We’re through the Senior Bowl, the Super Bowl, the Combine, the first two waves of free agency and, now, several Pro Days. To cite Bill Belichick: “No Days Off.”
With a few more to come between now and draft weekend, here’s my second 2017 NFL mock draft. Dig in. Tune in to The Herd at 2:30 ET Tuesday for more.
Garrett is the unanimous top prospect in this draft class. The Browns are wealthy with draft picks (six of the top 65), but they shouldn’t get cute here. Take the best guy on the board. Garrett is the top prospect in this class and a franchise cornerstone.
I expect the 49ers, who signed many players to fiscally sound deals in free agency, to look at offers for the second overall pick. A talent-starved roster coming into this offseason, San Francisco could be willing to parlay the second pick into a bunch of others. But what if it keeps the choice?
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Niners went defensive line for the third straight year with their first-round selection. Thomas’s stock skyrocketed at the Combine, and he’s local with a loaded resume from Stanford. Tremendous kid, great family, and a heck of a franchise cornerstone up front for San Francisco. Thomas, DeForest Buckner, and Erik Armstead could make for a scary defensive line for years to come.
It’s not often you see a safety taken in the top three, but I think the Bears pluck the tone-setter out of Baton Rouge if the first two picks fall this way. Adams, whose father, George, played for the Giants in the 1980s, is a punishing hitter who roams the middle.
Adams was the rare bright spot in a forgettable 2016 LSU season. He is a defensive leader, a vocal guy and someone who can play right away. A scud missile from the safety spot, he can bring a toughness to the Chicago defensive backfield that’s been missing in recent years.
For the 11th straight year, the Jaguars “won” free agency with big-name signings in March. With all the additions, how they use the No. 4 pick will be awfully interesting. The Jaguars D was coming on toward the second half of last season, brings back just about everyone and added A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell to the mix. But I don’t think they’re done.
Allen is a man. And with Campbell at 31 years old, there’s a good mentor-student element to this. In a division with Marcus Mariota, Andrew Luck and mabye Tony Romo, you can never have enough big bodies up front. There are some minor concerns about Allen’s shoulder. Minor.
The 6-6 dynamo is my favorite tight end to enter the NFL Draft in years. Big body, can block and can move. Is top five too high? Have you seen the way Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce are utilized in their teams’ game plans? Howard’s an absolute stud, and just because Tennessee has a few tight ends on the roster doesn’t mean it wouldn’t scoop him up this high.
The Jets take the first quarterback off the board. Trubisky had a solid Combine performance, silencing critics who thought he was sub-6-foot-2, and exhibited solid footwork and athleticism. The Jets aren’t rolling into the 2017 season with Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown and Bryce Petty as their quarterbacks. If Trubisky is on the board, they grab him.
This is one of the most loaded defensive back drafts in years, and Los Angeles is a prime spot for one of the two highly rated Ohio State defensive backs. I like Hooker, the 6-foot-1, do-everything free safety with incredible ball skills.
There have been comparisons made to Ed Reed. In 2016, Hooker intercepted seven balls and broke up four others. The Chargers are quietly building one of the better young defenses in the league in terms of talent. I love their roster on that side of the ball. Hooker would be a fantastic addition.
Fournette weighed in at 240 pounds and ran a 4.5 40-yard-dash at the Combine. He could end up running an even faster one on his Pro Day. There seems to be no baggage, and he could go even higher than this. I love this fit for Carolina and for Fournette.
So, Foster wasn’t so polite to a hospital employee and was sent home from the Combine. Outrage everywhere. I asked around, and to the great dismay of many on TV and on Twitter, not many in the NFL seemed to care much, one way or the other, about his outburst.
Foster can be the NFL’s next great young linebacker. That matters more. Luke Kuechly's name has been brought up as a comparison. Not a bad one, there. The Bengals lost a lot on their offensive line this offseason, but I think they go with another stud defensive player for Paul Guenther’s D.
