With the first wave of free agency mania now mostly subsided, football GM’s, Scouts and fans will now turn their attention to the 2017 NFL draft. While there are still many things that may factor in for a lot of NFL teams between now and draft night (such as future free agent signings, trading of picks and draft prospects getting embroiled in controversy such as Gas Bong masks), The Sideline Report thought it would be a perfect time to release our first Mock Draft for 2017.
Mock drafts such as these can often be met with skepticism, however the main aim here is to put ourselves in the War Room with the scouts and try to align prospects with potential fits. It’s all about the fun and excitement of trying to guess which franchise will pick the next Zeke Elliot or Joey Bosa, and where the steals of the first round may wind up.
Without further hesitation, here is The Sideline Report’s first Mock Draft for the upcoming 2017 NFL draft.
Pick 1. Cleveland, Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M.
There are some positions in the NFL these days that, if you get an opportunity to draft a great one, you simply cannot pass up. Pass rusher is one of those positions, and Garrett is one of those players. With a faster 40 time (4.64) than Jarvis Landry and a higher vertical jump than Odell Beckham (41 inch) the Browns simple can’t say no to another top talent again. They just can’t.
Pick 2. San Francisco, Jonathan Allen DE Alabama
The big prediction here is that, come draft night, this pick may belong to another team (the Redskins perhaps?). However, if the 49’ers do stay put, taking Jonathan Allen would be the smartest move. Allen (6’3”, 286 lbs) has the potential to play anywhere along the line in San Francisco’s new 4-3 defense, and could be the next defensive terror to hit the west coast (along with Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack).
Pick 3. Chicago, Jamal Adams S LSU
With the Bears now settling on Mike Glennon to lead the team in 2017, the Bears go defense again with pick 3. Chicago has an emerging front 7, but are in desperate need of leadership and toughness in the secondary. Adams possesses both of those qualities, and is a ready made NFL safety who will come in and improve whatever team takes him on draft night.
Pick 4. Jacksonville, Leonard Fournette, RB LSU
What a coup it would be for LSU to have back to back picks in the top 5 on draft night, and what a coup it would be for the Jaguars to nab Fournette with pick 4. Runs with a punishing running style that some worry could shorten his career, but when healthy is a game changer. Can carry the load with 20-25 carries per game, which means 20-25 less Blake Bortles throws, which is a good thing. The Jags could change their offensive identity with this one pick.
Pick 5. Tennessee, OJ Howard, TE Alabama
Some may say this is too high, however there’s no telling what a weapon like Howard could to QB Marcus Mariota’s development. The Titans addressed some secondary concerns through free agency, so finding more weapons for their young passer becomes priority number 1.
Pick 6. New York Jets, Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State
The Jets are a team in complete rebuild despite what coach Todd Bowels says, and their roster has holes everywhere. Lattimore has some durability concerns, however when healthy he is the best cornerback in this draft class, and the Jets need serious help at the position.
Pick 7. Los Angeles Chargers, Mitchell Trubisky QB North Carolina
This pick may surprise a few, though its a good fit the more you think about it. The Chargers need help on the O-line, and could do with a free safety as well, but finding life after Phillip Rivers is getting just as important. The inexperienced Trubisky could sit and watch for a year or two (Favre-Rodgers style), and when Rivers finally hangs ’em up, the Chargers would expect to still have many of their young talented guys on the roster to support the young QB.
Pick 8. Carolina, John Ross WR Washington
Unfortunately for the Panthers this is not a great draft for offensive lineman, which is of course their biggest need. They have a need at RB as well, and overlooking Dalvin Cook would be tough, but Ross’s blistering pace in this offense led by Newton could be a huge asset, especially with Ted Ginn now gone. Ross going before Mike Williams or Corey Davis would be a big call.
Pick 9. Cincinnati, Soloman Thomas DE Stanford
The Bengals have lost a ton of talent through free agency the last two seasons, so it’s very difficult to predict where they may go. One thinks they would jump at Thomas at pick 9, who would be an absolute steal. Capable of rushing from the DE spot or inside, Thomas is a rising prospect who has his best football ahead of him, and talent up front is just what Cincy need.
Pick 10. Buffalo, Malik Hooker S Ohio State
With the re-signing of Tyrod Taylor, the temptation to pick a QB at this pick has disappeared. The temptation to pick a WR hasn’t, however with a top 10 talent like Hooker still on the board, and with the Bills in dire need of secondary help, the Buckeye standout could be too good to refuse. In Hooker and new free agent Micah Hyde, the Bills all of a sudden could have a sneaky good safety pair for Brady and co. to contend with.
