The top prospects are waiting to hear Rodger Goodell call their names in the NFL Draft, but where will they get called to? Matt LaPan’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0.
The college football season has officially come to an end – signaling the start to the 2017 NFL Draft season. The first two rounds of the NFL draft always get a massive amount of attention, and can lay the foundation for a team to be successful. And now is the time for my first 2017 NFL Mock Draft of the season.
The 2017 NFL Draft class is loaded in defensive talent. From Jonathan Allen and Myles Garrett at the start of the round, to Sidney Jones, Malik McDowell and others late in the opening round, defense is on full display.
What prospects land with each team? Find out as we preview the opening two rounds in my 2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0:
1. Cleveland Browns: Jonathan Allen, DL – Alabama
Cleveland has twice owned the top pick in the modern era—neither time ended well with Tim Couch in 1999 and Courtney Brown in 2000. They look to remedy this in 2017 by taking an absolute sure thing in Jonathan Allen from Alabama.
Allen has the size to play inside and the quickness and burst to play outside. He is a rare combination of power and agility that allows him to win from anywhere on the defensive line. He plays on every down, and dominates in both the run and pass games. He is a difference-maker, which the Browns are in desperate need of. There is no going wrong between Allen and Myles Garrett, so there is no way the Browns can lose this one.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Myles Garrett, EDGE – Texas A&M
The 49ers are a team in transition. Jed York claims to be looking for “culture” players, coaches and executives. He gets one that will set the culture and bring a great EDGE presence in Myles Garrett.
Garrett is the top EDGE rusher in the class, dominating with size, speed, burst and pass rush prowess. The 6-5, 270-pound defensive end has the size to play with his hand down in the NFL and the speed to stand up and come off the edge. He bends the edge like a player much smaller than he is, using flexible ankles and hips to get under defenders before turning on his power to rip through and get to the quarterback.
He uses his hands extremely well and is a relentless player, chasing down plays and quarterbacks but still maintaining the edge when needed. He is arguably the top player in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the 49ers luck out getting him at No. 2.
3. Chicago Bears: Mitch Trubisky, QB – North Carolina
The Bears relied on Matt Barkley late in the 2016 season to try to pick up a few wins. Lucky for them, they did not get those wins and they get Mitch Trubisky—the quarterback that many have atop their rankings.
Trubisky is still relatively unproven, but has shown the skills to convince many that he is ready to run an NFL team. Trubisky has good size and a strong arm with terrific accuracy. He will have his share of weapons (if Alshon Jeffrey is back), and will have a line that allowed the seventh fewest sacks in 2016.
He shows good pocket presence, but the biggest question is still if Trubisky can put it together for multiple seasons. The Bears need a quarterback, and will be the first team to gamble on one in 2017.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State
Forget T.J. Weldon. Forget Chris Ivory. The Jaguars get an offensive difference maker in Dalvin Cook. He is a game-breaking running back with the speed and vision to be a dominant player in the NFL.
Cook may lack in size, but he reads his blocks extremely well and explodes through the hole. He turns on the jets in the open field, turning regular runs into big gains in the blink of an eye. He brings power behind his pads, fighting for extra yards. Cook is also a terrific receiver out of the backfield. He would take the lead with Yeldon and Ivory to create a very strong running back group for whoever is coaching in Jacksonville next year.
He does have some injury concerns, but they are not big enough to keep him from being a top-five pick.
The Tennessee Titans actually had a pretty solid season in 2016, but it was derailed late by a broken leg for quarterback Marcus Mariota. They benefit from the Los Angeles Rams’ desperation to move up in the 2016 NFL Draft, netting the fifth pick in this year’s draft.
With an offense that turned into form in 2016, the Titans go defense to start and bring in a possible number one cornerback to pair with Jason McCourty. Tabor, the man known as Teez, is a long, athletic cornerback who enjoyed a good deal of success in the SEC. He is a natural, fluid athlete who has the speed and agility to turn and run with nearly any wide receiver. Pairing Tabor with McCourty will help improve the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing defense immediately.
6. New York Jets: Jabrill Peppers, LB/S – Michigan
The Jets are never a team to shy away from the bright lights or controversy. That does not change as they draft the most talked about prospect in the entire 2017 NFL Draft Class, Jabrill Peppers.
