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NFL Draft

2017 NFL Mock Draft: Skill players explode into Top 10

24 September 2016: Texas A&M Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett (#15) works around Arkansas Razorbacks tight end Jermey Sprinkle (#83) during the Southwest Classic college football game between the Arkansas and Texas A&M at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. Texas A&M won the game 45-24. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire)

As we find ourselves quickly approaching the month of November, teams in the NFL as well as players in the realm of college football are starting to solidify who they are on the turn to the home stretch of football season. With that in mind, here’s a brand new NFL Mock Draft.

1) Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M

The Browns are in a very long rebuild, but with Hue Jackson at the helm they have to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. With that being said, forcing a quarterback at this pick is not necessary when there is a much better player on the board elsewhere.

Garrett is an elite edge rushing prospect with an unreal ability to bend and dip at 6-foot-5, 262 pounds (he’s only getting bigger and stronger). There will be arguments to take Clemson’s Deshaun Watson here, but they can continue to stockpile draft capital while looking ahead to what could be a superb quarterback class in 2018.

2) San Francisco 49ers – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Chip Kelly and company have to begin turning over what is one of the worst roster’s in the NFL. Watson has plenty of talent to mold into a top 12-20 quarterback in the right situation and there is no chance Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert are the future of the franchise.

With Watson in place, the offense can begin to build from a foundation with him and Carlos Hyde leading the rushing attack. It’s a long road ahead for the 49ers, but this would be a good start.

3) Chicago Bears – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

This would be a big roll of the dice for the Bears, who are expected to move on from Jay Cutler after the 2016 season. Kizer has all of the tools to be a high end starting quarterback, but he needs time to cut back on the mental mistakes.

Chicago could opt to take a blue chip defender here, but it’s a mystery as to when they will be selecting this high again. Quarterbacks come off the board early no matter how big the risk, and seeing two go in the top three is very realistic.

4) Carolina Panthers – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

While there will be plenty of talented running backs available after round one, the thought of Fournette playing on the same offense as Cam Newton is too good to pass up. Ron Rivera has consistently coached physical football teams, especially their rushing attack with Jonathan Stewart.

Unfortunately for Stewart, his constant injuries make him unreliable. He’ll be thirty years old next season and moving on to Fournette would be an instant upgrade. Also, good luck tackling both Newton and Fournette running the read option.

5) New York Jets – Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

The Jets’ secondary has been a disaster in 2016 and a lot of it starts on the back end. While Darrelle Revis has certainly struggled, they need a safety who can both cover and help up front.

Peppers is one of the most versatile defenders in the country and is an instant impact player on return units. Todd Bowles would easily find multiple roles for him, whether it’s covering the slot, sliding down to linebacker, roaming in the open field from a true safety position, or blitzing off the edge. The Jersey kid comes home.

6) New Orleans Saints – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

The Saints land the next Michael Bennett with the sixth pick in Jonathan Allen. He’s the most consistent defender in college football shutting down the run and getting after the quarterback week in and week out. He’s posted an absurd 40 quarterback pressures (seven of them resulting in sacks) in just eight games this season (PFF).

New Orleans needs to begin adding impact players on defense to turn things around before Drew Brees rides off into the sunset. Allen is not only NFL ready, but would instantly aid a defense that is in the bottom five in the league right now.

7) Jacksonville Jaguars – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

The Jaguars have added plenty of young talent to their defense in recent years but still need a middle linebacker to upgrade from Paul Posluszny. Foster is a sideline-to-sideline caliber player who can lay the wood on anyone in sight.

Landing an instant starter would be huge for the middle of the Jaguars defense that has struggled to defend the run (they are currently in the bottom half of the league). With Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler on the outside, Gus Bradley’s front seven would have a lot of firepower to work with.

8) Miami Dolphins – Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida

The Dolphins would normally be a candidate to take a top running back here, but Jay Ajayi is paying dividends with huge performances in recent weeks. Adam Gase and company desperately need help at cornerback as Byron Maxwell has struggled this season.

