2017 NFL Mock Draft
This is unquestionably my favorite time of the year. The NFL Draft is the start of the fantasy football season, as at that point, we can begin the rampant speculation about who should be drafted where and what players are destined for sleeper status since most teams will have their rosters set, at least prior to the offseason activities.
What I want to do is take a look at a pick by pick breakdown of how I think things are going to go. I’m not going to employ the wishful thinking process that most of the other analysts who get paid to do this. Their lofty visions are most often not a reflection of what will happen, but mostly how they want to see things go.
I’m not sure if I am going to do any trades in this or not, so we’ll see how this goes! Last year was fairly successful, as I did have the Ezekiel Elliott trade in my mock.
With that said, here we go!
Number 1: Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett – Texas A&M – DE
I’m glad to see more and more analysts finally talking about how Garrett isn’t the best player in this draft and probably shouldn’t be the top pick in this draft. It turns out, when a ton of your production is against teams like Middle Tennessee State, you probably aren’t as good as it seems.
However, Cleveland is in a bad spot. When it comes to the top pick, there really isn’t a good way to go. Quarterbacks aren’t worth it in this draft, and honestly, if the Browns select anyone other than Garrett, they will be laughed at. Could Leonard Fournette or Malik Hooker be worth the top pick? Yes, I do think both could, but it won’t happen here.
The best case scenario for the Browns is that someone wants to trade for the top pick, but it just doesn’t appear likely. As such, they should probably go with the guy who has the highest potential floor, even if it doesn’t come with the highest ceiling, and go with Garrett.
Number 2 – San Francisco 49ers – Mitchell Trubisky – North Carolina – QB
I’m surprised I haven’t seen this done more often in the draft. There are a number of reasons I could see this being done.
First, the team has no quarterback. Sure, they could resign Colin Kaepernick to compete with Blaine Gabbert and Brian Hoyer, but just honestly soak that sentiment in for awhile.
Second, the Niners can’t bank on landing Kirk Cousins next season. Nor can they bank on landing one of the up to three quality quarterbacks in next year’s draft.
Finally, the Niners are erratic and instead of trying to build toward one of those things happening, will likely draft someone they think fits their system.
I’m sorry to Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, but the NFL doesn’t run in ideal situations, and Trubisky isn’t going to make it to the Browns.
Number 3 – Chicago Bears – Malik Hooker – Ohio State – S
I considered making a trade here, but opted against it.
The trade, you ask? The Browns moving up to three to take – you guessed it – Malik Hooker.
OK, you probably didn’t guess it. The Browns have so many holes to fill that it makes sense to take the best player at the positions they need to fill. Hooker is above and beyond better than anyone else they could possibly trade to draft.
I highly doubt that will happen, though, so I’ve placed Hooker with the Bears. This defense was very bad in 2016, and having to play Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers four times a year will call for the defense to be rebuilt.
He has some issues, but all things considered, I think he’s a great player who can help immediately.
Number 4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette – Louisiana State – RB
I could see Fournette going as high as two, and potentially one if the Browns really want to be laughed at, but I think this is the most likely landing spot.
The defense improved somewhat last year, and additions through free agency this year have it moving in the right direction as well.
The offense really went backwards in 2016, and it’s tough to say where things will go in 2017. The one missing component they have is a running back.
Leonard Fournette in my opinion is one of the better runners that has come out in the past several years. His upside is pretty crazy, and even though he isn’t going to fall into an ideal situation like Ezekiel Elliott, he should be able to contribute in a big way.
The Jags have needed and upgrade since Maurice Jones Drew retired, and Fournette could be their chip to build around.
Number 5 – Tennessee Titans – O.J. Howard – Alabama – TE
I wrestled with myself with how I saw things going here, but ultimately, I’ll go with Howard over a receiver. I think the gap between the top tight ends is a little bit further apart than that of the receivers.
Howard didn’t necessarily contribute in college the way that analysts are making him out to have done. He had a very good freshman year, but remained extremely quiet until Alabama’s National Championship victory.
He’s got the size and the ability to catch the ball, and he is definitely someone that I could see making an impact immediately. In truth, he would probably be someone who has a strong year 1, but becomes more of a factor as Delanie Walker moves on in 2018.
Number 6 – New York Jets – DeShaun Watson – Clemson – QB
The Jets could do a number of things here. They are bad, but I don’t know if they are bad enough to land at the top of the 2018 draft. Because of that, I have them taking a quarterback early.
DeShaun Watson could fit a system that is rebuilding. He’s going to be without the toxic locker room presence of Brandon Marshall, and I could really see he and Quincy Enunwa having a pretty solid connection right away.
The Jets do have some solid upside offensive players, and with the changes that I think will have to go on in the locker room, I think we’ll see them get involved this year.