Peppers is likely going to have to play a hybrid linebacker/safety role in the NFL due to his 202-pound frame. He is extremely athletic and explosive, but is truly a man without a position in the NFL. He is a boom or bust prospect who can play offense, defense and return punts. This versatility can help and hurt his stock.
The Jets need play makers and need athletic defenders to get back into Todd Bowles’ system. Taking Peppers this high is extremely risky, but could be a huge boost for the Jets.
Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) catches a pass against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
7. San Diego Chargers: Mike Williams, WR – Clemson
The Chargers have Keenan Allen locked-up for a while, but they are going to need someone else to make plays as Antonio Gates continues to approach the end of his career. They get a bona fide No. 1 receiver prospect with Mike Williams.
The 6-4 receiver came back off a major neck injury to haul in 90 receptions (and counting) and 10 touchdowns.
8. Carolina Panthers: Cam Robinson, OT – Alabama
The Carolina Panthers fell victim to a massive Super Bowl hangover during their 6-10 campaign. A major factor in their dip was the play of their offensive line. They get the top offensive lineman in the NFL Draft in Cam Robinson.
Robinson is a dominant run blocking presence on the left side. He is a big (6-6, 327 pounds), strong, aggressive blocker with great power, aggressive hands and persistent leg drive. He is a knee bender, allowing him to set a good anchor and use his power in pass protection.
He does need some work in pass protection, especially when it comes to keeping his balance. He tends to reach on his punch, pulling his weight forward and getting his feet in a bad spot. He can also get a little grabby against speed rushers, but he is a perfect fit for Carolina’s running style. He will be also to make an immediate impact, and could play a large role in helping the Panthers find their strong play again.
The Bengals have attitude on defense, but they need a player in the middle of their defense that plays with attitude and control. They get this in Reuben Foster, a true difference-maker at inside linebacker.
Foster has been a dominant linebacker in the middle of the dominant Alabama defense, playing with speed, aggression, power and speed. He reads plays extremely well and has the speed to get anywhere on the field to make a play. When he gets there, he is a devastating hitter. His athleticism allows him to be a three-down player, something every NFL team needs.
Foster can be too aggressive for his own good at times. He is always looking to deliver a punishing hit, and that can lead to him being a bit out of control coming forward. He can use some polish in his drops, but has a very solid base. His presence should bring a different look to the Bengals defense.
10. Buffalo Bills: Malik Hooker, S – Ohio State
Many thought Malik Hooker would return to Ohio State. His decision to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft instantly made teams in the top-10 take notice.
Hooker is a great combination of size and athletic ability at 6-2, 205 pounds and sideline to sideline speed. He is a smooth athlete that plants his foot and breaks extremely well on the ball. Once he gets to the ball, he delivers big hits and is a sure tackler. He is a playmaker, displaying great ball skills and then explosive ability in the open field once he turns the ball over.
Hooker is another player who can get a little overly aggressive, at times. He can get caught looking at plays rather than reading his queues and getting in the right position to make plays. He is also relatively inexperience for a top-10 talent, and can grow into an even better player. The Bills luck out with him falling to the No. 10 spot.
11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, EDGE – Tennessee
The New Orleans Saints lacked a true punch in their pass rush in 2016, finishing with the sixth fewest sacks in the NFL. Even with the return of Hau’oli Kikaha, they need to add a young pass rusher.
Derek Barnett fits that mold, especially seeing he just broke Reggie White’s Tennessee record for career sacks. Barnett is not your typical EDGE player, sporting a shorter, more stout and built frame than many EDGE players. He plays with great strength and a relentless motor that allows him to wear down opposing tackles. He bursts well off the line and bends the edge really well for a player of his build. He is also stout against the run, and can even bump inside in sub packages thanks to his physical play.
Barnett is a jumper. He guesses the snap far too often, getting a lot of flags or pulling himself out of plays because he is not back and fully set. He does not cut the edge down like some other, more athletic EDGE players. Some believe he is a product of Tennessee’s defense while others believe in his ability. Either way, Barnett has a chance to make an impact in the NFL.
The Browns already got a cornerstone defensive player with the top overall pick, now they need to gamble and try to find a franchise quarterback. They look to DeShone Kizer to lift them out of quarterback misery, and hopefully lift their 1-15 record.
Kizer has the prototypical quarterback build and a strong arm that NFL teams look for. He has good mobility in the pocket and solid footwork on his drops. He can take off and run when needed, sporting good athleticism. The quarterback took a ton of punishment at Notre Dame, but kept standing tall and delivering with poise. His toughness and willingness to stay in the pocket and deliver is extremely admirable.
He does need work on his throwing mechanics, however. He can get a little wide in his base and he can hold the ball a little too long. This lack of an internal clock leads to him getting hit a lot more than he needs to. He is not a perfect quarterback prospect, but he is worth the pick for Cleveland, and will likely step in and be the Day 1 starter.
The Cardinals defensive backfield is often lauded as one of the best in the NFL. After a tough 2016, they need to restock, however. They get a playmaker to go across from Patrick Peterson in Marlon Humphrey.
He has the size and experience that teams look for in a top cornerback prospect. He is aggressive at the line, using a good jam that is correctly positioned. He is a true press-man cover corner that keeps opponents to the sideline with a veteran savvy trail technique. He has the size, strength and speed to stay with some of the bigger receivers in the NFL.
Humphrey does lack the ideal fluidity in his hips, however. He is a little slow to turn and run, making him open his hips early and struggle against the elite route runners who cut their routes off. He also is a little slow to locate the ball, which could lead to flags in the NFL. His pairing with Peterson should drastically help his game, and allow him to feast on No. 2 receivers.
14. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, EDGE – Alabama
The Colts need explosive play makers on defense, especially with the retirement of Robert Mathis. There is arguably no more explosive player off the edge than Tim Williams.
His first step is lightning quick and his burst into opposing linemen is terrific. He is a pure pass rusher with great quickness, speed and flexibility. He can bend the edge extremely well, dipping and ripping under bigger tackles. He is also very powerful and locks his arms out, allowing him to bull rush tackles when they are back on their heels. His spin move is easily the best in the class, and would be well received in Indianapolis.
Williams is not a three-down player, however. It is risky to take a true pass rusher this high in the draft. He is not great at setting the edge, or getting off blocks when teams run at him. The Colts have enough defenders to play the run, but need that dynamic pass rusher on their defense and Williams is worth the gamble.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings): Corey Davis, WR – Western Michigan
It’s no secret that the Philadelphia Eagles need to surround Carson Wentz with better weapons following his rookie season. They get one of the top offensive weapons in the 2017 NFL Draft in Corey Davis.
Don’t let his school fool you, Davis is the real deal. He has the size (6-2, 205 pounds), length and frame of a big time receiver. He run smooth, crisp routes with great foot quickness to get in and out of his breaks. He has lined up at nearly every spot for a receiver, having great success from inside and outside. Davis also has strong hands, making him a very reliable option for Wentz.
He is not a great option to go up and get the ball away from a defender. He has the strong hands, but is not great at elevating for the ball. He can also struggle against true press coverage, trying to use speed to get around the cornerback rather than using his hands to get free. This can cause some timing issues.
Davis is another in a long line of small school receivers that has all the skills to dominate in the league. He should immediately become the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver.
Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) in action during the game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
16. Baltimore Ravens: Jamal Adams, S – LSU
Size, speed, play recognition, aggressive play, big hits, ball skills—Jamal Adams checks off every box of a true franchise safety.
Adams has the thump to come forward in run support and be a factor, but the range and speed to get to any throw on the field and make a play on it. His athletic ability also make him extremely dangerous when he creates turnovers. The most impressive part of his game might be how fluid his hips are at safety, allowing him to cover nearly any back or tight end that comes his way.
Adams should restore the attitude and dominant play of the Ravens defense when he takes the field for them in 2017.
17. Washington Redskins: Zach Cunningham, LB – Vanderbilt
Do not adjust your screens, Redskins fans. That does say Vanderbilt in the first round. With a big hole to fill at linebacker, Zach Cunningham is a great fit for Washington.
He is a long, lean, athletic linebacker that has the look of the new-age hybrid linebackers. The 6-3, 230-pound linebacker has been playing inside linebacker, however, proving that he plays much bigger than the numbers say. Cunningham plays with good speed and great recognition, accelerating through the tackle. He can get back in coverage, using his length and speed to disrupt the passing lanes.
He does need to work on wrapping his arms on tackles. He is more of a hitter than a tackler, and will need to get some polish to truly be effective in the NFL. The biggest question will be around where to align Cunningham, but his athletic ability and aggressive nature make him a great fit to fill a need in Washington.
18. Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR – Washington
Marcus Mariota continued to grow into a very good NFL starter in 2016. The Titans can continue to help his development by providing him with another reliable playmaker on the outside. Enter John Ross, one of the best big-play weapons in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Forget his 5-11, 190-pound frame—Ross is ready to make plays in the NFL. He is one of the quickest players off the line of scrimmage then shows terrific speed, leaving defenders in his wake. He does a really nice job getting off the line with good moves, then uses his agility to make defenders get into a trail technique and chase him. When he gets the ball underneath or out wide, he is extremely dangerous and can make nearly anyone miss.
Ross is not a crisp route runner, often rounding his routes off and relying on his speed. There are also medical red flags. Ross has all the makings of a big-play specialist in the NFL, still, and is a great weapon for the Titans to have.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DeMarcus Walker, DL – Florida State
Tampa Bay had a massive hit in the 2016 NFL Draft when they took Noah Spence to play along their defensive line. They need to continue to add talented play makers to the defense and do so by adding another talented defensive end in DeMarcus Walker.
Walker is a proven sack artist, collecting 16 in his senior campaign. He lines up on the end, playing the run and pass well but can also bump inside to rush on the interior in sub situations. He added strength and size, allowing him to better set the edge against the run.
Walker is not overly large, and will be a bit undersized as a defensive end in the NFL. He will need to continue to work on strength and will need to show a better lockout on his arms against NFL tackles. His upside is tremendous, and the pairing of Walker and Spence would be a great pass rushing tandem for Mike Smith and the Tampa Bay defense.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT – Wisconsin
The Denver Broncos had a tough year along the offensive line. Injuries and poor play really derailed their season. They need to start rebuilding that line, and get a very strong start with Ramczyk.
The Broncos need to start by finding someone who can help the struggling run game, and Ramczyk does just that coming from Wisconsin. He comes off the line with quickness and power, keeping his legs bent and a good angle to drive opponents off the line. His ability to make blocks on the move is very impressive, getting out to linebackers and beyond with relative ease. Ramczyk also does a nice job keeping his feet under him and delivering a strong initial punch in pass protection as well.
His path to the NFL Draft is not an easy one, but it shows Ramczyk is willing to fight to get ahead. He will need to work on his anchor if he is going to play left tackle. He could also get a little more depth in pass protection, but overall he has a solid foundation to make the jump to the NFL.
21. Detroit Lions: Quincy Wilson, CB – Florida
The end of the 2016 season showed that the Detroit Lions need some help at cornerback. They look at the aggressive, lengthy Quincy Wilson from Florida.
Wilson might not be the same level prospect as his teammate, Jalen “Teez” Tabor, but he has the ability to step in and make an impact in the NFC North. He is an aggressive, press-man corner that has a terrific jam at the line of scrimmage and good footwork to turn and run with receivers.
He does not have the fluidity in his hips or the top end speed that a true game changer has, but he does have some tricks to help him from getting beat. He also needs to be more aggressive in run support, taking on blocks rather than trying to run around them. He has big boom or bust potential, but the Lions are hoping boom.
22. Miami Dolphins: Dan Feeney, OG – Indiana
The Dolphins are going to need to find a new guard before the 2017 NFL season and they get a plug-and-play starter in Feeney. Feeney has the size and aggressive nature that every team looks for in a run blocking guard. The Indiana lineman has a terrific hand strike and great lower body power to clear out holes, something that Miami running back Jay Ajayi will love to see. He has a leg up in pass blocking with experience as a tackle, showing he can be balanced against pass rushers.
He is a bit of a reacher, pulling himself off balance when he tries too hard to punch. He is also more of a waist bender than many of the best offensive line prospects, which could get him in trouble against the elite NFL competition. Overall, he is exactly what Miami needs, and is perfect for Adam Gase’s rushing attack that looked very good in 2016.
23. New York Giants: Leonard Fournette, RB – LSU
This is likely much later than many, especially Fournette, expected the talented LSU running back to fall. It has nothing to do with not playing in a bowl game, but more about the loaded defensive class ahead of him.
The Giants get a big, bruising back who is supremely motivated to succeed. He runs hard, runs strong and sees the running lanes extremely well. The Giants did draft Paul Perkins in 2016, but having a feature back in Fournette available makes it nearly impossible to pass up.
It will be interesting to see how many carries are still in Fournette, who had a tremendous workload on him at LSU. Aside from that, Fournette to the Giants is a near perfect match.
