2017 Mock Draft

So the draft is this week. It will begin with a familiar sight: the Cleveland Browns own its first pick, which they are expected to use on Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett. They better do it. Garrett is widely considered to be the draft’s top prospect, the franchise pass rusher that comes once every few years. There is greater consensus on Garrett than there was, for example, on Jadaveon Clowney, whose pedestrian junior season at South Carolina gave many significant cause for concern.

Garrett is thickly-built, quick twitch, long, and athletic. He was a productive sack artist at A&M. Yet, questions persist. Why did so many of his 31 career sacks come against non-SEC competition? What are we to make of Warren Sapp’s comments that Garrett is a lazy disappearing act on tape and that he’s never taken over a game?

Well, let’s look at Sapp’s comments. I love Sapp. He is, for my money, the greatest defensive tackle ever to play the game. However, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. First off, as far as taking a game over, I would direct him to the Arkansas game from this year as an example of a time when Garrett came mighty close. I would also expect it of Sapp of all people to remember that defensive linemen don’t have to make the play to impact the game. The sheer amount of attention Garrett received from offences was intense, and it freed up some of his teammates to make plays. Sapp was double-teamed and triple-teamed enough throughout his career to understand that, when offences go out of their way to take a D-lineman out of a game, they will. When that happens, the other guys have to win the favourable matchups they are left with.

We also must remember that players coming out of college are not finished products. As far as NFL production goes, Sapp set lofty standards which I hope he doesn’t project on rookies entering the league. Let’s take Clowney as an example. Everyone remembers the giant TFL-fumble against Michigan, but he never took over games at South Carolina the way he owned that first half against the Pats in the playoffs or the regular season game against the Raiders. It’s the nature of the game. Players improve. Still, Garrett has already shown impressive gifts, and should become even more consistent once he gets acclimated to the NFL game. He’s not perfect, but he should be the number one pick.

Then, there is, as is the case with every draft, the discussion about quarterbacks. For most of the offseason, the first round QB discussion involves Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. Each has enticing qualities and scary flaws. Watson is the winner who comes from a Run-Pass Option-heavy, one-read offence whose arm strength and zip are good, but not great. Trubisky has better arm talent, and has made NFL throws, but he’s a one-year wonder who also comes from an up-tempo spread offence that didn’t require the QB to read an entire defence. Kizer might have the most physical upside of the three, but he probably needed another year in school after his brutally inconsistent 2016 season. In recent weeks, we’ve seen a wild card enter the race: Texas Tech Patrick Mahomes. He has a cannon arm, but seems to play backyard football all the time, has shown maddening inconsistency and comes from a system that does not have a history of producing good pros at the quarterback position.

Who goes where is anybody’s guess. Trubisky would seem to have the most people excited, but a lot of coaches will value Watson’s record as a starter in college. I have no earthly idea what’s going to happen, but I’ll try to predict it just the same.

