2017 NFL Mock Draft Week 9: 49ers Get Edge-rusher

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) and defensive lineman Reggie Chevis (13) celebrate a defensive stop against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies edge-rusher Myles Garrett (15) and defensive lineman Reggie Chevis (13) celebrate a defensive stop against the Tennessee Volunteers during the second quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft doesn’t look very promising for the QB position. So the San Francisco 49ers decide to go with an edge-rusher at No. 2 overall.

Edge-rusher is the hot position in this mock draft as they go off the board at No. 1 and No. 2. Many have the San Francisco 49ers taking a QB At No. 2 overall. But it looks like this year’s QB class is weak and the best two prospects are edge rushers.

Defense wins championships and turns losing teams around teams faster anyway. If you can adversely affect the way an opposing QB plays, your team will be a tough out. The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl last year because of Von Miller, not Peyton Manning.

Myles Garrett and Tim Williams are the two best edge-rushers on the board for 2017. And without a doubt, they should be the first two prospects that come off the board. Everyone loves their QBs but I only have one with a 1st-round grade and he’s not a sure thing immediately.

Turn the page to see how this mock draft reflects all that.

1

Myles Garrett

OLB, Texas A&M

There is no reason for the Cleveland Browns to overthink picking Myles Garrett at No. 1 overall. He is by far the best propect in the 2017 NFL Draft and at a position that changes franchises. Plus Cody Kessler looks like he can make it as a QB in this league.

They just got Jamie Collins in a trade to rush the passer but that’s no reason not to pick Garrett. Two good edge-rushers are needed in today’s NFL plus the Browns don’t know if Collins will stay. He is only in Cleveland in an eight-game tryout. as his contract will soon end.

At 6’5″, 260 pounds, Garrett has the ideal size, length, athleticism and motor to be a top edge-rusher. His get-off, burst and ability to wrap around the edge and flatten to the quarterback are outstanding. He can also convert speed to power and can spin back inside on you.

Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton are the quarterbacks they have to play twice a year. So they have make it as uncomfortable for opposing quarterbacks to have a chance in the AFC North. And picking Garrett at No. 1 overall gives the Browns a chance to do that.

Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) sacks Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight (8) during the third quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2

Tim Williams

OLB, Alabama

It looks like San Francisco 49ers QB Collin Kaepernick is starting to sharpen up now. His 393-yard, two TD performance is what the team has been looking for since he started playing again. But the 49ers won’t win another game if they can’t stop anyone.

Head coach Chip Kelly could help by slowing the tempo down to his offense, particularly when ahead. The faster the offense gets off the field, the more taxing it is on the defense. There’s a reason why the Philadelphia Eagles defense improved once Kelly got fired.

The 49ers still had a decent defense when Kelly arrived but has since regressed. Getting Navorro Bowman back will help stop the run but the 49ers need to get after the passer better. .DEs Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner are young studs but they can use an edge-rusher.

Tim Williams is the perfect edge-rusher for the 49ers to pick here at No. 3 overall. He has a Derrick Thomas-like snap-count anticipation, get-off, burst off the edge and counter-moves. It would be much harder to throw on the 49ers if they pick Williams right here.

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

3

Jonathan Allen

DE, Alabama

Did you see Jonathan Allen against Texas A&M?

He looks every bit like he’s going to be a dominant force in the NFL from Day 1. An interior defensive lineman that can take over games can change a team quickly. At 6’3″, 291 pound, Allen is powerful and extremely athletic for his size.

And coming from Alabama, they teach him well so he is another can’t-miss prospect. His skill-set says he can do well as a 4-3 3-technique or a 3-4 end as he comes from the 3-4. The Chicago Bears run the 3-4 as well so his transition will be seamless.

They’ve been building the defensive front-7 with NT Eddie Goldman and OLB Leonard Floyd in the last two drafts. The Bears just picked up ILBs Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan in free agency too. So a player like Allen would give the Bears a great defensive front-7.

They would then have the Monsters of the Midway defense they’ve traditionally had. Quarterback-wise, they need to stay with Jay Cutler and protect him better. Head coach John Fox doesn’t have time to develop one as long as it would take with someone from this draft class.

