NFL Mock Draft: DeShaun Watson falling
The 2016 NFL season is entering Week 12, and the Cleveland Browns are still searching for their first win. Here is our 2017 NFL Mock Draft entering Week 12.
The Cleveland Browns lost to the Baltimore Ravens in a Thursday Night Football matchup in Week 11, and are still slated to draft first in the 2017 NFL Draft. Picks No. 21 through 32 reflect the playoff seeding if the season ended today, beginning with the slowest seeds.
Here is our latest mock draft with the draft order based on record, and using strength of schedule as a tiebreaker.
DE, Texas A&M
The Cleveland Browns took another L on Sunday, as their race for a winless season continues. Playing against the Baltimore Ravens on national television on Thursday Night Football, the Browns played their worst game in a while. Quarterback Josh McCown looked awful, though starter Cody Kessler played well before being lifted for the veteran.
As it stands, the Browns would inherit the first overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and our expectation is that they will try to bolster their defense. Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the most talented player in this draft on the defensive side of the ball, and would be an impact player right out of the gate for the Browns. If the Browns do decide to re-sign Jamie Collins, he and Garrett would give the Browns a formidable 1-2 punch against the run.
Cleveland has two selections in the first round, and they could certainly look to make improvements on offense later in round one. Garrett is too good of a player to pass up with the first overall pick, and as we saw on Thursday, the Browns need a lot of help on the defensive end. Garrett is not going to fix the franchise by himself, but he is definitely a step in the right direction.
QB, Notre Dame
The San Francisco 49ers are having another terrible season, and Colin Kaepernick’s time as the team’s starting quarterback needs to come to an end. The jury is still out as to whether or not head coach Chip Kelly is going to be a good NFL coach, and he is going to want to get his own guy under center to start the 2017 season. The combination of Blaine Gabbert and Kaepernick has been horrible, so look for San Fran to go quarterback with pick number two.
Notre Dame signal-caller DeShone Kizer will likely be the first quarterback off the board, as the scouts really like his raw ability in the position. As far as his physical talent goes, there is no-one in this draft who is better, but his decision making has come under question this season. The Fighting Irish are having one of the worst seasons in recent history, and Kizer has played a big part in that.
There are a couple of quarterbacks who could go in this slot, but it appears Kizer is the top-rated at the position across the board. I like the fact that he can make all of the throws, but he is going to be expected to run an up-tempo offense in San Francisco. One thing is for sure, Kizer better work out or it could be a short tenure for Kelly in San Fran.
Jabrill Peppers is arguably the most dynamic player in all of college football, and it is safe to say he is going to be drafted very high next April. The Jacksonville Jaguars would have the third overall pick if the season ended today, and they need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. Bringing in a player like Peppers would upgrade them at the linebacker position, while giving them the kind of player that can make game-changing plays.
Peppers is not only a solid linebacker, but he has the speed to play in the defensive secondary at the next level as well. In addition, he could be used as a return man for the Jaguars, who are still looking for their identity under Gus Bradley. Bradley has to get this pick right, because even the Jags front office will be looking to make a change if they continue to go in the wrong direction.
Quarterback Blake Bortles is entrenched at the position, so I do not expect them to take another arm at the third selection. He is having a down year, and most of his yards come in garbage time, but he does have the ability to be successful. If they team can continue to upgrade their defense, they should have a chance to do some damage in a very winnable AFC South next season.
QB, North Carolina
The Chicago Bears took one on the chin this past weekend, and the man at the center of it all was quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler was a turnover machine against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as the Bears lost by 26 points. Cutler threw two interceptions, and fumbled twice, as he continuously stalled Bears drives with his miscues. It was a definite step back for a player who seemed to play inspired football after returning from injury in Week 9.
North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky would be a perfect fit for the Bears, who have a couple of nice young running backs in their backfield. He has the arm to play at the next level right away, and his football I.Q. is second to none in this draft class. Some believe he could be the first quarterback taken in April’s draft, but he just does not make sense in a Chip Kelly offense.
Trubisky had a rough game against Duke his last time out, throwing a costly interception late in the game. However, he is not as turnover prone as a player like Cutler is, and has the type of personality that the players rally around. An unnamed Bears player recently said that Cutler has lost the support of the locker room, so it is time for the team to go in another direction.
