2017 NFL Mock Draft 1.0

Who will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers take with the first pick? Photo Courtesy: Zennie Abraham
Who will the Cleveland Browns take with the first pick? Photo Courtesy: Zennie Abraham

By Zach Walker

  1. Cleveland Browns – Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett – Of course, everyone will say that Cleveland needs a quarterback, and no one would be wrong. Robert Griffin is as reliable as a cardboard box as a life preserver, and as much as I think Cody Kessler did better than expected, I think he’s a band-aid player. However, he gives them the wiggle-room to not HAVE to draft a quarterback with the number one pick. Myles Garrett is a difference maker. I thought he was another Von Miller-type, a lean speedster, but when I watched him against Arkansas, I was shocked over how much meat was on the frame. Really, he looks like a young James Harrison. He’s a gameplan player, someone who has to be schemed and accounted for.
  2. San Francisco 49ers – North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky – Soon to be new general manager, new head coach, new team direction and philosophy. The Blaine Gabbert hourglass is out of sand, and Kaepernick looks like a former headliner hitting up off-strip casinos for gigs. The 49ers don’t have a lot to play around with, they aren’t the most stocked fridge. So, go with what you can build around. I watched Trubisky in his bowl game, and the guy looked poised and very under control. Sort of gave off a Marcus Mariota level of calm and cool sense under pressure. Trubisky operates with great accuracy, NFL levels accuracy and shot selection.
  3. Chicago Bears – Alabama DL Jonathan Allen – I think the Bears will really give Matt Barkley a long look. I’m sorry to admit this, but I watched quite a number of late season Bears’ games this year, and Barkley had his team in every game, I swear. If he had Alshon Jeffery during those games, no joke, he could have had victories. The Bears need more danger on defense. Jonathan Allen is a NFL defender. He’s got the endurance, the motor, the power, and the pursuit of the play. He’s close to three bills, but glides as he moves. He’s a shapeable player, could be a 3-4 end, a 4-3 end, or a 4-3 tackle. For the Bears, he can help free up Lamarr Houston and Eddie Goldman, or they can help get him free.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Alabama OT Cam Robinson – This IS the tastiest job in football right now. Players and playmakers all across the board, cap room to light on fire, a very patient owner who will give the time, and the northern Florida weather to play and practice in. Blake Bortles is not bad enough to shell to the curb, give him an offensive coach to weaponize his side of the ball, and with what’s on that defense and within that division, they could have an unreal run. They need to keep Bortles’ feet clean. It’s weird to think that a road grading left tackle would be considered this high in the draft, but given how much the Jaguars need to add to their raw-bacon offensive line, it’s a smart pick. Now, this isn’t Greg Robinson from a few years back, where’s he’s likely a guard, best suited for a power team, Cam keeps his quarterback cool and dry. He’s faced solid competition from plenty of pass rushers in this first round, and with the exception of Tennessee’s Derek Barrett, he’s had major positive games, and done so in both pass protection and run blocking.
  5. Tennessee Titans (LA Rams) – Clemson WR Mike Williams – Tennessee has an opportunity in this draft to come out with the best haul. They clearly have their quarterback. They have a veteran running back, and an up-and-coming one. A dangerous, though seasoned veteran tight end that has his quarterback’s eye. They just need more weapons to help “Super” Mariota reach the castle levels. Mike Williams is as solid a wide receiving option that’s come through the draft since Houston got themselves a Nuke (DeAndre Hopkins). At six foot three, and usually playing around 220 pounds, he’s got the frame to be the number guy in an offense. Williams catches a ball with ease, and when thrown a challenge, he takes it and ends up handing the ball to a ref afterwards. Him and Mariota, that’s going to be a combination for a long time. I know throughout this draft season, my mocks will change, don’t expect this pick to, this one is going to happen.
  6. New York Jets – Clemson QB Deshaun Watson – When the Jets didn’t pull Fitzpatrick for Geno Smith, when he threw six picks, we all knew Geno was done in New York. After Bryce Petty went down, and they went back to Fitzpatrick instead of their draft pick Christian Hackenberg, which tells me something too. They aren’t sold. They had nothing to lose by playing him in even the last game of the season, but they didn’t. Therefore, Deshaun Watson, good luck being the snowflake in hell! The Jets are a fire, though through the smoke, one could see what could be a solid team. Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte. Not youth to build a team around, but certainly ample weapons to bring a young stud like Watson up to NFL caliber really quickly. Watson has postered the Clemson team to prominence, and him knowing that he’ll be a high draft pick hasn’t clouded his overall game. Though his waters might but slightly muddier than from 2015, he still had a very great 2016, and the Jets would be ridiculously Jets if they passed him over.
