The 2017 NFL Combine is in the books, free agency is underway, and draft season is in full gear. Some players have raised their draft stock in a big way, while others have plummeted. The news of Sidney Jones IV, the talented Washington cornerback, tearing his achilles at his pro day factored in to both my top-100 big board and first-round mock draft. If the injury does sideline him for the entire 2017 NFL regular season, he could reasonably fall to the late third round. In this piece, I not only have a first-round mock draft on one page, but also my latest top-100 big board on the next page. Read, enjoy, and feel free to reach out to me on Twitter for your feedback!
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
– This is an easy decision. Myles Garrett is the undisputed top prospect in this year’s draft class, and he would be an instant difference maker as a pass rusher for the Cleveland Browns.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
– Some say there is not a quarterback worthy of being drafted in the top 10, and while I could see that argument, the San Francisco 49ers are in desperate need of one. Deshaun Watson plays his best football under pressure in the spotlight, and he fits what Kyle Shanahan wants to do on offense.
3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford
– Chicago could go a number of routes here, but the best bet is Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. He is a freak athlete for someone his size, and I think he could play base end on early downs with the ability to kick inside in nickel.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
– The Jaguars have built up a young, productive core on defense, but they have to find an identity on the offensive side of the ball. A player like Leonard Fournette could give Jacksonville what they need to establish a power running game.
5. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
– Jonathan Allen can play in an odd or even front as a defensive end, and he would be an instant upgrade over DaQuan Jones and Angelo Blackson for the Tennessee Titans. Allen has the potential to be a leader for their front seven, but his injury history could push him down draft boards.
6. New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
– Even with the addition of Morris Claiborne, the New York Jets need to find talent in the secondary. Marshon Lattimore is an elite cornerback prospect in this year’s draft class, and he could be a viable option to replace Darrelle Revis as their shutdown player on the outside.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
– The addition of Casey Hayward last year did wonders for the Chargers at the cornerback position, but they still need an upgrade at the safety position. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker could be the Eric Weddle for this team at centerfielder with his range and ball skills.
8. Carolina Panthers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
– Jamal Adams didn’t have a great performance at the Combine, but he did just enough to secure his status as top-10 prospect. His tape is fantastic, as he consistently makes plays around the football both in coverage and run support. The Panthers need to get younger at the safety spot, and Adams could fit right in as a tone setter for that defense.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
– There is a case to be made that Cincinnati should target a pass rusher here, but the value of Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was too much to pass up. Plus, the Bengals’ linebacking core needs a jolt of youth and athleticism in the middle.
10. Buffalo Bills: John Ross, WR, Washington
– The Bills restructured Tyrod Taylor’s contract, but opted to not re-sign Robert Woods as their second wide receiver. Buffalo’s passing game lived off of explosive plays last year, and a player like John Ross could make this offense even more dangerous with his playmaking ability.
11. New Orleans Saints: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
– New Orleans traded Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, which shows a vote of confidence in young wide receiver Michael Thomas, but they could use another big receiver to play with Thomas on the outside. Mike Williams makes a ton of sense as a player who can take over the Marques Colston role for Drew Brees and the Saints’ passing game.
12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
– The ideal scenario for Cleveland is to take Myles Garrett with the first pick and wait for a quarterback to take with this pick. Trubisky is the hometown kid, and he has the potential be a productive starter for Hue Jackson and the Browns.
13. Arizona Cardinals: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
– I personally think DeShone Kizer has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this draft class with his flashes on tape, but he is also one of the biggest risks. He needs to land in the right situation, and with Carson Palmer set to play for another year or two, Kizer would be able to sit and learn without having the pressure to make an early impact.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
– Philadelphia upgraded their wide receiver corps in a big way with the acquisitions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, but they need to find an identity in the running game. Ryan Mathews can’t stay healthy, Darren Sproles is nearing the end of his career as a third-down back and special teams ace, and Wendell Smallwood is too much of a wild card to bank on. Dalvin Cook would give this offense stability at running back as well as a spark on all three downs.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
– Indianapolis took a step in the right direction towards protecting Andrew Luck by drafting Ryan Kelly last year, but they could stand to acquire more talent on the offensive line. Although I think the comparisons to Zack Martin are a bit off the mark, Forrest Lamp has the potential to be a long-time starter at either guard spot.
16. Baltimore Ravens: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
– The Baltimore Ravens’ offense was one of the least exciting groups to watch in 2016, and they are in desperate need of a playmaker on that side of the ball, especially with Kenneth Dixon’s recent suspension. Howard is one of the best players available, and I think he could be a difference maker on all three downs as a blocker and receiver.
