Week 9 of the 2016 NFL season is in the books, and the Cleveland Browns are still looking for their first win. Here is our latest 2017 NFL Mock Draft.
The Cleveland Browns continue to be the laughingstock of the NFL, and are still looking for their first win after nine weeks of the season. Thanks to the trade they made with the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the 2016 NFL Draft, the Browns will pick twice in round one in April. Each week, the draft order is going to change based on wins and losses, so make sure you check back and see our latest mock.
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Here is our 2017 NFL Mock Draft after Week 9 of the regular season.
Edge, Texas A&M
The Cleveland Browns have made the decision to see what they have in Cody Kessler, as they sent Josh McCown back to the bench this past week. McCown looked very good for Cleveland in Week 8, throwing for over 300 yards in a very winnable game against the Jets. However, the Browns season is a lost one, and the team needs to know whether or not Kessler is their quarterback of the future.
With the loss, the Browns moved to 0-9 on the season, and appear destined to pick up the first overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. Thanks to their trade with Philadelphia prior to the 2016 draft, the Browns will also pick later in round one. I believe they will go defense with both picks, and will make Myles Garrett the first overall selection in April.
Garrett is the most explosive defensive end in this draft, and will instant upgrade the Browns on defense. There is no clear No. 1 quarterback in this draft, which is a huge need for Cleveland, so building up the defense will be key. The Browns have a ton of draft picks in 2017, and will need to hit a home run, in what will be a make or break draft for the organization.
Nov 5, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to pass the ball during the first quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
The San Francisco 49ers continue to lose, and it is abundantly clear that Colin Kaepernick is not the answer at quarterback. There is no doubt that he will get a job somewhere else, but his time in San Fran needs to come to a end. Head coach Chip Kelly needs to bring in his own quarterback in the draft, and that man should be Deshaun Watson of the Clemson Tigers.
Watson is a proven winner at the collegiate level, and once again has his Tigers in position for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Though he started the year off slow, Watson is currently playing some of the best football in the country, and he has all the tools to make it at the position in the NFL. He is an electric player, which is just the kind of guy Kelly needs to run his offense.
On Tuesday, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney announced that Watson would enter the draft, which cemented his spot in our mock draft. The junior has led Clemson to a perfect record through the first 10 weeks of the college football season, and is the kind of winner who can help turn around the once proud franchise. Watson is also as gritty as they come, as he once beat South Carolina with a torn ACL during his freshman season at Clemson.
Nov 5, 2016; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) scores a touchdown on his forth quarter run against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 48-20. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Playing against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler played their most inspired game of the season. Cutler looked rejuvenated under center, throwing strikes all over the field in the team’s 20-10 victory. At a glance, it looked like he would resume his spot as the Bears quarterback for the foreseeable future, but we all know that is not the case.
The Bears need to move on from Cutler in the worst way, in a move that would be beneficial for both parties. The marriage between Cutler and Chicago has not worked out, and it is time to bring in fresh blood at the position. Chicago should keep Brian Hoyer after this season, but they need to draft a quarterback at No. 3 in April.
That player should be Mitch Trubisky, who is a prototypical NFL quarterback. After a rough first game of the season, Trubisky has bounced back to be one of the more consistent signal-callers in all of college football, and has led North Carolina to some huge wins. He can do it all from the pocket, has a rocket for a right arm, and has an incredible football I.Q.
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
DT, Michigan State
The Jacksonville Jaguars desperately need help up front, and Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell just may be the answer. McDowell has stated that he will not turn pro unless he is a top-five pick, and that could be the case in April. He is a dynamic defensive player, with the size and strength to be a dominant force in the middle of the Jaguars defensive line.
Michigan State is having a terrible season, though McDowell has managed to play well despite being double-teamed on nearly every play. The Spartans are only 2-7 on the season, and due to the fact McDowell was the only returning starter on the defensive line, he has had to play inside at tackle, and on the edges. McDowell also recently said that the Spartans struggles will not factor into whether or not he turns pro.
At 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds, McDowell could play the middle or on the outside at the next level. Jacksonville needs to revamp their defense, after trying to make a splash on that side of the ball in free agency this past offseason. The Jags have a ton of weapons on offense, and now it is time for them to add some young talent to their defense.
Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) on the field against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Jabrill Peppers is by far the most exciting defensive player in college football, as he has been used all over the field for Michigan this season. This past week, he played linebacker, safety, special teams, running back, and quarterback, as the Wolverines continued their undefeated season. The junior will likely be done at Michigan after this season, which could end with him as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
Peppers is from East Orange, New Jersey, which is not far from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford where the Jets play their home games. Drafting Peppers would instantly give the Jets their most popular draft pick in recent memory, while allowing him to play in front of his family and friends every week. New York needs some new, young star power, and Peppers would give them that on day one.
The Jets had an extremely tough schedule this season, and it shows in their record thus far. The fact of the matter is, the team is getting older on defense, and some of their defensive stars appear to have given up on the season. Peppers would make the Jets better, not only on defense, but possibly on special team and offense as well.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) intercepts the ball from Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Josh Reynolds (11) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
The Tennessee Titans are loving life every time they see the Los Angeles Rams lose, as they will have the Rams first round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Titans traded their 2016 first overall pick to the Rams, and in turn, will probably get to pick in the top-10 this year because of it. The Titans need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball, and specifically, at cornerback.
Enter Marlon Humphreys, who is the top-rated corner in the 2017 draft class. The son of a former NFL running back, Humphreys is the ball-hawk corner the Titans need, especially in a division that features Andrew Luck. Humphrey has played in some huge games as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and has the swagger to be a star in the NFL instantly.
Tennessee has a solid corner in Jason McCourty, who leads the team with two interceptions this season. However, he needs help in the secondary, as the team has been torched on too many occasions this season. The Titans rank in the top-10 in run defense, so bolstering their secondary is the No. 1 priority on draft day.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) hits Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have suffered from not having Doug Martin in the lineup, as they have won only three of their first eight games this season. Quarterback Jameis Winston is developing into a solid player at the position, and the Bucs have a stud at their WR1 position in Mike Evans. Once area they need help is up front on the defensive line, which is a position with plenty of talent in this draft.
Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is a physical freak, who just may go No. 1 overall to the Cleveland Browns. However, if he does fall to the Bucs, he would give them that high-impact player that they are currently lacking. Tampa Bay is also thin in the secondary, but getting a good pass rush is going to be crucial for them if they want to make the next step forward.
The best part about Allen is he is a complete player, and some feel he is the most consistent defensive star in the college football. He is a monster against the run, and as a pass rusher, he can be very disruptive. Allen is a main cog in arguably the best defense in the country, and he will join a couple of his teammates on that side of the ball in the first round in April.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs as Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) and linebacker Reuben Foster (10) pursue during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Newton needs help in the backfield, as Jonathan Stewart is beginning to show his age. Stewart has yet to rush for 100 yards or more this season, and does not have the ability to drive the ball in down by the goal line anymore. Over at LSU, there is a certain running back who can revitalize the Panthers backfield, and he is ready to dominate at the NFL level.
Heading into the season as a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, Leonard Fournette has struggled through a mediocre season for the most part. Lately, he has looked like the best back in America, and appears to have shaken off his bone bruise in his ankle that robbed him of two games. He has started only five games this season, but has rushed for over 100 yards in four of them, including a school-record 284-yard effort against Ole Miss two weeks ago.
The bugaboo for Fournette during his illustrious collegiate career has been his inability to do anything against Alabama. Last season, his poor effort against the Crimson Tide cost him a Heisman Trophy, and he followed it up this year with a 35-yard effort against them. Still, he is the best back in college football, and should be an excellent player at the next level.
Nov 5, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) looks to pass the ball in the second quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Everbank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
QB, Notre Dame
The Arizona Cardinals need a future quarterback, and they should be able to find him in this draft. Based on their current record, the Cardinals appear slated to pick towards the beginning of the first round, where there should be plenty of signal-callers to choose from. One prospect on the radar is DeShone Kizer, who could easily go in the top-3 in April.
Kizer has all the tools to be a solid quarterback at the next level, possessing the arm strength, and accuracy to make all the throws. What is stopping him from being a No. 1 overall pick is his inconsistency at the position, as he has led the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to a losing record this season. His game equates to the NFL, and he would be a good pick for Arizona.
Carson Palmer likely has a year, or two left in him, which would give Kizer the time to develop. If he goes to a team like Cleveland, he will likely be asked to start right away, which would stunt his development. Palmer is as classy a veteran quarterback as there is in the NFL, and he would likely take Kizer under his wing and make him a better player.
