This is my first (and possibly last) attempt a mocking the 2017 NFL Draft for this offseason. This is far less of a prediction on how the first three rounds of the draft will go, but more suited to one possible scenario of how it might go.
Of course the actual draft will include numerous trades, with the past three drafts averaging roughly around 30 just in the first three rounds. Perhaps closer to April 27’s date, I’ll throw out another mock that includes several additional trades.
An asterisk (*) indicates an underclassman
- Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M*
Pretty much a no-brainer selection here. It’s nearly a forgone conclusion that the Browns will make Garrett the top selection in this year’s draft (assuming they don’t trade down). It makes perfect sense given that there’s no clear-cut franchise quarterback. The Browns can afford to wait until their other first-round selection to take a passer.
- San Francisco 49ers – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford*
New 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch have a lot of work to do in order to rebuild what was one of the league’s worst defenses in 2016, and it starts up front with generating a pass rush. Thomas will hopefully be a foundation piece for them and potentially fill the “Michael Bennett” role in their Dan Quinn-style defense.
- Chicago Bears – SS Jamal Adams, LSU*
The Bears’ secondary needs quite a bit of revamping and adding a versatile and physical safety like Adams is a big step to accomplishing this task. He can slot in at strong safety next to Adrian Amos over stopgap Quintin Demps.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
Many see Howard as a “generational” type of tight end prospect and he’d be a perfect fit to slide into the role previously filled by Marcedes Lewis for the past decade to give oft-maligned quarterback Blake Bortles another quality target.
- Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams) – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State*
Despite paying a premium for Patriots free-agent cornerback Logan Ryan earlier this offseason, the Titans need more help at this position. Lattimore is considered one of the premier cornerback talents in this year’s draft class and should go a long way to helping what has been a porous pass defense for many years.
- New York Jets – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina*
The Jets might have a glut of young quarterbacks already on their roster with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, but neither have the talent of a player like Trubisky. He’ll be groomed as the long-term option with veteran Josh McCown serving as the early-season bridge in 2017.
- Los Angeles Chargers – FS Malik Hooker, Ohio State*
After losing long-time veteran stalwart in safety Eric Weddle last offseason, the Chargers are desperate to fill that void. Hooker provides the sort of upside that he too could wind up being one of the faces of their defense for the next decade.
- Carolina Panthers – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU*
Looking to establish the sort of running game that can take pressure off quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers would jump at the chance to add a physical runner like Fournette to the lineup to team with Jonathan Stewart.
- Cincinnati Bengals – ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama
Questions surround whether Vontaze Burfict will ever return to previous form and options like Kevin Minter are mere stopgaps. Foster gives them a rangy linebacker that added much needed youth and speed that has been sorely lacking in the middle of their aging defense.
- Buffalo Bills – DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Stalwart defensive tackle Kyle Williams turns 34 this summer and is likely entering his final year in Buffalo. Adding a young heir apparent like Allen makes perfect sense to put him beside Marcell Dareus.
- New Orleans Saints – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama*
The Saints hope Humphrey gives them the type of size and athleticism on the outside that will help them better able defend top NFC South wide receivers like Julio Jones and Mike Evans.
- Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson*
The Browns prove patient and get their quarterback of the future in Watson, hoping that he can be groomed into the long-term franchise passer that the city of Cleveland has been searching for for nearly two decades.
- Arizona Cardinals – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech*
Hoping that they never have another opportunity to pick this high again in the near future, the Cardinals nab their quarterback of the future in Mahomes, hoping his big arm and athleticism give them a solid developmental option behind Carson Palmer.
- Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota) – WR John Ross, Washington*
The speedy wideout that clocked a record-setting 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the Combine brings a lot of the same flavor and explosiveness that the team lost a few years back when DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin were allowed to leave.
- Indianapolis Colts – ILB Haason Reddick, Temple
Reddick is a superb athlete that they hope upgrades a shoddy interior linebacker corps along with recent free-agent signees John Simon and Jabaal Sheard to remake the middle of the Colts defense.
- Baltimore Ravens – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama*
The Ravens look to add another solid blocker up front to replace the departed Rick Wagner at right tackle and return this offensive line to one of the premier units that it was known as for several years until recently.
- Washington Redskins – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State*
Looking to improve their rushing attack, the Redskins see a quick, explosive runner like Cook as their very own Gio Bernard, a back that head coach Jay Gruden had in Cincinnati.
