2017 NFL Mock Draft: Jets select Marshon Lattimore
In this 2017 NFL Mock Draft, the New York Jets take a premier cornerback while the Cleveland Browns surprise many by going with a top linebacker over a quarterback.
Mark your calendar, and then see who your favorite team will add. Day 1 is Thursday, April 27. NFL.com has posted what they believe every team needs going into the draft but in this 2017 NFL Mock Draft, things could very well be much different.
The Jets needs are black and white. In no particular order of importance, the Jets need a quarterback, offensive lineman, pass rusher, tight end and cornerback. Draft day for fans is a multitude of emotions. For some, it’s, “Oh my goodness, why?” For others, it’s being overjoyed that they finally got someone.
Some teams in this draft will be looking to build upon what they already have, and some are starting from scratch (yet again). The first round is where you make your money. It’s the round that can make or break the future of NFL franchises.
For all the first round busts, we have many in the Pro Football Hall of Fame that weren’t even drafted. Of the 233 Pro Football Hall of Famers, 13 were undrafted, but 109 were first round selections. Picking in the first round isn’t a science, but it takes some skill to find that diamond in the rough.
In addition to all the draft coverage you will find here at The Jet Press, please also visit Walter Football, DC Pro Sports Report, and EDS Football. Let’s see who will go where in this complete first-round mock draft.
Linebacker, Texas A&M
Some teams like to go for need, and some teams like to go for best player available with their first overall draft pick. The Cleveland Browns are actually in a good spot, though, because they have a pick at No. 1 and No. 12.
Last year the Browns traded with the Philadelphia Eagles, and as a result of the trade, the Eagles got the Browns No. 2 overall pick (which they used to get Carson Wentz), and the Browns acquired numerous picks, including this year’s No. 12 pick. That means the Browns can be picky with this year’s No. 1 overall pick and hope a quarterback falls to them later.
The Browns had a terrible pass rush and terrible quarterback play throughout 2016, and that will always spell disaster for teams. Their quarterbacks combined to complete 59.7% of their passes with only 15 touchdowns, and they only had 26 sacks as a team for the entire season.
The Browns finished 1-15 and “earned” the No. 1 overall pick, but due to their trade with the Eagles they get two first round picks, and that’s the dream scenario. They will fill the need of a pass rusher while waiting to get a quarterback later. That’s why premier linebacker Myles Garrett is exactly what they need to get back on track for next season and beyond.
Quarterback, North Carolina
Like the Browns, the 49ers need help in a lot of places. Their most pressing needs are quarterback and pass rusher, but the Browns selected Myles Garrett at No. 1, and that means the 49ers will select a quarterback here.
Despite only one year as a starter, Trubisky is rising up a lot of draft boards. According to the Bill Parcells philosophy, he shouldn’t be anywhere near the top five, because he fits none of those criteria.
With that said, new 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, has done well with quarterbacks in the past as offensive coordinator. So drafting Trubisky, even though he’s a raw talent, may be good for the 49ers.
The 49ers have a need at quarterback, and even though drafting Trubisky here is a reach, given his lack of experience at the college level, he’s still much less of a reach than drafting the second-best pass rusher in this draft. This is boom or bust for the Niners, and they hope boom.
According to the website Smart Football, Peterman is another quarterback who doesn’t completely fit the Parcells ideal quarterback, but sometimes his tangible skills have to outweigh things that could be out of the quarterback’s control. For instance, being a three-year starter is about whether or not the guy ahead of you is a veteran, and not having 23 wins could be a result of not having a good team around you.
The first two “rules” stick out as important. The first is he must be a senior, and the second is he must be a graduate, and Peterman fits both rules because he graduated in three years at Tennessee and transferred to Pittsburgh for his last two seasons.
Peterman set a school record for fewest interceptions among the quarterback who attempted 500+ passes in their careers. In fact, he’s one of only three quarterbacks to attempt at least 500 passes, complete at least 60% of his throws, and throw 40+ touchdowns, and that doesn’t include Dan Marino.
