The NFL Draft is under a week away, and not even the #1 overall pick is clear as of this moment. From betting on potential franchise quarterbacks, all the way to securing the hard-hitting free safeties, this draft is set to be one of the most unpredictable ones to date. With that, here is the final mock draft for the 2017 NFL Draft, presented by The Athletes Hub:1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M) (2.0 Prediction: Myles Garrett)
In all three mock drafts, I have seen no reason to believe that the Browns will select a quarterback with the first overall pick. Garrett seems to be the best player coming into this draft, and it would be in the Browns best interest to select the defensive end.
If not Garrett, expect for the Browns to select their fifth quarterback prospect since the 2010 NFL Draft in Mitchell Trubisky. With both Cody Kessler and Brock Osweiler expected to compete for the starting quarterback position, the last thing the Browns should be focusing on is drafting yet another man under center.2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) (2.0 Prediction: Jonathan Allen)
The consensus is that the 49ers will focus on drafting a defensive lineman in the first round, making it their fifth defensive player in a row selected in the first round, dating back to 2013. The 49ers have a reputation of selecting defensive duds, as those upcoming rookies have amounted very little to the franchise so far.
With the selection of Solomon Thomas, the 49ers will hope to upgrade on the defensive line slightly, as they plan to rebuild their already-youthful defense. Thomas is seen as one of the safer picks in this draft, but I won’t go as far to say that he is one of the best prospects heading into Thursday night.3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State) (2.0 Prediction: Marshon Lattimore)
I’ve had Lattimore going to Chicago throughout this mock draft series, and for justified reasoning. The Bears were one of the worst units when it came to stopping opponents from scoring in 2016 (24.9 points allowed per game), and the addition of Lattimore could create a sense of security within the Bears defense.
Even with injury and experience concerns, Lattimore is still worth the #3 pick, as he will find himself part of a rebuilding process within the city of Chicago.4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU) (2.0 Prediction: Jamal Adams)
I had the Jags selecting defensive back Jamal Adams throughout the first two mock drafts, but as time went on, the selection of Fournette seems to add up a lot more. The Jaguars rushing game was lead by T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory in 2016, as they amounted to a combined total of 904 rushing yards.
By selecting Fournette, the Jaguars finally are receiving a talent that can take pressure away from Blake Bortles on a week-to-week basis. The offensive line for Jacksonville contains a handful of question marks, but Fournette should be the viewed as the answer when his name is called upon on draft day.5. Tennessee Titans: Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama) (2.0 Prediction: Malik Hooker)
I have yet to be consistent on who I believe the Titans will select at #5, but it’s my ultimate belief that Allen will be the highest player on the Titans board at this point. In 2016, the Titans played the sixth-most defensive snaps, so with the addition of Allen, the possibility of an increased amount of three-and-outs for opposing offenses also rises.
Allen may not be the top defensive end prospect, but he could potentially fit into the system that Tennessee it attempting to execute. If Allen lives up to his draft expectations, then he has the opportunity to be nightmares for opposing quarterbacks.6. New York Jets: DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson) (2.0 Prediction: Leonard Fournette)
In my 2.0 mock draft, I had the Jets selecting Fournette, as I believed he would be the heir to Matt Forte. With Geno Smith heading to the New York Giants, I believe the Jets are forcing themselves to select the top quarterback available. Josh McCown and Bryce Petty have proven to be unreliable, and Christian Hackenburg just isn’t developed enough at this stage in his career to be the starter.
By selecting Watson, the Jets are taking a gamble on someone that is labeled to be within a weak quarterback class. It will be up to him to prove critics wrong, but I would be cautious when it comes to his expectations for 2017.7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams (S, LSU) (2.0 Prediction: Cam Robinson)
Protecting Philip Rivers should be a priority for the Chargers during this draft, but when a player like Adams drops to #7, it’s hard to pass on him. With Gus Bradley as the new defensive coordinator, it’s entirely possible that Adams is utilized within the Cover 3 scheme. Known as a prospect with raw talent, Adams will be seen as the center of attention in Los Angeles.
The only other option at this rate for the Chargers would be to select safety Malik Hooker, but it’s doubtful that Hooker will be taken before Adams is.8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey (RB , Stanford) (2.0 Prediction: Solomon Thomas)
I have Thomas going a few picks earlier during my official mock draft, so this time around, I believe the Panthers are going to address their issue at the running back position. McCaffrey has been the biggest wild card throughout the combine, as his athletic ability is undeniable. Reports have come out stating that McCaffrey should be a top-ten pick on Thursday, and if that’s accurate, the Panthers are the perfect landing spot for him.
