There has been about two weeks or so since the free agent period opened up and there have been some big signings across the NFL. That has affected the draft needs and overall draft strategy of many teams, and because of that GameDaySportsBlog.com has updated it’s mock draft, and will do so one more time right before April’s draft.
- Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
Who knows what is going to happen with newly acquired Brock Osweiler. Either way it doesn’t look like they have an answer at quarterback and until they do there will be rumors of them drafting one. But without an Andrew Luck or another can’t miss quarterback prospect this draft season that pick up will have to wait. Meanwhile DE Myles Garrett absolutely killed the combine. According to the combine Garrett is taller than Julio Jones, weighs more than Rob Gronkowski, quicker than Devonta Freeman and faster than Jarvis Landry. Basically the combine proved what we already knew; Myles Garrett is the most can’t miss player in this year’s draft.
- San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas DL Stanford
Given his pass-rushing moves, high-character wiring and the potential he brings to the table as a redshirt sophomore entry, Thomas was sure to be a first round pick. But the show he put on at the combine made him a lot of money by moving him well up draft boards of many teams.
I list Thomas as a D-lineman because he plays every position along the line. Some “experts” may see Thomas as a 3-technique tackle, while others see him at strong side end. He played all over the line at Stanford and at 6’3″ and 275 pounds he is powerful and athletic as Ryan Kerrigan defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. With the tools he’s bringing to the league, Thomas could be a Michael Bennett-type who moves up and down the line to create matchup nightmares, and with 49ers D-coordinator having worked with Bennett and that Seahawks defense, this might be a perfect fit for the D-lineman.
- Chicago Bears – Jonathan Allen DL Alabama
The Bears just signed Mike Glennon so it looks like they have found their quarterback of the next few years. And with the Bears biggest need possibly met, and their biggest anchor, Jay Cutler, cut, Chicago can look to improve in other places in the draft. Jonathon Allen was the best player in college football last season, and had the Heisman Trophy been given to the most outstanding player in college football rather than the flashiest, the versatile, well-rounded, and absolutely dominant defensive lineman from Alabama would have won it. He reminds me of Ndamukong Suh, just without the mental problems. And he is exactly what the Bears need to get back to the glory days of dominant defense.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – OJ Howard TE Alabama
The Jaguars have made moves this offseason to improve their defense, but their move of getting rid of TE Julius Thomas leaves a big hole in the passing game for quarterback Blake Bortles.
OJ Howard is the best tight end in the draft and one of the best overall athletes on the offensive side of the ball, making a perfect fit for the Jags to fill their open tight end spot. The only problem with Howard was his lack of production despite being one of the best athletes in college football. Still, Howard’s athleticism and potential puts him well into the 1st round and maybe even good enough for the #4 pick.
- Tennessee Titans (from Rams) – Jamal Adams S LSU
First off, let’s not forget to point out just how stupid the Rams look right now for trading this and many other picks for Jared Goff. Secondly, let’s look at just how well set up the Titans are for success in the near future. After drafting a stud quarterback and finding a running game in free agency the Titans will look to add some missing pieces in the draft to get them into the playoffs. The Titans’ biggest need is probably at cornerback but they also need help at safety and with an extremely deep cornerback draft it will be hard for the Titans to pass up on Jamal Adams
- New York Jets – Deshone Kizer QB Notre Dame
I said it before the season started that Ryan Fitzpatrick wouldn’t be able to repeat the year he had in 2015, and after last season it is clear to Jets fans and hopefully front office people that the Jets need a quarterback. Deshone Kizer is a player with great size, a great arm, and good poise. Had he been able to lead the Fighting Irish to a better season than last year’s 4-win disappointment we may be talking about him as a top 3 pick instead of falling to the Jets at #6.
- Los Angeles Chargers (Breaks my heart just to write that) – Malik Hooker S Ohio State
SCREW THE CHARGERS FOR LEAVING SD!!! THAT IS ALL.
- Carolina Panthers – Leonard Fournette RB LSU
Fournette has been the most talented and physically dominant player in college football the past two seasons. The bruiser is more than just your normal big running back. He plays as physically savage as Adrian Peterson and has footwork that you never see from a bigger running back. That is something the Panthers need to take the focus, and hits, away from Cam Newton.
- Cincinnati Bengals – Reuben Foster LB Alabama
You rarely see inside linebackers go this high in the draft. But I said this when Foster was in high school that he was the best defensive prospect I had ever seen. And he could have a Luke Kuechly like impact for a team that desperately needs one. Not to mention the Bengals need to strengthen a front seven that faces the best running back in football, Le’Veon Bell, twice a year.
