2017 NFL Mock Draft
Last Updated: April 26, 2017 (11:36 p.m. CDT)
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com
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2017 NFL Mock Draft
1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M (6'5" 260) *
This one went down to the wire between Garrett and North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky. I ultimately stuck with Garrett, in no small part because of the several reported talks Cleveland had with teams in trying to trade up from #12.
It's reasonable to think Trubisky might be on the board at #5 or #6. But there is no way, absent some draft night dirty tricks, Garrett is going to slide like that. And, if you believe what the Browns say, they've known for weeks whom they plan to draft at #1 overall.
2. San Francisco 49ers - Jamal Adams, SS, LSU (6'0" 210) *
New GM John Lynch has kept his proverbial cards close to his vest, and this projection was very difficult to reach. I had Stanford DL Soloman Thomas penciled in for much of draft season, but particularly when considering how the 49ers' new defensive scheme is predicated on having a top-level safety.
Late word ahead of my Wednesday midnight CDT deadline backed up that line of thought, but nothing about this draft process has been easy. No locks in 2017.
3. Chicago Bears - Soloman Thomas, DL, Stanford (6'3" 275) *
With injury questions plaguing Alabama DL Jonathan Allen, Thomas goes into draft night as the top defensive lineman not named Myles Garrett, at least on most boards I've seen.
The Bears could go with a cornerback or a safety here, but Thomas would instantly upgrade Chicago's pass rushing. And, for a staff that faces an unspoken "win now or you're out" ultimatum for 2017, it makes sense to add a high-end prospect who can help out right away.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (6'1" 230) *
Fournette is a special player, a running back who has been NFL ready for quite some time. And for those of you inclined to whine about Fournette opting out of LSU's glorified postseason exhibition game (which is what non-playoff bowl games are) after this past season, go back and watch Jaylon Smith's knee injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl on a loop and get back with me.
Jacksonville is a team that has systematically built up some great talent on defense. But their running game has been pedestrian at best for quite some time, and Fournette would be a huge problem-solver for the Jags in that regard.
5. Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams) - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina (6'3" 210) *
I don't project trades on here; the mock draft process is challenging enough without that. But clearly there is an expectation that a team, possibly the Browns, will trade up to get Trubisky -- and waiting for the Jets at #6 might be too risky.
But I fully expect the Browns to trade up, and Trubisky going off the board at #5 seems as likely as anything.
6. New York Jets - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St. (6'1" 190) *
This is a rebuilding season for the Jets. I don't anticipate them targeting a quarterback here, but it's difficult to pin down a specific need with so many veterans hitting the bricks. Lattimore makes sense for the Jets, but so do several other players.
In short: the Jets have plenty of options here.
7. Los Angeles Chargers - Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (6'3" 295)
My instinct had been to imagine the Chargers would take one of the two safeties between Adams and Ohio State's Malik Hooker here. But Allen is an elite defensive lineman who is adept at reaching the quarterback, and this might actually serve as a value pick for the Chargers.
8. Carolina Panthers - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (5'11" 200) *
Carolina's reported interest in McCaffrey was either the worst-kept secret in the 2017 draft process... or a remarkably effective misdirection. I'm going with the former.
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee (6'3" 255) *
Barnett broke Reggie White's career sack record at the University of Tennessee. I've known about Barnett since calling one of his Brentwood Academy games in Nashville in 2011, and it has been great to see him develop into a top-level defensive player.
10. Buffalo Bills - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (6'4" 255)
Howard would fill a need spot for the Bills. I had thought them to be likely for a quarterback, but late signs pointed strongly against Buffalo going with a QB here.
11. New Orleans Saints - Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio St. (6'1" 205) *
This is a bit of a long shot, particularly with San Diego needing a safety at #7. Recovery from surgery has hampered what Hooker can show scouts, but his game film speaks volumes.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (6'1" 195) *
This would be the landing spot for Tennessee in a Browns/Titans trade. And if you're Titans GM Jon Robinson and you like Humphrey on par with Lattimore, this is a sensible move to make. This feels so strange after never doing trade mocks before, but it has been that kind of year. The biggest risk might be the DB-hungry Saints one pick above, particularly if Hooker doesn't fall.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama (6'1" 240)
There has to be a better way to handle the "diluted sample" situation for NFL Combine piss tests than the current setup. Because now you're going to have paranoid players who will invariably drink less water and cramp up/suffer from dehydration. And if you think that's a good idea, Google "dehydration and concussions" and see what that reveals.
