This past week has been naught but editing vlogs, writing the Spain blog, and studying for finals. As such, there aren’t any big stories this week. Therefore, I figured I’d do something different. Here we go.
If anyone knows me, they know that I LOVE football. I’ve played it, I’ve coached it, and I live and die by the Browns. It is probably because of the Browns that I am so invested in the draft every year. For us Brownies this is our Super Bowl, and while our track record is disturbing when it comes to picking players (looking at you Johnny Manziel) it also is the time of year where I feel the most optimistic about the upcoming season. Seriously, I was over the moon when we drafted Johnny a few years ago. Hell ask my brother, he will tell you how I hopped off the couch and fist pumped like no tomorrow. The tale for the sadness Johnny ended up bringing to Cleveland is a story for another time though. However, it’s moments like that which bring me back every year to the drawing board in hopes that this year might be the year where my team finally turns it around.
Aside from my obvious bias towards my team, I truly enjoy delving into the needs and situations of all the other teams and getting a good feel for how the year might turn out. I ask questions like: Do the Falcons need an edge rusher?, How can the Jags get better this year and still have a top five pick?, Is this the year where Tom Brady finally regresses? (the answer is always no). In short, playing armchair GM is fun as hell. How would I fix every team? It is a process of creativity revolving around a topic of which I am very passionate about. What’s not to like?
So, that being said, here’s how it’s going to work:
- There will be 65 selections made (The first two rounds +1 because, well, it’s the Browns pick…).
- The pick is what I think will happen, and not necessarily what I would do. However, there will be commentary on the pick and why I think it is what it is.
- Trades can be included, but only if that’s what I genuinely think will happen on the day of the draft.
- While I love the Browns and will more than likely have more detailed explanations for their picks, that is only the result of my knowing more about them than any other team. Other than that though I will be looking at this draft from an objective perspective. I will not be giving the Browns all the best players just because I’m an eternal optimist. Nay, trust me, the Browns will get just as fair of an analysis as all the other teams.
With the rules set, and no further introductions needed, let’s get to it. So here you go, this is my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.
- Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE – This has been the pick from day one. Smoke screens of drafting Trubisky here aside, Garrett has the capability to be a once in a generational talent. At only 21 years old he tested higher than Jadeveon Clowney and Joey Bosa did in their respective years. Garrett had an outstanding combine, exhibits high character, and promised to obliterate the Browns if they do not draft him here. Yes, the team needs that long lost franchise quarterback. But, they also desperately need an edge rusher, and Garrett is widely considered to be about as can’t miss as they come. For a team with the draft history that the Browns do, this is a no-brainer. The only other option I see with this pick is if the Falcons want to trade Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Vic Beasley, and their next three first round picks to move up from 31. The Browns have fielded calls, but recent comments by Sashi Brown tells me they are happy to stay put and add a major force opposite Emmanuel Ogbah.
- San Francisco 49ers TRADED to Washington Redskins – Solomon Thomas, DE – I’ve seen Brian Hoyer have success under Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland. While the need for a quarterback is justified I have a feeling that new GM John Lynch sees that trading down could be a major opportunity to rebuild for the future. The Redskins on the other hand need a versatile lineman who can be a 3-down jack of all trades. Enter Thomas, a swiss army knife who can adapt to a 3-4 or a 4-3 with ease. His motor is non-stop, and he would provide an anchor in Washington for years to come. The price will be steep, but the reward in Thomas will be worth it.
- Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams, SS – I’m torn on the Bears because I do not think Mike Glennon is the QBOTF and Jonathan Allen could be a huge boon to a lackluster D-Line. Yet, frankly, the secondary in Chicago is atrocious. Adams is considered to be the second best overall prospect in the draft behind Garrett, and is a heat-seeking missile on the football field. His presence adds a bite to the Chicago center field, which can help alleviate some pressure on the front 7. Watching his highlight reel should get any Bears fan excited (looking at you Bridie, Moose, and Bailey).
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB – Personally, I think this a do or die year for Blake Bortles. That being said, I think the new general in Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin, understands that a quarterback needs a good running back to set up play action and that can act as a dump-off option. Fournette is being touted as the next Adrian Peterson, and while Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon are serviceable backs neither of them has the dominating presence that the LSU product brings to the table. With the addition of Fournette the Jags gain a new offensive identity much like the Cowboys did with Ezekiel Elliot last year. Now, the Jags don’t have nearly as good of a line as the ‘Boys do, but getting a stud running back is like getting your queen back in chess. Game. Changer.
- Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams, WR – If given an option, I think the Titans would be more than happy to trade this pick down. They have 18 and still could use some more set pieces across the board. Yet, I think at the end of the day they will stay put and draft perhaps the truest number 1 receiver in the class. I don’t think he’s Amari Cooper level good, but Marcus Mariota needs some offensive weapons. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry can carry the backfield, and Mariota will be protected by Conklin and Lewan, but he has to have someone to throw to. Rishard Mathews and Tajae Sharpe will be an excellent supporting cast, but neither inspire fear into most secondaries. He answered the questions about his speed at his pro day, and has the jump ball ability that is required for a red zone threat. Look for the Mariota/Williams connection to be the next AC/DC (Amari Cooper/David Carr).
- New York Jets TRADE to Cleveland Browns – Mitchell Trubisky, QB – The Jets need a quarterback, but, just as the Browns were two years ago, they have fully committed to stripping down to brass tacks and rebuilding from scratch. Sorry Jets fans, welcome to my world. I think this is the year Christian Hackenburg gets his shot. If not, Bryce Petty and Josh McCown can hold the fort while the Jets dive bomb (get it, ’cause they’re jets?) and accumulate picks to trade back up for their true heir to the QB spot *cough Sam Darnold/Josh Rosen cough*. There are already rumors that the Jets and Browns are interested in doing business. In this scenario the Browns give up 12, 52, and one of their three second rounders next year to move up six spots to get their guy. Remind me of the last Cleveland native who wanted to play for the Browns. Look, I can’t say that Trubisky will be the answer in Cleveland, but he looks to be the best shot that the team has taken in a long time. Considering the team has so much capital to throw around they might as well move up to get the hometown kid widely regarded as the best in the class. Paired with Garrett the Browns get their version of Mack/Carr and set off upon a new era. The Jets, on the other hand, gear up for next year. There is a slight chance that Cleveland trades for Jimmy Garoppolo still, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, FS – Ever since Eric Weddle left there has been a gaping hole in the Chargers secondary. While some may like a corner going here, Hooker has the makings of the next Ed Reed. Jonathan Allen still is on the board too, and he would be a menace paired with Joey Bosa. But, here, the Chargers go for positional need while picking up an excellent prospect in the backfield.
- Carolina Panthers – Joe Mixon, RB – The Panthers very well may trade up with Chicago to get Leonard Fournette. From what I’ve seen and read, Ron Rivera thinks highly of Fournette and wants Cam Newton to run less. While Dalvin Cook and Christian McCafferey are both enticing third down backs I had to give it to Mixon here. Yes, he has massive red flags, but his talent is undeniable. It’s a shot in the dark, but in my opinion he is the best bruiser back behind Fournette in this class. The Panthers take a high risk, high reward approach here. The fans won’t like it, but this pick makes a lot of sense
- Cincinnati Bengals TRADE to Arizona Cardinals – Deshaun Watson, QB – The Cardinals, fearful that they may be snubbed their QB of the future by the Bills and Jets, leapfrog to 9 by trading 13 and their third rounder to take their heir apparent to Carson Palmer. A year to sit behind a great veteran like Palmer would do wonders for the Clemson product, as many believe he could use a year to grow and adjust to the flow of the game. The Bengals lose next to nothing by moving down a few spots and add a pick to their stack of 11 they already have.
- Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR – Doug Whaley loves Deshaun Watson. But, with Watson now off the board the Bills can take a deep breath and focus on building the team around Tyrod Taylor – for one more year at least. Sammy Watkins has the potential to be great, but he needs help on the other side of the field. Corey Davis is in the running for the top receiver in the class. His routes and hands are excellent and he has a knack to make some big plays. The Bills miss out on their quarterback, but Davis has a chance to be the best receiver in the class. If I was a Bills fan (which I am, a little) I would be happy with this outcome.
- New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE – The Saints defense is bad. Like, really bad. Barnett is considered to be one of the best pure edge rushers in the class. The Saints need someone to take the pressure off of their lackluster secondary, and Barnett is just the guy they need to do it.
