Over the coming months leading up to the April 27th event, WPTS Sports contributor Cory Stillman will be sharing his predictions for the 2017 NFL Draft, eventually culminating in a full 7-round mock draft.
WOW. After arguably the best Super Bowl of the century, it’s time to focus our attention on April’s NFL Draft. A lot has happened since my last update, so let’s get into it. This latest iteration of my 2017 NFL mock draft features numerous changes, largely due to players’ Senior Bowl performances. Pitt’s Adam Bisnowaty displayed his combination of size and athleticism, moving him to the top of the 3rd round where he’ll be a great fit with Jacksonville’s zone-blocking scheme. A good week of practice also helped Auburn DT Montravius Adams, who I moved into the bottom half of my third round. UConn S Obi Melifonwu and Temple LB Haason Redick also benefitted from a great Senior Bowl week; their respective stocks could rise exponentially throughout the draft process and cause even further shakeups in round 1. Lastly, I added a fourth round that recognizes a slew of QBs, including Pitt’s own Nathan Peterman. As always, enjoy!
1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett DE Texas A&M
It has become almost second nature to assume the top pick in the draft will be used on a quarterback. However, it is difficult to expect such a trend to continue in 2017 with a stud like Myles Garrett sitting atop the draft board. Cleveland may look to trade this pick and acquire as many assets as possible, but they would also be more than happy to snag a generational talent such as Garrett. Pro football truly has not seen a pass-rusher with Garrett’s level of strength and explosiveness in a very long time, and he’d be the perfect player for a growing team to build a defense around.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Jonathan Allen DT/DE Alabama
The may come as a surprise to some, but the 49ers have one of the most depleted rosters in football. Therefore, whoever is in charge of this front office in April must draft the best player available, even if that player is not a QB. Jonathan Allen is undoubtedly the best player available. Allen always finds himself around the ball, whether it’s stuffing the run or wrapping the QB up in the backfield. He has incredible instincts, and like Garrett in Cleveland, would be the perfect defensive centerpiece for the Niners.
3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky QB UNC
Mitch Trubisky becomes the first QB off the board in this particular mock draft. Trubisky has steadily climbed up draft boards, likely cementing himself as the top QB in the draft. His footwork and decision-making is off the charts; it is simply his arm strength that could use some improvement. Still, Trubisky’s accuracy and efficiency against some very tough defenses has proven him to have all the tools necessary to succeed at the next level. The Bears need to finally move on from Jay Cutler, and a pro-ready Trubisky may just be the guy to replace him.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jamal Adams S LSU
The Jaguars simply cannot afford to draft in the top five anymore. This roster is way too talented to underperform year after year. Doug Marrone should help Blake Bortles develop, but a lack of talent in the defensive backfield could still hold this team back. However, a complete safety like Jamal Adams could finally propel the Jags to the top of the division. Putting Adams and Jalen Ramsey in the same secondary almost seems unfair, but Jacksonville could do just that come April. Offensive line help is still needed, but Adams’ talent is too great to pass up.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams)- Malik Hooker S Ohio State
The Titans make it back-to-back safeties here in the 2017 draft by grabbing Malik Hooker, who I see as potentially the next Ed Reed. Hooker’s ballhawking ability is simply incredible, and the Titans could use that ability after getting torched by Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Andrew Luck, and many others during the 2016 season. Putting a rangy safety like Hooker in the defensive backfield will change the entire dynamic of an improving Tennessee defensive unit.
6. New York Jets- Ryan Ramczyk OT Wisconsin
Ryan Ramczyk is one of the elite players in this draft class, but a hip injury could push him down the board depending upon the severity. For now, however, the Jets snag a blindside protector for whomever will be their QB in 2017. If the Jets do plan on starting last year’s 2nd-rounder Christian Hackenberg, they’ll need to support the young QB. Thus, All-American Ramczyk could be a key cog in a rebuilding Jets offense.
7. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike Williams WR Clemson
The Chargers will have Keenan Allen returning from injury next season. Combining Allen with Mike Williams on an offense that already has young stars in Melvin Gordon and Hunter Henry could make for an absolutely lethal Chargers offense in the team’s new LA home. Philip Rivers is certainly on the downside of his career, but providing him with a big-bodied receiver in Williams, who already has some of the best hands I’ve ever seen, could be just enough to push the Chargers back into playoff contention, or at the very least, relevancy after a disastrous relocation. Williams’ ability to catch the ball away from his body in all kinds of coverage makes him a special athlete, one well-equipped to excel in the NFL.
8. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette RB LSU
Carolina needs to take the best player available in this draft, and that is undoubtedly Leonard Fournette. Fournette would be the perfect replacement for Jonathan Stewart, and would give the Panthers a much-needed offensive playmaker. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen are nice, but putting a stud every-down back behind Cam Newton could bring the Panthers back to dominance. Fournette is one of the most talented running back prospects in years— yes, even more talented than Ezekiel Elliot— and will demonstrate his breakaway speed and power-running early and often with the Panthers.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Derek Barnett DE Tennessee
Carlos Dunlap is among the best pass-rushers in football, but Cincy generates absolutely zero pass rush across from him. Therefore, grabbing Tennessee’s all-time sack leader— that’s right, this guy has more sacks in his college career than Reggie White ever had— is a pretty darn good idea. Barnett’s strength and versatility will make him a nightmare for opposing offensive coordinators, providing the Bengals with a much-needed pass-rush opposite Dunlap.
10. Buffalo Bills- Deshone Kizer QB Notre Dame
Deshone Kizer falls to the Bills, who will likely part ways with Tyrod Taylor rather than pay him the $30 million he’s owed. Kizer has the athleticism and arm talent to succeed in the NFL, but may not be ready to start immediately. I personally believe Tyrod Taylor has the potential to start for Buffalo, but if the front office isn’t willing to pay him, they’ll need to draft an offensive centerpiece for the future. It is most important, of course, that the new Bills head coach works with Kizer to iron out some of the mental kinks in his game.
11. New Orleans Saints- Sidney Jones CB Washington
While Sidney Jones is not the consensus top CB right now, I expect his stock to rise as the draft approaches. The Saints need a shutdown corner opposite Delvin Breaux after cutting a disappointing Keenan Lewis early in the season. Jones has great ball skills, but still manages to stay in position on every snap. He’s a similar player to former Huskie and current Kansas City Chiefs CB Marcus Peters, and should steadily rise up draft boards due to such a favorable comparison.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)- Patrick Mahomes QB Texas Tech
There are always QBs who get overdrafted due to the significance of the position. Cleveland has two first-round picks, and needs a QB very badly. Thus, they reach for Mahomes, who I am very high on even if he is not a top-fifteen talent. Mahomes might have the best arm in this draft, as he led the nation in passing this season. He also flashed some speed and athleticism for the Red Raiders, traits that Browns head coach Hue Jackson should be able to take advantage of while improving Mahomes’ decision-making. It’s always risky to swing at QBs with the potential of missing, but something tells me Jackson will like a lot of what Mahomes has to offer.
13. Arizona Cardinals- Reuben Foster LB Alabama
The Cardinals may look to draft the best player available here, and it’s hard to argue against Reuben Foster. He is an incredibly physical linebacker who can drop back in coverage; you can’t have enough of those guys in the NFL. Besides, Arizona is likely tired of the Daryl-Washington-headaches and could use a new defensive centerpiece alongside Kevin Minter.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings)- Corey Davis WR Western Michigan
It’s no secret that the Eagles desperately need offensive weapons. There are a lot of directions Philly could go with this pick, but drafting the best WR available is probably the best bet. Corey Davis is the FBS all-time leader in receiving yards, and has freakish speed to go with great hands and a 6’2” 215 lb frame. He beat up on lesser competition in the MAC, but still produced against some of Western Michigan’s tougher opponents, including a formidable Wisconsin defense in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
15. Indianapolis Colts- Zach Cunningham ILB Vanderbilt
The Colts have needs all over the defense, and will likely draft the best defensive player available. I’d argue that player is Zach Cunningham, a long and rangy linebacker who is likely the top coverage LB in this draft class. Cunningham has the speed to keep up with even the most athletic of TEs, but does need to improve as a tackler for the NFL. Playing alongside veteran D’Qwell Jackson should surely expedite that process, however.
16. Baltimore Ravens- Charles Harris DE/OLB Missouri
The Ravens need to improve their pass rush, particularly with Terrell Suggs nearing the end of his career. Harris’s attitude and playing style actually reminds me a lot of Suggs, so playing behind the longtime Raven could only help his growth as a player. His speed off the snap is impressive, and is what allowed him to sack opposing QBs 9 times this past season.