  1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, Defensive End, Texas A&M: This doesn’t have to be hard. Cleveland has a talent-bereft roster and is switching to a 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a scheme which requires a franchise defensive end. Garrett is that guy. Cleveland, please… Don’t outsmart yourselves. Pick the man, already
  2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU: The 49ers have a poorly-constructed roster, and they could go in several different directions. However, their new GM is a former strong safety, they need a strong safety, and if they trust new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to make a versatile strong safety into one of the cornerstones of their defence, Adams makes sense here.
  3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas, Defensive End: Mitch Unrein and Akiem Hicks are serviceable starters as 4-i’s in Chicago’s 3-4, but Thomas gives them a potential elite starter at a position with which defensive coordinators can really get creative. Thomas could be a playmaker who lines up all over the line for Chicago.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: The Jags’ running game was terrible last season, and it’s clear there isn’t a top-tier back on the roster at the moment. If the additions on the offensive line improve a unit that’s been stinking out the joint for a long time, Fournette could be a catalyst for dramatic offensive improvement for the Jags.
  5. Cleveland Browns (Trade with Tennessee): Mitch Trubisky, Quarterback, North Carolina: Cleveland needs a quarterback, and if they’ve set their mind on Trubisky, they can’t afford seeing him go to the Jets or to a team that vaults ahead of Cleveland at 12 to grab him. The Browns have the draft capital to afford this trade, so they pull the trigger.
  6. New York Jets: OJ Howard, Tight end, Alabama: Eventually, you’re going to get a franchise QB in there. However, before you do, you have to make sure he won’t be the victim of a poor supporting cast. Besides, tight ends make for good security blankets for lesser QBs. Howard is one of the best prospects to come out in years at the tight end position.
  7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State: This is among the no-brainers of this draft. The Chargers’ new defensive coordinator is Gus Bradley, who comes from the Seattle coaching tree. If Bradley is to bring the cover 3 base defence he’s played in Seattle and Jacksonville, he needs a rangy centre fielder type at free safety. Hooker fits the bill.
  8. Carolina Panthers: Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback, Ohio State: Logic would suggest the Panthers would go with offence, but Ron Rivera has never seen a defensive stud he didn’t want to pick. Moreover, he never expected to find Lattimore available here. Hey, you can get good RBs in the third round, right?
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, Linebacker, Alabama: The Bengals might need an edge rusher more, but their linebacking corps is severely lacking in speed. Foster is a great athlete whose attitude fits with the Bengals’ – ahem! – aggressive mentality.
  10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, Wide Receiver, Clemson: As average as Robert Woods was, he needs to be replaced. Your quarterback is Tyrod Taylor, whose accuracy as about as variable as a bad umpire’s strikezone. Thus, it makes sense to add a big receiver with a large catch radius.
  11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, Defensive End, Tennessee: Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The Saints need pass rushing reinforcements. Barnett, a polished pass rusher who can provide immediate help on that front, lands in Nawlins.
  12. Tennessee Titans (trade with Cleveland): John Ross, Wide Receiver, Washington: The Titans use their tight end really well, but their lack of talent at receiver hurt them last year. Ross adds, well, 4.22 speed. Need I say more?
  13. Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Allen, Defensive End, Alabama: The Cardinals just lost Calais Campbell and need someone to play the 4-i opposite Robert Nkemdiche. Allen lands in the perfect system to make an early impact.
  14. Washington (Trade with Philadelphia): Christian McCaffrey, Running Back, Stanford: Washington likes McCaffrey’s star power, and he gives them a multi-dimensional threat of their currently atrocious backfield.
  15. Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook, Running Back, Florida State:  The Colts have 92-year-old Frank Gore as their starting running back and the rest of their backfield is comprised of a “who’s who” of “who’s that.” Cook gives them a quintessential modern back and a terrific weapon for Andrew Luck.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Charles Harris, Edge Rusher, Missouri: The Ravens have next to no help for Terrell Suggs at edge rusher, and Suggs is getting up there in age himself. Harris brings much-needed long-term help at the position.
  17. Philadelphia Eagles: Tre’Davious White, Cornerback, LSU: The Eagles badly need cornerback help, and they’re glad to find White still available despite their decision to trade down.
  18. Detroit Lions (Trade with Tennessee): Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple: Detroit’s front seven stinks. They could use help on the defensive line, but Reddick is their top-rated guy at this point, so they move up to start their front’s rebuilding job somewhere.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cam Robinson, Offensive Tackle, Alabama: I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that the Bucs are fine with that offensive line. Robinson makes too much sense here for the Bucs to skip on him.
  20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, Offensive Tackle, Wisconsin: Denver’s offensive line is one of those positions that seems as though it’s been bad since about the turn of the century. Ramczyk fits what they like to do and will help the left tackle spot look like less of a revolving door.
  21. Tennessee Titans (Trade with Detroit): Marlon Humphrey, Cornerback, Alabama: The Titans address their other position of need with Humphrey, a physical corner with the speed to keep up with fast receivers.
  22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, Offensive Linemen, Western Kentucky: The Dolphins could use interior line help, and Lamp’s positional versatility gives him added value.
  23. New York Giants: David Njoku, Tight end, Miami (FL): The Giants haven’t had a game-breaking tight end since Jeremy Shockey. Add Njoku and his tremendous athletic ability to a receiving corps that includes Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard, and Eli Manning is going to be running out of reasons to throw picks.
  24. New Orleans Saints (Trade with Oakland): Corey Davis, Wide Receiver, Western Michigan: Ted Ginn was a contributor for the Panthers in 2015, but you can’t make real projects around him. They cannot wait any longer and come up to snatch Davis, a complete receiver who’s slipping because of his inability to participate in combine testing.
  25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Clemson: Tom Savage is basically being tabbed as a starter because he looked good against the Jaguars. Faint praise. Picking a quarterback in this draft is a risky operation, but the Texans don’t want to see their window of opportunity as the rest of their division keeps getting better. Others quarterbacks might have better measurables, but Bill O’Brien decides he wants to pick a “winner.”
  26. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Boles, Offensive Tackle, Utah: This one is fairly self-explanatory. Seattle’s offensive line stinks, and repeatedly puts Russell Wilson’s health in jeopardy. This is high for Boles, but the Hawks need the O-Line help this badly.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, Quarterback, Texas Tech: This is an ideal time for the Chiefs to draft a talented but raw quarterback like Mahomes. They have a really good team, and Alex Smith has a few years left. Mahomes happens to need those years to adjust to the pro game. The Texas Tech product also gives the Chiefs deep passing game options they don’t have with Smith, and has just enough mobility to run Andy Reid’s West Coast Offence.
  28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, Defensive End, Michigan: Dallas hasn’t had a consistent pass rusher since Greg Hardy was disgracing its uniform. There are questions about Charlton, but he resembles Hardy very much as a player, and gives them similar possibilities.
  29. Chicago Bears (Trade with Green Bay): DeShone Kizer, Quarterback, Notre Dame: This is a mortifying risk, but the Bears don’t view Mike Glennon as a long-term solution, but at very worst, Kizer becomes a trading chip. More realistically, Kizer learns the pro game for a year or two, which he dearly needs. From then onward, he does have rare gifts. If this pays off, the Bears’ franchise will be in good shape.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, Edge Rusher, UCLA: Jarvis Jones has been a bust and has left the team. Bud Dupree is still developing and nobody exactly what he’ll amount to. Even if Dupree flourishes, however, James Harrison can’t be counted on long-term. McKinley has the non-stop motor the blue-collar Steelers like and he gives them long-term insurance rushing from the edge.
  31. Atlanta Falcons: Evan Ingram, Tight End, Ole Miss: The Falcons give Matt Ryan another weapon. Ingram, a move tight end who can be moved around, will give the Falcons a matchup nightmare against virtually every team in the league.
  32. Oakland Raiders (Trade with New Orleans): TJ Watt, Linebacker, Wisconsin: The Raiders drop down and get good value for this pick with Watt, a versatile linebacker whose multiple talents mesh well with a very flexible Oakland defensive front.

And just for fun, here’s the second round:

  1. (33) Cleveland: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
  2. (34) San Francisco: Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
  3. (35) Jacksonville: Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
  4. (36) Green Bay (Trade with Chicago): Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
  5. (37) LA Rams: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
  6. (38) LA Chargers: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
  7. (39) New York Jets: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
  8. (40) Carolina: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
  9. (41) Cincinnati: Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State
  10. (42) New Orleans: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
  11. (43) Philadelphia: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
  12. (44) Buffalo: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
  13. (45) Arizona: Juju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
  14. (46) Indianapolis: Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
  15. (47) Baltimore: Budda Baker, S, Washington
  16. (48) Minnesota: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
  17. (49) Washington: Kevin King, CB, Washington
  18. (50) Tampa Bay: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
  19. (51) Denver: Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
  20. (52) Tennessee (Trade with Cleveland): Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
  21. (53) Detroit: Dont’a Freeman, RB, Texas
  22. (54) Miami: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
  23. (55) New York Giants: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
  24. (56) Oakland: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
  25. (57) Houston: Montravious Adams, NT, Auburn
  26. (58) Seattle: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
  27. (59) Kansas City: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
  28. (60) Dallas: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
  29. (61) Green Bay: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
  30. (62) Pittsburgh: Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State
  31. (63) Atlanta: Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama
  32. (64) Panthers: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: