Believe it or not, the 2017 NFL Draft is only three months away and anticipation is very high. This is one of the first drafts in several years where the number one pick is not a foregone conclusion. One thing is for sure is that this year’s draft is going to bring some interesting names to the National Football League.
Before I go into my first ten picks, here are a few reminders:
- NFL teams are still very early in the draft process. The pro bowl and the Super Bowl still have to be played before teams are fully committed to the draft.
- The free agency period will determine what a lot of teams will do in the draft and what their need is. So this mock draft is just a prediction of what I think teams will do based on their needs.
- Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M
Yes I am fully aware that the Browns have an enormous need at the Quarterback position. But according to ESPN, the Browns are very high on Myles Garrett and they feel they can find their quarterback of the future with the 12th pick in the draft or in the second round. Although they just resigned Jamie Collins this week, they are still in need of defensive players to play alongside Collins and Joe Haden. Drafting Garrett will give them a pass rusher that flourished in the best conference in college football. Garret compiled a whopping 31.5 sacks in his three seasons with the Aggies and was a consensus all-american. If he stays healthy, he will surely be a force on the next level.
2. Deshaun Watson: Quarterback, Clemson
For some strange reason that is unbeknownst to me, no draft analyst has Deshaun Watson going in the top ten of this year’s draft. In fact, most of them have Watson going late in the first round to teams like the Giants and the Texans. Although those teams would be wise to pick Watson with their picks if he is available, teams like San Francisco, Cleveland, and the Jets should definitely take Watson with their picks if he is available as well. One could make the argument that Watson should be a two-time Heisman trophy winner due to his stellar sophomore and junior seasons. This past season, Watson led the Clemson Tigers to a 12-1 record during the regular season, a dominant performance in the Fiesta Bowl against the Buckeyes, and a memorable and gutsy performance against the Alabama Crimson Tide to cap-off his time at Clemson. After dominating the Alabama defense two years in row, I believe that there is no way any team should pass on Watson in this year’s draft. Plus, the 49ers are pretty much done with Colin Kaepernick, which means that Watson to the 49ers makes the most sense.
3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, Defensive Linemen, Alabama
Although the Bears have strong quarterback needs, they have a veteran coaching staff and a veteran team which means that it may not be in their best interest to bring in a young signal caller. I see them going after a Tyrod Taylor or a Tony Romo this off season instead. The Bears are very high on Allen and giving the fact that Allen will fill a huge void on the Bears defensive line, it is very likely the Bears will go in Allen’s direction with the number three pick. If the Bears want a fast return to the “Monster of the Midway” days, they should take Allen with their top five pick.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee
Over the past five years, the Jaguars have had their fair share of troubles getting to opposing quarterbacks. This past season, the team’s 33 sacks ranked them in the bottom half of the league. On the other hand, Derek Barnett had a stellar 2016 season. He compiled 54 tackles, 12 sacks, and received all-SEC honors. He is also Tennessee’s career sack leader with 32.0, a record that was previously held by Hall of Famer Reggie White. If Barnett’s pro career is anything like White’s, he and Dante Fowler Jr. could boost the Jaguars pass rush to another level and maybe help the team rise from the gutters of the AFC South.
5. Tennessee Titans: Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State
Thanks to the Los Angeles Rams, the Tennessee Titans are in spectacular shape heading into this year’s draft. They already have their quarterback and running back of the future, plus they have a defense that is on the upside, led by Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan. But the one thing that the team is lacking is a ball-hawk in the secondary. Although many experts have LSU’s Jamal Adams ranked above Malik Hooker in their draft boards, I believe that Hooker is a better scheme fit for the titans. This is due to the fact that Hooker has a knack for getting to the ball. His seven interceptions last season are an attest to this. If the Titans want the next Landon Collins, then they should go after Adams. But if they are looking for someone like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, then Hooker is their man.
6. New York Jets: Deshone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame
After a disappointing 5-11 season, the Jets know they are in need of a franchise quarterback. I believe Kizer is the man that can turn the Jets into a contender again. His arm strength and mobility have him ranked by many as the number one quarterback heading into the draft. His 34 total touchdowns in the 2016 campaign strengthen his case as well. Adding Kizer to a relatively stacked Jets offense will better the team’s chances of dethroning the Patriots in the AFC East.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
Los Angeles’ newest organization needs to make some big noise in this year’s draft. I believe drafting Jamal Adams with the seventh pick will achieve this goal. Since the departure of Eric Weddle, the Chargers have had trouble at Safety. Adams is a guy that can cover the run as well as he can cover the pass. If the Chargers choose to draft Adams, he will bring a boost to a defense that has struggled to cover the pass over the past two seasons.
8. Carolina Panthers: Leornard Fournette, Running Back, LSU
According to multiple reports, the Panthers are looking to get the best available player with the eighth overall pick. The team had a very disappointing 2016 season after reaching the Super Bowl and going 15-1 in 2015. With Jonathan Stewart turning 30 this year, it is likely that the Panthers will be looking for his successor very soon. Although he had an injury-plagued 2016 season, Fournette’s 2015 season was one of the best we’ve seen from a college running back in some time. He also comes into the draft with better draft grades than Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley. Fournette will be a perfect fit alongside Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert in the Panthers backfield.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Solomon Thomas, Defensive End, Stanford
The Bengals had trouble getting to the quarterback last season. This was a major factor in the team falling out of the playoffs for the first time since the 2010 season. The team ranked in the bottom half of the league with 33 sacks. Carlos Dunlap played good in 2016 but Micheal Johnson failed to live up to the lofty expectations the Bengals had for him. Although I believe Johnson will have a bounce back effort in 2017, adding Thomas to the defensive line will certainly put less pressure on Johnson and Dunlap, which will lead to the three of them putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina
Trubisky is rated high on many draft boards and would fit in great with new Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott. He is very accurate and has the ability to get the ball to his receivers in a multitude of ways. Since the Bills are almost certainly done with Tyrod Taylor, picking Trubisky seems like the right call for the Bills to make with their number ten pick.
Pictures Courtesy of Pro Football Rumors, Draft Guru, and the NFL