2017 NFL Mock Draft: Top Quarterbacks Start Their Rise
Sep 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Myles Garrett (15) in action against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
This 2017 NFL mock draft isn’t going to reflect current assumptions, but most likely the ones that will be a reality with the next few months.
Chief among them is the state of the quarterbacks. Almost every notable source would have people believe this class is light on potential top signal callers. Yet that is almost the exact same line delivered on most crops. By the time April comes around there are two or three QBs who emerge from the pack to garner serious interest as top 15 choices. This class will be no exception. It’s just a matter of figuring out who makes that cut.
1. Cleveland Browns
DE, Texas A&M
Cleveland is still searching for that young building block on defense. That player with whom the rest of the roster can be built around. Their pass rush has overachieved most of the year and still too often isn’t able to deliver the big plays when needed most. Garrett is the kind of generational talent that could flip that script over night. Offenses will instantly have to account for where he is and adjust their blocking. This in turn will free up opportunities for others.
Nov 29, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) throws a pass during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Kenan Memorial Stadium. The Wolfpack won 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
2. San Francisco 49ers
QB, North Carolina
Mitch Trubisky is still somewhat of an unknown in scouting circles, and it’s freaking a lot of people out. There isn’t a lot of tape to go around. What’s available though is hard to argue with. The North Carolina QB shows all the tools of a potential franchise starter: poise, accuracy, mobility, size and an ability to elevate his game in clutch situations. He’s not experienced compared to others but he may be the most equipped to have success.
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster (10) takles Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during the second quarter in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cincinnati Bengals (via CHI)
Bengals get #3 pick
Bears get #8 pick, 2nd in 2017, 4th in 2017, and 2nd in 20183
Reuben Foster has emerged as the best inside linebacker prospect in the 2017 class, and his buzz is still growing. He’s a tough, instinctive linebacker who does the classic jobs like tackles and shoot gaps to stop the run. Where he separates himself is in the range, athleticism and ability to play in space as a coverage linebacker. There really isn’t a lot he can’t do, and he is a dependable leader on top of it. He can be an All-Pro for Cincinnati.
Sep 17, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is defended by Mississippi State Bulldogs defensive back Lashard Durr (25) during the first quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
If this team is going to help rescue Blake Bortles as a quarterback, it starts with not getting him sacked so much. Running the football is the best way to do it and Leonard Fournette is arguably the most talented back to come out of college in a decade. He’s big, strong, hard to tackle, finds the hole and has more speed than a man his size should. Get him to the second level and it’s over with. He might very well be the final piece to the puzzle for Jacksonville.
Sep 10, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Anthony Wales (20) is grabbed from behind by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) and defensive back Eddie Jackson (4) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Tide defeated the Hilltoppers 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
5. Tennessee Titans (via LA)
Experts will try to downplay Jonathan Allen as a “really good” player rather than an “elite” one. Tell that to the litany of offensive linemen he’s abused over the last two seasons. This is a big, strong and violent human being who doesn’t take plays off. He can hold the point of attack against the run and gives a consistent, relentless effort as a pass rusher. His quickness and agility is impressive for such a big man, giving him versatility to play inside or outside.
Jan 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Tim Williams (56) in action against the Clemson Tigers in the 2016 CFP National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
6. New York Jets
The Jets have lacked a true outside pass rusher presence for years. An edge man who understands how to get after the quarterback. Tim Williams features the exact sort of skill set they’re looking for. He’s a quick, athletic and explosive linebacker who can get up the field in a hurry. Tackles have a hard time stopping him from getting around the edge or slicing back inside because of the speed and instinct he has for getting into the backfield.
Nov 5, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers wide receiver Mike Williams (7) runs a route during the second quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
7. San Diego Chargers
Mike Williams was considered the best receiving prospect when the year began and not much has changed since. He’s returned from his neck injury 100% healthy and has resumed his ascent to becoming the best in college football. He’s a true pro-style receiver. Williams has size, good hands, runs decent routes and understands how to make the tough catches in big moments. Put him and Keenan Allen together and the Chargers have something.