Peterman can read the whole field with pinpoint accuracy to throw receivers open and guide them away from the big hits and has excellent deep ball accuracy (46.2%). He will be the perfect replacement for Jay Cutler whose cap savings and dead money make him a perfect target for cuts.
Safety, Ohio State
The Jaguars need help in the defensive backfield, and even though Hooker is raw, he’s a special talent and will one day be big time. He uses instincts rather than speed to diagnose plays because his speed is average.
He’s very keen when watching the quarterback’s eyes to pick up where the football is intended to go, and he’s quick and decisive in his decisions. He has great body control, and his movement in space resembles that of a great basketball player.
Hooker can cover in space because he has loose hips, and he has great football skills. He watches the ball rather than the man to help him get to his target.
His strong hands help him get takeaways, and those strong hands helped him to seven interceptions this season. He can get back into position quickly after disguising coverage to fool quarterbacks, and he will be a great addition to the Jaguars defensive backfield.
Wide Receiver, Clemson
Marcus Mariota needs a lot of help on offense because the NFL is transitioning from a defense-based league to offense. The Tennessee Titans didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver despite having two players targeted 100+ times.
In what has become a pass-heavy league, Williams is a perfect pick here for the Titans, because they need all the receiving help they can get. He’s very reliable, especially when it comes to the 50/50 footballs because he high points the ball and has large and strong hands.
He’s great at selling the vertical routes and coming back to the ball with great hip turns. He tracks the ball well whether it’s inside, outside or over the shoulder, and he uses his hands well to catch the ball.
Williams can work the short, intermediate or deep passing game, and has no fear in going over the middle. He will also give you run after the catch because he can make cornerbacks miss after catching the ball because of his strong lower body.
Cornerback, Ohio State
Lattimore only has one year of experience, but he made a loud statement in 2016 that he could be the best cornerback in the country. His numbers as a sophomore almost mirror those of the man he could be replacing in New York.
They both had 41 total tackles (one for a loss) and four interceptions. There’s one big difference, though, and that is that Lattimore scored a touchdown and Darrelle Revis didn’t.
Lattimore is exactly what the Jets need at corner because they want to apply as much pressure as they can, and he’s a great one-on-one press coverage cornerback. He has the speed to keep up with go routes, and he has the quickness in his hip to match the receiver when he needs to turn and run.
He can make plays from any coverage because of his speed and quickness. He’s a great open-field tackler and works through blocks against screens and the run, which makes him an every-down corner.
Offensive Tackle, Alabama
The Chargers want Mike Williams to give Philip Rivers a go-to target. The problem is that Tennessee took him at No. 4, and with that pick gone, it’s time to protect Rivers.
It’s a reach to go offensive tackle here, but it’s a need for the Chargers to make a playoff run in 2017. Cam Robinson will enthrall the brass in San Diego, even though he’s probably moving down some draft boards lately.
He has excellent strength and generates power early, and he can uproot defenders to open holes on the outside. He’s balanced enough in his footwork to handle climbing to the second level and block linebackers.
His length allows him to punch extended, and he can match the feet of speed edge rushers to keep the quarterback protected. He will keep it going until the whistle, and sets the edge well.
Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin
Ramczyk did one of the rarest things in college football when he went from Division III to FBS, turning down offers from FBS programs including Pittsburgh where current Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst was. He started college at a local technical school, then he went to the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.
Scouts love his athleticism and his intelligence, and they also like the history of Wisconsin linemen and the fact that he went up against talent in the Big Ten regularly. When it comes to offensive line technique, he is excellent.
He bends his knees to gain an advantage and uses acceleration and drive to gain leverage against the edge rushers. He’s also a versatile lineman because he’s been taught the right way and he can play in power or zone blocking schemes.
He adds agility to the power and quickness in his feet to make him a good all-around lineman, and he also uses his hands well against the edge rushers. In addition to all of this, his awareness is top-notch, and that allows him to maintain his leverage against twists and pick up blitzes.