  7. San Diego Chargers – Iowa CB Desmond King – I think that this pick could be a quarterback, if they felt like it. But the Chargers could use another piece on the back-end, because unfortunately, Jason Verrett for as good as he is, just cannot stay healthy. I think King is this draft’s version of Marcus Peters, the most dangerous cornerback in the league. Peters is a turnover vampire, and though King isn’t quite there, he’s got the foundation is definitely established. King has every trait of great corners within his arsenal, then factor in his physicality, which can at time s play against him, but in the NFL, will go a long way for King.
  8. Carolina Panthers – LSU RB Leonard Fournette – Think about this, the Panthers drafted Jonathan Stewart when the “Two-headed Monster” running back offense was all the rage, also known as the ‘Marion Barber’ era. This pick makes so much sense it’s a sickening bet that the Panthers would never think to pull the trigger. First, Stewart knows the two back system. Second, the Panthers could ease Fournette in and chum the water with him. Third, and really only smart point, Fournette already plays “slam” ball and his carries can be major hits taken away from Cam Newton. They could run pistol formation, still run power plays, and keep the heat off of their quarterback.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals – Michigan LB Jabrill Peppers – I personally don’t care about this pick, this team, especially their quarterback. I think the coach should be replaced, then Dalton swiftly after. Transparency over, I think a talent should land on their defense. Jabrill Peppers is a player who’s good at football and is in position limbo. He moves like a safety, has the size of a safety, but play a ton of linebacker snaps. In the NFL, he could likely play as a top ten safety, regardless of free or strong, then play a healthy amount of the hybrid ‘Dog’ linebacker or STAR linebacker, in nickel and dime packages.
  10. Buffalo Bills – LSU S Jamal Adams – Really, aren’t the Bills already much improved, having gotten rid of Rob Ryan, and they did it by giving the frozen boot to the brother/mascot that brought him in. Really, it doesn’t much matter which direction the Bills go in, everything is likely to improve by subtraction. So, I say go with the safety Adams. He’s a polished product, with true plug and play difference making ability. A player with ability to reroute Gronkowski, then turn around the next week and take the legs out from under Jay Ajayi, then follow that by intercepting nameless quarterback A in New York.
  11. New Orleans Saints – Tennessee DE Derek Barrett – The Saints need to work out their dynamic duo first and foremost. Make sure Sean Payton is around, then work Drew Brees’ cap number down to manageable. After that, it’s solid on offense, so just continue adding to the defense. Just like Stephone Anthony from a few years ago, Derek Barnett isn’t the most talented at his draft position, but Barnett is a worker just like that. He’s got almost 200 tackles as an end, in three seasons, over thirty sacks and a fourth of his tackles have been for loss.
  12. Cleveland Browns (Philadelphia Eagles) – Alabama LB Reuben Foster – I‘ll change this if and when Cleveland actually signs Jamie Collins. Or I won’t. It’s called having cake and denying others theirs. Foster is an aggressive hammer on defense, and he’s got great instincts and plays with a pretty strong chip to him. If the Browns sign Collins, then draft Garrett and Foster, their defense with Ryan Nassib and Danny Shelton up front could be something pretty stout. No, really!…
  13. Arizona Cardinals – Notre Dame QB Deshone Kiser – And the shine has come off of Carson Palmer for the last time. The Cardinals are a competent, consistent quarterback away from being right back in the fray of the NFC West. Maybe also if Tyrann Mathieu would stop getting injured. Kiser isn’t ready yet. He’s a lot like this draft’s version of Paxton Lynch, everyone can see the frame, can see the potential, and respects what they’ve done for their schools. But, like Lynch, a year of intended redshirting will be the best thing. Too much up-and-down play in his final season, but under Bruce Arians, Kiser could develop into something special.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles (Minnesota Vikings) – Florida CB Jalen Tabor – I’ll just skip to the pick, and sidebar the shade to be thrown at the Eagles. They need secondary help badly, safety or corner, so I’ll choose corner, for now. Tabor played across from a NFL corner in Vernon Hargraves, and has his own NFL traits. I’ve seen him compared to Aqib Talib, for both on and off the field, so take that at face value. But, he’s a great prospect on the field, with that cornerback fire and edge.
  15. Indianapolis Colts – Florida State RB Dalvin Cook –Andrew Luck has popped a new bottle of champagne, because Ryan Grigson has gotten the axe. Oh happy day!! Progress can be made now by the Colts. Start by getting someone who has talent and takes the attention and licks off of the quarterback. Cook has dual-threat ability matched with great skill when he’s got the ball, he’s got a Matt Forte type of skills to help Luck.