With Jonathan Stewart reaching 30-years old, the chances that McCaffrey would sit behind him in the depth chart order are slim. Stewart will be a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, and McCaffrey should take the leading role after that.9. Cincinnati Bengals: Haason Reddick (LB, Temple) (2.0 Prediction: Reuben Foster)
This is one of the more difficult picks to analyze, simply because the Bengals could go a number of different ways. From defensive ends to wide receivers, I have the Bengals selecting the linebacker out of Temple.
Reddick is projected to go a bit later than #9, but in the NFL Draft, anything is possible. Other possible prospects include Derek Barnett, as well as Mike Williams. Reddick has the highest ceiling of the three for me, so he will hope to translate his success from the AAC to the NFL.10. Buffalo Bills: Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan) (2.0 Prediction: Mike Williams)
In the Mock Draft 1.0, I had the Bills securing quarterback DeShaun Watson. With that, it’s beginning to look as though Tyrod Taylor will continue to be seen as the future of the Bills franchise. With Robert Woods leading the Bills in receiving yards in 2016 (613), and choosing to depart from the franchise, it’s obvious that what the Bills need is a reliable offensive weapon.
If the Bills pass on Davis, expect them to address their need in the secondary. With a prospect such as Malik Hooker still on the board, it’s bound to be one of these two upcoming rookies.11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee) (2.0 Prediction: Derek Barnett)
I’m going to elect to stay confident in the fact that the Saints will select Barnett at #11, simply because he will be the best player remaining on the board. With only 30 sacks in all of 2016, the Saints found themselves ranked 27th in the league within that category. The Saints will need to address their issues at both the cornerback and running back position, but there is no other rookie worth selecting over Barnett.
I expect for Barnett to be viewed as someone who can make an immediate impact for the Saints. The defense has constantly been to blame for the franchises lack of success, and hopefully with the addition of Barnett, the team can take a step in the right direction.12. Cleveland Browns: Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State) (2.0 Prediction: Mitchell Trubisky)
For a majority of my time producing this piece, I noted that I believe the Browns will take a quarterback with the #12 pick. After a change of heart, I now believe that the Browns should and will attempt to rebuild their defense through the draft. Hooker is projected by many to be selected within the top-ten, but I believe the Browns will get lucky enough to snag him at #12.
The Browns would ultimately be foolish to drag in Trubisky to compete with Osweiler and Kessler as the starter for the upcoming season. By selecting both Garrett and Hooker in the first round, the Browns will allow themselves to select two safe prospects, in hopes that they can take the steps necessary in order to become a decent franchise in years to come.13. Arizona Cardinals: Mike Williams (WR, Clemson) (2.0 Prediction: DeShaun Watson)
This is yet another tough pick to navigate, as the Cardinals are seeking to improve multiple offensive positions through this draft. With Carson Palmer aging, it’s noteworthy that the Cardinals could reach on a quarterback such as Patrick Mahomes.
At the end of the day, Williams is a much safer pick than Mahomes, but no one will really know what the Cardinals intend to do until it happens already.14. Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama) (2.0 Prediction: Christian McCaffrey)
With McCaffrey going off the board to the Panthers in this mock, I doubt the Eagles will plan to reach for Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Losing both Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll, the Eagles are set to become very weak at the cornerback position. I expect for the Eagles to look into signing Jamal Charles through free agency, and address their needs on defense through the draft.
Humphrey isn’t going to be expected to cover the WR1 on a week-to-week basis, but I do expect him to be fixated within the starting roster on week one. If Humphrey lives up to his expectations, him and Philadelphia will be a solid match.15. Indianapolis Colts: Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama) (2.0 Prediction: Ryan Ramczyk)
The Colts currently contain a lot of gaps within their 40-man roster, but I believe by selecting Foster at #15, the Colts can slowly build around their defensive worries. Allowing 382.9 yards per game last season, the Colts defense has played a large role in their lack of success.
Foster is one of my favorite prospects heading into 2017, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was reached upon earlier by a team that needs defensive security. The Colts have a long way to go before they can be considered a threat in the AFC, but selecting Foster is a move that will be worth pulling the trigger for.16. Baltimore Ravens: O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama) (2.0 Prediction: Corey Davis)
Regardless of whether the Ravens select Howard or not, I believe the franchise will select an offensive weapon in the first round. My personal belief is that Howard is the best remaining weapon on the board at #16, but the Ravens could just as easily select Robinson instead, in hopes of protecting Joe Flacco for a few more years.
