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2017 NFL Mock Draft Post Free Agency - 3.11
Published at 3/11/2017 8:28:23 PM
My post free agency mock draft, assuming there are no trades shaking up the order from what it is currently.
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The Browns land a Julius Peppers-like difference maker with Garrett. The "best player available" mentality comes into effect with the 1-15 Browns in need of a spark to build around defensively. Pairing Garrett with Jamie Collins could give the Browns exactly what they need.
The next Justin Smith? Stanford's Solomon Thomas has all the stability, upside, and consistency to put him in that conversation, and brings much needed value to a 49ers defense that finished last in the NFL in rush defense last year. Adding Thomas to the Niners last two first round picks, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner, who are also defensive lineman, could be a scary front for the new-look niners under recently hired GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The Bears could go with a quarterback here, but their multiple holes as a team results in them taking who they perceive the best player available. With that being said, Alabama's Jonathan Allen was a force to be reckoned with last season, and should transition fairly easily, as he is considered one of the more pro-ready players in the entire class. He gives the Bears a stable piece of the puzzle as they look further on into their rebuilding process.
Arguably behind Garrett for the second best player in the draft, the Jags take Fournette hoping that he can have an Ezekiel Elliot-type impact. Drawing once-in-a-decade back comparisons, his combination of size, power, and speed closely resembles those of NFL greats Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, and Adrian Peterson. Fournette is a great way to take pressure off of Blake Bortles as he tries to turn around his career down south.
Pick resulted from trade with Los Angeles Rams. Missing out on both Alshon Jeffrey (Eagles) and Brandin Cooks (Patriots), the Titans are now desperate for a true number one reciever to join Delanie Walker, Tajae Sharpe, and Rishard Matthews as pass catchers for QB Marcus Mariota. Williams is a 6'4" vertical threat with the ability to catch 50/50 balls, while also coming from a list of recent Clemson wide receivers that have been very successful on the next level, including DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant.
In back-to-back offseasons, the Jets have cut veteran cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Darelle Revis. This once-great duo is out of town, and the Jets are once again back in the cornerback market. They decide to go with arguably the best corner in the draft in a class stacked with defensive back talent, landing the 6'0" Lattimore, who impressively ran a 4.36 40 at the NFL Combine. This fills a massive need in the Jets, who look to regain form after falling off in a massive way last season from their 2015 year which saw them almost make the playoffs.
Last season, it became obvious the void left in the Chargers defense without longtime veteran Eric Weddle. The Chargers, who hit the jackpot last year with Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa, look to replace Weddle with both top safeties, Adams and Ohio State's Malik Hooker, still on the board. Adams gets the nod by a small margin, as he appears more NFL-ready and well rounded at this point.
The Kony Ealy era in Carolina came to a brief end this offseason when the Panthers traded the former Super Bowl hero to New England, thus opening room for improvement in the pass rusher category. The fall for Carolina last year was rough, going from the NFC's representative in the Super Bowl to a six-win team. It was unexpected by all, but did open the door for the Panthers to return to drafting in the top 10 of the draft. Derek Barnett was an absolute monster at Tennessee, and his consistency every single week had him pass NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White for the school's all-time leader in sacks. The pass rushing presence lost by the Ealy trade should quickly be regained by the addition of Barnett.
With guys like Rey Maualuga getting older in Cincinatti, the Bengals, who have been known for getting troublesome, talented players like Adam "PacMan" Jones and Vontaze Burfict on their roster, take Foster here. The hospital incident at the combine definitely draws red flags for Foster, but the talented Alabama prospect fits too well with this Bengals defense to pass up here.
With the massive loss of former first round pick Stephon Gilmore to the division rival Patriots in free agency, the Bills make it back-to-back Alabama players at picks 10 and 11. Leaving corners like Teez Tabor on the board might be hard, but his personality is a reason for the Bills going with Humphrey instead. In Humphrey, they get a tall, lengthy corner who was a big part of the best college defense in the country last year.
As the Saints look for a Jarius Byrd replacement, Hooker opposite Kenny Vaccaro could be the way to go for the inexperienced Saints defense. I gave Jamal Adams the nod over Malik Hooker for the Chargers, but that is not to take anything away from the Ohio State Buckeye safety. He is a tall safety who seems to have become accustomed to two things, big hits and interceptions. He reminds me of a combination of Reggie Nelson and Ed Reed, and the Saints should be ecstatic that Hooker was available here.
Pick resulted from trade with Philadelphia Eagles. After the Carson Wentz trade last year, as well as taking Myles Garrett first overall this year, the new-look Browns still need a quarterback. Assuming they do not land Jimmy Garoppolo from New England, they take the first quarterback off the board here with the 12th pick. Trubisky, a one year starter at the University of North Carolina, is considered by many to have the best film tape in the draft. It only seems right the Browns, after years of failed quarterback picks, hand the keys over to Trubisky, an Ohio native and longtime fan of the Cleveland Browns.
As Carson Palmer ages, it has become obvious that the Cardinals could use a developmental quarterback for the future. Like the Panthers, the Cardinals had a disappointing season lead by poor performances by their starting quarterback. Unlike the Panthers, Carson Palmer is 37 to Cam Newton's 27. This puts Arizona in the market for a quarterback, and with Watson shooting up draft boards after a strong performance at the combine, and Notre Dame's Deshone Kizer falling because of his poor performance, the Cardinals bring in the reigning National Champion to develop into what they are hoping could become the next Marcus Mariota.
Pick resulted from trade with Minnesota Vikings. After risking it all and putting their franchise into the hands of Carson Wentz last year, and giving him weapons such as Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith in free agency, now the Eagles must commit to protecting their franchise quarterback. See guard Forrest Lamp, one of the offseason's biggest risers. The Eagles make Lamp the first offensive lineman taken in the draft, and deservingly so after doing everything asked of him during his career at Western Kentucky, as well as pre-draft.
The second back off the board, Florida State's Dalvin Cook fits into the new standard, those who can both run and catch the ball effectively. This seemed to have started in Pittsburgh with Le'Veon Bell, and carried over to Arizona with David Johnson. As Frank Gore continues to age and lose a step, the Colts have no problem adding one of their own. Cook is a do-it-all back whose pass blocking make him usable as a three-down back, which is something the Colts must really love, as they are starved to give Andrew Luck some help coming out of the backfield this season, and years to come.
The Ravens have been going for speed on the outside, and why not match up injury-prone speedster Breshad Perriman and former Steeler Mike Wallace with the fastest guy to ever run at the NFL combine. John Ross' jaw-dropping 4.22 40 broke Chris Johnson's nine year long record, and the draft's version of DeSean Jackson may finally complete the receiving core the Ravens have been working to rebuild ever since the loss of Torrey Smith to the 49ers, after they last won a Super Bowl.