The Bryce Petty experiment in New York looked really bad on Sunday, as the Jets were only able to muster one touchdown with him under center against a pretty bad Los Angeles Rams team at home. However, the Jets selected quarterback Christian Hackenberg in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, and he is likely to get a shot at running the show before the team goes out and drafts another arm. If the team goes with Hack next season, they better have a solid defense in place, and that is the side of the ball they should draft for in April.
Longtime Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is getting old, and it may be time for him to move over to a safety position. Drafting a corner this high in the draft would enable Revis to make that move, while injecting the secondary with some young talent. The University of Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey is an NFL-pedigree corner who is ready for the challenge of the NFL.
Humphrey is one of the leaders on an Alabama defense that could be headed towards another National Championship this season. He is a ball-hawking player who has extremely soft hands for a defensive back. His physical abilities are matched by his feel for the game, which has come from growing up as the son of a former NFL running back. He is the best corner in the draft, and should be taken very early.
The Carolina Panthers need a new running back, as Jonathan Stewart is beginning to show his age this season. Quarterback Cam Newton is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL, but the hits are starting to take a toll on him. Drafting a player like Leonard Fournette would take the pressure off of Newton in the passing game, while allowing the team to have a legitimate option out of the backfield.
Fournette has had an up-and-down season for LSU this year, as he has battled back from a bone bruise in his ankle. Still, he is the best running back in this class, and when he is healthy, he is as dominating a player as there is in college football. He already looks like an NFL running back, and has shown that he can put up big yards in the best conference in college football.
Carolina has taken a major step back this season, and for them to go from the Super Bowl to drafting in the top-10 is very telling of their 2016 campaign. Newton needs help, and now that wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin is healthy, they should solidify their offense with a top back. Of all the backs in this class, Fournette is the only one who could have an Ezekiel Elliott-type difference next season.
The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled this season, and incredibly, head coach Marvin Lewis’ tenure with the team may be coming to an end. However, for now, it is still his team, and there are not many better head coaches out there. The 2017 NFL Draft could be a big one in deciding his future, so the team cannot afford to miss with their first round pick.
The team needs help on the edges, and they should go for a solid defensive end in the first round. This draft class is filled with big-time talent at the position, with Tennessee end Derek Barnett being one of the best. He has improved his draft stock immensely over the past few weeks, and has put himself in position to be the first edge rusher off the board in April.
Barnett is lightning quick off the ball, and has that uncanny ability to get after the quarterback. He is also one of the hardest hitting players in the SEC, and has played very productive football despite being double and triple-teamed often for the Volunteers. Coach Lewis is a defensive-minded coach, and adding a player of Barnett’s talent will mix well with their cast of characters on defense.
DT, Michigan State
San Diego’s defense looked very bad on Sunday, as the Miami Dolphins came into Qualcomm Stadium and put up a 31-spot against them. Sure, Philip Rivers did not help the cause by throwing four fourth quarter interceptions, but the front line for the Chargers is weak. They need to take a defensive lineman with their first round pick in April, and there are plenty to choose from.
One name we like a lot is Malik McDowell, who needs to get out of Michigan State as fast as he can. He is the only real threat on the Spartans defense, so in turn, he is always the focal point of the opposition. This has led to him being singled out on nearly every play, and it is starting to take a toll on him. He has had to leave a couple of games this season due to injury, though it should not affect his draft status.
The Chargers still have a ton of weapons on the offensive side of the ball, so grabbing a playmaker is not imminent at this point. Running back Melvin Gordon has established himself as a solid back, and Rivers is still one of the more productive arms in football. However, they cannot continue to bail out the defense, so the organization needs to fix that as quickly as possible.
Marcus Mariota is one of the better young quarterbacks in football, and for the last month or so, he has been on fire for the Tennessee Titans. Incredibly, he has been putting up incredible numbers without a true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster, but that should change come next April. Clemson wideout Mike Williams is the real deal at the position, and would be a blessing for Mariota if the Titans take him with their first of two picks in round one.
Their first selection will be their pick from the Los Angeles Rams, who traded with the Titans for the first overall pick before the 2016 NFL Draft. With that pick, the Rams selected quarterback Jared Goff, who will be making his first NFL start this week. The Titans looked very good against the Green Bay Packers last week, and they just may challenge the Houston Texans for supremecy in the AFC South the rest of the way.
