Hail To The District writer Dash Kannan provides his first NFL Mock Draft of the 2017 season.
It’s that time of the year… ok, it’s been that “that time of the year” for about a month now. You know: that time of year when anyone and everyone pretends to know what NFL teams will do, in terms of picking amateur athletes to play professional football. So, I’m going to do it too.
This version of my mock draft is published before the NFL Scouting Combine, where millions of (mostly) heterosexual men gather around TV’s to see how fast 21 and 22-year-old’s run in way-too-tight shorts and how high they can jump. While this may be too premature for your liking, what else are you going to do? Watch CNN?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
This is the consensus #1 pick at least for now. Garrett has had some injury troubles in the past so if those problems flare up at the combine, he may drop to #2 or #3. I don’t see Cleveland investing in a first round quarterback this year because none in this draft are jaw-dropping prospects and because USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, and Wyoming’s Josh Allen should all be coming out next year. Also, I believe in Paul DePodesta and Hue Jackson’s method of accumulating draft picks – they had 14 last year. Also did you know Texas A&M has nine players invited to the combine? Imagine if Kevin Sumlin could actually win something in College Station without Johnny Football..
2. San Francisco 49ers – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
I’m of the opinion, the 49ers will not own this pick come draft time. This pick will either belong to the Washington Redskins in a deal for Kirk Cousins (becoming more likely with each passing day) or the 49ers will trade down. Rookie General Manager John Lynch and rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan have a huge task ahead of them rebuilding this roster. This is not your older brother’s 49ers. This is a bad team with a lot of holes and no quarterback. That being said, I believe Allen is the best player in this draft. Alabama lost A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed to the NFL and got better…with Allen. Such is life in Tuscaloosa.
3. Chicago Bears – Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
As I mentioned before, the 2018 draft is a lot better for QB’s. However, this won’t stop teams from reaching, especially when people’s jobs are on the line. Jay Cutler is out in Chicago and with the possible departure of Alshon Jeffery and the uncertainty that is Kevin White, the Bears don’t have much on offense other than Jordan Howard. GM Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox could be fighting for their jobs here and while this may prove to be a bad decision, Kizer is the most NFL-ready quarterback. He has the best tools compared to Deshaun Watson of Clemson and Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina, but the fact that he wasn’t able to lead Notre Dame to a respectable season is troubling.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
New head coach Doug Marrone seems to be in on QB Blake Bortles at least for one more year so the Jaguars concentrate on the defensive side of the ball. Sure, safeties Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker would look very good next to last year’s first round pick Jalen Ramsey, but when you have the chance to draft the best middle linebacker in a very long time, you have to. The Jaguars would have Foster, 2014 draft pick Telvin Smith, 2016 draft pick Myles Jack, and veteran Paul Posluszny. Foster could step in right away to replace Posluszny if the Penn State product shows signs of slowing down. More Alabama envy: The Tide replaced Reggie Ragland who was a 2nd round pick last year of the Buffalo Bills with Foster. Yeah. Such is life. Another interesting tidbit about Foster: Foster was originally committed to play at Auburn and even had an Auburn tattoo. A visit to T-Town changed his mind and he committed to Alabama. Yeah, I’m bitter.
5. Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Titans grab the best player from the National Champion Tigers in Williams who gives young quarterback Marcus Mariota a sure fire target on the outside. Williams and Western Michigan’s Corey Davis are the top two wideouts in the draft, but Williams is more of a sure thing, having performed against better competition. Mariota didn’t have much to work with in terms of a passing game, but adding Williams will help in conjunction with the beastly running game Tennessee built and may help overcome some of head coach Mike Mularkey’s questionable decisions and tactics.
6. New York Jets – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
I’m not entirely convinced that the Jets don’t give Christian Hackenburg a fair shot at the starting job so contrary to popular opinion, I don’t see New York going with North Carolina signal caller Mitch Trubisky. That being said, Fournette has the chance to be a generational talent. He’s as close to the real thing as you can have at the running back position. Many have compared him to Adrian Peterson. While the running game isn’t en vogue these days, I’m sure teams are re-evaluating that stance after seeing the impact Ezekiel Elliott had on the Cowboys last year.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
After letting Eric Weddle go last year, the Chargers find a replacement in Hooker who some believe may be the best player in this draft. He’s got crazy range for a safety and made big plays consistently for Urban Meyer. Hooker is more of a ball-hawk than Jamal Adams and though the Chargers may look to make a splash in the draft with possibly drafting Phillip Rivers’ eventual replacement, Hooker is the smart football choice. His football IQ is tremendous and despite his recent ankle surgery and non-participation at the Combine, Hooker shouldn’t slip too far.