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) in the first quarter in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the worst defensive units in the NFL, and they head into their Monday Night Football matchup against the New York Giants ranked No. 25 overall. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has said he is going to tweak the unit, and expects them to play better after having the past week off. Going defense is a must for Cincinnati in April, and the linebacker spot may be the best position to upgrade.
Vontaze Burfict is a monster, but he should be moved inside. The linebacking corps needs some athleticism, and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster would be a nice fit. He currently plays for one of the best programs in America, and would team with Burfict and Rey Maualuga to give the Bengals an upgrade at the position.
Cincinnati has some great weapons on offense, as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton are one of the better 1-2 wide receiver and quarterback punches in the AFC. The defense needs playmakers, and drafting a player of Foster’s caliber would give them an injection of youth on the defensive side of the ball. He has been a leader for one of the best defenses in college football, and should be an impact player right away in the NFL.
Oct 15, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) carries the ball while being defended by North Carolina State Wolfpack safety Josh Jones (11) during the first half at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
If the season ended today, the Tennessee Titans would pick twice in the first 11 selections in April. They should definitely upgrade their defense with their first selection, but with their second pick in the first round, they should give Marcus Mariota a weapon on the outside. Mariota is one of the better young quarterbacks in football, and he needs a star to rely on in the passing game.
Tajae Sharpe has been a great find for the Titans, as the rookie has put together some solid games in his first season in the league. However, he is a WR2 at best, and cannot be relied upon to carry a team through the air. Adding a player like Clemson’s Mike Williams would give Mariota the game-changing wide receiver he needs to take the next step in his development.
Tennessee is not that far off, and they play in arguably the worst division in all of football. If they can add two solid pieces to an already decent roster, they should be able to challenge the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans in the AFC South. Williams is an incredible talent at the wide receiver position, and with solid running backs in place, would give the Titans one of the more deep offensive units in the AFC.
Sep 26, 2015; Oxford, MS, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) tackles Mississippi Rebels running back Jordan Wilkins (22) during the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
The Indianapolis Colts need some help on defense, as they are only a couple of pieces away from being able to challenge for an AFC title. Two years ago, the Colts made it to the AFC Championship Game, but were manhandled by the New England Patriots. Last year, they fell to 8-8, as Andrew Luck battled injuries for most of the season.
In 2016, Indianapolis has been a yo-yo, looking very good one week, and very bad the next. They have the pieces in place on offense, and despite an aging running back, have not struggled to put up points. However, their defense has been atrocious at time, and they need to upgrade at the linebacker position.
Not only do they need a new linebacker, but they need an athletic one who can run all over the field. That player is Zach Cunningham, who is one of the more gifted linebackers in all of college football. Cunningham showed just how athletic he is this past week, when he jumped over the line and blocked Auburn’s field goal. He just may be the best defensive player in the SEC.
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
The Buffalo Bills put up a nice showing on Monday night, as they took on the Seattle Seahawks in a prime-time matchup. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor showed why he is considered one of the better young players at his position in the game, as he continuously led his team on long drives. The team plays in a very tough division, as the New England Patriots have dominated the AFC East for years, but they are not far off from being a challenger very soon.
One area they need help is on the offensive line, which was pushed around by the Seahawks pretty much all game. Protecting Taylor is the No. 1 priority for the team, who are trying to reestablish themselves as a top franchise in the AFC. Buffalo has some talented receivers to go along with Taylor, and LeSean McCoy is still an elite running back.
Adding a solid offensive tackle is going to be key for the Bills, and Alabama lineman Cam Robinson is the best of the bunch. He is a mountain of a man, who has the strength to push defenders back like they were little kids. Buffalo needs Taylor to stay healthy if they are going to take the next step, and inserting Robinson into their offensive line would be a nice addition.
Nov 5, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) escapes California Golden Bears safety Khari Vanderbilt (7) on a touchdown during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers are having quite an interesting season, as they have literally been in every game they have played in 2016. A couple of late-game collapses have them at the bottom of the AFC West, though they have proven they can play with anybody. Rivers continues to be one of the better signal-callers in the AFC, and the Chargers should look to get him some help next April.
Starting wide receiver Keenan Allen blew out his knee in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and will be out the entire year. With an injury like he sustained, there is no telling how he will come back next season. He has dealt with injuries his entire career, and though extremely talented, the Chargers cannot go into another season with him as their top option on the outside.
Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin have filled in nicely in Allen’s absence, but they could certainly use another playmaker at the position. Washington wideout John Ross is a can’t-miss prospect, and would fit nicely into the Chargers run-first offense. Running back Melvin Gordon is rounding into a solid back, and if the Bolts can add another weapon on the outside, they should once again be one of the top offensive units in the AFC.