Oct 22, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) runs for a touchdown against the Mississippi Rebels during the second quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

4

Leonard Fournette

RB, LSU

I can’t see the Jacksonville Jaguars doing anything but picking RB Leonard Fournette in the first round. A left tackle would be cool but there isn’t one rated so high coming out this year. So the Jaguars give QB Blake Bortles the next best thing—a running game.

They’ve built a solid defense over there that just needs time to mature to become great. And of course, Bortles has all the weapons he could possibly need when he’s throwing the ball. But it looks like the Jaguars have put too much of the offense on Bortles’ shoulders.

So they bring in Fournette, who could take a ton of pressure off the young QB. At 6’1, 235 pounds with great speed, power and elusiveness, opposing defenses will be overly concerned about him. When they stack the box, WRs Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson will have man coverage.

And like so many solid tight ends. Julius Thomas will benefit from play action to Fournette. But the Jaguars defense will benefit the most from the offense pounding the ball as they rest. As disappointed as I am with the Jaguars this year, they would improve immediatley with Fournette.

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

5

Marlon Humphrey

CB, Alabama

The New York Jets now know that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t the guy to lead them into the future. But they drafted Christian Hackenberg this year and I am betting on him. Then on defense, the Jets have one of the best front-7s in football.

But the Sun is clearly setting on the great career of CB Darrelle Revis as his island is no more. The Jets could possibly get a year or two more out of him if they put him on WR 2s. But he can forget about following WR 1s and having success now.

At 6’1″, 200 pounds, Marlon Humphrey is one of those bigger, longer corners the NFL is looking for these days. He is a track athlete, making the 2013 World Youth Track and Field Championships. Humphrey has even contributed to Alabama’s 4×400 relay team.

He is also versatile with the ability to play off-man, man-press and the instincts to play zone. Put that together with the fact that he’s physical with no problems tackling in the running game. He comes from a pro scheme at Alabama too so he’ll come in mentally ready too.

Jan 3, 2015; Birmingham, AL, USA; East Carolina Pirates wide receiver Cam Worthy (9) attempts to make a catch against Florida Gators defensive back Jalen Tabor (5) during the second half for the 2015 Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field. The Florida Gators defeated the East Carolina Pirates 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

6

Jalen Tabor

CB, Florida

The Carolina Panthers’ defense just isn’t the same without CB Josh Norman on it. But that isn’t all as Charles Tillman retired this offseason, making in hard on the second secondary. They drafted a couple of corners in the 2016 NFL Draft but nothing that could save it.

But there is a guy in the 2017 NFL Draft that has the potential to save that secondary. By most media accounts, Jalen Tabor is the most polished, pro ready CB coming up in this draft. With his versatility, he can line up outside, in the slot and occasionally over the TE.

That means you can put him on any opposing pass-catcher that needs to be shut down. When Tabor is assigned to stop one man. he can play in both press and off coverage. He has the closing burst for off coverage and he’s physical enough to press in the line.

He also has the instincts to play in zone coverage and the ball skills to get those INTs. And again, Tabor is ready to come in and ball for the Panthers from the day he gets to Carolina. So the defense will be much closer to what it was in 2015 if they make this pick.

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

7

Cam Robinson

OT, Alabama

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just outside the box of good teams this year. As a matter of fact, they could become one before this season is over. They have a young defense that just needs to grow to become a good unit.

Doug Martin will be back next year and Jaquizz Rogers isn’t bad in his stead now. Then there are Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, one of the best young QB/WR duos. The big problem on this team is the left side of their offensive line.

That’s where Donovan Smith (OT) and Kevin Pamphile (OG) line up for the team now. At, 6’6″, 338 pounds, and powerful, Smith would make and outstanding guard. That would upgrade the pass-blocking and run-blocking at the position now.

Then Cam Robinson would be an upgrade to the pass-blocking of Smith. Meanwhile, the team doesn’t suffer a loss in the run-blocking department at the position. The offensive line is then settled and Winston can lead the way to the playoffs.

