2017 NFL Mock Draft: Myles Garrett Goes No. 1
The NFL has a lot of good defensive prospects coming into the 2017 NFL Draft. Jonathan Allen and Myles Garrett are battling it out for who is the best among them.
The 2017 NFL Draft probably isn’t the best draft to find a quarterback or left tackle. There just simply aren’t that many with high enough grades at this point. However, the quarterback position is the most reached for position in NFL Draft history.
It’s the hardest position to play, the hardest to evaluate and the most important player on the field. So you can understand why a team that needs one would make that reach. But as the old saying goes, “Defense wins championships.”
And this year, there are a lot of defensive players at many positions that can change a franchise. Edge-rusher Myles Garrett is definitely one of those players. ESPN reported Saturday that the Cleveland Browns have an “astronomical grade” on him.
There were rumors a couple of weeks ago that the team was smitten with quarterback Mitch Trubisky. So if you’re a Browns fan, you should be thanking God about this one. There is no quarterback in this draft that will improve the Browns like Garrett can.
So turn the page to see where everyone goes after he goes No. 1 overall
OLB, Texans A&M
After the rumors about Trubisky, the Browns’ “astronomical grade” on Garrett is more believable. The Browns are still building a solid front-seven around big nose tackle Danny Shelton. The trade to bring in edge-rusher Jamie Collins from the New England Patriots was a part of it.
Garrett looks like he’s going to be the next special edge-rusher to come out in the draft. So look for the Browns to rush the passer well as he makes a big immediate impact in 2017. Cornerback Jamar Taylor just got and extension and hopefully, Joe Haden can stay healthy.
If so, the Browns will be much better equipped to deal with the quarterbacks of the AFC North. Robert Griffin III doesn’t look so great at quarterback now but neither do the draft prospects. If the RGIII can’t improve quickly, Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick would massively improve the Browns.
QB, Notre Dame
If there is a quarterback that even remotely worth reaching for at No. 2 overall, it’s DeShone Kizer. He’s just may be worth it but his a drop-off in 2016, caused him to take a tumble down the prospect rankings. Remember, Jameis Winston’s 2014 wasn’t as good as his Heisman Trophy campaign in 2013.
Losing key offensive linemen and receivers to the NFL Draft caused each of their respective drop-offs. Like Winston, Kizer has everything you want a quarterback prospect to have at 6’5″, 235 pounds. He has that size, a big arm, accuracy, mobility and comes from a pro style offense.
So he calls plays, audibles, changes protections, goes through complex progressions and throws into tight windows. That and his arm talent makes him the most pro ready prospect at the quarterback position. So the 49ers hit the reset button with a new GM, head coach and quarterback.
He is by far the best player on the board and a future dominant defensive player in the NFL. Right now, we don’t know if the Jaguars will be a 3-4 or 4-3 team when the 2017 season comes. But it doesn’t matter, the 6’3″, 291-pounder can play any position in any scheme on the D-line.
He will require double-teams and sometimes triple-teams to free edge-rushers up outside. The Jaguars can use that at this time because they aren’t the greatest at getting after the QB. The Jaguars definitely need to do something about their offensive line to protect the quarterback.
But they can do that at the top of the second round and then some for a guy like Allen. You think the Jaguars defense is good now, wait until Allen gets in the with Dante Fowler and company. The QBs in the AFC South will have a hard time with this defense after they add Allen.
He played well against all the top edge-rushers going into this draft, giving up a sack to only Derek Bennett. The impressive thing in that game, is it was early and he handled Bennett afterwards. But many in the scouting community are leery of him because of his off-the-field trouble.
But his possession-of-marijuana, illegal-firearm-possession and possession-of-a-stolen-firearm-charges were dropped. Louisiana district attorney Jerry D. Jones, cited “insufficient evidence.” So if Robinson stays clean from now until the draft his ranking will go up.
Robinson isn’t just a good pass-blocker either, he’s also a road-grader in the run game. So he’s a good fit for head coach John Fox, who likes to run the ball and play to his defense. Fox is a fan of quarterback Matt Barkley these days so it could be him that leads the Bears up the standings in 2017.
But you don’t want your young, first-time starter at quarterbacks to have to do too much. So running the ball and playing defense should be the Jets identity in 20`17. Then Hackenberg can manage the game for the Jets until he’s ready to put the team on his back.
So the pick here at No. 5 overall is superstar running back Leonard Fournette from LSU. From Day 1, Fournette will be the bell-cow the Jets need to take the pressure off Hackenberg. He has the arm to drive the ball down the field when Fournette draws eight-man boxes
Head coach Todd Bowles would then get a chance to the play smash-mouth football he wants to play, The defense will be rested and play much better in 2017 because of it. So the Jets should make a climb up the standings in the AFC East.
