Merry Draftmas, everyone.
I’ve said it many times: the first round of the NFL Draft is easily one of my favorite days of the year, along with my birthday and Thanksgiving Day. It’s an entire day when football fans — both pro and college alike — can come together to anxiously dissect rumors, predict the future homes of the best college football players in the country, and get a brief glimpse into the changed futures of numerous NFL teams.
In other words: it’s a (highly asexual) football orgy.
On this fine Draftmas day, here’s my final mock NFL Draft for 2017, spanning THREE full rounds! Ground rules, once again:
- The first round is a projection of what I think will happen tonight, and not what should happen. Any opinion as to who I personally think a team should take is totally meaningless, because i’m not sitting in the draft room of any of the 30 teams presently with a first round pick. I’d rather give you actual predictions of what I think will happen, based off WAY too much scouring or pouring over news, notes, and rumors about each team’s moves.
- The second and third round mocks are purely for entertainment purposes only. There’s absolutely no way to project what will happen in that round, with any level of realism. My projections in rounds two and three are purely based on a combination of each team’s need and best player available.
1. Cleveland — Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: I do believe the fact that there are people within the Browns leadership — namely, owner Jimmy Haslam — that would prefer a quarterback here, even instead of Myles Garrett. But, they simply can’t pass up on a generational talent like Garrett. They just can’t. He’s going to be the #1 pick, no matter what you might be hearing.
2. San Francisco — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: I don’t believe the “San Francisco might take Mitchell Trubisky here” talk whatsoever. That’s just them trying to drum up interest from another team, so they can trade down (which I do think is their top preference). I think they take Solomon Thomas, banking on the Stanford connection: where Thomas, and new 49ers GM John Lynch both went to school. But, Leonard Fournette is a legitimate darkhorse here.
3. Chicago — Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU: One of the toughest projections to make in the entire draft. If the Bears do stay here — from all accounts, they’re also trying like hell to trade back — then I think they take Adams. Between his combination of think they’ll love his combination of measurables, leadership, and clean health record, I think he’d get the nod over Marshon Lattimore. But If Solomon Thomas somehow falls to #3, then expect the Bears to take him.
4. Jacksonville — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Honestly, I think it’s a 51% chance Fournette is taken here, with a 49% chance that Jonathan Allen is the pick. But there’s lots of talk that they want to take Fournette and surround Blake Bortles with more talent, with the hopes that they can resurrect his career.
5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles Rams) — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: It’s become increasingly clear that the Titans’ top preference with this pick is to trade back. I just don’t think they’re going to find any partners to make such a trade. Assuming they stay here, my best guess is that they’ll take Marson Lattimore. They reportedly want to walk out of this draft having selected multiple cornerbacks, and Lattimore is almost unquestionably the best prospect at the position in this class.
6. New York Jets — Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State: The Jets are another team that would prefer to trade down out of this pick; expect both them and the Titans to be in heavy discussion with the Browns, to swap places with Cleveland (and get the #12 pick). If the Jets do keep the #6 pick, then based off everything i’ve read, Malik Hooker would be the guy. He’d be the best player available on their board, and fill a major need for a playmaker in the secondary.
7. Los Angeles Chargers — Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: My first true “shot in the dark.” What I do know is that the Chargers are really hoping that one of the two superstud safeties — Adams or Hooker — falls to this pick. If they don’t, I think they’ll look to the defensive line, especially if Jonathan Allen is still available. With Gus Bradley as their defensive coordinator, I think they’ll value the versatility that Allen brings, in terms of playing the Seattle style front on the defensive line.
8. Carolina — Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Christian McCaffrey’s draft stock is red hot right now; he went from possibly not being taken in the first round of the draft, to teams potentially jockeying for position among the top 10 picks to get him. There are lots and lots of rumors flying around that Carolina is very interested in him, as he’d provide them with a devastating weapon for Cam Newton to throw to.
9. Cincinnati — Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: I’m holding steady with this pick, as taking Derek Barnett fits the combination of best player available on the board plus one of the biggest identified needs for a team. Cincinnati wants to come out of this draft with at least one defensive end who could be a long-term starter for them.
10. Buffalo — Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: This has been one of the most hotly debated selections within the top 10. I’m holding steady here as well, buying the fact that the Bills interest in Mitchell Trubisky — “his mama name him Mitchell, I’mma call him Mitchell” — is real. I don’t think the team is really sold on Tyrod Taylor.
11. New Orleans — Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: From everything i’ve read, New Orleans appears to be very interested in Reuben Foster, even after the hospital incident in Indianapolis, and the recent diluted drug test sample. That interest would make sense, considering he’d fill a major need at linebacker for them. If he can keep his head on straight, he’s one of the five best prospects in this entire draft.
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) — Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: If the Browns don’t move up into the top 10 to get Mitchell Trubisky, there’s simply no way they’ll finish the first round without taking a quarterback. It sounds like owner Jimmy Haslam has put the ultimatum on the front office, to where they can no longer keep pushing off find a true “franchise quarterback.” Given that, in this scenario, i’m pretty confident they’d take Deshaun Watson.
13. Arizona — Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: I don’t buy the talk about Arizona using this pick on a quarterback. I think Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim is too smart to reach for one here. Instead, I could see him selecting another super-athletic and versatile piece for the defense, filling a position that they’ve been linked to, with the #13 pick (inside linebacker).
14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota) — Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: There are lots of rumors that the Eagles are targeting a pass rusher with their first round pick. After minimal buzz early in the draft process, Charles Harris has quietly been moving up draft boards at a fast rate.
15. Indianapolis — Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: Another players who’s shot up draft boards in recent weeks. After being somewhere in the early 2nd-round mix, most of the recent scuttle has been that Jarrad Davis will likely be gone by the 20th pick in the first round. The Colts are one of the teams that’s rumored to be most interested in him.
16. Baltimore — Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: Don’t be surprised if the Ravens surprise everyone with this pick, and take the oft-maligned Cam Robinson from Alabama. The Ravens reportedly want to get better and nastier along the offensive line, and currently have a big need at right tackle. Robinson can come in and play at that spot from day one. He easily has the most raw talent of any lineman in this draft.
17. Washington — TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin: If the board were to shake down this way, i’ve heard a lot of whispers that the Redskins would have T.J. Watt next on their wish list. For one, the team has identified the need for a pass rusher as one of their top areas for upgrade (FINALLY). I really like Watt’s upside, and think he could be a lot like his older brother (J.J. Watt), in that his best years are still ahead of him in the NFL.
18. Tennessee — Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: This would be a home run scenario for the Titans, who could very well give consideration to taking Mike Williams with the #5 overall pick. Tennessee has worked out Williams as recently as this week, so the interest is there.
19. Tampa Bay — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: This is another rumor that’s picking up a lot of steam as of late. Tampa’s coaches have continually stated that they want to add “game-wreckers” to the offense. They also sound like they’re done with Doug Martin (they can release him after the season with no salary cap ramifications), and they could try to make Jameis Winston happy by reuniting him with Dalvin Cook.
20. Denver — O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Denver is another team whose coaches have stated that they want to add playmakers to the offense. It’s very doubtful that O.J. Howard would fall this far, considering he’s one of the 10 most talented players in this draft. But if he somehow did drop to this point, he’d fit a position of need for Denver.
21. Detroit — Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: Most people around the Lions believe that one of the team’s top priorities is to find a bookend defensive end opposite Ziggy Ansah, so that team’s can stop devoting their entire focus around stopping Ansah. They want a defensive end who can both hold up against the run, and rush the passer in obvious throwing situations. Taco Charlton would fit that mold perfectly.
22. Miami — Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky: While the coaches might’ve overtly stated otherwise, there’s a prevailing belief that the Miami Dolphins really want to add some talent to either/both guard spots along the offensive line, especially now that Laremy Tunsil will be moving full time to left tackle. Forrest Lamp’s name has been connected to the Dolphins for a while now, as he projects to be a guard in the NFL (after playing tackle in college).
23. NY Giants — Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: Garett Bolles is reportedly one of the players near the top of the draft board of the Giants. Most people consider him to be the best left tackle prospect in this draft, meaning he could come in and man that position, letting Ereck Flowers move over to the right side.
24. Oakland — Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt: Oakland could go in a few different directions with this pick, but based off what i’ve read, I think Zach Cunningham would be in their consideration set if the draft unfolded this way. One of the team’s biggest needs is at the inside linebacker position, for which Cunningham would make a good fit.
25. Houston — Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: The Texans have a need at both tackle positions, both in the immediate future and in the long-term. Based off of the players who are already taken, and the fact that Ryan Ramczyk could come in and play right tackle (their immediate need) from day one, this pick makes sense for them.
26. Seattle — Kevin King, CB, Washington: As unbelievable as it may seem, it looks like the Richard Sherman experience in Seattle is headed right for a divorce (and probably a messy one, no less). Given that the Seahawks already have a need at the cornerback position, that’d just be exacerbated if and when Sherman is gone. Kevin King is a long, rangy corner that fits the mold of what Seattle looks for in its cornerbacks.
27. Kansas City — Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: It’s really hard to see Corey Davis falling this far in the draft; if such a fall were to happen, somebody would trade up to grab him. In a hypothetical scenario where he would still be available at this pick, it would be really hard for Kansas City to pass on him here. He would add size to a group of wide receivers that lacks it, by and large.
