Apr 21, 2017
First-Round NFL Mock Draft & Analysis
By: Ben Morgan
1. Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
A no-brainer for Cleveland at No. 1 as the Browns select Garrett since the 2017 draft class doesn’t possess a clear-cut franchise quarterback. The Browns select the best pass rusher who should be a force coming around the edge for the next decade.
2. San Francisco 49ers, Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Another team searching for the long-term solution at quarterback who would be wise to avoid reaching for a quarterback in this year’s first round. Thomas provides the 49ers with a versatile defensive lineman that will help sure up a defense that ranked 19th in sacks and gave up the fourth-most rushing yards per game last year.
3. Chicago Bears, Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Noticing a trend here? The top teams in this year’s draft could all use help at quarterback, but it will be wise to look elsewhere instead of tying your franchise to the wrong guy for the foreseeable future. Lattimore has some injury concern, but the Bears need help defending the pass after allowing 248 yards per game through the air last season. Not to mention the Bears are looking to compete in a division that features Aaron Rodgers.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars, Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
In a perfect world the Jaguars are able to trade into the late teens/early 20’s and select an offensive lineman while stockpiling additional draft picks. If this doesn’t work out, the Jaguars look to improve their secondary for the second straight season in the first round with the selection of Hooker. Hooker and Jalen Ramsey could eventually resemble what Seattle has in Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.
5. Tennessee Titans, Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
After ranking 30th in the league last season in passing yards allowed, the Titans select one of the more complete cornerbacks in this year’s draft, Marlon Humphrey. Not scared to stick his nose into the mix against the run, Humphrey is also a solid cover corner who will give the Titans a consistent option on the outside for years to come.
6. New York Jets, Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The first offensive player off the board is LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Hyped up as a surefire first-round selection since joining the Tigers, Fournette provides the Jets with a running back who can handle a large number of carries to help alleviate the pressure on whoever ends up being the team’s quarterback moving forward. Fournette’s combination of speed and power draws comparison to Adrian Peterson, and if the Jets can develop him to be anywhere near as good as Peterson was for the Vikings, the top-10 selection of a running back will be warranted.
7. Los Angeles Chargers, Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The steal of the draft so far as the Chargers land arguably the top-ranked safety in the class with the seventh pick. There aren’t many holes in Adams’ game, as he should immediately improve the Chargers passing defense that was 20th against the pass last year and doesn’t have much to offer at the position outside of Jahleel Addae.
8. Carolina Panthers, Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are popular selections for the Panthers at No. 8, but with Fournette already off the board, the Panthers don’t reach for McCaffrey and instead opt to upgrade the secondary with Conley. The Panthers were torched several times against the pass last season – just ask Julio Jones what he thinks of the Panthers secondary – and Conley will look to fill the hole that was left by the departure of Josh Norman two years ago.
9. Cincinnati Bengals, Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Several have Reuben Foster as a candidate to fall in the first round due to his experience at the NFL Combine and recent news regarding his health, but the Bengals have a hole at linebacker to fill with the departure of Rey Maualuga and Foster is the perfect option to fill it. Linebacker isn’t typically seen as an ideal top-10 selection, but Foster is a complete player who will justify the selection as an anchor of the Bengals defense for years to come.
10. Buffalo Bills, Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
I have concerns about Williams and his ability to gain separation on his routes against NFL defenders, but Tyrod Taylor is the type of quarterback who will be able to get the most out of Williams with his ability to extend plays so I really like the fit in Buffalo. If Sammy Watkins can stay healthy, the combination of Watkins and Williams has the potential to be one of the most dynamic tandems in the NFL.
11. New Orleans Saints, Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Name a cornerback that plays for the New Orleans Saints? Still have nothing? Thought so. The Saints desperately need help in the secondary, which ranked dead last in passing yards allowed per game last year, and White has the ability to step in from day one and start making an impact on this atrocious defense.
12. Cleveland Browns, O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Instead of taking a chance on quarterback Mitch Trubisky, the Browns take a unique offensive weapon that will be a matchup nightmare in the NFL in O. J. Howard. While quarterback makes sense at No. 12, the Browns are in a position to get a playmaker that can not only make an impact from day one, but who may also be one of the best at his position by the time Cleveland finds its franchise quarterback.
13. Arizona Cardinals, Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
It looks like the Cardinals can go one of three directions in the first round – quarterback, wide receiver or defensive back. While Corey Davis makes a ton of sense if the Cardinals want to make one more push with Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald, I think the team will look to the future at No. 13 and select Palmer’s successor, Mitchell Trubisky. A year behind Palmer will be important for the former UNC signal caller as the Cardinals try to limit the time spent in rebuild mode.
14. Philadelphia Eagles, Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Eagles have done a good job this offseason surrounding second-year quarterback Carson Wentz with weapons on offense by signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Those signings, and the re-signing of Darren Sproles, makes me believe the Eagles will go defense in the first round. Philadelphia has the opportunity to develop another pass rusher, as it did years ago with Brandon Graham, by drafting Derek Barnett.
15. Indianapolis Colts, Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Despite and underwhelming defensive unite, it’s time for the Colts to protect the franchise and select offensive tackle, Ryan Ramczyk. This particular draft isn’t known as a strong class for the offensive line, so the Colts will have to spend a first-round pick on Ramczyk if they want to land an immediate impact starter up front.
16. Baltimore Ravens, Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
When you look at the Ravens roster you won’t be impressed by the names you read at the wide receiver position, which makes Corey Davis a logical choice here. But I think the Ravens will be happy to address wide receiver later in the draft as they see Cam Robinson as a better value pick due to the lack of offensive line depth in the draft.