Pick 11. New Orleans, Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
Despite needing help in the secondary, the Saints can now look at taking the best edge rusher available before pulling the trigger on a top corner at pick 32, thanks to the Patriots. Barnett may lack the athleticism and twitch that scouts look for in edge rushers, but Barnett makes up for that with phenomenal hand use and a motor that runs all day. He has a knack for sacks, a trait that usually translates from college to the pros. Make no mistake, Derek Barnett is the best player in this draft that absolutely nobody is talking about.
Pick 12. Cleveland, Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
It would be a great draft night for the Browns if they could get their man in Garrett and come away with Watson to boot. While their are question marks on Watson, coach Hugh Jackson would love the fact that Watson stands up in the big moments and when all is said and done, he’s a winner. That’s the bottom line.
Pick 13. Arizona, DeShone Kizer QB Notre Dame
The Cardinals have quite a few needs for a team who claim to still be in the Superbowl discussion. With Carson Palmer looking like only having one or perhaps two more seasons under his belt, finding the heir apparent in Kizer would be ideal. Kizer is big (6’4”, 233 lbs) and athletic and is capable of making big time throws, all traits coach Arians would salivate over. Sitting and learning for a year (or two) would be the best outcome for Kizer.
Pick 14. Philadelphia, Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
A small slide for a guy many had as top 10 pre-combine, the Eagles would love for Cook to fall into their laps at 14. Cook can run and catch out of the backfield, and with his home run ability there’s no doubt Wentz and Cook in the same backfield could excite Eagles fans for years to come.
Pick 15. Indianapolis, Reuben Foster ILB Alabama
Another slide for a guy who found himself in some trouble and was sent home from the combine. The Colts won’t mind at all and would plug Foster into the middle of their defense which needs help on all three levels. Foster is an alpha dog who Indy can build around for years to come.
Pick 16. Baltamore, Taco Charlton DE/OLB Michigan
After releasing veteran Elvis Dumervil and the unexpected retirement of Zach Orr, the Ravens are under pressure to find their next great edge rusher. Despite needing help at Cornerback and in the receiving core, GM Ozzie Newsome knows a talented edge rusher when he sees one, and Charlton would relish the opportunity of graduating from one Harbaugh brother to play for another.
Pick 17. Washington, Jabrill Peppers S Michigan
The Redskins have an opening at Safety with second year player Su’a Cravens said to be moving to middle linebvacker, and Peppers would fit the bill. Peppers is the enigma of the draft and is a prospect who could be top 10 or could slide out of the first round all together. This would be an interesting pick for a Washington franchise seemingly in flux.
Pick 18. Tennessee, Mike Williams WR Clemson
What a win for GM Jon Robinson it would be if the Titans could nab TE OJ Howard at 5 atnd receiver Mike Williams at 18. This would certainly help open up defenses for what is primarily a run first Tennesse team.
Pick 19. Tampa Bay, Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
Adding Davis to a Wide Receiver group already consisting of Mike Evans and Desean Jackson would be a dream for Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter. Despite teams often showing a reluctance to draft “small school” prospects with their first picks, Davis (6’3”, 209 lbs) has shown that he is already a polished route running and has a great ability to make catches at the balls highest point, and is quick enough to make explosive RAC plays (run after catch).
Pick 20. Denver, Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
Regardless of who plays QB for the Broncos next season, the general consensus is that this team will be held hostage by the offensive line unless it improves. Signing guard Ronald Leary was a good move, and taking tackle Ryan Ramczyk would be a good pick as well. Ramczyk has great core strength and athleticism and comes from a school that teaches lineman how to be good lineman in the pros. May start at right tackle but has the potential to be a quality long term blind side protector.
Pick 21. Detroit, Takkarist McKinley DE UCLA
Despite being perhaps slightly undersized (6’2”, 250 lbs) to play as a base end in a 4-3, there’s no denying McKinley has the athleticism and first step quickness to give opposing tackles nightmares. The Lions may see a little of Ziggy Ansah in McKinley, especially his very green but very promising pass rush ability. The thought of Ansah and McKinley flying from the edges could prove too much to pass up for GM Bob Quinn.
Pick 22. Miami, Teez Tabor CB Florida
Tabor has the prototypical size to play cornerback in the NFL, and has a nose for the football as well (9 interceptions in 3 years at Florida with 3 returned for TD’s). He can sometimes miss tackles that quality defensive backs are expected to make, and some scouts believe he has an issue going up against recievers with top end speed. Tabor is a high maintenance player who one scout described as being a “pain in the ass for whoever drafts him”. The Dolphins no doubt will look at his production and be keen to add someone like Tabor to their secondary.
Pick 23. New York Giants, Garrett Bolles OT Utah
Ereck Flowers hasn’t worked out at left tackle, and his impending move to right tackle will force the Giants to look for Eli Manning’s blind side protector in the draft once more. Bolles is a former defensive tackle who plays with the same nastiness at the tackle position. Despite being a little undersized, Bolles has elite athletic ability and the smoothest feet of any tackle in this draft class. Has the potential to be an outstanding tackle prospect with more weight on his frame.
24. Oakland, Sidney Jones CB Washington
Despite being one of the emerging teams in the AFC, the Raiders still have some concerns on defense. One of those positions is cornerback, and if the Raiders could get the highly touted Sidney Jones from Washington at pick 24, they’d be laughing. Jones is an elite cover corner who has the speed and the ball skills to develop into a top 10 cornerback in time. The Raiders have seen what former Huskies CB Marcus Peters has done in Kansas City, and the Raiders would be delighted if they could get the same from Jones.
Pick 25. Houston, Pat Mahomes QB Texas Tech
The Texans have made the post-season the last two years with shoddy QB play, however they’re in big trouble this season if they go into the year with either of Tom Savage or Branden Weedon under center. It would be asking too much of Pat Mahomes to come in right away and take the Texans to the play-offs again, however not too many players have as much buzz surrounding their name in the lead up to the draft as this guy does. Mahomes has enormous enormous arm talent and interviewed really well at the combine, expect somebody to take a chance on him late in the first round.
Pick 26. Seattle, Cam Robinson OT Alabama
Seattle’s offensive line woes are duly noted, and the team didn’t do much in free agency to change that (Luke Joeckel is just awful). Robinson would provide an instant upgrade at either guard spot or right tackle, and could in time transition to left tackle if the George Fant experiment doesn’t work out. Robinson is a road grader who excels in run blocker, and has adequate athletic ability to pass block on the perimeter as well.
Pick 27. Kansas City, Haason Reddick LB Temple
With Derrick Johnson recovering from a second ruptured Achilles tendon injury, their are big question marks facing the Chiefs inside linebacker group. Reddick has been on a meteoric rise up draft boards since his impressive showing at the Senior Bowl, and he would be a real asset in a team that deploys a 3-4 defense (such as the Chiefs) with his ability to not only play inside but his ability also to rush from the outside.
Pick 28. Dallas, Obi Melifonwu S Connecticut
Yes, the Cowboys struggled with their pass rush last season. However, free agency decimated the secondary with Safeties Barry Church and JJ Wilcox leaving, whilst cornerback Branden Carr left for Baltimore and Morris Claiborn looks gone also. Melifonwu is another who has experienced a rise up draft boards and, if nothing else, the Cowboys could boast one of the most athletic safety tandems in football if they were to pair Obi Melifonwu with former 1st rounder Byron Jones.
Pick 29. Green Bay, Christian McCaffrey RB Stanford
If the Packers hadn’t of done such a great job re-signing edge rusher Nick Perry, you can bet this pick would have been a quarterback harasser. Instead the Packers take a swiss army knife who would be incredible in this offense led by Aaron Rodgers. McCaffrey wouldn’t solve Green Bay’s ground game issues, though he would provide great insurance for Rodgers on dump off plays and be a real asset out of the slot. With Micah Hyde now gone, McCaffrey’s fearlessness in the return game could also be of advantage for the Packers.
Pick 30. Pittsburgh, TJ Watt OLB Wisconson
It seems as though the Steelers take a linebacker in the first round every year, though in an off-season where they said goodbye to veteran Lawrence Timmons and draft bust Jarvis Jones, it looks like linbacker could be on the cards again. Watt (the younger brother of Houston’s JJ) had a fantastic junior year at Wisconsin, recording 15.5 tackles for loss with 11.5 sacks. Watt would be earmarked by the Steelers as James Harrison’s replacement, and the Steelers would be over the moon if TJcould develop into half as good a player as older brother JJ.
Pick 31. Atlanta, Forrest Lamp G Western Kentucky
Despite having semi-urgent needs on the defensive line and in the secondary, the Falcons would jump at an instant impact guy like Lamp. Though it’s unclear where guard Chris Chester may end up next season, Lamp would be a fantastic replacement, also possessing the ability to play tackle as well. Forrest Lamp at 31 would be the steal of all steals.
Pick 32. New Orleans, Tre’Davious White CB LSU
A pure cover corner born and raised in Louisiana, the Saints would be pretty happy to nab White and Barnett from their two first round picks. White was a four year starter for the Tigers and is experienced on the island, though is slightly undersized to be considered a number 1 corner. Had 6 interceptions and 34 pass break-ups in his four seasons in Death Valley and also has special teams value, with 3 punt return touchdowns in his career.