Oct 31, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer (14) throws in the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
8. Cleveland Browns (via CHI)
Browns get #8 pick
Bears get #10 pick, 4th in 2017 and 7th in 20188
QB, Notre Dame
Kizer may not be the hot name of the moment but there is a long way to go before the draft. Most still believe his combination of size, arm strength, mobility and intelligence make him the best overall QB in the class. It wasn’t his fault that he was surrounded by mediocre talent and poor coaching at Notre Dame. Hue Jackson is an experienced offensive mind who is good with quarterbacks. He’ll know exactly what to do with Kizer.
Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive end Derek Barnett (9) and Texas A&M Aggies offensive lineman Avery Gennesy (65) in action during the game at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
9. Carolina Panthers
This class is loaded with potential pass rushers and Derek Barnett is an ideal fit for what the Panthers do. He’s a tough, strong, and explosive defensive end who has perfected the art of getting after the quarterback. He racked up 32 sacks at Tennessee in his career, putting him just one shy of the top 10 in college football history and tied with the great Reggie White for the most in school history. Put him next to Kawann Short and let him hunt.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers safety Jamal Adams (33) celebrates after intercepting a pass from Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (not pictured) during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
10. Chicago Bears (via CLE from PHI)
Poor safety play has killed Chicago for way too long. It’s become a running joke with Bears fans. Part of the problem is they haven’t invested decent picks trying to fix it. That finally changes here. Jamal Adams may not have the same hype as Jabrill Peppers, but he looks like the better safety on tape. He’s got that big, well-proportioned body and throws it around delivering some fierce hits. He tackles well and shows the ability to diagnose was an offense is doing pre-snap. Throw in some solid coverage skills and the Bears are in business.
Oct 29, 2016; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) makes a signal to the crowd after a touchdown during the game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
11. Arizona Cardinals
Deshaun Watson may not seem like the type of quarterback that fits the Arians style, but he’s no stranger to adaptation. Watson may not have that big arm, but he’s got enough. He’s also way more athletic and speedy than Palmer is, opening up more scrambling opportunities. He’s quick on the release, decisive and can be accurate when he’s not overly tentative. Get him playing confident and he’ll rack up the stats in a hurry.
Nov 26, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) before the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
12. Buffalo Bills
Jabrill Peppers may be the best overall athlete in the 2017 class. When he gets his hands on a football, he’s an instant threat to score. He’s also an effective tackler and shows capacity as a blitzer. The only reason he won’t go in the top 10 is his underdeveloped instinct in coverage. He just hasn’t made enough plays, and that always makes teams nervous. At the same time, if he’s able to ever figure that part out he’s going to be a star.
Oct 15, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson (6) during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers 40-14. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
13. Tennessee Titans (via IND)
Titans get #13 pick and 7th in 2017
Colts get #16 pick and 3rd in 201713
It’s no secret the Titans defense has been a weak point for them. Nowhere more so than the secondary. Their cast of corners have had quarterbacks salivating quite often. If they’re going to reach the next level, they need somebody who can potentially erase half the field. Quincy Wilson has that capability. A long, athletic cover corner out of Florida. He functions quite well in man-to-man situations and has solid ball skills to make teams pay for testing him too often.
Nov 12, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Teez Tabor (31) works out prior to the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
14. New Orleans Saints
So they’re going to have to fix one of those problems. Teez Tabor is part of a strong cornerback class. Like his teammate Wilson he’s got athleticism, size and speed. His ball skills are good and he shows the fluidic hips and aggressiveness to play constant press without help over the top. He’s that guy they can task with covering any designated receiver on the field and be expected to hold his own.
Sep 3, 2016; Evanston, IL, USA; Western Michigan Broncos wide receiver Corey Davis (84) attempts to make a catch against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first quarter at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN)
WR, Western Michigan
Corey Davis sits atop that list. Step by step, the Western Michigan standout is making believers out of lots of people. He’s just such a natural for the position. At 6’3″ he present a nice, big target. He got the acceleration and enough speed to stress a secondary deep but is just as good at running a precise route to create separation. He’s more pro ready than a receiver out of a smaller program should be, and that makes him special.
