2017 NFL Mock Draft: 4 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 1-16
My 2017 NFL Mock Draft is now up. This one is four rounds. Enjoy!
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: January 24, 2017 with updates every Tuesday leading up to Draft Day.
Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, RE, Texas A&M
- The Cleveland Browns have locked up the top pick with a 1-15 season. They should take Myles Garrett here and begin the rebuild in Cleveland. Extending Jamie Collins helped, but now the Browns only have $94-million to spend on Free Agents. You can go to our 2017 NFL Transactions page to find out more about who your team stands to lose in Free Agency and who they can release to clear up cap space.
- Right now Cleveland needs to just take the best player that will help them win and that player is Myles Garrett, a generational talent from Texas A&M who is the best pass rusher since Von Miller. Garrett has 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles for a loss, and 10 quarterback hurries in 2016 despite being triple teamed by left tackles, left guards, and centers. Garrett declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
- Cleveland is switching to the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Garrett is still the pick at 6-4 270 lbs since Garrett is an exceptional talent with the versatility to play 4-3 defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker on either side. Watching Garrett face Joe Thomas in training camp will be a treat itself.
- Emmanuel Ogbah will likely compliment Garrett at 4-3 left end. Ogbah played in a 4-3 defense at Oklahoma State and will do better in a 4-3 defense. Carl Nassib will be rotational guy behind Garrett and Ogbah at defensive end. Danny Shelton who plays nose tackle for Cleveland also played in a 4-3 defense at Washington, but Cleveland will need a defensive tackle to compliment Shelton in the first or second round. Cleveland will also have Jamie Collins, Christian Kirksey, and Demario Davis as 4-3 linebackers with Nate Orchard as a 4-3 outside linebcker for depth. Overall Cleveland is building an excellent foundation with Myles Garrett as a once in a generation edge rusher regardless of whether they operate the 4-3 or 3-4 scheme with this pick.
San Francisco 49ers: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
- The 6-3 215 lb Deshaun Watson had 4,593 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in 2016. Watson had a rough 2016 for most of the year, but went 36/56 against the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide with 420 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, and no interceptions.
- Watson can operate a vertical offense, a balanced run first offense, a west coast offense, or a shotgun spread offense. His one weakness is throwing into coverage, but he's grown leaps and bounds since the 2017 College Football Playoff started and could ascend up draft boards in similar fashion as Vince Young since he was the top quarterback heading into the preseason despite struggling for most of the season.
Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, 3-4 RE, Alabama
- Chicago realizes that they can save $14-million against the cap by releasing Jay Cutler in 2017 assuming he doesn't deliver. Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer, and Matt Barkley are not enticing options at quarterback.
- At the same time, this is a weak quarterback group plus head coach John Fox is coming back. Chicago can save $16-million if they wait until 2018 to release Cutler and Chicago has $62-million to spend this year. If you think about it from a financial standpoint Chicago is more likely to need $16-million in 2018 than $14-million in 2017 for salary cap room plus if John Fox got to keep his job this year it may imply that Cutler gets to keep his job. Also drafting a new quarterback in this weak class and firing Fox the following year also implies that you are setting your quarterback up to fail.
- Chicago can save $1-million in cap space if they release 3-4 right end Mitch Unrein and they can save $5-million in cap space by releasing 3-4 left end Akeim Hicks. Both are in contract years heading into 2017, plus this pass rush would make a major improvement if you had Allen at 3-4 right end and Jonathan Bullard your 2016 third round pick at 3-4 left end next to Allen with Eddie Goldman your 2015 second round pick at nose tackle this could potentially be one of the best 3-4 defensive lines in the entire NFL if all 3 of those guys managed to start next season. That would at least make the Bears competitive even with a quarterback as incompetent as Cutler or a head coach as incompetent as Fox.
- The Bears pick Alabama senior Jonathan Allen here over a quarterback. Jonathan Allen had 10.5 sacks, 16 tackles for a loss, and 15 quarterback hurries in 2016 during his senior season. My biggest concern with Allen is that I see him as a 3-4 only player. Allen got schooled on tape when facing Arkansas left tackle Dan Skipper and does better against guards and right tackles on tape. He had similar problems against Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt who is expected to be a top 5 pick in 2018. Allen also struggled against Kentucky center Jon Toth as well, but he did get a sack on Western Kentucky's Forrest Lamp which was the only sack Lamp allowed in the last two years there, but I'll get to Lamp later.
- Allen also loses count of plays at times when you watch his tape. If scouts notice this Allen could drop from being a top 3 pick to a top 5 pick, but that's entirely dependent on what what Chicago does with Jay Cutler. Allen won four different awards in 2016 so its hard to see him falling out of the top 3 if Chicago sticks with Cutler.