17. Washington Redskins, Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Redskins are the first team that may take a chance of safety, Jabrill Peppers, but I believe they select a different Michigan Wolverine, Taco Charlton. One of the more athletic edge rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft, Charlton looks to have the ability to play either on the line or as a stand-up edge rusher.
18. Tennessee Titans, Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
My top-ranked receiver in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Titans give Marcus Mariota a weapon who can succeed lining up both outside and in the slot. Davis checks all the boxes that you look for in a wide receiver and will turn into the Titans No. 1 option at wide out sooner rather than later.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
I’m not as low on Dalvin Cook as several are, as we get closer to draft day, as I believe he is still a first-round talent. The Buccaneers have the potential to be a very dangerous offense with Jameis Winston continuing to develop into a very good young quarterback and a dynamic duo of receivers lined up outside in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. The addition of Cook gives the offense yet another playmaker that can impact the game both on the ground and out of the backfield as a pass catcher.
20. Denver Broncos, Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
After last year’s draft, the Broncos hope they have their long-term solution at quarterback in Paxton Lynch. With that being said, they are going to need help protecting the young quarterback as it looks like he may be thrown into action before he’s 100 percent ready. Bolles provides the Broncos with the versatility to play either tackle position very early in his career.
21. Detroit Lions, Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft, Haason Reddick instantly provides some life to the Lions’ group of linebackers. Reddick’s athleticism allows him to drop into coverage while also wrecking havoc on opposing team’s quarterbacks around the edge.
22. Miami Dolphins, Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
Miami’s most glaring needs are offensive guard and defensive end, and since the top-tier edge rushers are already off the board, the team elects to bring Forrest Lamp to South Beach. The Dolphins addressed linebacker in free agency by signing Lawrence Timmons and extending the contract of Kiko Alonso, but they were relatively quiet in their pursuit of adding help to the offensive line. This leads me to believe they will take to the draft to fill the remaining holes up front.
23. New York Giants, Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
New York took a giant step forward on defense last year after spending a boatload of money on that side of the ball in free agency. The addition of Cunningham give the Giants a starting-quality defender on a rookie deal as several other players on the defensive side of the ball eat up a large amount of the salary cap.
24. Oakland Raiders, Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The largest slide in the first round, as I originally had Jonathan Allen in the top five, the Raiders land what could turn into one of the biggest steals in the draft. Allen’s stock has continued to drop with the concern surrounding his arthritic shoulders, but he has too much talent to drop out of the first round and the Raiders are the benefactors. Oakland already has a stud pass rusher in Khalil Mack, but the addition of Allen provides the defensive line with much needed help against both the run and the pass.
25. Houston Texans, Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Texans are rumored to be smitten by quarterback Pat Mahomes and they make him the selection at No. 25 after being able to dump Brock Osweiler earlier this offseason. Likely not ready to jump in as starter on day one, Mahomes would benefit from a year or two as a backup. Unfortunately, the Texans do not currently possess a plethora of talent at the quarterback position so Mahomes time may come sooner rather than later in Houston.
26. Seattle Seahawks, Kevin King, CB, Washington
The hot rumor in Seattle this offseason has been Richard Sherman being on the trade block, and while I don’t see any trades going down at this time, it’s clear that the Seahawks are willing to listen to offers for Sherman and may need to add a cornerback in the very near future. With corners expected to fly off the board in the first round, Seattle makes its move on Kevin King at No. 26 as his size and athleticism is a great fit for the Seahawks defense.
27. Kansas City Chiefs, Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
While the Chiefs have more pressing needs – that if addressed properly – would help them continue to compete at a high level, the team realizes that they have probably maxed out their potential with Alex Smith at quarterback. Watson may be a project, but he offers more upside and potential to take the team to the next level than Smith does as the Chiefs select him with their future in mind.
28. Dallas Cowboys, Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Morris Claiborne finally had a good season at corner for the Cowboys in 2016, the problem is that it was a contract season for Claiborne and he decided to chase the money and signed with the Jets instead of sticking with a contender in Dallas. Claiborne’s departure makes the selection of Adoree’ Jackson even easier for the Cowboys as their offense seems to be in good hands for the foreseeable future with Dak Prescott, Zeke Elliott and Dez Bryant.
29. Green Bay Packers, Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Quincy Wilson is still on the board at No. 29 and the Packers sprint to the podium to make him their selection. Green Bay was nothing short of garbage against the pass last year – due in some part to injury – but the team clearly needs more depth at cornerback and Wilson provides the Packers with more height at the position and the ability to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers, DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Ben Roethlisberger has been fairly public about the possibility of retiring in the very near future, so the selection of DeShone Kizer provides the Steelers an upgrade at backup quarterback while giving him the opportunity to learn for at least a year behind one of the best in the business. Pittsburgh could definitely draft a player who could contribute already in 2017, likely on the defensive side of the ball, but the team may take the Green Bay/Aaron Rodgers approach instead of dealing with uncertainty at the most important position in football once Big Ben hangs them up.
31. Atlanta Falcons, Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
The Falcons proved to have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL in 2016, so the 31st pick in the NFL Draft will go towards an impact player on the defensive side of the ball. Projected to be most successful as an outside linebacker in the NFL, Charles Harris provides great ability to rush the passer on the opposite side of Vic Beasley who led the league in sacks in 2016.
32. New Orleans Saints, John Ross, WR, Washington
After setting the NFL Combine record for fastest 40-yard dash ever recorded, John Ross falls to the Saints as they find their replacement for speedster Brandin Cooks who was traded to the Patriots this offseason. Most believe Ross will be gone before No. 32, but the lack of top-tier wide receivers in the 2017 draft class lowers the value of the position as I don’t expect more than three or four coming off the board in the first round.