Yes, I know that Mock Draft Season won't start for some time now. Having established that, I still believe that a mock draft could christen the beginning of both the NFL and college season, not to mention it might be my little pet project. The profiling of the college stars NFL teams are drooling over is my equivalent of a day at the spa. I know mock draft comments are a bit more nasty than most, and i don't want you to hold back. Without further adieu, here is my first mock for the 2017 draft.
DISCLAIMER: The selection order was done after I had randomly simulated the season. The draft order doesn't necessarily reflect my beliefs on what will transpire over the course of the season
#1-San Francisco 49ers: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Heisman Trophy favorite, Watson is a true dual-threat QB with pinpoint accuracy. He might be the best athlete in the country, and that athleticism is what makes the Clemson offense click. He still needs work, like adding some strength and experience in running a pro-style offense. Should he be drafted by Chip Kelly and inserted into his high-octane offense, he should show that his speed and accuracy are a perfect match for Kelly's offense. Even the most cursory viewing of his tape should showcase his deadly accurate arm, high football IQ, and ability to throw from collapsing pockets and on the run. He is more than capable of becoming San Francisco's next franchise guy.
NFL Comparison: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
#2-San Diego Chargers: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Off the field, Robinson is a complete wild-card, and teams will need to take that into account. On the field, Robinson is a beast. More of a mauler right now, Robinson's ability to run block could lead him to a future move to guard. As a tackle, Robinson's raw power and strength can mask some technical defects. Robinson has routinely shut down some of the premier pass rushers in the SEC and the entire country. Joe Barksdale and King Dunlap are on their last chance with the Chargers. Robinson could solidify left tackle for a decade, maybe even more than that, provided he can keep his head on straight.
NFL Comparison: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys
#3-Cleveland Browns: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Cleveland has been searching for a franchise Qb since 1999. The RG3 experiment has the potential to be either franchise-changing and paradigm-shifting, but could blow up in the Browns' face just as easily. Hue Jackson has been shown to prefer pocket passers, of which Kaaya is the best prospect. He can make all the throws, though his ball placement is suspect. He has been known to panic when the pocket collapses. Hue Jackson, a QB guru, is the perfect mentor to squash Kaaya's bad habits and accentuate his deep ball skill, good decision making, and superb arm strength. Kaaya could break the QB curse that hangs over Northeast Ohio.
NFL Comparison: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
#4-Detroit Lions: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Leonard Fournette, plain and simply, might just be the best running back prospect EVER. Maybe it's a bit hyperbolic, but Fournette's talent is anything but overhyped. Fournette has speed that could be timed at sub 4.3 at the combine. This speed is coming from someone with the build of a power back. He already has an array of jukes, cuts, and stiff arms normally reserved for wily veterans. The offensive line at LSU was good, but not great, which nullifies claims that the offensive line is the reason Fournette is as successful as he is. He is almost a perfect RB prospect. Amber Abdullah is a good running back, and Theo Roddick a useful player, but when you have even the slightest need at running back and you could grab one of Fournette's caliber, you don't pass up the opportunity.
NFL Comparison: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
#5-Atlanta Falcons: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
If the high-octane Falcons offense is picking at this spot, it should be a dead giveaway that the defense is an infinite well of below-average. An injection of Myles Garrett could remedy those problems. Be it standing up or with a hand down, Garrett can beat elite tackles without any trouble whatsoever, at least at the collegiate level. The biggest drawback is that Garrett has been labeled a tweener, as some scouts disagree over if his best position is defensive end or outside linebacker. Dan Quinn likes to put guys with Garrett's power/speed combination at defensive end, where Garrett should transfer seamlessly into the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs
#6-Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
In any other year, Dalvin Cook would be the #1 running back prospect. Leonard Fournette's presence relegates Cook to the #2 slot. The Browns should still be overjoyed at the thought of Cook falling to their second first sound pick. Cook's electric speed and surprising power form a lethal combination that should either pair well with or usurp Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Having hypothetically found their franchise QB with Brad Kaaya, Dalvin Cook could be the next big piece of the puzzle to fall into place on the banks of Lake Erie.
NFL Comparison: DeAngelo WIlliams, Pittsburgh Steelers
#7-Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Once though to have the crown jewel of defensive lines, the Dolphins have seen Cameron Wake struggle with injuries, Olivier Vernon jump ship, and Ndamukong Suh fail to justify the monster contract doled out to him. Allen can vacillate between several different positions on the line, and excel at each. Remarkably strong, Allen's pass rushing is very refined, though his run defense is a work in progress for someone of his size. Allen should squeeze his way into the starting lineup based on his raw potential and versatility.