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) attempts a pass as Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) defends during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

8

Jabrill Peppers

S, Michigan

The Titans are getting competitive these days and don’t have far to go to be a playoff team. Quarterback Marcus Mariota is coming along with the exotic smash-mouth offense. They can pound it out with the best of them on defense too.

All the Titans need to do at this point is tighten up their secondary to make things happen. So with their No. 8 overall pick from the Los Angeles Rams, they take Jabrill Peppers. He’s a safety but there’s nothing that young man can’t do on a football field.

As a safety, he can cover in both man and zone, play in the box, and rush the passer off the edge He also has tremendous ball skills to get those interceptions and passes defended. Peppers isn’t just a 3-down player either, he’s a 4-down player returning punts.

He could very well be the best overall football player coming out in the 2017 NFL Draft. Peppers will help complete the Titans defense that already has a ferocious front-7. The Titans really help themselves with the pick they got in the trade last year.

Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers wide receiver Jazz Peavy (11) is tackled by LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) after catching a pass during the second quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

9

Jamal Adams

S, LSU

The Cincinnati Bengals need a new head coach more than they need a 1st-round pick right now. They need a disciplinarian that holds guys accountable and doesn’t put up with nonsense. A guy like John Conklin would win a Super Bowl with the Bengals.

They don’t have a lot of weaknesses on the roster so they can take the best player available. And it just so happens that the best player available is at a position the Bengals can use. S Jamal Adams is the versatile, outstanding football player they can use.

Adams has great awareness and is very quick to read his keys and drive on balls underneath. He also has the quickness to mirror slot WRs and the physicality to match up with TEs. In the box, he can take on and get off blocks and make the sure tackle.

And of course, he’s a big hitter that has immediate stopping power to end the play immediately. Shawn Williams would be better served on the back end, playing the FS position. And Adams can come in and help the Bengals defense become a top unit.

Nov 5, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) looks to throw the ball in the first quarter against the Navy Midshipmen at Everbank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

10

DeShone Kizer

QB, Notre Dame

The Arizona Cardinals should be a Super Bowl contending team as they don’t have a lot of needs. They’re good at RB and the defense is one of the best in the NFL right now. WR Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the best in the league after all these years.

However, QB Carson Palmer is 36 years old so you don’t know when his time is up. So they can bring in a bit of a project to groom behind Palmer until he hangs ’em up. That’s where DeShone Kizer, the only QB worth a 1st-round pick, comes in.

He runs a pro system with some Spread in it so he can take over right away. That will come in handy if Palmer gets hurt or falls off the proverbial cliff at 36. Kizer has a cannon with nice touch and accuracy so the tools are there.

He’s also good from the neck up, getting his team into the right play and changing protections. Now, Palmer still has a year or two to win that Super Bowl he’s been looking for. Then the Cardinals are still in win-now mode when he rides off into the Sunset.

Oct 1, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) runs the ball after a catch during the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

11

Juju Smith-Schuster

WR, USC

As a team, the San Diego Chargers are almost there, losing so many close games these days. RB Melvin Gordon is major help to QB Philip Rivers in his second year. TE Hunter Henry looks good as he gradually slides in for Antonio Gates.

But WR Travis Benjamin is playing with a sprained MCL and Keenan Allen is out for the season (Achilles tendon). It’s a good thing Gordon ran the ball well in their win Sunday. Benjamin started his career in the slot before having spend more time outside.

A guy like Juju Smith-Schuster could line up outside with Allen next year. At 6’3″ 220 pounds Smith-Schuster has the speed, hands and route-running of a WR 1. So Benjamin can go back to the slot with Smith-Schuster and a healhty Allen outside next year.

That leaves Rivers with a fully loaded offense he can lead up and down the field. The defense isn’t playing too bad either with 2016 1st-round pick Joey Bosa now playing. The Chargers would then have a better chance to win the tough AFC West.

