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Written by Ben Pfeifer
The 2017 NFL draft is fast approaching and is full of controversy. Issues range from who will Cleveland pick with the first overall slot and where will troubled players such as Reuben Foster and Garreon Conley land. To answer all these issues, I’ve created a first round mock draft that encompasses everything you’ll want to know about the draft. This mock draft includes the first round only and no trades whatsoever.
- Cleveland Browns – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
There are two real options for this pick: Trubisky and Myles Garrett. Either makes a lot of sense. Trubisky is undoubtedly the safer pick. He has a quick release and high intelligence, and should be able to make an impact right away for the Browns, who have not seen consistency under center for the last decade and a half.
But by doing this, they are passing on a potentially generational prospect. Garrett blew up the combine to add on to his incredible physical talent. He would be an enormous upgrade, but are the Browns willing to pass on a quarterback. There is a good chance multiple quarterbacks will be gone by their next pick, so taking Trubisky makes sense here.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
As mentioned previously, Garrett is a once in a generation prospect. I think his dominance in the league could really reach the likes of J.J. Watt. This will help the 49ers pass and run defense greatly. Although quarterback is a need, Garrett is just too good to pass on. A defensive front consisting of Myles Garrett, Arik Armstead, and Deforest Buckner could be devastating for a long time.
3. Chicago Bears – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
According to a report by CSN Chicago, the Bears are willing and ready to take Watson here. They are reportedly even willing to trade up a spot if they think San Francisco will select him. I am admittedly not the biggest Watson fan, but this does not make a lot of sense after they gave Mike Glennon an exorbitant contract this offseason. Watson has superstar potential though, and could be worth the risk here.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Solomon Thomas – DE, Stanford
Thomas has been shooting up draft boards. His stellar combine, pro day, and intangibles have intrigued NFL scouts. We all know how much the Jaguars love young defensive stars, and this pick is no exception. Solomon Thomas will be vital to the Jags’ run and pass defense in an AFC south division with quite a few talented rushers and quarterbacks. Thomas could learn under excellent defensive lineman Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell.
5. Tennessee Titans – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adams blew up his pro day, and the Titans are reportedly very interested in taking Adams if he falls to them. Adams is a very talented defensive back, and will be a great leader for the Titans’ weak secondary, especially after losing veteran Jason Mccourty.
6. New York Jets – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette is widely regarded as the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. His 2015 season was one of the best ever performances by a running back college. The Jets have been known to go best player available, and Fournette is the best offensive player in the class. Fournette will provide a much needed spark for the offense, and a long term replacement for the aging Matt Forte
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Chargers are looking for a replacement for Eric Weddle, and will be very excited if Hooker falls to them. Hooker is a centerfielder, a ball hawk. His injury should not be a concern for a team in need of a safety, especially when that safety has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed. Hooker should be ready for week one of the regular season.
8. Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Reports say McCaffrey will go in the top 10, and if so, Carolina is a perfect. He will be the replacement for Jonathan Stewart, who is not nearly as electric as he once was. McCaffrey is a dynamic weapon who can run, catch, and return. One NFL analyst has gone as far as saying he will lead the league in total yardage (Non QBs) next season.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Defensive line should be the number one priority for the Bengals in the draft. Jonathan Allen would be an excellent fit. The former Bednarik award winner would be a lock for the top 5 if it wasn’t for his shoulders and lackluster combine performance.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Outside of the injury prone Sammy Watkins, the Bills are very thin at receiver. Williams is the best receiver in the class by a narrow margin. He is a physically gifted possession receiver who excels at the jump ball. A perfect compliment to the burner Watkins.
11. New Orleans Saints – Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
The Saints top priority this draft is defense, as it has been for quite a few years. That all starts with the defensive line. Charlton is an athletic freak with next level size and length, and can line up across from Cameron Jordan from the get go. Some teams think Charlton will go in the top 10.