24. Oakland Raiders: Christian McCaffrey, RB – Stanford
It is hard to imagine the Oakland offense getting even more explosive, but they look down the road to Stanford to provide Derek Carr with another explosive weapon in McCaffrey.
Much like Fournette, there is no worry about him skipping a bowl game. He is an elusive, tough playmaker that can win in nearly any position he is put in. He has the toughness to run inside, the speed to get outside and the hands to catch passes form anywhere on the field. Once the ball is in his hands, McCaffrey is a handful to deal with, making defenders miss with terrific agility.
There are some questions around his ability to hold up in the NFL with bigger and faster athletes chasing him. There is also the concern of how much of a beating he took in college. The Raiders will be able to use him in tandem with Latavius Murray, limiting his exposure to big hits and making his athleticism even more dangerous. Adding him to Carr, Murray, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and others will add another dimension to one of the best offenses in football.
25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB – Clemson
Fresh off a national title run, Deshaun Watson lands with a playoff team that has big quarterback problems. The Texans made a big investment in Brock Osweiler before finding out he is not the right quarterback for Bill O’Brien’s system.
Watson might not be the prototype for an O’Brien offense, but his skill set and decision-making immediately makes him a desirable quarterback. He has a good arm and makes good decisions, throwing his receivers open quite often. He is very athletic and mobile, but can also deliver accurately on the run. He does a great job standing in and delivering, even when facing enemies pressure. This also speaks to his toughness. Watson also steps up his game when the moments are at their biggest.
He is not in the mold of a true gun-slinger, nor does he have the strong frame of a runner. With bigger and stronger athletes in the NFL, he could be susceptible to big hits and some sore nights. He also saw an increase in interceptions in 2016, some of which were due to Watson missing defenders being in his lane. He also needs to make sure he sets his feet and strides through his delivery on a more consistent basis to help keep his passes in the tight windows needed in the NFL.
Watson is not a finished product, but he has proved that he can lead a team to success. He should be a breath of fresh air in a Houston system that has seen very little luck at the quarterback position.
26. Green Bay Packers: Sidney Jones, CB – Washington
There are times where the cornerbacks in Green Bay show a great deal of promise – but there are also times where they look like they are in desperate need of some help. They get some of that help in Sidney Jones.
Jones is not a big cornerback, but he is an aggressive playmaker who is NFL-ready. He has quick feet and good hands at the line of scrimmage – rarely getting beat right off the line. He plays with supreme confidence which rubs off on his teammates.
He is not great in run support, but he is definitely willing. He also lacks true ball hawking skills, not getting his head around in time to make a lot of plays on the ball. He is very solid in his skill set, and should step in and make an immediate impact on a growing Packers defense.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bolles, OT – Utah
The Seattle Seahawks offensive line has been a disaster throughout 2016. If not for the elusive Russell Wilson, they would be exposed much more. They start to remedy this with Garrett Bolles.
The first thing that stands out for Bolles is his ability to set an anchor and keep a solid base in both pass protection and in the run game. He is a natural waist-bender who never seems to fall off balance. He also shows great footwork and quickness out of his stance.
Boles can have problems letting defenders into his pads, giving up leverage in pass rush situations. He does not deliver a strong strike, but more receives the defender and tries to out-muscle him. He also needs to work on a more consistent leg drive, making sure he does not leave his feet in cement late in games. He has tremendous upside as an NFL tackle, and could be a building block to keeping Wilson upright.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Carl Lawson, EDGE – Auburn
There is eventually going to be a day that the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to need to replace James Harrison. Even with Bud Dupree starting to come on, the Steelers need another explosive EDGE player. Adding Lawson should help to ease that eventual succession.
Lawson is an explosive player off the line of scrimmage, boasting a great first step and aggressive hands. He gets good hand placement, keeping opposing linemen out of his pads often. He has good bend around the edge, dipping under bigger tackles to get to the quarterback.
He does need to work on his ability to set the edge in the run game, allowing him to be on the field more often. Lawson also needs to work on his power game for when NFL linemen do get their hands on him. His consistency has also come into question, and he will need to show a more consistent motor and finish. He will likely be part of a rotation as a rookie, easing the transition into the NFL and allowing Lawson to show off his pass rushing prowess right away.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Adoree’ Jackson, CB – USC
There have been a lot of ups and downs in the secondary for the Atlanta Falcons. After using their top pick on Keanu Neal last year, they use another first-round pick in the back four by adding Adoree’ Jackson.
