Opening 2017 NFL Mock Draft - 12.19
Published at 12/24/2016 9:05:42 AM
This is my first mock draft for the 2017 NFL draft. I have put the teams in order based on my predictions for the rest of the season, they are probably horrifically wrong so sorry in advance.
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The real problem this year for the Browns has been defense. They are in the bottom five of almost every defensive category this year, and they have been simply unable to hold onto leads that the offense has been able to build. With a dominant pass-rusher like Garrett they could do alot. He cold terrorize NFL tackles for years to come and with him on their defense he could offer a big play ability they have been lacking for the past few years, which is exactly why Garrett could become the building block for an elite defensive unit.
It is almost undisputed that due to how inconsistent Colin Kaepernick can be the 49ers will need to let him go an move on to a new face for the future of the franchise. Kizer could have the capabilities needed to have an offense built around him in the NFL. He is accurate, athletic, has a nice arm and is great under fire from pass-rushers. I'd say he is a slightly better option the Trubisky due to his better all-round skill set, and therefore has more versatility for Kelly to do what he wants with the offense. Kizer could transform the offense of the 49ers within a few years.
The Jags down year may have mostly been due to offensive failures, but for me the talent is there and will spring back next year. They have not had much of run defense all year, and with someone who can clog up the hole, dominate opposing guards and centers, and make hard tackles at the line could offer an answer, Allen is definitely the best one of these. With more of a run-stopping presence, the Jags could add to an already good pass defense to make one the best units in the NFL.
I while back I was thinking QB for this spot here, but having watched the Bears play the Packers last weekend, for three quarters of that game (aside his erratic three-turnover 3rd quarter) Matt Barkley once again was superb. I no longer class this as a primary need for them, if they can pick up the receivers in free-agency. I now think the Bears need to look to their secondary- again highlighted at points during the Green Bay game. Marlon Humphrey could be the top prospect in the class at CB- simple. Chicago take him to sure up their pass defense.
The Jets need a new QB and that is a fact. Sorry Bryce Petty, but they do not have a future option who can take this franchise to the next level. So they have 2 options: Find a QB in free agency e.g. Tony Romo or Grab a young first round prospect through the draft. Personally I believe in option two, because in this league sometimes you need to look towards the future. Trubisky is probably the best QB left on the board. He has a nice set of skills good for a future star QB in the NFL. He also has good leadership qualities and is a good start point for the rebuilding of this lacklustre Jets offense.
The Titans have had a great year. If you look at their team, the run game is great, Mariota is a star and they have a decent o-line, but the holes in their team come in two places: 1. They need more talent at receiver and 2. The secondary, especially with TY Hilton, Allen Robinson and Deandre Hopkins all in the division. When the Titans look at who is left, the prospect sticking out to them has to be Jalen Tabor. Or Teez as he is now known. He has had some attitude issues, but if he can put them aside, he could prove to be a great selection to help Tennessee in the coming years.
For the Panthers at points this year we have seen flashes of the team that played last year. But Josh Norman has been an even bigger loss than some people anticipated. They have had problems all year against the pass and could do with a Josh Norman-like, franchise cornerback to fix their woes and try and help them go one better than 2015 and win it all. Marshon Lattimore is an excellent coverage corner and would be a great matchup on an opposing WR1. With him at corner, Carolina would have all the parts to repeat on that 2015 season, they just need to work together.
The issue for the Saints over the last few years has been defense. The offense is consistently one of top ranked in the league but they are let down by their front seven and secondary on a regular basis. If they can select a first round leader and someone who can shape a defensive rebuild the next few years could be a lot more bearable for Saints fans. Jamal Adams would lead a revamp of the secondary ranked 31st in 2016. If Adams becomes the talent he is expected to, then the Saints may have found one of the franchise players on defense they desperately needed.