Enter Jalen ‘Teez’ Tabor, a trash talking, physical corner who constantly makes a play on the ball. At 6-foot, 201 pounds he has everything scouts look for in an NFL defensive back. He lines up in man-to-man, jams receivers and take the ball away in the air. His suspension to open the season will raise a few questions, but his talent is undeniable.

9) Tennessee Titans (from Rams) – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Marcus Mariota needs impact players to throw the ball to. The wide receiver class this year isn’t as impressive in year’s past, but Williams can do a bit of everything and is reliable. He can make big plays with his size and speed while Mariota extends them with his mobility.

The Dorial Green-Beckham experiment quickly failed in Tennessee and they need to find a new answer for their young franchise quarterback. Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry form a very solid tandem in the back field, now they need to add receiving help with a vertical threat like Williams.

10) Baltimore Ravens – Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn

Terrell Suggs has had an incredible career, but he just turned 34 years old. The Ravens’ defense has been built on a nasty linebacker core for over a decade and Lawson would be an easy fit. His power and burst off the edge is a nightmare for offensive tackles. He also has the ability to hold up as an every down defender, rarely getting washed out in the run like many edge rushers in this class do.

Rotating Lawson in as a rookie would form plenty of pass rush punch in Baltimore as the Ravens look to get back to greatness on the defensive side of the ball.

08 October 2016: Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) looks into the Mississippi State Bulldogs backfield during the Auburn Tigers 38-14 win over the Mississippi State Bulldogs game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire).

(Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire).

11) Tennessee Titans – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

The Titans’ defense has greatly improved this season, but they are still struggling to shut down the opposition’s passing attack. Landing a shutdown corner in Jones could help every level of the defense and would give them a plug and play cornerback.

He’s had a superb season for Washington, only allowing four catches on nine targets for 20 yards (PFF). Let that sink in for a moment, 20 yards on the entire season. Most corners allow more than that in a single play each week. Jones is getting bored at the college level as quarterback’s rarely look his way. He won’t have to worry about that if joins Tennessee’s ascending defense.

12) San Diego Chargers – Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Losing Eric Weddle in the offseason was a tough blow for the Chargers. Their pass defense has fallen out of the top 20 in the NFL (losing Jason Verrett for the year didn’t help either) and they could use a playmaker on the back end.

Jamal Adams is a do-it-all safety who can roam and make plays in coverage, but has little fear coming up to the line of scrimmage to shutdown the run. The Joey Bosa pick, after a silly contract stand off, is looking like a home run for the Chargers. Now they need to help on the back end of that defense.

13) Cincinnati Bengals – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

This might seem a bit early for Davis, but the Bengals have to get younger and faster at linebacker. Vontaze Burfict can’t stay out of trouble on the field and the rest of this unit is beginning to show its age.

Enter Jarrad Davis, yet another stand out Florida Gator who plays physical, smash mouth football up front. The Bengals invested a lot of draft assets into their secondary over the years and they need to look for help in their front seven. It would be shocking to see them pick this high by season’s end and this will be a great fit for both the prospect and the team.

14) Indianapolis Colts – Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU

The Colts’ defense needs talent and depth, but Andrew Luck should be growing tired of having no impact players at the running back position since entering the NFL. Cook is a game changing player who can take it to the house anytime he touches the football. This would take some of the heat off of Luck and also open up the down field passing attack, forcing the defense to respect the ground attack.

15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

McGlinchey has claimed he won’t leave school early, but with a terrible offensive tackle class in the 2017 NFL Draft, he might change his mind to capitalize. The Buccaneers have to protect Jameis Winston and McGlinchey is a great candidate to help as he has only allowed seven pressures all season (PFF).

The two year starter would also add a ton of push in the run game for Tampa Bay, which would only help Doug Martin and company in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

16) Arizona Cardinals – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The third Florida Gator off the board has a chance to be the best one of the bunch. Wilson’s potential is through the roof with plenty of physicality and length (he’s 6-foot-plus).

He’s seen plenty of action this season playing across from Tabor and has capitalized off the ball coming his way. He has three interceptions while only allowing five catches on 20 targets (PFF). While Tabor has a bigger resume, Wilson’s best football might be ahead of him as he projects to be a very good man coverage corner.

17) Buffalo Bills –  Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama

Rex Ryan is always looking to add talent to his front seven. While the Bills have Jerry Hughes coming off the edge (and potentially Shaq Lawson soon), Williams would bring explosiveness that no one on their defense has. He’s had superb production at Alabama, consistently getting after the quarterback each week.

His run defense is a question mark, but he would be able to transition as a situational pass rusher for the Bills. In a division that needs to get after Tom Brady to have any chance at taking over, adding Williams makes a lot of sense for Rex and the Bills.

18) Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

The Steelers have had plenty of injuries to their defense this year but they still need to add young talent up front for a defense that is plummeting towards the bottom of the league. McDowell can flourish in multiple alignments up front, showing a great motor and athleticism as a pass rusher.

Michigan State has had a really rough season, but McDowell stands out each game. He can contain the run to both the inside and outside and is a building block for any defensive line.

19) Atlanta Falcons – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

The Falcons have a great cornerback in Desmond Trufant, but they need to start thinking about the future of who’s playing across from him. Robert Alford is expected to hit free agency and Tankersley, an impressive stand out for Clemson, could fill his spot.

While many were watching Mackensie Alexander’s stellar season during the Tigers’ run to the championship in 2015, Tankersley was on the other side shutting down wide receivers. He’s continued exactly that in 2016, playing his way into the first round.

October 1, 2016: Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) takes a wide pass for a gain during the game on Saturday afternoon, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

20) Washington Redskins – Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

It will be interesting to see how the Redskins value pending free agent Kirk Cousins heading into the offseason. If the quarterback market is shallow yet again, they could go back to the franchise tag.

With that being said, Jay Gruden’s intermediate passing attack under Cousins could use another impact tight end. Jordan Reed is fantastic, but his concussion history is scary. Even if healthy, two tight end sets with Reed and Butt would be a nightmare for the opposition to stop in the middle of the field. Loading up the offense with mismatch targets could go a long ways, especially under the mediocrity of Cousins.

21) New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

The Giants have to find a way to upgrade their struggling offensive line. Eli Manning has hit a sharp decline and not all of that is on his shoulders. If the pass protection can hold a bit longer, the Big Blue offense would be able to capitalize on the greatness that is Odell Beckham Jr. and his ability to win in the vertical game.

Robinson undoubtedly has his fair share of problems as he’s yet to reach his potential. In a weak offensive tackle class, he at least has the physical makeup and ability to develop into a long-term starter. The biggest question mark here will be if Robinson’s off the field checks out after an offseason arrest where the charges were dropped.

22) Detroit Lions – Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee

Ziggy Ansah is one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, but the Lions need to add more juice up front. Barnett has had a fantastic season for Tennessee, showing improvement in his ability to bend off the edge to get after the quarterback. The strength has always been there, but his ability to round out his pass rushing arsenal has pushed him into a round one caliber player.

Teams can game plan around Ansah, double teaming him and having skill players chip against him as well. Getting a threat across from him not only brings more firepower to the defense but can also maximize his value as well with some of the attention shifting.

23) Kansas City Chiefs – Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC

The first surprise in round one, the Chiefs roll the dice on what they hope is their quarterback of the future in Mitch Trubisky. This is his first season as a starter for the Tar Heels, but he’s opened eyes quickly with his ability make all the throws, keep his eyes down the field on the move and put up big time numbers in UNC’s offense.

He has a small sample size on tape for NFL scouts, but the raw tools are evident. Alex Smith might be the most average quarterback in the NFL and that’s okay. The Chiefs just need to shoot for better than average at some point and take a page out of the Broncos playbook (Paxton Lynch in the back half of round one last year) by adding a raw but talented quarterback late in round one.

24) Houston Texans – Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida

The Vince Wilfork era could be coming to an end and J.J. Watt will need help alongside him when he returns from injury. Brantley is a very disruptive interior lineman who does the dirty work up front for a stellar Florida Gators’ defense.