8. Carolina Panthers – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
A year after representing the NFC in the Super Bowl, the Panthers took a big step backwards with a disappointing 2016-2017 season. While there were many reasons for their regression, the most blatant one was the lack of a secondary. After releasing All-Pro CB Josh Norman, the Panthers lacked a NFL secondary last year. Lattimore and Marlon Humphrey of Alabama are both very good prospects, but I’m just a bigger fan of Lattimore. Running back is also an option here; Dalvin Cook would look very good replacing Jonathan Stewart.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
I am not sure the Bengals won’t be inclined to trade down. This should be Marvin Lewis’ last draft in the Queen City and while edge rusher is definitely a need as well as more weapons across from AJ Green, Brantley is a very good player who often gets overlooked. His talent level is undeniable and he’s well coached as are most Florida defensive players. He’s a little undersized, coming in slightly under 300 pounds, but Brantley’s penchant for making plays would make the Bengals defense that much better. This was an uncharacteristically bad year for Lewis and with his imminent retirement, I’m sure he would like to return to the playoffs for one last hurrah.
10. Buffalo Bills – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Tyrod Taylor’s situation is murky in Buffalo with the new regime apparently not being too high on him, which I find fascinating because this is franchise that has gone through some absolute crap at the position and have missed the playoffs for 18 seasons. Watson is more seasoned than Trubisky and he brings a winning pedigree to Buffalo – something which they have forgotten. New head coach Sean McDermott also buys time for himself and his staff by hitching his wagon to the former Heisman winner and national champion and can once again, excite the poor souls of Buffalo into spending their hard-earned money to sit in -20 degree weather and five feet of snow to watch a 6-10 team.
11. New Orleans Saints – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
It seems like every year, pundits project the Saints to make massive investments in their defense and it never happens. And it seems like every year, Drew Brees and the offense put up a bazillion points only to have the defense let them down. With Drew Brees getting up there, the Saints’ window is closing. Adding Humphrey to a putrid secondary at least allows for another warm body to occupy a crappy defense and hopefully provide a few plays a season. In all honesty, I’m not as sold on Humphrey as other people – I think he was more of a product of the talent around him at Alabama than any other player on that defense.
12. Cleveland Browns – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adding two studs the caliber of Garrett and Adams could set the foundation for something special in Cleveland – which would be a 8-8 season. The Browns need help at nearly every position and while, it may be tempting to grab Trubisky here, I don’t think Browns’ management is that shortsighted. Grabbing the best player on the board in Adams, a hard-hitting, in-the-box safety would provide an intimidation factor that is usually reserved for the city’s basketball team and the relevant-again and Cleveland native, Charles Oakley.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I don’t know whether Carson Palmer is going to retire or not, but a report indicated that he had put his house on the market and was pulling his kids out of school in Arizona. Even if he does play one more year, this is not a bad investment for the Cardinals to make. That roster is too good to miss the playoffs again and there is no certainty that they’ll be able to make a play for the top 3 signal callers next year. Drafting Trubisky, who does not have much experience, and preferably having him sit behind Palmer in head coach Bruce Arians’ system would be very beneficial for the franchise.
14. Indianapolis Colts – Cam Robinson, T, Alabama
The Colts will go as far as Andrew Luck takes them. While that defense is a mess, this team has to know what their meal ticket is: protecting Andrew Luck. After failing to protect Luck since he was drafted, the Colts nab the best tackle in the draft and while not a great prospect relatively speaking, he fits a need here next to last year’s first round pick Center Ryan Kelly. Also, the Colts and Eagles will flip a coin for draft position and since I hate the Eagles, I let Indy win.
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Eagles need a lot of help. Cook gives them, in my opinion, the best running back, and possibly the best player in the draft, so I hope this doesn’t happen. I was never really sold on the Darren Sproles/Ryan Mathews/Wendell Smallwood trio in the backfield, and grabbing a dynamic talent like Cook makes second year quarterback Carson Wentz’s job a whole lot easier. Other options here include either of the Florida corners, Corey Davis, or tight end OJ Howard.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
We all saw what Joe Flacco can do with a deep threat like Mike Wallace last year. With Steve Smith retiring and Breshad Perriman still developing, adding a weapon like Davis would make Flacco’s job easier. John Harbaugh may be coaching for his job and allowing his offense to have some options would be the best option. However, former Alabama tight end and Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome’s penchant for drafting big-school players does make me wonder if he’d take a gander on defensive end Tim Williams from his alma mater
17. Washington Redskins – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Thomas has been rising up the boards recently and is projected to test well. I would not be averse to this pick as I’ve held out hope for years that the Redskins would draft about five pass rushers each year and let the cream rise to the top. Other than linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, Washington does not really have a sure thing on the edge. Both Trent Murphy and Preston Smith have had one good year a-piece and Junior Galette is returning from Achilles surgery two years in a row and is an unknown. Thomas adds talent to a position that needs it.