The Cardinals are another team who have greatly underperformed in 2016. The defense has been fine- Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell and Patrick Peterson have all had decent seasons, but they could do with a new playmaker at ILB. It would help them stop the run, which has been a slight hole in the defense this year. With Foster, a player who will develop into a good reader of the game. If Foster can plug this small hole in Arizona's D, and Tyrann Mathieu returns fit, healthy and back to his best next year then Arizona could turn into a team like Denver- decent offense but monster D, and look where that got them last year.
For their second selection of the draft, the Browns should also address some more of the pressing issues on the roster. Having already selected Garrett, they may look to add to the secondary, but also could introduce some real firepower on offense. For the 31st ranked offense in the league a superstar could completely change their fortunes. Leonard Fournette is that superstar. He is a running back who has demolished college defenses, and scouts like what they are seeing from him. If he can transition well, Cleveland could have a potent rush attack to lean on next year.
With Keenan Allen out for the whole year again, you have to wonder how much more his body can take. Other than Allen, San Diego has no proper talented #1 receiver, and with talented corners such as Chris Harris and Marcus Peters in the AFC West, a talented wideout could also be needed to improve the Chargers playoff hopes in a great division. I think MIke Williams is the best option for them here. He has a nice combination of size and speed and could become a very talented receiver. With a young core of Williams, Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon etc, we could be seeing the start of another great San Diego offense.
The Bengals have had an odd year. The loss of Reggie Nelson has obviously hurt, but lots of things have been going well, AJ Green is now definitely in the conversation for top receiver in the league, yet they have still struggled in parts. They could do with some help at linebacker and could find a solution to help get their run game going. However I think they should select Jabrill Peppers of Michigan. He can play either safety or linebacker both of which are needs for the Bengals. Peppers is a great tackler so as a linebacker he could provide a solution to their ailing run defense, and I reckon if the Bengals select him he could move up the unit as a whole to help them win championships.
Deshaun Watson should be the Bills starting QB. Tyrod Taylor has had an awful year and his numbers don't do him any favours. They average a woeful 182.6 Pass YPG (31st in league) If the BIlls take Watson then he can offer a new, promising approach to the Bills passing game. A fresh face would not only bring renewed faith in the Bills locker room, but he will also immediately have an arm Taylor just doesn't have. He has an ability to make big plays in both the passing and running games which could bring many more points to the Bills. If he can put his accuracy issues aside then this could be the franchise QB to bring success to Buffalo.
The Eagles this year have had a great defensive front and we have seen the future of the franchise in Carson Wentz. The problems they have had this year have been due to receivers. Nelson Agholor is already a massive bust, Jordan Matthews isn't quite a number one receiver and they generally just need more depth at the position. If they can take a receiver like Smith-Schuster who is dangerous after catch, powerful and hard to stop, the Eagles could have a very dangerous weapon on their team for 2017, and could make a more serious charge towards next years playoffs.
The Colts could use this pick in several ways. They could get an upgrade on the offensive line or grab a defensive playmaker first round, but I say they use a stacked 2017 RB class filled with talent to draft their next franchise back. Frank Gore is an NFL legend and future hall of famer, but it is time for the Colts to get youthful at RB. Dalvin Cook is clearly the best running back left in this situation, with his tremendous speed and vision to cut into holes. With him, the Colts could have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL. If they can use the next couple of rounds after this and free agency to grab some talented o-linemen to block for him, teams will certainly be scared of the Colts in next years playoff race.
The Texans just need a spark. Osweiler didn't become the answer they wanted, and they will find a new QB, but they have an extremely talented defense, with JJ Watt also returning next year and some great offensive weapons like Lamar Miller and Deandre Hopkins. However, if they want to turn into an elite team, they are going to need protection. Injuries to Duane Brown and Derek Newton have left them very thin on the outside, so Cam Robinson falls nicely into their arms with pick 16. A stud, young tackle could give whoever the QB is more time for plays to develop, which could be crucial to Houston's success.