October 1, 2016; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Takkarist McKinley (98) brings down Arizona Wildcats quarterback Khalil Tate (14) during the second half at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
16. Indianapolis Colts (via TEN)
Often the best way to get back on track is with a standout pass rusher. This draft class appears loaded with them. Takkarist McKinley is a fast riser in the group out of UCLA. He’s built like a defensive end but is a better athlete than he gets credit for. Shifting to outside linebacker wouldn’t be a big issue for him. He’s effective at keeping contain on the outside and driving hard into the backfield. The more of an arsenal he can build, the more dangerous he’ll become.
Sep 18, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive lineman Harold Landry (8) tackles Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
17. Baltimore Ravens
OLB, Boston College
Harold Landry is a name that continue to gain momentum in draft circles. For good reason too. The Boston College edge rusher has the numbers alone to back it up. He delivered 15 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss in 2016. That was without a ton of help around him. He’s got enough size to handle NFL tackles and the kind of athletic burst that would make a shift to 3-4 outside linebacker no big deal for him. Let Suggs show him the ropes and enjoy the fireworks.
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tight end O.J. Howard (88) carries up the field against LSU Tigers defensive back Dwayne Thomas (13) during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Thankfully this draft class appears loaded with them. Alabama stud O.J. Howard sits right at the top. He’s a true pass catching threat. Big enough to mismatch against cornerbacks but also quick and fast enough to consistently beat linebackers and safeties on routes. He can gash a defense up the seam or run the out route for a first down. With him on the inside and Evans on the outside, that’s a great 1-2 punch.
Sep 5, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) in game action against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium. Alabama won 35-17. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
19. Denver Broncos
Doesn’t matter if it starts inside or outside. The beauty of Cam Robinson is it won’t matter. Most of the arguments around him are off-the-field concerns and whether or not he has the footwork needed for tackle. The bottom line though is that he’d be a help to Denver at either tackle or guard. Run blocking is his central strength, being a big part of that Crimson Tide ground attack but also showing enough pass protection skill to think he will start somewhere for 10 years.
Sep 2, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) hits Furman Paladins quarterback P.J. Blazejowski (7) during the first quarter at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
20. Washington Redskins
DE, Michigan State
Drafting Malik McDowell helps with both problems. He’s a big, long defensive lineman out of Michigan State. His strength and size make it easier for him to hold the point of attack. Meanwhile his true gift is in quickness and burst, allowing him to get up the field and penetrate gaps. Getting heat on the quarterback is something he does fairly well and can get even better at with more time.
Apr 16, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Gray Team cornerback Gareon Conley (8) during the Ohio State Spring Game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
21. Detroit Lions
CB, Ohio State
It shouldn’t be a surprise they’re attacking it early. Gareon Conley has risen up boards of late due to his success in 2016 with Ohio State. He’s a well-proportioned player with the muscle mass to handle tackling duties but enough speed and athleticism to take care of business in coverage. He doesn’t exhibit that boisterous personality of a Patrick Peterson or Richard Sherman, but he certainly has skills that could make him an instant starter.
Nov 19, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores inside linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) is congratulated by teammates after a fumble recovery during the second half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 38-17. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
22. Houston Texans
Zach Cunningham has emerged as one of the top ILBs in college football. The fact he did it with an average program like Vanderbilt showcases just how good he is. Like any good linebacker he’s tough and knows how to tackle. What sets him apart from others is his sideline to sideline range and instinct for diagnosing what the offense will do before the snap. Anticipation is a huge part of success at the NFL level.
Nov 12, 2016; Athens, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive tackle Montravius Adams (1) and defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) sack Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jacob Eason (10) during the second quarter at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
23. Green Bay Packers
Right now the general belief surrounding Carl Lawson is quite simple: gifted edge rusher who can dominate….when he’s healthy. Lawson dealt with a number of injuries at Auburn that slowed his progress. Still, they seemed to ease in 2016 and he took advantage with 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss. He’s an explosive and athletic player who can fit right in at outside linebacker for the Packers 3-4 scheme.
Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Chris Wormley (43) rushes the passer against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
24. Seattle Seahawks
At first he wasn’t considered a viable name, but Chris Wormley has made believers out of many lately. His dominant run down the stretch for Michigan is the prime example. At 6’5″ and over 300 lbs, a man of those dimensions shouldn’t be able to move with the quickness and burst he does. Wormley is a handful in pass rush situations and doesn’t slack in his effort against the run. Putting him in the middle should ease the pressure on Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
Dec 28, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku (86) reacts after a touchdown in the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Russell Athletic Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
25. Miami Dolphins
TE, Miami (Fl.)
