Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE/3-4OLB, Texas A&M
Everybody around the league believes the Browns are hoping to trade down again. It might be harder this year because their may not be the quarterbacks to warrant a big package of picks in a trade up. Additionally, last year's deal by the Rams looks horrible at this point. If Cleveland is stuck at No. 1, I think this pick will come down to Garrett and Jonathan Allen. You could make a good argument for Allen being the selection, but Garrett is the consensus best player in the 2017 NFL Draft and and has been No. 1 on my big board since the start of the 2017 NFL Draft process. Thus, I wouldn't knock the Browns for taking Garrett and targeting a quarterback on Day 2.
In 2016, Garrett totaled 33 tackles, 15 for a loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Against UCLA in the 2016 season opener, he collected three tackles, 1.5 for a loss and one sack going against a quality left tackle in Conor McDermott. Garrett is lightning fast off the edge with natural strength to bull rush offensive tackles. He is a freakish athlete with the potential to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.
Immediately after arriving at Texas A&M, Garrett began dominating college football. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder took the game by storm in 2014 as he was an impact-making defender for the Aggies from Day 1. The fast and athletic Garrett was a force on the edge as a quarterback hunter. He had 11.5 sacks as well with 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. That sack total broke the NCAA freshman record previously set by Jadeveon Clowney.
In 2015, Garrett kept it going, racking up 59 tackles with 12.5 sacks, 19.5 tackles for a loss, five forced fumbles, two passes batted and an interception. He has blinding speed off the edge and is a natural pass-rusher. Garrett could be the best prospect in college football and could have been in the running for the No. 1-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft if he had been able to declare.
San Francisco 49ers: Jonathan Allen, DT/3-4DE, Alabama
The 49ers badly need a quarterback, but I don't see Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch liking any of the 2017 NFL Draft's signal-callers enough to be the No. 2 pick. I think Shanahan and Lynch will go with a safer player for the first pick of their regime. With the 49ers going to a 4-3, Allen could be its three-technique with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead as their defensive ends. San Francisco had the worst rushing defense in the NFL in 2016, plus gave up the most points. Allen will help improve that.
In 2016, Allen totaled 62 tackles, 15 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, two passes batted and one interception returned 75 yards for a touchdown. He dominated at the point of attack all year and was very disruptive. Consistently, Allen used his speed and strength to put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. He is a tough run defender, yet can also beat guards or tackles in the pass rush.
Allen played really well in 2015 with 36 tackles with 14.5 for a loss, 12 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes batted. He totaled 33 tackles with 11.5 for a loss and 5.5 sacks the year before.
In a 4-3 scheme, the 6-foot-3, 294-pounder could play three-technique defensive tackle, like Aaron Donald, or be an end who moves inside in passing situations. Allen rushed from the inside for Alabama, yet also could serve as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Allen has some natural pass-rushing skills to him along with quickness and strength. He is very fast at the point of attack with the power to shed blocks.
Chicago Bears: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Bears grab a potential franchise quarterback to build around. There is scuttlebutt that Chicago loves Trubisky.
I waited to put Trubisky in my mock of the 2017 NFL Draft because many first-year starters return to school. Additionally, Walt had Trubisky in his mock, so not having him in mine gave our readers mocks with both options to ponder. Eventually, I added Trubisky because NFL team sources believed Trubisky was more likely to declare than to go back to school, and he made that decision official.
Trubisky looks like a second-round caliber prospect, but that doesn't preclude teams from reaching on him in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft. Sources from three different teams told me they graded Trubisky in the second round. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was very efficient in 2016, displaying good decision-making and flashing good accuracy. He has a quality arm and some athleticism. However, across the history of the NFL, there have been very few 1-year college starters who turned into good pro starters.
The junior beat up on some weak secondaries in 2016, but it still is impressive that he had three straight games throwing for over 400 yards without throwing a single interception. On the season, Trubisky completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,748 yards with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also had five rushing touchdowns.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Jaguars could go a lot of directions with this pick, but taking a corner is possible as Prince Amukamara is entering free agency. Amukamara could be expensive and has had injuries in his career. Instead, Jacksonville could save the money by drawing on the 2017 NFL Draft's strong cornerback class.
Humphrey has height, length and athleticism. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder is a very good cover corner with size, quick feet, loose hips to turn and run, and physicality. He is very good at running the route and preventing separation. The one flaw that Humphrey has is playing the ball as there are receptions he allows when he is in good position but doesn't play the ball well over him. That could be corrected with good coaching. Surveying teams across the league, Humphrey and Marcus Lattimore are the consensus top corners.
