2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: The Penultimate Mock

With the NFL Draft just a few weeks away, it’s time for another 2017 NFL Mock Draft. Chances are, the first pick is set, but after that, the draft could shake out several different ways. Will the 49ers take a QB? Or will they opt to improve their defense and send the top quarterbacks falling? Only time will tell. Here is my penultimate 2017 NFL Mock Draft.

(All Offensive, Defensive and line rankings come via Football Outsiders DVOA)

  1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M. Myles Garrett has all but locked up the top spot in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the Browns would be crazy not to pick him. He’s as close to a once-in-a-generation talent this draft has, and he’s only improved his stock over the course of the offseason. The Browns need a QB, but passing on Garrett here to take one would be a huge mistake.
  2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. There’s a lot of talk about the 49ers passing on a QB here, but I just don’t see it. Neither Brian Hoyer nor Matt Barkley are the 49ers’ long-term answer at the position and Kyle Shanahan’s going to want to find and develop his own guy. Whether that guy is Trubisky or Deshaun Watson remains to be seen, but I think San Francisco finds their QB here.
  3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama. The Bears defense improved from No. 31 to No. 24 in the NFL this past season, but Chicago still needs help up front along its defensive line. Potential shoulder issues aside, Allen’s the second-best prospect in the draft and would be the Bears’ most talented defensive lineman before he even stepped onto the field.
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU. Jacksonville needs improve an offense that ranked No. 25 in the NFL last season. T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory combined to form the No. 29 rushing offense in the NFL, and with Doug Marrone planning to run the ball a lot, the Jaguars need an upgrade. Fournette would give them one.
  5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. With a deep secondary class, and after signing Logan Ryan and Jonathan Cyprien, the Titans can afford to wait to add another DB. Corey Davis, the best WR in the draft, won’t be available at No. 18 though, so Tennessee scoops up their future WR1 here.
  6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU. The Jets’ pass defense finished the season ranked No. 31 in the NFL, and with an aging and depleted secondary – Darrelle Revis has already been cut – New York needs help everywhere behind their front seven. After Garrett, Adams might be the closest thing to a “sure thing” in this draft class, just what the Jets need.
  7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State. The Chargers missed Eric Weddle, who signed with Baltimore in free agency, a whole lot last season. Hooker, had seven INTs last season with the Buckeyes and can slot into Weddle’s position from day one, further improving a defense primed to be one of the NFL’s best.
  8. Carolina Panthers: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State. The Panthers must regret letting Josh Norman walk, as their pass defense dropped from No. 2 in the NFL to No. 11. Signing Captain Munnerlyn won’t be enough to improve the unit, and more help is needed. If Lattimore is available here, the Panthers would be foolish to pass on him, as drafting an offensive lineman here might be a bit of a reach.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford. After years of being one of the top units in the AFC, the Bengals’ defense struggled last season, ranking No. 17 in the NFL. A big reason why? Their pass rush. Michael Johnson has struggled and the Bengals sacked opponent QBs just 31 times. Improving the Bengals presence off the edge should be a priority and adding Thomas would surely help.
  10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. The Bills need to improve their 19th ranked passing offense, and give Tyrod Taylor more weapons to work with. Outside of Sammy Watkins, Buffalo doesn’t have much talent in its receiving core, especially with Robert Woods leaving via free agency. Drafting Mike Williams would change that, and give Taylor two dynamic targets on the outside.
  11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee. With a defense that ranked No. 29 in 2016, New Orleans needs help at just about every position on defense. Signing Manti Te’o and Nick Fairley will help, but the Saints’ pass rush still needs some major upgrades. Barnett totaled 32.0 career sacks and 52.0 tackles for a loss at Tennessee and would slot right in across from DE Cameron Jordan.
  12. Cleveland Browns: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama. Could a 6’6” 251 lbs. tight end force the Browns to pass on a QB? It’s certainly a possibility with no sure-things at the quarterback position in this year’s draft. An an elite athlete, Howard didn’t have the production at Alabama mostly because he wasn’t used as a receiver much. But Howard has all the makings of an elite tight end and a potential All-Pro in the NFL.
  13. Arizona Cardinals: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama. If Foster is available here, it shouldn’t take long for Bruce Arians and the Cardinals to make their selection. Kevin Minter left to sign with the Bengals via free agency and Karlos Dansby is 35. Arizona needs to shore up their defense, if it wants to continue to compete in the NFC West, and drafting Foster will help it to do just that.
  14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State. After adding Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey to their receiving core, Philadelphia can turn their attention to the final piece of their offense, a running back. Ryan Mathews struggled with injuries and Darren Sproles is more of a scatback. Cook would give the Eagles more of a three-down back.
  15. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple. The Colts defense, which ranked No. 27 against the pass and No. 32 against the run, needs a lot of help, especially at the linebacker spots. Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo are decent additions, but neither is the caliber of Reddick, who totaled 9.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for a loss last season at Temple.