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
The Baltimore Ravens need their next great pass rusher, and this draft is filled with players who can get to the quarterback. Baltimore is synonymous with having great players on defense, but most of their big name players are getting up there in age. Terrell Suggs is the unquestioned leader on the defense, but it appears his best days are behind him.
Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett is an interesting prospect, who could actually move to the linebacker position at the next level. Barnett is an explosive player, who has been used as a defensive end for the Volunteers. He had over 20 sacks during his first two years on campus, showing an incredible ability to take down quarterbacks.
Barnett is a strong kid, who can use his hands effectively to keep people off of him. At the next level, he will probably be used on the edge, whether on or off the line. Baltimore has a history of developing players on defense, and Barnett could be the next star donning the purple and black.
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
The Miami Dolphins signed defensive end Mario Williams this past off season, in the hopes he would be able to team with Ndamukong Suh to form a solid 1-2 punch up front on the defensive line. Well, Williams has not been worth the money, and may actually be a cap hit at the end of the season. That would leave the Dolphins with a hole at the defensive end position, which they could fill in the first round.
Miami appears married to Ryan Tannehill, despite the fact that he has not progressed much over the past few years. While there are some talented quarterbacks in this draft, we expect the team to go with someone to help bolster their defense. Auburn’s Carl Lawson is one of the most explosive players in this draft, and would be a solid addition to the Dolphins roster.
Lawson is a bit undersized for the NFL, but that will not stop him from being an impact player at the next level. He has battled some injuries during his career at Auburn, but when healthy, he may be the best pass rusher in college football. Miami will be able to find a place for him, and having to play Tom Brady twice a year, they need help getting after the quarterback.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) celebrates after intercepting a pass from Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (not pictured) during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Ready for a shocker? The Cleveland Browns will not take a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Sure, they need help at the position, but is there really a quarterback in this draft who can turn around the franchise right away. Cleveland has made so many first round mistakes at the position, that their best bet may be to wait until later in the draft and take someone they can mold over time.
Cleveland needs help all over their defense, especially in the secondary, where star cornerback Joe Haden needs help. Adding a solid player at the safety position would be huge for the Browns, and Jamal Adams from LSU is a first-round talent at the position. He has a solid eye for the ball, brings the pain when he hits, and has an incredible football I.Q.
In all likelihood, Cleveland is going to grab a quarterback, and it is not going to work out. However, Josh McCown and Cody Kessler are serviceable for next year, and if they can add talent to their defense, they should be much improved. The Browns are not going to go 0-16 this season, but the main focus should be getting the younger guys reps, and putting themselves in position to improve the roster going forward.
PISCATAWAY, NJ – NOVEMBER 05: Indiana Hoosiers offensive lineman Dan Feeney (67) during the NCAA BIG 10 football game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Indiana Hoosiers on November 05, 2016, at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, NJ. The Indiana Hoosiers defeat the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 33-27. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
It has been an interesting season for Aaron Rodgers, who looks as if his skills are diminishing a bit as he gets later in his career. However, he still shows signs that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, and there is still plenty of good football left in him. Green Bay needs a running back, and help on defense, but bolstering their offensive line will be key for them going forward.
This preseason, the team cut Josh Sitton, leaving a huge hole at the offensive guard position. Instead of a short-term answer for next year, the Packers should look long-term, and pick Dan Feeney from Indiana. He is an incredible offensive lineman, who has the size and strength to be a fixture on the Packers line for years to come.
Feeney has been the Hoosiers’ right guard this season, but due to injuries on the offensive line, has had to play some tackle. He is an All-American at the guard position, and that will be his position at the next level. Taking a guard in the first round may be a stretch for Green Bay, but Feeney is definitely worth the selection at his point in the draft.
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
The New Orleans Saints can put up points with the best of them, and they have had loads of talent on the offensive side of the ball. The issue for them over the past few years has been the play of their defense, which just cannot seem to stop anybody. Recently, the NFC South has become an offense-first division, with star quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Jameis Winston.
If the Saints wish to return to their role atop the division, they are going to have to bolster their secondary. They are getting beat on a weekly basis through the air, and it is forcing Brees to have to carry the team each week. The 2017 NFL Draft is loaded with good cornerbacks, so picking one up in the first round needs to be a priority.
Florida’s Teez Tabor is widely regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, after a standout career with the Gators. He is one of those defensive backs who can go up and get it, and is always covering the best wide receiver on the opposing team. He plays in the toughest conference in college football, and he continues to get better each week.
Oct 22, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes kick returner Desmond King (14) hurdles his own player against the Wisconsin Badgers at Kinnick Stadium. The Badgers beat the Hawkeyes 17 to 9. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
No Calvin Johnson, no problem for Matthew Stafford, who is having arguably his best season as a pro in 2016. The Detroit Lions have been very solid on offense, despite the fact that they are getting nothing from the running back position. Marvin Jones Jr. and Golden Tate are one of the best 1-2 tandems at the wide receiver position in football, and have led the team to a 5-4 record this season.
The defensive side of the ball has been another story, as the team has struggled to make stops this season. In the secondary, it has been a horror show most weeks, and they need to make a pick in April that will improve the unit. Iowa’s Desmond King has been one of the best cornerbacks in college football for a few years now, and could have actually been a first rounder last year.
King returned for his senior season, and continues to show why he is rated so high. He does not have great speed, but he closes on the ball extremely well, and has very soft hands for a defensive back. He is a hard-nosed player, and the city of Detroit loves guys who go out there and give it there all every week. King is that kind of player.
Nov 28, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (93) lines up for a play during the second half against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Redskins have quietly been a consistently player in the NFC East, where they were the division champs this past season. Though the team has not committed to a future where Kirk Cousins is their quarterback, he has played well enough to win more than his fair share of games. The issue in Washington has been in the trenches, where they get beat on a consistent basis.
The defense is ranked near the bottom of the NFL, and they need to do something that will help against the run. Lowell Lotulelei of Utah is one of the better defensive tackle prospects in all of college football, and would be solid at the nose position at the next level. His brother is a starter at the nose already in the NFL, and most believe Lowell is the better of the two.
Washington is pretty solid as a unit, and bolstering the defensive front would go a long way in the division they play in. They also need help on the offensive line, but the offense has done a nice job moving the ball this season. They cannot afford to give up 20-plus points every week, and adding Lotulelei would put a big body in the middle of their defensive line, and draw double-teams that would help in the pass rush.
Oct 3, 2015; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive end Dawuane Smoot (91) sacks Nebraska Cornhuskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. (4) at Memorial Stadium. The Fighting Illini won 14 – 13. Mandatory Credit: Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports
The 2016 season could be the end of the road for Jason Pierre-Paul as a member of the New York Giants, though not because his play is down. The Giants spent a ton of money on Oliver Vernon this past offseason, and they may not have the money to play both of them big bucks. However, a solid pass rush is key to the Giants defense, so adding a player that fits that mold via the draft would be a priority.
Dawuane Smoot of the University of Illinois is an explosive pass rusher, who may wind up being the best of the bunch in this draft. He currently plays for former NFL head coach Lovie Smith, who has said that Smoot is as talented as there is in college football. He would fit in perfectly with what Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo likes to do on defense.
When the Giants are winning Super Bowls, it is because of their defense. They were able to rattle Tom Brady because they get after the quarterback so well, and that led to them toppling the heavily-favored New England Patriots twice. Smoot and Vernon on the outside would give the Giants their best 1-2 pass rush in a long time.
Nov 5, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes cornerback Denzel Ward (12) tips the pass intended for Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Bryan Reimers (83) and was intercepted by Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) during the second half against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
S, Ohio State
The Denver Broncos are led by their defense, and they have helped the team to a 6-3 record to start the season. The Broncos secondary is always the class of the AFC West, but they are getting a bit long in the tooth at the safety position. Infusing some youth with their solid core of veterans back there will go a long way in ensure the defense stays elite for years to come.
Ohio State safety Malik Hooker is as good as it gets in this draft, and is really neck-and-neck with Jamal Adams as the best in this class. Hooker is the unquestioned leader of an Ohio State defense that is the best in the Big Ten. He has worked extremely hard to become a captain of the Buckeyes, and has the size and speed to be a dominant safety in the NFL.
Denver has a ton of skilled players on offense, and appear to be set with the combination of Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch at quarterback. Their defense is what sets them apart from every other team in the AFC, and they should continue to add to that puzzle in April. The AFC West is full of elite offensive players, so staying on top defensively has to be a priority for the Broncos.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers quarterback Danny Etling (16) looks to pass under pressure from Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) during the second quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Some people believe the Kansas City Chiefs may be the most complete team in the AFC, outside of maybe the New England Patriots. Alex Smith is extremely steady under center, and Spencer Ware appears ready to take the mantle if running back Jamaal Charles does not come back from injury. The defensive unit is also loaded with stars, though the linebacking group is getting up there in age.
Alabama linebacker Tim Williams fits the mold in Kansas City, and could take over for Derrick Johnson as the next big linebacker for the Chiefs. He is an incredibly gifted defensive player, who has been a leader on the dynasty that is the Crimson Tide. His work ethic would fit right in with the Chiefs and their incredible fan base.
Williams was the standout player in Alabama’s huge win against LSU this past week. He continuously rushed the passer, and really did a lot to improve his draft stock. If he can finish out the year the way he played against the Tigers, he just may not be available this late in round one. If he is, the Chiefs need to grab him quick.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) celebrates his touchdown with tight end O.J. Howard (88) against the LSU Tigers during the fourth quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Ben Roethlisberger has two of the best offensive weapons in football at his disposal, as wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell are two of the biggest stars in football. The Pittsburgh Steelers are once again in the running to make the playoffs, despite Big Ben missing some time due to injury. The team could very well go with an offensive lineman at this pick, but we expect them to bolster their tight end situation.
Alabama’s O.J. Howard is the kind of athletic tight end that could really open up the Steelers offense. Brown is beginning to get double and triple-teamed, and Bell is not putting up the kind of numbers expected from someone of his star power. Current tight end Jesse James is a nice player, but he does not garner the kind of attention needed to take the pressure off of other players.
Howard is not only a good pass-catching tight end, but he also does a nice job in the run game. His issue is that he is currently playing in an offense that does not feature the tight end, but that would change in Pittsburgh. Big Ben is a master at checking down, and would make sure that Howard is featured a ton.
Nov 5, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter Finley Stadium. Florida State won 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
RB, Florida State
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, selecting North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. Wentz got out to a hot start for the Eagles, but since their bye in Week 4, he has been one of the lowest rated passers in the NFL. The issue has been that he does not have much as far as a running game, which has now turned to 36-year old Darren Sproles to lead the way.
Philadelphia needs to go with a running back in April, and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook would be a perfect solution to their problems. He has the ability to run through, and around defenders, and would be a hit in Philadelphia. Eagles fans love hard-nosed players, and Cook is never one to shy away from trying to run over a defender.
Cook has had a record-setting career for the Seminoles, and there is not much left for him to do on campus. The Eagles need him to take some of the pressure off of Wentz, who just is not ready to carry a team on his back yet. Philadelphia is very close to being a contender in the NFC, and if they can grab Cook in the draft, he could be the Ezekiel Elliott to his Dak Prescott.
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
The Florida Gators have an elite linebacker on their defense in the person of Jarrad Davis, and he could find himself in the first round in April. The Houston Texans need to bolster their linebacking corps, and Davis is athletic enough to fit right in. Defensive ends J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are solid pass rushers, but adding Davis would give the Texans a solid option against the run.
The Texans have a very solid linebacker in Brian Cushing, but he has been bitten by the injury bug in recent years. The scouts like what they see from Davis, who has the talent to eventually be a top linebacker in this draft class. He has elite speed and aggressiveness, and aside from his prowess against the run, he is also a great pass rusher.
The Texans went out and spent big money on their offense this past offseason, and while Lamar Miller has looked good at times, he and quarterback Brock Osweiler have not lived up to their money yet. Still, they have the players they want to roll with on offense, so expect Houston to offense in the first round. They are still in first place in the AFC South, so expect them to draft late in round one.
Oct 27, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans defensive back Adoree’ Jackson (2) runs against California Golden Bears safety Alex Netherda (38) in the second quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The Atlanta Falcons at one time had an incredible two-way star named Deion Sanders. Aside from being the best cover corner in the league, Sanders also was a dangerous man in the return game. There is a player in college football who, to a lesser degree, could have the same kind of impact for the Falcons next season.
That player is Adoree’ Jackson, who is arguably the most electric player in the Pac-12. Aside from being the best defensive back on the Trojans roster, he is also the most dangerous return man in the conference, and is the kind of player that can turn a game on its head. If he is available late in the first round, he could be an instant fan favorite in Atlanta.
Jackson has been the most versatile player on the Trojans roster throughout his career, even dabbling on offense during his first few years on campus. He recently became the school’s all-time leader in kick return yards, and it appears his time with the Trojans is coming to an end. USC takes on Washington this week, and College Gameday will be there. Tune in to see if Jackson can lead the Trojans to an incredible upset.
Jan 1, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Mike McGlinchey (68) against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
OT, Notre Dame
The Seattle Seahawks need some help on the offensive line, more specifically, at the tackle position. Quarterback Russell Wilson always appears to be running for his life, and has been dealing with nagging injuries this season. Despite Wilson missing time, the Seahawks are once again in line to reach the playoffs, which means they will most likely be drafting late in round one.
If the team is in the market for an offensive tackle, they should look towards the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Mike McGlinchey is the second-best tackle in this draft, and is a dominating force for the Irish. He is strong enough to move defenders with one arm, and has the ability to play both sides of the line. The Seahawks need someone to protect Wilson’s blindside, and McGlinchey has been doing that his entire collegiate career.
The Fighting Irish are having a very bad season, but McGlinchey has been consistent throughout. Named as one of head coach Brian Kelly’s captains, McGlinchey is a leader for Notre Dame, and is often the go-to guy for interviews about the status of the team. He would be a perfect fit for the culture in Seattle, because he has the right personality, and he has the work ethic that Seahawks fans come to expect.
Oct 1, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers cornerback Tre’Davious White (18) intercepts a pass against the Missouri Tigers during the first half of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
It has been nearly 15 years since the Oakland Raiders have made the playoffs, but that is certain to change this season. The Raiders are currently 7-2 entering their bye week, and are in sole possession of first place in the AFC West. Armed with arguably the best young quarterback in football, the Raiders have changed the culture of the franchise, and could make a serious run at a Super Bowl this season.
One area where the team continues to struggle has been in the secondary, where free agent pickup Sean Smith has not lived up to expectations. Smith, who is currently nursing an injury, was given big bucks to come to the Raiders from division rival Kansas City, but has yet to gel with his new teammates. Fellow cornerback David Amerson has also been toasted a few times, so it may be time to look for a younger option at the position.
Tre’Davious White from LSU is an incredible specimen at the cornerback position, and is a first-round talent. Based on their record, the Raiders will be drafting late in round one, and White could be available. This class is deep in cornerback depth, so the Raiders could be getting a high-round talent late. They need help in the secondary, and even if it is as the third corner next year, White could step in and help right away.
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
The Dallas Cowboys have been the darling of the NFL this season, after hitting two home runs in the 2016 NFL Draft. First round running back Ezekiel Elliott, and fourth-round quarterback Dak Prescott, have led the team to a 7-1 record, which is good for first in the NFC East. No-one is expecting them to repeat what they did last year in April, but there is plenty of talent available.
One area the team could use help is on the defensive line, where they are looking to bolster their pass rush. The defense in Dallas has long been a sore spot, but they have actually been playing inspired football this season. Sean Lee is one of the better linebackers in the NFC, but he is asked to do way too much for someone his age.
Takkarist McKinley may not get a lot of press, but he is an extremely talented defensive end for the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are having a terrible season in 2016, so McKinley has flown under the radar a bit this season. He is a gritty defensive player, and some scouts think he can be the next DeMarcus Ware. That is a pretty tall order, but with how lucky the Cowboys have been in the draft recently, he just may turn out to be special.
Oct 15, 2016; Tucson, AZ, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) scores a touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the first half at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady is starting to get up there in age, but that has not stopped him from putting up MVP-type numbers this season. The fact that he has been so successful throughout his career with not much talent at the wide receiver position has been very impressive, as really only Randy Moss has been an elite Patriots wideout during Brady’s tenure. The Pats will likely be picking close to last in the first round in April, but they could find an elite wideout despite that.
USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster could most definitely be gone way before the Patriots pick, but with the way this draft is shaping out, he just may be available. Mike Williams and John Ross have been much more consistent than Smith-Schuster this season, and could be the first two wideouts off the board. Smith-Schuster has seen his production go up ever since the team made the switch to Sam Darnold at quarterback, and he has shown what he can do in an offense that likes to pass.
New England continues to be the class of the AFC, and are winning despite not having a first round draft pick back in April. They lost their pick due to Deflategate, and despite losing the draft pick and Brady for four games to start the season, they still have the best record in the AFC. Adding a weapon like Smith-Schuster to an offense with guys like Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski would be pretty scary.