It’s time for a 2017 NFL mock draft.
This is a “what I would do” mock draft, meaning there’ll likely be players you haven’t seen, read, or heard being discussed as Round 1 selections. After watching hours of film, this mock (mostly) represents the prospects I believe are worthy of being first-round picks this year.
You know those “draft do-overs” published a few years after a draft? This is essentially my “early” submission for the 2017 draft class
I’ll (hopefully) have a “what I think will happen” mock — with trades — the day before the draft.
1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett is the total package as a defensive end. He’s 6’4”, 270-plus pounds with long arms, incredible athleticism, good bendiness, and a decent array of pass-rushing moves for a 21 year old.
2. San Francisco 49ers - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
I have Mike Williams ever so slightly ahead of Davis, but with Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast Offense, Davis is a better fit.
3. Chicago Bears - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Howard’s impact is two-fold for the Bears. He’ll help to provide a huge target for Mike Glennon and chip in as a (strong) blocker for Jordan Howard in the run game. John Fox sees Greg Olsen 2.0 in Howard.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Allen Robinson is has superstar potential, yet is entering the final year of his rookie deal. Adding Williams will give Blake Bortles another high-pointing option, which should help him rebound from a rather ineffective second season. Allen Hurns has been solid, but was hurt often in 2016.
5. Tennessee Titans - Solomon Thomas, DT/DL, Stanford
Dick LeBeau’s Steelers defenses of the mid-2000s were ferocious up front. While a secondary member was considered here, Thomas provides much more value as a three-down linemen who can wreak havoc from anywhere. He’s the perfect understudy to Jurrell Casey, Derrick Morgan and Co.
6. New York Jets - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Gang Green added cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Marcus Gilchrist in free agency. That doesn’t mean former defensive back coach Todd Bowles will hold back from campaigning for Hooker, the most electric play-making defensive back in this class.
7. Los Angeles Chargers - Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
The Chargers can address clear holes at cornerback in Round 2 or Round 3. With Melifonwu, they get a versatile backend player with an unfathomable combination of size and athleticism. He can do it all. Los Angeles’ front office will see a supersized version of Eric Weddle.
8. Carolina Panthers - Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman loves his defensive linemen. Kawann Short was recently rewarded with a multi-year extension, and Vernon Butler was picked in Round 1 a year ago, but Allen could potentially be insurance if Star Lotulelei can’t be re-signing after the 2017 season. Though best inside, Allen can man the defensive end spot too, which is currently manned by 30-year-old Charles Johnson. Also, Allen is the best player available at this juncture.
9. Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Bengals need more speed at linebacker. Foster certainly provides that. He and Vontaze Burfict will create a rather menacing duo of second-level defenders. If there are any character concerns with Foster, Cincinnati has shown in the past they’re receptive to those type of players.
10. Buffalo Bills - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Buffalo has two talented linebackers with Preston Brown and Reggie Ragland. Sean McDermott would like to add some speed to that group, and he gets that with Reddick, who, athletically, is very comparable to Thomas Davis. On third downs, if need be, Reddick can jump down to defensive end to rush the passer and will be a terror on A-gap blitzes and twists.
11. New Orleans Saints - Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
New Orleans can score with any team in the NFL. Problem is, its defense has been catastrophically bad the past few seasons. With White, they score the cleanest cornerback prospect in this class to pair with Dalvin Breaux. White is proficient in man and zone coverage and plays the football aggressive at the catch point.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles) - Marcus Williams, S, Utah
Williams is the second-best ballhawk in this class behind Hooker, and won’t be able to legally drink until September 8. He’s an explosive athlete and good play-recognizing skills, which leads to tremendous range at free safety. He’s the perfect game-changing defensive back for Cleveland to draft as it emerges from the basement of its rebuilding process.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
Arizona lost some important defensive players this offseason and land an instant impact linebacker in Round 1 who’ll bring leadership to the front seven. Cunningham isn’t the fastest linebacker, but he’s a super-experienced tackling machine with plus athleticism, insanely long arms and plenty of power behind his pads.
14. Philadelphia Eagles - Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Eagles added weapons to Carson Wentz’s arsenal in free agency, and their defensive front is sturdy. Now the secondary needs to be addressed. With Conley, Philadelphia gets a reliable cornerback with long arms and impressive quick-twitch athleticism to match up with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Dez Bryant, and Terrelle Pryor in the divsion.
15. Indianapolis Colts - Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Yes, the Colts have invested a great deal of recent early-round picks in offensive linemen, and that trend continues here. Andrew Luck is the franchise, and needs to be protected. With Lamp, and last year’s first-round pick Ryan Kelly, Indianapolis will have a brick wall interior. In a pinch, Lamp can play tackle.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Joe Flacco’s best seasons came when Baltimore had reliable tight end play. While Dennis Pitta is still on the roster, he’s labored through severe injuries and will be 32 in June. Engram is a polished receiving tight end with a complete skill set.