28. Dallas — Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California: I would absolutely hate it if the Cowboys made this pick, because Adoree’ Jackson has emerged as one of my favorite players in this draft. There’s some belief that Dallas is interested in Jackson, and he would fill a major need for them at cornerback. He did visit the Cowboys during the draft process, which is critical; 11 of the Cowboys last 13 top picks visited the facility before the draft.
29. Green Bay — Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston: I will admit that this is far more of a hunch, based off of what Green Bay presently needs — namely, a pass rusher, since they’re moving Clay Matthews III to the inside spot full-time — and their past draft trends. Tyus Bowser has shot up draft boards in recent weeks, to the point where nobody would be surprised if he went in the first round.
30. Pittsburgh — Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan: Even after the diluted drug test sample, i’ve read from multiple sources that the Steelers are still very interested in Jabrill Peppers. Specifically, i’ve heard that Steelers General Manager Kevin Colbert really likes him. His athleticism would make him a great fit in their Tampa-2 style of defense there.
31. Atlanta — Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State: I’ve heard rumors that the Falcons want to trade up, and i’ve heard rumors that the Falcons want to trade down. Point being, it’s very likely they won’t make making their first pick at the #31 spot overall. If they do, I think Malik McDowell would make a lot of sense for them. They want to add some beef and talent to their defensive line, and there might not be a more talented defensive lineman in the draft than McDowell (if and when he’s properly motivated).
32. New Orleans (from New England) — Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: The Malcolm Butler-to-New Orleans deal is basically dead in the water now, so the Saints still have a need at cornerback. There have been rumors that they really like Marlon Humphrey, who’s one of the most physically gifted corners in the draft.
33. Cleveland — Obi Melifonwu, Safety, Connecticut
34. San Francisco — Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
35. Jacksonville — David Njoku, TE, Miami
36. Chicago — Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
37. Los Angeles Rams — Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
38. Los Angeles Chargers — Budda Baker, Safety, Washington
39. New York Jets — Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
40. Carolina — John Ross, WR, Washington
41. Cincinnati — Dan Feeney, OL, Indiana
42. New Orleans — Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
43. Philadelphia — Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
44. Buffalo — Jordan Willis, OLB, Kansas State
45. Arizona — Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
46. Indianapolis — Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
47. Baltimore — Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
48. Minnesota — Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
49. Washington — Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
50. Tampa Bay — Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
51. Denver — Taylor Moton, OT, Wisconsin
52. Cleveland (from Tennessee) — Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
53. Detroit — Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
54. Miami — Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State
55. New York Giants — D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
56. Oakland — Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
57. Houston — DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
58. Seattle — JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Southern California
59. Kansas City — DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
60. Dallas — Josh Jones, Safety, North Carolina State
61. Green Bay — Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
62. Pittsburgh — Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
63. Atlanta — Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
64. Carolina (from New England) — Marcus Maye, Safety, Florida
65. Cleveland — Tarell Basham, OLB, Ohio
66. San Francisco — Desmond King, CB, Iowa
67. Chicago — Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State
68. Jacksonville — Dalvin Tomlinson, DL, Alabama
69. Los Angeles Rams — Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
70. New York Jets — Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
71. Los Angeles Chargers — Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
72. New England (from Carolina) — Pat Elflien, OL, Ohio State
73. Cincinnati — Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
74. Baltimore (from Philadelphia) — Larry Ogunjobi, DT, UNC-Charlotte
75. Buffalo — Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
76. New Orleans — Marcus Williams, Safety, Utah
77. Arizona — Davis Webb, QB, California
78. Baltimore — Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee
79. Minnesota — Dorian Johnson, OL, Pittsburgh
80. Indianapolis — Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
81. Washington — Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn
82. Denver — Duke Riley, LB, LSU
83. Tennessee — Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland
84. Tampa Bay — Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
85. Detroit — Buckey Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
86. Minnesota (from Miami) — Justin Evans, Safety, Texas A&M
87. New York Giants — Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
88. Oakland — Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
89. Houston — Ethan Pocic, OL, LSU
90. Seattle — Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
91. Kansas City — Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida
92. Dallas — Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova
93. Green Bay — Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
94. Pittsburgh — Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU
95. Atlanta — Nico Siragusa, OL, San Diego State
96. New England — ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama
97. Miami* — Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
98. Carolina* — Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
99. Philadelphia (from Baltimore)* Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
100. Tennessee (from LA Rams)* — Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
101. Denver* — Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic
102. Seattle* — Elijah Qualls, DT, Washington
103. New Orleans (from Cleveland via New England)*
104. Kansas City* — Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
105. Pittsburgh* — Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
106. Seattle* — Eddie Jackson, Safety, Alabama
107. New York Jets* — Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
* = compensatory pick