- Cleveland Browns TRADED to New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB – Darrelle Revis was not the answer for the Jets, who need help in a big way in their secondary. While QB still needs to be addressed, I feel as though the Jets could benefit more by adding perhaps the best corner in the draft at this stage of the first round. Lattimore does “everything well” and looks to be a safe prospect at a key position with major upside to boot.
- Arizona Cardinals TRADED to Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DE – Jonathan Allen’s slide comes to a screeching halt as he lands in Cincinnati. The Bengals could use someone with Allen’s leadership capability within their front 7, and they get a steal in Allen, who for a time was even considered to be in the conversation for #1 overall. There is some concern about the health of his shoulders, but he would make a great addition to an already strong set of D-linemen in Cincy.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Marlon Humphrey, CB – Humphrey held his own as the best CB in the formidable Alabama defense. At only 20 years of age his ceiling is through the roof. Some GMs apparently have him as their number one corner on their boards. With the losses of Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll the Eagles really could use some help in the secondary. Though they could add a weapon to help out Carson Wentz I believe they look to bolster their defenses instead.
- Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster, ILB – Foster comes in an immediate three-down starter for the Colts. His scouting report claims he is as solid a backer as they come, and his tape backs it up. The Colts were hell-bent on improving their front 7 in free agency, and now they claim someone to tie the pieces all together.
- Baltimore Ravens – John Ross, WR – The Ravens would love to have Corey Davis or Mike Williams fall to this spot, but since they are already claimed I went for the next best option. Ross reminds me a lot of Breshad Perriman who is already on the Ravens roster. However, Ross is much more of a refined prospect than Perriman ever was coming out of college. He has better hands that can allow him to be a gamechanger in the slot. His 4.22 40 time was also the fastest EVER at the combine, so he can be a new deep threat to replace Steve Smith on the outside.
- Washington Redskins TRADED to San Francisco – Christian McCaffrey, RB – McCaffrey can immediately come in and take the pressure off Brian Hoyer as a shifty receiving back that can do work all over the field. He will thrive in Shanahan’s offense, and give the 49ers a quality chess piece as they continue to rebuild.
- Tennessee Titans – O.J. Howard, TE – Remember how I said Mariota needs weapons? Well in this draft he gets a #1 receiver and a #1 tight end. Howard is like the Amari Cooper of tight ends coming out of Alabama. He has the frame, speed, and hands to be a dominant force in the middle and in the red zone. Paired with Williams the Titans get a 1-2 punch that instantly rivals the best in the league. I’m calling it now: Mariota is going to go OFF this season.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB – Reuniting Jameis Winston with his former running back? Why not. Doug Martin has a 4 game suspension, and Cook is arguably one of the best running backs in the draft. He is shifty and can catch but can also move in between the tackles. When Martin gets back they can be a great tandem with Cook taking the majority of the third down snaps.
- Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, OT – Whether it be Siemian or Lynch, the Denver quarterback needs a new LT with Russell Okung gone. In a lackluster tackle class Ramczyk is the best prospect available. While he has room to grow Ramczyk proved a capable pass protector at Wisconsin, and at the very least should hold his own on the blind side.
- Detroit Lions – Taco Charlton, DE – The Lions could use a pass rusher opposite Ziggy Ansah. Besides having the best name in the draft Taco Charlton is shooting up draft boards. He tested very well at the combine and his tape shows that he is a capable edge defender and rusher. Paired with Ansah the Lions get some bite on the edge.
- Miami Dolphins – Forrest Lamp, OG – It works too well. Though the Dolphins could use some help at linebacker they have had a glaring hole at their left tackle spot for a while now. Lamp is the best lineman in the class and will be a cornerstone of the Miami offense for years to come.
- New York Giants – Garett Bowles, OT – Eli isn’t getting any younger and could use some extra protection. Bowles has skyrocketed up draft boards the past few weeks. Though his age (25) isn’t ideal he should be able to plug and play opposite Ereck Flowers.
- Oakland Raiders – Haason Reddick, LB – While the Raiders could use some help on the interior, Reddick might just be too good to pass up. Some call him a top-10 talent, and he proved as much as he crushed the combine and the senior bowl. With Aldon Smith’s future in doubt the Raiders grab a terrific young prospect to plug into their defense.
- Houston Texans – Patrick Mahomes II, QB – After the disastrous Brock Lobster experiment the Texans are left with Tom Savage as their quarterback. Since Tony Romo has left the building their options are severely limited in free agency. Luckily for them there is one prospect who could fall this far. Mahomes has an absolute cannon and is a genuine prototype for the position. He’s been called a gunslinger, and rumor has it Bill O’Brien LOVES him. I would not be shocked to see the Texans trade up to get him, but I think if Mahomes gets past San Fran, the Jets, the Cards, and the Browns, they will sit tight.
- Seattle Seahawks – Cam Robinson, OT – Somebody get Russell Wilson either A) a better line, or B) a body bag. Yes he is mobile, but he won’t be for long if he keeps taking shots like he has been. The Seahawks did an incredible thing by getting as far as they did with the line they have, but it’s not sustainable. Robinson was once the top tackle prospect in the class. Many think he still is. Either way, the Hawks need his help, and he will be a day one starter.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Jarrad Davis, ILB – The Chiefs are going to need to shore up their front seven, especially considering that there is now a Dontari Poe sized hole in the middle of it. Davis is a somewhat forgotten prospect but has the skills to be a thumper in the middle. The Chiefs will happily welcome him aboard.
- Dallas Cowboys – Malik McDowell, DT – While Dallas may have had a mass exodus in their secondary, their front line on the defense needs a bigger tune up. McDowell will sit in the middle and cause all sorts of problems for the other team’s interior. The corner class is deep enough where they can sit for a while.
- Green Bay Packers – Gareon Conley, CB – Conley is a sticky cover corner who fills an immediate need for the Packers. He has no red flags and seems to fit the mold of what the generals up in Green Bay like to do. He won’t wow you, but he’s a solid addition to a solid system.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Andoree’ Jackson, CB – While not the best prospect on the board Jackson fills the Steelers biggest need – slot corner. He can blitz and pick up the shiftier guys on the outside and in the middle. The first true system pick of the draft.
- Atlanta Falcons – Zach Cunningham, OLB – The Falcons could use a cover linebacker, and Cunningham is one of if not the best in the class. He can come off the edge and drop back into coverage at will. He should be a fine addition to an already formidable defense.
- New Orleans Saints – DeShone Kizer, QB – If someone wants Kizer look for them to trade back up into the first round, otherwise I think the Saints pick him up. As was the case for the Cardinals I think everyone in New Orleans knows Drew Brees (38) probably won’t stick around too much longer. It might be the time to pull the trigger on an unpolished prospect with sky-high potential. Kizer is just that, and the Saints can breathe a little easier with a safety net in place.
- Cleveland – Budda Baker, FS – It’s hard to pick just one spot to target for the Browns. They got their dynamic duo in Garrett and Trubisky, but there are plenty more holes to fill. Most notably the secondary could use an overhaul. I was tempted to put Jabrill Peppers here because of his versatility, or Takkarist McKinley because of his outside presence. However, Budda Baker is a better player at one position than the others are at multiple ones. An absolute playmaker for the Huskies, Baker has a nose for the ball and a high motor. The Browns get a finely tuned wolfhound that they can send over the top and trust to make the play. Just take a look at his tape, the kid has instincts.
- San Francisco – Charles Harris, DE – After bolstering their running game the 49ers decide to give a little love to their pass-rush. Ever since the mass exodus of players a few years back this team just hasn’t recovered. Paired with Armstead and Buckner Harris can come in and immediately contribute off the edge which can relieve some pressure off the San Fran outfield.
- Jacksonville – David Njoku, TE – There’s a Julius Thomas sized hole at the tight end position in Jacksonville and Njoku has more than enough talent to fill it. While they could bolster their defense I think Tom Coughlin understands that sometimes a bigger bomb is better than a formidable shield. Njoku is ridiculously athletic and will give Bortles another big man to target down the middle of the field. His after-the-catch stats are surreal, and suddenly Jacksonville has a plethora of new ways to unleash hell on opposing defenses with Fournette and Njoku.
- Chicago – Kevin King, CB – The Bears fully commit to the rebuild of their secondary, grabbing the 6’3″ king to add an intimidating presence on the outside. Normally NFL teams prefer their corners to be a bit shorter, but at the combine King posted a 4.43 40 and a 39.5″ vertical. He has great hands and his speed should allow him to keep pace with any receiver in the league. Actually, if he doesn’t work out as a corner flipping him around to WR may not be a bad option. In any event Chicago bolsters a secondary in need of some more help and Adams and King bring a shot of energy to the Windy City.