Oct 8, 2016; Eugene, OR, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) breaks up a pass intended for Oregon Ducks wide receiver Jalen Brown (15) during the third quarter at Autzen Stadium. The Huskies won 70-21. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

12

Sidney Jones

CB, Washington

A top secondary would turn the Titans defense into a top defense in the NFL. And a top defense just might turn the Titans into a playoff team in 2017. They took the first step toward that by picking Peppers with their first 1st-round pick.

Here at No. 12 overall, they get themselves a CB to take that defense over the top. Perrish Cox is killing the Titans so it’s time for him to go sit down somewhere. Sidney Jones is ready to come in, take one of those CB spots and ball right away.

He is one of the more polished CB prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Washington has put out some good CBs lately with Marcus Peters and Desmond Trufant. At 6’0″, 185 pounds, Jones has decent size and great athleticism for the position.

He’s also versatile so he can play in press-man, off-man or zone coverage if you need him to. They teach them well at Washington so he will know the drill when he gets in the NFL. Then the Titans will have a defense they can with the AFC South with.

Nov 15, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) catches a ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the first quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

13

Mike Williams

WR, Clemson

The Buffalo Bills have a good defense that will get better when everyone is healthy next year. And of course, the ground-and-pound running game is there with LeSean McCoy. However, there isn’t much production at the WR position right now.

That’s obviously because 2014 1st-round pick Sammy Watkins is on injured reserve. So the it would be a good idea for the Bills to build some depth at the WR position. QB Tyrod Taylor needs more dependable targets to throw to in case this happens again.

At 6’3″, 220 pounds, excellent speed and a large catch radius, Mike Williams to become a star in the NFL. He played with Watkins as a freshman at Clemson in 2013. Then he replaced him as the star WR in 2014, when Watkins went to Buffalo.

His draft stock took a hit when he injured his neck and missed most of last season. But it’s moving back up more every week as he continues to ball this year. Pairing Williams with Watkins to go the the running game and defense will make this team dangerous.

Oct 15, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Northwestern Wildcats running back Justin Jackson (21) is chased down by Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) during the first half of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

14

Malik McDowell

DE, Michigan State

At 6’5″, 290 pounds, Malik McDowell is that Leonard Williams, DeForest Buckner type of player. He has the size, length, strength and freak athletisism. To go with his natural gifts, he keeps the motor running high and he’s technically sound.

He has an array of pass-rush moves that he can pull out on an O-lineman at any given moment. Of all things, he even has a spin move, something rare at his size. He’s a 4-3 DT now but his skill-set fits in perfectly as a 3-4 DE too.

And yes, he’s an every-down player that can rush the passer as well as stuff the run. The Colts aren’t very good stuffing the run or getting after opposing quarterbacks. So this is just the kind of player the Colts can use on their front-7.

McDowell would come right in and make the kind of impression that commands double and triple-teams. OLB Robert Mathis might have decent year left in him with McDowell there. The Colts could be AFC South Champions again with such a pick.

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

15

Derek Barnett

DE, Tennessee

With HC Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints offense will always be explosive. However, the Saints aren’t quite on the same level on defense. The game of football starts up front and that’s where the Saints aren’t very good right now.

That defensive front-7 isn’t the greatest against the run or at getting after the opposing QB. It helps that the team finally got DT Sheldon Rankins back from injury. That will help against inside runs and create more of an interior pass-rush for the Saints.

But the Saints need an edge-rusher to bring that heat to deal with the QBs in their division. And Derek Barnett would be just what the doctor ordered for the Saints here. Barnett gets off with the snap well and he’s technically sound, chopping at the hands of pass blockers.

He also has good power, which is why he is such a productive edge-rusher. His physical talent and skill have him ready to help the Saints right away in 2017. Picking Barnett here could very well get them in the playoffs in 2017.

Sep 3, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) intercepts the pass in front of Bowling Green Falcons wide receiver Ronnie Moore (5) during the first half at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes lead 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

16

Malik Hooker

S, Ohio State

After picking a franchise-changing edge-rusher No. 1 overall, the Browns pick again at No. 16. The offense already isn’t too bad nor will it be with Hue Jackson as head coach. The maturation of Kessler is something the Browns can also look forward to.