Lattimore could go anywhere from No. 2 to 15 in this draft, and I think Buffalo is a sweet spot at 10. The loss of Stephon Gilmore opens a need at the cornerback spot, and Lattimore could be the perfect battery mate with Ronald Darby. A 6-foot uber-athlete who can do it all, Lattimore overcame hamstring issues to win the starting job in 2016 and excel, earning All-Big Ten honors.
Barnett broke Reggie White’s sacks record at Tennessee and had more than 10 sacks in three different seasons while playing in the SEC. Production, production, production. I still see him as a top-15 guy. Could the Saints go offense? Sure, but I think they beef up with a pass rusher instead.
With six picks in the top 65, the Browns can do a multitude of things (including packaging a bunch of them in an attempt to lure Kirk Cousins or Jimmy G from their respective teams), but if there are no trades (I honestly believe there will be), they have to go with a quarterback, here.
Everyone jumped off the Kizer bandwagon after the Combine. Not sure why. The analysts said he “underwhelmed,” but several of the sources I spoke with said he actually threw the ball pretty well. Having grown up just a few miles from Cleveland, there’s a fun connection here too. A pro-style QB in college and a big 6-4 frame built for the AFC North, I like Kizer for the Browns more than Deshaun Watson if both are still on the board. I like Trubisky to Cleveland more than both of them, but I think he’s off the board by 12.
I don’t think the Cardinals are bluffing when they say they’re interested in a young quarterback. Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton are fine for 2017, but beyond? It’s time to start considering a young gun. Watson saved his biggest games for the biggest stages. That’s the good. He tossed 32 interceptions in college. That’s the bad.
I don’t envision Arizona being up this high in the draft too often. Getting a Heisman finalist on the depth chart behind the 2003 winner isn’t a bad idea. The wrinkle, here? Carson Palmer’s little brother, Jordan Palmer, has been working out with Watson for years. He speaks the world of him. Good torch passing deal here.
I don’t think Philadelphia is done adding playmakers for Carson Wentz just because it added Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. I’m a big fan of Williams, the 6-foot-3 receiver who torched Pitt for more than 200 yards last season. He ran a 4.5 40-yard-dash at his Pro Day and looks the part of an NFL No. 1. Coming off a broken neck, he had a breakout season and has been compared to everyone from Demaryius Thomas to Plaxico Burress. Alshon Jeffery or not, I like this fit.
McKinley is a rather polarizing prospect, as some evaluators I speak with say he’s a first-round pick all day long, while others say he’s more of a top-50 guy. I like him going to Indianapolis, a team that’s been loading up on defensive pieces but can still use an edge rusher to replace Robert Mathis. McKinley had 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss during his senior season. He got better every year in Westwood. His stock is still on the rise.
I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.
I’ve seen Peppers go as high as top five in some mock drafts. He may very well. Or he can go somewhere in the 20-32 range. The scintillating past of Peppers’ repertoire is his versatility. The confounding part may be just where he fits best. He had a great week in Indianapolis and is a competitor. Curious to see how the NFL views him; and in this case — Greg Manusky.
Reddick was one of the biggest winners of the Combine and has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the start of the college football season. The Camden, N.J., native played for Matt Rhule in college and led the nation with 22.5 tackles for a loss in 2016. At 6-1, 240, he can fly off the edge. I love the idea of Reddick playing either the outside or the inside in Dick Lebeau’s 3-4. The Titans have two of the top 18 picks. I think they go defense with at least one of them.
I won't be shocked if McCaffrey goes somewhere in the top 15. The hype is real, 10 bench press reps or not. I had an NFL offensive coach tell me he likes him for his offense even more than Fournette. The Bucs already added DeSean Jackson this offseason; I have them doubling down on offense. McCaffrey to the Bucs.
The first offensive lineman off the boards is Bolles, the big boy out of Utah. At 6-5, 300 pounds with tremendous feet, Bolles was a first-team All Pac-12 selection in 2016. Having overcome personal demons, he elevated from the junior college level and then exceeded expectations in the Pac-12 — Bolles is a great story.