Josh McCown on hand would be able to give Watson some veteran seasoning. Watson is also a better prospect than both Seth Russell and Christian Hackenberg.
Number 7 – San Diego Chargers – Jamal Adams – Louisiana State – S
The Chargers could be another team that could go quarterback here, but I think they have just enough time left on Philip Rivers that it is not an immediate need, or at least not one they need to spend up in the first round on.
The defense of San Diego is one that really needs work, especially in the defensive backfield.
Jamal Adams might be a more pro ready safety than Malik Hooker, though I do believe that Hooker possesses a much higher ceiling.
Adams could fill a role of stability in the backfield that was lost when Eric Weddle left a few years ago.
Number 8 – Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey – Stanford – RB
It appears that the Panthers could be likely to go with either a defensive lineman, of which there are plenty, or a guy like Christian McCaffrey.
From my perspective, I can see them going the route of McCaffrey.
His 2016 campaign wasn’t even the best of his tenure. His 2015 campaign, when he wasn’t really being hyped as anything really, was one of the best seasons a college football player ever had.
Being in an offense with Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin and especially Jonathan Stewart to teach him the ropes immediately makes this team much better.
He’s a great one to keep your eyes on in dynasty drafts.
Number 9 – Cincinnati Bengals – John Ross – Washington – WR
I toyed around with Mike Williams going off the board at #5 to the Titans, but I decided that the Bengals taking John Ross at 9 would be my first receiver off the board.
Ross was hurt all of 2015, but his 2016 season was certainly something fun to watch.
He and Jake Browning made the Huskies a potential College Football Playoff threat, and it was fun to watch him play.
The Bengals did not look very good at all with Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu being replaced by Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell. While I do think Boyd still has a future, LaFell just isn’t someone I can see being a part of what the Bengals are doing in the future.
Ross makes a great component to what A.J. Green already brings to the table, and opens the offense up much more.
Number 10 – Buffalo Bills – Patrick Mahomes – Texas Tech – QB
I’m taking a pretty bold stance here. Not too many mock drafts have one, let alone two, let alone three quarterbacks being taken in the top 10.
Here’s the thing, though: these are quarterbacks. In the drafts, quarterbacks made of bronze will be treated like platinum.
That’s not a knock-on Patrick Mahomes – it’s a knock on the process.
Buffalo is another organization in a “will they/won’t they” relationship with their quarterback(s). Tyrod Taylor was brought back in, but it doesn’t really seem as if the team is that into the thought of him being in their plans in the long term.
While Patrick Mahomes has some work to do on his footwork specifically, and fighting off the perception that Air Raid quarterbacks don’t make it in today’s NFL, he actually has what I believe is the best skill set out of any of the prospects in the draft.
Number 11 – New Orleans Saints – Jonathan Allen – Alabama – DE/DT
Because of the fact that so many players are being taken higher than we’ve seen them in other mock drafts, players like Allen will fall.
The Saints will be more than happy for that to happen, though.
The Saints defense is one of the worst in the NFL year in and year out, and the addition of Allen will make them better immediately.
It’s going to take more than one player to make this defense turn around, but I think the Saints will work hard on that through the draft.
Number 12 – Cleveland Browns – Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State – CB
There are quite a few different routes the Browns could go here.
If McCaffrey were available here, as bad as the Browns are everywhere, I really can’t see passing on someone of that talent. I really like the idea of pairing Myles Garrett and who I think has the biggest upside of the linemen in this class, Derek Barnett, together.
Ultimately, as opposed to grabbing two players from the same position, I chose to slot Lattimore to the Browns.
The Browns secondary was AWFUL last year, and that is putting it mildly. Joe Haden is 27 going on 80 and is going to fall apart on the field at some point.
Lattimore gives them strength on both the line and backfield addressed in the first round. While Cleveland won’t make leaps and bounds on defense, these moves are steps in the right direction.
Number 13 – Arizona Cardinals – Solomon Thomas – Stanford – DE
There has been a lot of talk of Arizona finding their quarterback of the future in this draft, but I’m not sure it pans out for them like that in the first round.
I don’t think defense is an immediate need for the Cardinals, but I do think that this puts them in a strong position in terms of depth.
There are still a number of quarterbacks with talent available later in the draft, and I think the Cardinals can afford to take a best player available approach with this pick, and focus on someone like Davis Webb or Nathan Peterman later in the draft.
Number 14 – Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Barnett – Tennessee – DE
I think that the Eagles could end up taking a wide receiver here, despite making some signing in that department in the offseason.
The defense was an area they needed to improve upon, and if Derek Barnett was able to fall to them at 14, it would be hard for them to look the other direction.
Barnett actually played well against teams in his conference, which cannot be said about Myles Garrett. He’s got some pretty scary upside when it comes right down to it, and he could be a force for a team that really needs one on the defensive side of the ball.
