NFL mock draft season is upon us, as is the buildup to the NFL Combine at the end of this month. February 28th will mark the next big event in NFL Draft season with the start of the Combine from Indianapolis, making now a great time to get some names out there in relation to their draft value and fits for different teams in the first round.
You know how these work by now, let’s line up the teams and find some good football players.
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett EDGE Texas A&M
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The Browns cannot overthink this pick. In a league where the quarterback position is king, having dynamic pass rushers that sack these quarterbacks is crucial, and Garrett is just that. There is also not any quarterback in this class worthy of the first overall pick, making Myles Garrett that much easier of a selection.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
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Update — there is also not a quarterback worth the second overall pick in this draft class. Entering a new era with Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch, the 49ers would be wise to invest this draft pick in their secondary after drafting young talent to their defensive line of the past seasons.
Lattimore is not only the best cornerback in this draft, but one of the best athletes and all around players.
3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen DT Alabama
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Headlining a deep class of defensive tackles, Alabama’s Jonathan Allen could easily be the best player on the board through two picks for the Chicago Bears to add to a defense that is slowly making progress.
Allen would go a long way in this progress as a long-term answer at the 3T DT position, providing a spark as a dominant run stopper and flashy pass rusher.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Malik Hooker S Ohio State
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It wouldn’t be the Jacksonville Jaguars at the top of the NFL Draft without them adding a freakishly athletic defender from a big school, right!? While Malik Hooker’s teammate Marshon Lattimore is the best corner in this class, Hooker is in consideration at the top of the board for safeties – with his recent shoulder injury news having little to no impact on his draft status.
Malik Hooker checks all of the boxes as a safety that can bolster any defense on Sundays.
5. Tennessee Titans: Solomon Thomas DT Stanford
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No team has a better chance to open up a window of contention from seemingly nowhere than the Titans in the upcoming draft. With two top 20 picks, the Titans are already ahead of schedule thanks to the development of QB Marcus Mariota.
With needs on defense though, I see Stanford’s Solomon Thomas as an absolute steal with this pick for Tennessee as a plug-and-play defensive tackle or strong side end.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Stanford DL Solomon Thomas
6. New York Jets: Reuben Foster LB Alabama
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The Jets have rather abruptly found themselves in rebuild mode, and that process starts with drafting the best players available – including ones like Alabama’s Reuben Foster that can inject some youth along with physicality into a New York defense that is almost entirely past their prime at key positions along the front seven.
7: Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams S LSU
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Perhaps not the splashiest of picks to accompany their move to Los Angeles, the Chargers desperately need another play maker in the back end of their defense. At LSU, Adams was consistently this play maker, a pro-ready safety that excels in both run support and pass coverage.
8. Carolina Panthers: Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
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You’ve probably seen Leonard Fournette mocked to the Panthers here in almost every mock draft out there, but Dalvin Cook is the #1 RB on my board – deserving of being selected as the more complete player over Fournette in the top ten.
The Panthers needs on defense are hard to ignore, but with an incredibly deep class of cornerbacks and defensive linemen for them to choose from, the best pick they can make for their franchise QB in Cam Newton is RB Dalvin Cook.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
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Breaking Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee, Derek Barnett would fit well as a skilled edge rusher with a Bengals team that has a solid rotation of veteran defensive linemen. Adding Barnett to this mix would make the unit more dynamic, as he is capable of screaming off the right edge while potentially finding a more-permanent home in the NFL as a well-rounded left end.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
10: Buffalo Bills: Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina
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The Bills have a decision to make on Tyrod Taylor, and there are rumblings that they also may not be opposed to giving Cardale Jones a chance at quarterback (!!!). In need of a franchise starter under center though, my top quarterback falls into the Bills lap with the 10th overall pick.
Trubisky may not have the most upside of all of the QBs in this 2017 NFL Draft, but he is ready to come in on day one and make the biggest difference as a rookie starter.