17. Washington Redskins- Jabrill Peppers S/LB Michigan
Jabrill Peppers is an interesting case for the NFL, as he is somewhat positionless. Still, his sheer talent should make him a top-20 pick, and Washington seems like the perfect landing spot. With an underwhelming safety unit, Washington could use a smashmouth player like Peppers. He has the versatility to move up into the box like a linebacker, and could ultimately find a home at that position like Deone Bucannon did with the Cardinals. Washington drafted a similar player last season in Su’a Cravens, but Peppers is simply too talented to pass on at this juncture.
18. Tennessee Titans- John Ross WR Washington
Marcus Mariota is rapidly developing into one of the more exciting, talented QBs in the NFL. Still, his development may come to a screeching halt if he is not surrounded with more weapons. The Titans already helped their defense with the #5 overall selection, so giving Mariota a speedy deep threat in John Ross is a great idea here. Ross has the potential to score a TD every time he touches the ball, adding a currently nonexistent dimension to the Tennessee offense.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Quincy Wilson CB Florida
Quincy Wilson is commonly considered the top CB in this draft, and for good reason. Opposing receivers simply could not get open against Wilson. With corners, it is often true that the less you hear their name, the better. Thus, Wilson provides the Bucs with some much-needed youth in the secondary, and could pair with last year’s first-round pick and fellow Gator Vernon Hargreaves to form a shutdown duo.
20. Denver Broncos- Malik McDowell DT/DE Michigan State
The Broncos sorely missed Malik Jackson in 2016, as they simply could not generate any pressure in the backfield with Jackson playing his games in Jacksonville. Thus, the Broncos bolster the defensive line with McDowell, who possesses the quickest get-off in this draft, despite standing tall at 6’6” and weighing over 270 lbs. While he did not always get after the QB consistently, he is a mismatch that opposing coordinators will have to account for on every given play.
21. Detroit Lions- Jalen Tabor CB Florida
Jalen Tabor continues the trend of Florida CBs finding their way into the first round of the NFL Draft. The Lions will be glad to have him too, as they need a competent CB across from Darius Slay. Slay has quietly developed into the one of the NFL’s better defensive backs, and pairing him with Tabor would make the Lions defense all the more effective.
22.Miami Dolphins- Takkarist McKinley DE/OLB UCLA
With Cameron Wake nearing the end of his career, the Dolphins could use a young pass-rusher. Takkarist McKinley is one of the more athletic defenseman in this draft class, and has the potential to get even better in the NFL. He has great speed, and will learn how to translate that into strength in Miami, making him a key component of a suddenly strong Dolphins defense.
23. New York Giants- Dalvin Cook RB Florida State
If Dalvin Cook drops to this pick, the Giants absolutely have to scoop him up. Cook’s game closely resembles that of Jamaal Charles, as he has great speed and surprising strength. Cook is also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. The Giants would love to have a feature back to take some of the attention off of their great receivers and some of the pressure off of an aging Eli Manning.
24. Oakland Raiders- Adoree Jackson CB/KR USC
The Raiders have a very talented roster, and can therefore afford to draft the best player available, and Adoree Jackson is arguably that guy. After a scary injury in the Rose Bowl, Jackson seems to be alright, which is a good thing considering he has the potential to be one of the most dangerous kick-returners in the NFL. He is also solid in coverage, although he can occasionally miss a big play or two due to his knack for playmaking. Still, Jackson would provide an electricity of sorts to a Raiders defense that could benefit from greater playmaking ability.
25. Houston Texans- Cam Robinson OT Alabama
I had been hesitant to slot Robinson here, but the Texans have a glaring need for an offensive tackle, and Robinson is a great value towards the end of the first round. The QB of the future likely isn’t on the Texans’ roster as of right now, but Robinson, who is already an excellent run-blocker, should develop into the blindside protector of whomever Houston’s franchise QB might be.
26. Seattle Seahawks- Garrett Bolles OT/G Utah
With Cam Robinson off the board, the Seahawks need to reach for offensive line talent. And while Bolles may not be a first-round talent on every team’s big board, the Seahawks will likely fall in love with his athleticism. Bolles is somewhat raw, but he is among the fastest linemen in this draft class, and should develop into a key contributor on a team desperate for consistent pass protection.