Number 15 – Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster – Alabama – LB
The Colts have quite a few needs for a team that is in the middle of the pack in terms of NFL teams.
The defense most certainly was not very good in 2016, and there has been nothing done to make me believe that 2017 will be a difference story.
Despite the fact that Foster turned in a diluted sample at the Combine, I expect teams to still bid for his services in this range of picks.
Indianapolis makes sense as they need help at the position, and could use Foster at the start of the season.
Number 16 – Baltimore Ravens – Cam Robinson – Alabama – OT
The Ravens could look to replace Kamar Aiken and Steve Smith, not to mention not truly ever finding a suitable replacement for what Anquan Boldin brought to the team during their Super Bowl season.
While that is a possibility, I think their offensive line woes need to be addressed. Some might find this pick to be crazy, as Robinson is typically being slotted in the top 10, but strange things happen on draft day.
The current tackles on this Ravens team are quite bad, and Robinson is a guy who played against some tough defenses and was very rarely beat [but he did by Derek Barnett].
Number 17 – Washington Redskins – Mike Williams – Clemson – WR
Washington lost a lot in terms of their receiving corps with both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leaving in free agency. Sure, they brought in Terrelle Pryor [he’s my top bust candidate this year] and they have yet to really see Josh Doctson.
All those things said, Mike Williams is a good prospect. On our inaugural 2017 videocast of Fantasy Football Universe, Drew and I talked about how Williams is falling a bit because he’s just good at everything, but not great in any specific area.
Let me tell you something: you’d be hard pressed to find many receivers with the upside of Mike Williams. If he lands in a spot where he can be coached, he can be a great receiver.
This certainly gives Kirk Cousins another weapon in what should be a young, but promising receiving unit.
Number 18 – Tennessee Titans – Corey Davis – Western Michigan – WR
At some point in every draft, there is a run on receivers. This is definitely a place where I can see it happening.
I was tempted to draft a defensive piece for Tennessee here, but I think they’d be hard up to pass on an option like Corey Davis.
Much like Mike Williams, Davis is falling down draft boards, because of a poor combine.
I’ve watched Davis for a few years now, as the MAC is one, if not my favorite, conference in all of college football. He’s got skills that you don’t see every day, and the over analyzation that goes on some times will force some teams to miss on him.
A brand new receiving unit consisting of Howard, Davis, Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker, coupled with a backfield of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, gives Marcus Mariota one of the best offenses to work with.
Number 19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Taco Charlton – Michigan – DE
The Bucs could be in play for a running back here, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we saw Dalvin Cook come off the board, but I think the red flags on him might drop him into the early second round.
Tac Charlton is being drafted in the top 10 in a lot of mocks, and I think he’s in play there for a lot of teams. Like I said above, though, things happen on draft day.
It’s no secret that Tampa Bay’s defense was lacking in 2016, and with a player of Charlton’s caliber available at 19, they would be crazy to pass.
Number 20 – Denver Broncos – Haason Reddick – Temple – LB
The Broncos could use a number of things, though none of them are anything they’d need to trade up for.
Haason Reddick is someone that they’ve had their eye on for months, and I think they might be one of the only teams willing to take him in this part of the draft.
Reddick’s tape at Temple is phenomenal, but there are always questions about players from smaller schools.
If John Ross somehow makes it to this portion of the draft, though, that’s where they will go, for sure.
Number 21 – Detroit Lions – Charles Harris – Missouri – DE/OLB
The Lions are actually a pretty solid team. They could use a more consistent RB situation, but Ameer Abdullah was injured for most of the season, so he gets a pass.
I’ll slot in Charles Harris from Missouri here. He’s another guy who could get drafted as many as 15 spots higher.
The Lions defense was a question mark at many times during the 2016 season, and this is a definite upgrade to what is going on there right now.
Number 22 – Miami Dolphins – Jarrad Davis – Florida – LB
The Dolphins need some help at the linebacker position, and they are reportedly in love with Jarrad Davis.
Much like Haason Reddick, I don’t see other teams jumping over top of the Dolphins to draft him.
He’s a South Florida college player, so he’ll be right at home, and will be used to the weather thay are forced to play in.
He’s also a high character player, and that is something the Dolphins are working on putting into the lineup moving forward.
Number 23 – New York Giants – Garett Bolles – Utah – OT
The Giants are another team where things can go a lot of different ways. The team could opt to look into someone like DeShone Kizer to prepare for the day when Eli Manning is not around.
I think they could wait until later rounds to do that though.
Their offensive line player has been atrocious, and Ereck Flowers just does not look good at all. In order to give Manning an extra year or two, the Giants will look at the only other tackle in the draft that they’d consider in Bolles.