Adding a player like Williams would give them incredible depth at the wide receiver position. Tajae Sharpe has played well as a rookie, and Rishard Matthews is a touchdown machine. Delanie Walker is still a solid option at the tight end position, and running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a solid 1-2 punch. If you add Williams to the mix, that offense in Tennessee is going to be pretty scary next season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense looked very good this past weekend, as they wreaked havoc on Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears offense. The team was able to pick off Cutler twice, and their secondary actually looked good for once. However, they are a sorry unit, and they need to draft a safety with their first selection in next April’s draft.
That safety should be Jamal Adams, who is a force for LSU in their secondary. Adams is a big hitter, and he plays his best ball when he gets to creep up to the line of scrimmage. He is extremely good at reading routes, and coming up and making big hits over the middle. He would be a scary man in the middle of a Tampa Bay secondary that has struggled for the most part this season.
One other way he would fit in perfectly in Tampa Bay is due to the way he plays the game. Adams is a fiery competitor, who attacks the game the same way quarterback Jameis Winston does. He is the best safety in the best conference in college football, and with his size, and closing speed, he would be an impact player from day one in Tampa Bay.
Some believe the Indianapolis Colts will look to add a running back in round one of the 2017 NFL Draft, but we like them to go linebacker with their first round selection. Alabama’s Reuben Foster is an NFL-ready linebacker who hits about as hard as anybody playing college football nowadays. The Colts need help at the position, and Foster is made to play at the next level.
The bottom line is the Colts are getting old on the defensive side of the ball, and bringing in a player of Foster’s ability is going to make them better on day one. He plays with the kind of passion that has been lacking for the Colts on defense, and his blue-collar work ethic would not be lost on the people of Indianapolis. He has been a dominating force on an Alabama defense that is likely to repeat as National Champions this season.
Foster currently leads the Crimson Tide in tackles, and it is because of kids like him that Alabama wins every year. Not only does he do a nice job in the run game, but he also is very good at dropping back in coverage, which will be needed in the AFC South. Indy’s offense is in good hands with Andrew Luck at quarterback, and now the team needs to go out and bolster the other side of the ball.
RB, Florida State
The Green Bay Packers look bad this season, and it may be time to turn the page on running back Eddie Lacy. The oft-injured, oft-out of shape back is just not productive anymore, and the team should look to snatch his replacement in April. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is an NFL-ready back who will likely leave the Seminoles after the season. He would breathe new life into a Packers offense that has looked stagnant at times this season.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers likely has a couple of good years left in him, but he cannot continue to do it on his own. He looked good in the team’s drubbing at the hands of the Tennessee Titans last week, but the years of running around to make plays is catching up to him. You can see the frustration on his face during games, so it makes sense for the team to put some talent in the backfield behind him.
Cook is a 1A to Fournette’s 1 in this draft, and just may end up having a better professional career than the big back out of LSU. He is the kind of back that can run over, or around you, and has often had to carry the load for the Seminoles throughout his career. His career at Florida State has shattered the record books, and it is clearly time for him to try his hand at the next level. Playing with Rodgers is only going to make him better, and Rodgers should be even more productive with such a weapon at his disposal.
The Buffalo Bills are very thin on the offensive line, and adding a big offensive tackle is of the utmost importance next April. The Alabama Crimson Tide have a mountain entrenched as their starting left tackle, which is a stop of need for the Bills. If they decide to go with a tackle in the first round, expect Cam Robinson to be the first one off of the board.
Robinson has the size and strength to play at the next level, and has made a career in college making defensive lineman look like rag dolls. He has played on both sides of the line during his career, and may actually start out as a right tackle early on. However, he is the prototypical left tackle, and should be protecting Tyrod Taylor’s blindside sooner than later.
Buffalo is not far off in terms of being able to challenge for a playoff spot, but they play in one of the hardest divisions in football to win. Adding a piece like Robinson would do wonders for an offensive line that struggles to protect the quarterback on a weekly basis. Robinson would also be key in run blocking for LeSean McCoy, who is still one of the better running backs in the AFC.
There are plenty of solid cornerbacks to choose from in the 2017 NFL Draft, though few are better than Florida’s Teez Tabor. An incredible cover corner, Tabor has caused fits for SEC quarterbacks during his time with the Gators, and has the perfect size to play at the next level. The New Orleans Saints are a team that is very suspect in the secondary, and they need to add to their depth back there in April.
Tabor has teamed with Quincy Wilson to form the best cornerback tandem in college football. Once playing in the shadow of former Gators cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, Tabor has emerged as one of the top-2 corners in the game. Hargreaves was taken No. 11 overall in last year’s draft, and Tabor should go around the same selection in 2017.
New Orleans only has a few more good years with Drew Brees, who has become a record-setting quarterback ever since he came over from the San Diego Chargers. However, the defense continues to hold the team back, and they play in a division with some quality signal-callers. Adding Tabor to the defense would give them the kind of competitive cornerback that will go up and make plays, which is something that has been missing in the Bayou for some time.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are built on defense, and it has been that way since before I can remember. However, they have some guys on their defense who are entering the final years of their deals, and they need to inject some new blood on that side of the ball. Players like Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones may be gone this offseason, so bolstering the defensive line is going to be key to offset those losses.
Enter Jonathan Allen, who has been a dominant force for the Alabama Crimson Tide for the past few years. He is an electric player, who always seems to be in the right place, at the right time. He has played in big time games in his career, and would integrate into the fabric of the culture of Pittsburgh extremely well.
Steelers fans love their defensive stars, and Allen could be the next big pass rusher to roam Heinz Field. He is an explosive player for a man his size, and has a nose for getting after the quarterback. He may be gone by the time the Steelers pick, but he would be perfect in the yellow and black if he is available.
The Arizona Cardinals are one of the better all-around teams in the NFC, even though they have failed to play like it this season. The team has some nice young wide receivers, and their running back is the future of the position. The only issue they have on their offense is the age of their quarterback, who may only have a year or two of good football left in him.
The 2017 NFL Draft has a handful of quarterbacks who could find themselves selected in the first round, including Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Watson has been a record-breaking quarterback during his time with the Tigers, and is one of the more NFL-ready signal-callers in this draft. He is the kind of player who others on the team looks at to lead them, and he more times than not comes through in big situations.
This past week, Watson threw for an incredible 580 yards during the team’s first loss of the season. With Carson Palmer getting up there in age, the franchise will be looking for the next face to lead the team. Watson is the kind of player, and person to take a franchise on his back and lead them for the next ten years.
With their second pick of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, we like the Tennessee Titans to bolster their defense. More specifically, we think they need some help in the secondary, and Washington’s Sidney Jones is just what the doctor ordered. He is an unbelievable talent at the cornerback position, and should hear his name called during the first round.
The Titans have a bunch of weapons on offense, and if they go wide receiver like we think they will with their first pick, they should fill their needs on defense with the second. Jones is the kind of cornerback who can shut down an entire side of the field, and has soft hands for someone who plays the position. He has incredible closing speed, and can catch up to recievers even if he makes a mistake in coverage.
The bottom line is the AFC South has some talented receivers, and the Titans are never going to make the next step if they do not fix their problems in the secondary. Aside from the receiver talent, the division also includes a passer named Andrew Luck, who has been known to shred defenses from time to time. Jones would team with Jason McCourty to form one of the better 1-2 cornerback punches in the division, and possibly the AFC.
The Miami Dolphins need some help on defense, and there are some linebackers in this class that can be difference makers from day one. One of those linebackers is Tim Williams, a key player on a very good Alabama Crimson Tide defense. He has been a leader on the defense for a few years, and has played in some huge games, making him ready for the next step in his career.
Miami can put up points, and running back Jay Ajayi has blossomed into a star this season. While quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown the propensity to make mistakes often, he is still considered the team’s franchise quarterback. While the Fins could absolutely go with a wide receiver in round one, we expect them to bring a hard-hitting backer to South Beach.
Williams is a freak of an athlete, and is considered one of the smarter linebackers in the SEC. He has gotten better as the season has worn on, and during the Tides close win against LSU two weeks ago, he was a man among boys. He is going to be an impact player at the next level, and Miami is thirsty for their first defensive star since Jason Taylor.
The Cleveland Browns have two selections in the first round next April, thanks to the trade they made before last year’s draft for the No. 2 pick overall. That pick ended up being Carson Wentz, who has played very well during his rookie season. While the team needs to shore up their issues at quarterback, they may want to wait until 2018, when the field is loaded with talented arms.
The secondary for Cleveland is a liability, and they need to grab someone to go alongside of star corner Joe Haden. That player should be Adoree’ Jackson of USC, who can do so much more than just play corner for the Browns. Jackson is not only one of the better corners in college football, but he has the ability to play all over the field, which is something, the Browns need.
The Browns have so many holes on their roster, so bringing in a guy like Jackson is a perfect scenario. Current wide receiver Terrell Pryor has played running back, returner, and quarterback for the team, and Jackson brings that kind of versatility. He has played corner, returner, and some offense during his time with the Trojans, and has proven to be one of the more electric players in college football.
Carson Wentz has proven to be worth the trade for him last year, as he is one of the better young arms in the NFC. While his play has been sporadic this season, he is still a rookie, and has shown himself to be a leader on the field. He will be the field general in Philadelphia for a long time, and it is time to start bringing in some young talent around him.
Wide receiver Jordan Matthews is a good player, and Zach Ertz is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league. However, Wentz needs that second option on the outside if he is going to be able to compete every year in a very tough division, so the Eagles should think about drafting a wide receiver with the pick they received from Minnesota.
John Ross of the Washington Huskies is a fun player to watch, and has that uncanny ability to go deep on every play. This past week, he made a fool out of probable first round pick Adoree’ Jackson, catching a deep ball from Jake Browning for a score. He is lighting quick, has incredible hands, and is not afraid to go over the middle. Just the kind of guy the die-hard Eagles fans love.
The Washington Redskins have quietly established themselves as a player in the NFC, after sneaking away with the NFC East title last season. This year, they are right in the thick of things again, and quarterback Kirk Cousins is playing his way into a big contract from owner Dan Snyder. Incredibly, he has been excelling without much help at the wide receiver position, and it may be time for the team to move on from star DeSean Jackson.
Though they have some holes on their offensive and defensive line, the Redskins should make an investment in Cousins and get him a first round wide receiver. USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster is about as good as it gets in college football, and has played under the big microscope that is Trojans football. He can do everything on the football field, including going deep at any time, which is something Cousins loves to do.
The Redskins need to make Cousins their long term solution at the position and run with it. Smith-Schuster has been an absolute beast since Sam Darnold has become the Trojans starting quarterback, and there are many similarities to his style and that of Cousins. The NFC East is loaded with talent, and if the Redskins want to hang in on a yearly basis, they need play makers like JuJu.
The Denver Broncos are once again in the thick of things in the AFC West, after owning the division for the past few years. Armed with a starting quarterback who had never started a game before this season, the Broncos have relied on a stingy defense to run their record to 7-3 in 2016. The talent on the defensive side of the ball is there, and if they can add a few pieces around quarterback Trevor Siemian, they should be able to continue to hang in there with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
Devontae Booker has played well as a rookie at running back, and Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are as good as it gets on the outside. The team needs to bring in a tight end to stretch the middle of the field, and there is a very good one in this draft class. Alabama’s O.J. Howard has all the tools to be a dominant force at the next level, and he would be perfect for Denver’s offense.
The Crimson Tide do not feature Howard much, and that is really a shame. He has the ability to catch the ball and make something happen, which is not something you see much from a college tight end. His game is more NFL than it is NCAA, and he would be a nice safety blanket for Siemian, or Paxton Lynch, whomever the Broncos decide to make their quarterback of the future.
Defense is king in New York, even if it is Eli Manning who gets all the billboards around the city. During the team’s two Super Bowl wins, it has been the defense that has led them. The 2016 New York Giants have played much better as a unit than the 2015 variety, but they still need to inject some young talent into their linebacking corps.
Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt is an absolute freak, and has the kind of athleticism that is rarely seen at his position. Giants fans are dying for another star linebacker to take the mantle from guys like Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. It has been a long time since a dominating linebacker has worn the blue and red of the Giants, and Cunningham has the tools to be just that.
