Movie quote of the day:
“I knew a man who once said ‘Death smiles at us all. All a man can do is smile back’”
Maximus, “Gladiator” (2000)
I realize that the NFL draft just finished three weeks ago. Some of the draft picks haven’t even been signed to contracts yet and I’m already coming out with a mock draft for 2017. I’m in the minority, but I’ve always believed that it’s never too early to create another mock draft. Keep in mind I determined the draft order by the latest Las Vegas Super Bowl odds.
1. Cleveland Browns – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
6’2” 210 pounds
Cleveland passed on the top quarterbacks in April’s draft. The Browns can’t afford to do it again in 2017. I doubt that either Robert Griffin III or Cody Kessler will be the future franchise quarterback in Cleveland. Watson looks to be the top quarterback in the 2017 draft. His performance in the national championship was one of the best I’ve seen (63.8 completion percentage, 405 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 73 rushing yards). He’s extremely mobile and has a great arm. NFL scouts are starting to compare him to Marcus Mariota.
2. San Francisco 49ers – QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL)
6’4” 209 pounds
Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are subpar quarterbacks. San Francisco needs to start over with someone new. Kaaya is the next option on the board in this quarterback class. He has great size and has shown the athletic ability to make plays outside of the pocket. He ought to fare well in Chip Kelly’s offense.
3. Tennessee Titans – EDGE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
6’5” 262 pounds
Tennessee needs to continue to bolster its roster by taking the best player available. Garrett is arguably the best player in the class. In two years at Texas A&M, the edge rusher recorded 22.5 sacks, 108 tackles, and 32 tackles for loss. Since Brian Orakpo is going to be 31 next year, the Titans should consider drafting his replacement.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn
6’2” 260 pounds
Despite taking Noah Spence this year, Tampa Bay still needs to get better on the defensive line. The Buccaneers need to get more sacks since they’re in a division with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton. Lawson had a solid freshman season for Auburn but has struggled with injuries in his last two seasons. He has the potential to be a solid edge rusher in the NFL and could improve the Buccaneers’ sack defense.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
6’6” 326 pounds
Blake Bortles has been sacked 106 times the last two seasons – most in the league. Despite getting sacked so often, Bortles has shown potential to be a special player. Jacksonville needs to protect him. Luke Joeckel hasn’t panned out and the Jaguars probably need to move on. Robinson is the best offensive tackle in this class. Robinson was arrested for gun and narcotics charges this week, it’s difficult to see how that will hurt his draft stock.
6. New Orleans Saints – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
6’1” 230 pounds
I can’t remember the last time New Orleans had a quality every-down running back – probably Deuce McAllister. Mark Ingram and C.J. Spiller are decent running backs, but neither have lived up to their first-round hype. Last year, many football fans compared Fournette to the likes of all-time greats like Herschel Walker and Adrian Peterson. He’s the best player available and one of the best in this class. Fournette was born and raised in New Orleans, he’d be a great fit for the Saints.
7. San Diego Chargers – DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
6’3” 283 pounds
San Diego ranked No. 27 in run defense in 2015. The Chargers have taken two inside linebackers to help with that, and now they need to improve the defensive line. Allen was projected to be a first-round pick this year, but he decided to return to Tuscaloosa instead. He’s a complete defensive lineman that can rush the quarterback and stop the run.
8. Detroit Lions – LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
6’2” 240 pounds
Detroit had a mediocre run defense last year – most of that was because of the injury to DeAndre Levy. With Stephen Tulloch getting up there in age, the Lions need to prepare for the future. McMillan could become his replacement and be the future leader of Detroit’s defense for the next several years. He had a breakout season last year for Ohio State as he recorded 119 tackles.
9. Chicago Bears – CB Jalen Tabor, Florida
6’0” 191 pounds
Chicago spent a lot of money this offseason and used six draft picks to improve its defense. After the recent investments, the Bears need help in the secondary. Since they drafted two safeties this year, the biggest hole is at cornerback. Chicago needs to add another playmaker to pair with Kyle Fuller. Tabor is the best one in this class and looks like a future No. 1 cornerback.
10. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles) – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
6’1” 208 pounds
Outside of Jason McCourty and Da’Norris Searcy, Tennessee lacks playmakers in its secondary. When I watch Peppers on film, he reminds me a lot of Jalen Ramsey. He’s a safety that has the ability to cornerback, or any position on the field. Peppers is a rare prospect and the Titans can’t afford to pass on him.
11. Miami Dolphins – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
5’11” 206 pounds
I don’t think either Jay Ajayi or Kenyan Drake are the future starting running backs in Miami. Drake will be a very good change-of-pace back, but it’s unclear if he can be a starter. This draft class is deep with quality running backs. Miami could get a potential star to take the heat off Ryan Tannehill in this class. Cook is the best running back available.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) – OT Roderick Johnson, Florida State
6’7” 307 pounds
Cleveland lacks a quality right tackle and Joe Thomas will be 33 in 2017. So, Cleveland needs to invest in an offensive tackle to serve as a starter on the right side or serve as Thomas’ replacement. Johnson started at left tackle for Florida State as a true freshman and has been dominant since. He’s the best offensive lineman available.
13. Atlanta Falcons – EDGE Tim Williams, Alabama
6’4” 240 pounds
Atlanta’s defense only had 19 sacks last season, which was the league’s worst. The Falcons didn’t address pass rushers this offseason which means it might be another year struggling to get after the quarterback. Williams registered 9.5 sacks despite only playing in 11 games last year. He’s a bit undersized, but he’s a skilled pass rusher.
14. Washington Redskins – DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State
6’6” 280 pounds
Washington had one of the league’s worst run defenses last year. The Redskins needed to beef up its defensive front, but didn’t take a lineman until the fifth round. There’s still room for improvement. As a true sophomore, McDowell had 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season. He should continue to be a force at both rushing the passer and stopping the run at the next level.
15. New York Jets – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
6’0” 201 pounds
The Jets signed Matt Forte to replace Chris Ivory, the problem is that Forte will be 32 in 2017. He’s not a long-term solution at running back. McCaffrey is probably the most complete back in this class. He can line up anywhere on the field and catch the ball effectively, as well as run between the tackles. Also, McCaffrey could make an impact as a kick and punt returner. Him and Forte will be a great one-two punch and McCaffrey could be the future starter.
16. Buffalo Bills – WR Mike Williams, Clemson
6’4” 220 pounds
Sammy Watkins has been a fine player for Buffalo. However, the Bills need more than him if they’re going to compete. Robert Woods isn’t a quality No. 2 receiver that can take attention away from Watkins. Williams was sidelined with a neck injury last year, but he had 57 receptions, 1,030 yards, and six touchdowns in 2014. If he can recover, Williams has the potential to be the top wide receiver in this class.
17. Baltimore Ravens – S Jamal Adams, LSU
6’1” 198 pounds
Matt Elam hasn’t worked out at strong safety for the Ravens. Elam also missed all of last season after suffering a torn bicep. Baltimore declined his fifth-year option which might mean the organization is ready to move on. Adams is a physical safety that can take over at strong safety and play in the box but has good coverage skills too.
18. Houston Texans – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
6’6” 242 pounds
Houston needs playmaker at tight end. Howard had breakout performance in the national championship game and solidified himself as the top tight end in this class. In the game, he recorded five receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns. He showed the ability to be a vertical threat and make plays down the seam. That kind of skill is coveted in today’s NFL.
19. Oakland Raiders – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
6’1” 198 pounds
Oakland made strides to improve its secondary last year, but the Raiders could use another cornerback. Humphrey appeared in all 15 games and became the starter as a redshirt freshman. Humphrey had 45 total tackles and three interceptions last season. It won’t surprise me if he has a huge year this season and becomes a potential top-10 pick.
20. New York Giants – LB Jarrad Davis, Florida
6’2” 230 pounds
The Giants had a lot of struggles on defense last season, mostly coming from their linebacker corps. Jasper Brinkley’s age has affected his ability and the Giants need someone new at middle linebacker. Last season, Davis had 94 total tackles – 11 for a loss – and 3.5 sacks. Davis should strengthen the Giants’ run defense that ranked No. 24 last season.
21. Kansas City Chiefs – WR Juju Smith-Schuster, USC
6’2” 215 pounds
Jeremy Maclin was the first Chiefs wide receiver to tally 1,000 receiving yards since Dwayne Bowe, in 2011. Albert Wilson had the second-most receiving yards for a Kansas City wide receiver last season with only 451. The Chiefs need to get a better No. 2 receiver to help improve their passing attack. Smith-Schuster had a big year last season with 89 receptions for 1,454 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s a big-body receiver that can play opposite of Maclin.
22. Indianapolis Colts – DT Carlos Watkins, Clemson
6’3” 300 pounds
Indianapolis ranked No. 25 in run defense last season – the Colts have finished in the bottom half of that category every year since 2007. They desperately need to get bigger on the defensive front. Watkins is one of the top defensive tackles in this class and should only get better after opting to return to Clemson after a solid junior season.
23. Dallas Cowboys – QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
6’5” 235 pounds
By the time the 2017 regular season rolls around, Romo will be 37 years old. Jerry Jones has been adamant about drafting his successor. There was a lot of talk that Jones wanted to take a quarterback in the first round this year, but it didn’t work out. Rudolph has plenty of potential, but his stats aren’t jaw-dropping. He still needs time to develop which makes him an ideal candidate for Dallas. He’s a big-body quarterback that’s very athletic with a big arm. The NFL scouts will love him.
24. Minnesota Vikings – RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
5’10” 220 pounds
Adrian Peterson’s contract will be up after the 2017 season. I’m sure Minnesota will consider the fact that he’ll be 32 next year when attempting to re-sign him. Peterson is a rare player but he won’t last much longer. Considering how deep this running back class is, the Vikings have an opportunity to draft his successor. Chubb rushed for 2,294 yards in his two seasons at Georgia despite only playing in 19 games. If he can recover from last year’s knee injury, he’ll rise up the draft board.
25. Cincinnati Bengals – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
6’1” 240 pounds
Outside of Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati has average linebackers. Paul Dawson appeared in 11 games, but only recorded 12 tackles. The Bengals need a new starter at outside linebacker. Despite playing next to Reggie Ragland (who was drafted early by Buffalo a few weeks ago), Foster was able to total 73 tackles – eight for a loss – and one sack. I expect Foster’s numbers to get better this season.
26. Denver Broncos – TE Jake Butt, Michigan
6’6” 248 pounds
It’s probably unfair to say Denver lacks quality tight ends since fans didn’t get to see Jeff Heuerman play last season due to injury. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, the Broncos need someone to make plays in the middle of the field. Butt put on a good campaign last year and was able to show off his athleticism. He should make a solid safety blanket for Paxton Lynch for the next few years.
27. Arizona Cardinals – QB Luke Falk, Washington State
6’4” 214 pounds
Carson Palmer will turn 38 next year. Arizona needs to be thinking about drafting his replacement. Falk still needs some work and he isn’t ready to be a starting quarterback. It’ll benefit him to sit behind Palmer for a season or two and learn from Bruce Arians – arguably the best quarterback coach in the league.
28. Carolina Panthers – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
6’7” 310 pounds
Since 2011, Cam Newton has been sacked 185 times. That’s way too much for a quarterback as good as Newton. The offensive line was an improvement last season, but it was exposed in the Super Bowl when Newton was sacked six times. McGlinchey is a name to pay attention to going forward after Cam Robinson’s arrest. He could become the top offensive tackle in the class.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers – EDGE Devonte Fields, Louisville
6’4” 245 pounds
Pittsburgh ranked No. 3 in sack defense last season, but its edge rushers only accounted for 15 of the team’s 48 sacks. Two of the Steelers’ edge rushers are going to be free agents after this season. In 28 FBS games, Fields has tallied 20.5 sacks and 42.5 tackles or loss. If Fields can figure out his off-the-field issues, he’s going to give opposing offenses a lot of fits in the NFL.
30. Green Bay Packers – TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson
6’5” 255 pounds
Green Bay has lacked a satisfactory tight end ever since Jermichael Finley had his career cut short from a neck injury. That’s why Ted Thompson made a rare decision to sign free agent tight end Jared Cook during the offseason. If it doesn’t work out with Cook, the Packers need to consider drafting a tight end early next year. Leggett is a very athletic tight end that can get open and catch passes downfield. That kind of an asset is what Aaron Rodgers has lacked in recent years.
31. New England Patriots – WR Jehu Chesson, Michigan
6’3” 207 pounds
New England needs more at wide receiver than Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Tom Brady makes it work with short passes, but today’s offenses need a deep threat presence to prevent the safeties from playing down. The Patriots have lacked a deep threat since Randy Moss, in 2007. Chesson is a speedy, big-body wide receiver that can bring a new dimension to New England’s offense.
32. Seattle Seahawks – C Ethan Pocic, LSU
6’7” 309 pounds
Seattle’s offensive line has had its struggles in recent years. In fact, Russell Wilson has been sacked 164 times since 2012. It looks like the Seahawks will have a third different starting center since trading All-Pro Max Unger last year. They’ve struggled to find consistency at that position. Pocic is considered the top center in this class.
Thanks for reading
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