17. Washington Redskins - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Redskins picked LSU safety LaRon Landry at No. 6 overall in the 2007 draft, and while Adams isn’t as big as him, he’s a more refined prospect — especially in coverage — who’ll add much-needed versatility to the secondary. He and Su’a Cravens will formulate a new-age tandem of safety / linebacker hybrids.
18. Tennessee Titans - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
After nabbing a disruptive defensive linemen at No. 5 overall, Tennessee is ecstatic to land Lattimore here with the 18th pick. A fluid athlete with limited experience, Lattimore possesses mirroring skills well beyond his years.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Talent-wise, Joe Mixon is my top running back, but his off-field issues are majorly concerning, and Jameis Winston would lobby hard for his Florida State teammate here. Cook is RB2 in this class and will add a special run-game talent to Tampa’s upstart defense.
20. Denver Broncos - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Another ideal match. McCaffrey lands in Denver where his dad played bulk of his illustrious career. With C.J. Anderson, Devontae Booker, and now McCaffrey, the Broncos can lean more on its running game with either Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian under center. McCaffrey will be a screen-game monster too.
21. Detroit Lions - Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee
This is a a bit too high for Barnett, but the Lions are a playoff-caliber team in need of pass-rushing help. I know, I know... this is supposed to be “what I’d do” mock draft, and I’m a huge advocate of the “best player available” strategy. However, Detroit had the second-fewest sacks in the NFL in 2016. Barnett is more of a late first-round pick, but Detroit gets him here at No. 21.
22. Miami Dolphins - Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Offensive linemen was an option, yet after a reassuring season from Juwuan James, Miami goes cornerback. Awuzie is a super-versatile, super-experienced cornerback who’s played everywhere and is proficient in every type of coverage. He’ll be especially useful covering New England’s slot receivers.
23. New York Giants - Cam Robinson, OT/OG, Alabama
A home-run pick for the G-Men. Robinson should be the immediate starter at left tackle. Erik Flowers simply has not panned out and would potentially be better inside at guard. Robinson has an occasional mishap with balance or footwork, yet enters the NFL considerably more polished than Flowers did two years ago.
24. Oakland Raiders - Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Even if Marshawn Lynch lands in Oakland, Mixon is a nice pick here for the Raiders. Lynch’s arrival would overshadow’s Mixon’s, and in a few years, the uber-talented former Oklahoma Sooner can take over as Oakland’s feature back.
25. Houston Texans - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Bill O’Brien gets the most talented quarterback he’s had in Houston. There are some question marks surrounding the system Watson played in at Clemson and his downfield accuracy, but he made some of the best throws in college football over the past three seasons and is battle tested.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Russell Wilson is ecstatic. Ramczyk will have an injury red flag, but on the field, there’ aren’t many holes to his game. Seattle’s offense was operating at its best when Russell Okung had the left tackle spot locked down. Ramczyk takes over there.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
With Alex Smith the entrenched starter, there’s no rush for Trubisky to see the field. With a year — or maybe even two — under Andy Reid’s tutelage, Kansas City could have the steal of the first round with this North Carolina signal-caller.
28. Dallas Cowboys - Kevin King, CB, Washington
With the departures of Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr, Dallas needs reinforcement at cornerback. The Cowboys fell in love with the athleticism of Byron Jones a few years ago, and get another freakish specimen with the 6’3” King.
29. Green Bay Packers - Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
Injuries derailed Green Bay’s secondary a season ago, but Ted Thompson realizes more talent is needed in his team’s defensive backfield. Tankersley has impressive press man skills and is fresh off an illustrious career at Clemson.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Harris has “Steelers pass-rusher” written all over him. Slightly undersized with a non-stop motor. While not a twitchy athlete, he is a proven producer with a nice array of pass-rushing moves.
31. Atlanta Falcons - Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
The Falcons used a second-round pick on similarly sized defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman in the 2014 draft, which means he’s on the last year of his rookie deal. McDowell isn’t 21 yet and has some of the most impressive plays of any defensive front player in this entire class. He also has long stretches of invisible play. Dan Quinn believes he can light a fire under McDowell, an incredibly long and athletic defensive lineman.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots) - David Njoku, TE, Miami
After landing Tre’Davious White with their first pick, the Saints can’t help themselves by adding another weapon to the offense. Coby Fleener is the primary tight end at this point, but he’s almost 29. Njoku has plenty of similarities to former University of Miami tight end Jimmy Graham. Sean Payton likes that.
Bills Round 2 selection - Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
Bills Round 3 selection - Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M
Bills Round 5 selection - Chad Hansen, WR, California
Bills Round 5 selection - Will Holden, RT, Vanderbilt
Bills Round 5 selection - D’Onta Foreman RB, Texas
Bills Round 6 selection - Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan