2017 NFL Mock Draft: Early Trade Blitz Seeks Pressure
It’s becoming more apparent by the week how the 2017 NFL mock draft (and the real one) will be shaping up for next April.
Of the Cleveland Browns seems like the shoe-in for the #1 overall pick, but now other teams have slowly cemented themselves in the spots behind them. The question moving forward is what their priorities will be. Don’t act surprised if the Browns lead things off with a pick that most people never would’ve expected.
1. Cleveland Browns
DE, Texas A&M
Most experts are in agreement on one thing. It seems like Texas A&M pass rusher Myles Garrett is a cut above the rest of the 2017 class in terms of talent. He is a legitimate pass rusher who can beat blockers almost any way imaginable. The Browns currently have nobody like that on their defense. Jamie Collins looks like their only building block at the moment. Adding Garrett to the roster would be a giant step in the right direction.
2. San Francisco 49ers
QB, Notre Dame
Deshone Kizer may not be putting up the wins or the numbers experts had hoped for, but a lot of that isn’t his fault. Notre Dame has failed to surround him with proper weapons and the defense is a train wreck. He’s still a highly gifted young man with a strong right arm, big body and plenty of mobility. He’s also smart by all indications. Probably the most talented quarterback in this class. It will fall on Kelly to help him realize his vast potential.
3. Arizona Cardinals (via JAX)
QB, North Carolina
Mitch Trubisky is the hot name of the 2017 class. He really did almost come out of nowhere. A first-year starter at North Carolina, the junior has torn up most of the defenses he’s seen so far this season. He’s got size, a good arm, stands poise in the pocket and can deliver the ball with timing and accuracy. He’s also an athlete, able to move well and extend plays. Arians, a noted QB guru, would be able to do wonders with his game.
4. Tennessee Titans (via CHI)
That is why they trade up for Jonathan Allen. He’s one of just a few blue chip players in this 2017 class. A mammoth defensive end from Alabama, he’s got the power befitting his frame. What sets him apart is his superb quickness and athleticism for a man his size. Throw in a non-stop motor and the Titans have themselves a defensive lineman whom opponents will have to game plan for every week because of his disruptive capabilities.
5. New York Jets
That is why they take Deshaun Watson. Though he’s not the biggest player on the field and has dealt with some accuracy problems of late, he’s still a proven winner with great athleticism. He understands how, where and when to make plays for his team. When Watson gets hot, he can put up numbers with the best of them. For him it’s about learning to play with more consistency. If the Jets commit to him, that will be their priority.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (via CHI from TEN)
That’s why they trade up to get Derek Barnett. The Tennessee defensive end is one of the most consistently productive pass rushers in college football. He had nine sacks as a freshman, 10 as a sophomore and already has nine against as a junior. He just has an inherent sense of how to beat blockers and get after the quarterback. His body type and playing style are a good fit for the Buccaneers’ scheme too. It’s an easy decision to make.
7. Carolina Panthers
Can one imagine having Leonard Fournette and Cam Newton in the same backfield? It wouldn’t be fair. The LSU back is the total package. He runs with power and vision but is also surprisingly athletic for his size. Give him a lane to the second level and he’s liable to bust it for a long touchdown. At LSU he has every defender geared to stop and can still dominate. So imagine how it will be when teams have to account for Newton.
8. Chicago Bears (via TB)
Having Teez Tabor still available after two moves down is a perfect example. Chicago is really hurting at the cornerback spot. They could use a man with the capability to lock down any receiver he lines up against. Tabor is that kind of athlete. He is a good-sized, smooth corner with fluid movement and enough speed to hang with receivers deep. He plays with swagger, a short memory and keen instincts too. Put him under Vic Fangio and it will be big for that Bears defense.
9. Jacksonville Jaguars (via ARI)
The tricky part with Jabrill Peppers is he’s not a finished product. There is no debating the fact that the Michigan star is the most exciting player in college football. He plays multiple positions and creates a lot of big plays. Still, his primary position is safety and his play there has been solid but unremarkable. Not a lot of impact plays. Much of that may have to do with his constantly moving around. Hopefully settling at just safety will make him the star he should be.
10. Cincinnati Bengals
Vontaze Burfict is a loose cannon who could get himself in trouble again at any time. Ray Maualuga is a steady, dependable veteran but isn’t the player he was a few years ago. Vincent Rey is more of a specialty linebacker. Paul Dawson hasn’t really lived up to his draft billing. Adding Zach Cunningham would be a big help. The Vanderbilt product is built on elite instinct, reflex and tackling prowess. He’s a dynamo around the line of scrimmage and should be able to stay on the field for three downs.
11. Tennessee Titans
S, Ohio State
The buzz around Ohio State safety Malik Hooker has picked up by major percentages over the past month. Not only big at 6’2″, his speed and athleticism stand out in coverage. The ball skills are most definitely there as he always seems to get his hands on the football if teams dare to try him. There are still some fundamental flaws in his game that need ironing out. LeBeau is no stranger to such problems. This is a potential Pro Bowler.
12. Indianapolis Colts
Alabama is so loaded with defensive talent that it’s often easy to overlook certain players who aren’t getting their due. Reuben Foster may be one of them. He’s a linebacker who doesn’t mind doing the dirty work. He shoots gaps, stops the run and makes tackles with impressive regularity. A solid athlete with range who isn’t a big weak point in coverage. It’s hard to tell how he’ll be behind an average defensive line, but he is at least a step in the right direction.
13. San Diego Chargers
Mike Williams was projected to be the top receiver in the 2017 class and he’s held up that end of the bargain. The Clemson standout is the principal playmaker for Deshaun Watson in the passing game. He’s got the big body, strong hands and inherent sense of how to get open. It doesn’t matter how well he’s covered, he can make the tough catches. Better still he has enough speed to go deep when the situation call for it. Rivers will love him.
14. Baltimore Ravens
So the Ravens go hunting for one. In a draft class that could be loaded with such talents, Charles Harris is one that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Missouri is a program known for producing good pass rushers and Harris is their latest. He’s a quick, strong guy with good size and a high motor. Can post 2-3 sacks in a game out of nowhere. Just a feel for what he must do to beat blockers, including a nasty spin move reminiscent of Dwight Freeney.
15. Miami Dolphins
The 2017 class appears strong at that position and O.J. Howard is the leading man. His national championship performance is still the talk in scouting circles months later. He put up over 200 yards on Clemson, showcasing his basketball-type mix of size and athleticism. A big target with reliable hands who can gash defenses down the middle but also threaten on the outside due to his speed. Not an unwilling blocker either.
16. Cleveland Browns (via PHI)
Teez Tabor gets a lot of the press but many agree his teammate at Florida Quincy Wilson is just as good. Another long corner with fluid movement skills. He can mirror any receiver he lines up against and doesn’t lack the speed needed to stay in their hip pocket down the field. To top it off he has good ball skills and can be dangerous after making the interception. Another classic man corner made for play press.
17. Buffalo Bills
OT, Notre Dame
Improving the offensive line must lead the agenda. Outside of Cordy Glenn the Bills really have no proven young blockers up front. Mike McGlinchy could end up being the first tackle off the board if he declares. Another well-developed prospect from Notre Dame. He’s a versatile athlete with size and keen pass protection skill. It may not show all the time but he’s not afraid to get after it in the run game. Quarterbacks learn to trust him.
18. Green Bay Packers
A big one is tight end. Richard Rodgers, Jared Cook and others have failed to nail down that key spot. None of them have become that presence in the passing game Aaron Rodgers needs. Jake Butt could become that difference-maker. He’s a sturdy blocker for Michigan who is just coming into his own as a pass catcher. Big with strong hands and enough athleticism to challenge defenses down the seam.
19. New Orleans Saints
CB, Ohio State
They have two choices. Either improve the pass rush or find cornerbacks who can cover. Given the state of the 1st round, the latter course is their best option. Marshon Lattimore is part of a strong tandem that has driven much of the success for Ohio State this season. He’s well-built with good height, plenty of speed and agility and doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He’s still discovering his instincts but that should come with time.
20. Detroit Lions
RB, Florida State
Even as Florida State struggles through a tough year, it’s so easy to forget how good of a player Dalvin Cook is. He might be the most versatile running back in the class. While a solid runner who can take the hits and break tackles, he’s even more dangerous as a pass catcher. There are so many ways for an offense to use him. He’ll see far more lanes to run through in Detroit thanks to Stafford’s presence, and that success will bleed into the passing game.
21. Washington Redskins
DE, Michigan State
It must be corrected. Prior to the struggles of Michigan State, Malik McDowell was considered among the top prospects in the entire draft. A big, versatile defensive lineman with great length and quickness. He could play outside or inside depending on the situation and is good at finding ways into the opposing backfield. He’ll have to rev up the motor more often to reach his potential, but his upside is top 10-worthy.
22. New York Giants
DE, Florida State
Demarcus Walker continues to stand out at Florida State despite the program struggling this season. His high motor and natural savvy for beating blockers flashes a lot on tape. He’s a good fit for a 4-3 scheme and can be moved around in order to find favorable matchups. That is something Steve Spagnuolo loves to do. Walker may not impress as a premier athlete, but he’s very good at his primary job. That is what New York needs.
23. Denver Broncos
That is how good a player Jamal Adams can be. It’s a pretty big shock he fell this far. The LSU product is that classic cross between linebacker and defensive back. He’s a terror near the line of scrimmage, delivering vicious hits but also proving quite excellent at sniffing out screen passes. Don’t ignore him in coverage either because he’s got the size and range to make plays there too. Some may see him as a younger version of Ward, which isn’t a bad thing.
24. Kansas City Chiefs
Jarrad Davis comes from a proven program at Florida, exhibits plenty of athleticism for the position and has good size. He fits the 3-4 defensive scheme due to his tackling prowess and ability to blitz the quarterback. He’s often in the opposing backfield making things happen. Teams will focus on his sagging stat line this year but the quality talent hasn’t diminished. Davis can play. If the Chiefs give him a chance to learn from Johnson, he’ll thrive.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers
His production isn’t what it was in 2015 but Tim Williams remains a dangerous edge presence for undefeated Alabama. He’s quick off the snap, able to bend the edge and finishes strong to the quarterback. Offenses can’t block him when the motor runs hot. His issues lay with inconsistent fundamental and a general lack of size that bigger blockers can sometimes exploit. Provided those two problems are masked, he’ll be a huge addition.
26. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)
WR, Western Michigan
Somebody he can trust when he absolutely needs a completion. Coming from Western Michigan, it’s easy to understand why Corey Davis isn’t getting much attention. He should be though. The kid dominates consistently every week. He’s got size that teams like and sets himself apart with polished route running skills. Combined with his sudden quickness, it’s easy for him to get open. Those traits translate well to the pro game and are a good fit for the Eagles’ scheme.
27. Houston Texans
The offensive line is never a bad place to focus. Both the guard and tackle spots have major question marks. Cam Robinson has the versatility to play almost any position up front. He’s a left tackle at Alabama but can play either side. Some also believe he’d make a better guard. His pass protection has improved significantly from last year and he’s already a proven run blocker. Perhaps they could slide him in at guard and have him ready to replace Duane Brown whenever he retires.
28. Seattle Seahawks
Carlos Watkins looks like a player they would like. A nose tackle from Clemson, he was already a proven run plugger the past couple years for one of the best teams in the nation. The exciting part is he seems to have switched the light on as a pass rusher. He’s already got more sacks in 2016 than he did in 2015. This could make him one of the most well-rounded interior defensive linemen in the class. Just what Seattle is looking for.
29. Atlanta Falcons
Washington continues to roll in college football, showcasing that they might have a pipeline to pro-caliber talent. Indeed several of their players are getting loads of attention, with Sidney Jones right at the top. Like former teammate Marcus Peters he is an athletic corner with size and instinct. He plays fast and fluid, able to go toe-to-toe with wide receiver and shows the ball skills needed to make plays. He and Trufant could form quite the tandem.
30. Oakland Raiders
ILB, Ohio State
Ohio State is known for producing quality defenders and Raekwon McMillan is the latest example. He may not be the flashiest player but he’s the type that gets things done. A good athlete with range who can play coverage. He’s at his best when when he plays downhill. McMillan is aggressive and tackles well. He provides solid pressure as a blitzer and shows the instinct to see the gaps and shoot them. Just a solid all-around player.
31. Dallas Cowboys
Adoree Jackson has had himself quite a productive year at USC. He might be one of the most athletic corners in the draft, able to play tight coverage against anybody. Better still he’s proficient with the ball in his hands. He’s dangerous when he forces a turnover and also can lend a big hand in the return game. Dallas can and should make great use of that versatility as they try to keep their Super Bowl window open in the long-term.
32. New England Patriots
Bill Belichick is always one to take calculated risks. Carl Lawson has a history of health problems at Auburn, but when healthy he is clearly one of the best pass rushers in the 2017 class. A good athlete with explosive quickness and natural bend. He’s one of those hybrid types of players that can be moved around depending on situation. Exactly the type of player the Patriots have thrived on for years.
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