The near 300 pounder only has one sack on the season, but the box score doesn’t tell the entire story. He’s registered 19 total quarterback pressures from the interior, an impressive number for a player who sees plenty of double teams up front (PFF).

25) Denver Broncos – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

With Paxton Lynch projected to start in 2017, the Broncos will have to build a reliable rushing attack. C.J Anderson is a solid player, but would be much better as a third down change-of-pace runner. Chubb is a workhorse and a load to take down in the open field.

With Lynch’s big-time arm threatening to push the ball down the field to Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos could create running lanes up front for Chubb. That’s an impressive set of skill players all around and would help set up the young quarterback for success.

26) Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Browns continue to build their front seven by keeping McMillan in the state of Ohio to start his NFL career. Landing both him and Myles Garrett after using quite a few selections on their defensive front in the 2016 draft would represent a complete overhaul for that group by the new regime.

While Garrett will do his best work being a nightmare for quarterback’s, McMillan is the center piece that shuts down the run playing behind him. The Browns added a lot of skill players in last year’s draft and unless they see a quarterback worth developing on the board, building their defense is a good start for a long overdue turnaround.

27) Green Bay Packers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Aaron Rodgers has taken a lot of criticism this year, but the bottom line is the Packers need to get more explosive playmakers around him. Randall Cobb is a solid complimentary threat, but that only works when Jordy Nelson is as good as he once was. In his return from injury, he hasn’t been the same over the top threat.

McCaffrey is an extremely dynamic threat who can take it to the house on any touch. He can line up in the slot as a receiver on top of being one of the better running backs in the nation. Eddie Lacy is still plodding along and puts little fear in the opposition. Landing McCaffrey could open up the Packers offense, helping them regain the powerhouse form they once had.

28) Oakland Raiders – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Raiders’ secondary has really struggled this year even after investing a big chunk of change in it. Enter the ‘human highlight reel’ Malik Hooker, who could be the answer to some of their struggles.

Hooker is a takeaway machine, hauling in four interceptions in just seven games this season. In those four picks he’s compiled over 100 return yards and a touchdown. The range he possesses could take some of the heat off of the corners covering down the field, while also being a takeaway threat at all times.

29) Seattle Seahawks – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The Seahawks’ offense is lacking a ‘go up and get it’ wide receiver and Sutton might be the best one if he declares early for the draft. He’s gotten little help from his quarterback play and overall team, but SMU’s upset win over Houston should put him on everyone’s radar.

Russell Wilson has little help after Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks offense looks predictable and completely flat. If they can land a dominant red zone threat like Sutton, it would add a different dimension to put up more points.

December 26, 2015: Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford (1) gets past Tulsa LB Trent Martin (40) during the Camping World Independence Bowl between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane played at the Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA. (Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire)

30) Dallas Cowboys – Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech

Dak Prescott looks like the future at quarterback for the Cowboys, but who will make up his supporting cast? Whether Dez Bryant stays in Dallas long-term or not, they need another threat in their receiving corps.

Ford has big play ability and attacks the ball really well in the air. Getting a complimentary weapon for Prescott can help open things up for an offense that’s already moving at an alarming rate down the field on the legs of Ezekiel Elliott.

31) Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings) – Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU

The Eagles have to be happy with their early returns on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Now, they need to round out their offense by putting talented skill players around him.

Williams has incredible power, driving his legs to carry defenders for extra yards. His vision and quick feet at the line of scrimmage are amongst the best this class has to offer and his experience could help make him an instant impact starter.

32) New England Patriots – Desmond King, CB, Iowa

Ideally, the Patriots will lock up cornerback Malcolm Butler to a long-term extension. With that being said, adding a physical corner in the Senior out of Iowa gives insurance for the future. There’s nothing ‘flashy’ about King, especially in comparison to the corners at the top of this draft. He’s not as big as them and not as explosive, but he consistently gives receivers fits and throws his body around against the run. He’d be a perfect player to flourish under Bill Belichick.

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