2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (Free Agency Edition)
After the initial March Madness that is NFL Free Agency, things have slowed down to a pace in which everyone can catch their breath.
The hard part about using Free Agency to fill holes is that you don’t know if a team plans on dropping a need down the list, or if the free agent signee is just a band-aid in case a better solution doesn’t present itself in the NFL Draft.
For example, the Eagles doubled down on their biggest need at WR with Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. If one of the top 3 WRs in the 2017 NFL Draft (Mike Williams, Corey Davis, John Ross) is sitting there at #14, do the Eagles pass?
The QBs in this draft, or lack thereof, make this a difficult draft to mock. The top two landing spots that need QBs (49ers @ 2; Bears @ 3) signed players that seem to be said band-aids.
Unless there are some pre-draft trades to clear up the direction this draft will go (see 2016 NFL Draft), don’t be surprised if NCAA March Madness brackets are more accurate than 2017 NFL Mock Drafts.
1) Cleveland Browns – Texas A&M EDGE Myles Garrett
This pick isn’t changing before the draft, pending a trade. The Browns continue to have a need at QB, but you could argue that they also have a need at RB, WR, TE OL, DL, LB, CB, and Safety. This draft reminds me of the 2014 NFL draft where there was a clear-cut #1 player (Jadeveon Clowney) and the team with the #1 pick (Texans) needed a QB and everyone expected them to reach on a QB. Scouts are not dumb and I don’t expect the Browns to miss out on a talent such as Myles Garrett, especially with another 1st round pick.
Myles Garrett is not like any other 20-year old pic.twitter.com/jvTj8Qw3fV
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) November 7, 2016
Don’t forget that Hue Jackson was a part of turning Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton into serviceable quarterbacks, so he likely believes he can spend a later 1st round pick or even the 1st pick of the 2nd round on a QB.
2) San Francisco 49ers – Stanford DE Solomon Thomas
Until further notice the 49ers biggest need is at QB, but with the 6-year deals that Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch signed means they are going to take a patient approach here. I still think the 49ers find a way to land Kirk Cousins, but they might endure Brian Hoyer, Matt Barkley, and a late round QB for a season and hope to land USC QB Sam Darnold in 2018. Deshaun Watson makes a lot of sense here, but Kyle Shanahan & John Lynch may not want to risk the #2 pick on a risky QB.
Stanford DE Solomon Thomas Highlights 👀😱 pic.twitter.com/pYqmevVPdI
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 18, 2017
If the 49ers didn’t have top picks invested in safeties already it would make sense that John Lynch would want to get one of these top 2 safeties, and he still may choose to do that, but building a 4-3 defense is high on their priority list and Solomon Thomas offers a lot of flexibility on the edge; playing the Michael Bennett role in the Seahawks-style defense new DC Robert Saleh brings to San Francisco. Basically, if John Lynch doesn’t go with his old position, he can settle on a player from his alma mater.
3) Chicago Bears – LSU SS Jamal Adams
The Bears signed Mike Glennon to a 3-year contract which almost solidifies the fact that they are not using the 3rd overall pick on a QB. John Fox make it to a Super Bowl in Carolina with Jake Delhomme at QB because the defense and running game was dominant.
LSU Safety Jamal Adams Highlights pic.twitter.com/1BlIrRfbpr
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 18, 2017
The Bears should draft a QB at some point early in the draft, but Jamal Adams is the best strong safety prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft and edges Malik Hooker only by a hair due to an injury keeping him out of pre-draft workouts. Previously, Alabama DL Jonathan Allen was slotted here, but the concerns regarding his shoulder problems drop him deeper into the 1st round, despite his talent clearly being top-3 worthy in this draft.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars – LSU RB Leonard Fournette
The Jaguars are STILL a mess offensively, but have had another impressive crop of defensive free agent signings. They will be starting over this year with a new coach (Doug Marrone) and will try to salvage Blake Bortles’ career, so QB is not going to be the pick here. The Jaguars have put a lot of resources to improving the defense and GM David Caldwell stated that he wants to get the offense and defense playing at the same level after seeing the offense and defense moving in opposing directions this past season.
The NFL is a copycat league, and after seeing the Cowboys taking a RB early in the draft translate into success on the field, I think the Jaguars will take an impact player on offense to reduce the pressure on Bortles. Tom Coughlin knows that the Giants don’t win those Super Bowls without a strong running game. TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory never established themselves as a lead RB as both are better suited as a change of pace back, while Leonard Fournette has the potential to be the next Adrian Peterson.
5) Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) – Ohio State FS Malik Hooker
The Titans are fortunate the Rams continued to suck after the blockbuster trade for the rights to the #1 overall pick in 2016 and they landed a top 5 pick in 2017. The Titans made huge strides in their 2nd season with Marcus Mariota and their 1st full season with Mike Mularkey as the HC and DeMarco Murray as their #1 RB.
The only highlight from Malik Hooker you need to see comes from his first start at Ohio State pic.twitter.com/9xB89RFrA3
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 18, 2017
The Defense played surprisingly well down the stretch and is in position to take the BPA with this Rams pick and maybe reach to fill a need with their later 1st round pick. The secondary needs help and Malik Hooker is the best Free Safety in this class and a rare prospect worthy of a top-5 selection at the position. Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore is another potential pick here, but safeties of Hooker’s caliber are harder to come by than cornerbacks, especially in this CB-rich draft.
6) New York Jets – Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore
It’s been sad to see Revis just completely fall off/give up last season, but don’t feel too badly for him because he’s made his money and won a Super Bowl.
Marshon Lattimore is the consensus #1 CB in the draft and is a legit top 10 player. I don’t see any scenario where the Jets allow Lattimore to fall past them at #6. I don’t see the Jets giving up on Christian Hackenberg just yet after giving him a redshirt year in 2016, but if he fails in 2017, the Jets could be in the running to select USC QB Sam Darnold in the 2018 NFL Draft.
7) Los Angeles Chargers – Clemson WR Mike Williams
The Chargers had a great draft in 2016 and can afford to use this pick on a luxury position. They needed a compliment to Keenan Allen going into the 2016 season and hoped Travis Benjamin would fill that role. Now they need a WR because Keenan Allen has the worst luck imaginable when it comes to injuries and you don’t know what you’re going to get from him when he comes back.
Clemson WR Mike Williams Highlights pic.twitter.com/NGQhGIuWq3
— 2017 NFL Draft (@DraftRT) March 21, 2017
The Titans could take the 1st WR off the board, so expect the Chargers to pick whomever they didn’t take between Corey Davis & Mike Williams. Either way, they need some weapons in the passing game to take some pressure off Philip Rivers in the passing game and it would help to have a star WR to attract fans in LA. Mike Williams gets the edge here due to Corey Davis being unable to workout for teams leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.
8) Carolina Panthers – Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
The biggest difference between the 2015 Panthers and the 2016 version is the protection Cam Newton got from the offensive line and their ability to run the football. The top offensive tackles are not worthy of a top-10 selection in the 2017 NFL Draft and hopefully the Panthers don’t reach for one to fill a need. Bama OT Cam Robinson is overrated and Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk is coming off a hip injury. Signing Matt Kalil to a 5-year deal is more of a band-aid than it may apprear because the contract is structured where they can get out of the deal is he completely flops after the first year.
Jonathan Stewart is getting up there in age and health is always a concern with him. Getting Dalvin Cook is a luxury pick for the Panthers, but they were at their best when Cam didn’t have to shoulder the offense and re-establishing a run-first identity could get their offense back on track.
9) Cincinnati Bengals – Alabama LB Reuben Foster
The Bengals can’t continue to rely on Vontaze Burfict. If football is a chess match, consider Reuben Foster as the Queen piece. You can move him around all over the field would actually be a steal at #9 because Rueben Foster has Patrick Willis potential. Despite getting dismissed from the Combine for acting a fool, Foster should still be a top 10 pick.
10) Buffalo Bills – Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
The Bills surprisingly, and wisely, restructured Tyrod Taylor’s contract to bring him back as the starting QB, eliminating QB from their biggest need. If Sammy Watkins proved he could stay healthy, the Bills could address their needs in the secondary, but after losing Robert Woods to the Rams in FA, the bills need to set Tyrod Taylor up for success and give him weapons in the passing game he can rely on. Corey Davis is coming off an injury, but he is widely considered the best route runner in the draft and could take some pressure off of Sammy Watkins as the #1 WR.
Next Page: Picks 11-20