11: New Orleans Saints: Sidney Jones CB Washington
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The amount of talented cornerbacks in this draft is unreal. Plenty of them are going to have their names called in the first round, and this group should certainly include Washington’s Sidney Jones – who is an athletic star with above average coverage skills and awareness.
All of Jones’ traits would be welcome on the Saints’ defense, including his willingness as a run defender.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Washington CB Sidney Jones
12: Cleveland Browns: Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
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Are the Browns actually being smart in the draft for once? Mocking Cleveland Myles Garrett with the top pick was easy, but passing on a quarterback at 12 will be more difficult. Since I make my mock drafts off of my own board and player grades, the decision to grab another top cornerback in Marlon Humphrey was slightly easier – adding to the run of defensive backs here in the first round.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
13: Arizona Cardinals: Mike Williams WR Clemson
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The Cardinals 2016 season did not go nearly as planned, but with Carson Palmer returning for 2017, their focus needs to be on immediately trying to regroup and salvaging a Super Bowl run out of this veteran roster. Playing in an offense under Bruce Arians that stretches the field consistently, Mike Williams can help ensure Palmer has the most success possible as a prototypical X receiver that uses his length, size, and strong hands to win in the air.
14: Indianapolis Colts: Carl Lawson EDGE Auburn
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The Combine will be huge for Lawson not only because of the on-field work that could separate him from other first round EDGE prospects, but for any information we get on a shoulder injury that lingered for him throughout college.
At his best, Lawson would be a pick for Colts fans to get excited about under their new leadership in the front office, adding a dominant pass rushing presence to a defense that lacks a specimen like him.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Auburn DE Carl Lawson
15: Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
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Also unable to participate in the Combine due to injury, Davis did enough in college to earn my top WR grade. An effortless athlete with a NFL-ready body, Davis wins off of the line with quickness and acceleration before making nearly every catch he gets a chance to in the air – often times with explosive results after the catch as well.
The Eagles severely lack a receiver that can do any of these things consistently, and giving QB Carson Wentz a guy like Corey Davis would be a fantastic way to help the second-year quarterback develop.
16: Baltimore Ravens: Takk McKinley EDGE UCLA
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The Ravens rarely miss on first round picks in the NFL Draft, and in need of more athleticism on the edge defensively, it would be hard to miss with Takk McKinley of UCLA.
Still a very raw prospect, McKinley flashed in college rushing off of both edges with the speed and power to finish consistently.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
17: Washington Redskins: John Ross WR Washington
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DeSean Jackson is set to be a free agent for the Redskins, and regardless of where he plays in 2017, Washington would be smart to add the Washington Huskies product in Ross. Capable of easily taking the tops off of defenses while comfortably running underneath and intermediate routes, Ross will be a match up nightmare for a long time at the next level.
18: Tennessee Titans: O.J. Howard TE Alabama
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As mentioned, the Titans have a chance to dominate the first night of this draft, and they could do so by giving Marcus Mariota yet another option to play in this unique offense.
The Titans are committed to their running game with DeMarco Murray and 2016 draft pick Derek Henry, but also need improvements to their personnel when spreading the field in the passing game. Howard can be used in the running game, as a detached TE, and will even line up on the outside.
19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Forrest Lamp G Western Kentucky
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A tackle in college, Forrest Lamp projects similarly to Zack Martin out of Notre Dame at the next level – who also played tackle there before being drafted to play guard by the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.
In need of a guard, the Buccaneers land one of the few offensive linemen that is worthy of a first round selection here at 19th overall.
I love lamp.
20: Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
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When it comes to team needs, the board is pretty washed at this point for the Broncos at 20. Instead, they get decent value in a rising prospect like Ramczyk to protect whoever plays quarterback in 2017 for Denver.
21: Detroit Lions: Teez Tabor CB Florida
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The Lions secondary exceeded expectations in 2016, but in need of another starter Teez Tabor makes a lot of sense as a lengthy cornerback that rarely concedes anything at the catch point thanks to his ideal strength and agility to pair with that NFL length.
