2017 NFL Mock Draft 6.0: Post-Super Bowl look at the first three rounds

The 2016 season is over. The New England Patriots are champions.

NFL teams now have about three weeks to regroup before they descend on Indianapolis for the all-important scouting combine, beginning on Feb. 28. Free agency opens shortly thereafter, with the negotiation period kicking off on March 7 and the new league year hitting on March 9. Shy of a surprise trade in the coming days, that’s really when the draft picture will start to come into focus in earnest.

Between potential team needs and current guesses at prospect values, we’re still able to piece together the puzzle a bit now. Three rounds of mock-draft action await.

(Note: The complete order of the first two days of the draft isn’t quite set yet. The Colts and Vikings will flip a coin to determine which team earns the rights to the 14th and 15th slots in the order, and compensatory picks will be tacked on to the end of the third round based on free agency losses around the league.)

  • 1
    1Myles Garrett
    DE, Texas A&M
    Hypothetically, the Browns could use this pick on Garrett and then package Nos. 12 and 33 to jump back into the top 10 somewhere for a QB. They also could stay put and (possibly) find a quarterback they like at one of those spots. Either way, their options are too numerous to pass on a player like Garrett. 

  • 2
    2Deshaun Watson
    QB, Clemson
    Sorting out the 2017 QB pecking order remains almost impossible, and there are no trends to read in San Francisco with a rookie head coach, Kyle Shanahan, and rookie GM, John Lynch. Watson throws too many picks (17 this year) … but so did Shanahan’s most recent quarterback, Matt Ryan, who fired 19 INTs before Atlanta took him at No. 3 in 2008.

  • 3
    3Jamal Adams
    S, LSU
    Chicago is a definite candidate to take a quarterback, too, but a choice between Adams, Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster might be too enticing. Shy of landing Eric Berry in free agency, Adams is the Bears’ best chance for an upgrade at safety. And this might be preferable anyway, given what Berry will cost.

  • 4
    4Jonathan Allen
    DL, Alabama
    This would be a pick with Tom Coughlin’s imprint on it—he made no secret, either with the Giants or during his first go-round with the Jaguars, that he believed in winning up front on defense. Allen can thrive as a base end or a penetrating tackle.

  • 5
    5Reuben Foster
    LB, Alabama
    (Pick via Rams) Not a lot of ILB/MLB types hit these draft heights. Foster is worth it in relation to this draft class. He may not be the next Luke Kuechly or Brian Urlacher (both top-10 picks), but his absolute ceiling would put him in a similar range. 

  • 6
    6Mitch Trubisky
    QB, North Carolina
    I doubt any Jets fans are thrilled with the prospect of taking a QB top 10. Watson, Trubisky, DeShone Kizer or Patrick Mahomes all come with their question marks. Trubisky, though, also has the physical traits to develop into a gem.

  • 7
    7Corey Davis
    WR, Western Michigan
    Davis long has been considered this class’s WR1 ’round these parts. The Chargers have a very interesting collection of receivers, led by the oft-injured Keenan Allen, but Davis can be better than any of them … and soon.

  • 8
    8Solomon Thomas
    DE, Stanford
    Leonard Fournette and the Panthers seem like an obvious fit here. Almost too obvious, hence a slight zag in this mock. Thomas is a threat to win inside or outside, and he’d add to the versatility of a young, talented Carolina front.

  • 9
    9Leonard Fournette
    RB, LSU
    Jeremy Hill has spent the past two seasons averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry—a disappointing development that could put his roster spot in jeopardy for 2017. Enter Fournette, who could elevate the Bengals’ run-game thunder alongside Gio Bernard’s lightning.

  • 10
    10Malik Hooker
    S, Ohio State
    Hooker won’t work out at the combine, reportedly on account of recent labrum and hernia surgeries, so that’s definitely something to file away for discussion. Talent-wise, the ballhawking Ohio State safety is an elite prospect at a position where Buffalo is weak.

  • 11
    11Tim Williams
    OLB, Alabama
    More unknowns: Williams’s off-field red flags could push him down another round or two. But if he checks out, this is his range. He is an explosive pass rusher and an underrated, developing run defender. 

