Super Bowl 51 came and went, with the New England Patriots defeating the Atlanta Falcons in perhaps the craziest NFL championship to ever be played. Now, as we inch away from the 2016 season and closer to the Combine, I’m going to post my first full first round mock draft.
Although most of these picks will likely end up being wrong, this mock is more addressing what each team’s needs are and which prospects currently fit where each team is selecting in terms of draft stock. There are no trades in this mock, which led to a couple players falling from where they hold value simply due to teams not having a huge need for the position.
As we breeze through the draft season, there will be plenty of mock drafts coming from Big Cat Country for both the entire NFL as well as mocks specifically on the Jaguars.
With that being said, let’s get to mocking!
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett to the Browns is the easiest pick in this entire mock. Reports late last year stated that the Browns have “an astronomical grade” on Garrett, and for as poor of a team as the Browns are all-around, they need to take the best player available to improve their team. Garrett is the consensus best player in the draft.
In his three years at Texas A&M, Garrett has racked up 31 sacks, 47 tackles for a loss, seven forced fumbles, and five defended passes. If the Browns truly have such a great grade on Garrett, it makes sense for them to draft Garrett and significantly upgrade their pass rush.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
San Francisco just hired Kyle Shanahan as their head coach and one would think he would want a quarterback to work with going forward, as neither Colin Kaepernick nor Blaine Gabbert are going to be that guy.
I personally think Watson is the best and most pro-ready quarterback in this draft, but there has been a lot of love recently for Trubisky and his potential. In his first and only year as a starter in 2016, Trubisky threw for 3748 yards, 30 TDs vs only six INTs, and held a 68% completion rate. Considering John Lynch, the 49ers new GM, has no front office experience before this job, I could see him biting on the hype around Trubisky’s name.
3. Chicago Bears: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
In this scenario, the Bears get the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft in Watson. Fresh off of a National Championship victory, Watson enters the draft with just over two years as a starter (he started a handful of games in 2014) and 10,168 career passing yards, 90 touchdowns vs 32 interceptions, and a 67.4% completion rate.
Watson has repeatedly shown how clutch he can be as a dual-threat quarterback and knows how to accurately make “NFL throws”. With Jay Cutler almost constantly injured and no viable backup on the roster who could hold Cutler’s job, Watson certainly makes sense at pick No. 3.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, EDGE/DE/DL, Alabama
Jonathan Allen is the best all-around defensive lineman in the 2017 draft and that kind of player is exactly what the Jaguars need for their defense to take the step from good to great. Allen’s home position should be 4-3 defensive end where he can set the edge as a run defender and rush the QB as a power rusher opposite of a speed-rushing defensive end — a perfect fit opposite of Yannick Ngakoue.
Drafting Allen would allow Dante Fowler, Jr. to move to his natural position of strong-side linebacker, where he played mostly in college as a stunting pass rusher and run defender as an under-linebacker. All in all, adding Jonathan Allen into the Jaguars defensive line would do wonders and could potentially make the Jaguars’ front seven one of the best in the league.
5. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
In my opinion, Humphrey is the best cornerback in this draft, but Marshon Lattimore is right up there near Humphrey. What separates the two from each other is all-around skill, as Humphrey can do just about anything a cornerback is asked to do, whereas Lattimore is a dominant cover cornerback but has some issues in run defending.
With two seasons of starting experience, Humphrey recorded five interceptions and 13 defended passes, as well as 81 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Teams are looking for all-around, physical cornerbacks like Jalen Ramsey these days who can both lockdown a side of the field and come up to play the run. The Titans are in that boat, and need an all-around corner to upgrade their secondary. Humphrey is that guy.
6. New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Titans grab the best all-around cornerback a pick before in this scenario, so the Jets grab the next best cornerback in the draft in Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore is the best pure cover cornerback in this draft, and has some of the swiftest coverage mechanics you can ask for in a cornerback (top of the GIF):
In his first and only year as a starter with Ohio State, Lattimore intercepted four passes and defended nine others. The Jets don’t have a good cornerback on their roster, as Darrelle Revis has regressed with age and the rest of their cornerbacks are average at best. Lattimore has the ability to be an elite playmaker in the NFL — exactly what the Jets need in their secondary.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, Louisiana State
I was tempted to select Mike Williams or Cam Robinson here, as Keenan Allen is a constant liability due to injuries and the Chargers’ offensive tackles are simply average and need a quality book-end tackle, but Adams is a prototype safety and can lock down strong safety position for the Chargers, as both strong and free safety need an upgrade.
Adams is the best safety in the draft with a high floor and an average ceiling, whereas Malik Hooker provides an incredibly high ceiling with an average floor. The Chargers take the “safe” safety here to rebuild their secondary.
8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette, RB, Louisiana State
The Panthers really need to fix their offensive line, but also need a running back to take pressure off of Cam Newton. Although I think Dalvin Cook is the better prospect, Fournette fits the Panthers’ power run scheme better than Cook, and I would think the team would ride on a bigger running back in Fournette (6-1, 236 pounds) while they fix their offensive line rather than a smaller back in Cook (5-11, 213 pounds).
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Bengals’ defense is starting to age, specifically at strong-side and middle linebacker -- Foster can play both, and provides the athleticism the Bengals so desperately need in the middle of their defense.
The Bengals need to jump on Foster falling this far, as he’s one of the best LB prospects to come out in a while, likely since Luke Kuechly in 2012.
10. Buffalo Bills: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
If you can’t tell yet, this draft is filled with secondary talent — Hooker being the fourth defensive back drafted in the top ten picks.
Hooker is a rangy, ball-hawking free safety who brings quickness to the back end of the defense. In the pass game, he is consistently near the ball and affecting plays, however he has struggles in defending the run and making decisions to come down on the run. However, I believe his ability in coverage — even interceptions, three returned for touchdowns — and quickness can make up for his struggles against the run, especially as a deep safety.
11. New Orleans Saints: Solomon Thomas, EDGE/DE/DL, Stanford
Thomas is a violent pass rusher who is considered a “tweener” by scouts due to his size, but I could see him doing well in a 4-3 defense playing the 5-tech end as a speedy power rusher. The Saints have a huge need for a pass rusher opposite of Cameron Jordan, and Thomas can fill that role.
Solomon Thomas just ran a 4.09 20 yard shuttle pic.twitter.com/zY8RH23QvA— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 7, 2017
12. Cleveland Browns: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Browns added an elite pass rusher in Myles Garrett with the first pick, and now Hue Jackson gets his quarterback in Kizer. Kizer has a huge arm and is accurate all over the field, but will need to be brought along slowly in Cleveland due to some of Notre Dame’s issues in maturing his game. As the Browns have quite a while before they can expect to compete, there should be no rush to play Kizer, and rather let him get snaps in the second half of games without much pressure to win.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Cardinals finally draft the heir to Carson Palmer in Mahomes. Like Kizer, Mahomes needs to be brought along slowly — he has all of the tools to be an elite quarterback, but also has several issues in his game that must be fixed. With Bruce Arians being an offensive mastermind, and Carson Palmer likely sticking around for the 2017 season, Mahomes is surrounded with two great mentors who can develop him into the franchise quarterback the Cardinals have been looking for:
14. Philadelphia Eagles: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Before you comment saying “There’s no way Cook falls this far, idiot” re-read my second paragraph in this mock where I state that not having trades led to players falling. I think Cook is the best running back in this draft, but I don’t see a team that both has a huge need for a running back or runs the proper quick-cut running scheme that Cook can do so well in in the top ten. Given that, Cook falls to 14 in this situation and the Eagles sprint to the podium to draft him.
Cook rushed for 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns in his 2016 season alone, and is a perfect cut-back who can impact the game in running, receiving, and pass protection. His biggest concern is his shoulder injury history from college mixed with his size — 5-11, 213 pounds — but teams will take the risk on his injury history and shouldn’t ever look back on it. The Eagles need to add some skill players to ease Carson Wentz’s development and simply give him weapons. Cook fills their hole at running back perfectly.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Colts have invested so much into Andrew Luck that they really haven’t been ale to invest in other talent to build the team besides older veterans. They need a quick, play-making linebacker in the middle of their defense, and Cunningham offers that.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
The Ravens would be getting a steal of a pass rusher in Tim Williams if he falls to the 16th pick, and I have a feeling that that might just happen considering William’s off-the-field incidents’ early last season.
I personally think his marijuana/gun possession without a permit charges was just him being an idiot kid and that he has learned from that, because nothing has come from the incident and he was only given a half-game suspension. But regardless, teams will be skeptical and I believe he falls ab bit. He is being projected as a 3-4 OLB pass rusher, as Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil aren’t getting any younger. Williams totaled 18.5 sacks in the past two seasons.
17. Washington: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
I project Peppers as a weak-side linebacker in the NFL, as I don’t trust his coverage instincts but can play low against the run. However, I think Washington will see a player with range and speed in Peppers’ game, which is something their secondary lacks, and pulls the trigger.
18. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Titans needed a No. 1 cornerback and a No. 1 wide receiver in order to have a chance to compete in the AFC heading into the draft, and by the luck of not many teams having wide receiver as a huge need before the 18th pick, the Titans are able to lock up both positions on drafting Humphrey at five and Williams at 18.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
The Buccaneers have an edge rusher in Noah Spence, who they selected in the second round last year, as well as Robert Ayers as a nice complement but need to add another lineman on the opposite side of their defensive line. McDowell reminds me of DeForest Buckner from before the 2016 draft — no one really knows what to judge of his 2016 season or where he best fits in the NFL.
Although McDowell’s production dipped in 2016 — only 1.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss — but he was still consistently pressuring the quarterback and a monster in the run game. I see McDowell as an end in the NFL, and would fit well in Tampa Bay as a 4-3 end who can be kicked inside on third downs with Ayers playing opposite of Spence.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Russell Okung had an inconsistent season for the Broncos after being signed to a five year, $53 million deal. The Broncos could use an upgrade at right tackle, in which they could draft Ramczyk there, and if Okung continues to struggle, they could eventually move Ramczyk back to left tackle, his natural position.
Watch LT Ryan Ramczyk fold around TE down block and maintain block on the move...LSU was his 1st game in DIV 1 pic.twitter.com/5h0LJsaq3L— Mike Mayock (@MikeMayock) February 7, 2017
21. Detroit Lions: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE/OLB, UCLA
The Lions have a desperate need at for a pass rushing linebacker, and McKinley fits that mold. He had a phenomenal 2016 season with 10 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss, and displayed explosiveness as a speed rusher who could fly off of the line. Due to his size of 6-2, 250 pounds, however, he will likely play outside linebacker in the NFL, making him a perfect pick for the Lions.
22. Miami Dolphins: Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
After a year of playing guard, Laremy Tunsil will likely move to left tackle as Brandon Albert has reached 32 years old and might be a cap cut. If that’s the case, the Dolphins selecting Feeney to play right guard is perfect. Feeney, the consensus best guard in the draft, is a two time First-Team All American, and helped pave the way to Indiana rushing for 3,163 yards, a school record, in 2014.
23. New York Giants: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Although he would be the fifth Alabama player drafted in the first round, Howard gives Alabama their first offensive player to be drafted in the 2017 draft. Howard is ranked as the 11th-best prospect in this class on CBSSports.com, and should be the only tight end considered in the first round. Howard is as athletic as tight ends come, especially considering he is 6-6, 240 pounds, and has 1,726 yards, seven touchdowns, and averages 15.1 yards per catch on his four-year career at Alabama.
24. Oakland Raiders: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Wilson is a great coverage cornerback, especially in man, and is special in his press-jamming, but is far from a sound tackler and has issues in the run game. However, the Raiders are looking for an upgrade at cornerback, and could use someone with great coverage instincts like Wilson.
25. Houston Texans: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Brock Osweiller was awful in his first year with the Texans, but he will almost certainly be the team’s starter next year considering he will only be in his second year of his four year, $72 million deal. So, instead of reaching for a quarterback here, they grab Cam Robinson to help protect Osweiller, as the Texans’ offensive live definitely took a beating in 2016.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
The Seahawks could use an upgrade over DeShawn Shead for their No. 2 cornerback across from Richard Sherman, and Tabor is the right man for the job. Tabor is a great zone coverage and plays off-man well, but struggles in press coverage, causing him to fall to 26. Regardless, the Seahawks add another member to the Legion of Boom with Tabor.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The fifth CB drafted in the first round, Jones gives the Chiefs the speedy cover cornerback they need across from Marcus Peters, his former teammate at the University of Washington. Jones had eight interceptions and 21 defended passes during his three seasons with the Huskies.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, EDGE, Michigan
The Cowboys are close to being a Super Bowl caliber team, but need to add talent to their pass rush as Randy Gregory can’t seem to get his act together. Charlton started for Michigan for one season — right after they transitioned from a 3-4 to a 4-3 — and thrived with 9.5 sacks.
29. Green Bay Packers: Tre’Davious White, CB, Louisiana State
That’s right: A sixth cornerback drafted in the first round. White is a great cornerback on the ball — six interceptions and 34 defended passes in his four seasons as a Tiger — who can step in and help fix the issues Green Bay has going on with their CBs. While drafting a running back like Alvin Kamara here was tempting, the recent release of CB Sam Shields by the Packers made me believe they must target a CB.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Steelers could use help at ILB and competition at cornerback, but considering Ladarius Green can never seem to stay healthy and Jesse James is simply average, the Steelers could use a tight end like Njoku to finally be considered the heir to Heath Miller. Njoku is an athletic, receiving tight end who caught eight touchdowns in 2016 and was a huge factor in Miami’s red-zone success.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
The Falcons are fresh off of a Super Bowl heartbreak and know they need to fix some issues along their defense if they want to win the Super Bowl next time around. One of their biggest issues is along their interior defensive line. Grady Jarrett, who I think would have deserved the Super Bowl MVP if the Falcons had won, has proven to be a very good pass rushing defensive tackle, and could use a guy like Jaleel Johnson next to him to both defend the run and rush the passer.
32. New England Patriots: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
The final pick of the first round is used on the seventh edge rusher to be selected in the first round: Carl Lawson. He’s a crazy athletic pass rusher who the Patriots could use to replace Chris Long or Jabaal Sheard, as both are scheduled to hit free agency this year but it’s logical to believe one of the guys’ sticks around. Lawson had 9.5 sacks in 2016 to go with his 14 tackles for loss.
What are your thoughts on this mock draft? Are you happy with the Jaguars selecting Jonathan Allen with the fourth pick? Leave a comment below!