Walter Football has Pocic graded out at a Round 1-3 grade, but he’s capable enough to land in the first round for a team that needs him like the Bengals. He’s going to need to perform well at the 2017 NFL Combine and LSU’s pro day in order to move into the top-ten, but he’s capable.
NFL.com describes him as a “Five-for-one lineman,” because he can play all five positions on the line, but he will be drafted as a center. He maintains his blocks well, and he can keep his engagement using his hand strength and body control.
He can become strong enough to handle NFL nose tackles (with an NFL strength and conditioning program), and he is quick enough to get to the second level to open things up for the running game. His body control allows him to block in space, and he made all the offensive blocking calls at LSU.
According to teammates and coaches at LSU, he’s an amazing locker room presence, which will only help his draft stock. With all of this, it wouldn’t be too much of a reach for the Bengals to take him in the top ten.
There’s no doubt the Bills could use some attitude in their secondary as it would transform their defense immediately. He’s a solid hitter who will put a licking on running backs, and he is good at changing from being patient to urgent in attacking the ball.
He will very rarely miss tackles, because of how he approaches tackling (wide and balanced base, which eliminates the ability to escape. His acumen is amazing, which allows him to lead the secondary and get them properly aligned.
He diagnoses plays quickly which allows him to be in a position to stop screen passes and misdirection runs. He’s also excellent in covering tight ends.
Adams finished his college career with 209 tackles (18 for loss), two sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. This could turn around the much-maligned Bills defense rather quickly.
In a division with Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Matt Ryan, you’ll need a cover corner to stop those dynamic quarterbacks who will beat you through the air. Jones is a prototypical cover corner who can help any defense stop a dynamic receiver cutting off half of the field.
He’s great at jamming the receivers, and he keeps contact within the five-yard limit well. NFL quarterbacks will learn quickly not to challenge him because he has good ball skills that favor him.
Jones is tough and a playmaker and this is clear by the 21.3 percent of batted balls in his area in 2015-16, 21 passes defended in his career, six forced fumbles and eight career interceptions.
He has receiver skills to high point the ball and can mirror receivers’ movements in and out of breaks. If he falls behind, he has the ability to recover quickly against many receivers. He will have many Pro Bowls in his future and will be a long-time starter.
Watson checks almost all the Parcells boxes for quarterbacks. He’s a graduate, had 23+ wins, and is a three-year starter. Watson is not a senior in terms of on the field experience because he graduated early.
Watson is a tremendous weapon to have on offense because he can throw from the pocket and on the move as well as give you an option in the rushing attack if need be. He’s willing to stand in the pocket and take the blows while delivering the football, and he gets the football out quickly as evident by only being sacked 32 times over his last 1,181 drop-backs.
He protects the football at all times, as he doesn’t throw many interceptions (2.6 percent interception rate) and he keeps the football close to his body while finding the open receiver. He didn’t shy away from pressure, as he played well in the biggest games of his college career.
In the ACC Championship Games and the College Football Playoff in the last two seasons, Watson completed 62.6 percent of his passes, had 15 touchdowns, six interceptions, 4.4 yards per carry and eight rushing touchdowns. His experience in playing meaningful games in college will be important, and his leadership attributes will bring winning back to Cleveland.
Foster is a ferocious and dedicated linebacker, and his dedication is evident in the fact that he lost 15 lbs. during the offseason which allowed him to be faster and more explosive. In his junior and senior seasons, when he finally got an opportunity to start, he did the most with that opportunity, and he showed he can be a versatile linebacker.
He can chase down runners and defend well against the short pass with loose hips and a long stride. Foster can even go sideline-to-sideline like the elite players at his position. He also brings a toughness and swagger to the team, and it’s authentic, which will help him in a leadership role on the defense.
As a starter, he logged 188 tackles (21 for loss), 6 sacks and 11 passes defended in his career. He can cover running backs in space in the passing game as well, which helps with many matchups.
Foster also showed a willingness to improve when poor tackling technique led to minor injuries early on in his college career, and that led to him being able to finish tackles better and not get hurt. He will be an asset to Arizona’s defense for a long time to come.
