DALLAS - With the NFL Draft just weeks away, and the NFL Combine taking place right now, it's time to take a look at how the top prospects in the draft stack up.
Below is our first Mock Draft of the year as we look to gauge what teams are looking for and what best fits their needs.
Pick No. 1 - Cleveland Browns:
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Robert Griffin III is not the long-term answer at quarterback, but the Browns cannot afford to squander another first overall selection. They need a player that will provide an immediate impact, and Myles Garrett fulfills that need. He will be an elite pass rusher for years to come.
Pick No. 2 - San Francisco 49ers:
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The film doesn’t lie. Trubisky has a cannon for an arm and is comfortable in the pocket. Kyle Shanahan needs someone to run an offense that was about as exciting as watching paint dry last season. Trubisky checks just about every box, and can make every throw in the arsenal.
Pick No. 3 - Chicago Bears:
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The Bears were horribly mediocre on both sides of the ball in 2016. In fact, they boasted the 15th best offense and 15th best defense in the NFL. Their prize for the mediocrity? The third pick in the draft. Chicago’s offense needs help, but Jonathan Allen is the best bang for their buck. At 6’3, 291 pounds, Allen presents problems for both tackles and guards.
Pick No. 4 - Jacksonville Jaguars:
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
It’s no secret Blake Bortles was bad last year. Believe me, I know – he was on my fantasy team. He threw 16 interceptions and underwhelmed at every turn. A good running game could take some of the pressure off, and Fournette will provide just that. He’s a downhill, bruising runner with breakaway speed.
Pick No. 5 - Tennessee Titans:
Jamal Adams, DB, LSU
The Titans need help on defense and Adams is the answer. He can cover tight ends, defends the run well and plays with considerable width. Despite his physical nature, Adams does not take penalties. He recorded 76 tackles and 7.5 for loss in 2016 on an LSU team that was downright scary on defense.
Pick No. 6 - New York Jets:
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
When is the last time the Jets had a young franchise quarterback? I’ll wait. Better yet, who is their quarterback now? If you said Ryan Fitzpatrick, our host will have a lovely consolation prize for you as you leave. The Jets need a dynamic playmaker under center, and Deshaun Watson is that guy. Will they be good in 2017? No. But it’s a process. They have to start somewhere.
Pick No. 7 - San Diego Chargers:
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Since the departure of Eric Weddle, the Chargers have had a gaping hole in their secondary. Hooker fills that void and then some. He can roam center field and come up to the line of scrimmage and disrupt plays.
Pick No. 8 - Carolina Panthers:
Ryan Ramcyzk, T, Wisconsin
Cam Newton was on his back a lot last season. He was sacked 36 times and hung out to dry be an inept offensive line. Ryan Ramcyzk of Wisconsin should provide some relief. He’s fundamentally sound and has strong hands, making it tough for defenders to shed his block.
Pick No. 9 - Cincinnati Bengals:
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster is a stud, and paired with Vontze Burfict, the Bengals could have a heck of a tandem manning the middle of the field. Foster has incredible hitting power and outstanding athleticism. He can run sideline to sideline chasing down plays and is rarely caught out of position.
Pick No. 10 - Buffalo Bills:
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Bills need a quarterback, but they also would be crazy to turn down an opportunity to pair Sammy Watkins with Mike Williams. At 6’3, 225 pounds, Williams and Watkins would terrorize opposing defensive backs. This selection would leave even Bill Belicheck scratching his head to find a matchup solution. That is, if someone can throw them the ball.
Pick No. 11 - New Orleans Saints:
Marshon Lattimore, DB, Ohio State
The Saints would benefit from an elite defensive back with size, especially in a division with Julio Jones, Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin. Lattimore picked off four passes in 2016 and has disruptive hands without taking many penalties.
Pick No. 12 - New England Patriots (from Cleveland Browns):
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
After the Patriots trade QB Jimmy Garoppolo to the Browns for the 12th pick, the Death Star – I mean New England – will get even scarier upon drafting Solomon Thomas. He may be a little undersized, but Thomas has a motor that refuses to quit. His relentless work ethic should fit in nicely with Brady and Belicheck In their quest for NFL supremacy.
Pick No. 13 - Arizona Cardinals:
OJ Howard, TE, Alabama:
It’s a pretty straightforward pick. Larry Fitzgerald’s days are dwindling, and the Cardinals haven’t had an elite tight end in a long time. Howard can catch passes, run block, pass block and has the softest set of hands I’ve ever seen.
Pick No. 14 - Indianapolis Colts:
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Charlton reminds me a lot of Dwight Freeney, and we all know how that relationship worked out for the Colts. At 6’6, 272 pounds, his length is a considerable problem for offensive lineman. He’s quick off the ball and is developing a lethal swim move.
Pick No. 15 - Philadelphia Eagles:
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Carson Wentz appeared to be the real deal in his rookie season. Give him a capable running back to shoulder some of the offensive burden and look out. Cook has breakneck speed and is adept at getting the edge. His cutbacks and running between the tackles need work, but he’s explosive, not just as a runner, but a pass catcher, too.
Pick No. 16 - Baltimore Ravens:
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Barnett gives the Ravens a premium edge rusher that can get home and disrupt quarterbacks. He led the Volunteers with 12 sacks last season and was first-team All-SEC. Even when engaged in blocks, Barnett is able to shed them to deliver punishing hits to runners and quarterbacks.
Pick No. 17 - Washington Redskins:
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Redskins need someone to protect Kirk Cousins, who was recently franchise tagged for the second year in a row. Cousins has shown when given time, he can be deadly making throws. With Desean Jackson, Jordan Reed and a healthy Josh Doctson, Washington could be a team to watch in the NFC East.
Pick No. 18 - Tennessee Titans:
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong and has good ball skills. Pair him with Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker and fantasy owners everywhere just started salivating. Tennessee could be an offensive juggernaut next year.
Pick No. 19 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
Tampa Bay went through a running back carousel last year. No matter who they stuck in the backfield, the injury bug always managed to bit. Jameis Winston has flashed potential and with Mike Evans on the outside, a quality running back could be all the Buccaneers need to break through. Kamara gives them just that with speed out of the backfield.
Pick No. 20 - Denver Broncos:
Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
The Broncos had trouble running and throwing the ball last year due to a below average offensive line. Bolles is the first step in rebuilding what was, a few years ago, one of the best lines in the league. His footwork is second to none and he can get to the second level with ease.
Pick No. 21 - Detroit Lions:
Sidney Jones, DB, Washington:
Jones is a force on the outside and is physical with opposing receivers. His ability to get off blocks and help make tackles in the run game is an added bonus. At Washington, Jones was a first-team All-Pac 12 player and intercepted three passes in 2016.
Pick No. 22 - Miami Dolphins:
John Ross, WR, Washington
Ross’ defining characteristic is his speed – he did, after all, set the NFL Combine record with a 4.22 official time in the 40-yard dash. He’s only 5’11, but his ability to get behind the secondary is something Ryan Tannehill needs in Miami. Paired with Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi, the Dolphins have the potential to compete in the AFC East.
Pick No. 23 - New York Giants:
Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
Eli Manning isn’t immortal, and protecting him is paramount. The Giants bolstered their line a little last year, but still had some holes. Lamp eliminates them, and is one of the best interior lineman in the draft. As a guard, he is powerful off the ball and good in both run and pass blocking.
Pick No. 24 - Oakland Raiders:
Tre’davious White, DB, LSU
He’s on the shorter side of some of the other secondary options in this draft at 5’11, but is a solid defensive back nonetheless. He’s comfortable being on an island, and can play both man and zone. With Oakland’s offense shored up, White will help solidify the defense.
Pick No. 25 - Houston Texans:
Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
No matter who lines up under center for Bill O’Brian next year, the Texans will need an offensive line that protects the quarterback. Feeney fits that mold, but will also help run blocking.
Pick No. 26 - Seattle Seahawks:
Teez Tabor, DB, Florida
Tabor will add to Seattle’s legion of boom, and goes nicely with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. He’s physical, not afraid to go toe to toe with receivers and is disruptive, even in one-on-one man coverage.
Pick No. 27 - Kansas City Chiefs:
Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
Peppers is arguably the most versatile player in this draft and can play almost anywhere on defense. With Eric Berry slated to hit the free agent market, Peppers can fill a void left in Kansas City’s secondary. He’s a hard hitter and has a nose for the ball, and has a knack for creating turnovers.
Pick No. 28 - Dallas Cowboys:
Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
McKinley isn’t the best pass rusher in the draft, but he will certainly help the Cowboys get after the quarterback – something that sent them home in the playoffs last year. McKinley is quick and agile, and never quits on a play. Rod Marinelli will appreciate his motor and Cowboys fans will appreciate his ability to sack the quarterback. McKinley is having shoulder surgery which could help him slide to the bottom of the round and allow the Cowboys to grab him.
Pick No. 29 - Green Bay Packers:
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
With Eddie Lacy bogged down with injuries, the Packers turned to Ty Montgomery, originally a wide receiver, late in the season. No one can be sure if Lacy’s body is breaking down, and McCaffrey is a dynamic playmaker who was in the Heisman conversation the past two years. His football IQ is second to none and his explosiveness is undeniable. He could help solidify Green Bay’s backfield.
Pick No. 30 - Pittsburgh Steelers:
Harrison Reddick, OLB, Temple
The Steelers offense is set with Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown, so Tomlin and his coaching staff should shift their attention to the defense. Reddick recorded 22.5 tackles for loss in 2016 to go along with 10.5 sacks. He’s a dynamic pass rusher and makes great tackles in space.
Pick No. 31 - Atlanta Falcons:
Adoree Jackson, DB, USC
If you watched the Super Bowl, you watched the Falcons defense completely crumble in the second half against New England. Jackson will help with that, among other things. He’s physical against opposing receivers and does not give up much beyond the initial point of contact.
Pick No. 32 - Cleveland Browns (from New England Patriots):
David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Browns will get an offensive weapon with the last pick in the first round, David Njoku out of Miami. At 6’4, 245 pounds, Njoku is an incredibly athletic tight end. He caught 43 passes for 698 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016 with the Hurricanes, and has a stout frame and soft hands.
Want to share you thoughts on this mock draft? You can reach Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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