18. Tennessee Titans – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
After grabbing the best wide receiver in the draft, the Titans grab who many believe could become the best CB in the draft. Tabor, formerly known as Jalen, plays with a nasty attitude and comes from the coaching of former Gators DB coach Torrian Gray, who recently accepted the same position with the Redskins. Florida CB’s have done pretty well historically and remedying an otherwise pedestrian secondary would be GM Jon Robinson’s best move.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
Adding a physical freak like Howard to an offense that already has Mike Evans and Jameis Winston would scare the living bejeesus out of defensive coordinators in the NFC South. Howard is far and away the best tight end in this draft, really coming on the last two seasons for Nick Saban.
20. Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin
The secret of the Broncos’ 2016-2017 season was that Trevor Siemian actually didn’t play that bad. He just didn’t have time to throw the ball behind an awful offensive line. Adding Ramczyk helps solidify that and gives Siemian, or Paxton Lynch, a chance to get the ball to their receivers.
21. Detroit Lions – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Lions stay local and grab McDowell to help rising star and Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Jim Caldwell had his team on the verge of the playoffs last year and it took a Week 17 loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to keep them out. What Caldwell has done is assemble an amazing staff including Austin and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter who helped quarterback Matthew Stafford reach the MVP conversation for the first time in his career. McDowell is a strong, a bit undersized tackle, who would help in stopping the run.
22. Miami Dolphins – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham is smart, talented, and played behind an awful defensive line at Vanderbilt and still made almost every tackle possible. He doesn’t have great measurables and may not be the fastest, but he’s a damn good tackler and a play maker. Miami needs to keep their momentum going and adding Cunningham, a day one starter to that defense, allows the Dolphins to concentrate on other needs in free agency.
23. New York Giants – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
I hate giving the Eagles and the Giants such great picks in the first round, but it’s how this mock has gone. My colleague, Rajan Nanavati, loves Charlton, and he’s a freak athlete who is 6’6 and never stops trying. Picking Charlton allows the Giants to let Jason Pierre-Paul walk in free agency and save money to help their roster elsewhere.
24. Oakland Raiders – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Raiders need help in the secondary, but with Derek Barnett, All-Pro Khalil Mack, and Bruce Irvin, I feel sorry for opposing quarterbacks. Barnett was at one point considered a surefire Top Ten pick, and his stock has fallen lately, but the talent is undeniable.
25. Houston Texans – Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan
This is the hardest team to draft for because of the one position that they do need, quarterback, is not feasible considering the albatross of a contract they gave to Brock Osweiler. Adding Peppers, a freak athlete, to an already talented defense, who would have Romeo Crennel guiding him, could make this one of the best defenses in NFL history with the return of JJ Watt next year.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Garrett Bolles, T, Utah
The Seahawks fell a bit back down to earth last season as their offense regressed significantly. While Washington wide receiver John Ross is certainly an option here, the number one priority for Pete Carroll and his staff has to be to protect Russell Wilson. Bolles does just that, filling the void that was felt by the trade of Max Unger for Jimmy Graham.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Davis Webb, QB, Cal
Yeah… this may seem confusing to a few people. This has to do with my opinion of the Chiefs: they’re a very good team that absolutely will not beat themselves; however, Alex Smith is not going to beat anyone either. Davis Webb is intriguing to me because his numbers are very similar to last year’s #1 overall pick Jared Goff who played in the same offense with the same coaches. The difference: Goff was in the system for three years while Webb had only one year after transferring from Texas Tech. Webb has a stronger arm than Goff, but is not as accurate. I think it’s time for Andy Reid to start grooming Smith’s replacement.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Desmond King, CB, Iowa
I’m higher on King than others and think he’s going to be a very good pro. The Cowboys seem to draft a secondary player every year, so this is a safe bet. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dallas grabs Tim Williams or another edge rusher here.
29. Green Bay Packers – Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
Williams falls in part because I’m not really sure how good he is. He seemed to be one of the biggest play makers on Alabama’s vaunted defense, but I don’t know how much of that should be attributed to Alabama’s superior talent was. Nevertheless, the Packers can either go with Williams or..
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
JJ’s younger brother slips past his hometown Packers into the Steelers’ hands as they get a guy who cannot symbolize Pittsburgh more if he tried. Watt had a great year for the Badgers and his talents would help alongside Ryan Shazier and Bud Dupree who will return next year for the black and gold.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
McKinley heads into Atlanta, where … I honestly can’t even write any more about the Falcons. I mean, what a damn choke job. But anyway, he helps with their pass rush, because, well… you all saw the damn Super Bowl. They need more pass rush.
32. New England Patriots – Sidney Jones, CB, New England
An outside linebacker is certainly a possibility for the Super Bowl champions with the very highly likely departure of Donta Hightower, but Jones is the best player on the board. Other options here include Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams of Auburn, Quincy Wilson of Florida, Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, Raekwon McMillan of Ohio State, Budda Baker of Oklahoma, and Adoree Jackson of USC.