- Buffalo Bills – Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
With the loss of Stephon Gilmore and the re-signing of Tyrod Taylor at the quarterback position the Bills biggest need this offseason has quickly become cornerback, and they could not have asked for a better cornerback draft class. Marshon Lattimore is a solid cornerback and probably not the only DB the Bills will pick up in this year’s draft.
- New Orleans Saints – Haason Reddick LB Temple
The Saints need help on defense. There is no doubt about that. Haason Reddick is an athletic stud who dominated this past season with 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. After that the converted running back shined at the Senior Bowl. And then Reddick followed that up with a sensational performance at the NFL combine with a 4.52 40-yard dash. That speed at his size makes Reddick a top pass-rushing linebacker and something the Saints could use in a division that has Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan.
- Cleveland Browns (from Eagles) – Mitch Trubisky QB North Carolina
Nobody knows what is happening at the quarterback position for the Browns so they need to address that early in the draft, and luckily for the worst organization in football the Browns have two of the top 12 picks.
Trubisky is a strong armed quarterback whose biggest negative as a prospect is only one year of starting at UNC. Still he has the size, the arm, and the smarts not to turn the ball over (less than 2% of his throws were picked off last season). So while the Dawg-Pound needs more help than just Myles Garrett and Mitch Trubisky, the 1st round will be very good to a very bad team.
- Arizona Cardinals –Quincy Wilson CB Florida
The Cardinals’ biggest need this year is maybe at quarterback where finding Carson Palmer’s eventual successor is needed but they also need help in the backfield in the desert. Tony Jefferson leaving in free agency creates a void at safety, but the Cardinals are also not that deep at cornerback.
Drafting the Gators’ Quincy Wilson could fix either of those problem at DB, as this big strong bodied defender plays the run like a safety and was arguably the best cornerback in college football last season. Wilson did well at the combine too, showing hips that allow for him to play corner at the next level despite having the strength and physicality to help at safety if need be.
- Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings) – Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
The Eagles had some problems running the ball last season which put the weight of the offense on the shoulders of rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, but this selection should help that.
Dalvin Cook is a perfect weapon to take pressure off of Wentz with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and also break the big play on a handoff. And although Fournette was the most physically gifted back in college football the past couple of seasons, nobody has been better than Cook, who in this writer’s mind was the best offensive player in college football last season.
- Indianapolis Colts – Mike Williams WR Clemson
Mike Williams won’t wow you with speed, but he’s a big presence (6’3″, 225 lbs) and plays with the power and has the same ability to go up and get a ball like Buccaneers star Mike Evans. Williams’ play against Alabama in the national title game showed what he can do against NFL coverage schemes and future pro talent at cornerback, too. And that solidified him as the best wide-out in this year’s class.
So while TY Hilton is a productive big-play wide receiver in the slot, Williams could very well become Andrew Luck’s favorite target this upcoming season. And another target for Andrew Luck could lead to the Colts making a run at a wide open AFC South next season.
- Baltimore Ravens – Taco Charlton DE/OLB Michigan
The Ravens need another pass rusher because God only knows how long Terrell Suggs has left in his Hall of Fame career. And the next good one they are hoping falls to them at 16, because pressure is the only way to contain the outside threats of Antonio Brown, AJ Green, who are both wrecking the division right now.
Taco Charlton can be inconsistent and has been known to not go full speed all the time, but when he turns his motor on all the way, it’s an impressive sight to see. He’s long, athletic and has the ability to dip under a tackle’s reach to turn the corner and create issues for offenses. He’s not quite a Von Miller in terms of skill and strength, but at Michigan he has proved to be the type of force off the edge who can wreak havoc on passing downs.
- Washington Redskins – Malik McDowell DL Michigan State
Some teams will stay far away from McDowell, but it’s very easy to see clubs being tempted by his size, athleticism and the flashes he’s shown as a defensive lineman for the Spartans. But the Redskins need help on D, and with a front-office as jacked up as the one in D.C. there is a chance the Redskins are the team about to pick this gamble of a prospect.
McDowell has moments where he looks worthy of a top-10 pick, but he also has games where he’s near invisible. An injury in the 2016 season didn’t help with clearing up the perception that his motor doesn’t run high enough. But the Redskins defense needs help, and although safety is a major need it is a deep DB class so they will pick one up later. And with a perfectly physical beast of a strongside defensive end like McDowell, the Redskins can improve their defense drastically.
- Tennessee Titans – John Ross WR Washington
The Titans need a playmaker to help Marcus Mariota’s development. And that is exactly what Ross is. The former Husky receiver is an explosive player and might be the fastest player at the combine.
He was the best kick returner in college football last year, which just gives the playmaker even more ways to effect the game. He is the perfect fit for what Tennessee and Mariota need. And it is possible that this pick could catapult the Titans into the playoffs in a wide open division.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
Just like the Titans the Buccaneers are a borderline playoff team that is a piece or two away from the postseason.
Barnett’s production at Tennessee was eye-opening, but he won’t show well at the combine with a lack of twitch and elite athleticism that will push him down the board as we get closer to the draft. Barnett is still capable of a long, productive, and more than solid NFL career, and starting out alongside Gerald McCoy gives him the one-on-one looks from offensive lines he’ll need to produce.
- Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles OT Utah
Garett Bolles is one of the most interesting stories in the 2017 draft class. After a rough upbringing, he was run out of five schools as a teenager, arrested in high school, dabbled in drugs and was homeless all before he found a mentor who put his life back on track. Now the 25-year-old monster left tackle looks like a first-round pick.
Bolles is a bit raw, and his age may be an issue for some teams, but in a weak offensive tackle class, he may be the best there is protecting the blindside. With excellent length and a mean streak that is much needed along the ever-softening Broncos offense, Bolles has the goods to step right into Denver’s starting lineup and show he belongs.
- Detroit Lions – Takkarist McKinley DE UCLA
The Detroit Lions invested heavily in their offensive line at the start of free agency, and now that it’s draft time they need to concentrate on the defensive line. Detroit tied for 30th overall with only 26 sacks last season. Ziggy Ansah needs help, and he’s going to get some.
UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley is an explosive edge defender. At 250 pounds, he may not be able to handle teams running right at him to start his career, but his quickness off the snap provides the potential to become a dynamic pass-rusher, which is exactly what the Lions need.
After a breakout senior campaign where McKinley registered 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks, he provided an impressive combine workout with a 4.59-second 40-yard dash.
McKinley will team with a healthy Ansah, Kerry Hyder and the recently signed Cornelius Washington to provide a much better pass rush in 2017 compared to last season’s woeful team performance.
- Miami Dolphins – Tre’Davious White CB LSU
The Dolphins aren’t in a division full of dominant QB’s but if they want to win the AFC East they need to be able to slow down the greatest quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady. One way to do that is with a pass-rush, and the other is to draft a better corner to help out a struggling defensive backfield.
LSU places quite a few corners in the NFL and Dolphins will be hoping that White is a little more like Patrick Peterson and a little less like Morris Claiborne. White is big and physical but he is far from the best corner in the draft and the Dolphins would be fine even if he didn’t pan out, because this is a deep DB class.
But if he does play well for the Dolphins they could make a serious run at postseason contention because the offense in Miami is getting much better after focusing on the run game.
- New York Giants – Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
A torn hip labrum has the stock of Ryan Ramczyk in question heading into the draft season. Ramczyk has the production at Wisconsin and the technique to impress scouts and eventually push him into the top 15 if his health checks out at the scouting combine. But right now, it’s too much of a question mark to take early in Round 1.
Outside of the hip injury, Ramczyk will be questioned about his length and how fluid he is in space and even against the better edge rushers. Some scouts suggest he’ll be a better guard or right tackle because they see his arms as too short for the left tackle position.
In New York Ramczyk will probably play left tackle in an offense that should favor the run game now that they are trying to become more physical and take some pressure off of Eli Manning.
- Oakland Raiders – Jalen Tabor CB Florida
Khalil Mack can officially be listed as a beast and arguably the best outside linebacker in football. That certainly helps in terms of affecting the pass game with a pass-rush, but the Silver & Black still need help on the back end. What could help that defensive backfield in Oakland is a lock-down corner, and it helps that Tabor is a mid-1st round talent that just happens to fall to the Raiders here at #30.
Tabor is a man-coverage corner who played mostly bump and run in Will Muschamp and Geoff Collins defense; and he excelled at it. In 2015 Teez was actually better than Buccaneers 1st round pick Vernon Hargreaves III. Last year he was outplayed by Quincy Wilson, but that is why we have Wilson going 16 to Baltimore.
On the downside, Tabor does take chances here and there and because of that there are times where he gets beat. But that is rare. What isn’t rare is seeing a Florida DB going in the 1st round. Tabor will be the 4th DB selected in the 1st round over the past two years. And that is one of the reasons why the Gators have to be considered the real DBU over LSU.
- Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
Deshaun Watson played amazingly in the last two National Championship games giving the world a glimpse of just how good this dual threat quarterback is. He torched a Nick Saban Alabama defense twice, granted, so did Johnny Manziel, but there is a different look about Deshaun Watson. And it’s a look that is needed in Houston.
Houston’s most obvious need is under center where Watson might not be able to pick up a true pro-style offense right away, but he is the best quarterback at this point in the first round and the Clemson quarterback should have impressed Coach Bill O’Brien with his performance over the past two college football seasons.
- Seattle Seahawks – Cam Robinson OL Alabama
Cam Robinson is a good offensive tackle with the physical ability to be great. He was the most talented linemen for the dominant Crimson Tide offensive line that owned college football over the past few years. But he wasn’t the best linemen for the Tide even though his talent said he should have been.
The Seahawks have become a good passing team, but Coach Pete Carroll’s team needs to get back to being the physically tough and dominant group it needs to be. Now the running game is tied to the fat-man that is Eddie Lacy. So drafting Robinson might be the best way to keep Russell Wilson upright and keep Lacy running his slow ass well enough to keep winning the West.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Kevin King CB Washington
At 6’3″ and 200 pounds with 32-inch arms, the Washington cornerback finished top five among defensive backs in the vertical jump, three-cone, short shuttle and 60-yard shuttle at the combine. What’s even more amazing are the numbers he posted in change-of-direction drills.
King topped everyone at the combine with a 6.56-second three-cone and 3.89-second short shuttle. Those are baffling numbers for a cornerback with his length.
The California native isn’t just a workout warrior, though. He played well as an outside corner during his senior campaign and even played nickel corner as a junior. The Kansas City Chiefs can pair him with his former teammate Marcus Peters to create a dynamic cornerback duo that may be able to slow down division rival Oakland’s high flying offense.
- Dallas Cowboys – Jabrill Peppers OLB Michigan
The Cowboys were the best regular season team in the NFL. But there lack of defensive playmakers is what kept them from beating the Packers in the NFC Divisional Round and what kept them from possibly playing in the Super Bowl. And that side of the ball didn’t improve in the offseason, although drafting Jabrill Peppers could help change that.
Peppers is a true game changer who did everything for the Michigan Wolverines. He falls to the late 1st round because he is a tweener position-wise. Not quite big enough to be a linebacker but not quite small enough to be a safety makes Peppers too much of a risk for a lot of teams in the 1st round, but not for Jerry Jones. And he should be able to make a difference with a team that needs a difference maker.
- Green Bay Packers – TJ Watt OLB Wisconsin
Yes, running back is a need, but again that’s a position of strength in the 2017 draft, and the Packers can get a quality player later in the draft. Cornerback is strong too, so expect the Packers to get a talented DB later. Until then, the Packers will draft some front-7 help. And the fact that they get to draft a Wisconsin product from down the road in Madison who is related to the best defensive player we have seen since Reggie White is something the Packers could only dream of at pick #29.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – Corey Davis WR Central Michigan
Corey Davis is a good sized wide-out and the Steelers are very much in need of a wide receiver opposite of Antonio Brown. And it’s not that Brown can’t handle the entire passing game going through him as he is the game’s best receiver, but Big Ben could use another threat on the outside instead of relying on Brown and Le’Veon Bell to be the only weapons.
- Atlanta Falcons – Caleb Brantley DT Florida
Two Gator defenders in a row here in the 1st round, and there is a good reason for that. Wilson and Tabor are near unanimous 1st round selections, while Brantley is a borderline 1st round pick who finally came into his own halfway through the 2015 season.
The Falcons’ defensive tackle Grady Jarrett wreaked havoc on Tom Brady and the Patriots for three quarters in the Super Bowl, and if Jarrett can be paired up with another insanely disruptive inside presence the Falcons may be able to finish the job if they get there again. It also helps that head coach Dan Quinn helped recruit Brantley while at the University of Florida.
- New Orleans Saints (from Patriots) – Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
We all know that New Orleans needs defensive backs, and basically every position on defense, and the next big corner coming out is Marlon Humphrey from Alabama.
Humphrey isn’t a flawless cornerback coming out of college, but like Eli Apple last year, he has the height, length and speed teams will die for, and technique that can be developed on the go by NFL coaches.
Now there is some risk to drafting Nick Saban cornerbacks, who tend to struggle some in man coverage, but the Saints need help in man, zone, and against the run. Basically the Saints will improve their defense no matter who they select so they might as well get a big physical corner.