- Chicago can use their second round pick on a quarterback to develop behind Cutler. I'm not sure Chicago can pass on assembling a defensive line that features Jonathan Allen at 3-4 right end, Eddie Goldman at nose tackle, and Jonathan Bullard at 3-4 left end.
Previous Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
- Jacksonville needs to upgrade their offensive line. Spending the fourth pick on any offensive linemen is just irresponsible. Getting an LSU Tiger like Jamal Adams or Leonard Fournette at 4 is a very strong possibility. Jamal Adams declared for the 2017 NFL Draft.
- One Jaguars fan tweeted that he would burn down Jacksonville if the Jaguars brought back strong safety Jonathan Cyrpien after he regressed a lot in 2016. That should be a pretty clear indicator that the Jaguars are not bringing Cyprien back, but if they do I will change this pick to Leonard Fournette in a heart beat.
- Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker are both much better in coverage than Jabrill Peppers. Peppers also missed his bowl game with an injury so now scouts are going to have durability concerns about Peppers as well. Jamal Adams has the versatility to play both safety spots at strong safety and free safety. Adams can play man, zone, or press coverage effectively. Adams is the most complete safety in this draft now.
Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
- The Titans pick Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams here. With Jonathan Allen gone, Mike Williams becomes the best player available at a position of need.
- Taking the 6-4 220 lb Mike Williams who recently gained 5 lbs of muscle to get up to 6-4 225 lbs is the smartest thing the Titans can do with Williams officially declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft. There are a lot of corners in this draft, but each of them has one big flaw when watching their tape. The injury Williams suffered in 2015 was his only flaw and he's recovered from that.
- Mike Williams had 98 receptions, 1,361 receiving yards, and a career high 11 receiving touchdowns. Williams has the hands, route running, speed, burst off the snap, catching in traffic, spectacular catching, and jumping you look for in a #1 target on tape.
- Mike Williams gives Marcus Mariota a #1 receiver that he's needed the past two years. Mariota can finally take his game to the next level in 2017 with Mike Williams.
Previous Pick: Jonathan Allen, 3-4 RE, Alabama
New York Jets: Malik Hooker, SS, Ohio State
- If Mike Williams is gone, I honestly believe the Jets would try to move this pick at 6 by trading down. I don't predict trades in my mock drafts though.
- The New York Jets are $5-million over the salary cap for 2017 after giving right guard Brian Winters a contract extension. I believe there are three Jets in particular that the New York Jets are strongly considering releasing in 2017. Those three players are wide receiver Brandon Marshall who saves $7.5-million, cornerback Buster Skryne who saves $3.5-million, and strong safety Marcus Gilchrist who saves the Jets $5-million.
- That clears up $16-million in cap space giving them $11-million to spend on their rookie draft picks assuming they build through the draft. Their are other guys on the offensive line like Ryan Clady and Nick Mangold that could put the Jets up to $30-million in cap space if they released those guys too, but this offensive line class sucks and I think the Jets realize that so I can see why they would release these three players from a business standpoint hoping to clear enough cap space to keep their offensive line hoping a healthy offensive line will help Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg blossom.
- This is all wishful thinking on the Jets part. If the New York Jets are thinking like me though they will release whoever they can to clear up cap space and then go with the best player on the board at 6.
- Mark Sciubba gave the Jets Jamal Adams at 6 in his updated mock draft. I thought that was crazy a few weeks ago, but after carefully examining the Jets dire salary cap situation plus the fact that Gilchrist is coming off a season-ending injury with the Jets, I can completely see the Jets drafting a safety to pair with Calvin Pryor. Malik Hooker is the top player on the board in my mind at this pick so the Jets take Hooker here hoping to throw a monkey wrench on the Los Angeles Chargers draft plans at 7.
- Hooker is an exceptional safety that played wide receiver and cornerback at New Castle High School before converting to safety at Ohio State. Hooker has the versatility to play both strong safety and free safety. Hooker can play man coverage, zone coverage, and press coverage just like LSU safety Jamal Adams.
Previous Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Los Angeles Chargers: Derek Barnett, RE, Tennessee
- The Los Angles Chargers need a safety. Both first round safeties are gone and I seriously doubt that either Melvin Ingram or Jeremiah Attaochu wants to return to the Chargers. The other thing to consider is that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will probably move Los Angles to a 4-3 defense.
