has stood since the days of Charlie Strong and DJ Durkin.

For the Saints defense that is been a complete joke for the past five years, it’s time to bring players that can actually play at a high-level. The Saints could also go a bunch of different ways defensively, but with 2016 first round pick Sheldon Rankins debuting in the next few weeks, we may need to find out what their other needs are before we shy away from their secondary

12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- DT Malik McDowell/Michigan State

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of youth with guys like Vernon Hargraves, Noah Spence, Mike Evans, and most notably 2015 #1 pick Jameis Winston. They appear to have a bright future down in Tampa.

It hasn’t been the prettiest season for the Michigan State Spartans, but you can’t place any blame on the defensive star. I compare McDowell to the likes of the DeForest Buckner, Who ended up being selected in the top 10 in last year’s draft. He might not be as athletic as Buckner, but he very well could be stronger.

Adding Michigan State giant Malik McDowell could give them an extra push into finding a run and make it harder for teams to block Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.

If Tampa can sure if their front seven, I believe their secondary will look a lot better than they do right now.

13. Detroit Lions- CB Sidney Jones/Washington

Every year, we see a couple of prospects that come out of nowhere and end up in perfect position to set up their future. Sidney Jones is a fine example of that. The Washington Huskie Junior has only been targeted nine times this season. I don’t care who you play, if no one is throwing it in your direction, then you must be doing something right. A lot of the Huskies could decide to stay in school to contend for a National Championship next year.

As for the Detroit Lions, I feel playing someone opposite of star CB Darius Slay would be super beneficial to their poor defense. They could target a running back, but I don’t think the Lions would give up on Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick just yet.

14. Arizona Cardinals- LB Raekwon McMillan/Ohio State

Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan is totally different than Alabama LB Reuben Foster, McMillan is much better in coverage, while I honestly believe Foster is much better against the run. Both players should be top 15 locks at this point.

And how that plays with the Arizona Cardinals defense is how they use S Tyrann Mathieu. They like to use him the way the Steelers once used Troy Polamalu, the blitz packages and the ability to move him all over the field.

Having a linebacker that can sit in coverage would be a huge bonus for a Cardinals defense looking for a boost. They could target another corner, I just feel in the situation they missed out on some of the premier guys. With the amount of depth at the position this year I feel they can get a guy in the later rounds.

15. Baltimore Ravens- OLB/DE Tim Williams/Alabama

All of the character concerns that I’ve heard about Tim Williams make me think that NFL teams are trying to make up some more bull crap in order to have him fall in the draft. Most years the guy who ends up falling proves all the teams that passed on him wrong. Some examples include Warren Sapp, Marcus Peters, Randy Moss, and I’m sure that I’m missing quite a few, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil have been battling their injuries for the past couple of seasons. Z’Darius Smith has come as a pleasant surprise to the team, but having Tim Williams on the other side could be beneficial to the team’s future special with the emphasis at rushing the quarterback.

16. Tennessee Titans (Via LA Rams)- CB Tre’Davious White/LSU

Tre’Davious White showed in the Wisconsin game the ability he has to create turnovers. Many consider him a second-round pick. I consider him as one of the best players at his position and a very deep draft class. White is a leader for a Tigers team that hasn’t necessarily lived up to their preseason expectations. But White is not to blame for that.

The Tennessee Titans are fortunate to have back-to-back first round picks in this scenario. Assuming that veteran CB Jason McCourty might be like go at the end of the year, the Titans are going to need someone to fill his shoes.

17. Tennessee Titans- WR Ju-Ju Smith Schuster/USC

Marcus Mariota has almost all the tools around him to be successful in the NFL. I was one of the doubters of him when he got drafted; I still don’t think he deals with the blitz very well. But with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry in the backfield with that mammoth of an offensive line, there a perimeter target away from having a truly balanced offense.

Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster is still my number one receiver in this draft class. The two differences between him and Clemson WR Mike Williams is consistency and injuries. Schuster can join a group with Tajee Sharp and former first-round pick Kendall Wright. Even if TE Delanie Walker bolts in free agency, they still have the ability to spread teams out, and as long as the Colts are in that division that’s easy points and easy yards.

18. New York Giants- RB Dalvin Cook/Florida State

Dalvin Cook is the best athlete among all of the RBs in this class, and that’s saying something. Cook has been the premier weapon for the Seminoles for the past two seasons, being a true game breaker. He’s also been very multi-dimensional, they’ve used him as a runner, a pass catcher, and he hasn’t been terrible in pass protection.