- LA Rams – Chidobe Awuzie, CB – The Rams miss out on a lot of great talent in the first, but with their first pick they can nab a sparkplug in the secondary. His awareness is fantastic and he has the closing speed necessary to be a lock-down corner. Some have Awizie as a top-15 talent, so the Rams get some fantastic value for their pick.
- LA Chargers – Takkarist McKinley, OLB – Takk has a fantastic burst and is a great swiss-army knife to play off the edge. Has good anticipation which can help him drop into coverage should the need arise. I perceive that whomever takes him may put his hand in the dirt. That is what I believe the Chargers will do, and Joey Bosa gets a friend on the opposite side of the L.A. D-line.
- NY Jets – Davis Webb, QB – The Jets pull the trigger on the signal-caller from Cal. Davis won MVP at the Senior Bowl, and has been flying up draft boards over the last month. Is this a bit of a reach? Sure. Yet, the Jets have to find at least a stop-gap until they find their guy next year. At worst Webb is a capable back-up who can lead the team through this season. At best I can see him becoming Andy Dalton, which is still substantially better than the Jets combination of QB’s they have on staff. Don’t mix this pick up with what I said earlier though – the Jets are in full rebuild mode.
- Carolina – Tyus Bowser, EDGE – With Kony Ealy gone off to New England the Panthers could use some help on the edge. Yes they got Julius Peppers back, but do we really expect him to perform as well as he did during his first stint in Carolina? Bowser is a phenomenal athlete who reminds of Eli Harold. He is a fluid worker and feasted at the combine. With a mentor like Peppers I would not be surprised to see this kid grow into a productive edge rusher. The Panthers do need help on the O-line, but in a weak class for those positions they focus their attention on other needs until the later rounds.
- Cincinnati – T.J. Watt, OLB/EDGE – The Bengals picked a bad year to lose their top two linemen to free agency. While Dalton is going to get hammered this year the Cincy defense should turn it up a notch with the additions of Allen and now T.J. Watt. He’s got the bloodline and has some eye-popping game tape. He can set the edge, be a run-enforcer and be a serviceable cover back if need be. Look for him to stick to the edge though next to Jonathan Allen. I have a feeling that a combo of those two will give offensive lines fits for years to come.
- New Orleans – Tre’Davious White, CB – The Saints got their edge rusher and potential QBOTF. With their third pick they nab a corner to help their struggling secondary. White was Jamal Adams right hand man at LSU, and the pair became one of the most fearsome duos to any offensive coordinator. The Saints would like to not play in a shootout every week and White has the skill set and natural instincts to help make sure that happens.
- Philadelphia – Carl Lawson, DE – I remember not too awful long it was Lawson and Brad Kaaya who were the top two in consideration for number 1 overall. While Lawson did not live up to all the hype this year he nonetheless was a force on the Auburn edge. Hoping that he can reclaim that top-tier form the Eagles pick him up to bolster their pass rush.
- Buffalo – Quincy Wilson, CB – With Stephon Gilmore gone the Bills happen to be in need of a replacement cornerback. Teez Tabor is another viable option, but questions about his speed will see Wilson’s fellow Gator fall a bit further. His scouting report labels him as “big and tough” with a “very competitive nature – willing to take on a team’s top wideout.” He also supposedly has a short memory, which is going to be a boon as a rookie. The Bills get a guy who they can go to war with and is big enough to brave the harsh winters off of Lake Ontario.
- Arizona – Cordrea Tankersley, CB – Tankersley was the best corner on the team that won the national championship, so there’s that. Allocades aside Tank is a pure cover corner who should thrive under the tutelage of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. While he may look a little clunky in his motions his highlight reel shows a guy who is willing to do whatever it takes to make a play. With Tankersley on board the Cardinals secondary should be one of the most feared in the league before long.
- Indianapolis – Tim Williams, OLB – The Colts double down on Alabama players. Williams is like a shotgun off the edge and will be a fantastic WILL back when paired with Foster and D’Qwell Jackson. He knows how to attack the corner and can look to win inside or out of the offensive tackle. Apparently he struggles with scheme work though, but his upside as a predator looking to pounce should be too good for the Colts to pass up.