  16. Baltimore Ravens – Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey – Humphrey is Baltimore’s rebuttal to AJ Green and Martavis Bryant. He’s got the size and speed to keep pace with those game breaking receivers, though he doesn’t track the ball as well in the air as teams might like, but John Harbaugh has done more with less. Another great pick by Ozzie Newsome.
  17. Washington Redskins – Michigan State DT Malik McDowell – Given the offenses of the NFC East: with the Cowboys’ strength of run game, and the Giants and Eagles quick-step, short passing attacks; the Redskins could use a guy that can plug the run as well as he can disrupt passing lanes. McDowell is this draft’s Arik Armstead, just an epic mammoth of a man, who was much more disruptive than his stats would let off. In Washington’s 3-4, he could play all three front line positions, and play them well. He could have JJ upside.
  18. Tennessee Titans – Alabama TE OJ Howard – Delanie Walker is probably Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, but he’s also going to be 33 at the start of training camp for Tennessee. If they had Walker in the second tight end spot, with the freshly drafted Mike Williams on the outside and this pick of OJ Howard, that’d be a nightmare. Howard is much more capable than his stats let on. He’s a snap blocker, a smooth strider, and with great hands to boot. The reason he didn’t pop as much in this last season for the Tide was because of Jalen Hurts. He wasn’t a highly nuanced passer. With Mariota, Howard could become a Vernon Davis style game breaker.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Western Michigan WR Corey Davis – No one uses their top weapon like Jameis Winston does use Mike Evans. Beyond that, he has an aged like a salad Vincent Jackson, an underneath threat of Adam Humphries, and a solid connection with his tight end Cameron Brate. Another major threat on the outside would be huge for Winston going forward into year three and beyond. I promise this, and it’s in stone, Davis will be the first MAC receiver drafted in round one since Randy Moss. He’s a physical, dominant threat on the outside, and plays a lot like Vincent Jackson and across from Evans and with a bold passer like Winston, that could be massive fun.
  20. Denver Broncos – Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk – The protection needs to improve for whichever quarterback is going to be pulling the trigger. Vance Joseph is a defensive coach and with his touch, he should have that Denver defense on par with their championship standard. But they need push and presence upfront on offense. A defensive coach tends to like to lean on the running game heavier, and with Devontae Booker and either CJ Anderson or add another young back later in this draft. Wisconsin is the buy-word for quality linemen. Ramczyk has the frame for more bulk, maybe as much as 30 pounds, but he’s got the form that’ll float him in the early NFL years.
  21. Detroit Lions – Ohio State CB Marshaun Lattimore – Matt Stafford could have seriously broken the dead streak had his finger not hampered his final quarter of games. The offense is actually damn solid across the board, weapon-wise, maybe another running back to add to the mix but that’s further in the draft. The Lions’ need help shoring up the backend of the defense, a running mate for Darius Slay to help spread the love. Lattimore is a good sized corner who’s able to run with the best of them, flip his hips, and fight the ball in the air.
  22. Miami Dolphins – Florida State DE DeMarcus Walker – I feel like not enough people remember Oakland trading down with Miami so the Dolphins could take epic super waste of draft choice, Dion Jordan. It takes serious time to get over a miss of that magnitude. But the Dolphins could lose Cam Wake in the coming seasons, especially if they keep trying to trade him, then Mario isn’t under contract for too much longer. They need to hedge their bets with a home grown product. DeMarcus Walker is a major disruptive force off of the edge and could be the continuation of Cam Wake. The reason I like Walker over others in this draft is because Walker played at NFL weight and won’t have to bulk or cut to play in the league.
  23. New York Giants – Missouri DE Charles Harris – Jason Pierre-Paul is not going to accept a “home-town” low-end offer to stick around in New York, and that isn’t an assumption, those are his thoughts on his contract status. The Giants will eventually be drowning in defensive spending cap, so maybe Pierre-Paul will find a different home. Charles Harris bulked for his senior year and played strong after a slow start out of the gate. He’s played with pretty good twitch, and has a nose for quarterbacks but everything I’ve read, most would like him stronger against the run.
  24. Oakland Raiders – Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham – Damn, if Derek Carr didn’t get hurt, the Raiders would have been true ‘Wild Cards’ in the playoffs. But an early exit is a good thing for the Raiders, as they have better draft position through the rounds. Cunningham has been dynamite for the past two seasons at Vandy, and has basically showcased all the traits that a team could want for a field general. I’m certain defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. will recognize the skills he played with two decades ago and will likely want him to helm the defense that could use some more strengths on defense.