22: Miami Dolphins: Zach Cunningham LB Vanderbilt
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Zach Cunningham is currently the, “really good 2017 NFL Draft prospect that we’re not talking enough about”, guy in this draft. That said, the Dolphins need at linebacker paired with the fact that Cunningham will be among the best players available on the board at 22 overall makes this an easy pick.
Miami lands a three-down, versatile linebacker deep in the first round. The defensive talent here is outstanding.
23: New York Giants: Leonard Fournette RB LSU
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With a ton of money invested in their defense, the Giants are looking to make another run under Eli Manning. Fournette has a chance to be the best running back Manning has had in his backfield, and won’t be asked to carry Ben McAdoo’s offense – something that I believe is critical for Fournette to succeed early in his career.
24: Oakland Raiders: Caleb Brantley DT Florida
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An up and coming team in the AFC, the Raiders are missing the penetrating interior defensive lineman to play with Khalil Mack off the edge. Brantley’s first step separates him from other DTs in this class, and that speed would be a welcome addition to the Raiders defense.
25: Houston Texans: Justin Evans S Texas A&M
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The missed tackles on tape with Evans are maddening, but the already formidable Texans defense can only benefit from adding a player that never stops flying around the field and putting himself in position.
With some NFL coaching, Justin Evans could prove to be a steal, as he already possesses pro-ready speed, awareness, and athleticism.
26: Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson OT Alabama
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While I try to make all of these picks off of my own board, sometimes a player just makes too much sense to be passed on by a front office, and in this situation that could be the case with Robinson and Seattle.
Protecting Russell Wilson needs to finally be a priority, and Robinson has the strength to win against defensive ends in this league. He’ll need work on his lower body and technique, but the Seahawks will accept his size and strength as a starting point.
27: Kansas City Chiefs: Budda Baker S Washington
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Budda Baker is one of the hardest players to evaluate out of the ones I’ve scouted so far, but pairing him with Eric Berry in Kansas City leaves little room for failure. Baker thrives on stopping the run at all levels of a defense, and can flash as a rangy deep safety in pass coverage as well.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Washington Safety Budda Baker
28: Dallas Cowboys – Charles Harris EDGE Missouri
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The Cowboys need pass rushers in the worst way, and particularly dynamic speed rushers like Harris. He remains on my board at 28 here because of his incompleteness as a prospect, but with a clear role for him in Dallas as a rookie, Harris could be productive working under Rod Marinelli.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Reviewing Missouri DE Charles Harris
29: Green Bay Packers: Quincy Wilson CB Florida
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The Packers would be wise to add multiple cornerbacks in this draft, starting here in the bottom of the first round with yet another defensive prospect out of Florida.
Wilson and Tabor made for quite the duo with the Gators, as both now find their way into the first round of this 2017 NFL Draft.
30: Pittsburgh Steelers: Adoree’ Jackson CB USC
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Also in need of secondary help, the Steelers have shown interest in hyper-athletic, flexible prospects like Jackson – who played on both sides of the ball with USC. A cornerback in the NFL, Jackson provides value as a special teams player, and grades as a first/second round player for the Steelers to target at the bottom of this round.
31: Atlanta Falcons: Malik McDowell DT Michigan State
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If Dan Quinn has anything to say about it, there won’t be much of a Super Bowl hangover for the Atlanta Falcons – who have plenty of young pieces to be excited about on defense.
McDowell would be a perfect new addition to this scheme, versatile enough to play both DT spots in a 4-3 front and produce primarily as a pass rusher.
SCOUTING REPORT: 2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
32: New England Patriots: Haasan Reddick LB/EDGE Temple
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The rich get richer. With the last pick in the first round, I have the Patriots landing an absolutely outstanding value in Temple’s Haasan Reddick.
Reddick should be able to hold up as a defensive end in the NFL, but also drops from the linebacker position with ease and still rallies to the football. The Patriots would find a ton of uses for Reddick, and all of them would involve him making impact plays as a sound tackler.