Although there are still a handful of free agents awaiting a new home, many teams have filled voids ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft (April 27-29). With a much clearer view on team needs and the NFL Combine in the rear-view, it’s time for a new mock draft.
If you want to see how the first-round looked before free agency and the combine, you can go here.
NFL Mock Draft: Round-One
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE (Texas A&M)
Disregard all reports suggesting Cleveland is considering Mitchell Trubisky here. Myles Garrett is the best player available, and the Browns don’t need to reach for a QB yet.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE (Stanford)
New general manager John Lynch is going to do everything he can to prevent his defense from being the laughing stock of the league again.
Solomon Thomas has been rocketing up draft boards since his outstanding performance in the Sun Bowl against UNC. The Stanford product continued his climb with a very impressive showing at the combine. Thomas can play up or down, and gives the 49ers defense a complete, versatile defender.
3. Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams, S (LSU)
The Bears need help in the secondary in a bad way. Jamal Adams is the best defensive back available. There are no glaring holes to his game. The LSU standout can play either safety position and attacks the run aggressively. Adams will help John Fox build the stable defense he desires.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU)
Last year the Cowboys went running back early and drafted Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth-overall selection. The move worked out pretty well. I expect to see Jacksonville follow suit.
Fournette is the type of bruising back Tom Coughlin loves, and he proved at the combine that he has breakaway speed (4.51 second 40-yard dash). The Jags need to lean on a ground game, minimizing their reliance on Blake Bortles’ arm. Fournette is a beast who can tote the rock 20 times per game.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams) – Marshon Lattimore, CB (Ohio State)
While everyone is screaming for Tennessee to give Marcus Mariota a wide receiver, it’s not their biggest need. The Titans will have their fingers crossed that Jamal Adams falls to them, but I don’t see it happening. Though Tennessee just invested in free-agent corner Logan Ryan, the former Pat doesn’t solidify the position for Jon Robinson. With all the talented wide receivers within the AFC South, the team still needs a true shutdown corner, and that’s exactly what Marshon Lattimore is.
Tennessee will overlook the injury concerns with the former Buckeye to obtain the only corner in the draft who can shadow a top NFL receiver.
6. New York Jets – Malik Hooker, S (Ohio State)
The Jets don’t have a single corner on their roster who can cover anyone. But with Lattimore off the board, the next best defensive back comes in the form of a safety.
Malik Hooker is the ideal center-fielder. He has the speed to cover a lot of ground, and the instincts to make him a ball-hawk. Hooker will make whoever plays corner for the Jets look a little better.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike Williams, WR (Clemson)
If the Los Angeles Chargers really want to make Philip Rivers happy, they’ll provide him with a premier weapon in the passing game. Keenan Allen is a great receiver, but has only played nine games over the last two seasons. Antonio Gates was a great tight end.
Whether this pick is Mike Williams or Corey Davis, the Chargers will be adding a legitimate WR1. I have gone with Williams due to injury concerns with Davis.
8. Carolina Panthers – Taco Charlton, DE (Michigan)
Julius Peppers is not the answer opposite fellow aging pass-rusher Charles Johnson. If anyone has an explanation for why Carolina traded Kony Ealy for practically nothing, please enlighten me.
The Panthers ranked 29th against the pass last season, which was partly due to their horrid secondary, and partly because they struggled to consistently pressure the passer. Taco Charlton’s combination of size and speed makes him a tantalizing edge rusher.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DT (Alabama)
Jonathan Allen’s arthritic shoulders are a major cause for concern. Once viewed as the second-best player on the board, Allen’s nightmarish combine has left a lot of uncertainty. But there is no way the Bengals let Allen get by them.
The loss of Domata Peko leaves a huge hole on the interior of the Bengal defense. Allen is a force against the run and provides an interior pass-rush, two things Cincinnati needs.
10. Buffalo Bills – Gareon Conley, CB (Ohio State)
Though many would like to see the Bills go wide receiver here, the loss of Stephon Gilmore closes the door on that idea. Sean McDermott just spent an entire season watching his corners get torched in Carolina; you can bet he won’t be entering the season with Ronald Darby and Kevon Seymour as his starting corners.
It’s hard to find a pre-combine mock with Gareon Conley going in the first-round, but the lesser-known Ohio State corner was one of the most impressive players in Indianapolis.
11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett, DE (Tennessee)
Yes, the Saints need secondary help, but they also desperately need a player to rush the passer opposite Cameron Jordan. The latter is the better move at this point in the draft.
