With the 2017 NFL Draft less than a week from today, I finally put up my predictions for the first round. It is basically impossible to predict all the picks, because of the crazy things happening on draft day every year, whether that be trades or last-minute information coming up, which led to Laremy Tunsil sliding pretty far last year. I decided to leave the order the way it is and try to mock the first round that way. The number one pick should be easy, but nobody really knows for sure what will happen from there on. Each pick can have a domino-effect on the entire draft and things could shape up completely different. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
This guy is the obvious choice at number one. He looks like a player you built on Madden and also plays that way. With his skill-set he has the potential to develop into of the elite edge rushers in the league and he doesn’t get enough credit for how well he defends the run too.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
The best move for San Francisco would be to trade down and collect extra picks here, but for the purpose of this mock they’ll stay at number two. With the Niners’ plan to move Eric Reid more into the box, Hooker looks like the perfect option to take over the role of a center-fielder in their one-deep safety scheme. He offers unbelievable range and playmaking ability for this defense.
Alternative selection: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
3. Chicago Bears – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Bears defense was diminished by injuries last season, but they have some pieces to work around. What Vic Fangio’s defense still needs is an interior pass rush. Thomas is the best option here with the athleticism to play all over the line and quickness to abuse guards, but his best attribute is the non-stop motor he displays.
Alternative selection: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
If it wasn’t for Garrett, the LSU star would certainly be in the conversation for the number one overall pick. After being one of the most highly regarded athletes since his high-school days, Fournette will come into the NFL as the best running back prospect over the last decade and instantly provide a hard-nosed offensive style for the Jags.
Alternative selection: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
5. Tennessee Titans – Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
The strength of the Titans defense lays in the front seven, not the secondary. They already signed Logan Ryan from the Patriots and could easily go with the top corner on the board, but I don’t think they would pass up Adams at this point. He would immediately step in as a leader and tone-setter in the secondary. Dick LeBeau would find a way to let him play free, like be did with Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh.
Alternative selection: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
6. New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
With the departure of an aging Darrelle Revis, the Jets need to find a true number one corner. Lattimore only has one year of starting experience and the injuries that held him back for his first two years on campus are a concern, but he has all the tools to shut receivers down and he just makes things look easy.
Alternative selection: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The new L.A. team has quietly built a solid defensive unit. In this scenario neither one of the top two safeties are available anymore, so the Chargers continue to add to an impressive front that includes last year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Corey Liuget.
Alternative selection: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
8. Carolina Panthers – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Now that Kony Ealy is headed to New England and considering the re-signing of Kawann Short, the Panthers have a chance to make their front seven dominant again. With Julius Peppers back in Carolina they have a mentor for Barnett, who is one of the most natural pass rushers in the draft. Just imagine the three guys mentioned and last year’s first-round pick Vernon Butler on the D-line in combination with their linebackers. Scary.
Alternative selection: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Bengals offense took a big step back from 2015 to last year. While this was in large part due to the injuries to Tyler Eifert and then A.J. Green, I really think the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones hurt them. They need to surround Andy Dalton with more weapons and Williams is a huge target, who can go up and come down with contested catches.
Alternative selection: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10. Buffalo Bills – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Bills’ front office still hasn’t commited enough to Tyrod Taylor as their quarterback of the future, but I think there’s no QB worth this pick. Instead they add another weapon in the passing game. Sammy Watkins is their only real receiving threat and they just let their number two and three receivers walk out the door. Howard is the best tight-end prospect in the last bunch of years and he will be a more productive pro than college player.
Alternative selection: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
11. New Orleans Saints – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Saints need to improve their defense bad. And while edge rusher and cornerback are bigger needs right now, they won’t overlook adding a leader in the middle to their unit. Foster is extremely active and instinctive, but could slide a bit due to the things that happened at the combine. He will set a tone for Nola’s D for the next decade plus.
Alternative selection: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
12. Cleveland Browns – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I personally don’t have Trubisky as my number one quarterback coming into the draft, but I see why people fall in love with him. He is very accurate and had the most consistent tape from all the guys at his position. I think he could start right away because of which offensive system he was a part of in college, but some time to develop would only help him.
Alternative selection: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13. Arizona Cardinals – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Arizona has been looking for a running-mate for Patrick Peterson for a while now and Conley might be their guy. The Ohio State product is long and has the confidence to shut down numbers twos right away. Bringing him in would allow the Cardinals to play Tyrann Mathieu more in the slot and man up the receivers in combination with blitz-packages, like James Bettcher loves to do.
Alternative selection: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey is rising up draft boards and could go as high as top ten, but if Carolina doesn’t pick him and the Browns think Trubsisky can be a franchise quarterback I think this is a good spot for him. The Eagles have surrounded Carson Wentz with a big target in Alshon Jeffery and a deep threat in Torrey Smith. Adding a versatile weapon to an up-and-down backfield makes a lot a sense, especially when Conley goes a pick earlier.
Alternative selection: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
15. Indianapolis Colts – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
The Indy defense is one of the weakest in the league and they haven’t really added a lot of dynamic pieces to it in the offseason. With the release of D’Qwell Jackson and Robert Mathis retired, their two biggest needs are linebacker and edge rusher – good thing Reddick can help you at both those spots. He can run around and make plays on base-downs and then rush the passer on third down.
Alternative selection: Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
16. Baltimore Ravens – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Ravens have two speedsters on the outside already in Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman (who still has to live up to his potential), but with the retirement of Steve Smith Sr. they need a true number one receiver. I believe Davis possesses the crisp route-running skills and ability to make runs after the catch to give Joe Flacco an elite weapon.