12. Cleveland Browns – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Browns take the best pass catcher in the draft to pair up with their new franchise quarterback. Howard is the best and most complete tight end to come out of college in a long time, and will be a dynamic threat for the Browns’ new look offense. Howard could go as early as top 5, so this would be a steal.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Cardinals have struggled to find a consistent cornerback opposite Patrick Peterson, Lattimore is extremely talented, and will be selected by the Cardinals if he falls here.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
The Eagles reportedly wants to upgrade their pass rush with this pick, especially if a talented pass catcher such as Howard or Williams falls to them. Barnett will help put ease the pressure on the Eagles offense, especially in a division stacked with elite offenses.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Despite Foster’s off-field issues and the Colts huge need at pass rusher, I believe Foster is too good to pass up at 16. More than anything, the Colts are lacking a leader on defense. Foster is the best prospect at linebacker i have seen since Luke Kuechly. Along with the offseason signings, Foster could help to bring the Colts out of limbo this season.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Ravens secondary is aging, and in general every underwhelming. A shutdown corner like Humphrey is necessary in a division where you face Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Tyler Eifert twice a year.
17. Washington Redskins – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Redskins need to upgrade in the secondary. Some teams even see Conley going higher than his Ohio State teammate, Marshon Lattimore. Conley would be a huge upgrade across from Josh Norman.
18. Tennessee Titans – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Marcus Mariota has never had a true number one receiver his entire career. Davis is that guy. Davis is a very close second best receiver to Mike Williams. Davis can run past the defense and go up and get it if needed.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Although Cook has slid down draft boards recently due to his shoulders and off field issues, but his talent and vision is undeniable. Cook would be in a prime position to succeed in the young Buccaneer offense, especially considering their need for a tailback.
20. Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
The Broncos situation at tackle is concerning, especially considering they play Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, and Melvin Ingram twice a year. The Broncos need a franchise tackle to protect whoever ends up under center. Bolles had an incredible combine, and is high on Denver’s board.
21. Detroit Lions – Haason Reddick – LB, Temple
Reddick is a versatile weapon who can stop the run, rush the passer, and cover the best of tight ends, running backs, and even some receivers. Reddick would be a great long term option for an aging Lions defense.
22. Miami Dolphins – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
This pick could go in multiple directions. The Dolphins could go with a linebacker to compliment Kiko Alonso, or a pass rusher. Lamp is a very safe pick, a talented blocker. Building through the trenches is always a good way to go.
23. New York Giants – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Giants have a glaring need at offensive tackle. Although a weapon such as David Njoku or a linebacker such as Cunningham or Davis would be a good pick here, a good pass blocking lineman to protect Eli Manning will enable the Giants to have one of the best offenses in the league, and one of the most complete teams.
24. Oakland Raiders – Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
Melifonwu had one of the best combines ever by a safety coming into the draft, and consequently has shot up draft boards. The Raiders need to upgrade the defense, and addressing the secondary is a good place to start.
25. Houston Texans – Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Texans are desperate for a quarterback. Reports say that Bill O’Brien absolutely loves Mahomes, and is even willing to trade up for him if he feels it is necessary. Even though Mahomes is considered a second round prospect by most, he will most likely not be available by the time the Texans select.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
The Seahawks have been for a solid second cornerback across from Richard Sherman. Awuzie would be a solid backup plan incase Sherman is to leave. Awuzie has been very good during the pre-draft process.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
After the departure of Dontari Poe to Atlanta, the chiefs need a replacement in the middle of their defensive line. Andy Reid has been known to build through the trenches, and Brantley would fill a big need, and drastically improve the Chiefs’ run defense.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Peppers is a boom or bust prospect. Peppers has the chance to be an elite defender in this league, or be just average. The Cowboys defense has so many needs, and they could play Peppers in a variety of positions, such as safety, linebacker, or nickel cornerback.
29. Green Bay Packers – T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin
Watt has been steadily rising up draft boards for quite a while now. The Packers could upgrade the pass rush here, and find a great player opposite Nick Perry, especially after the departure of Julius Peppers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – John Ross, WR, Washington\
Ross blew up the combine with the fastest ever recorded 40 yard dash at the NFL draft combine. Ross will make the already dynamic Steelers offense even more dynamic for Ben Roethlisberger until he decides to hang it up
31. Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist Mckinley, EDGE, UCLA
McKinley is an athletic freak with elite pass rush abilities. The Falcons need to find a pass rusher to play across and take the pressure off of Vic Beasley, after seeing how much their other lineman have struggled.
32. New Orleans Saints – Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Saints, once again, go defense with their second first round selection. Cornerback is their second biggest need, next to pass rusher. King’s stock has risen, and could easily be selected earlier in the first round.