Mock Draft 2.0

As NFL free agency winds down, the combine and pro-days now in the rear-view mirror, NFL execs around the league are now looking towards next month’s draft as the final avenue for improving their rosters before OTAs, training camp, and the start of the 2017 season. After posting Mock Draft 1.0 on Twitter earlier this month, I decided to take a more long-winded approach this go ‘round.

1. CLE: Myles Garrett/OLB/Texas A&M

The Browns ought to send this pick to the podium 48 hours before the draft just to make sure there’s no confusion. After posting miraculous numbers at the combine, Garrett has essentially solidified himself as the consensus #1 pick in the 2017 draft. Cleveland lands an incredible player with the size, speed, and intangibles to make him an All-Pro caliber player early on in his career. Myles Garrett was born to rush the passer, which means AFC North QBs are hoping to hear someone else’s name called with this pick.

2. SF: Solomon Thomas/DL/Stanford

Would be shocking to see new 49ers GM John Lynch select a Stanford kid with his first draft choice of the new regime, right? I don’t think so. Alma maters aside, Solomon Thomas is a stud, and would be a welcome addition to the two defensive lineman drafted with the 49ers previous two first round picks (Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner). Thomas brings a toughness and tenacity of which the downtrodden Niners defense is in desperate need of.

3. CHI: Marshon Lattimore/CB/Ohio St.

Take a second to notice what happens when skilled cornerbacks hit the open market in free-agency — they get paid. Lattimore offers too much value to pass up on with the 3rd overall pick — especially for a defense like Chicago’s, which is in the process of retooling key areas such as the secondary and defensive line. The Ohio St. corner was the best at his position on tape all season long, mostly due to his dynamic abilities in press coverage — which make him a day one starter for Vic Fangio.

4. JAX: Jamal Adams/S/LSU

For years under former head coach Gus Bradley, the Jaguars did their best to pose as a version of Seahawks-lite. Unfortunately, the personnel in Jacksonville wasn’t nearly talented enough to effectively execute Seattle’s now infamous cover-3 scheme. With high-profile additions this offseason on the defensive side of the ball, such as Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye, Jamal Adams fits the bill as a versatile safety who’s able to cover in space — as well as make plays in the box against the run.

5. TEN: Malik Hooker/S/Ohio St.

The Titans, thanks to last year’s trade of the #1 overall pick, have two selections within the top-20 of the 2017 draft. In need of secondary help, they could elect for Malik Hooker, a safety with unique athleticism and ball skills, who’d offer immediate relief to a unit desperate need.

6. NYJ: Mitch Trubisky/QB/North Carolina

Trubisky’s rare blend of athleticism and accuracy is what will likely cement him as the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft. The Jets will have the opportunity to put a stop to the (seemingly) never ending carousel ride they’ve witnessed at quarterback since the days of the Sanchize. With only one season of experience under his belt at UNC, this pick doesn’t come without risk — however — in a division with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, high-risk, high reward may be the Jets only choice.

7. LAC: Jonathan Allen/DL/Alabama

The Chargers haven’t had much juice on defense the past few seasons, which ultimately cost them multiple playoff berths and Mike McCoy’s job. Moving to Los Angeles now casts a bright light onto general manger Tom Telesco as the team prepares to move into their new stadium along with the LA Rams in 2019. Jonathan Allen could end up being the most productive defensive player to come out of this draft — which is to say the Chargers would likely be delighted to have him fall in their lap with pick #7. An interior force, Allen uses his incredible strength to disrupt the opposing team’s rushing attack and his strength also pays dividends as an interior pass rusher. A coup for the Chargers.

8. CAR: Derek Barnett/DL/Tennessee

Barnett was a workhorse during his career as a Volunteer. He’ll step into what is already an immensely talented Carolina defense and offer elite pass rushing ability, though he’s limited athletically. I like the idea of Barnett being a Charles Johnson protégé.

9. CIN: Reuben Foster/ILB/Alabama

Foster fits the mold of a Cincinnati player about as well as any player in this draft. It just feels like Foster belongs in the AFC North and pairing him alongside Vontaze Burfict gives the Bengals a star studded linebacker corps of their own — which they’ll need in their matchups with Le’veon Bell.

10. BUF: Tre’Davious White/CB/LSU

White is a Sean McDermott kind of player — versatile and a sure tackler. After losing Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots, White fills an enormous hole in the Buffalo secondary. This choice also gives the Bills the flexibility to chase offensive talent in the later rounds.

11. NO: Leonard Fournette/RB/LSU

Fournette is one of the most physically imposing runners we’ve ever seen at the collegiate level. Paired with (and eventual replacement for) Mark Ingram, the Saints will tout a backfield talented enough to rival the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Fournette will serve as just another tool in the tool shed for Drew Brees — particularly in goal line and short yardage situations.

12. CLE: Corey Davis/WR/Central Michigan

Corey Davis is a name that surely surprised some when he emerged as the top WR in this class, when he surpassed star Clemson wideout and recent National Champion, Mike Williams on many scouts’ draft boards. For Cleveland, he gives the Browns another chess piece on the offensive side of the ball, a Swiss-Army knife who can play inside and out. His precise route running will make life much easier for whoever’s playing quarterback for Hue Jackson next season.

13. Ari: Forrest Lamp/OG/Western Kentucky

The WKU product would be making the leap to the NFL in a similar fashion to the way Laremy Tunsil did last season, which involves making the transition from college tackle to guard in the NFL. His impact will be put on display next season during highlight packages where he’s running downfield blocking for David Johnson.

14. PHI: Charles Harris/DL/Missouri

A lot has been made of Philly’s weak set of cornerbacks, and with two of last year’s starters gone (Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin), it is most certainly a position which Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas will look to address on day two, due to the depth at the position. Here, in Harris, the Eagles are getting a player who’s extremely savvy when it comes to pass rushing techniques. He lives around the quarterback — a trait which will only complement a young unit of cornerbacks.

15. IND: OJ Howard/TE/Alabama

The trajectory of the NFL over the past half-decade is what makes this pick so interesting. Howard offers the Colts with the opportunity to employ more “12" personnel along with Jack Doyle, while also remaining a strong run blocker who can open up lanes for Frank Gore and others.

16. BAL: Gareon Conley/CB/Ohio St.

Conley is yet another Buckeye product who’s exceptional athleticism separates him from the rest when covering outside receivers. As he slides in alongside Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Eric Weddle, and Tony Jefferson, the Ravens will be blessed with depth in their secondary in 2017, a huge factor down the stretch in previous seasons.

17. Was: Mike Williams/WR/Clemson

After losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon this offseason, the Redskins went out and picked up Terrelle Pryor from the Browns to circumvent their lack of receiver talent. They’ll add Mike Williams to their receivers room where he’ll pair up with last season’s first rounder Josh Doctson. Adding young, cheap, weapons will help the ‘Skins be better prepared for the possibility of life after Kirk Cousins.

18. TEN: John Ross/WR/Washington

After securing Malik Hooker with the #5 overall selection, the Titans can afford to open things up a bit and look into drafting a electrifying playmaker. It doesn’t get more electric than breaking the record for fastest forty-yard dash. Ross is a downfield threat which is critical for this young offense led by a sound offensive line and budding star QB Marcus Mariota.

19. TB: David Njoku/TE/Miami (FL)

Drafting Njoku would mean that Tampa’s cupboard is overflowing with weapons on the offensive end. As Atlanta proved last year, a great offense can help a shaky defense a great deal. With D-Jax now on board, he and Njoku would complement Mike Evans quite nicely.

20. DEN: Dalvin Cook/RB/Florida St.

Cook is exactly the type of player the Broncos and John Elway are in desperate need of. He has the quickness to not only make plays as a runner, but also as a pass catcher in the backfield. With question marks surrounding the quarterback position, the Broncos ought to look for a sure fire playmaker — and they’ve got one in Dalvin Cook.

21. DET: Alvin Kamara/RB/Tennessee

The Lions upgraded their offensive line this offseason and after struggling to run the ball last season they find themselves an answer in Kamara. He’s an elusive runner, who’s shown he’s capable of making plays as a pass catcher in the screen game. A nice addition for the Lions already potent offense.

22. MIA: Jabrill Peppers/S-LB/Michigan

A key for the Dolphins this offseason is to upgrade their defense. Jabrill Peppers is unique in that his position once he reaches the NFL has yet to be clearly defined. As an in the box safety/blitzer, Peppers could be extremely effective early on. He’s also capable of being utilized on offense and heavily in special teams.

23. NYG: Haason Reddick/LB/Temple

Reddick showed up big at the Senior Bowl and established himself as a perennial first round talent. His versatility inside and outside will make him a valuable commodity at the NFL level. The Giants are acquiring a hungry player with a relentless motor.

24. Oak: Takkarist McKinley/DE/UCLA

The Raiders’ defense struggled mightily last season — especially in crucial games against the Broncos and Texans. They need to add a playmaker who can get after the quarterback and help prevent big plays in the running game. McKinley likely will see time at linebacker in the NFL no matter where he ends up.

25. Hou: DeShaun Watson/QB/Clemson

This one isn’t too hard to pin down. The Texans relinquished a 2nd round pick to rid themselves of Brock Osweiler’s contract and they’ll need a competent QB to compete in the playoffs. Tony Romo or not, the Texans could choose to play Watson Week 1, or let him develop behind veteran Tom Savage.

26. SEA: Jarrad Davis/LB/Florida

Jarrad Davis fits the Seattle Seahawks prototype. Ideal size and athletic ability, he gets after it and makes plays whenever he’s around the football. Though Seattle certainly needs to address their offensive line in this draft, it’s too difficult to pass up a player of Davis’ caliber.

27. KC: Evan Engram/TE/Ole Miss

The Chiefs are already the proprietor of one of the league’s best TE’s in Travis Kelce. Adding Evan Engram to the mix would make this offensive unit incredibly scary once Tyreek Hill and Jeremy Maclin are factored in. Engram is a severe threat in the passing game who continually wins matchups versus less athletic defenders.

28. DAL: Garrett Bolles/OT/Utah

It’s a possibility Bolles gets nabbed earlier by a tackle needy team, however the fit is there in Dallas. With Doug Free’s retirement, Bolles immediately comes in and competes with Chaz Green for the starting right tackle position.

29. GB: Taco Charlton/DE/Michigan

Charlton is a lean defender who is tough and bullies offensive lineman in pursuit of the football. After losing Datone Jones and Julius Peppers, Taco brings a little flavor and an infusion of youth to Green Bay.

30. PIT: Budda Baker/S/Washington

Baker is a nickel defender with outstanding instincts. He swarms the ball in press and zone coverage. He is an ideal fit for this Pittsburgh defense. Though less athletic, Baker could be thought of as an unpolished version of former Steeler great Troy Polamalu.

31. ATL: Christian McCaffrey/RB/Stanford

McCaffrey’s multitude of skills is what makes him so attractive to the high octane Falcons offense. The Stanford RB is also an extremely skilled receiver and will be utilized as such. He plays with incredible effort and will contribute on special teams. Overall, this is a privileged pick for the Falcons — a team with very few holes.

32. NO: Chidobe Awuzie/CB/Colorado

Chidobe Awuzie wraps up the first round for the Saints. He heads to NOLA as a player who has a diverse skill set. A physical specimen with stints at safety and linebacker, in addition to his primary position — cornerback. Awuzie’s presence is felt almost immediately when he steps between the lines. What he brings to the Saints defense day one will be immeasurable.

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