Adam Gase seems to have gotten some things going on offense for the Miami Dolphins, but it’s clear enough that they are lacking an explosive element at the tight end position. Jordan Cameron has proven a wasteful free agent signing. What better way to solve this problem than by bringing in a local hero. Ryan Tannehill needs a pass target over the middle who can team with Jarvis Landry and open up rushing lanes for Jay Ajayi.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Marlon Humphrey (26) intercepts the ball from Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Josh Reynolds (11) at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
26. Atlanta Falcons
With Trufant already on one side, the Falcons decide to grab another. Marlon Humphrey is a bit of a debate topic lately. Some see the Alabama kid as a surefire plug-and-play starter who can line up on any receiver. Others are skeptical of his fluidity, fearing he may have stiff hips. There is no denying his skill though. He plays a physical game and does a fine job of getting his eyes on the football in the air, then making a play on it.
Sep 24, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
27. New York Giants
RB, Florida State
Manning has shown in the past that he can be infinitely more effective when he has a back he can feed. Dalvin Cook is everything he could hope for. Not only is the FSU alum a solid traditional runner who can pound it between the tackles, he’s a fine athlete who can be even more dangerous in space as a receiver. Cook runs with vision, agility and speed. All the Giants need to do is get him in space and he’ll make defenses pay.
Dec 3, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin Badgers linebacker T.J. Watt (42) forces a fumble by Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) in the first half during the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers have some decisions coming their way in regards to their linebackers. Both Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones are going to be free agents in 2017. Odds are at least one of them will be gone. Timmons for age concerns and Jones for injury and lack of production. To say nothing of James Harrison pushing closer to his 40th birthday. Odds are pretty good they will have to supplement that position with help.
Dec 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Patrick Mahomes (5) passes against the LSU Tigers at NRG Stadium. LSU won 56 to 27. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
29. Kansas City Chiefs
QB, Texas Tech
Andy Reid isn’t stupid. He has to know the odds of winning a Super Bowl with Smith are long. He needs a quarterback who can make big play happen without having to rely on those around him. Somebody who can make something out of nothing. Patrick Mahomes is a raw kid from Texas Tech, but his sheer physical ability may be the best in this class. There are several intriguing attributes about him, not just physically too. He’s a gamer who carries his team on his back.
Oct 22, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive back Sidney Jones (26) in action against the Oregon State Beavers during the first quarter at Husky Stadium. Washington won 41-17. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
30. Oakland Raiders
That typically means the problem manifests most often in the secondary. Their cast of cornerbacks has talent but the inconsistency has been their biggest enemy. Sidney Jones would go a good distance towards changing that. Washington has become a bigger and bigger hot bed of NFL talent in recent years, particularly at corner. Ask Marcus Peters. Jones is another of those tough, athletic cover corners who can survive one-on-one without constant help.
Jan 1, 2016; Orlando, FL, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Jake Rudock (15) throws a pass as he pressured by Florida Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) during the second quarter in the 2016 Citrus Bowl at Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
31. New England Patriots
Jarrad Davis of Florida is their kind of guy. Under-the-radar type who is highly productive and versatile. He tackles well, diagnoses the run, doesn’t play out of control, and can bring the blitz. Bill Belichick likes players who “do their job.” Davis is such a player. He’ll quietly slide right into their scheme, find a home and probably start making plays for them immediately. If he stays healthy, he’ll be good.
Nov 19, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Indiana Hoosiers quarterback Richard Lagow (21) is tackled by Michigan Wolverines defensive end Taco Charlton (33) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
32. Dallas Cowboys
They still don’t have a legitimate pass rusher they can count on for 10 sacks a season. Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory have the talent but have proven themselves unreliable to this point. Taco Charlton is an ascending rusher out of Michigan. His 6’6″ frame and impressive athleticism allow him to attack the pocket from both the edge or the inside depending on the situation. If he can hone his arsenal of moves, he’ll be hard to stop.
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