- Tennessee Titans – WR Mike Williams, Clemson*
Williams gives quarterback Marcus Mariota a large target on the outside that can potential stretch the field and win in the red zone.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford*
Hoping to steal a page from the Atlanta Falcons with running back Tevin Coleman, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter hopes to turn McCaffrey into a dynamic two-way playmaker both as a runner and receiver.
- Denver Broncos – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Solidifying a porous offensive line is a high priority for the Broncos that they began with signing guard Ronald Leary in free agency, and hopefully continues with Ramczyk upgrading their left tackle spot.
- Detroit Lions – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee*
Hoping to add a “running mate” to Ziggy Ansah, the Lions add an edge-rusher like Barnett that can potentially give them a solid one-two punch.
- Miami Dolphins – DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State*
The Dolphins could potentially exploit McDowell’s versatility to play both inside and outside in their base defense and sub-packages to help their defense take the next step.
- New York Giants – TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)*
The Giants snag an athletic tight end like Njoku, which will give them another key weapon in an ever-improving pass attack.
- Oakland Raiders – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State*
A shoddy Raiders defense was exploited too many times via the air, and Conley gives them a cornerback that has both the requisite size, physicality and speed to fit their defense.
- Houston Texans – OT Garrett Bolles, Utah*
Despite Bolles’ advanced age (25) for a rookie, this team needs an heir apparent to left tackle Duane Brown, who has been sapped by injuries in recent years. A player like Bolles might be able to contribute sooner rather than later.
- Seattle Seahawks – CB Kevin King, Washington
The Seahawks might not be able to trade cornerback Richard Sherman, but their interest in shopping him puts them in the market for a young replacement like King.
- Kansas City Chiefs – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
The Chiefs may wind up getting a steal in Davis, who slides due to a host of injuries preventing him from working out this offseason. But Davis has the tools to be a true No. 1 receiver that the Chiefs offense clearly lacks.
- Dallas Cowboys – SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan*
Peppers gives the Cowboys two things they like: a starter at strong safety and a dynamic return specialist.
- Green Bay Packers – OLB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin*
The loss of Julius Peppers and the durability concerns surrounding Clay Matthews puts the Packers in a position where adding a pass-rusher like Watt makes a lot of sense.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – SS Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Obi’s versatility and athleticism puts him in a good spot to potentially contribute right away at strong safety, but also be capable of making the switch to free safety down the road if need be.
- Atlanta Falcons – OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The Falcons get an athletic and physical tackle-turned-guard that can be plugged into the starting lineup right away at right guard as a replacement for the recently retired Chris Chester.
- New Orleans Saints (from New England) – DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
The Saints continue their defensive rebuild by adding an edge-rusher to team with an already formidable front featuring Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Nick Fairley.
- Cleveland Browns – FS Budda Baker, Washington*
Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hopes to install Baker as a lead playmaker in his defense similar to how Rodney McLeod operated in his former Rams units.
- San Francisco 49ers – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame*
Despite some concerns about Kizer’s commitment and leadership qualities, the 49ers are willing to take a chance on a talented and athletic young passer that could work well in Shanahan’s offense.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Antonio Garcia, Troy
Despite trading for left tackle Branden Albert, Garcia gives them a long-term option to protect the quarterback’s blind side.
- Chicago Bears – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
The Bears continue their secondary revamp with a cornerback like White.
- Los Angeles Rams – CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
The Rams hope that Awuzie is a better fit in Wade Phillips’ defense than franchise tag recipient Trumaine Johnson, who is actively being shopped by the team.
- Los Angeles Chargers – CB Quincy Wilson, Florida*
The installation of Gus Bradley’s defense in L.A. requires bigger corners like Wilson.
- New York Jets – ILB Jarrad Davis, Florida
Davis gives them a physical presence in the middle of their defense to be considered the heir apparent to David Harris.
- Carolina Panthers – DE Carl Lawson, Auburn*
Lawson gives the Panthers an edge-rusher to groom behind Julius Peppers.
- Cincinnati Bengals – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
Charlton has the length and size the Bengals usually covet in their edge-rushers.
- New Orleans Saints – ILB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt*
The Saints continue to collect veterans at linebacker, but none of them possess the traits that Cunningham has as a long-term contributor.
- Philadelphia Eagles – RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee*
Kamara’s playmaking skills should mix in well with the committee-approach the Eagles currently employ at running back.
- Buffalo Bills – LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State*
While by no means a superb athlete, McMillan is a clear upgrade in that department over the Bills current options at linebacker.
- Arizona Cardinals – OG Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh
Johnson should give the Cardinals a nice option at right guard, which proved very problematic throughout 2016.