Humphrey totaled 33 tackles with two tackles for a loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups in 2016. To open the year, Humphrey put together an excellent game against USC as he shut down wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, holding him to one catch for nine yards. Humphrey also had an interception returned 18 yards for a touchdown and a tackle for a loss in the contest. He put together an ugly game against Ole Miss in that he was constantly in good position, but failed to play the ball well and allowed some big plays downfield.
After redshirting in 2014, Humphrey had an excellent debut to help Alabama win the 2015 season's National Championship. He earned a starting job across from Cyrus Jones and was the Crimson Tide's top corner. In 2015, Humphrey totaled 45 tackles with three interceptions and eight passes broken up. He was an Alabama legacy as the son of Bobby Humphrey, a former first-rounder who played for the Dolphins and Broncos.
Pick change; previously Cam Robinson, OT
Tennessee Titans: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
This is the Rams' pick that Tennessee received in the trade back from No. 1 to No. 15 in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Titans need a No. 1 cornerback and a play-making safety. There is good cornerback depth for Tennessee to draw on later, plus the safeties are better prospects. I know the Titans love both Adams and Malik Hooker, but with the latter coming off surgery, I think Tennessee goes with Adams.
In 2016, Adams totaled 76 tackles with four passes broken and one interception. The junior is a future starting safety, who sources said during the preseason that they think is a top-20 talent. He is able to contribute in pass coverage in the underneath part of the field and is strong enough to play in the box. Adams seems to prefer being a strong safety.
Adams has versatility, but his play was subdued in 2016, and perhaps he had the NFL on his mind. Adams turned it on and did play very well against Alabama and Ole Miss' receiving tight end Evan Engram.
The 6-foot-1, 211-pound Adams has versatile size to play strong or free safety in the NFL. He is an instinctive defender who always seems to be around the ball. In 2015, Adams had 67 tackles with six passes broken up and four interceptions. As a freshman, he recorded 66 tackles with five pass breakups.
New York Jets: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jets have a few needs, and while running back isn't them most pressing, Fournette is too good to pass on. General manager Mike Maccagnan took that approach in 2015 when Leonard Williams fell to the Jets' pick and I could see him doing it again with Fournette. On top of that, Fournette could make an immediate big impact in terms of wins and losses.
In 2016, Fournette averaged 6.5 yards per carry for 843 yards with eight touchdowns. He recorded 15 receptions for 146 yards as well. Fournette set a school record with 284 yards on 16 carries against Ole Miss. The junior played well in 2016, but his ankle injury seemed to be holding back some of the speed and explosion he displayed as a sophomore.
Fournette (6-1, 230) has a serious burst to go along with an ideal build. He is a downhill physical runner who also is a threat to break off long touchdown runs. While obviously big and powerful, Fournette also has some wiggle to him with an elusive running style that makes him really hard to tackle.
Fournette was a superstar in 2015, overwhelming nearly every defense he took on. The sophomore averaged 6.5 yards per carry over the year for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also caught 19 passes for 253 yards.
There were a lot of comparisons made of Fournette to Adrian Peterson when the former signed with LSU, and he validated the hype as a sophomore with his running style being very similar to Peterson's. Fournette didn't disappoint in 2014 either, setting the LSU record for yards from a freshman. He averaged 5.5 yards per carry for 1,034 yards with 10 touchdowns.
Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Chargers' biggest needs are on the offensive line and at safety. Of those, Hooker is the best player available, and Los Angeles would be fortunate if he fell this far.
In late September, weeks before other draft media where aware of Hooker, WalterFootball.com reported that Hooker was receiving high first-round grades from teams. He was one of the breakout stars of the 2016 season. Multiple team sources have said they see Hooker as a top-10 pick. Ohio State lost both Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell to the NFL, but the redshirt sophomore Hooker was an upgrade for the Buckeyes.
In 2016, Hooker totaled 74 tackles with 5.5 for a loss, .5 sacks, four passes broken up and seven interceptions. Three of those picks were returned for touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has excellent size to go along with great speed and instincts. Hooker is tremendous as the deep center fielder with rare skills as a pass-coverage free safety who has drawn comparisons to Ed Reed. He also has the size and strength to come downhill and fill in the ground game. Hooker could be a dynamic safety in the NFL. He is the real deal.
Carolina Panthers: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Panthers made a huge mistake not upgrading their offensive tackles last offseason. This offseason, Carolina has to get at least one tackle upgrade to protect Cam Newton.
Robinson (6-6, 310) played well in 2016 overall, consistently opening holes in the ground game and showing improved technique in pass protection. He shut down Arkansas' Deatrich Wise Jr., and there was only one ugly play where Ole Miss' Marquis Haynes bull rushed Robinson. Against Tennessee, Derek Barnett beat Robinson for a strip-sack and some other pressures. Robinson had some wins as well, but it showed that Robinson isn't an elite, "top of the draft," shutdown left tackle prospect. He had a better game against Myles Garrett, keeping the Aggies' superstar from recording a sack. Robinson looked quicker and more athletic during 2016 than in past years. Sources say that Robinson lost 10-15 pounds over last offseason, and that definitely paid off.
Robinson was a freshman sensation for the Crimson Tide in 2014 and started every game at left tackle after arriving at Alabama. He was the leader on an offensive line that allowed only 16 sacks in 2014. It didn't go as well in 2015 as Robinson allowed pressure and sacks on the quarterback, especially early in the year. He was better down the stretch, however, and it isn't all that surprising that he took his play to another level in 2016.
For the NFL, Robinson could be best in the long run at right tackle. If he plays left tackle, he could be above-average. Some sources have compared him to the Buccaneers' Donovan Smith. Robinson provides an impact as a run blocker and has the potential to be a reliable pass protector. On a different note, he was able to skate on an arrest over the offseason before the 2016 season for possession of pot and an illegal gun.
Pick change; previously Ryan Ramczyk, OT
Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, DE/3-4OLB, Tennessee
Cincinnati needs an edge rusher opposite Carlos Dunlap. Here is a good fit.
In 2016, Barnett recorded 56 tackles with 19 for a loss, 13 sacks, two forced fumbles, five passes broken up and one interception. He put together a superb game against Florida as he dominated in the second half to help the Volunteers pull off their huge comeback. Barnett totaled five tackles, three for a loss, two sacks and one pass batted in that outing. He also played well against Alabama, even victimizing Cam Robinson for a sack.
Barnett racked up 69 tackles with 12.5 for a loss and 10 sacks in 2015 after putting up an extremely impressive freshman campaign the year before. He notched 10 sacks alongside 72 tackles with 20.5 tackles for a loss that season. Barnett (6-3, 268) set freshman records at Tennessee and clearly has a lot of upside. He is a fast edge defender who is a natural pass-rusher.
Buffalo Bills: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Buffalo may not be willing to pay Stephon Gilmore what it will take to re-sign him. That would leave a big hole at cornerback, but this is a great corner draft for the Bills to find a replacement.
Lattimore played really well in 2016, recording 41 tackles, four interceptions and nine passes broken up. Scouting sources raved about how Lattimore looked in fall camp before the 2016 season, and during the year, some team sources said they graded him as a top-16 pick. The 6-foot, 192-pounder has good size to go with athletic ability. As a backup in 2015 during his redshirt freshman season, Lattimore recorded three passes broken up and five tackles.
Pick change; previously DeShone Kizer, QB
New Orleans Saints: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Saints could use another edge rusher and a cornerback upgrade. Considering they took Sheldon Rankins last year and Hau'oli Kikaha the year before that, I think New Orleans could lean toward a cover corner this year.
In 2016, Jones recorded 39 tackles with six passes broken up, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. He was superb as a cover corner for the Huskies. The 6-foot, 180-pounder finished the year by shutting down Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley.
Jones had an excellent 2015 season as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. For the year, he had 10 passes broken up, four interceptions, 45 tackles and three forced fumbles. He also showed coverage skills as a freshman with five pass breakups and two picks. Jones is a good cover corner with the speed and athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation.
Pick change; previously Marlon Humphrey, CB
Cleveland Browns: Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
The Browns could use a third cornerback to go with Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor.
Tabor totaled 33 tackles with four interceptions and six passes broken up in 2016. Because of getting in a fight with a teammate, Tabor was suspended for the 2016 opener, but he covered really well after that and was a ballhawk. Tabor turned in a mixed game against Tennessee as he had an impressive interception, but also fell down in coverage to allow a 67-yard touchdown.
As a sophomore, Tabor recorded 40 tackles, 14 passes broken up and four interceptions, two of them being pick-sixes. Tabor did hurt his draft stock with a suspension during his sophomore season as well. Tabor (6-0, 191) had an excellent freshman season in 2014 totaling 31 tackles with an interception and eight passes broken up that year.
Some team sources say that Tabor's best role might be as a big nickel corner in the NFL. Tabor is lacking long speed and can give up plays downfield. He is great underneath with very good feel and awareness, though he is a gambler and has great instincts. Tabor is good when plays are in front of him, but gets in trouble with plays behind or over him. Multiple team sources like other first-round corner prospects more than Tabor, but Tabor still projects to Thursday night.
Pick change; previously Marshon Lattimore, CB
Arizona Cardinals: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Arizona could lose Kevin Minter in free agency, and Minter was a mild disappointment anyway. Here's an upgrade for the Cardinals with a player who fits their defensive mentality.
In 2016, Foster amassed 115 tackles with 13 tackles for a loss, five sacks and two passes broken up. The 6-foot-1, 240-pounder came on strong late in the 2015 season for Alabama and had the game of his life in the National Championship against Clemson. He totaled 73 tackles with eight for a loss, two sacks and nine passes batted for the year. The light looked like it clicked on for Foster toward the end of the 2015 season as he was suddenly a different player. He carried that over into his senior year, when he was a physical force. Foster is a fast, athletic linebacker who can go sideline-to-sideline while also dishing out punishing hits when he gets there.
Indianapolis Colts: Solomon Thomas, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Stanford
Some years of bad moves by now former general manager Ryan Grigson, like trading a first-round pick for Trent Richardson and blowing one on Bjoern Werner, are coming back to bite Indianapolis. The Colts have a ton of needs on their talent-deficient roster, including edge rusher, running back, cornerback, defensive line, and more offensive line talent. The defense is in horrible shape, so Indianapolis could take the best defensive player available regardless of position. Thomas would make sense because he would upgrade the Colts' pass rush immediately.
WalterFootball.com was the first to report that Thomas intended to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. The junior enjoyed an excellent 2016 season as a big presence on the edge of the Stanford defense. On the year, he had 62 tackles with 15 for a loss, eight sacks and one forced fumble.
Thomas has good speed off the edge with strength and physicality. The 6-foot-3, 273-pounder could fit in a 3-4 defense as an outside linebacker. Some team sources graded Thomas out as a second-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft but think he could go in Round 1, while other teams think he is more likely to be selected on the first day than make it to Day 2. Teams really like Thomas off the field as well.
Pick change; previously Sidney Jones, CB
Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Obviously, Philadelphia needs a No. 1 receiver for Carson Wentz, and Mike Williams would give Wentz a true No.1.
In 2016, Williams hauled in 98 receptions for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns. It was an impressive return to college football after missing most of 2015 due to injury. In that season's opener, Williams fractured his neck when he ran into the goalpost while catching a touchdown. That ended his year.
With Sammy Watkins in the NFL, Williams took over as Clemson's lead receiver in 2014 and caught 57 passes for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns. In his freshman season, he had 20 catches for 316 yards and three scores.
Williams is a dynamic big receiver who is tremendous at using his size and leaping ability to make catches over defensive backs. He is a phenomenal red-zone weapon and is superb on back-shoulder sideline throws. While Williams made a lot of excellent leaping grabs, he does need to cut down on some dropped passes. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder had the potential to be the top wide receiver prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft as he has a real combination of size and speed.
Pick change; previously Quincy Wilson, CB,
Baltimore Ravens: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Ravens could use a feature back for their offense.
In 2016, Cook averaged 6.0 yards per carry for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 33 receptions for 488 yards. Cook is well-built and has the quickness to slash through a defense; however, he has some strange ball-security issues. Cook also has some power to him, but he seems to use it selectively as he runs out of bounds often and is consistently looking to bounce runs to the outside.
Teams do have some off-the-field concerns about Cook and his character. He escaped some legal issues last year, but teams say that Cook has an entourage of gangbangers and they worry Cook drinks too much. Staying out of trouble is a concern that teams have.
With Jameis Winston in the NFL, Cook carried the Florida State offense in 2015. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry on his way to 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. The sophomore also had 24 receptions for 244 yards and a score. As a true freshman in 2014, Cook averaged 5.9 yards per carry for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He caught 22 passes for 203 yards, too.
The only trades I projected were ones that either already happened or ones that aren't motivated by draft picks. (Ex. I had the Pats getting an early second rounder for Jimmy G, but I won't have any trades where a team trades up only to select a player in the draft.