The Giants need to cut the crap. Their offensive line needs a boost, but I just don’t value Roderick Johnson that highly. To get a player like Cook gives them another play-maker on offense. As great as their receivers are, their receivers won’t have any room to throw if they’re sitting in zone coverage and not respecting the running game. The Green Bay Packers have the same problem.

19. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia)- DE/OLB Derek Barnett/Tennessee

Barnett has been Tennessee’s biggest star this season-wrecking havoc in opposing back fields and getting to the opposing quarterback consistently every week. The Vols have been in a lot of high-pressure situations this season, and for the most part, their defense has answered the call. Granted they had a lot of injuries.

As for the Cleveland Browns, they already have former Oklahoma State pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah. Pairing them together could form a nice duo, and with the division that includes Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Andy Dalton you can’t say it will never come in handy.

20. Kansas City Chiefs- S Eddie Jackson/Alabama

The Kansas City Chiefs secondary is going to need someone to help Marcus Peters out. Eric Berry hasn’t been the same presents since he came back from cancer. Maybe having a young S to develop behind him or with him is the best thing for the Chiefs future.

Eddie Jackson was one of the highest rated recruits coming out of high school, but in his early years of Bama, he looks like a lost puppy at CB. Since the move to safety, he’s been all over the field making plays almost every single game for the Crimson Tide. I value him as a first round pick based on his versatility. And for Kansas City that something they can value.

21. Green Bay Packers- RB Christian McCaffrey/Stanford

The Christian McCaffrey hype has died down in recent weeks thanks to an injury and the fact that Stanford has completely sucked this year. But I can honestly say it’s not any fault of McCaffrey’s. McCaffrey is seemingly the only weapon that the Cardinal have on their roster this season.

The Green Bay Packers have finally given up on Eddie Lacy it seems. They acquired Knile Davis from Kansas City, but he is also on an expiring contract. It’s time for Green Bay to get someone who can actually break plays open. There isn’t a back in this draft quite like Christian McCaffrey. The Packers could also go with Jake Butt at TE, but I think when you get a talent like McCaffrey falling right into your lap, you got to take advantage of that.

22. Buffalo Bills- WR Mike Williams/Clemson

I’ve had second thoughts about this pick quite a few times. But I can’t imagine Clemson WR Mike Williams falling out of the first round, despite the fact he’s not very high on my big board. Williams fits the bill as a possession receiver. Williams is DeShaun Watson’s most trusted target and as inconsistent as he can be, he trusts him enough to throw to him, the Louisville game proves that.

I know the Bills drafted a Clemson WR before in Sammy Watkins, but Williams is a completely different player than Watkins, and if Watkins comes back healthy, they can move him around like other teams have done with their receivers and utilize his skills.

23. Denver Broncos- OT Roderick Johnson/Florida State

I’ve had some good discussions with Broncos fans recently, and most of them tell me the same thing. “We need help on the OL.”

Well, in this case, Florida State OT Roderick Johnson is exactly what the doctor ordered. The only reason I think he falls here is that I truly believe that there will be other position needs for teams to tackle.

Johnson has played LT this season and has had some stellar performances, although Florida State’s performance doesn’t reflect that. Having a freshman redshirt quarterback doesn’t necessarily help his cause either. But I do think for Denver he would be a much-needed improvement to what they already have.

24. Washington Redskins- DT Lowell Lotulelei/Utah

Lowell Lotulelei has a brother that plays for the Carolina Panthers, and this Utah Ute continues to carry the family name very proud. Like his brother he hones true physical skills that’ll easily transfer to the next level. The only thing that hurt his brother Star was the health concerns that were brought to the limelight during the NFL Combine, if that’s not the case, Lowell is easily a 1st round pick!

The Washington Redskins did draft Andrew Billings in 2016, but the ability to stuff the control the line of scrimmage to keep up with the Dallas Cowboys and the emerging Philadelphia Eagles. Lowell, in my opinion, can play three tech or five tech, while Billings plays NT.

25. Atlanta Falcons- OG/C Ethan Pocic/LSU

The LSU OL was a true menace last season as Leonard Fournette had a sophomore year that no one in Baton Rouge will soon forget. Pocic is the leader of that OL group and even with the coaching change and QB change, the Senior OL man hasn’t seen his draft stock be affected at all, in my mind, all the adversity shows me he’s ready to jump in next year and play at a high level.

The Falcons have seen dramatic improvement with Alex Mack coming over from the Cleveland Browns, but Chris Chester isn’t the youngest guy and having depth on the OL is never a bad thing, especially with it’s someone like Pocic, in a class that doesn’t have tremendous depth at OL.