- Putting Derek Barnett at 4-3 right end and pairing him with Joey Bosa who excelled at 4-3 left end at Ohio State at this point is a no brainer for the Chargers. This would be an excellent decision for the Los Angeles Chargers at 7 if both safeties are gone.
- The 6-3 265 lb Derek Barnett had 40 solo tackles, 16 assisted tackles, 56 total tackles, 13 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, and 16 quarterback hurries in 2016. Barnett got by Cam Robinson, Avery Gennesy, and David Sharpe on tape. Barnett had 33 career sacks in each of his three years at Tennessee with a minimum of 10 sacks in each of his three seasons at Tennessee. Taking Barnett is the smartest thing they can do though since he is someone that can push Myles Garrett the same way Khalil Mack pushed Jadeveon Clowney. Barnett declared for the 2017 NFL Draft as well.
Previous Pick: Malik Hooker, SS, Ohio State
Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
- Carolina may be the most intriguing team picking in the top 10. There are three different scenarios they could look at here. Scenario A involves drafting Leonard Fournette, scenario B involves drafting Derek Barnett, and scenario C involves drafting Jabrill Peppers at 8. With Barnett gone and Peppers struggling taking a running back like Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook is practially a no brainer at this point.
- Leonard Fournette is the best player on the board at 8 and he already declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. Jonathan Stewart turns 30 in March this year and Fozzy Whittaker is a Free Agent. Carolina can save 4 million against the cap if they release or trade Stewart in 2017. The Panthers can only save 1-million in 2018 if they keep Stewart until he turns 31 in 2018 with his contract running through 2019. That's one reason why the Carolina Panthers could reload at running back.
- Kony Ealy played 4-3 left end next to Michael Sam at Missouri meaning he's not equipped to play 4-3 right end for the Carolina Panthers. Also Charles Johnson the starting left end and Mario Addison Ealy's backup are Free Agents in 2017 as well.
- Carolina will either take Leonard Fournette or Derek Barnett at 8. It really comes down to whether they move Jonathan Stewart to save cap room or if they bring back any of those defensive ends for depth. Kawaan Short is also a Free Agent at defensive tackle so moving on from Stewart may give the Panthers enough money to bring back Short as well which is why I changed this pick to Fournette with him being the best available player at 8. I think the Panthers should draft Barnett, but will ultimately end up going Fournette if they move on from Stewart in the offseason mainly because moving on from Stewart saves the Panthers money.
Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
- The Bengals release Rey Maualuga and drafting Reuben Foster since releasing Maualuga saves the Bengals $3.7 million against the cap plus their is no cap penalty for releasing him. I like Foster and now realize why others had him this high to begin the season.
- Reuben Foster had 60 solo tackles, 55 assisted tackles, 115 total tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, and 8 quarterback hurries in 2016. Foster dominated in coverage in 2015. My only concern with him would be to add 5 lbs of muscle at 6-1 228 lbs.
- Foster has the pass rushing of Demario Davis, stops the run like Lawrence Timmons, drops back into coverage like Jamie Collins, and has the exact same versatility as former Alabama linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Reggie Ragland. This linebacker also has the best rip and swim moves on tape since Lawrence Taylor and he's more of an inside linebacker rather than an outside linebacker even though he could be a plug-in-play guy at any linebacker spot in the NFL.
- Foster has the versatility to play 4-3 right outside linebacker, 4-3 middle linebacker, 4-3 left outside linebacker, 3-4 right outside linebacker, 3-4 middle linebacker, or 3-4 left outside linebacker. Foster is the most versatile first round linebacker prospect on tape in 2016.
Previous Pick: Derek Barnett, RE, Tennessee
Buffalo Bills: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
- Buffalo only has $31-million in cap space. Tyrod Taylor costs anywhere between $16 and $27-million to keep plus Buffalo saves $13-million by releasing him. The Bills love ACC prospects and basically have an All ACC team with some SEC studs on defense. Mitch Trubisky is an ACC quarterback and I see him as more of a top 10 prospect rather than a top 5 prospect, but if Chicago releases Cutler Trubisky will get pushed into the top 5. Trubisky is much higher than Kaaya after what we saw from him this year and this is an ideal spot for Trubisky to fall to since Buffalo has a pretty strong offensive line along with a solid running game in place.
- I'm going with Mitch Trubisky at 10 now. The 6-3 220 lb quarterback has 3,748 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. Trubisky struggled against Stanford in his bowl game. If Trubisky falls past Buffalo expect him to potentially fall to a team like Houston at 25 or Kansas City at 27.
Previous Pick: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
New Orleans Saints: Demarcus Walker, LE, Florida State
- New Orleans did not get a left end in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Saints go with DeMarcus Walker at 11 now.
- The 6-4 280 lb Demarcus Walker has 15 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss in 2016 after having 10.5 sacks in 2015 as a junior. Florida went 0/12 on third down conversions against Florida State while Walker went 8-0 in his career against Miami FL and Florida at Florida State in his four years with the program. I think both Barnett and Walker have played well enough to get drafted in the top 10. Barnett is more explosive while Walker is the better vocal leader who can drop back into coverage. Both defensive ends will be immediate difference makers in the 4-3 if you are not picking high enough to land Myles Garrett who will probably end up on a 3-4 team.
Cleveland Browns: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
- Cleveland will take Teez Tabor if he falls this far. Releasing Joe Haden saves the Browns $8-million against the cap. This is one of the deepest cornerback groups in years and Joe Haden is coming off an awful season where he got picked apart by Landry Jones in the Browns week 17 loss to Pittsburgh. Boundary cornerback Jamar Taylor and nickel cornerback Brien-Boddy Calhoun outplayed Haden at times so I see no problem with the Browns getting a younger version of another cornerback that could potentially be the next Joe Haden.
Previous Pick: Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
Arizona Cardinals: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
- Arizona goes with a cornerback to pair with Patrick Peterson at 13 now that Reuben Foster is gone. Sidney Jones is the best corner in this draft after Teez Tabor despite struggling against bigger receivers.
- Sidney Jones can play man, zone, or press on tape. He can stop the run and is a natural field cornerback. His only issue is covering bigger receivers. The NFC West does not have a guy like DeAndre Hopkins or Julio Jones so I think Jones will really do a fantastic job complimenting Patrick Peterson.
Previous Pick: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
- Indianapolis and Philadelphia are picking at 14 and 15. We won't know who picks at 14 until a coin flip leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft. That's why I will wait to post my 2017 NFL Draft Results page. In the mean time you can read my grades for the 2016 NFL Draft.
- Charles Harris finished the season with 9 sacks. Carl Lawson struggled against Orlando Brown in the Sugar Bowl. Tim Williams is a great pass rusher and terrible agains the run. Takkarist McKinley and T.J. Watt both have double digit sacks, but are both reaches at this point.
- The Colts are losing 5 outside linebackers to Free Agency. At the same time they also got $59-million in 2017 to spend on young pass rushers like Nick Perry, Melvin Ingram, or Jarvis Jones of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even someone with a veteran presence like Lorenzo Alexander who had 10 sacks for the Buffalo Bills, Chandler Jones a former Patriots pass rusher who moved to a 3-4 scheme in Arizona, or an aging DeMarcus Ware who brings some youth and stability to the table all provide potential upgrades at outside linebacker which is why the Colts should take a running back here.
- Frank Gore is 33-years-old. Gore is entering the final year of his contract plus the Colts other two running backs enter Free Agency in 2017. Getting youth with Dalvin Cook at running back is paramount.
- Dalvin Cook has been a monster on the ground in 2016. Cook had 288 carries, 1,765 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns, 33 receptions, 488 receiving yards, and 1 receiving touchdown in 2016. Cook is better at running to the outside than Fournette, he catches out of the backfield, blocks better than Fournette, and is more durable. Cook may be the running back that revives Andrew Luck's career, but if the Colts go defense Reuben Foster would be a good pick here.
Philadelphia Eagles: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
- Philadelphia goes with a cornerback. Cordrea Tankersley had 11 deflections from pass breakups and who is awesome at stopping the run is the is the top cornerback available. He's practiced against the top receiver in the draft in Mike Williams and has showed the ability to be the most complete cornerback in the NFL Draft after Teez Tabor and Sidney Jones.
Baltimore Ravens: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
- Last week I gave the Ravens Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis. Last year I heard rumors about the Ravens loving Vernon Hargreaves III. That turned out to be a smokescreen as they went for Ronnie Stanley at 6 instead. If Baltimore was high on Hargreaves before passing on him, it probably means they have better insight on any of the Florida cornerbacks in the 2017 NFL Draft than any other NFL team.
- The 6-1 213 lb Quincy Wilson goes to Baltimore with the best size and speed of any corner in the draft which is why some have Wilson in the top 10 despite being the #2 corner on Florida. Wilson has good man, zone, and press coverage. Wilson is a pretty complete boundary cornerback despite being the #2 corner on Florida and some have him higher than Teez Tabor which is why its hard to see him falling past 16. Wilson has announced his decision to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft and will fit nicely next to Jimmy Smith being the ideal #2 boundary cornerback to compliment Smith allowing Tavon Young to blossom go the nickel.
Previous Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
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