Whatever the case, Foster's risk factor went up from what happened at the combine, but his ability is strong enough to keep him in round one in all likelihood. This is where I had thought the Cardinals might go QB, with Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes pulling ahead of Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer. But the late chatter seemed to indicate Arizona going QB wasn't as much of a likelihood as I had suspected.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota) - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (6'3" 220) *
Williams is a highly-talented wide receiver, with great size and experience being an important part of a winning program at Clemson. He would seem to be a great fit for the Eagles.
15. Indianapolis Colts - Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple (6'1" 235)
Reddick had a monster 2016 season for Temple, and he helped his status even more with a very impressive offseason heading into the draft. This would fit a need for the Colts, though it's entirely possible that Cincinnati at #9 or Arizona at #13 could select Reddick before Indy goes on the clock.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (6'3" 215)
Davis over Washington WR John Ross makes sense here with Baltimore already having a speed WR in Breshad Perriman. Davis had a prolific career at WMU, and he should be able to produce right away assuming he is healthy.
17. Washington Redskins - Adoree Jackson, CB, Southern Cal (5'11" 185) *
There was plenty of buzz late about Jackson, particularly in connection to the Redskins at #17. By the end it was enough to sway me on this projection. Jackson is a quality corner who also has tremendous kick return skills; he could help the Redskins in a variety of ways.
18. Tennessee Titans - John Ross, WR, Washington (5'11" 190) *
The Titans can fill one major need by going cornerback at #5 (or wherever they move from that spot) and then fill another here at #18 with the ultra-fast Ross.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut (6'4" 225)
You should see my crazy-looking notes made yesterday as I furiously chased any and all leads. That includes "not Dalvin Cook" for the Bucs. I would suspect possible misdirection, but other rumblings about him late caused me to change course.
But, for my friends in Tampa, Melifonwu is no consolation prize. 6'4" safeties with freakish athleticism are a rarity, but that describes Melifonwu, an underrated prospect who could delivery in a major way for Tampa Bay's secondary.
20. Denver Broncos - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (6'6" 315) *
Ramczyk took a quixotic path in his college football career, which leaves him with less tape against high-end competition than I'm sure scouts would like. Also, he is recovering from hip surgery, which is a complicating factor.
To be sure, not everyone is sold on Ramczyk as a left tackle prospect. And there are some legitimate concerns. But in a draft lacking in top-level offensive tackle prospect, Ramczyk could end up being the first offensive lineman off the board.
21. Detroit Lions - Taco Charlton, DE/OLB, Michigan (6'6" 275)
Projecting a first-round pass-rusher to Detroit makes considerable sense, and there are a wide variety of talented EDGE players who should be a good fit here for the Lions.
In the modern NFL there is almost no such thing as having too many quality pass rushers -- and the Lions could use some help in that department. Moreover, Charlton would seem to be a good fit in Detroit's 4-3 scheme.
22. Miami Dolphins - Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri (6'3" 255) *
With a great blend of size and quickness, Harris is a dangerous pass rusher. And while there are some nitpicks to be made about how Harris performed stopping the run at Mizzou, the demand is sky-high for defensive linemen with a knack for pressuring opposing quarterbacks.
This was another late switch after indications strongly suggested the Dolphins would go for an offensive guard at this spot, as I thought they might with Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp.
23. New York Giants - David Njoku, TE, Miami (6'4" 245) *
Despite only starting in nine games over two seasons of football for the Hurricanes (after redshirting in 2014), Njoku has impressed evaluators with his outstanding athleticism and potential as a scoring threat. It probably doesn't hurt his case that he's coming from a university that has produced the likes of Jeremy Shockey, Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, and Kellen Winslow II over the past 15 or so years.
When I say Njoku is athletic, keep in mind that he won a national championship in long jump while he was in high school, clearing a 6'11" height. And while he only saw limited playing time in 2015 as a redshirt freshman, it was under new head coach Mark Richt that Njoku flourished, revealing his strong potential as an NFL prospect.
Here's how Todd Hartley, the tight end coach at Miami, described Njoku: "The natural bend and flexibility and athleticism and twitch -- he has it all."