And they are fully loaded with a lot of talent at the RB, TE, and WR positions. The Browns can use a little help on the O-line but they have plenty of picks left for that. So they go defense again so they can start winning some of these close games.

Making up for the loss of S Tashaun Gipson is the right idea here at No. 20 overall. And S Malik Hooker of down-the-street Ohio State is the right player. He is already drawing comparisons to Ravens legend Ed Reed.

He is a ball-hawk, that’s physical, quick, fast and explosive with a great nose for the ball. So it is understandable for him to have so much hype coming out. The Browns make good use of the Philadelphia Eagles’ pick here to build their defense.

Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) catches a 51 yard touch pass from Jake Coker (not pictured) against the Clemson Tigers during the fourth quarter in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

17

O.J. Howard

TE, Alabama

The Miami Dolphins are now seeing that they can win with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. He just isn’t ready for the whole team to be put on his shoulders yet. So after they struggled early, RB Jay Ajayi emerged to help Tannehill out.

Ajayi’s running has led to the Dolphins picking it up of the defensive end as well. Keeping the offense on the field longer can help any defense out. The Dolphins have excellent weapons outside to go with the running game.

But they don’t have a reliable, chain-moving TE to act as Tannehill’s security blanket. O.J. Howard can be that guy and then some for Tannehill and the Dolphins. He is a matchup nightmare, way to fast for LBs and too big for the secondary.

Howard has reliable hands, can get vertical, and can make explosive plays afer the catch. He’s also a pretty good blocker so he won’t ruin the running game. This pick can go a long way toward the Dolphins competing in the AFC East.

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

18

Carl Lawson

OLB, Auburn

The Pittsburgh Steelers are fine on offense with QB Ben Roethlisberger leading the way. Of course, Antonio Brown will be back but they need to re-sign RB Le’Veon Bell. On defense, the Steelers invested heavily in the secondary in the draft last year.

But as they start to come together, the front-7 isn’t getting after the QB very well this year. OLB Bud Dupree looked promising off the edge last year but he’s out for this season. The Sun has finally set on the great career of fellow OLB James Harrison.

And 2013 1st-round pick Jarvis Jones has shown the team that he is a bust. So another OLB to come off the edge in the Steelers 3-4 defense is what the team needs most. And Carl Lawson would do wonders for the Steelers right here at No. 17 overall.

Lawson was a better edge-rusher than Dee Ford of the Kansas City Chiefs as a freshman. Then after a severe knee injury, he has made his way back to first-round status. His pass-rush ability and physical style of play would bring that Steelers front-7 back.

Nov 5, 2016; Berkeley, CA, USA; Washington Huskies wide receiver John Ross (1) scores a touchdown against the California Golden Bears during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

19

John Ross

WR, Washington

Everyone in the NFL universe wants to know what happened to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. The answer is nothing, he just doesn’t have receivers getting open for him. They wear opposing DBs like ugly trench coats these days.

Jordy Nelson is coming back from a torn ACL so he can’t run by DBs the way he used to. Devante Adams, the team’s 2015 2nd-round pick, isn’t a WR 1 just yet. And Randall Cobb is a slot-man that’s doesn’t operate as well outside.

A guy with speed to fit the big arm of Rodgers would be ideal right here at No. 18 overall. John Ross has reported 4.25 wheels and he blows by guys on a regular basis. He also has good hands and runs well after the catch to make plays.

He would open things up for everyone including Nelson, who should be back to himself next year. Then we’ll see Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game back up to standard. And that means they’ll be contenders in the NFC once again.

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

20

Reuben Foster

ILB, Alabama

The Detroit Lions are a scrappy team this year, hanging in tough and pulling off some upsets. That’s because quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing the best football of his career. And to think he’s doing it without Calvin Johnson, one of the best all-time Lions.

If the Lions were good on defense, they would have a shot at winning the NFC North. It doesn’t help that DE Ziggy Ansah hasn’t been healthy this year but he needs help anyway. The Lions are giving up 4.4 yards per carry on the ground so that’s good place to start.

ILB Rueben Foster from Alabama is a good get for the Lions to tighten up the middle of that defense. Foster is a physical thumper in the middle but that is far from all he has. With that power, Foster has great instincts and is a reliable tackler in the open field.

He also has the speed, quickness and agility to cover RBs and TEs, making him a three-down player. It’s rare that you find an ILB that can bang and cover like Foster can. He’s a good player for the Lions to rebuild their defense around.

Nov 5, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

21

Dalvin Cook

RB, Florida State

At this point, the 5-3 New York Giants’ season can go either way. There are a lot of new parts to that defense so it’s taking time for it to be as good as it will be. QB Eli Manning and the offense need to get it together if it’s going to go the right way.

Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Sheppard and Victor Cruz make that offense explosive. But that offense needs a little more than that to win the NFL East in 2017. Rashard Jennings doesn’t have the running game going the way the Giants had hoped.

He doesn’t have elusiveness in space or the skills in the passing game the Giants need. So here at No. 21 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Giants take Dalvin Cook. At 5’11”, 207 pounds, the Cook is the Ferrari of RBs coming out in this year’s draft.

But don’t get me wrong, he can and will hit it up in there between the tackles. With Cook in the backfield, opposing defenses have to choose between stopping the run or pass. The Giants would become perennial contenders if they made this pick.

Nov 5, 2016; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers receiver Marcus Davis (80) is tackled by Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) during the first quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

22

Zach Cunnigham

ILB, Vanderbilt

The Denver Broncos showed Sunday night that their defense isn’t the same as last year. Seeing them get their manhood taken from them in the runing game was shocking. It’s all because DE Malik Jackson and ILB Danny Trevathan are no longer there.

Of the two pieces missing, it looks like Trevathan is the more important piece they are missing. Trevathan is good against the run and in coverage, which is important. The Broncos blitz a lot so ILBs that can stuff the run and cover are necessary.

Zach Cunningham is about the same size and has the same athleticism Trevathan has. He has the ability to fight through blocks along with the speed and instincts to find the ball. Cunningham easily converts speed to power as a tackler too,

He also changes direction well for a man of his size, showing light feet and loose hips. All the traits he has are reminiscent of Trevathan so he’s the perfect pick for this defense. Then the Broncos have that scary defense they had back in 2015 again.

Nov 7, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (93) sacks Washington Huskies quarterback Jake Browning (3) during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

23

Lowell Lotulelei

NT, Utah

The Washington Redskins don’t have many weaknesses but they have one big one. After a rough start this season, Kirk Cousins is proving he’s worth the money he wants. He has plenty of weapons in the passing game too.

And RB Matt Jones brings balance to the offense with the way he runs the ball. On defense, they have a solid secondary as the addition of Josh Norman is helping. They can also get after the QB with Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy.

But the big weakness they have is stopping the run and that could cost them this season. The Redskins have to stop the run if they want to win their division. They have tried and failed with NTs in free agency over the years.

So this year, the Redskins draft a NT Lowell Lotulelei to help their struggles against the run. Lotulelei is unusually strong for his age so he won’t take long to excel. He also has a push in the pass-rush so he would put the Redskins over the top.

Oct 3, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back Jordan Howard (8) looks to run by Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) in the first half of their game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kryger-USA TODAY Sports

24

Raekwon McMillan

ILB, Ohio State

The Kansas City Chiefs have their formula for winning games right now. They run the ball and have QB Alex Smith take care of it to control the clock. The Chiefs have fumbled just four times and thrown just two INTs this season.

Then their defense goes out there and gets turnovers to get the ball back for the offense. With S Eric Berry and CB Marcus Peters, they lead the league in INTs with 12. At the same time, they’re tied for No. 5 in the NFL in forced fumbles with 6.

But you can win the time of possession battle if run without fumbling the ball. The Chiefs are No. 27 in the NFL against the run, giving up 4.8 yards per carry. ILB Raekwon McMillan is a good player to throw at that problem.

McMillian is a downhill LB that takes on and sheds block while finding the ball. He’s also good for today’s passing NFL as he is solid in coverage. The Chiefs could stop the run and might become contenders after making this pick.