- Indianapolis Colts – OT Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
Moton’s physicality at right tackle will benefit the Colts as they continue to beef up their offensive line.
- Baltimore Ravens – DE/OLB Charles Harris, Missouri*
Harris can be billed as the young pass-rusher this defense has been seeking to replace Terrell Suggs in the future.
- Minnesota Vikings – DT Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
Ogunjobi’s athleticism will be intriguing as a replacement for the oft-injured Sharrif Floyd at defensive tackle.
- Washington Redskins – DT Dalvin Tomlinson, Alabama
The Redskins will hope they can develop Tomlinson as a penetrating nose tackle in their 3-4 defense.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – CB Sidney Jones, Washington*
Jones’ Achilles tear might put him out for most of this year, but the Bucs are drafting him for the future as his size is welcomed at cornerback.
- Denver Broncos – TE Evan Engram, Mississippi
Engram’s potential as a receiver at flex tight end gives the Broncos a clear upgrade there.
- Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee) – DT Caleb Brantley, Florida*
Brantley should slot in nicely besides Garrett and Danny Shelton on the Browns’ interior defensive line.
- Detroit Lions – RB D’Onta Foreman, Texas*
The Lions hope Foreman gives them a physical between-the-tackles runner to team with the speedy, but so far unreliable Ameer Abdullah.
- Miami Dolphins – OG Dan Feeney, Indiana
Feeney is a solid piece and upgrade at right guard over the miscast Jermon Bushrod.
- New York Giants – DT Chris Wormley, Michigan
While it’s still possible the Giants re-sign Johnathan Hankins, they might still be in the market for a cheaper long-term asset like Wormley to play beside Damon Harrison.
- Oakland Raiders – OT Roderick Johnson, Florida State*
Donald Penn will be 34 when this season kicks off and Johnson gives them a young left tackle to groom behind him.
- Houston Texans – SS Josh Jones, N.C. State*
Jones brings some physicality and athleticism to a safety position that is lacking it.
- Seattle Seahawks – RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma*
The Seahawks have shown a willingness to overlook character issues and are stacking their roster with possible Marshawn Lynch replacements.
- Kansas City Chiefs – CB Teez Tabor, Florida*
Tabor’s stock has fallen due to poor athletic testing, but they’ll like his confidence and swagger as a No. 2 to line up across from Marcus Peters.
- Dallas Cowboys – DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
The Cowboys will hope that the athletic Willis will be a lot more stable edge-rusher than predecessors Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence.
- Green Bay Packers – CB Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson
Tankersley gives them an upgrade over LaDarius Gunter at their “matchup” cornerback spot.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
The Steelers hope that McKinley can be developed into a reliable heir apparent to James Harrison.
- Atlanta Falcons – FS Marcus Williams, Utah*
With several of the top pass-rushers off the board, the Falcons “settle” for one of the premier centerfielders at free safety in Williams, with the plan to develop him as a long-term replacement for Ricardo Allen a few years down the line.
- Carolina Panthers (from New England) – WR Zay Jones, East Carolina
Jones gives them a solid route-runner that can line up in the slot and become a security blanket for Newton.
- Cleveland Browns – TE Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech*
Hodges essentially gives them a big-bodied receiver at the tight end position.
- San Francisco 49ers – OLB Tyus Bowser, Houston
The 49ers hope to use Bowser in the same capacity as the Seahawks used Bruce Irvin.
- Chicago Bears – WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, USC*
He can provide a big outside target that can potentially offset loss of Alshon Jeffery.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Kareem Hunt, Toledo
They hope Hunt can provide a spark to an underwhelming rushing attack.
- Los Angeles Rams – OC Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Elflein represents a significant upgrade over current incumbent center Cody Wichmann.
- New York Jets – CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Although he’s recovering from a torn pectoral muscle, Moreau should be an upgrade for the Jets.
- Los Angeles Chargers – DE DeMarcus Walker, Florida State
The Chargers will likely look to deploy Walker as an interior pass-rush specialist in their nickel.
- New England Patriots (from Carolina) – OLB Tim Williams, Alabama
The Patriots will take a chance of Williams’ pass-rushing ability despite his many off-field concerns.
- Cincinnati Bengals – OG Dion Dawkins, Temple
The Bengals will peg Dawkins as their Kevin Zeitler replacement at right guard.
- Philadelphia Eagles – CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
Given their desperate need to upgrade their cornerback play, they’ll roll the dice on Lewis despite his recent off-field issues.
- Buffalo Bills – WR Cooper Kupp, Eastern Washington
Kupp gives the Bills a reliable secondary option in the slot.