Eli Manning is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFC, and is a two-time Super Bowl MVP. However, like with his older brother Peyton, he is starting to get up there in age, and may not have a ton of good seasons left. The Giants have made incredible strides on the defensive side of the ball this season, and it may only take one more piece of the puzzle to put them over the top.
One of the darlings of the 2016 NFL season has been the Oakland Raiders, who have been playing ball like the Raiders of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Derek Carr is one of the best young quarterbacks in all of football, and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are arguably the best 1-2 punch at the wide receiver position in the AFC. The pieces are in place on offense to be a Super Bowl contender very soon, and now they must fill a couple of holes on the defense.
The first hole is at cornerback, where Sean Smith has struggled since coming over from the Kansas City Chiefs. David Amerson is a nice player at the position, but the depth really goes downhill after those two. D.J. Hayden is not the player they thought he would be when they took him in the first round a few years backs, and continues to get toasted on a weekly basis.
Iowa’s Desmond King has been the best cornerback in the Big Ten for the past two years, and he would be a steal for the Raiders this late in the first round. Teams just do not throw his way, as he has that ability to take away one whole side of the field. He picked off eight passes during his junior season last year, and that was enough for the rest of the conference to shy away from him all season long. He is going to be a very good pro.
S, Ohio State
The Baltimore Ravens looked very good on Thursday night, as they beat up the winless Cleveland Browns at home. Quarterback Joe Flacco made easy work of a very bad Browns team, while Steve Smith Sr. proved he is ageless at the wide receiver position. Baltimore needs some help in their backfield, but it is actually their defensive backfield that needs the most help.
The safety position is one that lacks depth for the Ravens, and they could use a strong player to go alongside Eric Weddle back there. Enter Malik Hooker, who is one of the more feared safeties in the Big Ten. He has been a cog on some very good Ohio State teams during his career, and is perfect for no-nonsense culture in Baltimore with the Ravens.
Hooker has had to fight for everything he has earned at Ohio State, and head coach Urban Meyer calls him the unquestioned leader of the defense. Not only is he solid in the pass game, but he comes up and lays the wood when players try to go over the middle. He has the speed and size to step in right away and play, which is exactly what the Ravens need.
Matthew Stafford is enjoying arguably his best season as a pro, and some believe he should be in the MVP talk. So much for him having a down year without Calvin Johnson in the lineup. The real issues for the Lions have been on the defensive side of the ball, and the team should go after a big-time cornerback in the first round in April.
Based on our draft, the best corner of those remaining would be Tre’Davious White of LSU, who some could argue could be drafted much higher in the first round. The biggest thing with White are his feet, which are the quickest in this entire draft class. He also has the kind of length that scouts drool over, and can go man-to-man with any receiver in college football.
The Lions play in a division where one or two solid additions could keep them in first place, where they currently reside. Detroit is a city that has been yearning for a title from their football team, and if Lions want to be a contender, they need to shore up their defense. White would be a great first step in fixing a secondary that has been burnt by Aaron Rodgers one to many times.
What a season it has been for the Atlanta Falcons, who appear to have the firepower on offense to make a deep run in 2016. Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing some of the best football of his career, and Julio Jones is an absolute monster on the outside. Their offense can play with anybody, but far too often we see the Falcons defense giving up yards in chunks throughout the game.
The team is dying for a dominant defensive lineman, and that player could be UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is a fast-rising prospect in the 2017 draft class, and it is his explosiveness that really separates him from the pack. He is very long and athletic, which makes him a prototypical pass rusher at the next level.
The Bruins are in the midst of a very bad season, but McKinley has been dominant throughout. He has incredible closing speed for a guy his size, and his combination of strength and speed will play well at the next level. The Falcons are a contender, and one or two pieces on their defense could keep them there for a long time.
The jury is still out on Brock Osweiler, who is doing just enough to keep his Houston Texans in first place. On some drives, he looks like he is worth the big contract, but on most others, he looks downright lost. He has a ton of offensive weapons at his disposal, and it is quite a shock that he has struggled so much this season to complete the simplest of passes.
One area that the Texans need help, aside from quarterback, is on the offensive line, where the roster is starting to get a bit old. There is a major lack of talent at the guard position, which could be a big reason why Osweiler feels so rushed in the pocket. The team went out and signed running back Lamar Miller this offseason as well, and he has struggled for most of the season behind the weak offensive line.
