Rd. 1, Pk. 4
Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State
I've been mocking Joey Bosa to the Cowboys for quite a while, but only because Jalen Ramsey hasn't been available. They like Bosa, but Ramsey is the No. 1 player on their board. As potentially the best player in this draft, he would add a much-needed dominating presence to Dallas' secondary. I'll be shocked if the Cowboys pass on him, as they've already said they're not trading the pick.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Ezekiel Elliott, RB - Jerry Jones wants Elliott, but he has been overruled a lot recently. See Johnny Manziel.
2. Joey Bosa, DE/OLB - With Greg Hardy on his way out, and Randy Gregory now one strike away from a year-long suspension, Bosa makes a ton of sense for the Cowboys.
Rd. 1, Pk. 12
Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
I don't think the Saints would've expected Vernon Hargreaves to be available a couple of weeks ago, but there has been a growing sense that the Florida cornerback could slip. If so, New Orleans will definitely consider him at No. 12. The Saints have some major injury concerns at cornerback, and they may consider Hargreaves to be the best player available.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Sheldon Rankins, DT - It was pretty tight between Rankins and Hargreaves for this pick. Almost a coin flip. Hargreaves edged out Rankins by a bit.
2. Jack Conklin, OT/G - New Orleans has a major hole in the inside of the blocking unit, which is problematic because the Saints greatly value interior blocking. Keeping Drew Brees healthy in the final few years of his career is extremely important if the team wants to have any sort of Super Bowl aspirations.
Pick change; previously Shaq Lawson, DE
Rd. 1, Pk. 14
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Myles Jack being off the board at No. 13 would screw up this selection, as the Dolphins would take Eli Apple, making him unavailable to Oakland. If, however, Apple is still up for grabs at this juncture, I expect him to be one of the favorites for this pick. The Raiders have Apple ranked very highly because of his athleticism. He'll also obviously fill a huge need across from Sean Smith if David Amerson leaves via free agency next offseason.
*** OTHER 2016 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Sheldon Rankins, DT - Adding a fierce, interior pass-rusher like Rankins would provide a huge boost for their defense.
2. Darron Lee, LB - I don't know if Oakland thinks it's too early to take a non-pass-rushing linebacker, but Lee could be too talented to pass up.
Pick change; previously Vernon Hargreaves, CB
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
The Titans were going to select Jalen Ramsey had they not traded out of the top spot. They desperately need cornerback help, and Xavien Howard is one of a couple of possibilities atop Round 2.
Rd. 2, Pk. 5
William Jackson, CB, Houston
The Ravens are probably going to pass on Vernon Hargreaves at No. 6 because they believe they can land a talented cornerback at this juncture. And that's exactly what has happened, as William Jackson is talented enough to be a first-round pick. I've actually had trouble slotting corners - namely Jackson and Kendall Fuller - into my first round.
The Giants spent big money on Janoris Jenkins, but they still lack proper cornerback depth, which has become more important over the years.
Rd. 3, Pk. 11
James Bradberry, CB/S, Samford
The Buccaneers might have the weakest group of cornerbacks in the NFL. Alterraun Verner was an abomination this past season, while Johnthan Banks has only been marginally better, but only by default. This is an area that absolutely must be addressed this offseason. And no, signing Brent Grimes doesn't count as addressing the position.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Buffalo needs to strengthen its defensive backfield, and luckily for the organization, in this mock, Lattimore is available. The Bills need a replacement for Stephon Gilmore.
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.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
I know that Sean Payton likes the top-four quarterback prospects and a signal-caller is in play for New Orleans in the first or second round. Thus, don't be surprised if the Saints take Deshaun Watson or Pat Mahomes here. They also could target Davis Webb in the second round. However, the Saints could use a few cornerback upgrades and a true No. 1. I think New Orleans will target Marshon Lattimore or Marlon Humphrey as that No. 1 corner.
Humphrey has height, length and athleticism. The 6-foot, 197-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 were receptions he allowed when he was in good position but didn'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. Aside from one mistake, Humphrey was very good at defending Washington speedster John Ross in their playoff matchup. Against Clemson and Mike Williams, Humphrey did well covering Williams overall but did allow some receptions over him.