- New Orleans Saints – RB/WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State*
The Saints will likely deploy Samuel all over their offense much like they did Reggie Bush in the past.
- Arizona Cardinals – WR Chad Hansen, California*
The Cardinals hope to groom Hansen as the heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald.
- Baltimore Ravens – TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland*
The oversized Shaheen is a solid addition to a group of oft-injured tight ends.
- Minnesota Vikings – OG Isaac Asiata, Utah
Matt’s cousin can bolster the right guard position on a still questionable Vikings O-line.
- Indianapolis Colts – CB Adoree’ Jackson, USC*
Jackson provides athleticism and upside on defense and return skills on special teams.
- Washington Redskins – QB Davis Webb, California
Given the murky future of starter Kirk Cousins in D.C., Webb is pegged as the starter of the future.
- Denver Broncos – DT Elijah Qualls, Washington
While raw, Qualls gives the Broncos the wide body at nose tackle that Sylvester Williams never was.
- Tennessee Titans – ILB Anthony Walker, Northwestern*
The Titans hope that Walker can be developed as a long-term starter at inside linebacker.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers – FS Desmond King, Iowa
King’s past at cornerback should make him into a versatile asset at safety in Mike Smith’s defense.
- Detroit Lions – ILB Blair Brown, Ohio
Despite the signing of Paul Worrilow in free agency, the Lions know they need more help at linebacker.
- Minnesota Vikings (from Miami) – OLB Duke Riley, LSU
Riley’s speed and athleticism make him a solid replacement for Chad Greenway on the weak side.
- New York Giants – OT Will Holden, Vanderbilt
Holden can play right tackle immediately but also provide insurance at left tackle in case Ereck Flowers continues to struggle.
- Oakland Raiders – WR Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
The speedy Taylor could be a major upgrade over Seth Roberts in the slot.
- Houston Texans – TE Gerald Everett, South Alabama
Everett gives them an athletic weapon at tight end to team with C.J. Fiedorowicz.
- Seattle Seahawks – CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
Despite pulling the trigger on King in Round One, the Seahawks double down with Witherspoon.
- Kansas City Chiefs – QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL)*
Kaaya is a polished, accurate passer that Andy Reid tends to like.
- Dallas Cowboys – CB Howard Wilson, Houston*
Wilson has the tools to be developed as a solid outside option at cornerback.
- Green Bay Packers – RB Marlon Mack, South Florida*
Mack will be tapped to be the replacement for Eddie Lacy at running back.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – WR ArDarius Stewart, Alabama*
The Steelers hope the speedy Stewart gives them another outlet in the passing game.
- Atlanta Falcons – DE Tarell Basham, Ohio
Basham is a capable pass-rusher that while he lacks top-shelf upside can provide a significant upgrade over the likes of Brooks Reed with his high motor and physicality.
- New England Patriots – OT Julie’n Davenport, Bucknell
While raw, the athletically gifted Davenport can be groomed as Nate Solder’s replacement at left tackle.
- Miami Dolphins (compensatory) – RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma*
The physical running style of Perine should continue to beef up the Dolphins run game.
- Carolina Panthers (compensatory) – TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
Sprinkle will be groomed as the heir apparent to 32-year old tight end Greg Olsen.
- Baltimore Ravens (compensatory) – OC Ethan Pocic, LSU
Pocic should be a solid replacement for Jeremy Zuttah at the pivot.
- Tennessee Titans (compensatory from L.A. Rams) – TE Jordan Leggett, Clemson
Delanie Walker turns 33 in August and the Titans need to start looking ahead.
- Denver Broncos (compensatory) – CB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State
Kazee adds depth and value as another nickel specialist.
- Seattle Seahawks (compensatory) – OG Jordan Morgan, Kutztown
Morgan gives them another option at guard to beef up a very lackluster front.
- New Orleans Saints (compensatory from Cleveland via New England) – TE George Kittle, Iowa
The Saints hope Kittle not only is a capable blocker but also a more reliable receiver than Coby Fleener.
- Kansas City Chiefs (compensatory) – DT Jaleel Johnson, Iowa
The Chiefs will try to utilize Johnson as a long-term replacement for Dontari Poe at nose tackle.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory) – RB Jeremy McNichols, Boise State*
McNichols should bolster their depth behind Le’Veon Bell.
- Seattle Seahawks (compensatory) – DT Montravius Adams, Auburn
Adams gives them another pass-rusher that they can deploy inside at defensive tackle.
- New York Jets (compensatory) – RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson*
The Jets hope that Gallman can be the heir apparent to Matt Forte at running back.