26. Houston Texans- S Armani Watts/Texas A&M

One thing I look for in players is that signature moment, that one play that a player has that truly paints the picture of how he actually plays and the effort he puts in. For A&M S Armani Watts, that play came against the Tennessee Volunteers. He saw Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd catch a pass and attempt to waltz into the endzone and Watts channeled his inner assassin and forced a fumble! That fumble would be crucial as the Aggies held off the lucky Vols in OT.

For the Texans, Rahim Moore hasn’t worked out and their defense lacks attitude since the injuries to JJ Watt and Brian Cushing, instilling some young blood could invigorate some of that attitude that the Texans have been missing lately.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers- DE/OLB Devonte Fields/Louisville

Devonte Fields hasn’t been as impactful as ILB, but as an edge, I can see him making his mark in the NFL. The Cardinals LB is one of their true playmakers this season, especially with the departure of DT Sheldon Rankins, who stole the show during Senior Bowl Week. If Louisville can hang in the top 7 of the AP/Coaches Poll, he’ll have the stage to work his way up.

I can honestly say that I’ve been on point with how the Rooneys run their draft board. Jarvis Jones is an impending free agent, James Harrison and Arthur Moats aren’t getting any younger, and Alvin Dupree hasn’t lived up to the pre-draft hype he was given, including hype I gave him myself.

28. Seattle Seahawks- OG/C Pat Elfein/Ohio State

Pat Elfein and his fellow OSU graduates this year have seen something special in Columbus. They were apart of a special National Championship team that came out of nowhere, they were apart of a team that broke a record of players drafted, and they have another chance to win… That’s a job well done for them and Elfein was there to see it all. He’s an instant plug-in at OG for almost anybody.

Every Seahawks fan will tell you that OL is the biggest need to address this offseason and this is exactly what the doctor ordered. They could also address OT but with Mike McGlinchey leaning towards returning to Notre Dame, it won’t be the place to snag an OT here at #28. They might have to seek a veteran free agent for that spot to be filled.

29. Oakland Raiders- CB/WR/KR Adoree Jackson/USC

Adoree Jackson is a shorter and quicker Jabril Peppers, he can offer the same kind of explosiveness that Peppers brings to the table. Jackson is a true CB, he has things he has to improve on but for the Raiders, they can utilize him at the first day of camp. Jackson’s return ability is definitely an asset and this is a Raiders kind of pick.

The Oakland Raiders will soon be no more as they move to Vegas, but this Trojan DB will have to prove himself against the likes of John Ross and Darren Carrington in the coming weeks.

30. Dallas Cowboys- CB Jourdan Lewis/Michigan

Not many folks are considering him in the 1st round range, but many didn’t see Byron Jones coming two years ago. Lewis’s ability to stick on WRs like glue, along with his recovery speed are two valuable skills he will need in the NFL. He reminds me of a mix between Pacman Jones and Malcolm Butler.

The Cowboys will likely be saying goodbye to Doug Free, Brandon Carr, and Tony Romo this offseason. There will be A LOT of money freed up in Dallas for the team to resign their young line, or their young defensive studs. Lewis would easily fill in for Brandon Carr and after all, Orlando Scandrick is never a guarantee to stay healthy.

31. New England Patriots- RB Royce Freeman/Oregon

If there ever was a back in the draft not named Christian McCaffrey that was better suited for the Patriots scheme, it’s Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman is a home-run threat as a runner and has cutback ability. He also is tough and will fight for extra yards. They don’t really need a receiver out of the backfield with Dion Lewis and James White, but Freeman can do that too!

The New England Patriots MUST give up on RB LeGarrette Blount. The dude has the worst case of Ron Dayne syndrome sometimes, and they need to move to the next step of preparation for life after Brady. Patriots fans may not value RB, but this draft is just special at the position. Their impending free agents could change the tune, but as of now, they CAN afford to bring everyone back with some sincere effort.

32. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota)- RB Nick Chubb/Georgia

Nick Chubb’s ACL injury last season was a crushing blow for the Georgia Bulldogs season, and they’ve never quite rebounded. Chubb and fellow RB Sony Michel are the only weapons that remain after Malcolm Mitchell’s departure last season. Chubb would be a 1st round lock if not for injury and durability concerns.

The Eagles have no reason to keep Ryan Mathews after this season, especially with the draft being as good as it is at RB. They can use the money to help their secondary or OL as they continue to build their with Carson Wentz. Chubb could be an every down back as a rookie for the Eagles, and they still have Darren Sproles to spell Chubb on 3rd downs.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com