In his time at Utah, Bolles was an absolute monster who kept the quarterback play solid with not the greatest staff, as well as allowing great running lanes for running backs like Joe Williams and Devontae Booker.
This is a definite upgrade from where they are at now.
Number 24 – Oakland Raiders – Obi Melifonwu – Connecticut – CB
The Raiders are a team that could really use another receiver, if that makes any sense. I think they’ve got a great pair with Crabtree and Cooper, but beyond that it isn’t great.
They do have a more pressing need at cornerback though. This defense lost enough in free agency that they will have to account for.
At this point in the draft, you’ll see some guys get drafted a little earlier than you think they should [or you’ve been told they should] and Obi is one of them.
He’s a solid player who can really contribute day one on this defense.
Number 25 – Houston Texans – T.J. Watt – Wisconsin – DE/OLB
I really didn’t have the intention of slotting Watt here.
He’s moving up the draft boards, though I am a believer it’s more on lineage than actual talent. Not to say he isn’t good, but I personally wouldn’t take him before the middle of the second round.
The Texans need help at the OLB position, so this isn’t a stretch. I’m sure if he is available they’ll make the move.
One would believe there has to be some synergy between the Watt brothers and that morale in the locker room could increase as well, as long as Watt does what they think he can.
Number 26 – Seattle Seahawks – Adoree Jackson – USC – CB
The Seahawks are a smart team, and they will smart decision here. That smart decision, in my opinion, will be Adoree Jackson.
Jackson is a guy just short of Jabril Peppers usefulness on the field. He plays cornerback as good as anyone else, can return kick and also dabbled as a receiver, and a pretty good one at that.
The Seahawks are a defensive first team, and I could see this being an addition that brings them back up to Super Bowl caliber level on defense.
That’s saying a lot, but I feel like Jackson will be one of the better picks that come from this draft.
Number 27 – Kansas City Chiefs – Forrest Lamp – Western Kentucky – G/C
Forrest Lamp is one of my favorite players in this entire draft. Why, might you ask?
Well, he was the left tackle for a WKU team that consistently ranked amongst the top in the country for offensive production at the quarterback and running back positions.
You don’t gain yards of you are getting tackled. If you aren’t getting tackled, your offensive line is doing something right.
Lamp did everything right.
While at the next level he projects to start out inside the tackles, he’s a top tier player who will give great depth to the Kansas City Chiefs, allowing them to improve their running game/lanes.
Number 28 – Dallas Cowboys – Tre’Davious White – Louisiana State – CB
The Cowboys could go receiver here, as outside of Dez Bryant, you can’t be too excited about what is going there.
I don’t think they will, though.
As a result of free agency, the Cowboys managed to lose some important pieces of their defensive backfield, which will have to be replaced.
White had a very solid 2016 campaign at LSU, and should be a good bet to slot in on Opening Day to help the Cowboys defense.
Number 29 – Green Bay Packers – Marlon Humphrey – Alabama – CB
Green Bay needs help at the quarterback position, so I expect them to go there this year and early.
Marlon Humprhey is a smart cornerback who can make decisions very quickly, and can commit and close in just as fast.
He’ll be a day one starter. The hope here is that he can come through with a better performance than we’ve seen from some of the most recent Alabama cornerbacks.
I think he’s a special talent.
Number 30 – Pittsburgh Steelers – David Njoku – Miami – TE
I went back and forth on this a few times. I think it’s either Njoku or Evan Engram, but I think they might go with Njoku.
Kid is a freak.
No, seriously, this kid is a FREAK.
He’s got what could end up being the biggest catch radius in all of the NFL at over 3500 cubic feet [that’s more than Mike Evans which is more than anyone else for reference] and he’s got long arms.
He can block and he’s a high school high jump champ.
He does struggle with catching the ball, but that is something he can work on.
This is the type of player that can be a game changer. Ben with Bell, Brown and Njoku is a Super Bowl bound team.
Number 31 – Atlanta Falcons – Derek Rivers – Youngstown State University – DE/OLB
Maybe this is a bit of wishful thinking/homer pick, but Derek Rivers could very well go at this spot. As a Penguin for life, I would be beyond excited to hear this announced on Day 1.
Rumors have swirled that both Pittsburgh and Atlanta really like what Rivers brings to the table.
The former Nebraska Cornhusker who I believe followed Bo Pelini to YSU is a monster and brought the Penguins to their first National Championship game in well over a decade.
The Falcons need the help on the edge, and Rivers is a monster who can certainly take the defense one step forward.
Number 32 – New Orleans Saints – Budda Baker – Washington – CB
The Saints are likely to go defense again here, and I think that Baker is an ideal fit.
He should slot in immediately and is definitely better than everything else they have going for them.