17. Washington Redskins: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
– The Redskins’ defensive line is a mess right now. The group is old and cannot stay on the field, which makes it odd as to why they passed on a player like Chris Jones last year. However, they could reasonably have the chance to draft a top-five talent at the position this year in Malik McDowell with his character concerns potentially dropping him down draft boards.
18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
– This pick seems to be the sweet spot for Tennessee to take a receiver in this year’s draft. They need to give Marcus Mariota help on the outside, and Corey Davis can provide just that as a threat at all levels on the field. Davis is my top receiver, but he could have a draft day slide if he doesn’t work out before April 27.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
– Even with William Gholston coming back on a big contract, the Buccaneers still need to improve their pass rush group as a whole. On paper, Derek Barnett is one of the most productive edge rushers to come out of college in some time, and he could be a day-one starter at defensive end for this defense.
20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
– Denver desperately needs to find an upgrade at offensive tackle, and the best one on my board is Alabama’s Cam Robinson. His combination of length, power, and athleticism gives him a chance to be a steal with the 20th overall pick.
21. Detroit Lions: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
– The Lions could go with a cornerback here to play on the outside opposite of Darius Slay, but this pick makes too much sense. Reddick can rush the quarterback, cover sideline to sideline, and fill as a linebacker prospect who played with his hand in the dirt at Temple. He is an athletic chess piece who can be moved around to the defense’s advantage.
22. Miami Dolphins: Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
– There is a good chance Taco Charlton is off the board by the time Miami is on the clock, but if he is available, he is a perfect fit as a 4-3 defensive end who can replace what Olivier Vernon was able to accomplish here a couple of years ago.
23. New York Giants: David Njoku, TE, Miami
– The New York Giants already made their offense more dangerous with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall in free agency, but their passing attack could be scary if they can land a player with the athleticism of David Njoku at tight end. If this happens, I challenge anyone to find a better group of weapons.
24. Oakland Raiders: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
– The resurrection of Al Davis! Some may say Obi Melifonwu is just a workout warrior with his freakish combination of size and athleticism, but he has the tape to back it up. He comes downhill with a vengeance, but he also has the range to make plays over the top. Heck, some teams may view him as a cornerback. Oakland drafted Karl Joseph last year, and they could add more young talent in the secondary with a chess piece like Melifonwu in the first round.
25. Houston Texans: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
– The Houston Texans cleansed themselves from the ugly Brock Osweiler contract by trading him to the Cleveland Browns in an NBA-style deal, but they still need a quarterback. Tony Romo could be the short-term answer, but a player like Patrick Mahomes also makes sense if they want a long-term option to sit behind a veteran like Romo for a year or two.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
– Seattle is devoid of talent on the offensive line. I have no idea how Tom Cable still has a job, but here we are, and the Seahawks are in desperate of an offensive tackle. Ryan Ramczyk is one of the best offensive tackles available, and he can play on the left or right side as a technician. Keep an eye on his hip injury though, as it could drop him down draft boards.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
– Marcus Peters is a cornerstone player for the Kansas City defense at cornerback, but they need to find another cornerback to play on the outside. Gareon Conley is one of the most NFL-ready defensive backs in this draft class with his coverage mechanics and ball skills, and I like his fit as a team’s second cornerback.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
– Takkarist McKinley has as high of an upside as any pass rusher in this draft, but he is a bit of a project. He is an undisciplined rusher at this stage, but working with a coach like Rod Marinelli would give him the best chance to reach his potential. Dallas needs to get after the quarterback, and McKinley could be the answer.
29. Green Bay Packers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
– This pick is a match made in heaven. Christian McCaffrey is a stud, plain and simple. Not only has he proven that he can carry a workload as a running back, but he can also line up in the slot and run routes on passing downs. He is a matchup nightmare, and I think he can be dynamic in this Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
– The Pittsburgh Steelers are in need of a pass rusher. Bud Dupree is still a young, developing talent, but James Harrison is nearing the end of his career, and it would be smart to find his future replacement. Carl Lawson’s play strength at the POA is a concern, but he is one of the most refined rushers in this class, and it would not surprise me if he is a double-digit sack guy in the league.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Derek Rivers, EDGE, Youngstown State
– Atlanta’s young defensive core played a huge part in the team’s breakout season, especially with the play of Vic Beasley, who led the NFL in sacks. If the Falcons continue to build their pass rush by drafting a player like Derek Rivers, they will only improve on the defensive side of the ball, which would be extremely scary.
32. New Orleans Saints (via New England): Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
– New Orleans acquired this pick in the Brandin Cooks trade, and they could go a number of routes here. A quarterback to groom behind Brees would be ideal, but in this scenario, the top four are off of the board. This leads me to the cornerback position, arguably their biggest need. In a deep cornerback class, this could be the sweet spot to take one before a run on the position starts. Quincy Wilson is a big, press man cornerback with feared ball skills who can step in right away as a starter.