The Titans have a good defense and running game to support quarterback Marcus Mariota. They have also put one of the best offensive line’s in the NFL around him. All that’s left for the Titans to do at this point is get him a high-caliber weapon to throw to.
Mike Williams is that guy to give Mariota an extra large catch radius on passes down the field. When opposing safeties crowd the line of scrimmage to stop the run, the Titans can go down the field. That gives the team the ultimate pick-your-poison combination.
It’s going to be awfully hard to keep the Titans out of first place in the division with this pick. Williams would bring the team pretty close to completion once he’s in the fold. But that could come later on in the first round, where the Titans are due to pick again.
And the best player on the board is a playmaking safety that can do just about anything on a football field. Jabrill Peppers can cover WRs and TEs one on one and can also play deep zone. He can play in the box to stop the run and he can rush the passer off the edge.
And for good measure, he gives you good value in the return game on special teams. So it shouldn’t be too hard for the Panthers to figure Peppers is the best way to go here at No.7 overall. He would make the defense and team better in so many different ways.
This draft class is deep in edge-rushers talent so the Panthers can get one in the second round. They’re in a position to get a first-round talent that falls into the second round to eventually replace Charles Johnson. But here, the Panthers improve their secondary with a versatile playmaker.
DE, Michigan State
I’m not saying he’s quite as good as Williams but he’s right in there as that type of player. McDowell is a tall, long, powerful, agile athletic freak of a 3-4 end that can play the run or pass. He will likely require a double-team or triple-team to free up the edge-rushers to do what they do.
So Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick, and Collins the prize free agent, would be able to get their sacks. McDowell will go in and make the edge-rushers and linebackers around him better right away. The front-seven would quickly become one of the better front-sevens in the NFL at that point.
And if that secondary stays healthy, the Browns would have one of the better defenses in the league. Those quarterbacks in the AFC North would no longer be able to pad their stats against the Browns. The Bengals are on their way down too so there would be a real battle of Ohio.
With Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa coming off the edges, the defensive front-seven is set. They just never made a great attempt to effectively replace free agent loss Eric Weddle at S. Weddle is a playmaker that can cover multiple positions and play the deep part of the field.
He can also play the run in the box and effectively rush the passer, blitzing off the edge. LSU’s Jamal Adams can also do all of those things, making him a highly-graded prospect. So the Chargers would be smart to take him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
With all of the things he can do, Adams would make the Chargers defense better in every way. And with everyone healthy again in 2017, the Chargers would be solid on the defensive side of the ball. Then Rivers would have the chance to lead his Chargers back into the playoffs.
And Jalen Tabor, who many call the most polished cornerback in this draft, is the guy. Tabor is very versatile, able to play press-man, off-man, zone, anything you want to see him do. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is multiple in his defense so this is a good fit.
Of course, Saints pass-rush has already improved once 2016 first-round pick Sheldon Rankins got healthy. And they’ll get Hau’Oli Kikaha back from his knee injury in 2017 to go with Cameron Jordan. The Saints are solid against the run too so the defense could finally help them compete.
Obviously, the Saints don’t need the defense to carry the day with their offense being what it is. They will at least contend for the NFC South with the coverage boost from Tabor. But if they put a couple of more pieces on that defense, the could contend in the NFC.
The Bengals offense is explosive so they don’t need a lot but need something from the defense. Defensive end Derek Barnett is just what the doctor ordered for the Bengals at No. 11 overall. He doesn’t have the length NFL teams covet but he knows how to get to the quarterback.
Over the regular season, he tied for No. 6 in the FBS in sacks and No. 3 among the top prospects. Another thing he does well with his shorter, 6’3″, 265-pound frame is play the run. So the Bengals can kill both birds with one stone if they make this pick.
You have to be able to get after the quarterback and stop the run in the AFC North. They have to face quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco as well as running backs like Le’Veon Bell. Firing head coach Marvin Lewis would be a big help in the cause of winning again too.
qb, North Carolina
But next year, the Cardinals will be ready to contend again with their players back healthy. Picking this low will give them the luxury picking a quarterback they can groom to replace Palmer. So at No. 12 overall the Cardinals select Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina.
Trubisky has a big arm and at 6’3″, 225 pounds, he has good size and athleticism. He just needs to finetune is accuracy down the field and get the footwork down to play under center. He has played his college football in the Spread Offense and there will be an adjustment period.