NFL Comparison: Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars
#8-Chicago Bears: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King and Jalen Tabor are in a Jamies Winston-Marcus Mariota type battle wherein the verdict on who is better changes from day to day. King is much more physical than Tabor, and a better run defender than the Florida product. He can get beat by quicker receivers, but can overwhelm anyone on any given Saturday. King could go as high as top 5 and as low as the end of the first round. I, the president of the Desmond King fan club, believe that the Bears should snag him at 8, considering the dire situation in the secondary.
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Joseph, Houston Texans
#9-Jacksonville Jaguars: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Cam Robinson's off-field antics may push him below Johnson, but, based on football ability, Johnson isn't the player Robinson is. He is still a freak regardless. Johnson is more projection than production, but has the potential to be an All-Pro left tackle. His raw strength and surprising quickness has allowed him to hold off the fastest of pass rushers and the largest of defensive tackles. Having blocked for James Winston and Dalvin Cook, among others, Johnson's immovability has fostered the success of both stars, and could do the same in Jacksonville.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Clady, New York Jets
#10-New York Giants: Mike McGlinchy, OT, Notre Dame
Eric Flowers and Justin Pugh may have been first round picks used on offensive lineman that didn't pan out, but that shouldn't stop the Giants from grabbing McGlinchy at 10. One of the more NFL-ready prospects, McGlinchy is a model of consistency, both in his playing style and his ability to avoid injury. Flowers and Pugh, who were plagued by inconsistency, should be superseded by McGlinchy, a plug and play offensive lineman who can ride his versatility and his durability to a long NFL career.
NFL Comparison: Anthony Davis, San Francisco 49ers
#11-Baltimore Ravens: Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
The 2017 cornerback class looks worse than it actually is because of the fantastic class last year provided. Tabor would fit right in with the luminaries of yesteryear. Tabor is not overly skilled in man or zone, but plays both at an NFL level, which serves as the catalyst for added versatility in the defensive game plan. Regarding his technique, Tabor is a savant. His ball-hawking skills and ability to perform while in the air are lightyears ahead of his classmates. The Ravens, desperate for a CB, would love Tabor at 11.
NFL Comparison: Brandon Flowers, San Diego Chargers
#12-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The safety class features few stars this year, and Adams stands above the rest. Though he appears to be just a thumper in the most traditional mold, Adams is also skilled enough as a pass defender to cement his status as a 1st round prospect. His defense against the run improved dramatically, and he profiles as someone who can improve just as much in the passing game. With James Winston, Doug Martin, and Mike Evans locking things down on the offensive side, Tampa Bay can lock down a safety spot for a while by selecting Adams.
NFL Comparison: Marcus Gilchrist, New York Jets
#13-New Orleans Saints: Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss
Drew Brees is still an All-Pro at quarterback, but the QB of the future in New Orleans isn't on the team. I liked Garrett Grayson, but Sean Payton apparently does not. Kelly's emotional maturation from Clemson to Ole Miss seemed to have squashed concerns over his attitude. As a QB, Kelly has a lot to like. He can make all the throws down the field that are so important in the Saints' offense. Kelly can sit for a year or two wile working out the kinks in his game, such as his lack of pocket presence and his gunslinger mentality. Kelly has a lot to like and a lot to work with, and should pan out in New Orleans.
NFL Comparison: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
#14-Tennessee Titans: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Having traded Dorail Green-Beckham and with Kendall Wright eyeing free agency, the Titans are in need of a WR for Marcus Mariota. They should go to the top shelf in this draft and grab Smith-Schuster. The USC wideout is what you'll find when you look up "wide receiver" in the dictionary. He's big, fast, and has improved trying to solve his drops issue. Smith-Schuster doesn't have a glaring weakness in his game, and he profiles as a wide receiver that can immediately transform the offense. The smash mouth running game and the elite physical receiving targets could make Tennessee an elite offensive team.
NFL Comparison: Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers
#15-Buffalo Bills: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Bills have their quarterback locked up, their WRs healthy, and an angry Rex Ryan at the helm. Absent from this Bills team is a truly great hybrid pass rusher that Ryan loves so much. Insert Carl Lawson. While Shaq Lawson, last years first round pick, is more of traditional defensive end, Lawson can switch between end and outside linebacker, and have success at either. His speed, incredibly polished moves, and adeptness at stopping the run is the shot in the arm this Bills D needs.
NFL Comparison: Mario Williams, Miami Dolphins
#16-Tennessee Titans (from Rams): Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
Having hypothetically grabbed JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Titans are snatching another mega-talent from USC. Though he would not look out of place in the Olympics, Jackson is a true cover corner with unrivaled athleticism. Jackson has limited or shut down supreme talents in the Pac-12 with regularity, using his speed and surprising physicality. He is, in my opinion, also the best return man in the country. The Titans would be gambling on athletic potential, but thats a risk worth taking.