24. Oakland Raiders - Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama (6'5" 325) *
It has surprised me to see evaluators fade Robinson's hopes of going in the top ten, or even the top-half of the first round, as the off-season process has played out. Robinson is a very talented offensive lineman, but some (including Mike Mayock) believe he projects best as a guard.
Not everyone agrees with that assessment, and the reality probably falls somewhere in the middle depending on a given team's needs. And to that end, Robinson offers versatility, and there certainly is plenty of tape on him against high-level competition from his time in Tuscaloosa.
25. Houston Texans - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (6'2" 225) *
Mahomes is an interesting prospect, a remarkable athlete with what has been described as the strongest arm of any QB in this draft class. But he played in a spread offense at Texas Tech, and there is a strong belief that he will need time to adjust to going under center and running a pro-style offense.
This is an actual quote from NFL.com on Mahomes by an unnamed NFC executive: "He's got a great arm, big balls and he's mobile." That's high praise, though the executive tempered that by noting Mahomes will "drive his head coach crazy for the first couple of years" which isn't the most encouraging thing. But if Mahomes was the total package, he wouldn't slide all the way to #25.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Garett Bolles, OT, Utah (6'5" 295) *
There is a rather fascinating back story for Bolles, a talented offensive tackle who went through some challenges as a teenager before developing into a standout with the Utes.
Bolles is 24, which is a double-edged sword: more maturity but, in theory, a more limited window for an NFL career. His fundamentals aren't great in the minds of some evaluators, and there are some questions about his pass blocking ability. The latter is a concern, but he is remarkably fast (running a 4.95 40) especially considering his size. And he only has one year of FBS-level experience, though that puts him in the same boat with Ryan Ramczyk as far as that goes.
In a related note, there are some who are rather freaked out over what they perceive as a drop in pro-ready NFL tackles coming in from the college game. And I can tell you anecdotally that the spread 3/4 WR look is as popular on the high school level as ever. I've perceived a change even over the past few years.
Of course, if the NCAA level weren't treated as a de facto minor league by the NFL, perhaps this wouldn't be a problem.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky (6'4" 310)
Perhaps the highest-rising offensive lineman of this off-season, Lamp doesn't have much flexibility as far as his position goes -- not with his relatively short arms.
But what Lamp does have going for him is tremendous technique, outstanding strength, and big hands, among other positives. It's entirely possible depending that Lamp could be the first OL off the board in this draft, though that is as much an indictment of the offensive tackle class as anything.
28. Dallas Cowboys - Kevin King, CB, Washington (6'3" 200)
I fully expect Dallas to address the EDGE (DE/OLB) position at some point in this draft. But it could be very difficult to pass up King, a big corner with the size to match up with tall opposing receivers. It didn't hurt things any for King that he had a great combine, either.
29. Green Bay Packers - T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin (6'4" 250) *
With King gone one spot before in this draft, the Packers could instead look toward its front seven with Watt. The brother of Texans star DE J.J. Watt, T.J. is a relative unknown quantity as far as game film goes after converting from tight end at Wisconsin, but he played well enough last season to warrant serious late first-round consideration.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (6'2" 210) *
It seems strange to think of Watson falling this far, but that's the way this mock worked out. It also means Watson falling past both Kansas City and Houston, and both teams have been rumored to like Watson. But if he's here, I could see Pittsburgh selecting him as the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger -- or trading this pick to a team moving up from a high second-round spot.
Remember: players taken in the first round have a team option for a fifth contract year in their rookie deals. And for teams developing a quarterback, that kind of financial flexibility is a potential major positive.
31. Atlanta Falcons - Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA (6'2" 250)
Atlanta could really use another EDGE pass rusher. I realize this might sound like a broken record, but the rule changes made for player safety tilted the game sharply in favor of passing attacks -- and teams with strong pass defenses. McKinley would certainly help the Falcons to that end.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England) - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (6'0" 200)
Awuzie isn't a high-end tackler, but he is exceptionally adept at the corner blitz while having the skill to play man-cover at a high level. He wasn't an interception machine at Colorado, but teams clearly adjusted to his presence, and unlike top prospects from Ohio State or Florida, he didn't have an all-star crew of teammates in the secondary to force teams to throw his way.
If the Saints come away from night one with Hooker and Awuzie, that is a one-night huge instant upgrade for a defensive back group that could really use it.
* indicates player with NCAA eligibility for 2017 who opted to leave school early for the 2017 NFL Draft