Offensive Lineman, Utah
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson was fired and replaced by Chris Ballard, and part of the reason was because Grigson couldn’t build around quarterback Andrew Luck. The offensive line has been terrible since they drafted Luck No. 1 overall in 2012, and he has taken a lot of unnecessary blows in his five seasons in the NFL.
The Colts offensive line has allowed the second-most combined quarterback hits and sacks (761) in the NFL during Luck’s career, only sitting behind the Cleveland Browns who have 780. So, it would be prudent for Ballard to begin his tenure picking an offensive lineman to protect Luck because as of now the Colts have wasted Luck’s first five seasons in the NFL.
When it comes to athletic ability Bolles is as elite as they come. He has good foot movement, and this allows him to block at all angles, and he is a great work-up blocker and has rare skills that allow him to get to the secondary to block when necessary.
He’s well-balanced when it comes to pass protection which allows him to keep his blocks centered, and his quickness allows him to meet edge rushers and be patient when keeping an eye out for stunts. He had an unusual path to the draft, which limited his ability to get bigger and stronger, but he can make that up with an NFL strength and conditioning program.
Wide Receiver, Western Michigan
The Philadelphia Eagles need help in two places here, and they definitely need upgrades at two positions. They need a cornerback, and they also need a true No. 1 target for Carson Wentz.
The NFL has become offense and quarterback driven, and that means you need to make big plays or stop big plays in order to win. Fortunately for the Eagles, there is a big play receiver in this year’s draft available at this spot, and the cornerbacks are ones that need a lot more work on their games.
That is why the Eagles will ultimately choose a wide receiver because Davis is much more polished at his position than the two best remaining corners. He was a touchdown machine in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons scoring double digits every season for a total of 46 touchdowns.
His competitiveness and focus are amazing as his football tracking on deep passes is superior, and his understanding of stacking cornerbacks to keep them on his hip rather than allowing them to get in position to make a play on the ball in one of the best in the nation. His long arms will help him win jump ball passes and he will work back to the footballs behind him.
The Baltimore Ravens need to get younger at edge rusher, because they play a 3-4 base defense, just like the Wisconsin Badgers. T.J. Watt will be able to help the team with a much-needed upgrade at that position.
2016 was T.J. Watt’s only full season as a starter at Wisconsin, after having knee surgery the spring of 2015, but he came back as a reserve for his sophomore season. In 2016, he produced at a high level with 15.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, one interception (which returned for a touchdown), four passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
Watt has the length you need to be a pass rusher in the NFL, and he uses that length to his advantage to upset the balance of opposing linemen whether he’s against the run or the pass. If he can’t get to the quarterback, he’s always ready to use his leaping ability to deflect the pass when it’s in the air.
He’s active in his pursuit of the ball, and he will use his quickness and elusiveness to close all gaps and running lanes quickly and decisively, and he also finishes tackles by wrapping players up to avoid broken tackles. There’s no doubt that Watt can help this defense, run or pass, and he will be a great addition.
NFL.com refers to Peppers as the “Ultimate Swiss Army Knife”, and he is because the Wolverines used him in many roles. He returned kicks and punts, and they moved him all around the back-end of the Michigan defense.
They even used him on offense, and he recorded five offensive touchdowns. While his defensive numbers aren’t what you expect from a first-round pick, it’s a result of having many roles on the defensive side of the ball.
However, that versatility will help teams see his ability in all phases of the game. His athleticism allows him to play man or zone, and he can stop the run and be a force in run defense
Even though he had only one interception in his career, that was a result of multiple roles, and his other key stats stick out. He had 119 total tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks, and those numbers should make the Redskins’ mouths water because having a safety with that ability can only help your defense.
Tight End, Miami
The Titans got their No. 1 receiver for Mariota with the No. 5 overall pick and they will continue to pick offense because there are no more corners worth taking. Picking a Miami Hurricane tight end in the first round is hardly unprecedented because three have been taken in the first round since the turn of the century: Jeremy Shockey (2002), Kellen Winslow (2004) and Greg Olsen (2007).