By selecting Howard, the Ravens are not only someone who can be perceived as a talented stud, but he is also projected to be one of the best tight ends available in recent draft years.17. Washington Redskins: John Ross (WR, Washington) (2.0 Prediction: Jabrill Peppers)
Peppers should continue to slide down the draft board, as the Redskins will ultimately focus on their void at the wide receiver position. After losing both Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, the Redskins should feel pressured to draft Ross at #17.
The Redskins are looking to compete in the NFC East, after finishing with a record of 8-7-1 in 2016. In order to get themselves back into the mix for 2017, the Redskins will more than likely need their draft prospects to pan out immediately. Ross seems like a promising candidate to fit into the Redskins offense, as Kirk Cousins was recorded throwing the fourth-most deep balls last season. If Ross can create separation from defenders, he can be dangerous in his rookie campaign.18. Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State) (2.0 Prediction: Haason Reddick)
Not many analysts have Conley going this early in the first round, but according to an anonymous NFL playoff GM, he believes Conley is well-worth a top-twenty pick. With 26 tackles, 8 passes broken up, and 4 interceptions in 2016, Conley is a piece that the Titans could use to help their defense.
Although the franchise has signed Logan Ryan to fulfill their need at cornerback, there is no denying the fact that the Titans can use all the help they can get when it comes to depth. General Manager Jon Robinson only has a brief history with Tennessee, but when a position is lacking depth, he tends to address it in both the draft and free agency.19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State) (2.0 Prediction: Dalvin Cook)
I’ve had the Buccaneers taking a running back for a long period of time now, and that will remain to be what I believe will happen. Cook is a promising upcoming rookie, as the Bucs are currently under scrutiny with Doug Martin, after he was suspended for the first three games of the 2017 season for PEDs.
Reuniting with former-Seminoles QB Jameis Winston, the addition of Cook would provide a unique component in the Bucs backfield. If he can handle his off-the-field issues properly, and barring any other setbacks, Cook should at least be involved in 35% of the Buccaneers snaps in 2017.20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson (OT, Alabama) (2.0 Prediction: O.J. Howard)
There are a lot of different opinions of who the top lineman is in this upcoming draft. For me, Robinson slightly edges out Ramczyk, even though neither really impress me. Robinson should be able to earn himself a spot on the starting offensive line, but it should be known that this is a very weak offensive tackle class.
Denver allowed their quarterbacks to be sacked 2.5 times per game in 2016, which ranked 24th in the NFL. With Robinson, the Broncos are hoping to minimize that aforementioned number, as they look to be back on top of the AFC West.21. Detroit Lions: T.J. Watt (DE, Wisconsin) (2.0 Prediction: Taco Charlton)
An extension is projected to come about for Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who lead the NFC in sacks with 14.5 when healthy during the 2015 season. With that, a priority for the Lions should be to provide Ansah with someone who can line-up on the opposite side. Watt and Taco Charlton would be the top candidates, but for me, Watt seems to have a higher ceiling.
Watt can play from both the edge, as well as an outside linebacker, providing an advantage for the Lions defense. If T.J. is anything like his brother J.J., he will be a force for the Lions in the coming years.22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp (OG, Western Kentucky) (2.0 Prediction: Tim Williams)
The Dolphins have a lot of voids within their roster, including a few missing pieces in order to contain an elite pass-rush game. On the other hand, protecting the quarterback should always be the highest priority for an NFL franchise.
With Jermon Bushrod and Anthony Steen set to become free agents at the end of the 2016 season, the Dolphins will be forced to explore future options when it comes to a starting guard. Lamp will have his time to receive starting reps with any franchise that selects him, but the Dolphins would be the obvious choice here.23. New York Giants: David Njoku (TE, Miami) (2.0 Prediction: Zach Cunningham)
The Giants do need a few more pieces on the defensive side of the ball, but when it comes to stacking upon offensive weapons, Njoku could be one of the last pieces the Giants need in order to become the clear-cut NFC East favorites. With Will Tye ranked as the current starting tight end on Giants depth chart, the addition of Njoku would give Eli Manning yet another reason to be hopeful for this upcoming season.
Most believe an offensive tackle such as Ramczyk will go at #23, but what those analysts didn’t look at is the fact that the Giants only allowed 22 sacks last years (1.38 per game), which was the third-best in the NFL. If Njoku isn’t selected with this pick, it’s because the Giants want to focus on their linebacker situation instead.24. Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida) (2.0 Prediction: Jarrad Davis)
I’m going to remain to believe that the Raiders will focus on building around their defense throughout this draft, even though they have yet to come to terms with veteran running back Marshawn Lynch. Davis is the best linebacker on the board for me at this stage, with Zach Cunningham right underneath him.
Davis likely won’t see too much starting time in 2017, as he will sit behind Bruce Irvin at the strong linebacker position. With that, expect him to play within the second line of defense, and work his way up from there.25. Houston Texans: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech) (2.0 Prediction: Garett Bolles)
Before Osweiler was dealt to the Browns, I projected for the Texans to begin to focus on protecting the quarterback by selecting some linemen. After the trade took place, I don’t believe the Texans currently view Tom Savage as their franchise QB, and will experiment with Mahomes in 2017.
It remains to be unclear on if Mahomes would be the immediate starter in Houston, but with the number of injuries Savage has already suffered in the NFL, it’s only a matter of time before we see a new quarterback for the Texans.26. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin King (CB, Washington) (2.0 Prediction: Caleb Brantley)
With the looming possibility that Richard Sherman may be traded to another franchise, the Seahawks need to find some depth within the cornerback position in this draft. With King on the active roster, and with Sherman and Jeremy Lane ready (hopefully) for the 2017 campaign, he would provide a sense of depth within the already-elite Seahawks defense.
The Seahawks allowed for Russell Wilson to be sacked the sixth-most times in the NFL in 2016 (42), but that likely won’t stop them from making the depth on defense a higher priority. If not King, expect for either Ramczyk or Bolles to go here in order to help Wilson stay healthy.27. Kansas City Chiefs: Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State) (2.0 Prediction: Malik McDowell)
The Chiefs had the fifth-least amount of sacks in the 2016 season (28), so it’s obvious that some help within the defensive front is much needed. Many have quarterbacks, or even linebackers going at #27, but none seem to be worthy of selecting over McDowell. The addition of McDowell, if he pans out, could wind up causing an increased amount of turnovers for opposing teams.
I look forward to seeing McDowell play, simply because he is the only defensive tackle worth selecting in the first round. In a rather weak class, McDowell should have a chip on his shoulder when week one approaches.28. Dallas Cowboys: Charles Harris (DE, Missouri) (2.0 Prediction: Charles Harris)
In all three mocks, I’ve had the Cowboys selecting the Missouri defensive end, simply because this should be the highest priority for the Cowboys. Yes, they brought in Demontre Moore during free agency, but he is nowhere close to the answer for this franchise. By selecting Harris, the Cowboys will receive not only a talented defensive end, but also a prospect with no character issues.
The Cowboys have struggled to draft elite defensive talent in the past, so unless a cornerback is being selected instead, I believe Charles Harris is the best fit.29. Green Bay Packers: Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida) (2.0 Prediction: Takkarist McKinley)
The Packers have had their eye on linebacker T.J. Watt, but with him expected to go sooner than #29, I personally believe that the franchise should look to focus on their cornerback issues instead. Even though Davon House made his return to Green Bay, after bolting to the Bills in 2015, I expect the Packers to continue to look to improve their defensive gaps. House will likely be a starter in 2017, but with the addition of Wilson, the Packers give themselves a lot more depth at the position.
I’m not sure Wilson is the answer, but I don’t see McKinley being the right pick for the Packers anymore. Even with the retirement of A.J. Hawk, expect a cornerback to be selected in the first round.30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley (LB, UCLA) (2.0 Prediction: T.J. Watt)
The Steelers would be fools to draft any more offensive talent, considering their defense has been their demise over the past several seasons. McKinley is the next-highest ranked linebacker for me, and the Steelers could really use a defensive stud for the 2017 season.
McKinley was someone who was projected to go earlier in the draft at one point, but it seems as though other prospects have been a bit more impressive. I expect for McKinley to feel the need to earn his reps, simply because he won’t be viewed as the immediate starter.31. Atlanta Falcons: Taco Charlton (DE, Michigan) (2.0 Prediction: Dawuane Smoot)
After a crushing Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, the Falcons will likely look to continue to improve on their defensive front. Charlton is actually one of the better defensive prospects, and even goes as high as a projected top-ten pick in some mocks.
While I don’t see Charlton as a top-ten selection, I do believe he is worth watching out for. The Falcons defense let them down when it mattered the most in 2016, so requesting a pass-rusher in the first round should come to no surprise.32. New Orleans Saints: Obi Melifonwu (S, Conneticut) (2.0 Prediction: Marlon Humphrey)
Viewed as someone who will passed on multiple times, I actually believe Melifonwu is one of the most underrated prospects coming into the NFL Draft. The Saints without a doubt need help within their secondary, and their dream scenario should be to snag Melifonwu at #32.
Selecting both Barnett and Melifonwu in the first round, the Saints still need a lot more pieces to even contend for a division title, let alone a Super Bowl run. If both of their first round selections pan out, the Saints regular season record should vastly improve.
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