Going through that adjustment with Carson Palmer in the building with him would be good. So at least in 2017, the Cardinals can make their run at a Super Bowl. Then at some point, Palmer will hang ’em up and Trubisky will be ready to step right in.
And that starts with a pass rush like they had when Luck first got to Indianapolis. The Sun is starting to set on the great career of Robert Mathis, who may have one more year left. So right here at No. 13 overall, the Colts select Tim Williams to come off the edge.
This would actually end up being an ideal situation for the team and the player. Of course, the Colts improve their pass-rush and Williams gets to learn a thing or two from Mathis. But at the same time, he will have a big immediate impact on the Colts.
Luck doesn’t need the greatest defense to win the AFC South but he needs something. And this pick gives the Colts just enough of a defense to do that in 2017. However, the team will need a little more if their going to get far in the playoffs.
S, Ohio State
They haven’t fared too well against the run this year but even that will be fixed. ILB Reggie Ragland, whom the Bills got in the second round this past spring, didn’t play this year. He was out with a torn ACL but he’ll help the Bills stop the run in 2017.
On offense, LeSean McCoy is still an elite RB and Sammy Watkins will be an elite WR. There has been some chatter about the quarterback position but we’ll have to see about that. But one position the Bills can surely use some help at is at safety.
Aaron Williams’ career could be over because of a nasty hit he took from Jarvis Landry. And yes, we’ll assume Rex Ryan will be back at head coach and want to replace him. So here at No. 14 overall, the Bills select Malik Hooker to make that defense full proof.
Aaron Rodgers and all of his receivers are clicking now too so that part has also been stabilized. So has the defense as they continue to get players back from all of the injuries they had. Everything looks like it’s back to normal so they likely won’t finish in this spot.
But this is where they are now and O.J. Howard is the player they’ll likely get regardless. The Packers are good at getting players that get overlooked and turning them into stars. Alabama TE O.J. Howard is getting overlooked now because his numbers aren’t up there.
But that isn’t his fault as Alabama now has a running quarterback in the Spread Offense. So here at No. 15 overall, the Packers will take him, knowing that he’s a matchup nightmare. And Rodgers will use him to bring the Packers back to among the elite in the NFC.
RB, Florida State
It won’t hurt to have guy like Jordan Matthews back lined up on the other side of him either. The Eagles’ solid offensive line will give Wentz the time he needs to find his receivers too. What he can use is a star RB that draws eight-man boxes to take the pressure off.
So they bring in Dalvin Cook at No. 16 overall to come in and be that bell-cow right away. And with the defense the Eagles have, that will be all the help Wentz needs in 2017. He is not yet the kind of quarterback that can simply put a team on his back and carry it.
But the Eagles can win with Wentz as he makes that jump to Year 2 to handle more of the offense in 2017. And with a defense and running game like this, he won’t have to try to do too much. That will limit his mistakes and the Eagles could compete in the NFC East.
They have a good LB corps but don’t have that monster at NT every 3-4 defense needs to stop the run. Over the years, the Redskins have tried and failed numerous times to bring in a NT. Albert Haynesworth and most recently Terrance Knighton flopped in the nation’s capital.
And it’s pretty hard to find the guy you want in the first round of the NFL Draft too. The NFL is a passing league these days so being just a run-stuffing defensive tackle won’t get you picked high. They have to have a little quickness and agility to provide a pass rush go in the first round.
Lowell Lotulelei, brother of Star Lotulelei, can get a little pass rush while he’s best at stuffing the run. The Redskins will take him off the field on passing downs but he can rush a little when he’s out there. He would be taken at No. 17 overall to help stop the Dallas Cowboys’ running game.
The Titans have a solid front-seven so if they tightened up the secondary, they could stop teams on defense. That would go very well with the running game and (Marcus Mariota) mistake-free QB. We just saw how the formula works against the Denver Broncos.
But that formula won’t work against a good quarterback until they get a shutdown CB. And Sidney Jones, like Desmond Trufant and Marcus Peters before him, is coming out of Washington with shutdown skills. He’ll fit right in with the ability to play press-man, off-man, zone, whatever.
Jones also has excellent ball skills so INTs will enter the equation when he is on he field. Jones is polished and NFL ready so he would improve the Titans defense right away, not eventually. And that would make the Titans ready to win the AFC South as soon as 2017.
But next year, no matter how this year ends, everyone will be back healthy and more confident. Jay Ajayi will have his starting spot from Day 1 and Tannehill will be familiar with his targets. Therefore, the Dolphins won’t have to start off 1-4 before they get going.
The running game and the speed the Dolphins have at WR will be hard to defend at one time. And DeVante Parker will be a full-grown No. 1 receiver with 100 catches by then. A TE that could help move the chains on third down and run block would be good here.
So the Dolphins go ahead and select Jake Butt from Michigan here at No. 19 overall. He is also one of those matchup nightmares that’s too big for a S and too quick for a LB. It would be interesting to see if the New England Patriots could stop an offense like that.
It’s time for the next great Ravens edge-rusher to be ready to fill in for Suggs. Suggs probably has another year or two left so he could actually teach his eventual replacement. Opposite edge-rusher Elvis Dumervil already has the Sun setting on his career with all his injuries.
Missouri edge-rusher Charles Harris is the guy the Ravens choose for the role. He’ll come in and have an immediate impact on the Ravens and learn from Suggs at the same time. In 2017, the Ravens will contend with a defense including two threats off the edge.
Ultimately, Suggs has his guy from this generation to pass his torch down to. So Lewis, Suggs and Reed will give way to the trio of Mosley, Harris and Weddle for the future. And the anatomy of a perennial contending defense stays intact in Baltimore.
OT, Notre Dame
Gerald McCoy and that Buccaneers defense has picked it up on their end to get the Buccaneers rolling. They have RB Doug Martin to hand the ball off to and control the clock as well. But what the Buccaneers do best on offense is let Winston throw the ball to WR Mike Evans.
If that’s going to continue, the Buccaneers have to get a left tackle to protect Winston’s blind side. Donovan Smith just hasn’t shown that he is the man for the job since he’s been there. With his size and strength, the can kick inside to guard, where they’re also having problems.
That would make room for Mike McGlinchey, whom the Buccaneers would take at No. 21 overall. He’ll come out of Notre Dame ready to roll and be a difference maker right away. And the Buccaneers will contend in the NFC with everything else as it is now.
At 6’4″, 235 pounds, he’s similar in size and in play-style to Trevathan. He’s solid against the run and does a good job in coverage on TEs, RBs, whoever he has to cover. You can see how losing a player like that is negatively affecting the Broncos defense.
So the Broncos take Cunningham at No. 22 overall and the defense is back. From here, the broncos could use most of the rest of the draft to touch up their offensive line. QB Trevor Siemian is coming along and will be much better in 2017 as will RB Devontae Booker.
Getting the Broncos defense back to that historic level should be priority No. 1. A defense like that automatically gives them at least a shot to go back to the Super Bowl. They’re only one player away from it and Cunningham could very well be that guy.
But there is a future star RB that fits the physical running game the Giants like still on the board. At 6’0″, 240 pounds, D’Onta Foreman has a little wiggle to make you miss and speed to break one. But first and foremost, Foreman is a bowling ball while defenders are pins.
The Giants have always done it with a physical running game and a great defense. Manning could then strike deep down the field to Odell Beckham Jr. off of play action set up by the running game. Opposing defenses wouldn’t be able to pin their ears back to rush the passer anymore.
The Giants already have Will Beatty back on the roster so they can put him at left tackle in 2017. Ereck Flowers hasn’t worked out at the position so it’s time to move him to right tackle or guard. Foreman would bring back the Giants’ physical identity, giving them a chance to win the NFC East.
But one thing the Raiders are lacking right now that the Kansas City Chiefs just exposed is speed. They have no one that can run with speedsters like Tyreek Hill when he goes deep. Travis Benjamin just came into the division with the San Diego Chargers too.
That’s four games against extremely fast, extremely shifty receivers the Raiders don’t have an answer for. So here at No. 24 overall, the Raiders select Adoree Jackson to counter. Jackson is extremely fast himself and has the movement skills to stay with shifty receivers.
Jackson is the best athlete in this year’s draft and the Raiders need that athleticism badly. The Raiders can also use an actual threat to take a kick or punt return all the way back. With this pick, the Raiders give up less big plays and make more themselves.
Speaking of the offensive line, the also pave the way for RB Devonta Freeman to run the ball. There’s nothing not to like on the offense as only the defense is holding them back now. The defensive front-seven is on and coming as they get after opposing QBs.
They just need to upgrade what they have at corner, on the other side of Desmond Trufant. If the Falcons had a dependable defense, they would be favored to win the Super Bowl. So at No. 25 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, they select Marlon Humphrey of Alabama.
Humphrey is a remarkable athlete with the speed and movement skills to play off-man. And at 6’1″, 200 pounds, he has the size, length and strength to play press-man coverage. So pairing him up with Trufant could have the Falcons favored to go to the Super Bowl in 2017.
And Carl Lawson is the perfect man for the job as he knows how to get after the quarterback. He’s the perfect fit as he has burst off the edge with counter-moves and the whole nine. But he’s also superphysical as he plays the run well as he has lined up and DT in college.
