2017 Mock Draft – Part Two
Looking for Part 1? Follow this link for picks 1-16
Biggest Need: Defensive Playmaker
The Pick: Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan
Arguably the most versatile player in this years draft, Peppers can play multiple positions on both defense and offense. He saw reps at linebacker, safety, corner, running back, receiver, and quarterback while at Michigan. Although he has unparalleled athleticism across so many different positions, Pepper’s had a less than impressive combine according to his standards. Washington needs a defensive playmaker that can assist both Josh Norman and the aging linebacker corps. Peppers would slot in perfectly wherever the Redskins decide to use him.
Biggest Need: Offensive Playmaker
The Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Titans got their defensive playmaker with the 5th overall pick, now they need one on offense. Marcus Mariota struggled to find a go-to receiver last year, which hurt their offense despite two great running backs and an improving offensive line. Davis is the all-time leading receiver in Division I history, but he still plays with a chip on his shoulder. He is known for his competitiveness and has the work ethic to become a top receiver in the league. With great size at 6’3” and 210 pounds, Davis will most likely draw some comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald once he enters the league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest Need: O-Line
The Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Bucs are in need of someone who can protect their franchise quarterback Jameis Winston. Robinson is a beast of a human being listed at 6’6” 322 pounds. His giant hands and long arms help him keep edge rushers at bay. He also excels as a run blocker which propelled the Crimson Tide to perennial championship appearances and a ferocious running attack. He should fit nicely in front of Winston who would like to throw the deep ball to newly acquired DeSean Jackson.
Biggest Need: Cover Linebacker
The Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Broncos have been known for their defense over the last few years but it has a weakness. Receivers thrive over the middle against the weak coverage by Denver’s slow linebackers. Cunningham brings a 4.67 40 time with his sleek 234 pound frame. His lateral quickness is what sets him apart from other prospects. He can fill gaps, chase down backs, and cover receivers and tight ends long enough for Von Miller to do what he does best.
Biggest Need: Deep Threat
The Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington
The Lions have been feeling the pain after the retirement of Calvin Johnson. Matt Stafford is missing a key element in the passing game, someone who can catch the deep ball. John Ross gained stardom after his record setting 4.22 40 time at this year’s combine and is the best down field receiver in the draft. He did have an ACL tear in 2015 and lacks size, which will drop him to the third receiver taken in this draft.
Biggest Need: Tight End
The Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Njoku will not have to travel far from the University of Miami to the Miami Dolphins on draft day. The Dolphins have a definitive need at tight end after Jordan Cameron announced his retirement. Njoku has great size for a tight end, was a top performer at the combine, and is a dominant end zone force. He will instantly make the Dolphins better with both his receiving and blocking abilities.
New York Giants
Biggest Need: Offensive Line
The Pick: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
The Giants biggest weakness over the past several years has been keeping Eli Manning on his feet. Time after time Eli has succumbed to big shots by defensive players, all while the time on his playing career is running out. Lamp is a very developed prospect ready to make an immediate impact. He is versatile enough to play guard or tackle, which will benefit a New York line that has seen both positions struggle. Above average footwork and hand technique allows Lamp to secure and stay with blocks long enough to protect any quarterback.
Oakland (Las Vegas?) Raiders
Biggest Need: Running Back
The Pick: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
The Raiders have arguably the most complete roster in the NFL from the quarterback to offensive line to defense. The departure of Latavius Murray opened up a competition at running back. Drafting Joe Mixon would be a controversial pick to say the least. There is video evidence of Mixon punching a woman from a few years ago and the NFL does not act kindly towards domestic violence issues. Some teams have even taken Mixon completely off their draft boards, but the Raiders have drafted some less than reputable characters in the past. This would be a high risk, high reward pick for Raider nation.
Biggest Need: Quarterback
The Pick: Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Texans paid a high price for Brock Osweiler and traded him after a year. Tony Romo is no longer an option. The Texans have more questions than answers at QB. There are questions to whether or not Kizer is ready for the NFL, but he has tangible success against legitimate competition. This will likely be a project if the Texans choose to invest a first round pick in a QB, but he is the best available at the back end of the first round.
Biggest Need: Edge Rush
The Pick: Hasaan Reddick, DE, Temple
What happened to the Legion of Boom? Earl Thomas was considering retirement after a broken leg, Richard Sherman is headlining trade rumors, all while Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett are on the wrong side of 30. Although Carroll’s squad is a playoff-caliber team, they need more help than many think. Adding a defensive talent like Reddick might revitalize some of the lost edge this team used to have. Reddick brings with him a 4.52 40 time at a lean 237 pounds and an engine with no signs of stopping. Expect Reddick to serve as a Robert Mathis-esque pass rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest Need: Offensive Line
The Pick: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah
There are a lot of people panicking in Kansas City. Alex Smith needs a replacement, there isn’t a strong running back, and the defense is getting older. But in reality, the Chiefs should be just fine in those three areas as long as the offensive line does its job. One of the worst lines in 2015 improved last year, but there is still work to do. Garrett Bolles would be a solid addition to the right side of the line with former number one pick Eric Fisher locking down the left tackle spot. Bolles has quick feet stopping edge rushers in their tracks and will allow the Chiefs to run the ball in between the tackles once again.
Biggest Need: Defensive Tackle
The Pick: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan St.
The Cowboys have dominated the run game blending an all-pro offensive line with rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliot. However, they struggled to stop the run on defense in many games. Malik McDowell is an athletic freak. He dominates offensive lineman and gets through blocks with ease. He is more of a run stopper than pass rusher, but has an above average ability to chase down scrambling quarterbacks. McDowell is just what the Cowboys need to prevent Aaron Rodgers from getting away with another hail mary.
Green Bay Packers
Biggest Need: Pass Rush
The Pick: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Packers secondary has played very poorly over the past 2 seasons. The underlying problem is not the ability of their cornerbacks and safetys, but the inability to generate and sustain a pass rush. Moving Clay Matthews to the inside and Julius Peppers leaving to return to Carolina only makes things worse. Carl Lawson excelled at every measurement at the combine even after an injury-ridden collegiate career. He can play as a stand up outside linebacker or a hand-down defensive end. Lawson’s explosive first step will leave offensive lineman on their heels.
Biggest Need: Secondary
The Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Unlike the Packers who derive their secondary problems from a weak pass rush, the Steelers actually have a weak secondary. There is a clear lack of playmakers that can change the tide of games. Marlon Humphrey is a player that has top 15 talent, but could fall to late first round depending on the needs of teams and other players available. Humphrey is a disciplined corner and is not easily fooled in coverage. His toughness will allow him to match up against some of the stronger receivers in the NFL.
Biggest Need: Cover Linebacker
The Pick: T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
Did the Falcons lose the Super Bowl because of Matt Ryan, the offensive line folding, or the defense taking a nap in the second half? Or was it all of the above? Regardless, the Patriots receivers carved up the middle of the Falcons defense with ease. T.J. Watt is an all around great athlete that could help secure the Falcons weakest point. He probably doesn’t have as much natural ability as some of the other top linebackers in the draft, but the brother of J.J. Watt will bring his lunch pail every Sunday to do whatever the Falcons ask him to do.
New Orleans Saints
Biggest Need: Secondary
The Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S, University of Connecticut
The last pick of the first round was acquired from the Patriots in a trade that sent Brandin Cooks to New England. A major weakness for the Saints has been stopping big plays down the field. Melinfonwu is another freakish athlete bred at the University of Connecticut. A 4.4 40 time and 44 inch vertical gives him the ability to stop the big plays the Saints seem to give up almost every game. He received a higher draft grade than his Husky counterpart Byron Jones, who himself was a former late first round pick. Melinfonwu takes cornerback skills to the safety position, allowing him to break up passes and intercept throws over the middle.
Photo via the Flickr Creative Commons, thanks to ‘Mary‘ for the shot!