New Orleans will be able to get creative with Barnett, who is versatile enough to stand up or put his hand in the dirt.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles) – OJ Howard, TE (Alabama)
Ok, hear me out. I know Mitchell Trubisky jumps out as the obvious pick here, but I see Cleveland waiting on the UNC product. With no QB off the board yet, and no teams in need of a pivot until Houston at 25, the Browns can still take the best player on the board.
Hue Jackson has made it clear he wants to run the ball effectively, but the Browns could still use some weapons in the passing game, too. OJ Howard is a wide receiver in a tight end’s body who blocks like a fullback. He can help on both fronts. Jackson fell in love with Howard at the Senior Bowl and won’t be able to pass on him.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Reuben Foster, LB (Alabama)
The inside linebacker position is one of the few holes on the Cardinal defense. Foster might be an a** hole, but he’s an incredibly talented one. The athletic Bama product attacks the run with sheer violence.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings) – Corey Davis, WR (Western Michigan)
The Eagles could definitely use a corner, or a running back, but they are also interested in surrounding Carson Wentz with weapons in the passing game. Alshon Jeffery is a great addition; however, the star receiver only signed a one-year deal. The former Bear has made it clear he wants to make a lot of money next offseason, and I don’t believe the Eagles will want to pay him.
With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense for Philadelphia to draft a wide receiver who will grow up with Wentz. There wouldn’t be much pressure on the rookie to produce huge numbers; he’d simply have to complement Jeffery. Corey Davis has all the makings of a stud receiver, and could take his time recovering from his ankle surgery in this situation.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Cam Robinson, OL (Alabama)
The right side of Indy’s offensive line is not up to par. After beefing up the pass rush with Jabaal Sheard and John Simon in free agency, addressing the protection issue becomes the most pressing.
Cam Robinson is listed as a tackle, but some believe he would be an even better guard. The Bama product possesses an incredible amount of power and brings a lot of tenacity on the field. His “versatility” will be seen as a strength to Indianapolis.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Takkarist McKinley, EDGE (UCLA)
The Ravens need to find their next great edge rusher. Terrell Suggs can’t have much left in the tank, and Elvis Dumervil was released to clear cap space.
McKinley is viewed as the best 3-4 edge player in the draft, which fits perfectly into Baltimore’s scheme.
17. Washington – Adoree Jackson, CB (USC)
Even before Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall were in the NFC East, Washington needed better play from its corners; watching Bashaud Breeland last year was downright painful.
Adoree Jackson is not only a promising talent at corner, but is also a weapon in the return game.
18. Tennessee Titans – Haason Reddick, LB (Temple)
The Titans addressed one defensive deficiency with the fifth-overall pick and will continue to focus on that side of the ball here.
Haason Reddick may be listed as a DE, but he will be drafted by Tennessee to play ILB. The former Owl confirmed at the combine that he is the most athletic linebacker in the draft. He can stay on the field in passing situations, and can even be used to rush the passer.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB (FSU)
The Bucs were big players in free agency, signing DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker. They could still use an upgrade at safety, but the uncertainty surrounding Doug Martin’s future with the team makes RB a major priority.
Dalvin Cook is a home-run hitter who can contribute in many different ways. This move provides Jameis Winston with another weapon in the passing game and a ball-carrier to lean on.
20. Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles, OT (Utah)
The Broncos were able to land free agent guard Ronald Leary, but they need more help up front. Denver missed on the top tackle talent in free agency and will be forced to address that glaring hole in the draft.
Boles showed very well at the combine, and possesses that nasty, hard-nosed mentality that John Elway loves.
21. Detroit Lions – Charles Harris, DE (Missouri)
The Lions recorded a measly 26 sacks last season, and Ziggy Ansah regressed severely from his Pro Bowl campaign in 2015. The best thing Detroit can do for the 27-year-old is find him a complement.
Cornelius Washington is a nice depth signing, but Charles Harris is the guy who would free up Ansah on the other side.
22. Miami Dolphins – Forrest Lamp, G (Western Kentucky)
The Fins traded Branden Albert to the Jags and are moving Laremy Tunsil out to left tackle, creating a void at left guard. This doesn’t go very well with their hole at right guard. Last year showed the Dolphins are a better team when they run the ball. They need a pile-pusher on the inside to do so effectively.
Forrest Lamp’s athleticism and experience at left tackle allow him to play just about any position along the offensive line, save center. His presence would bolster the Dolphin rushing attack, while providing interior protection for Ryan Tannehill.
23. New York Giants – Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Wisconsin)
Before adding Brandon Marshall, I had the Giants grabbing a big-bodied pass-catcher here. Marshall fills that need. Maybe now the G-Men will finally address left tackle.
Ereck Flowers has done a poor job protecting Eli Manning’s backside; and if the Giants want to contend, they’ll need to resolve that issue. Recent surgery and concern over his love for the game have Ryan Ramczyk falling. But if he’s still available here, it would be hard for New York to justify letting him pass.
24. Oakland Raiders – John Ross, WR (Washington)
Look for Cleveland to trade up to this pick and select Trubisky in front of Houston. Oakland would love to move down and acquire more picks to put towards their very weak defense. We’ll play it out as if Oakland keeps the pick, though.
This is such an Oakland move. The Raiders have so many needs on the defensive side of the ball, and there are players available who could help resolve their problems. But speed kills, right?
Derek Carr already has two towering targets in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. The young pivot could use a speedy option to blow the top off the coverage and open up space for Cooper and Crabtree to work. The new 40-yard dash record-holder is just so Oakland.
25. Houston Texans – Mitchell Trubisky, QB (UNC)
The Texans possess one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. Unfortunately, one of their few holes comes at the most crucial position: QB. Houston has rid itself of Brock Osweiler, and is expected to make an aggressive push to sign Tony Romo once he is released. But how long will Romo be around?
Houston needs a veteran passer to lead the team deep into the playoffs, but will also benefit from solidifying its future at QB. Trubisky is the most NFL-ready passer in this class, which will be important should the Texans land an injury-prone Romo.
If Cleveland does move up and take Trubisky, look for Houston to go with Patrick Mahomes here.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Malik McDowell, DL (Auburn)
The Seahawks could use an upgrade on the interior of their defensive line. Ahtyba Rubin isn’t a bad player, but he’s not a difference-maker.
McDowell has the physical tools to line up just about anywhere on the defensive front. His issues come from a perceived laziness on the field, and lack of ability to self-start. That won’t be a problem with Pete Carroll as his head coach.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford)
The Chiefs offense finally found some explosion in Tyreek Hill last season. The loss of Jamaal Charles will leave Andy Reid seeking another big-play threat.
Christian McCaffrey is explosive and extremely versatile. The former Cardinal would be a nice complement to Spencer Ware in the backfield, and adds another player for Reid to get creative with.
28. Dallas Cowboys – David Njoku, TE (Miami)
Jason Witten will be 35 years old next season and is not the same receiving threat he once was. The Cowboys would love to find their next great tight end, but it’s imperative that he is willing and capable of blocking for the run game.
David Njoku may not be a bone-crushing blocker, but he has shown the desire to be. With a little teaching, Njoku’s technique will get better. Oh right, the Miami product is also a physical freak who will be very dangerous in the passing game right away.
29. Green Bay Packers – Tre’Davious White, CB (LSU)
I don’t care how many cornerbacks go off the board ahead of GB’s pick, taking anything other than a corner would be absurd.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Evan Engram, TE (Ole Miss)
Ladarius Green wasn’t able to stay on the field in his first year with the Steelers. At this point, his concussion history is very concerning for his future. Pittsburgh would be wise to acquire some insurance.
Evan Engram was a combine sensation. The 6’3″, 234-pound tight end ran a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and recorded a vertical of 36″. Engram is not your traditional tight end who should always play next to one of your tackles. Instead, the Steelers will line him up all over the field and create mismatches against linebackers in space. Pittsburgh will finally have a receiver who can take advantage of the single-coverage they will see.
31. Atlanta Falcons – TJ Watt, EDGE (Wisconsin)
Atlanta retains just about every significant player on offense, and will also get Desmond Trufant back from injury. The addition of Dontari Poe resolves any concerns on the interior of the Falcon defense. Atlanta can now focus on adding more pass rushers.
TJ Watt may not be the best edge rusher out there, but JJ’s little brother certainly has one of the best motors. His family ties will certainly boost his stock, too.
32. New Orleans Saints (from Pats) – Obi Melifonwu, DB (UConn)
As I said earlier, the Saints will be able to acquire the secondary help they need later in the draft. This is later.
Melifonwu was one of the stars of the combine, running a 4.40 in the 40, and looking very smooth in the on-field portion. Though he played safety at Connecticut, his size and speed will result in New Orleans turning him into a big, physical corner.
Let us know what you think. Are there any picks you strongly (dis)agree with? Is Matt crazy for leaving Deshaun Watson and Jabrill Peppers out of the first-round?