  25. Houston Texans – Ohio State C/G Pat Elfein – Really though, the Texans could, and maybe I’ll go as far as should, have beaten the Patriots. Brock is going to get burned by everyone but he had two touchdowns dropped by targets. It would have changed the whole dynamic of the game. Brock threw his picks later in the game, where he and everyone knew he had to press. I don’t care about the Texans in any capacity, but if given time to grow more comfortable under Bill O’Brien, Osweiler could become serviceable. Besides, their stuck with him. Getting better protection and push upfront will really go a long way for Houston’s offense. Elfein can do wonders for the offense, I couldn’t keep track of how many off target snaps Osweiler had to catch off his kicks, but getting a clean snap is a good start. Elfein could be a pinch guard, but could be an elite center within a few seasons.
  26. Seattle Seahawks – Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson – The Seahawks must get back to their old identity, and really win in the offensive trenches and let Russell Wilson get back to a believable play-action game. It opens everything up for the Seahawks on offense. Side note, I love how the Seahawks pretty much blew off their own foot over the Jimmy Graham trade, because they haven’t done anything to replace Max Unger and pretty much use Jimmy Graham as an expensive decoy. Nelson is a road-grading guard that can be an attitude piece in the middle of that supremely weak offensive line.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs – Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey – If anyone saw that game and thought that Alex Smith could be replaced by just about anyone else in the league, you’d both be correct and hopefully not a Chiefs’ fan, because Andy Reid isn’t changing quarterbacks as long as he’s healthy. When I tuned in, in the third quarter, the Chiefs had about 120 yards gained on offense. (Thank goodness I’m not stuck watching that for 16 games per season. Christian McCaffrey makes a whole heap of sense here. They have to actually replace Jamaal Charles, he’s 30 and very injury prone. But more than that, McCaffrey just seems so Andy Reid. He could be molded to play any position on the field. Take on heaps of running back carries, then be the security valve for Alex Smith and his four yard passing game.
  28. Dallas Cowboys – Ohio State Safety Malik Hooker – If I’d take a poll of who people would have thought the hero of the divisional game against Green Bay, how far down the list would Jeff Heath have been? Next best player out there was frecking JJ Wilcox! Granted, Aaron Rodgers makes a ton of secondaries contemplate a career change, but really this secondary is going have some turnover this year. Byron Jones, Jeff Heath, Anthony Brown, and Orlando Scandrick are the only members of the Cowboys’ secondary who played significant time, who are still under contract for 2017. It’s a pipe dream to think that the Cowboys will pursue either Eric Berry or Jacksonville’s Jonathan Cyprien, so I have them tabbing a safety here at 28. Hooker could be both an immediate replacement for Barry Church, and an upgrade at the position. Hooker is a rangy safety that can more than intimidate in the box. He’s a Buckeye to keep an eye on throughout the rest of this draft process, because he’s a player that could test himself out of the Cowboys’ price range at 28.
  29. Green Bay Packers – Florida CB Quincy Wilson – So the world course corrects and all is well. The Packers got throttled. They were pulled apart to such an extent, that the Packers elected to not have the “Savior” finish the game. The Packers have talent at cornerback already, but they can never stay on the field. Quincy Wilson passes the NFL eye test at six foot one, 210 pounds, and is going to light up the combine in Indianapolis. The thing with Gator corners is that they are overly handsy, and that’ll get called in the NFL, but if he gets his hands working for him, he could be a dominant press-man corner for years.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Alabama LB Tim Williams – The Steelers had the wrong guy get injured at the most crucial moment. However, they will have Martavis Bryant next season, and perhaps a healthy Markus Wheaton when they get back to the playoffs next year. Williams is a stand-up linebacker by trade, and that comes with the accompanying skill sets of pass coverage and open-field awareness. But Williams can also get dirty in the trenches, and add his pass rushing skills. Now this draft process is going to hold a candle to Williams and that could scare some teams off, but the Steelers are a strong tradition rich organization, if anyone can iron this guy out, it’s the Steelers.
  31. New England Patriots – Florida LB Jarrad Davis – This is before Super-Sunday. Bill Belichick cut loose Jamie Collins for a sweet draft pick from the Browns, despite him being a difference maker on defense. Enter Jarrad Davis. Played with some nagging leg injuries in 2016, still played well. He was tasked with a lot of real estate to cover on defense and handled it very strong. He’s a plug-in linebacker, could be an outside backer, or could be the man in the middle.
  32. Atlanta Falcons – Michigan DT Chris Wormley – The Falcons are a superpower on offense, and are pretty much water-tight on that side of the ball. The defense is better than their stats, young stars on defense, and will only improve under Dan Quinn. They could stand to get broader in the middle. Chris Wormley rounded his game well in 2016, improving at hunting down quarterbacks. He’s a force in the middle and with opposing offenses focusing on Vic Beasley on the outside, the Falcons could use some heat on the inside.