NFL Comparison: Pacman Jones, Cincinnati Bengals
#17-Kansas City Chiefs: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
After Smith-Schuster, the wide receiver rankings are extremely jumbled. In my rankings, Mike Williams has risen above the rest. For a Chiefs team lacking a true possession WR threat, Williams will immediately add another dimension to a Chiefs offense that can sometimes be too predictable and simple. His stats are usurping that of other star wideouts to come out of Clemson, such as DeAndre Hopkins, Martavis Bryant, and Sammy Watkins. Kansas City needs a receiver that can combine the speed of Jeremy Maclin and the catch radius of Travis Kelce, and Williams can do just that.
NFL Comparison: Dorail Green-Beckham, Philadelphia Eagles
#18-Washington Redskins: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Redskins would select my man crush in the 2017 draft should they pick McDowell. The closest to being a true nose tackle, McDowell profiles as a 4-3 DT in the NFL, perfect for the Redskins. Defensive tackles his size should not be as nimble, quick, and powerful as him. He is definitely more projection than production in the immediate, but he has the potential to become a truly dominant and truly unique lineman.
NFL Comparison: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
#19-New York Jets: Jabrill Peppers, S/CB/LB, Michigan
Peppers could make the NFL as a safety, linebacker, corner, or even a wide receiver. This versatility has garnered him some comparisons to another great Michigan cornerback who played some offense, Charles Woodson. While I won't anoint Peppers the best thing since sliced bread like Charles Woodson was, he is still an athletic Marvel. The Jets love defensive players that can play multiple spots, like Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins, 2 of their top picks last year. This allows Todd Bowles to be more flexible in his defensive gameplan. Should Peppers do just that, or solidify one secondary position by himself, the Jets will hit a home run here.
NFL Comparison: Deone Buchannon, Arizona Cardinals
#20-Denver Broncos: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
The Broncos have Paxton Lynch as their QB of the future, so its time to get him some more bells and whistles for his offense. A Gary Kubiak offense is incomplete without a young, athletic tight end. OJ Howard is head and shoulders above his other TE classmates. He combines wide reciever-esque ball skills and route running with the physicality associated for brusing TEs. A knock on him is that he was underutilized at Alabama and, therefore, is a bit raw. Kubiak, a tight end whisperer, should unlock the star potential in Howard.
NFL Comparison: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs.
#21-Minnesota Vikings: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Vikings again find themselves a hair away from winning a postseason game. With a defensive line that is both aging and porous, The Vikings need an injection of physicality and power, exactly the things Barnett will add to any defense. Barnett is a prototypical 4-3 defensive end with a well-rounded game. He won't be leading the league in sacks, but hell will get a good amount. He won't be a Damon Harrison-esque run stuffer, but he will be exceptional in that regard. The well-rounded, durable Barnett is someone that the Vikings could plug into their defense and immediately see the effect.
NFL Comparison: Charles Johnson, Carolina Panthers
#22-Cincinnati Bengals: Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
The Bengals have drafted very well in recent years, giving the team no glaring weakness and depth at every position. The outside linebacker spot could use some reinforcement, and Harris is more than just depth. Harris is a remarkably fast DE/OLB hybrid who uses an array of rips and spins that show refinement in his technique. Very much an NFL read prospect, Harris could help a playoff team like the Bengals right away, and should be a consistent X-factor in any defensive scheme. This is someone that the draft pundits will be gushing over come draft season.
NL Comparison: Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
#23-Oakland Raiders: Christian McCaffery, RB, Stanford
McCaffery, AKA The Man Who Was Robbed Of The Heisman Trophy Last Year, boasts a dizzying array of skills for wan undersized back. His speed is above average, receiving skills are second to none, he almost never fumbles, and is surprisingly effective between the tackles. He is also an elite returner. The Raiders may need to take into account the fact he only scored 9 TDs last year, which could imply that he isn't great at sniffing out tough yards. However, the prospect of the speedy, elusive McCaffery and the bigger plowhorse Latavius Murray should scare every NFL defense and make Derek Carr a lot happier.
NFL Comparison: Matt Forte, New York Jets
#24-Dallas Cowboys: Raekwon McMillian, ILB, Ohio State
In a draft class starved of quality inside linebackers, McMillian isn't so much head and shoulders above the others as he is in another stratosphere. A middle linebacker in the most refreshingly throwback style, McMillian has shown a capacity for leadership and a quick absorption of the thick Ohio State playbook, as well as a grip that never sees enemy running backs escape and superb coverage skills. Though Sean Lee is great, he might be the most injury prone player in recent memory. He couldn't write half of his article without dislocating his index fingers and tearing his ACL again. Be it paired with Lee or not, McMillian would take a hypothetical playoff caliber defense in the Cowboys to new heights.
NFL Comparison: Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks
#25-Seattle Seahawks: Pat Elflein, C/OG, Ohio State
Though the drafting of the raw but talented Germain Ifedi represents a step forward for the Seahawks, the offensive line needs to be buffed up a bit so that Russell Wilson isn't running for his damn life on every play. Elflein has been unclear on if he prefers center or guard, but he seems more like a center to me. This is due to his mauling style of play, which has opened humongous holes for the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones, just to name a few. Elfein is simply the best at his position, and the consistent awfulness of Justin Britt needs replacing. The match is too perfect for both parties.
NFL Comparison: John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings
#26-Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
"What?" I hear you all scream in shock. "Someone with 18 tackles going in the first round?" Yes indeed. That man in question is the purest pass rush specialist in college football. Williams' 18 tackles consisted of 10 sacks, a number he got to mostly with the help of his running back-like speed. He learned more and more over his time at Alabama how to use that 245 pound frame to bullrush into and rip by offensive lineman to get to the QB. His run defense is totally nonexistent, but the Colts have shown a tendency to mold great pass rushers when the clay is presented in front of them. Williams would be the next in line.
NFL Comparison: Elvis Dumervil, Baltimore Ravens
#27-New England Patriots: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
Tom Brady can't fling it to Gronk forever. Life without Brady needs to start with a bell cow running back. Gillman is very much that kind of back. A complete back that Bill Belichick would normally salivate over, Gallman showed us on the biggest stage the quality he possesses. He ran over and around Alabama, while also showing how good of a pass blocker and receiver he can be. With Dion Lewis perpetually hurt and LeGarrette Blount very much a one trick pony, Gallman would add another wrinkle to the Patriots offense.
NFL Comparison: Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles
#28-Arizona Cardinals: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State
The Cardinals downfield passing game was the bane of many an NFL defense in 2015. The aging yet reliable Carson Palmer orchestrated the attack, but he can only do so for so long. After passing up on a QB in years past, The Cardinals should grab someone like Falk here. A product of Mike Leach's "Air Raid" offense that involves 60+ throws per game, most of which are easy, high percentage throws, Falk will defiantly need to acclimate to a pro-style offense. The Bruce Arians offense, however, is too good a match for Falk, who has a cannon for an arm and is accurate to all fields. Falk may have the most pure passing talent of anyone in the draft, and Arians grooming him would be a blessing.
NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
#29-Houston Texans: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
The Texans have a great defense. They have a franchise QB in Brock Osweiler. They have a Pro-Bowl caliber RB in Lamar Miller. DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller are elite talents on the outside. All that is missing is a tight end. Butt is a prototypical TE equally adept at blocking and receiving. Butt is a good enough receiver to justify his first round selection, and a good enough all around TE to become a building block for the promising future Bill O'Brien and the Texans are building.
NFL Comparison: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
#30-Carolina Panthers: Darren Carrington, WR, Oregon
The Panthers deserve credit for advancing to the Super Bowl with limited talent at WR. While Kelvin Benjamin will return, the rest of the depth chart is still lacking. Carrington adds immediate speed, elusiveness, and playmaking ability to a corps in need of all 3. He has shown an ability to run the most complex of routes in the most complex of systems, which should allow him to slide into the Panthers' downfield passing system relatively easily. He is overcoming his drops issue that has him pegged below several other WR in this graft. Ted Ginn is aging and unreliable, and Carrington is a natural to replace him.
NFL Comparison: Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins
#31-Pittsburgh Steelers: Zach Banner, OT, USC
The first thing you'll notice about Banner is that he is almost cartoonishly big. At 6'9'' and 360 pounds, Banner's body alone could send him coasting into the NFL. Banner needs a lot of work. He needs to learn how to refine his pass blocking and run blocking technique, as opposed to using his body and strength. Mastering this will enable Banner to become an elite OT. Should he not be able to perfect his technique, a switch to guard may be in order. That isn't to say that Banner is bad. He is the best OT in the Pac-12, having shut down NFL players and college stars alike over his last 3 seasons at USC. The raw talent is worth a first round selection for the Steelers, who could end up hoisting the Lombardi trophy is Ben Roethlisberger is kept off his ass.
NFL Comparison: Cordy Glenn, Buffalo Bills
#32-Green Bay Packers: Lewis Neal, OLB, LSU
In this hypothetical scenario, the Packers are Super Bowl Champs. Even with that being established, the would not have won for their pass rush, which needs some speed and talent ASAP. Neal is a hybrid DE/OLB with a talent for getting to the QB at a high volume. His sack numbers may not jump out, but his a disruptive force on almost every play. Should he go to the Packers, they would add an top class OLB to pair with Clay Matthews, the ageless Julius Peppers, and the outstanding Mike Daniels on the DL. Neal's addition could serve as the catalyst for contain used short-term success and long-term viability.
NFL Comparison: Trent Cole, Indianapolis Colts
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