Alternative selection: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
17. Washington Redskins – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
The NFC East has turned into one of the top divisions in the NFL in just one year. To keep up with the Cowboys and Giants, the Skins need to address the defensive line, especially with the departure of Chris Baker. McDowell comes with some motor concerns when you look at his 2016 tape, but I think that had a lot to do with the frustration of losing. He has tremendous upside and as soon as he focuses on one position as well as working on his pass-rush arsenal he could become a force up front.
Alternative selection: John Ross, WR, Washington
18. Tennessee Titans – John Ross, WR, Washington
Tennessee’s exotic smashmouth football worked pretty well last season, but they don’t really have many dangerous weapons at the receiver position. Ross is a burner, who can run by the entire defense and will only make the Titans’ run game better by taking a man out of the box. The AFC South is up for grabs and a couple of long touchdowns against their rivals could decide the division.
Alternative selection: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Bucs can’t rely on Doug Martin to be their lead-back because of how much time he misses to injuries. If Cook slides this far they have to pull the trigger. He’s an offensive weapon with the speed and ability as a receiver to the be a home-run threat in Tampa Bay. Jameis Winston and Cook already have a connection from their Florida State days and they would form one of the best young backfields in the league.
Alternative selection: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
20. Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos need help on the offensive line bad. They already signed Ronald Leary from the Cowboys, but they still need to get their ground game back on track as well as protecting either one of their young signal-callers from Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa and others in the AFC West. Ramczyk is the most technically sound tackle available in the draft and he can help them in both areas.
Alternative selection: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
21. Detroit Lions – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Matthew Stafford and his guys can move the ball and score some points, but the defense let them down at times last season. The Lions were tied for 30th in the league with just 26 total sacks. With Charlton and Ziggy Ansah they have two book-ends to go after quarterbacks for years to come. The former Wolverine wouldn’t have to travel very far either.
Alternative selection: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
22. Miami Dolphins – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Kiko Alonso has been great for the Dolphins, but they need a thumper on the inside and that’s exactly what Davis is. Not only is he an aggressive run-defender, but he can also cover tight-ends and backs one-on-one. He comes with some injury-concerns, but he showed off big-time at the Florida pro-day and to me has solidified himself as a first round pick.
Alternative selection: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
23. New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The G-Men need help on the offensive line and Robinson is the top O-lineman on many teams’ draft boards. If he’s available at this point they got to be very happy. The Alabama behemoth will instantly improve their run game and even though he tends to overset and -extend at this point, he has the physical tools to only get better and more consistent as a pass-protector.
Alternative selection: David Njoku, TE, Miami
24. Oakland Raiders – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Raiders need to improve their 24th-ranked pass defense and the secondary was the most vulnerable piece last season. Humphrey is a physical corner with all the tools you look for to shut down receivers, but he struggles with ball-skills, especially locating it on deep shots. Nethertheless, he will take receivers off their game and come downhill to attack what’s happening underneath of him.
Alternative selection: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
25. Houston Texans – DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Now that Brock Osweiler was shipped to Cleveland, the Texans have room for another QB on their roster. I’m not sure if Tom Savage really is the answer and if a proven winner and leader like Watson is still on the board at this point, they will run up and hand their card in. He will have to learn a pro-system and how to call plays from the huddle, but he could take this team over the hump eventually.
Alternative selection: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
26. Seattle Seahawks – Garrett Boles, OT, Utah
The Hawks had one of the most inconsistent offensive lines in the league last season. They rotated those guys up front too much and have to bring some stability to this unit. Bolles is a hardnosed run-blocker with the athleticism to become a franchise blinside-protector. With only one year of major college football experience he will only get better as he improves on his technique, but he already displays the nasty streak John Schneider and Seattle like.
Alternative selection: Kevin King, CB, Washington
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
K.C. could definitely go linebacker here with the injury concerns of a 34-year old Derrick Johnson and get somebody like Zach Cunningham out of Vanderbilt, but Andy Reid likes to build his teams from the from the front up and he will make his move if the top (interior) offensive lineman is still available. Lamp possesses excellent athleticism and seems to have glue on his hands when he gets them on a defender.
Alternative selection: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
28. Dallas Cowboys – Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
Let’s just start like this – Jerry Jones loves flashy players. The Cowboys have a big need at cornerback and could use a threat in the return game. Jackson is the premiere returner in this draft and some of the best overall athleticism overall. He needs to clean up his footwork a bit and become more physical, but he has tremendous talent and big-play ability.
Alternative selection: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
29. Green Bay Packers – Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
We all know the Packers need help in the secondary. Micah Hyde just left to join the Bills and Peppers can do a lot of things Hyde did for them in recent years. He can team up with Clinton-Dix to be a strong safety on base downs, who sets a physical edge against the run, and then drop down to cover people in the slot in passing situations.
Alternative selection: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
The Steelers offense is one of the most explosive units in the league and it will only get better with Martavis Bryant back. I know Big Ben asked for his team to draft a tight-end and if David Njoku is still available this could certainly be an option, but I think they need to go defense here. Harris makes a lot sense, since they gave up on former first round pick Jarvis Jones and James Harrison can’t play until he’s 50 years old (even if it seems like it).
Alternative selection: David Njoku, TE, Miami
31. Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
Vic Beasley led the league in sacks last year and the Falcons have some interior rushers they really like, but somebody to come off the opposite edge would make this young defense much better. Takk McKinley is a fastball off the edge and will only improve with NFL coaching, as he needs to develop some counter moves. He would be a nice value-pick here.
Alternative selection: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin
32. New Orleans Saints – Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
White stays in Louisiana to help a pass defense, that has been ranked at the very bottom for some time now. He has outstanding feet and excels at fighting for the ball in the air. I like him best inside at nickel, but he has the versatility to be moved around. I like the kid Delvin Breaux they have, but White would be an immediate upgrade to everybody else they have on their roster.
Alternative selection: Budda Baker, FS, Washington