Sep 3, 2016; Iowa City, IA, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Desmond King (14) prepares to defend Miami (Oh) Redhawks wide receiver Sam Shisso (10) during the fourth quarter at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 45-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

25

Desmond King

CB, Iowa

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz has film on him now so it’s a littler harder these days. If you can put pressure on him, you can rattle him and get him to make mistakes. He isn’t built to bring his team back from double-digit leads either.

But this is just his rookie year and he’ll be fine next year in Year 2, when you QBs make that big jump. Young WRs Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham will improve with him. Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles will return to the backfield too.

And of course, the Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL to protect Wentz. Then on defense, they have a ferocious front-7 that can get after the passer. A shut-down CB would make the Eagles even tougher to score on and beat.

That’s where Desmond King, who’s a versatile, all-around CB, comes in. With four pass plays over 25 yards Sunday, the Giants showed the Eagles what they need. So they made good use of the 1st-round pick they got from the Minnesota Vikings.

November 5, 2016; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) runs against Oregon State Beavers safety Jalen Moore (33) and cornerback Treston Decoud (14) during the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

26

Christian McCaffrey

RB, Stanford

As usual, the Baltimore Raves are in the top five in the NFL in total defense. And of course, they have an offense led by franchise quarterback Joe Flacco. But that isn’t enough as they lead the AFC North at 4-4 after eight games.

Their main problem is they can’t run the ball as they average 3.8 yards per carry. RB Justin Forsett just didn’t work out for the team after a good year in 2014. The running game has always been as staple of good Ravens teams.

Between Ray Rice and Forsett, they don’t mind smaller guys in the backfield. Christian McCaffrey such a good overall football player, he could be their guy. They already have RBs to put in short yardage and near the goal line.

McCaffrey has extra value because he can line up in the slot as well as return kicks. As a RB, he can pull that eighth man into the box so Flacco can use that big arm in the vertical game. The Ravens would then be a contender to go further in 2017.

Sep 5, 2015; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Texas State Bobcats quarterback Tyler Walker eludes Florida State Seminoles defender DeMarcus Walker (44) at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

27

DeMarcus Walker

DL, Florida State

When Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was with the Seattle Seahawks, he had DL Michael Bennett. At around 6’4″, 280 pounds, he is a DE/DT tweener. He’s not overly athletic for an edge-rusher or the most powerful-interior rusher.

But you can put him in either spot and he just knows how to get to opposing QBs. The Falcons are getting after the QB just fine right now with the emergence of Vic Beasley. But Quinn wants to get after the QB the way he did in Seattle.

So to go with Beasley, he would love to have a guy like Bennett to rush the passer with him. DeMarcus Walker is reminiscent of Bennett in size and traits. He was advised to go back to school after a breakout season with 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.

This year, he already has 10.5 sacks with three games left, not including a Bowl game. That shows you that he just knows how to get to the QB from inside or outside. The Falcons would be just as tough on defense as they are on offense with this pick.

Nov 5, 2016; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley (4) tries to outrun Missouri Tigers defensive end Charles Harris (91) during the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina wins 31-21 over Missouri. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

28

Charles Harris

OLB, Missouri

The Houston Texans are wasting too much money on Brock Osweiler so QB is out. He’s going to get every chance in the world to succeed with what they have over there. And they have a lot over there on that offense these days.

DeAndre Hopkins and speedster Will Fuller are a duo any real NFL QB can get it done with. Then there’s help in the backfield with Lamar Miller on pace to get his 1,000 yards. The Texans are solid on the defensive side of the ball too.

They don’t have superstar J.J. Watt this year but he will be back to do his thing next year. If Watt had some more help rushing the passer, the defense would be scary. But 2014 1st-round pick Jadeveon Clowney didn’t work out off the edge.

So they draft Charles Harris, who can bring that heat off the edge, to help the Texans in that way. The Texans need to be great on defense with Osweiler as their starting QB. And Harris gives the Texans defense a chance to be great on arrival.