  • 12
    12DeShone Kizer
    QB, Notre Dame
    (Pick via Eagles) Save for the 49ers, Bears, Jets and Bills all taking a quarterback (or the Cardinals trading up), the Browns should have at least one of the Watson-Trubisky-Kizer-Mahomes quartet available here. Kizer is big, strong and athletic.

  • 13
    13Quincy Wilson
    CB, Florida
    Perhaps the Cardinals want to give it one more season to see what they really have in 2016 additions Brandon Williams and Harlan Miller. Or they can get proactive at CB and add a big, physical defender in Wilson.

  • 14
    14Malik McDowell
    DL, Michigan State
    The buzz has quieted some on McDowell—he had a frustrating, injury-plagued year and wasn’t eligible for the Senior Bowl. But it’ll pick back up. He’s still a highly mobile defensive lineman built for the mix-and-match fronts of the modern NFL.

  • 15
    15Dalvin Cook
    RB, Florida State
    (Pick via Vikings) The Eagles don’t need a running back as badly as they need a receiver, but Cook would be a steal in mid-Round 1. He does not require much room to be able to take on the distance.

  • 16
    16Marshon Lattimore
    CB, Ohio State
    Baltimore was a bit disheveled on the back end throughout 2016, so adding a potential starter would make ’17 a lot more promising. Lattimore’s size and desire to press up on receivers will make him a wanted commodity. 

  • 17
    17Derek Barnett
    DE/OLB, Tennessee
    There is more of a need in Washington for help between the tackles than another edge presence. Barnett, though, is strong enough and active enough to play hand in the dirt up front at times, which would max out how many athletes the Redskins can get on the field in their front seven.

  • 18
    18Mike Williams
    WR, Clemson
    At the bare minimum, Williams would provide the Titans with the big-bodied outside receiving presence they have been missing. If Williams continues to develop, he has the size/speed combo to be among the league’s better No. 1 WRs.

  • 19
    19O.J. Howard
    TE, Alabama
    Last mock, I had John Ross in this spot and the majority of Bucs fans who responded said they’d rather have Howard. Bucs fans, I heard you, and I think you’re right. While Tampa Bay without question needs a speed threat like Ross at receiver, Howard is the best player available at his position and can force more mismatches than Ross would.

  • 20
    20Jabrill Peppers
    S, Michigan
    For the omnipresent concerns about how Peppers’s game will translate to the NFL, this fit is an example of why he’s still a Round 1 name. Peppers can help Denver if A) they opt to bail on the final year of T.J. Ward’s contract, B) they want to improve their coverage in the middle of the field, and C) if they want to replace Jordan Norwood as a return man.

  • 21
    21Sidney Jones
    CB, Washington
    There’s probably a better chance of Jones landing in the top 12 than sliding out of Round 1, which should tell you all you need to know about his talent level. He’s thin, at 180 or so pounds, but has height and a willingness to mix it up on the outside.

  • 22
    22Jarrad Davis
    LB, Florida
    The Dolphins tried to gain athleticism in their linebacking corps last off-season by adding Kiko Alonso, and it paid off to an extent. They shouldn’t stop there. Davis is a three-down linebacker who could bump Alonso to the middle or on the weak side.

  • 23
    23Ryan Ramczyk
    OT, Wisconsin
    One of the class’s other tight ends (say, David Njoku) would be intriguing here. However, the Giants’ offense can only do so much—no matter the number of weapons—without better line play. Ramczyk is a plug-and-play candidate.

  • 24
    24Budda Baker
    S, Washington
    Essentially, he’d be the replacement for veteran Reggie Nelson, who has one year and no guaranteed money left on his contract. A Baker–Karl Joseph combo at safety would cover all sorts of ground, with Baker often patrolling deep as Joseph walked up near the line.

  • 25
    25Patrick Mahomes
    QB, Texas Tech
    The Texans have all but said they’ll be drafting a quarterback—and likely early, because whomever it is will be expected to push Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage. Mahomes’s blend of athleticism and a rocket arm might finally solve Bill O’Brien’s QB woes.

  • 26
    26Marlon Humphrey
    CB, Alabama
    I mentioned it in my last mock, and it’s becoming obvious again: talented cornerbacks will be available in spades into Day 2. Here, the Seahawks score one whose aggressive mentality would fit their defense well.

  • 27
    27Zach Cunningham
    LB, Vanderbilt
    The Chiefs cannot bank on Derrick Johnson returning at 100% next season, nor can they put all their eggs in the Ramik Wilson basket. Cunningham is a tackle machine at linebacker, a well-built specimen who reads run keys and explodes to the ball.

  • 28
    28Taco Charlton
    DE, Michigan
    Even on his worst days, Charlton is a good bet to disrupt a pass play or two simply by unleashing his speed off the edge. The way he closed his college career hinted at the possibility that he could become borderline unblockable. 

  • 29
    29Takkarist McKinley
    Edge, UCLA
    Atop their OLB depth chart for their final playoff game, the Packers listed three impending free agents (Julius Peppers, Datone Jones, Nick Perry) and a 31-year-old Clay Matthews Jr., capping off his least-productive NFL season. McKinley needs to be coached up, but he’s a high-motor player.

  • 30
    30Teez Tabor
    CB, Florida
    See what I mean? Cornerbacks to be had. While Tabor will swing and miss from time to time, he has the footwork required to thrive as an NFL man-to-man cover corner. Put a pass anywhere near him, and a quarterback is at great risk of that ball heading back the other way.

  • 31
    31Caleb Brantley
    DT, Florida
    You thought Grady Jarrett was good this season (and in the Super Bowl?) Just wait until he has a consistent impact performer next to him inside. Brantley’s burst and power make him tough to block heads up, which is what teams will have to do with Jarrett patrolling.

  • 32
    32David Njoku
    TE, Miami
    It would surprise exactly no one if Martellus Bennett’s Patriots career is a very successful one-and-done. New England will want to make sure it’s set at tight end with a dangerous playmaker, and Njoku—although raw—certainly has a bright future. 


Round 2


  • 33
    33Cam Robinson
    OT, Alabama
    This is about value, but also about giving the Browns options. Robinson would compete at right tackle, with an eye on a future at left tackle.

  • 34
    34Ryan Anderson
    LB, Alabama
    Anderson showed via his coverage missteps at the Senior Bowl that he needs to be up on the line. He’s a force there, against the run and pass.

  • 35
    35Garrett Bolles
    OT, Utah
    Bolles is 24, so he won’t have the luxury of sitting and developing for long. Good news: He’s ultra-athletic and capable of playing on the left or right.

  • 36
    36John Ross
    WR, Washington
    Should Ross slide out of Round 1, he’s the type of dynamic playmaker teams would be willing to trade up to land.

  • 37
    37JuJu Smith-Schuster
    WR, USC
    Ideally, you want a WR who can break open on every play. Smith-Schuster may not do that, but he uses his outstanding hands and body positioning to make catches in tight spaces.

  • 38
    38Obi Melifonwu
    S, UConn
    A Senior Bowl riser, Melifonwu is a huge safety (6' 4″, 220 lbs.), who loves to fly downhill and finish plays.

  • 39
    39Charles Harris
    DE/OLB, Missouri
    There would be worse outcomes for the Jets here than to land a premier pass rusher who would need a little bit of time to become an early-down defender.

  • 40
    40D'Onta Foreman
    RB, Texas
    All the reasons a Fournette-Panthers match makes sense work here, too, even if Foreman may not be the same level of prospect as his LSU counterpart.

  • 41
    41Carl Lawson
    DE, Auburn
    For a team that likes to set the tone up front like Cincinnati, Lawson’s bulked-up presence could get him in the lineup early. Even better if they unlock his full potential.

  • 42
    Christian McCaffrey
    RB, Stanford
    McCaffrey shouldn’t last this long, but worries about his bell-cow back ability could make it happen. He would be lethal in this offense.

  • 43
    Desmond King
    CB, Iowa
    During Senior Bowl week, the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock compared King’s possible NFL role as a safety/corner hybrid to that of Malcolm Jenkins.

  • 44
    Forrest Lamp
    G/T, Western Kentucky
    I don’t buy the chatter that Lamp is destined for a guard-only career, but it’s happening because Lamp could be a Pro Bowl-caliber option there. 

  • 45
    45Evan Engram
    TE, Ole Miss
    Arizona has not had an offense that features a tight end, in part because it didn’t have a TE worth featuring. Engram is one.