A home run hitter who can run inside and outside the tackles, Cook would be the perfect addition to a Lions offense that was in need of some pop out of the backfield a season ago. A 5-10, 210-pound speedster who can catch out of the backfield, he could be a steal at 21st overall.
I had Conley going in the first round back in January and caught some heat for it online. After the Combine, he’s getting that first-round love everywhere. The Ohio State defensive backfield was loaded, and though Lattimore and Hooker got all the attention, this man can play. A 6-0, 195-pound physical cornerback, he has NFL size and did the job when filling in for Eli Apple in 2015 and stepping up in 2016 as a starter.
Lamp was a star at tackle in the college ranks but will play guard in the NFL. The Giants scooped up free agent D.J. Fluker, but they won’t be done addressing their offensive line. Lamp can play either side and is a mauler. A stud at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, he’s a first-round pick all day long.
The Raiders made a lot of moves on the offensive side of the ball (and Marshawn Lynch could be coming), but the defense is still a unit that needs more tools to compete for an AFC championship. Jackson is a do-everything athlete who might be the most explosive player in this draft. Others have him going in the second or third round. From the folks I talk to, he's a top-25 guy. Fight on.
Ramczyk’s a tough son of a gun, and he comes from a good lineage. Look at some of the NFL offensive linemen out of Wisconsin the past few years, and it’s home run after home run after home run. Ramczyk is the next in line. I’m not sure who’s playing quarterback for the Texans next season — really, no one is — but I don’t think they swing for the fences and go quarterback here. They beef up that offensive line.
Much has been made of Seattle’s offensive line woes last season. The Seahawks got a whole lot out of a group that wasn’t necessarily a bunch of high-priced players. They’ve added some pieces in free agency, but I believe they’ll hit this spot in the draft, too. Robinson can play, move, and protect.
Alex Smith is the quarterback of the Chiefs, but for how much longer? Mahomes II is a project for sure but could someday be the quarterback from this draft whom everyone remembers. This is certainly not a glaring area of need, but with Nick Foles now in Philadelphia and Alex Smith not getting any younger — it’s a pick worth considering.
Barry Church is gone. Mo Claiborne is gone. Brandon Carr is gone. The Cowboys' defensive backfield will need some young replacements in this draft. Sidney Jones got a lot of the love in the Pac-12, but Baker could be the more productive pro.
This one is fun. Packers fans will be quick to tell me that the Pack rarely pluck talent from Madison, but Watt makes a lot of sense. The younger brother of J.J. and Derek Watt, T.J. really starred only one year at Wisconsin. But he had a heck of a season when finally healthy and recorded 11.5 sacks. The local boy stays in Wisconsin.
A 6-1, 240-pound linebacker, Davis was both the leader in the locker room and on the field of that loaded Florida defense in 2016. He should be a great fit in Pittsburgh’s scheme and be able to work with James Harrison and Ryan Shazier in the linebacking unit.
The Falcons loaded up in a big way with young defenders in last year’s draft, and they’ll keep loading up in this year’s. Cunningham is an absolute stud. Top 10 talent, but linebackers are tough to peg in the draft. Cunningham led the SEC in tackles and was just hitting his stride as a ballplayer.
The Saints lose one burner in Brandin Cooks and get another in Ross. He ran a 4.22 in Indianapolis; the Superdome carpet could be even more gracious. A deep threat who can also go underneath, Ross might be the perfect fit in Sean Payton’s offense.
33. Cleveland Browns: Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
34. San Francisco 49ers: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Stacy RevereGetty Images
35. Jacksonville Jaguars: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
36. Chicago Bears: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Greg BartramGreg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
37. Los Angeles Rams: Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
Rick OsentoskiRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
38. Los Angeles Chargers: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Jonathan DyerJonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
39. New York Jets: David Njoku, TE, Miami
40. Carolina Panthers: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
41. Cincinnati Bengals: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
42. New Orleans Saints: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Mike CarterMike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
43. Philadelphia Eagles: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
44. Buffalo Bills: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
45. Arizona Cardinals: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
Getty ImagesAndrew Weber
46. Indianapolis Colts: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan