2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Defensive Dominates First Round

Sep 24, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) during the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

1

Myles Garrett

DL, Texas A&M

The Browns have been about as awful as you get when it comes to the NFL draft. Selecting Leon McFadden before Tyrann Mathieu or Greg Little over Randall Cobb, the Browns simply don’t seem to be able to get it done in the war room.

So long as they keep the first overall pick, they have a slam dunk selection in Myles Garrett.

The EDGE position isn’t a primary need for the Browns but on a team that’s scarce in playmakers, they have to take the best player in the draft this year.

Oct 23, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) runs against Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Emmanuel Ogbah (90) and defensive end Carl Nassib (94) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-17. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Garrett has registered over 30 sacks in his three-year career and has 47 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Production aside, there isn’t a better athlete in this year’s draft class and his projection to the NFL should be something similar to Khalil Mack and/or Von Miller. The Browns drafted Carl Nassib and Emmanuel Ogbah last year, who have paired up well with Danny Shelton.

With Ogbah and Garrett as potential pass rushers next season, and Shelton plugging the middle, the Browns could have an elite group along the line with the selection of Myles Garrett. Don’t mess this up Browns, not again.

Dec 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) attends a press conference after the SEC Championship college football game against the Florida Gators at Georgia Dome. Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) attends a press conference after the SEC Championship college football game against the Florida Gators at Georgia Dome. Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

2

Reuben Foster

LB, Alabama

The 49’ers once had the best linebacker duo in the NFL when All-Pros Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman were making tackles all over the field. But ever since Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired in 2015, and Bowman sustained his career altering knee injury in the 2013 playoffs, things haven’t been the same.

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It’s no surprise therefore, that the 49ers’ once-elite defense is now dead last in both scoring and yardage in Chip Kelly’s first season as coach, and that is why they select Reuben Foster here. A surprise choice for many with elite Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen still on the board, but Foster would be a great addition to the heart of 49’ers defense.

They would be able to place the 2016 Butkus Award winner alongside team leader Bowman, a mouth-watering proposal.

Quarterback was briefly considered, but no quarterback in this class is truly worthy of this selection. Looking ahead, San Francisco may be able to trade down and still select Foster, and that just may be what they decide to do in April.

Dec 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby (12) is brought down by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship college football game at Georgia Dome. Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby (12) is brought down by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship college football game at Georgia Dome. Alabama defeated Florida 54-16. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

3

Jonathan Allen

DL, Alabama

With the third pick the Jacksonville Jaguars are in position to take the best defensive player on the board. Whether that’s Myles Garrett, Jonathan Allen or Jabrill Peppers remains to be seen, but in this mock draft, both Allen and Peppers are still available.

Although starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien is going to be an unrestricted free agent, the edge goes to Allen. In Allen, the Jaguars get a three-technique defensive tackle to pair with Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler, Jr. on the defensive line.

Dec 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety Johnathan Cyprien (37) is introduced before an NFL football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Minnesota Vikings at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars are near the bottom of the league in sacks and dead last in interceptions. Those numbers are both a direct result of the lack of a pass rush.

Opposing quarterbacks have had all day to throw against Jacksonville this season. While a defensive tackle isn’t typically the answer to solving pass-rush issues, Allen is a special talent who excels against both the run and the pass.

Placing him and Malik Jackson in the interior of the line will free up the team’s pass rushers. The trenches have been an issue for the Jaguars on both sides of the ball this season, however there isn’t an offensive lineman worth taking at number three.

The second round is a more likely time to address this need with Roderick Johnson, Mike McGlinchey and Garrett Bolles potentially available tackles and Dan Feeney or Dorian Johnson at guard.

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) and Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Avery Gennesy (65) in action during the game at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) and Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Avery Gennesy (65) in action during the game at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

4

Derek Barnett

DL, Tennessee

GM Ryan Pace has stuck by the moniker that he will take the best player available with every draft pick at his disposal. Regardless of position. On the surface it appears like this defense isn’t in need of pass rush help, but that’s misguided thinking. Good pass rushers are hard to find, so one has a responsibility to grab them at every opportunity.

Besides, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young both have questions around their long-term viability in that front seven. This draft class is loaded to the gills with pass rush talent. Derek Barnett figures to be one of the top names available. If he’s there at the fourth pick, the Bears would be foolish not to grab him.

Barnett finished with 32 sacks at Tennessee, tying him for the most in school history with the iconic Reggie White. He’s quick and explosive off the edge, is able to bend to get under blocks and shows the acceleration to finish at the quarterback. There isn’t much to teach him at this point. Just let him go hunt.

Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) is seen during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) is seen during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

5

Jabrill Peppers

LB/S, Michigan

There’s a belief that Peppers could be a linebacker for most defenses. At best, he’s what I would call a box safety. At times, he’ll come up and help stuff the run and other times, he’ll cover his half of the field.

For the Titans, they have a lot of defensive needs and taking the best player available is always the safe move. With Peppers, they get a guy that can immediately help on special teams and can be a player teams scheme against. If he plays like he did at Michigan, teams will run and throw away from him.

Now did Peppers light up the stat sheets at Michigan? No, but that could be attributed to him bouncing between linebacker and safety. He doesn’t have particular great ball skills, but he can still develop into a playmaker for a Titans defense that desperately needs one. Within the next two or three years, Peppers could be playing at a similar level to Landon Collins of the New York Giants.

Nov 12, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs for a large gain after a reception during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs for a large gain after a reception during the first quarter of the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

6

Leonard Fournette

RB, LSU

With the sixth overall pick, the New York Jets added some much-needed help to the offensive side of the ball by bolstering their rushing attack. Leonard Fournette, once anointed “The next Adrian Peterson”, is widely regarded as one of the top running backs in the 2017 draft class.

With Matt Forte getting up there in age, it’s a smart move for the Jets add a talent like Fournette to create an effective one-two punch.

No one expects Bilal Powell to be a feature back, and creating a situation for a potential young quarterback to have a stud back (the Elliott effect) could pay off in the longterm for New York.

Oct 15, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) celebrates after picking up a fumble during the third quarter of a game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) celebrates after picking up a fumble during the third quarter of a game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

7

Jamal Adams

S, LSU

With Jabrill Peppers off the board, and no offensive lineman in this class worthy of this high a selection, San Diego sprints to the podium to choose Jamal Adams. Adams is at his best when he’s playing near the line of scrimmage, but he is hardly inadequate in high coverage.

He is quick to read and drive on balls underneath, and has the quickness to mirror slot wide receivers and the physicality to match up with tight ends. Watching his game film, there aren’t many negative things to say about the 2015 Second Team All-SEC (Coaches, AP). Adams’ elite combination of physicality, instincts and energy would be incredibly enticing for San Diego, who have not properly replaced Eric Weddle since his ugly departure.

He may not be as positional versatile as Peppers, but Jamal Adams would be a fantastic pick for a San Diego club in need of a spark. Playing in possibly the toughest division in all of football, the Chargers could use Adams’ passion.

Sep 24, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

8

Mitch Trubisky

QB, North Carolina

In this version of our mock draft, Mitch Trubisky was able to fall to the Browns next selection in the first round. Per usual, the Browns have had a carousel of quarterbacks this season. Those to take a snap under center have included Robert Griffin III, Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Terrelle Pryor, Charlie Whitehurst and Kevin Hogan.

Nov 20, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler (6) is led off the field after suffering a concussion against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow the carousel made its way  back to RGIII, but he hasn’t shown the kind of promise that coach Hue Jackson had once hoped for him. Kessler looks like a solid backup, McCown should be on the verge of retirement, Whitehurst was cut, Hogan was fun for one game, and Pryor should be focusing on wide receiver.

While the offensive line has been scattered in terms of health and production, a solid signal caller is what Cleveland needs moving forward. Mitch Trubisky is a one year starter from North Carolina where he’s led the Tarheels to an 8-4 record and a bowl game against Stanford on the 30th.

To this point he’s put up 3500 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and only four interceptions. While he’s looked great, inexperience has been the one thing that has been tagged alongside his name. If he declares and shows he can overcome that, the Browns may have a steal in the first round.

Sep 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) blocks USC Trojans linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (42) during the game at AT&T Stadium. Alabama defeats USC 52-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) blocks USC Trojans linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (42) during the game at AT&T Stadium. Alabama defeats USC 52-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

9

Cam Robinson

OT, Alabama

The end of last season and start of this one has shown one very important thing to the Carolina Panthers brass. Referees are not going to protect Cam Newton. At least not like they do others like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers.

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts in pain after suffering an injury in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts in pain after suffering an injury in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This means it will be up to the Panthers to protect him, and that means better blocking up front. They’ve gotten by with average play at offensive tackle with the likes of Michael Oher and Mike Remmers, but there is definitely room for improvement.

For most of 2016 the general agreement was that Cam Robinson was the top offensive tackle prospect in college football. However, off the field concerns and inconsistent scouting reports have muddied the waters on him.

Some feel he has the ceiling of a Pro Bowler but others think he’s too big of a risk and not a good enough athlete. The bottom line is he fits the type of offense Carolina wants to run. He can run block and isn’t going to be intimidated in pass protection.

Oct 8, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Keon Hatcher (4) catches a pass for a touchdown as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) defends during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Keon Hatcher (4) catches a pass for a touchdown as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) defends during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

10

Marlon Humphrey

CB, Alabama

When you’re in a division that has so much offensive talent, you can’t ignore your biggest need. The Saints have had some of the worst luck in their secondary and part of it’s because of injuries but also because they’re not drafting any players to fill their voids.

With this pick, they get a cornerback who can start in this league, immediately. Humphrey brings in great size at 6’1 — 195 lbs. and he’s also a great cover corner.

Over the last two years, he’s totaled 5 interceptions and 12 pass deflections. Not bad for a guy that doesn’t get the most attention during the game because he’s the best cornerback in college football. If the Saints want to start shutting down guys like Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Kelvin Benjamin, then they need Marlon Humphrey.

Nov 19, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) is congratulated by teammates after a fumble recovery during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 19, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) is congratulated by teammates after a fumble recovery during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

11

Zach Cunningham

LB, Vanderbilt

With the eleventh overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals elected to add some athleticism to their linebacking core. While Ray Maualaga and Vontaze Burfict have proven to be effective members of the Bengals defense, both have had trouble staying on the field due to various injuries and disciplinary reasons. Zach Cunningham would be able to step right in and use his speed and physicality in both the run and passing game.

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers 40-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers 40-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

12

Quincy Wilson

CB, Florida

After Patrick Peterson, the Arizona Cardinals have questions at the cornerback position that must be addressed. The team did add rookies Brandon Williams, Ronald Zamort, Harlan Miller, and Trevon Hartfield through the draft and free agency, but need a blue chip cornerback.

Marcus Cooper and Mike Jenkins will also be free agents, stranding the Cardinals in terms of reliable depth.

Florida has been pumping out cornerbacks with ease in recent years, and continues to do so with Quincy Wilson. Listed at 6’1, Wilson has three interceptions and six pass deflections for the Gators this season. Having previously played with Vernon Hargreaves and Teez Tabor, Wilson should be comfortable playing with Peterson out west.

Oct 15, 2016; Akron, OH, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) tosses the ball after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium. Western Michigan Broncos won 41-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Akron, OH, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) tosses the ball after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium. Western Michigan Broncos won 41-0. Mandatory Credit: Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

13

Corey Davis

WR, Western Michigan

Corey Davis – Wide Receiver Western Michigan – Senior 6-3, 213 Pounds Corey Davis – Wide Receiver Western Michigan – Senior 6-3, 213 Pounds Many would love to have the Bills to select Mike Williams in this spot, but I just love the overall consistency of Corey Davis.

Western Michigan is undefeated right now, and Corey Davis is the type of player that carries the offensive load for them. No one is pushing Sammy Watkins anywhere, but rather the Bills would be getting a Robin to his Batman.

Dec 27, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) before a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

This year has been a major barometer of disappointment for the Bills, Davis is the type of guy you game-plan for.

If Rex Ryan stays, then it would be satisfying to know that he gets a very accomplished and polished route runner. If you’re having a new coach jump in, you then have the opportunity to develop the young corps. Tyrod Taylor should still be the dual-threat quarterback that the Bills look forward to keeping around.

Corey Davis is coming into a pretty talented offense, with LeSean McCoy still being one of the best running backs in the game, Charles Clay is probably one of the best pick-ups stolen from a division rival, and the offensive line quietly being a juggernaut. Maybe next round or two, they will select one of the very talented corners or safeties on the market.

Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) reacts after sacking the Texas A&M Aggies quarterback at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) reacts after sacking the Texas A&M Aggies quarterback at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

14

Tim Williams

LB, Alabama

There really isn’t a wrong direction the Indianapolis Colts can go in this draft. They need help everywhere on the roster. It’s still somewhat surprising that they’re going to let Ryan Grigson continue to be the one making the picks.

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless, this team needs a monumental makeover on defense. From top to bottom. Often the best units begin with a surefire edge rusher. Somebody who creates havoc and forces opponents to slide blocking (and attention) their way.

Tim Williams is an ideal fit for their 3-4 system. He’s got the outside linebacker type of body, along with the explosion, quickness, and bend off the edge. The athleticism is there for him to contribute in other ways but the Colts would be remiss if they took him away from what he does best.

Williams has the kind of skills that are made for a fast artificial turf field in a dome. Give him a lead to protect and he’s going to get himself some sacks.

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) gestures to the sidelines during the first half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) gestures to the sidelines during the first half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

15

Malik McDowell

DT, Michigan State

Injury concerns and work ethic issues are becoming a major question mark on McDowell’s draft stock. Fortunately, his team isn’t going to a bowl game so he gets time to become healthy and prepare for a very important draft season.

With so many talented defensive lineman from the SEC, McDowell has to work incredibly hard to prove that he’s a top-10 pick. With natural talent and size at 6’6, 276 lbs.

Nov 20, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) is tackled by Tennessee Titans tackle Jurrell Casey (99) at the goal line at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

McDowell is a physical player inside at defensive tackle. He’s often times the fastest player off the football and finds himself in the backfield creating plays before blocks are being set-up.

However, there are times where McDowell isn’t even on the field. Most of the time it’s because he’s off the field getting treated for an injury. Whether it be his back, shoulder or knees, he’s always on the sideline and that’s a major red flag.

The Titans have decent players on their defensive line but nothing to the caliber of McDowell. He’s the best player on the board and fills a huge need for a team that can use him any which way they choose.

Oct 15, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs past Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Thomas Brown (26) during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs past Wake Forest Demon Deacons linebacker Thomas Brown (26) during the game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

16

Dalvin Cook

RB, Florida State

With the sixteenth overall pick, the Green Bay Packers have finally selected a running back to compliment Aaron Rodgers and the offense. Dalvin Cook is considered as one of the top running backs in the 2017 Draft.

Cook is a patient runner who allows his blockers to get set up before he utilizes his lateral agility and acceleration to burst through the hole to the second level. While not utilized as a receiver all that often at FSU, he has shown the ability to catch the ball at a proficient level.

Oct 22, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) gets ready to receive the opening kick off against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Washington won 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

17

John Ross

WR, Washington

Philadelphia has spent a draft pick in the first three rounds in each of the past three years. Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, and Josh Huff were Chip Kelly’s picks, and thus far Matthews is the only pick bearing fruit. Huff was released after being arrested mid-season, and Agholor is dealing with a mental roadblock and bad drops.

Without Jeremy Maclin or DeSean Jackson, casualties of the Kelly regime, the Eagles have no one to stretch the field. John Ross has the potential to be the fastest player at the combine, and will play the role of Jackson going forward.

Ross had 17 touchdowns with over 1,100 receiving yards for the Huskies, and will put his talent to the ultimate test against Alabama in the college football playoff semi-finals.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Southern California

18

Adoree’ Jackson

CB, USC

Other than Jimmy Smith, the Baltimore Ravens don’t have a reliable defender in the secondary. Eric Weddle is nearing the end of his career, Lardarius Webb is playing out of position and Matt Elam can’t seem to stay on his feet.

Rookie Tavon Young has potential, but he’s more of a nickel. Adoree’ Jackson may not be the most polished cornerback in this year’s draft class, but he is the most versatile.

Nov 27, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (36) reacts after a turnover in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

He can be utilized as a field, boundary or slot corner in addition to his return skills, which would come in handy after the Ravens released Devin Hester.

Jackson isn’t going to be as physical as Smith, but he is as talented as any college corner when the ball is in the air. For some, this may seem a tad early for Jackson to come off the board.

However his stock is going to rise significantly after the Scouting Combine, where his athletic ability will be on full display.

By the time the 2017 NFL Draft rolls around, this pick may be viewed as another steal for Ozzie Newsome and company.

Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans during a NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws a pass against the Southern California Trojans during a NCAA football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

19

Deshone Kizer

QB, Notre Dame

Shocker, I know.

However, with the way free agent pickup Brock Osweiler has looked this season, coach Bill O’Brien makes one hell of a gamble.

Remember, O’Brien was not amongst the Texans cabinet that were in agreement to bring Osweiler   to Houston. Especially for $72 million years and multiple years on his contract. O’Brien is currently in his third season and results have not exactly been much to build a case for.

Dec 18, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler (17) and defensive end J.J. Watt (center) and defensive end Antonio Smith (94) stand on the sideline during the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

He has a division title (2015) but that was off a 9-7 season and is currently on the way to a similar season. Also, can anyone confidently say that the Texans can place all of their eggs in the basket of Osweiler?

The selection of Kizer buys O’Brien a little time plus puts Osweiler on clear notice going into 2017. That’s if he can win the job in training camp. Kizer may not be completely NFL-ready but he has enough of a skill set for O’Brien to mold and possibly be his actual quarterback of the future. Kizer has great size at 6’4 and 230 pounds.

He also has a strong-arm, solid football IQ, and traits of being a quality team leader. His flaw is that he has only played the position for three years now. Which means he still has plenty of room to grow.

Oct 15, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) reacts after scoring a touchdown during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

20

Mike Williams

WR, Clemson

I think the pick of Williams here is one that works well for all involved. It gives Washington a dynamic playmaker who can be a versatile weapon for Kirk Cousins, while it places Williams in a very friendly situation. Contrary to popular belief, the Redskins aren’t far from being very legitimate contenders — they’ve shown that this season.

Dec 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) in action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Washington Redskins won 27-22. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With another points-creator, they get even better. The way the Washington offense is currently structured, there’s a real need for a big threat that possesses both the size and playmaking ability to stretch the field, and allow Cousins to continue to balance the run and pass in Sean McVay’s offense.

Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will both be free agents, and Josh Doctson hasn’t been healthy enough to stay on the field. Williams and Jamison Crowder could be a strong duo, and even better if Doctson returns.

There’s a whole lot of potential coming around the bend for this team; adding a threat on the outside is a major step in the right direction. Williams, at 6’3”, provides the size and athleticism necessary to win battles at the NFL level. He’ll get plenty of early looks in April.

2017 NFL Draft Carl Lawson

Nov 5, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) sacks Vanderbilt Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur (14) during the fourth quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Auburn won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

21

Carl Lawson

DL, Auburn

The Miami Dolphins lost Olivier Vernon in the off-season and had hoped that Cameron Wake and Mario Williams could pick up where he left off. Wake has done so but Williams has been a bust since his signing. Even so, both players are well over 30 years old and the time to get a young EDGE rusher for the Dolphins is now.

Dec 11, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) takes the field prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Carl Lawson has the talent and production to be a top 15 pick but because of names like Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett, Lawson slides a bit in the draft. However, that isn’t a discredit to what he can do on the field.

At 6’2 and 255 pounds, Lawson packs a punch along the edge and has a knack for getting into the backfield. His 10 sacks were second in the SEC this year and his 13 tackles for loss put him at seventh.

When you look at Carl Lawson you see a player who combines speed and strength at the position. He can bull rush the tackle into the quarterback and he can chase down the running back sideline to sideline. Lawson missed a few games in 2015 due to injury but a healthy 2016 season has him rising up boards once again.

The Dolphins need to get younger along the defensive line and Lawson is the perfect fit.

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Teez Tabor (31) against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Teez Tabor (31) against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at EverBank Field. Florida Gators defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

22

Teez Tabor

CB, Florida

Tampa Bay made an effort to improve their secondary last year, signing veteran Brent Grimes and drafting Vernon Hargreaves. At 33-years-old and a vulnerable contract, Grimes stands to be released at season’s end. The Buccaneers can relieve themselves of Grimes’ $6.5 million cap hit with no penalty whatsoever.

After Grimes and Hargreaves, the depth in Tampa Bay is not all that impressive. Take away Josh Robinson in free agency this spring, and you’re left with just one experienced back, Alterraun Verner.

Reuniting Tabor and Hargreaves would be a dream scenario for the Buccaneers. Having two young cornerbacks who played together in college grow together with the team is a luxury Dirk Koetter can not pass up.

Sep 12, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Oregon State Beavers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 12, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Oregon State Beavers at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

23

Jake Butt

TE, Michigan

Michigan has transformed overnight into a competitive school, it all starts with the success of the offense. A lot has to do with the complete play of Jake Butt, as he is a capable blocker with a set of hands that will benefit him at the next level.

I love his willingness to attack linebackers at the next level, he always seems squared when blocking, and is the best tight end in the nation. Consecutive 500 yard seasons aren’t as easy for tight ends as it use to be, so Jake Butt could relish in the limelight for the Broncos.

Dec 11, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) warms up with quarterback Paxton Lynch (12) prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Denver loves the two-tight end sets, and haven’t really had a competitor like Butt at the position. He could be what the Broncos traded for in Vernon Davis a few seasons ago…but a lot better.

The Broncos have been very reliant on the development of Paxton Lynch, trying their hardest to let him develop in their system before exposing him to Khalil Mack and Justin Houston of the dreaded AFC West. I think that Paxton will start next year as the permanent starter, the Broncos really needs that play-maker down the middle as a safety valve for Lynch.

Butt can be what Jason Witten is to Dak Prescott, a weapon in the passing game, and a willing blocker. If anyone can make a butt of the defense (zinger), it’s Jake. Putting him into a system that fits, a team that really focuses on mismatches, could really benefit Jake Butt.

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (57) against the Missouri Tigers during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (57) against the Missouri Tigers during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

24

Caleb Brantley

DL, Florida

While rising star Vic Beasley Jr. continues to wreck offensive lines, additions along with defensive line are needed. One of those additions will be a versatile defensive tackle. Current veterans Tyson Jackson and Jonathan Babineaux may not be around in 2017 and that is a considerable possibility.

So the Falcons add a versatile terror in Brantley out of Florida. The former Gator has profound ability in run defense, which is his strong suit. Plus, he still has enough tools to gradually mold into an all-around defensive tackle that is a headache to defend.

In the Falcons “4-3 Under” defense, one requirement is a DT that is able to play the 3-technique and the 5-technique on mostly base defensive sets. Brantley has that skill to do so and will provide consistent interior pressure for Atlanta.

It may not be the edge rusher that majority expect the Falcons to target in the first round. However, it does address a need for the Falcons. For the second year in a row, Dan Quinn taps into the Florida program to upgrade the defense.

Sep 3, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Montravius Adams (1) walks off the field at halftime against the Clemson Tigers during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Montravius Adams (1) walks off the field at halftime against the Clemson Tigers during the first half at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

25

Montravius Adams

DT, Auburb

There wasn’t too much of a conversation that Russell and I had to have here. The goal was simple: if there was a defender who fell to a nice spot for Pittsburgh here, that player was going to be the selection. When the time to pick came, Adams became the clear favorite.

Not only does he possess traits that translate well to the NFL level, but he fills both an immediate and big-picture need for Pittsburgh. The Steelers are far removed from the days of the vaunted Steel Curtain defense, and it’s not difficult to argue that the only reason they haven’t won more Championships in the Roethlisberger/Tomlin era is due to their inabilities to stifle opposing offenses.

The Adams selection worked out well, he’ll be a value against both the run and pass and projects to be a potential franchise player in the middle if he lives up to the upside that he undeniably possesses.

Oct 22, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) in action against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Washington won 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 22, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) in action against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Washington won 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

26

Sidney Jones

CB, Washington

The once Legion of Boom seems to have taken a turn since Brandon Browner left (the first time) and has been hampered with injuries to Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. While the secondary is still elite when healthy and Richard Sherman playing among some of the best at his position, it’s time the Seahawks seal up the other corner position. Where better for the Seahawk’s to look than in their own backyard? Sidney Jones IV has been spectacular for the Washington Huskies over the past two seasons.

A long, rangy corner at 6’1, Jones has the perfect size to be effective on the outside where many others have come and gone. He’s shutdown some of the top receivers in college football over the last two years and has accounted for seven interceptions during that span.

The Seahawks have other needs, especially along the offensive line, but it was their defense that was able to get them to Super Bowls in 2013 and 2014. With the addition of Jones, it very well could see the Legion of Boom reborn and another deep playoff run for Seattle.

Sep 24, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) blocks Michigan State defensive end Evan Jones (85) during the second quarter of their game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Sep 24, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) blocks Michigan State defensive end Evan Jones (85) during the second quarter of their game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

27

Ryan Ramczyk

OT, Wisconsin

There were a few options heading into this selection. OJ Howard would have given New York a viable inside presence, Zach Cunningham and Dalvin Cook were also major targets before they selected by Cincinnati and Green Bay. This offensive line class isn’t great but I’m comfortable taking Ramczyk here for the Giants.

He isn’t a great athlete, but he’s a good one with the length, power and timing to be a starter at either tackle spot on an offensive line which has struggled to protect Eli Manning this season. Both Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart have suffered from incredibly changeable performances and moving forward, it’s not good enough, especially when you consider the window for Manning to win another championship is only getting smaller.

The Giants offense has some nice pieces, if Ramczyk is available for the Giants to take in Philadelphia, they would be delusional not to pick him. He would make their offense that much better.

2017 NFL Draft Takkarist McKinley

October 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley (98) brings down Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate (14) during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

28

Takkarist McKinley

DL, UCLA

The top needs for the Detroit Lions are pass rusher, pass rusher and more pass rushers. Through 14 weeks, only two Lions defenders have recorded more than three sacks, and one of them (Devin Taylor) is going to be a free agent after the season. Ziggy Ansah doesn’t have any sacks this season as he’s battled injuries all year. He should be much more productive next season, but he can’t be the only pass-rushing threat.

Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) in action against the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Takkarist McKinley is not going to contribute against the run anytime soon, but he’s one of the best pure pass rushers eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft. In that sense, he’s the West Coast version of Alabama’s Tim Williams. General Manager Bob Quinn came over to Detroit from New England where he learned from Bill Belichick.

There isn’t a team in the NFL better at finding and utilizing players who fit specific needs better than the Patriots. Quinn can use those lessons to bring in a guy like McKinley who can fill a huge void in the defense.

The Lions haven’t used a first-round pick on defense since selecting Ansah in 2013, however that will have to change if the Lions hope to consistently be in the playoff picture moving forward.

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) against the Missouri Tigers during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) against the Missouri Tigers during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

29

Jarrad Davis

MLB, Florida

Head coach Jack Del Rio has done a remarkable job in Oakland by building a young, athletic, competitive team. There are plenty of assets on the roster. However, there are also a few holes that need addressing.

One of those holes is at middle linebacker. Current starter Perry Riley has been serviceable for the Raiders but that is about it. For this defense to take the next step, a standout player needs to occupy the position.

That guy will be Davis. His 230-pound frame is equipped with speed and athleticism. Davis offers the ability to be reliable in the passing game as well as stick his nose into running plays. Davis also converts speed to power at times, which makes him tough to defend for pulling linemen. His read-and-react ability is exactly what Oakland needs.

Oakland has a dominating pass rusher in Khalil Mack. They also have a tough thumper at strong safety in Karl Joseph. This defense is just missing a game changer at middle linebacker. Davis can definitely fill that role.

Dec 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws the ball in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the ACC Championship college football game at Camping World Stadium. Clemson Tigers won 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 3, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws the ball in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the ACC Championship college football game at Camping World Stadium. Clemson Tigers won 42-35. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

30

Deshaun Watson

QB, Clemson

From the start, as soon as I saw where the Chiefs fell into the order, I had a QB on the mind. It’s unconventional in almost every way, but when you scout out the future at the quarterback for Kansas City, it’s easy to see that a long-term answer isn’t yet available on the depth chart.

And as soon as Russell alerted me that Watson was still on the board, there wasn’t a question in my mind that this was the selection to make at this point in the first round. The Clemson QB has his pluses and minuses; what young signal caller doesn’t?

At the end of the day, it’s difficult to deny his work ethic, projectable traits and big-play ability. He’s been in big games, performed well against elite collegiate defenses and was certainly the “best player available” on the board at the time of this mock. It might not be the most pressing need in KC, but the way this shook out made it seem like the best move to make at the time.

Nov 19, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) points to the sky in celebration after a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Stanford defeated California 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 19, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) points to the sky in celebration after a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium. Stanford defeated California 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles get 31st overall pick, conditional 2018 draft pick

Patriots get Connor Barwin, 40th overall pick
31

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

Patriots: Bill Belichick and the Patriots have been known to be more than willing trade partners come draft day. This time they decide to trade away the 31st overall pick and a conditional Day Three pick for an additional second round pick and veteran DE Connor Barwin. This a classic Belichick move in that he gains more flexibility to move around in the second round, and at the same time addresses a position of need in Barwin.

Dec 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles (43) celebrates his 4-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during the second quarter against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles: Chip Kelly foolishly gave away LeSean McCoy, leaving the Eagles with Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. Mathews, who is out for the season with a herniated disc in his neck, is most-likely gone after this season. Sproles is a specialty back signed through next season. Rookie Wendell Smallwood has not seen much playing time, but regardless won’t be a feature back in his career.

Fearing McCaffrey would not be available once the 40th overall pick rolled around, the Eagles ship pass rusher Connor Barwin and his cap hit to the Patriots. Vinny Curry is receiving starters’ money on the bench, and needs a chance to thrive in Jim Schwartz’ defense. Giving Carson Wentz a reliable running back who can also catch the ball will help the young quarterback develop going forward.

Sep 17, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris (91) celebrates after a sack against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris (91) celebrates after a sack against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first half at Faurot Field. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

32

Charles Harris

DE, Missouri

The offense in Dallas is pretty much set. Behind a monster offensive line there are two budding NFL superstars in the backfield, and their receivers are pretty good as well. In spite of the fact that Dallas’ defense has exceeded expectations this season, they could stand to improve at all three levels. Most specifically, the Cowboys need a menacing pass rusher.

Tyrone Crawford currently leads the team with 4.5 sacks, so it is obvious that help is required to terrorize opposing quarterbacks moving forward. Charles Harris is seventh in Missouri history with 18 sacks and 12th with 34.5 tackles for loss, he beats blockers inside, outside.

A sneaky bull rush and a devastating spin move mean Harris has an array of moves at his disposal. Dallas have built a dynasty-capable offense, if they can build the defense to a similar level – which the selection of Harris will help with – watch out.

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