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.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
I believe that minus a trade, Tennessee's plan is to draft a weapon for Marcus Mariota at No. 5 and find a potential No. 1 corner with the 18th pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. I think Marlon Humphrey is the Titans' first choice. If he is off the board, I think they would take Jackson.
Jackson notched 55 tackles with 11 passes broken up and five interceptions in 2016. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, returned two punts for touchdowns, and made a 52-yard touchdown catch. Jackson had an awesome game against Alabama as he shut down star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He held Ridley to only two receptions for nine yards on the night. Jackson has given the NFL proof that he is a serious cover corner prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Jackson played on offense and defense in 2015. He had 35 tackles with eight passes broken up and one interception at corner. As a wide receiver, Jackson had 27 receptions for 414 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore also returned punts and kicks.
Jackson became a starter in 2014 and was a sensation who also contributed as a wide receiver and returner/coverage defender on special teams. Defensively, the freshman had 49 tackles with 10 passes deflected. He also caught 10 receptions for 138 yards with three touchdowns on offense. On special teams, Jackson returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and averaged 30 yards per kick return. For the NFL, the 5-foot-10, 186-pounder fits best as a cover cornerback. He is a fast corner to prevent separation, but can struggle with size and defenders making receptions over him.
Rd. 1, Pk. 1
Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Cowboys need a cornerback upgrade badly. At the combine, sources with Dallas told me they love Adoree' Jackson, but I don't have him getting to Dallas. The Cowboys could target King as they hosted him before the draft and he would be an upgrade for them.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder King has the length and size to match up against big wideouts while proving his excellent speed at the combine. Sources from multiple teams think that King could go late in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
King was part of a good tandem of Huskies cornerbacks with Sidney Jones. In 2016, King notched 44 tackles with 13 passes broken up and two interceptions. He also had quality production as a junior with 39 tackles, five passes broken up and three interceptions. King totaled 65 tackles as a sophomore.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Saints could use multiple cornerback upgrades. This pick could also be Davis Webb as they are looking hard at getting a young quarterback.
Jones would have been a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft if it weren't for a torn Achilles suffered at his pro day. That injury could cost him his rookie season and drop him a few rounds this week.
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, 186-pounder finished the year by shutting down Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Jones has excellent feet, quickness, and fluid athleticism to run with receivers and prevent separation.
Jones had an excellent 2015 season as one of the top cornerbacks in the nation. For the year, he recorded 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.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Browns need a third cornerback, and a bigger one would allow them to move Joe Haden inside to the slot when they go to the nickel.
After losing Vernon Hargreaves to the NFL, Wilson replaced him as Florida's starter alongside Jalen Tabor. Sources with multiple teams graded the 6-foot-1, 211-pound Wilson as a second-rounder, and team evaluators feel that Wilson has above-average speed to go along with his size. In 2016, he totaled 33 tackles with six passes broken up and three interceptions. Sources also feel Wilson has above-average feel and awareness. He is good at running the route to prevent separation with the size to take on big receivers.
Wilson is a longer press-man corner for the NFL with ball skills, but scouting sources say that there are aspects that Wilson needs to improve. He grabs at receivers a lot and could get called for pass interference penalties in the NFL. They also say that he lacks instincts and has some limitations in scheme. Thus, he will need some development. Wilson's best fit would be as a longer press-man corner.
The Dolphins could use some young talent at cornerback, plus Mike Tannenbaum loves to draft corners early. Miami has hosted Tankersley, and he could compete quickly.
Tankersley recorded 47 tackles, four interceptions and 10 passes broken up in 2016. The 6-foot-1, 199-pounder has the size and coverage skills to be an first-rounder. In 2015, Tankersley was part of a tough cornerback duo for Clemson with Mackensie Alexander, showing impressive ball skills by racking up five interceptions and nine passes broken up. Tankersley also had 48 tackles.
The Seahawks could use young corner talent, and Seattle and Witherspoon are a perfect fit.
Some team sources really like Witherspoon and have given him second-day grades. Teams like the size and length of the 6-foot-3, 198-pounder, but also say that he has speed to run. The senior notched a staggering 22 passes broken up in 2016. He also chipped in one interception with 23 tackles. As a junior, Witherspoon recorded 36 tackles with three pass breakups and two interceptions.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU
The Chiefs could use more cornerback talent to go with Marcus Peters.
White produced some huge plays early in 2016 on his way to totaling 35 tackles with 14 passes broken up and two interceptions on the year. The 5-foot-11, 191-pounder is fast with the ability to prevent separation, but he can struggle with big receivers. Some team sources have said they graded White in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
White totaled 44 tackles with seven passes broken up and a punt returned for a touchdown in 2015. He had some struggles with big receivers in Mississippi State's De'Runnya Wilson and Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell that season. White played well in 2013 and 2014 with two picks in each year and solid run support. He had 55 tackles as a freshman and 33 stops as a sophomore. White showed steady ball skills over his career, batting away seven passes in 2013 and six as a sophomore.
The Cowboys could double up on cornerbacks to address their weak secondary.
In 2016, Awuzie recorded 65 tackles with 12 passes broken up, four sacks and one interception. The 6-foot, 205-pounder has decent size to him, but is inconsistent in coverage. He allows separation and doesn't play as big as his listed size. In his bowl game, he was torched by Oklahoma State. Awuzie had 84 tackles with 12 for a loss, four sacks, seven passes broken up and two interceptions in 2015.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Packers could use a cornerback upgrade, and I think they love Conley. The question will be if Green Bay is okay with the late-breaking off-the-field issues.
On Tuesday, news came out that Conley was the subject of a rape allegation. Two teams told me they thought it was bogus. Hopefully, they are correct for the sake of all involved. Another team said they thought it probably wasn't true, but they were very disappointed in Conley's lack of judgement and awareness to put himself in this situation. Regardless, the controversy could be damaging enough to cause Conley to slide in the 2017 NFL Draft, like La'el Collins or Laremy Tunsil in the past two years.
Conley recorded 26 tackles with eight passes broken up and four interceptions in 2016. He played well, and teams think he is a well-rounded player. The 6-foot, 195-pounder has enough size to start on the outside at the next level. In the NFL, Conley could fit in schemes that run zone, off man, and press man. He is a polished player who should be able to contribute quickly.
After some early issues, Conley had a solid 2015 season for the Buckeyes and improved as the year progressed. He totaled 49 tackles with two interceptions and five passes broken up that year. Conley has a good skill set, and he looks like a safe pick to develop into a quality starter.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
The 49ers could use more cornerback talent and have shown interest in Tabor.
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. 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. He 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. The 6-foot, 199-pounder is lacking long speed and can give up plays downfield. He is great underneath with very good instincts, feel and awareness. Sometimes though, he is too much of a gambler. Tabor succeeds 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.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Desmond King, FS/CB, Iowa
The Bears could use more cornerback help.
In 2016, King notched 58 tackles with seven passes broken up, three interceptions and one forced fumble. He also made some good kick and punt returns. King was one of the breakout players of 2015 as he displayed tremendous ball skills with eight interceptions and 13 passes broken up. He also had 72 tackles to go along with good returns on kicks and punts. In 2014, King totaled 64 tackles with five breakups and three interceptions. As a freshman, he had 69 tackles with eight passes batted.
King (5-10, 206) could have been an early round pick if he had declared for the 2016 NFL Draft. He is an instinctive corner with good ball skills, but running with speed receivers is a weakness for him in the NFL. Some teams might move him to safety, and that could be his best fit in the NFL.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
The Jets could use a cornerback upgrade, and Moreau could easily be drafted higher.
Moreau (6-0, 202) was one of the stars of the East-West Shrine throughout the week as he impressed teams with his size, physicality, and coverage skills. Moreau is a tough corner who is capable of running the route to prevent separation. As a senior, he totaled 31 tackles with two interceptions and 10 passes broken up.
The Redskins grab a slot cover corner to team with Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller.
If Lewis (5-10, 188) were larger, he would be a first-round pick. Lewis is a fast, athletic corner who is adept at running the route to prevent separation. In the NFL, however, he is going to struggle with big receivers making receptions over him. Therefore, he could be limited to the slot.
The senior had 25 tackles with 11 passes broken up and two interceptions during 2016. In 2015, Lewis was a good corner for the Wolverines with a ridiculous 20 passes broken up, two interceptions and 52 tackles. He also averaged 25.2 yards per kick return. As a sophomore, Lewis recorded 39 tackles with two interceptions and six passes broken up.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Shaquil Griffin, CB, Central Florida
The Seahawks could use some more cornerback talent even if they don't trade Richard Sherman.
At the combine, Griffin was a star. The 6-foot, 194-pounder illustrated surprising speed with a 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash. Griffin's impressive combine could cause teams to take a second look at him and reevaluate where they would take him.
Sources say that Griffin didn't play up to his combine speed in college as he was beaten deep and his instincts were off. Thus, they had given him late-round grades. However, his stock is rising after his great combine, and the press-man defenses especially could be interested in him. In 2016, Griffin had impressive production with 50 tackles with 15 passes broken up and four interceptions, which was similar to his junior year totals (50-13-2).
The Eagles could use multiple cornerback upgrades.
In 2016, Sutton recorded eight tackles with one pass breakup and an interception. His season ended during Week 3, when he broke a bone in his ankle. Sutton has decent size, quickness and instincts. He prevents separation, but needs to get better at playing the ball. The 5-foot-11, 188-pounder is a physical defender who plays with a chip on his shoulder.
Sutton totaled 28 tackles, one interception and six passes batted in 2015. He was excellent for the Volunteers in 2014, recording 37 tackles with three interceptions, 13 passes broken up and four tackles for a loss for the year. Sutton was a superb freshman cornerback in 2013 while recording 39 tackles, seven passes broken up and two interceptions that season.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Howard Wilson, CB, Houston
The Colts could use more talent at corner, plus they have Vontae Davis in a contract year.
Wilson (6-1, 184) was a surprise early entry in the 2017 NFL Draft as he was not expected to skip his final two seasons of college football. The NFL Draft Advisory recommended that Wilson go back to school. He probably will be a mid-round pick, but he has a good skill set. In 2016, Wilson notched 54 tackles with 10 passes broken up and five interceptions. He could be a sleeper corner who ends up being a nice value pick.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
The Ravens grab a sleeper cornerback.
Douglas (6-2, 204) is a junior college product who didn't play much as a junior. However, he made the most of his senior year as he tied as the nation's leader with eight interceptions. Douglas also recorded 70 tackles and eight passes broken up.
Sources say that Douglas has good size to him for the NFL, and they see him being a big press-man corner with ball skills. He also has early round potential, but sources say that since Douglas is a 1-year wonder, he needed to impress at the Senior Bowl. That didn't really happen as his time in Mobile was filled with highlights and lowlights.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State
The Vikings could use some cornerback depth given the age of Terrance Newman and losing Captain Munneryln. Minnesota has shown interest in Kazee.
In 2016, Kazee recorded 65 tackles with eight passes broken up and seven interceptions. The 5-foot-10, 183-pounder didn't impress at the Senior Bowl, however. Kazee was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year for with eight interceptions, 75 tackles, and seven passes broken up. He had 58 tackles, 13 breakups, and an interception as a sophomore. Kazee almost entered the 2016 NFL Draft, but the fourth-round grade from the NFL Advisory Board probably was a big reason why he wisely decided to return for his senior year.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar
The Texans could use a replacement for A.J. Bouye.
Langley (6-0, 199) put together a big 2016 season for Lamar with 43 tackles, seven passes broken up and six interceptions. The senior also returned two punts for touchdowns. As a junior, he had 21 tackles with 11 passes broken up and one interception. Langley has good height and length to him. He earned an invitation to the Senior Bowl and was impressive there. Langley showed good skills to run with receivers and prevent separation.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Ezra Robinson, CB, Tennessee State
The Bears could use cornerback upgrades, and Chicago has shown interest in Robinson.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Dwayne Thomas, CB, LSU
The Cardinals grab a corner to compete.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Corn Elder, CB, Miami
The Titans grab more cornerback competition and have shown interest in Elder.
Rd. 5, Pk. 5
Nate Hairston, CB, Temple
The Bills could target a couple of corners given the strength at the position.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Marquez White, CB, Florida State
The Cardinals will probably add some corner competition in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Treston Decoud, CB, Oregon State
The Cowboys grab more cornerback talent and competition.
Its funny how every mock draft now has the Chargers taking Laremy Tunsil like its a for sure pick. Not so fast. Tom Telesco is re committed to the line he has last year and will not take an OT at 3 after the investments he has put out this season. King Dunlap would be the 14th highest paid OT to ride the bench? come on now. If the Chargers thought Tunsil was a possibility they wouldn't have resigned Dunlap and their other option to bench Orlando Franklin is foolish.
with that being said, Jalen Ramsey is the pick. You take the best player in the draft and he will immediately come in and tear things up. Its a win win situation for San Diego you can plug him in at CB and say goodbye to the struggling Brandon Flowers or you can use him at safety to fill the role Eric Weddle left behind. Ramsey, Verrett, Hayward... that's a scary secondary.
Scouting report: Dominant athlete. Sprinter and champion long jumper for Seminoles track team and hit a 40-inch vertical leap in high school. Prototype frame for a big, press cover corner. From press, lands accurate blows with extended arms into the shoulders of receivers. Can redirect and, in some cases, completely roadblock a route with his disruptive press strength and tactics. Has experience at safety and as slot corner. Boundary corner in 2015 and quick to crowd outside releases against sideline. Shines in trail coverage. Has athletic ability to slam on brakes from full sprint and shadow comeback routes. Length and closing speed make it difficult to beat him over the top. Elite leaper who can challenge jump balls against anyone. Uses aggressive ripping and raking against catch attempts. Aware and instinctive from zone and off coverage. Diagnoses quickly and will stick a foot in the ground and drive hard towards the throw. Balanced, wrap-up tackler in space. Allowed a completion rate of just 38.5 percent.
Other possibilities: DeForest Buckner DE, Joey Bosa DE, Myles Jack LB
Why Hargreaves? Because of OBJ, that’s why. The Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants will likely be favored (Philly expected to be bottom feeders) to win the NFC East come draft time. Yes, again that means nothing as preseason rankings are never accurate. However, Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones just watched Reese improve the Giants defense enough that their offense can finally be scary again. Right now the biggest question for the Eagles, Cowboys, and Redskins is how do we stop OBJ (trash talking be damned) as that is how you stop the Giants offense. The Giants will continue to look for complements to OBJ, but opposing team’s ultimate goal will be to stop OBJ. This is Dallas first step towards that as Brandon Carr is not that guy. Byron Jones to me is better suited at FS. Hargreaves on OBJ with Byron Jones over the top is start to containing OBJ (who they face 2 (possibly 3) times a year from here till he retires). Dallas needs secondary help period, I just highlighted OBJ as they face him twice a year and he is the best WR in the NFC East (Dez Bryant is in that discussion, IMHO [those words taste like vinegar], but he’s a Cowboy so….) Nevermind the 40 time at the combine, this is a 3 year starter in the SEC where he went against the likes of Allen Hurns, Phillip Dorsett, Jarvis Landry, O’Dell Beckham Jr., Jordan Matthews, Amari Cooper, LaQuon Treadwell and has produced, and produced well. Dallas would be wise to select Hargreaves as he is a top 5 player in this draft. I think Jerry will bring up Carson’s name, but Stephen and the rest of the war room will convince him to get a QB like Hackenberg on Day 3 to “develop”. It’s either DE or CB here for Dallas as both are needs.
I almost mocked Ryan Kelly here as he’s the clear best center prospect in this draft and a HUGE need for Arizona right now (currently slated to start AQ Shipley at center and as a Ravens fan, trust me that’s a bad idea), but I couldn’t justify passing on a potentially elite cornerback for a center. Especially given how much this secondary surprisingly struggled when Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tyrann Mathieu went down with an injury late in the year. Patrick Peterson is as elite as they come, Mathieu can play ANYWHERE, and the rest of the safeties are at the very least very solid, but the starting cornerback spot opposite of Peterson is a question mark. Justin Bethel struggled mightily when asked to play starters snaps and Jerraud Powers, last year’s starter, was unspectacular and is currently still an unsigned free agent. Enter Eli Apple (what a great name seriously). A prototype big, long corner that’s all the rage now in the NFL after watching Seattle dominate with these guys, Apple would be the perfect fit here. He’s a bit raw and might take a year or so to completely figure things out (he came out as a redshirt sophomore so he only played two years of college ball) but with Mathieu being the versatile superstar he is, Apple can ease into whatever role he is best suited to play with Mathieu occupying whatever other position is needed. He also gives them insurance in case Mathieu gets hurt again or needs some easing into himself as he recovers from a late season injury. Apple isn’t a fantastic tackler and his lack of experience really sticks out as he is not yet at the level he needs to be in terms of diagnosing and reacting to plays in front of him, but he’s got all of the natural ability to figure it out with time and scouts RAVE about this kids work ethic. This might be a bit low for Apple but in the long run this looks like the best possible fit for him as a player in the long run and the Cardinals as a franchise as well.
In a previous mock I wrote about how I wanted to mock a corner here and even mentioned Alexander by name, but I decided against it as I didn’t think he was worth the selection. Man have things changed. And I’m not talking about Alexander’s stock because that hasn’t changed much over the past few weeks; I’m talking of course of the whole Josh Norman shenanigans. Who knows if there’s anything behind the scenes we don’t know about that lead to his disfranchising and ultimately departure. What we do know is now a huge need just became an absolutely disastrous situation if an upgrade isn’t made. I’m not a believer in drafting solely for need (the best teams usually draft best player available or at least to the best of their abilities) and the Panthers are absolutely one of those top level franchises. However, this is different. The number one corner for Carolina right now is either Brandon Boykin who couldn’t even play in Pittsburgh’s abysmal secondary last season or Bene Benwikere (amazing name by the way) who is nowhere near anything special. Considering the only other real weakness on this team was safety it’s safe to say secondary help is a dire need these days in Carolina. Alexander isn’t the close-to-perfect prospect many originally may have thought right as the college football season ended, but he’s no slouch either. Blessed with the an amazing sense of arrogance and confidence (an amazing trait for a corner) and top notch quickness and man to man cover skills, this guy really looks the part while watching his tape. But, something is just missing. First, his size definitely holds him back a little bit as he’s just 5’10” 190 pounds. Second, the lack of production is really scary. He had ZERO interceptions in two years at Clemson and only 11 passes defended. Now, a lot of that truly has to do with teams just shying away from him entirely as he was all over the receivers he was covering, but even still it’s really alarming that his ball skills didn’t lead to at least ONE accidental interception or something. At the end of the first/early second round this guy is worth the risk. Carolina fills their dire need with a guy who can step in right away and hopefully make an impact.
The Raiders hit a home run with last years first round pick in Amari Cooper. The Raiders could use a new offensive tackle depending on what happens with Donald Penn and Austin Howard. However, for the time being their biggest need is at cornerback. The Raiders invested a first round pick in D.J. Hayden just a few years ago. this is looking like a huge mistake. Hayden has not been able to stay on the field and when he does is repeatedly burned on the outside and reduced to slot corner duties. David Amerson showed some life on the outside to end the year but he is not someone they can fully put all their faith in. Kendall Fuller suffered a major knee injury this year which is a disappointment considering he was so highly thought of to begin the year. Fuller seems to be a better prospect than his brother Kyle a recent first round pick of the Bears. Fuller excels in man or zone coverage, great hip flexibility, and outstanding ball awareness. One area he may struggle in is jamming receivers at the line because of his smaller size and handling bigger receivers on the outside one on one.
Stupid teams do stupid things. The Jaguars used to be a stupid team, but they've made great strides recently, and now look like they're on the cusp of competing for the playoffs. They've taken another step toward that with this pick. Jalen Ramsey is one of the top two players in the draft. Jacksonville shouldn't have been able to obtain him with the fifth-overall selection, but it did. Congrats, Jaguars! You're one of the winners of the draft.
Rd. 1, Pk. 10
Eli Apple, CB
I had a feeling that Eli Apple might be chosen over Vernon Hargreaves. But that was more of teams being down on Hargreaves than front offices liking Apple. I think this is a bit of a reach. I had Apple at No. 14, but with Shaq Lawson, Hargreaves and Laremy Tunsil available, the Giants could've gone in a different direction. Still, I won't penalize the team too much, as they were blind-sided with Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd both being snatched off the board right in front of them. A "C" grade seems appropriate.
Rd. 1, Pk. 11
Vernon Hargreaves, CB
The Buccaneers landed a prospect many consider to be the second-best cornerback prospect in this class. Even better, they did so while trading down. That's exactly how teams should draft. Cornerback has been a huge problem area for Tampa, and Hargreaves projects as an immediate upgrade. This is a big win for the Buccaneers, even if the deal to move from nine to 11 wasn't that great. I'll be grading all of the trades on a separate page. I'll have those posted later tonight.
Rd. 1, Pk. 24
William Jackson III, CB
The poor Bengals wanted a receiver badly. They had Josh Doctson atop their board, followed by Corey Coleman and William Fuller. They were all gone, so the Bengals had to look elsewhere. William Jackson is definitely not a bad consolation prize. As a matter of fact, I love the pick. William Jackson has both great film and unbelievable athleticism. There was some speculation that he could go as high as No. 11 to the Bears or No. 14 to the Raiders. Jackson's a great selection here, as he fills a big need in the secondary while providing good value.
Rd. 1, Pk. 25
Artie Burns, CB
The Steelers typically take highly ranked players who fall to them. Think Alvin Dupree, David DeCastro and Jarvis Jones. I figured they'd be all over Myles Jack, but they went with a different strategy this year - reaching for a second-round prospect. Artie Burns is certainly a second-round player. He has great athleticism and size, but he's pretty raw for a player. That's pretty much the definition of a second-round prospect; not someone worth grabbing at No. 25 overall. There were better players available for the Steelers, such as Kendall Fuller, Jarran Reed or Andrew Billings. I don't like this pick at all.
Rd. 2, Pk. 7
Xavien Howard, CB
This would've been a great pick had the Dolphins not traded for it. With lots of cornerbacks available, I don't think they needed to do that, however. Why surrender resources to do something like that? Having said that, I'm not giving Miami a poor grade, as a C+ seems about right. Howard should be a good player for them, and he's filling a big need for sure.
Rd. 2, Pk. 23
Mackensie Alexander, CB
Wow, what a steal. Mackensie Alexander would've been a first-round pick if he didn't have the sort of character concerns that Tony Pauline reported about a week ago. Alexander doesn't fill an immediate need, but he was just way too talented to pass up. Also, it should be noted that the Vikings will have some corners hitting free agency after 2016, so Alexander could step in and start in 2017.
Rd. 2, Pk. 27
Sean Davis, CB/S
This is a lot better than the first-round pick. Sean Davis is a versatile player who might be able to play both cornerback and safety. He's a big prospect who has tons of athleticism and upside. Davis needs to work on becoming a better football player, as he's very raw, but he could fill a big need in the secondary.
Rd. 2, Pk. 29
Cyrus Jones, CB
We've reported that Bill Belichick has given up on drafts he dislikes, #yoloing his picks and taking seventh-rounders way earlier than they should be chosen. This isn't a crazy reach like Jordan Richards, but the Patriots took Jones about a round earlier than he should've gone. New England has two corners with expiring contracts after this season, so Jones makes sense from that perspective, but there were better players available at the position.