His blocking has improved from year 1 to year 2, and when he adds weight and strength in an NFL strength and conditioning program, he’ll be fine. When it comes to pass catching, he runs crisp routes (especially on the in and out cuts at 90 degrees), and he had great acceleration down the field and in and out of his breaks.
His high jumping experience in high school will help him get over anyone to high point the football. He can also find the holes in the zone and sit in them to give the quarterback a target.
He had eight touchdowns this season, and he will provide the Titans with a good red zone target. Having multiple picks in the first round allow the Titans to fill out their offense, and now they will be formidable all season long.
Defensive Line, Alabama
There are two ways to help a quarterback:
1. Get him weapons on offense
2. Provide him with a defense that can give him short fields
Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, the first round caliber wider receivers are gone, but they can provide Winston with help on defense.
Allen will bolster the defensive line with his athleticism, strength, and technique. The Alabama coaching staff worked wonders with him, and now he’s sound in all phases of the defensive line. His ability to play both inside and outside will certainly increase his draft stock. His strong hands will be tough for offensive tackles to handle, and his athleticism will be tough for guards as well.
He doesn’t take one approach to the pass rush and has several moves, and he will be a matchup nightmare for offensive coaches. His 44.5 tackles for loss, 28 sacks, and three forced fumbles only cement his standing as a first rounder.
Offensive Guard, Western Kentucky
The Broncos need help on the offensive line, especially on the inside, and Lamp gives them the help they need. Lamp played left tackle for Western Kentucky for his entire college career, but he doesn’t have the length to play tackle at the next level, and that will force a move inside.
Lamp is a compact yet athletic lineman who is good at shifting his weight when he needs to. He’s very agile on his feet, and he always sets himself before getting engaged with the defender lined up against him.
He always uses leverage to his advantage by using hip thrust and getting low to the ground, and he uses his hands well whether it’s run or pass. Lamp performed well against a very talented Alabama pass rush, and that only helped his draft stock.
He’s very similar to draft classmate Ethan Pocic, in that, he can line up at tackle, guard, and center, if need be, and that will only elevate his draft stock. The Denver rushing attack ranked 28th in the NFL with 3.6 yards per carry in 2016, and adding Lamp could only help that.
Defensive End, Michigan
When teams need a player, they may look past some things and look at the positive traits, and the Detroit Lions may just do that here. They need help on the defensive line because 2016 was only the fourth time the team was held under 30 sacks for the season.
Charlton has the size, speed, athletic ability and pass rushing talent that teams want, but a very bad word has been thrown around him since his first days in a Wolverines uniform, inconsistent. He began to show signs in his senior year that he was changing that with a career high in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (13.5).
Detroit is the perfect landing spot for Charlton, because the talent around him and the coaching staff will whip him into shape, and he already has the talent to be great if he wants to be. He has all the moves you need to be a great pass rusher in the NFL and having guys like A’Shawn Robinson, Haloti Ngata, and Ezekiel Ansah on the line will help take the pressure off of him and allow him to get some one-on-one opportunities.
He uses his speed and quickness well against the run too, and he’s good at chasing down runs to the outside. Adding a player like him will also relieve some of the pressure off of Matthew Stafford because the fields will be shorter.
Offensive Guard, Pittsburgh
2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil played guard for 14 games in 2016, but he was drafted to be the left tackle of the future. Branden Albert has a $11.3M cap number, and if he’s cut to save money, Tunsil will move to left tackle, thus, opening a spot on the line for a guard.
Jay Ajayi ran for 4.9 yards per carry behind that offensive line, and the Dolphins as a team were 11th in the league in rushing first downs, 9th in 10+ yards carries and 13th in converting 3rd-and 4th-down situations with 2 or fewer yards to go and goal-to-go on the 2-yard line or closer. Adding Johnson will improve that, because he drives well in run protection, stays balanced and always keeps his feet moving.
His athleticism also allows him to get off his blocks and get to the second level, which will help the Dolphins spring big runs. He’s excellent in hand fighting technique and gets his hands engaged quickly.
His base and anchor are good in pass protection too. The tandem of Tunsil and Johnson will be good for years to come.
Running Back, LSU
To put it mildly, the Giants running game was atrocious in 2016. They were at or near the bottom in yards, yards per carry, yards per game and touchdowns, and this led them to them having eighth most pass attempts in the league and being tied for eighth in interceptions.
We saw what Ezekiel Elliott could do as a rookie, and the Giants will hope that Leonard Fournette can do the same for them. Many people are already comparing him to Adrian Peterson, and NFL.com said his best NFL comparison is Bo Jackson.
Both are high and worth comparisons, given his running style. He doesn’t have the zig zag shake like Peterson, but his linebacker-like body and receiver-like speed will help him bulldoze over secondary defenders and get past linebackers with ease.
He will finish all carries, which will help the Giants in short yardage situations. Even though he only had 41 receptions in three seasons at LSU, he has adequate hands to help in the passing game also.
The Raiders are good at safety, but they need to sure up their cornerback situation, and they need a person who can play press coverage and zone. Marlon Humphrey fits that mold perfectly.
He uses his eyes well in high-low zone coverage, and he can close in quickly and attack the throwing lane. He will make up for his mistakes in cover with his athletic ability and is ultra-competitive when he gets beat.
Humphrey is very physical at the line in press man coverage, and as is customary with Alabama players, uses intimidation to get in opponents’ heads. Humphrey will keep the receivers out of the play by forcing them to the boundary or out of bounds.
He will not let a blocking receiver have his way, and he will attack the running game with vigor. He had 6.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and three forced fumbles in his career.
J.J. Watt gets a lot of attention from opposing offensive coaches, and rightfully so because he’s a beast. However, if he had help behind him, they might have to think twice about double-teaming him.
There’s no doubt he’s an every down machine, as evident by his big play potential against the pass and the run. He finished his Gators career with 20 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception, 9 passes defended, and 2 forced fumbles.
His speed allows him to play the run well, and his downhill pursuit is well-balanced. His athleticism also gives him the ability to spy the quarterback, which is important against the mobile quarterbacks of today’s game.
To go along with his physical football traits, he has good character, leadership and works hard to hone his craft. He will be a good addition to the Texans locker room.
Offensive Tackle, Michigan State
The Seahawks have been looking for help along the offensive line for a while now, and there is no one left on their line from Super Bowl XLVIII. According to one scout source on NFL.com, there is uncertainty on whether or not Dion Dawkins will play inside or outside.
“I don’t know if I see him as a guard or a tackle yet, but I think he can play both. I like him because I think he could upgrade our pass protection inside if we did bump him to guard, but he’s athletic enough to play right tackle, too.” — AFC West scout
His athleticism will allow him to play outside, but he seems to use power more often than not and lends itself to playing guard. Either way, the potential for versatility will only help him in the draft.
His power helps him withstand the bull rush, and he gets out of his stack quickly. His base hardly ever gets too narrow against the run or the pass.
Defensive End, Tennessee
The Kansas City Chiefs would like to add an inside linebacker, but, unfortunately, there aren’t any left worth a first round draft pick, even at the end. Adding defensive line depth works here too, and that’s what the Chiefs will do.
Barnett was very productive on the Volunteers defense. In his three years in Tennessee, he had 52 tackles for loss, 32 sacks, one pass deflection, an interception, and three forced fumbles.
He was one of the best in college at using his hands to get to the quarterback, and he did so against some of the best offensive linemen in college football. Barnett didn’t just want to set the edge, and he pursued the ball with vigor, which allowed him to get to the ball carrier on runs and the quarterback on passes.
He has good field awareness as well, and he can recognize and diagnose play action, screens, and reverses. With his athleticism, he can also drop into zone coverage if you need him to.
Defensive End, Missouri
One of the weaknesses of the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 was their pass rush. They only got to the quarterback 36 times for a rate of 3.6% both were 13th in the NFL, and that should be a key area of improvement they target.