Indiana offensive guard Dan Feeney is an elite talent at the position, and should be the only guard taken in the first round in April. He has brute strength at the position, and can move defensive lineman around with ease. If Osweiler is really the guy in Houston, it is time to build up his offensive line, much like the Oakland Raiders did around Derek Carr.
CB, Ohio State
The Seattle Seahawks enacted their revenge on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday night, winning the game on a fourth and goal late in the fourth quarter. On the final play of the game, the Seahawks put safety Kam Chancellor on Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski one-on-one, and Chancellor actually did something no-one thought was possible, he stopped Gronk. Going forward, the team needs to bring in another corner to play alongside Richard Sherman, and Gareon Conley from Ohio State could be the right fit.
Conley has not gotten a ton of first round love during the season, but he has played great football for the Buckeyes in 2016. Throughout the season, Conley has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in college football, and quarterbacks have been shying away from him more and more lately. Seattle is known for having a strong secondary, and bringing in the young Conley would ensure that tradition continues.
Seattle is a very good team, and will likely be drafting very late in the first round. There are some big name corners that should come off the board fairly early, but Conley could be a steal late. He plays with the kind of intensity that will not be lost on guys like Chancellor and Sherman, and would fit right into the culture in the northwest.
Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Knile Davis. These are all running backs the Kansas City Chiefs have used to combat the loss of star Jamaal Charles. Initially expected to be back at full strength this season, it appears Charles is going to be gone for a long time, and his NFL career is actually in jeopardy. The organization needs to bring in their next great running back, and that player could be Christian McCaffrey.
Last season, McCaffrey was the star of the college football landscape. It seemed like he was scoring touchdowns on every play, as the Stanford Cardinal had one of the best years in the program’s history. However, he has struggled a bit this season, and will likely be done with his collegiate career after the next two games. McCaffrey has returned to his dominant self over the past few games, rushing for over 100 yards in each contest.
The Chiefs offense is based around a strong running game, and Alex Smith utilizing tight ends and backs in the passing game. McCaffrey would be a perfect fit for what head coach Andy Reid likes to do on offense, and would be a great pickup this late in the draft. His star power may make him an earlier pick, but if he is available late, the Chiefs have to grab him and make him their starting running back next season if Charles is done.
The New England Patriots said goodbye to Jamie Collins during the 2016 NFL season, in a surprising trade with the Cleveland Browns. Tough luck for Collins, who went from a Super Bowl contender, to the worst team in football. The trade left the Pats with a big hole to fill in their linebacking corps, and one that they could fill in the draft next April.
The Pats did not have a first round pick in 2016 due to Deflategate, so head coach Bill Belichick will be looking to capitalize in 2017. If they do decide to bolster their linebacking corps, they should look to Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis. Davis has flown under the radar a bit this season, but he is a first round talent with a motor that just will not quit.
Davis has battled some ankle injuries this season, but that has only shown how much he means to the Gators defense. The unit just is not the same without him, as he brings a passion to the defense that cannot be duplicated. He is going to be a terrific pro, and Belichick is the perfect teacher to get the most out of him early in his career.
If you were to tell anybody that the Dallas Cowboys would be projected to pick at the bottom of the first round when Tony Romo broke his back in the preseason, they would have said you were crazy. However, rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have dominated the NFL landscape in 2016, and both could be up for the Rookie of the Year, or even the MVP. The Cowboys hit the lottery during the 2016 draft, so don’t expect them to do the same in 2017.
After shoring up their offensive holes with one draft class last season, the Cowboys will likely look to bolster their defense in April. One area of need is cornerback, where the team needs to find a starter with their first round pick. Cordrea Tankersley of Clemson has the kind of cover skills that every team in the NFL would like to add to their roster, and Dallas could find a gem if he is available at the close of the first round.
Tankersley has a lot to be playing for lately, as he welcomed a new son into the world this past month. The All-ACC corner is enjoying his final season for the Tigers, and is looking forward to one day playing at the highest level of football. The NFC East is filled with solid quarterbacks, so making sure the secondary in Dallas is set for years to come has to be a priority for the team this time around.
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