27. Kansas City Chiefs- Haason Reddick OLB Temple
Something tells me Andy Reid’s Philly-ties have kept his eye on Temple product Haason Reddick. With Derrick Johnson coming off an injury-ridden 2016 season and standing on the wrong side of 30, the Chiefs may look to add some youth to the linebacking corps. Haason Reddick shot up draft boards after a stellar Senior Bowl, highlighting his speed and versatility. Reddick’s athleticism makes him one of the better defensive players in this draft, and would even be a steal for KC at this juncture.
28. Dallas Cowboys- Dawuane Smoot DE Illinois
This pick almost makes too much sense. After a litany of injuries along the defensive line, the Cowboys could really use another DE. Also, Illinois head coach Lovie Smith and Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli have a long history together, so Marinelli is likely very familiar with Smoot. Smoot moves very fluidly, flashing speed that seems almost unfair for a defensive lineman. He could improve as a run defender, but the Cowboys have the depth to rotate Smoot in and out and let him develop.
29. Green Bay Packers- Solomon Thomas DE/OLB Stanford
Clay Matthews is not the player he once was, so adding a skilled pass-rusher should be of primary concern for Green Bay. The offense will continue to thrive, but in order to return to the Super Bowl, this team needs defensive help. Solomon Thomas is explosive off the edge; he plays very physically but maintains a great deal of speed. He sacked opposing QBs 8 times last season, and forced a fumble as well.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Taco Charlton DE Michigan
The Steelers could use a DE opposite Cameron Heyward. Taco Charlton should be drafted solely on the merit that his name is Taco, but he’s also a really good football player. Like so many Steelers past and present, he has a high motor and surreal strength. He can be a bit slow off of the snap, but often makes up for it by playing through the whistle. Pittsburgh fans will absolutely love this guy.
31. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard TE Alabama
This draft class features several talented TEs, and the Falcons will surely look to grab one of them. Austin Hooper— a third-round pick from a year ago— fared well in his rookie year, but Matt Ryan would benefit from an athletically gifted weapon like Howard. Howard uses his combination of height and speed to render himself a mismatch on every given play. He is also an underrated blocker, and his athleticism will allow him to only get better as time goes on.
32. New England Patriots- Ryan Anderson DE/OLB Alabama
The Patriots have an incredible roster, but still need pass-rushers after trading away Jamie Collins midseason. Ryan Anderson also has enough versatility to play in a more traditional linebacker role if the Pats cannot resign Dont’a Hightower. Anderson can get after the quarterback, but is also excellent in stuffing the run and forcing turnovers. Bill Belichick will love the Bama product’s flexibility and playmaking talent.
33. Cleveland Browns- Desmond King CB Iowa
34. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
35. Jacksonville Jaguars- Caleb Brantley DT Florida
36. Chicago Bears- Julie’n Davenport OT Bucknell
37. Los Angeles Rams- JuJu Smith-Schuster WR USC
38. Los Angeles Chargers- Chris Wormley DT/DE Michigan
39.New York Jets- Christian McCaffrey RB/WR Stanford
40. Carolina Panthers- Marshon Lattimore CB Ohio State
41.Cincinnati Bengals- Ethan Pocic OG/C LSU
42.New Orleans Saints- Jordan Willis DE/OLB Kansas State
43. Philadelphia Eagles- D’onta Foreman RB Texas
44. Buffalo Bills- Cooper Kupp WR Eastern Washington
45. Arizona Cardinals- Tre’davious White CB LSU
46. Minnesota Vikings- Dion Dawkins OT Temple
47. Baltimore Ravens- Tim Williams DE/OLB Alabama
48. Indianapolis Colts- T.J. Watt DE/OLB Wisconsin
49. Washington Redskins- Alvin Kamara RB Tennessee
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Chris Godwin WR Penn State
51. Denver Broncos- Jarrad Davis ILB Florida
52. Cleveland Browns- Forrest Lamp OT/G Western Kentucky
53. Detroit Lions- Tanoh Kpassagnon DE Villanova
54. Miami Dolphins- David Njoku TE Miami
55. New York Giants- Obi Melifonwu S Connecticut
56. Oakland Raiders- Carlos Watkins DT Clemson
57. Houston Texans- Raekwon McMillan ILB Ohio State
58. Seattle Seahawks- Gareon Conley CB Ohio State
59. Kansas City Chiefs- Dan Feeney OG/T Indiana
60. Dallas Cowboys- Gerald Everett TE South Alabama
61. Green Bay Packers- Marlon Humphrey CB Alabama
62. Pittsburgh Steelers- Jourdan Lewis CB Michigan
63. Atlanta Falcons- Justin Evans S Texas A&M
64. New England Patriots- Cordrea Tankersley CB Clemson
65. Cleveland Browns- Damore’ea Stringfellow WR Ole Miss
66. San Francisco 49ers- Antonio Garcia OT Troy
67. Chicago Bears- Fish Smithson S Kansas
68. Jacksonville Jaguars- Adam Bisnowaty OT Pitt
69. Tennessee Titans- Rasul Douglas CB West Virginia
70. New York Jets- Marcus Williams S Utah
71. Los Angeles Chargers- Marcus Maye S Florida
72. Carolina Panthers- Taylor Moton OT/G Western Michigan
73. Cincinnati Bengals- Carl Lawson DE/OLB Auburn
74. Philadelphia Eagles- Chidobe Awuzie CB Colorado
75. Buffalo Bills- Budda Baker S Washington
76. New Orleans Saints- Kendell Beckwith ILB LSU
77. Arizona Cardinals- Amba Etta-Tawo WR Syracuse
78. Baltimore Ravens- Curtis Samuel RB/WR Ohio State
79. Indianapolis Colts- Kareem Hunt RB Toledo
80. Minnesota Vikings- Brian Hill RB Wyoming
81. Washington Redskins- Jordan Morgan OG Kutztown
82. Denver Broncos- Martinas Rankin OT Mississippi State
83. Tennessee Titans- Evan Engram TE Ole Miss
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jonnu Smith TE Florida International
85. Detroit Lions- Jaleel Johnson DT Iowa
86. Minnesota Vikings- Montravius Adams DT Auburn
87. New York Giants- DeMarcus Walker DE/OLB Florida State
88. Oakland Raiders- Duke Riley ILB LSU
89. Houston Texans- Brad Seaton OT Villanova
90. Seattle Seahawks- Ezra Robinson CB Tennessee State
91. Kansas City Chiefs- Davis Webb QB California
92. Dallas Cowboys- Carroll Phillips DE/OLB Illinois
93. Green Bay Packers- Charles Walker DT Oklahoma
94. Pittsburgh Steelers- Zay Jones WR Eastern Carolina
95. Atlanta Falcons- Davon Godchaux DT LSU
96. New England Patriots- Ejuan Price DE/OLB Pitt
97. Cleveland Browns- Jake Butt TE Michigan
98. San Francisco 49ers- Ben Boulware ILB Clemson
99. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jerod Evans QB Virginia Tech
100. Chicago Bears- Courtland Sutton WR SMU
101. Los Angeles Rams- Brad Kaaya QB Miami
102. Los Angeles Chargers- Dorian Johnson OG Pitt
103. Washington Redskins- Devonte Fields DE/OLB Louisville
104. Carolina Panthers- Roderick Johnson OT Florida State
105. Cincinnati Bengals- Orion Stewart S Baylor
106. Chicago Bears- Bucky Hodges TE Virginia Tech
107. New Orleans Saints- Damontae Kazee CB San Diego State
108. Philadelphia Eagles- Isaiah Ford WR Virginia Tech
109. Arizona Cardinals- Nathan Peterman QB Pitt
110. Indianapolis Colts- Jarron Jones DT/DE Notre Dame
111. Minnesota Vikings- Dede Westbrook WR Oklahoma
112. Baltimore Ravens- Larry Ogunjobi DT/DE Charlotte
113. Washington Redskins- Malachi Dupre WR LSU
114. Tennessee Titans- Kevin King CB Washington
115. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- John Johnson S Boston College
116. Denver Broncos- Jeremy McNichols RB Boise State
117. Detroit Lions- Samaje Perrine RB Oklahoma
118. Minnesota Vikings- Kai Nacua S BYU
119. Oakland Raiders- James Conner RB Pitt
120. Houston Texans- Daeshon Hall DE Texas A&M
121. New England Patriots- Deatrich Wise DT/DE Arkansas
122. Kansas City Chiefs- Cameron Sutton CB Tennessee
123. Dallas Cowboys- Jamar Summers CB Connecticut
124. Green Bay Packers- Isaac Asiata OG Utah
125. Pittsburgh Steelers- Elijah Qualls DT Washington
126. Atlanta Falcons- Anthony Walker ILB Northwestern
127. New England Patriots- Tanzel Smart DT Tulane
128. New York Giants- Javarius Leamon OT South Carolina State