Jackson is as smooth and pure of an athlete as there is in the 2017 NFL Draft class. He can turn and run with any receiver, and can use his movement skills to defend inside or outside. His length helps him make plays when he is back in coverage. He flashes very good ball skills, and is a nightmare to deal with in the open field if he forces a turnover. Jackson also brings tremendous value as a return man, proving to be one of the best in college in 2016.
Jackson needs to be more aggressive if he is going to consistently win at the NFL level, however. He does not get up into opponents pads, and if his speed is matched this can be a big detriment. He is also close to a non-factor in run support, something that Dan Quinn looks for in his cornerbacks. His athleticism and versatility make him a very valuable prospect, but the Falcons will have to work with him to get everything they can out of him.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Desmond King, CB – Iowa
Marcus Peters has proven himself as one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL. Now the Chiefs need to complement him with a legit second cornerback. Desmond King is the perfect fit.
King is a stout corner with very good strength, but still shows the fluid hips needed to turn and run with opposing receivers. He has a strong lower body and uses it in both press coverage and in us support. He is never afraid to bring the physical to his opponents, fitting perfectly into the Kansas City defensive style.
Where King struggles the most is in the measurables. He does not have elite size, length or speed—all traits NFL teams look for in cornerbacks. He can also get overlay aggressive, pushing himself out of position at times. If he is used as a No. 2 corner, or as a slot corner, King will be a great complement to the Chiefs defense.
Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) points to the sidelines during the first half of a game against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
31. Dallas Cowboys: Malik McDowell, DL – Michigan State
Even with strong players such as Tyrone Crawford, David Irving and others on the defensive line, it is never a bad idea to add an explosive, disruptive defensive lineman. Malik McDowell is very explosive and disruptive, bringing another dimension to the Cowboys front.
McDowell has the size, explosiveness, quickness and strength to be a versatile weapon on the defensive line. He can make plays inside or outside, and in three or four-man fronts. He has a relentless motor, wearing down opposing linemen throughout the game and making a big impact late. He gets after the passer, but also does a great job in the run game.
He does come out of his stance a little high at times. This can get him in trouble by allowing opponents to get inside his pads. He can also try to guess the count when he lines up further away from the ball, leading to penalties. Adding a playmaker such as McDowell to an already improving defense could help elevate a very strong Cowboys team.
32. New England Patriots: Pat Elflein, C – Ohio State
Is it going to surprise anyone if Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots use a late first-round pick on an interior lineman to help protect Tom Brady? They upgrade from David Andrews by adding the top center and one of the more accomplished linemen in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Pat Elflein is built for the center position with a large lower half, broad shoulders and a natural bend in his waist. He is explosive off the snap, driving opponents out of the middle with ease. He stays low and keeps his legs driving, making him a very strong run blocker. Elflein also does a good job keeping balanced and finding the right block to make in pass protection. He is an aggressive, physical finisher who is not afraid to mix it up with anyone on the defense.
Elflein can get very grabby against better competition. His hands do not punch in a consistent area, allowing defenders to get inside his pads. He can also become a little overly aggressive, at times, reaching to hit people first and not keeping his balance, getting pulled off his feet a little too often. All of this is fixable, and he would be an instant upgrade for Tom Brady to work with.
34) San Francisco 49ers – JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR – USC
35) Jacksonville Jaguars – Solomon Thomas – DL – Stanford
36) Chicago Bears – Jourdan Lewis – CB – Michigan
37) Los Angeles Rams – Tre’Davious White – CB – LSU
38) San Diego Chargers – Dede Westbrook – WR – Oklahoma
39) New York Jets – Takkarist McKinley – EDGE – UCLA
40) Carolina Panthers – Chris Wormley – DL – Michigan
Jan 1, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Michigan Wolverines safety Jarrod Wilson (22) and defensive end Taco Charlton (33) celebrate his interception against the Florida Gators during the second quarter in the 2016 Citrus Bowl at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
64) New England Patriots – Josh Harvey-Clemons – S – Louisville
Things will obviously change in the coming months leading up to April’s draft. The Senior Bowl, pro days, and of course the NFL Combine will bring changes. But for now, this is how things stand by my estimation following the college season.