2017 Mock Draft – Part One
Looking for part 2? Follow this link for picks 17-32
Biggest Need: Defensive Star
The Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns are in need of a “Face of the Franchise” type player and they can no longer throw all their chips in on a quarterback. Drafting a dominant player on the defensive side of the ball is the next best thing. Garrett is the best player in this draft and demonstrated his speed, power, and ball skills on the field and at the combine. Posting a 4.64 40 yard dash, 33 reps on the bench press, and a 41 inch vertical jump shows how explosive Garrett will be in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers
Biggest Need: QB
The Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Regarded as the best QB prospect in this year’s draft, Trubisky would be the right pick for the 49ers in the post-Kaepernick era. Trubisky brings an excellent combination of accuracy, footwork in the pocket, and decent arm strength. He also has sneaky speed, posting a 4.67 40 time. I don’t believe that Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley will be the future quarterback in San Francisco, so they might as well invest in the best prospect this year.
Biggest Need: Defensive Line
The Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Don’t be surprised if Jonathan Allen ends up being the best player taken in this entire draft class. A perfect package of size, strength, and speed allowed Allen to destroy running games and get to the quarterback with ease. It seems the Bears have found their quarterback in Mike Glennon, so the defense will get an upgrade with Allen. He did not have a great combine, but his on field numbers, including defensive player of the year, speak for themselves.
Biggest Need: Playmaker
The Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette has some of the best tape of any running back. Ever. His ability to run past defenders, run through defenders, or run around defenders hasn’t been seen since the days of Adrian Peterson. The injury and durability concerns are there, but Fournette had a strong combine for the two events he measured in. The 40 (4.51) and vertical (28.5″) are very impressive considering Fournette was listed at over 240 pounds. Jacksonville has been vocal about their need to acquire a playmaker to take pressure off of Blake Bortles, and Fournette certainly would be the talent they are looking for.
Biggest Need: Secondary
The Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Tennessee has done an excellent job rebuilding their offense and defense in recent years. Their secondary still needs some help to deal with the elite receivers in the AFC South like T.Y. Hilton and DeAndre Hopkins. Jamal Adams is a dynamic playmaker that could be the x-factor for the Titans to make a playoff run. He is a hard-hitting strong safety that will make receivers think twice about crossing the middle of the field.
New York Jets
Biggest Need: Tight End
The Pick: O.J. Howard Position, TE, Alabama
Let’s face it. The Jets have a need at nearly every position. The tight end position is the most blaring weakness of their roster. Finishing dead last in every tight end category signals the Jets need to draft a tight end. Howard would replace much of the receiving capabilities lost when Brandon Marshall decided to cross town to join the Giants. Howard also serves as an above average blocker, which would be in demand for whoever the Jets throw out at quarterback. He has elite speed with a 4.51 40 time, and was a top performer in the bench press and shuttle drills at the combine.
Los Angeles Rams
Biggest Need: Safety
The Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The L.A. Rams have had a solid team for many years but always seem to be at .500 or below. Highlighted by a strong defensive line and running game, the Rams need to address the back end of their defense. The departure of Janoris Jenkins left Trumaine Johnson all by himself in the secondary. Malik Hooker is a ball-hawking safety that could make some big plays for the Rams to get them over .500 in the coming seasons.
Biggest Need: Cornerback
The Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
We have not seen a Super Bowl appearance hangover quite like the Carolina Panthers of last season in a very long time. Injuries and sub-par play all season doomed this team to acquire a top 10 pick in the draft. The departure of Josh Norman left a gaping hole in the Panthers’ secondary, and it was on display when Julio Jones went for 300 receiving yards at will. Marshon Lattimore can cover elite receivers at the next level, as has elite speed, with an amazing 4.36 40 time. He does have some injury concerns with his hamstring, but he can be the lockdown corner the Panthers have been searching for to replace Norman.
Biggest Need: Pass Rush
The Pick: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Getting Solomon Thomas with the 9th pick would be a steal for the Bengals. They are shallow at the defensive end position behind Carlos Dunlap, and Geno Adkins is not the same player he used to be. Thomas shakes out as the number 3 defensive lineman in this draft, right behind Garrett and Allen. He has a tremendous motor that will make an immediate difference for the Bengals’ defense and get them back into playoff contention.
Biggest Need: Possession Receiver
The Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Bills actually have a pretty deep team. They paid Tyrod Taylor to answer the QB questions, their offensive line is solid, and they have one of the top defenses when healthy. The only area of concern is the receiving corps. Sammy Watkins cannot do it all by himself, he will need help. Mike Williams provides another elite target for Tyrod Taylor to throw to. Williams is a receiver who can spread the defense, streak across the middle, and go up and get it on any defender.
New Orleans Saints
Biggest Need: Pass Rush
The Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Saints secondary does need help, but if they do not acquire Malcolm Butler this draft provides plenty of corner depth in later rounds. Taking the best player available would be the better strategy here. Taco Charlton did not wow anybody at the combine but his on-field statistics speak for themselves. Coming off a season of nearly 10 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss, playing in the Big 10 conference speaks volumes at how valuable he could be alongside Cameron Jordan on the Saints’ defensive line.
Biggest Need: QB
The Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
With the Browns already getting their defensive leader, they should draft their offensive leader. The quarterback position has plagued the Browns for 2 decades now and Brock Osweiler does not look like the solution. Drafting Watson would give the Browns something they have not had in a long time. Someone who knows how to win. Watson might not have the strongest or most accurate arm, but he had some of the best combine statistics in this year’s draft among Quarterbacks. Watson’s athleticism is there, but more importantly the Browns need to draft someone who can win them games. Coming off back-to-back National Championship appearances and winning the title last year proves Watson can perform at the highest level of competition.
Biggest Need: Middle Linebacker
The Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Some off the field issues at the combine will most likely cause Foster to fall outside the top 10, but he remains a top 10 talent nonetheless. The departure of Kevin Minter leaves a hole in the middle of the Cardinals defense that needs to be filled. Foster would be a perfect fit to be the leader of the Cardinals young defense. He won the Butkus award for college football’s top linebacker and possesses the athleticism and instinct to impress at the pro level.
Biggest Need: Running Back
The Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Eagles have had a revolving door with running backs over the past few years. LeSean McCoy left, Demarco Murray never seemed to fit, Ryan Matthews is always hurt, and Darren Sproles is approaching his mid 30s. Drafting a talent like Dalvin Cook would give the Eagles their franchise running back for years to come. Cook runs with purpose and can impose his will on a defense. He is known for his shiftiness and speed, but has the power to run through defenders as well.
Biggest Need: Edge Rush
The Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Colts are in need at several positions. They are young in the secondary, weak on the defensive line, and although it has improved, the offensive line still needs work to protect Andrew Luck. With all-time great Robert Mathis retired and many other defensive players being let go under the new regime of GM Chris Ballard, the biggest weakness for this team is the edge rush. Barnett posted an impressive 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks playing in the SEC last year. Replacing Mathis will be no easy feat, but Derek Barnett is the best defensive end available at this point in the draft.
Biggest Need: Linebacker
The Pick: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
Terrell Suggs is approaching the end of his career and has definitely lost a step from what he was years ago. This would be the perfect opportunity to draft his replacement. If there was an award for winning the combine, Takk would have won it. He was a top scorer at every measurement for his position with no weakness in his fitness. Unfortunately, his athleticism will only get him so far. Having a mentor like Suggs entering the twilight of his career would be a huge benefit to McKinley’s development at the pro level.
Photo via the Flickr Creative Commons, thanks to ‘MarineCorpsNewYork‘ for the picture of Roger Goodell.