With his physicality, he’s a lot like James Harrison, who’s probably ready to retire now, in his prime. The Steelers have always prided themselves on their physicality, which is why Lawson is a great fit. We already know how fully-loaded the Steelers offense is as they are currently No. 7 in the NFL right now.
QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown are a lot for an NFL defense to handle. TE Ladarius Green will become a bigger part of this offense as they go along as well. With this pick, the Steelers are about ready to go back to the Super Bowl.
They love former college basketball player and athletic freak George Fant at left OT. He still has a thing or two to learn but he’s going to be just fine as he makes his jump to Year 2. The Seahawks allow too much pressure inside too so a guard to protect the inside rush would be good.
And there is a player in the 2017 NFL Draft that has late first-round value the Seahawks could grab. OG Dan Feeney would be a great pick for the Seahawks right here at No. 27 overall. He would check off all the necessary boxes to help the team the day he enters the building.
He’s a very good player at a position of need for the Seahawks, especially for pass protection. He is also a system fit, having run the zone-blocking scheme during his time at Indiana. Feeney could become a fixture on the O-line and help the Seahawks make it back to the Super Bowl.
ILB, Ohio State
The Texans just gave RB Lamar Miller a big contract too so salary cap room is an issue these days. So given his salary, the future of Brian Cushing with the Texans has to be in question now. He’s also been injured a lot so the Texans could look to get younger at inside linebacker.
And there is one available here at No. 28 that looks like he’ll be a dynamic player the NFL. ILB Raekwon McMillan has the instincts, physicality and athleticism to be a dynamic player in this league. He diagnoses plays quickly, sheds blocks and uses his speed to get to the ball in the run game.
That speed along with his fluid hips help him excel in coverage against RBs and TEs. When it comes to tackling, he doesn’t miss and is very physical when bringing opposing ball-carriers down. The Texans can shed some salary and not miss a beat on defense with this pick.
DL, Florida State
They’re just outside the top 10 against the run and have cornerback Darius Slay. Ezekiel Ansah will be back healthy all of next year but the pass rush needs help. If they could get after opposing quarterbacks, they would have a better chance against guys like Rodgers.
Either another DE on the other side of Ansah or a penetrating DT would go a long way here. A guy that can do both would go an even longer way for the Lions right here at No. 29 overall. DeMarcus Walker of Florida State is the perfect player for this situation and pick.
No. 1, he simply knows how to get to opposing QBs, tying for the FBS lead with 15 sacks this year. No. 2, he can play both positions, lining up at base DE on regular downs and kicking inside on passing downs. The Lions would then be a tough out, even for the Packers with their improved defense.
But stopping the run has been a big problem for the Chiefs throughout this season. And it’s not going to do anything but get worse now that Derrick Johnson popped his Achilles. He’ll be back next year but they will need more than him inside to stop the run.
Jarrad Davis would be a very nice piece to add at ILB to help the Chiefs stop the run. He’s a physical player that doesn’t miss tackles and has the athleticism for pass coverage. So he could even be the MIKE and cover opposing TEs if Johnson isn’t up to full speed.
If the Chiefs could stop the run, they would be a serious threat to the New England Patriots. But as they are now, they won’t be able to stop RB LeGarrette Blount in the playoffs. However, that could change if the team picks Davis here at No. 30 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jaylon Smith, the team’s 2016 second round pick, officially won’t play this year as he is now on IR. But Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has the defense humming anyway. We can all just imagine how good they’ll be once they get everyone back from injury and suspension.
The Cowboys have everything so here at No. 31 overall, they get a toy that makes the offense unstoppable. John Ross, may be the fastest man in the NFL as soon as he gets there. He’s also a great route-runner with good hands that runs well after the catch.
Putting him on the other side of Dez Bryant will take all the extra coverage away from him. Plus they have to take eighth man out of the box while facing running back Ezekiel Elliott. We’ll see what happens this year but with this pick, 2017 looks even better for the Cowboys
Backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo gets hurt after two games and they go 1-1 without him. That’s after the second-string quarterback goes out with an injury without the first-stringer. Bill Belichick plans for and around everything and the wins keep coming.
But here, with the last pick in the first round, we’ll say his plans include receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. Brady wants to play another five years and a guy like Smith Schuster would help with that. The passing game would have a true No. 1 receiver for the first time since Randy Moss.
And they would still have two great TEs, two great slot WRs and a good receiving RB. And of course, they still have the running game with Blount carrying the load. It’s hard not to see the Patriots going back to the Super Bowl under those circumstances.
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