  • 46
    Antonio Garcia
    OT, Troy
    The Vikings’ first pick of the draft goes to their long-troublesome tackle spot. Give it a year or two and Garcia might be a dominant left tackle.

  • 47
    Pat Elflein
    G/C, Ohio State
    He’d push Pro Bowler Jeremy Zuttah for the starting center job from Day One, and that says more about Elflein than Zuttah.

  • 48
    Haason Reddick
    LB, Temple
    McDowell in Round 1 and the multi-dimensional Reddick—a DB turned DL turned LB—would make the Colts’ D much more competitive.

  • 49
    49Jaleel Johnson
    DT, Iowa
    Johnson has exceptional quickness for a 309-pounder, and he makes a ton of plays in the backfield.

  • 50
    50Demarcus Walker
    DE, Florida State
    Walker is strong and durable as an early-down DE, with the counter-moves and quickness to drop down inside against the pass.

  • 51
    51Dan Feeney
    G, Indiana
    Dropped into a system like the one Denver runs, Feeney can be an impact run blocker on the move. 

  • 52
    52Raekwon McMillan
    LB, Ohio State
    (Pick via Titans)A Buckeye for the Browns, and one that’s being overlooked a bit. McMillan has the instincts to be an impact inside 3–4 defender.

  • 53
    53Taylor Moton
    G/T, Western Michigan
    RT Riley Reiff and G Larry Warford both could hit the road as free agents. Moton could replace either in the Lions’ starting lineup.

  • 54
    54Rasul Douglas
    CB, West Virginia
    Douglas has excellent size, and he’s comfortable bouncing from man to zone. He makes receivers work. 

  • 55
    55Derek Rivers
    DE/OLB, Youngstown State
    While Rivers is arguably a better fit for a 3–4, his ability to bend the edge and get to the QB translates to a 4–3. 

  • 56
    56Gareon Conley
    CB, Ohio State
    Conley is another Ohio State cornerback who really gets up in receivers’ grills when he’s thrown into man coverage. 

  • 57
    57Marcus Williams
    S, Utah
    Williams has everything an NFL team could want from a free safety, most notably the ability to find the ball and go after it.

  • 58
    58Isaiah Ford
    WR, Virginia Tech
    How about another burner for the Seattle passing attack? Ford may struggle against physical CBs, but if he gets a step he’s gone.

  • 59
    59Dion Dawkins
    G/T, Temple
    A difficult blocker to move off his spot, Dawkins has a ton of experience playing tackle and the frame of an NFL guard.

  • 60
    60Josh Reynolds
    WR, Texas A&M
    Put a little meat on his bones and it’ll be hard to imagine any cornerback wanting to see Reynolds lined up across from him.

  • 61
    61Jourdan Lewis
    CB, Michigan
    A Round 1 talent in late Round 2. Again, some of these cornerbacks have to slide. Lewis would be better outside than most think, but he can lock down the slot.

  • 62
    62Tyus Bowser
    OLB, Houston
    If Bowser can conquer the steep learning curve awaiting him, he has the movement skills to be the kind of player a coordinator can use in a variety of ways.

  • 63
    63Adoree' Jackson
    CB, USC
    The Falcons’ current depth at corner would allow them to slide in Jackson as a No. 4/No. 5 option early. Oh, and Jackson can turn games by himself as a return man.

  • 64
    64Montravius Adams
    DL, Auburn
    Is this simplifying things too much? Maybe. But Adams feels like that type of player—talented but enigmatic—that the Patriots manage to max out.


Round 3


  • 65
    65Cordrea Tankersley
    CB, Clemson

  • 66
    66Cooper Kupp
    WR, Eastern Washington

  • 67
    67Nathan Peterman
    QB, Pittsburgh

  • 68
    68John Johnson
    S, Boston College

  • 69
    69Kevin King
    CB, Washington
    (Pick via Rams)

The two that stand out: Kupp and Peterman. The former is so, so smooth in everything he does but will turn 24 this summer and likely won’t run below 4.5; the latter is a rising QB prospect who has the baseline traits to project at least as a long-term backup.

  • 70
    70Cameron Sutton
    CB, Tennessee

  • 71
    71Curtis Samuel
    RB, Ohio State

  • 72
    72Julie'n Davenport
    OT, Bucknell

  • 73
    73Anthony Walker
    LB, Northwestern

  • 74
    74Zay Jones
    WR, East Carolina

Samuel is so electrifying in the open field that a team in need of a unique weapon could pull the trigger on him as early as Round 1. Continuing the cornerback theme, another high-quality prospect in this group of five, with one following just below. When he’s healthy, Sutton is a dependable cover corner with an advanced understanding of where the ball is headed.

  • 75
    75Chad Hansen
    WR, Cal

  • 76
    76Tre'Davious White
    CB, LSU

  • 77
    77Ethan Pocic
    C, LSU

  • 78
    78T.J. Watt
    DE/OLB, Wisconsin

  • 79
    79Joe Mixon
    RB, Oklahoma

Let’s spend a moment on Mixon, shall we? He has a despicable off-field moment in his background, but he also might be the closest RB in talent to Fournette and Cook. So, what wins out? Which team decides he’s worth the trouble? It’s almost certainly going to happen somewhere in the draft, even though Mixon did not receive a combine invite.

KAPLAN: What scouts are saying about Joe Mixon's NFL stock 

Why the Colts? Well, purely from a football standpoint, this a team that has to find a running back somewhere—even the unbreakable Frank Gore has to wind down his career. Beyond that, though, the Colts just hired as their new GM Chris Ballard, who previously had been the Chiefs’ director of player personnel. And he held that title when Kansas City signed off on Tyreek Hill, a player who entered the NFL with his own vile incident tailing him. Hill was a breakthrough, if controversial, star for the Chiefs this season.

  • 80
    80Marcus Maye
    S, Florida

  • 81
    81Brad Kaaya
    QB, Miami

  • 82
    82Dalvin Tomlinson
    DT, Alabama

  • 83
    83Dorian Johnson
    G, Pitt

  • 84
    84Dede Westbrook
    WR, Oklahoma

There once was a time that Kaaya was mentioned as a potential top-10 pick. That’s no longer the case, but he also is far from devoid of talent. The footwork and ability to read defenses is there, and he might remind Washington fans of Kirk Cousins in time. Oh, and that mention of Tampa Bay needing a speed receiver? Westbrook is a player defenses have to find before every single snap.

  • 85
    85Chris Wormley
    DE, Michigan

  • 86
    86Alvin Kamara
    RB, Tennessee
    (Pick via Dolphins)

  • 87
    87Jake Butt
    TE, Michigan

  • 88
    88Taywan Taylor
    WR, Western Kentucky

  • 89
    89Dawaune Smoot
    DL/LB, Illinois

There is a lot to like in Kamara’s game. He posted 6.2 yards per carry and caught 74 passes over two seasons with Tennessee. Flip side: He averaged just 105 carries over his two seasons as a Vol, so it’s fair to wonder if he can be more than a committee guy in the NFL. Butt is the new poster child for skipping bowl games. He might have been a Round 1 pick before his ACL in Michigan's bowl game against Florida State, and some will argue he still should be.

  • 90
    90Avery Gennessy
    OT, Texas A&M

  • 91
    91Travin Dural
    WR, LSU

  • 92
    92Chidobe Awuzie
    CB, Colorado

  • 93
    93Wayne Gallman
    RB, Clemson

  • 94
    94Ryan Switzer
    WR, North Carolina

The Packers just cut James Starks and Eddie Lacy can be a free agent, so they need help at RB—Ty Montgomery hasn’t shown the durability to be a 20-carry-per-game player. Gallman’s downhill style would mesh well with what Montgomery brings. Switzer may be overkill for a team that has an emerging Eli Rogers, but in the best way possible. Just ask Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola how it works to have two stellar slot options.

  • 95
    95Jordan Morgan
    G, Kutztown

  • 96
    96Vince Biegel
    OLB, Wisconsin

Morgan was a small-school tackle, but if you dream of his ideal fit it’s as a guard in a scheme like the Falcons run (or at least, like they ran under Kyle Shanahan): wide-zone with the occasional power pull—something that gets the nimble Morgan on the move. Biegel projects as a chip for a defense rather than a star edge presence. He is an intelligent football player, though, with a nice range of skills.

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