  16. Baltimore Ravens: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan. Not only is Terrell Suggs aging, set to turn 35 in October, but the Ravens’ pass rush was also among the worst in the NFL last season. Charlton would give the Ravens a young, 6’6” 277 lbs. pass rusher off the edge and help lessen the blow with Elvis Dumervil cut and when Suggs leaves or retires.
  17. Washington Redskins: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State. The Redskins must improve a defense that ranked No. 27 in the NFL, and No. 25 against the run. Upgrading the front seven is a priority, especially with Chris Baker’s departure and McDowell would give the Redskins a versatile defensive lineman up front.
  18. Tennessee Titans: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida. With a pass defense that ranked No. 26 in the NFL last season, Tennessee needs some help in their secondary, even after signing Ryan and Cyprien in free agency as Jason McCourty is a free agent after this season. With 28 passes defended in his three years with Florida, Tabor would give the Titans a trio of corners, and a potential replacement should McCourty leave.
  19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan. Free agent signees Chris Contee and J.J. Wilcox aren’t going to cut it for the Buccaneers at safety, more talent is needed. Peppers can play, safety, linebacker and even on the offensive side of the ball. He’d help improve a rush defense that ranked No. 24 in the NFL last season.
  20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin. Denver’s offensive woes weren’t due to their quarterback play, rather it’s inept offensive line which allowed 40 sacks on the season. Upgrading the Broncos’ offensive line starts with the tackle positions and drafting Ramcyzk would give them a plug-and-play option, ready to start.
  21. Detroit Lions: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama. The Lions’ defense finished last in the NFL last season, really struggling against the pass when Darius Slay went down with an injury. D.J. Hayden, a former first round bust, isn’t going to solve anything at the cornerback position for Detroit; drafting Humphrey would.
  22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky. With Branden Albert’s departure, Laremy Tunsil will slide over to tackle, leaving a gaping hole at guard along their Dolphins’ offensive line. Miami’s offensive line wasn’t spectacular to begin with, ranking No. 22 in run and pass blocking, and adding a guard in Lamp will do wonders to shore up the Dolphins’ protection in front of Ryan Tannehill.
  23. New York Giants: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah. OT Ereck Flowers was a top-10 pick two years ago, but he’s looked like a bust. The Giants need to find his replacement and improve an offensive line that struggled this past year. Bolles would replace Flowers and help protect Eli Manning over the last few years of his career.
  24. Oakland Raiders: Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt. The Raiders’ defense ranked No. 25 in the NFL against the pass and No. 18 against the run struggling due to poor play from their linebacking corps. OLB Jelani Jenkins was signed in free agency, but more additions are still needed. Cunningham would give Oakland a major upgrade at opposite Jenkins.
  25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson. Tony Romo’s off to CBS Sports, so there’s a good chance Houston takes a quarterback here. Even though Bill O’Brien may like Tom Savage, it’s doubtful he’s the QB of the future. Watson may need time to develop, but he has all the tools and intangibles to succeed in the NFL.
  26. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. With one of the worst offensive lines in football last season, Seattle needs upgrades just about everywhere, but especially at both tackle positions as Luke Joeckel, a first round bust, probably isn’t the answer. Robinson could slide in on Russell Wilson’s blindside and has the versatility to play inside if Tom Cable needs as well.
  27. Kansas City Chiefs: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida. Though the Chiefs has a Top 10 pass defense, their run defense particularly struggled, finishing the season ranked No. 26 in the NFL. They signed DT Bennie Logan to replace Dontari Poe, but to just a one-year contract. Drafting Brantley would further shore up the interior of their defensive line and give them a replacement should Logan leave next season.
  28. Dallas Cowboys: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri. Upgrading a lackluster pass rush has to be an offseason priority for Dallas, whose defense recorded just 36.0 sacks. Harris totaled 18.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss in his three years with Missouri and would be perfect fit, giving the Cowboys a desperately needed pass rusher.
  29. Green Bay Packers: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State. When LaDarius Gunter, an undrafted free agent, is forced to cover opponents’ top receiver, you know you have secondary issues. The Packers did sign Davon House, and will get Damarious Randall back from injury, but more help is needed at corner. Conley, a physical corner who’s draw comparisons to Desmond Trufant, will certainly help.
  30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA. At some point, the Steelers have to find a replacement for the 38-year-old James Harrison. Bud Dupree has excelled opposite Harrison, but Jarvis Jones is a bust and left in free agent. Selecting McKinley, who totaled 10.0 sacks this past season with UCLA, makes perfect sense.
  31. Atlanta Falcons: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn. Down the stretch in Super Bowl LI, the Falcons struggled to rush the passer. Atlanta added Dontari Poe to shore up the middle, but the Falcons still need to improve their pass rush, complementing Vic Beasley Jr. with another edge rusher. Lawson would be a perfect fit.
  32. New Orleans Saints (via New England): TreDavious White, CB, LSU. With a pass defense that ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season, the Saints desperately need help in their secondary. New Orleans unsuccessfully tried to trade for Malcom Butler, so taking White would make sense here and would give New Orleans an upgrade over PJ Williams, slotting alongside Delvin Breaux.

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