Harris is an intriguing prospect for Dallas, and he fits what they do because he can play end in a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme. He has great athleticism and footwork and agility that is natural and can’t be taught, which is definitely a plus.
Harris was a standout basketball player in high school, and he translated the footwork on the basketball court to the football field. He uses explosion out of his stance to close the gaps quickly against the run, and his lateral quickness is tough to stop.
When you look at his 2016 production, it may not look great, because he didn’t fit the scheme. However, he will be a perfect fit in Dallas’s scheme, and they need pass rush help.
Cornerback, Ohio State
The back-end of the Packers defense got exposed. That’s partly due to injuries, and those injuries showed a lack of depth.
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Conley has good NFL size (6’1, 195 lbs.), and he has the length scouts are looking for. He’s excellent at using inside leverage, by using basketball stance (bent at the knees, wide arms), pinning receivers against the boundary, and it will be tough for quarterbacks to find throwing lanes against him.
Rather than grabbing the receiver, he uses his feet to maintain good positioning, and his awareness allows him to react to when routes are meant to clear space for another receiver. His length is a weapon because he can bat down passes without committing pass interference.
Conley plays the ball rather than the man, which is key in the NFL because officials are always looking to see if you’re tracking the football when deciphering pass interference. He also has impeccable timing.
Running Back, Florida State
When you have a No. 1 and a No. 2 running back who do different things, it can make your offense somewhat predictable, and that’s not a good thing. The problem with having the “thunder and lightning” backfield, is that the power back may have limited ability in the passing game, and that’s the case in Pittsburgh.
However, if a team can add a running back depth with similar skill-set at the feature back, the offense becomes much more dangerous, and that’s what Cook brings to Pittsburgh. He’s not a typical power runner who can hit the hole with power and burst through it, but he’s patient. If he finds the hole, long runs will be the norm for Cook.
Cook has a good combination of lateral quickness (which helps him when the cut back lanes open) and speed (which, on the outside, allows him to set up linebackers and safeties for moves). He fits best in zone, gap and power schemes, which is what Pittsburgh typically runs.
He also had 79 catches with the Seminoles, which shows he can be an asset in the passing game when he spells Le’Veon Bell. If he can clean up the off the field issues and the fumbling, he would be an excellent asset for the Steelers, and they could be even more dangerous in 2017.
If the Falcons want to make a return trip to the Super Bowl and become the first Super Bowl runner-up to make it back since Super Bowl XXVIII, they will have to shore up the defense’s back end. They don’t need an every down corner, but they need one who can be a man to man guy on passing downs, as the back end was shredded by Tom Brady in the second half of Super Bowl LI.
They have the perfect corner available in Tre’Davious White, because he’s a true man to man specialist, and he can help on special teams early in his career, which is a plus. White had 34 career passes defended and 6 career interceptions with one returned for a touchdown at LSU.
White is the epitome of an island cornerback, as his patience in press coverage rarely sees him get beat, even by some of the best (covered Amari Cooper and Calvin Ridley well). Even if they use him as a slot corner, and he gets beat, he has great recovery quickness to make a play on the ball.
He can play special teams as well because LSU used him as a gunner and he returned punts, and that makes him an asset. He averaged 10 yards per return and had a touchdown in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons at LSU.
Running back, Stanford
Bill Belichick wants smart players who are also versatile in many roles. There’s no doubt McCaffrey is smart because he went to Stanford, and that means he has the first box checked.
The best part about McCaffrey to the Patriots is that he’s versatile, and it’s a rich get richer story, which will make NFL fans mad. McCaffrey can run between the tackles by “making himself small” and using his elusiveness, and he can run to the outside with speed.
He also has soft hands and good route running skills, which makes him dangerous out of the backfield or lined up in the slot. However, what makes him a good prospect for the Patriots is his ability on special teams.
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Belichick would probably prefer not to use one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, Julian Edelman, as a return man, and McCaffrey gives him a new weapon. He averaged 26.4 yards per kick return and 1.2 yards per punt return while at Stanford, and those numbers will make Belichick happy to add that dimension to his offense.