Sep 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk (65) during the Lambeau Field College Classic against the LSU Tigers at Lambeau Field. Wisconsin won 16-14. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Ryan Ramczyk

OT, Wisconsin

On Monday night Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson showed the football world what he can do when healthy. He went 20-for-26 for 282 yards, six TDs, no INTs and a QB rating of 93.7 on the night. And the Seahawks went on to win a shootout 31-25 to go to 5-2-1.

But one has to wonder if he can stay healthy with the offensive line he has blocking for him. The Seahawks defense is giving up big bombs these days so they can’t win with any QB. So this year, I don’t expect the Seahawks to make it all the way through the playoffs.

But when it’s time to retool for 2017, they get a player that can help them get all the way through. Ryan Ramczyk comes from Wisconsin where they teach their O-line well in the zone-blocking scheme. So O-line coach Tom Cable is salivating over him as you read this.

He as reason to as he has great initial quickness to get to the second level in the running game. Ramczyk also shows good power and pad level to move the pile and makes his cut blocks. His athleticism also serves him well in the passing game, where Russell and the Seahawks need him.

Sep 23, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes wide receiver Tim Patrick (12) is defended by USC Trojans defensive back Adoree Jackson (2) during a NCAA football game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah defeated USC 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

30

Adoree Jackson

CB, USC

The Oakland Raiders showed you against the Denver Broncos how balanced they are on offense. If a team is able to give them a hard time throwing, they will simply run it down your throat. But of course, they will shoot it out through the air if they have to.

The defense is coming together too as the secondary isn’t giving up big bombs these days. They’re also stopping the run now as they had problems against the run earlier in the season. But nickel CB D.J. Hayden continues to be a bust and a problem.

Adoree Jackson has the quick feet and fluidity to open his hips, turn and run with WRs. And if he makes a mistake, he has the recovery speed to get back in position before the ball gets there. He plays WR at times too so he has to hands to make INTs when in position.

He’s only 5’11”, 185 but very competitive in the run game and has extra value as a kickoff returner. With Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith and Mario Edward Jr. rushing the passer, Jackson at nickel corner makes this defense special. The Raiders would then become perennial contenders for years to come.

Oct 15, 2015; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (90) celebrates after a tackle in the second quarter against the UCLA Bruins in a NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

31

Solomon Thomas

DE, Stanford

They say that if you have two QBs on your team, you really don’t have one. But in the case of the Dallas Cowboys, they really do have two as they can win with either one. RB Ezekiel Elliott and the offensive line will lead the NFL in rushing and do most of the work.

And of course, WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten will do their part to help the offense. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has done an outstanding job so far this year. He has peiced everything together with all the injuries and suspensions they’ve endured.

The secondary is playing well too despite the injuries that have happened there. But the Cowboys don’t get after the passer very well so they should address that. We’re still waiting to see 2015 1st-round pick Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence is a nickel rusher.

The Cowboys should bring in a base-end and Solomon Thomas is the perfect guy here. Thomas could primarily play the base end and kick inside to tackle on passing downs. The Cowboys will probably be a Super Bowl favorite if they get a pass-rush over there.

Dec 31, 2015; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Cordrea Tankersley (25) breaks up a pass to Oklahoma Sooners tight end Mark Andrews (81) during the second quarter of the 2015 CFP semifinal at the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

32

Cordrea Tankersley

CB, Clemson

The New England Patriots don’t have any major weakness that can’t be covered up. HC Bill Belichick covers a large part of them up with his game-planning. QB Tom Brady covers the rest of them up by throwing more TDs.

But the draft is for strengthening weaknesses and the Patriots have a chance to do so here. The team has been shuffling CBs in and out all year on the other side of Malcolm Butler. Give Belichick a solid CB 2 and the Patriots can’t be stopped.

They’re hard enough to stop as it is, going 3-1 with Brady suspended the first four games. Cordrea Tankersley can come in and give the Patriots that solid option opposite Buler. At 6’1″, 200 pounds he has the size and length NFL teams covet.

He uses his arms well to obstruct the catch point vision and disrupt the rhythm of wide receivers. He also has good ball-skills and keeps himself in the proper position to use them. This is your rich-get-richer pick to keep the Patriots on top.

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