- Baltimore – Jordan Willis, DE – Some have seen Willis rising into the first round. My expectations are a bit tempered for the Kansas State product but I cannot doubt his talent. He’s a bit raw but is a hard worker and was productive in the sack column over his last two years as KSU. The common theme in his reports is that he seems to have an understanding about how to use his body and those of his opponents. While the proper technique may not be all there Willis wins battles by deducing his opponent’s weakness and attacking it. A useful skill which should translate into some success in the NFL.
- Minnesota – Dan Feeney, OG – The Vikings have to patiently sit and wait until the mid-second round to make their first pick. Behind Forrest Lamp Feeney is widely considered to be the second best guard in the class. Sam Bradford is brittle enough, so Minnesota would be wise to make sure he stays upright. An aware guard with a mean streak, Feeney should easily slide into a starting role as his pass-protection skills are above-average.
- Washington TRADED to San Francisco – Raekwon McMillan, ILB – San Fran adds a thumper in the middle of their front 7. A downhill blitzkrieg is the definition of this guy. Plus, he can read the eyes of the quarterback quite well and can adjust as such. He’s a bit limited when covering sideline to sideline, but the 49ers should just ask him to sit and play the run in between the tackles. If they can do that then this will be remembered as a smart utility pick.
- Tampa Bay – Jabrill Peppers, SS – Tampa Bay could use a swiss-army knife like Peppers. The sparkplug from the Big House can play corner, safety, running back, and returner. He should give the Bucs defense a jolt of excitement and has a high upside. That being said some have criticized Peppers for just being the product of great athleticism and not so much football talent. Because of this boom-or-bust classification Peppers falls all the way to 50. However, that should put a chip on his shoulder, and I’d like to see what he can do in the NFC South.
- Denver – Evan Engram, TE – The Broncos got a blind side protector, now they pick up a the versatile Evan Engram to shore up their tight-end and receiving core. Engram is listed at 6’3″ and 234 lbs, which is a little small for a prototypical tight-end. His 4.43 40 also adds to this conflict of position. It just so happens that the Broncos could use a hybrid player in the middle of their offense between Emmanuel Sanders and Demarious Thomas. While his height may limit him in jump-ball contests his vertical speed should make him a force in the seam. After drawing comparisons to Jordan Reed I think the Broncos would love to bring this kid on board.
- Cleveland TRADED to NY Jets – Obi Melifonwu, SS – If Melifonwu is still on the board at this point I would be shocked, and the Jets would race to the podium. With this pick, New York continues to rebuild their secondary with the ridiculously athletic product from UConn. Standing at 6’4″ 224 lbs this guy is not your average safety, and I think the Jets will realize that and leave the thumping to Calvin Pryor. Melifonwu has the length, speed, and awareness to be a great centerfielder over the top. If he is in range there should be no question that he will put a contest on his resume. His six interceptions in his last two seasons are evidence of that. Moreover, he was a four year starter, so he has the experience to help him along in his rookie year.
- Detroit – Teez Tabor, CB – “Teams don’t draft slow corners.” – I’ve seen this over and over again when it comes to Jalen “Teez” Tabor. He posted a 4.62 at the combine which is atrocious for a cornerback with his resume. Any yet… this kid can ball. He is a hawk when the ball is in the air and when paired with Quincy Wilson the two dominated down in the swamp. His hand-eye is spot on and he has posted 28(!) passes defended over the last two seasons. He has the size at 6’0″ 199 lbs ideal for a corner, but his speed hangs over him – the massive red flag that it is. Still… his talent is not to be ignored. The Lions, in need of a corner, take a flyer on the prospect, as speed can be improved over time.
- Miami – Duke Riley, OLB – The Dolphins really need help in the middle of their front 7. Yes, the revival of Kiko Alonso doesn’t hurt anything, but he can’t do it all on his own. I think the Dolphins explore options to trade up for one of the big names at the ILB spot, but to no avail. While Riley is considered to be a bit of a one-year wonder reports indicate that he got consistently better throughout his senior season. He started all 12 games and finished with 93 tackles, 9 for loss, and 1.5 sacks. His stats don’t jump off the page but he is very much an upgrade in a position of need for the fins.
- NY Giants – Chris Wormley, DT – Johnathan Hankins is gone. Can Wormley fill this his shoes? I think so. At 6’5″ 298 lbs Wormley has the thickness to warrant a double team from any opposing team. He comes off low and aggressive off the snap, and can worm his way (I’m so funny) into the backfield if called upon to do so. With time he should develop into a solid starter for the G-men. A lot of his negatives such as his long engagements can be fixed with the right coaching. Plus, his presence will give JPP some freedom to do his thing.
- Oakland – Alvin Kamara, RB – Look, I love that Marshawn Lynch wants to come back into the league, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The loss of Latavious Murray hurts Oakland, but less than moving to Vegas (too soon?). With no guarantee that Lynch will live up to his former self, or even be on the team for that matter, the Raiders decide to get some insurance policy on their running back group. Kamara has NFL size and speed, for he had 23 touchdowns on 284 carries during his time with the Volunteers. Apparently he is well liked and is a charismatic guy within the locker room too, which could be a nice contrast to the, shall we say, unique identity of Marshawn Lynch.
- Houston – Marcus Sanders-Williams, FS – I know nothing about this kid, but his review via CBS makes me want to watch his tape:IN OUR VIEW: With coverage skills more important than ever in today’s pass-happy NFL, Williams projects as a top 64 candidate with the physical talent and intangibles necessary to help immediately.
COMPARES TO: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Green Bay Packers: Don’t laugh, while Williams is approximately 10 pounds lighter than the Packers’ standout free safety, he possesses a similar combination of instincts, soft hands and reliable open-field tackling skills. With A.J. Bouye gone the Texans are going to need a little help in the secondary. I was tempted to gift them Fabian Moreau or Sidney Jones, but their injuries limit them to be this high on the board, at least for a team with not too many picks like the Texans have.
- Seattle – Jourdan Lewis, CB – If I’m Seattle I’m sweating in my boots that Richard Sherman might leave. The Legion of Boom (is that still a thing?) needs to reclaim its identity. Lewis, I think, can help them do that. While he is not the most intimidating presence (5’11” 176 lbs) he has the ability to simply smother receivers and take away their impact from the game. His hip movement is very smooth, and he has a knack for sticking to the side of anyone who happens to oppose him. Weight can be gained, and Seattle gets him in the room with Kam Chancellor to do just that. Seattle gets a steal.
- Kansas City – Fabian Moreau, CB – Moreau was pushing up draft boards after a solid combine, but a torn pectoral muscle at his pro day will have him slide to the Chiefs, who happen to need another corner opposite Marcus Peters. A former running back, Moreau knows how to be physical, and it shows in his highlight reel. He is fast and can challenge any back with his upper body strength. While he is limited in his coverages and his play recognition his natural athletic talent cannot be ignored. Look for him to play closer to the line on first and second downs.
- Dallas – Marcus Maye, FS – No team had a greater exodus in their secondary than the Dallas Cowboys this offseason, losing 4 players while gaining only one back. Maye played behind the Wilson/Tabor combo down in Florida, and added his own flair to the blue and orange. A former first team All-American, Maye is a ready-made and experienced safety ready to step in at a moment’s notice. While he has some inconsistency tracking the ball his eyes noticeably dart back and forth from the quarterback as the play progresses. He has the speed and length to get sideline to sideline, which should prove useful as he will likely be the Cowboys’ new last line of defense.
- Green Bay – Pat Elflein, C – With J.C. Tretter gone to Cleveland Aaron Rodgers needs a new man in front of him. While they could go runningback here I think that Mike McCarthy & Co. played enough without one last year to not fret too much. It’s a deep class for the RB’s, so they go for a spot of need and take the best center in the draft. Elflein by all accounts has an incredible work ethic which helped him become captain of the Buckeyes. Though he is not known for his graceful movements his thick stature should make him a rock-solid middleman. That, and his leadership skills should prove invaluable when directing traffic before the snap. It’s not a sexy pick, but the Pack get better with it.
- Pittsburgh – Derek Rivers, DE – I strongly considered going with QB Nathan Peterman here. After all it has become a yearly will he/won’t he when it comes to Ben Roethlisberger and retirement. But, the Steelers go for a position of need off the edge. Rivers has been steadily climbing draft boards all offseason. With 56.5 tackles for loss in 37 starts, his stature off the side should help alleviate some pressure off of the secondary.
- Atlanta – Dorian Johnson, OG – A first team All-Conference and All-American player in 2016, Johnson is a rock in the middle with 39 straight starts. His biggest concern is that he can get a little too aggressive which can result in some plays of him having tunnel-vision down the field. Nevertheless, when he is in control he has excellent awareness and arm length which can help him win battles off the bat and control any situation. The Falcons could use a rock next to Alex Mack, and while rumor has it they are looking to snag Forrest Lamp Johnson may be the BPA at the position upon their second pick.
- Carolina – Dion Dawkins, OT – In an effort to help keep Cam Newton upright and give some help to the newly acquired Joe Mixon the Panthers pick up some competition for one of their bookends. At 6’4″ 314 lbs Dawkins proved to be invaluable as the Temple left tackle. A full time three year starter, the kid has the strength to hold even the strongest edge rushers at bay while using an aggressive set of hands to benefit the run game. His biggest knock is that he can over-commit to a block from time to time, but his natural strength and athleticism will allow him to play either LT or RT in the NFL. Carolina needs someone with that skill set.
- Cleveland – Sidney Jones, CB – A torn achilles at his pro day will keep Jones out for most, if not all of the 2017 season. However, a recent report by his surgeon anticipates that his recovery time will be around 4-6 months. The Browns, deep in the rebuilding process, have enough picks to take a flyer on the injured prospect, who at one time was considered to be a top-15 pick. They have needs at corner, as Joe Haden has not produced at an elite level since 2014 and before. Jones was considered to be the best player on the Washington Huskies vaulted defense this year. Wherever he is you find a player competing to the highest level, which is something the Browns’ new DC Gregg Williams will appreciate. There’s no guarantee that Jones will fully recover from his injury, but if he does the Browns could have the next iteration of Marcus Peters on their hands.
The one thing that stood out to me throughout this process was just how damn good the defensive class is this year. The DE’s, S’s, and CB’s are STACKED this year. Meanwhile, it’s a bad year to need a QB or an OL. However, if you need someone in a skill position you might be in luck. On the whole the talent level is unreal, and there are many players with first round talent who are going to be drafted in later rounds just because of circumstance.
It is also the first year in a long while where I have absolutely no idea what will happen at the top of the draft. I could see at least 5-6 teams in the top ten trading down, which could have repercussions on the entire first round. As for #1, I doubt the Browns will go anywhere else but Myles Garrett, unless a team offers them a fortune in return. I think the 49ers and Bears suggesting they want a QB (Trubisky) want to try to force the Browns’ hands early. Who wouldn’t want to try to get Garrett at #2 or #3? To this, on a personal note, I’ll just say this: Let us have Trubisky guys, c’mon, please? Just let us have this one. I say that with hesitation, aas I don’t know if Trubisky was just a one-season wonder. I have hope that the Cleveland kid is legit, and even if he doesn’t end up at FirstEnergy Stadium I will root for him nonetheless (unless he goes to the Pats or Steelers).
The Patriots are once again in a position to make a deep playoff run this year. I keep saying every year that Tom Brady can’t possibly have it in him to carry a championship team, and every year the Pats make a run at a Super Bowl, so I’m done trying to convince myself otherwise. However, the Pats have no picks in the first 3 rounds, which is not good when you are trying to maintain a dynasty. If they want in on this talented class they are going to have to give up a chess piece. That chess piece happens to be named Jimmy Garoppolo. If anyone has the ammo to make a play for the QB it is Cleveland, followed by Chicago. Thus, I will be interested to see what the Pats do on day one, if anything. Tom Brady has to retire sometime, right? If Garoppolo is 30 when that happens, he might be the backup QB with the most Super Bowl rings in history.
At the end of the day I am very excited for this Thursday. It is an exciting time to be a football fan, especially a fan of the Browns. I’ll be in Amsterdam for the draft. So they won’t be making the first pick until 2:30 my a.m. my time. It will be King’s Day though, so I may be up to watch the results come in anyway. In any event, this has been a fun yearly tradition for me, and it was a true joy to delve deep into film and draft profiles to get a feel for how the sport I love will change in the coming years.