2017 NFL Mock Draft (Fantasy Football)
We are now six weeks away from the 2017 NFL Draft. Here’s a first look at where each player is projected to go in the first round:
* Editor Update: At the time of this writing, Sidney Jones was not injured. We will be making adjustments shortly.
1) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (DE – Texas A&M)
In a class lacking any slam-dunk, can’t-miss prospects, the Browns are in a unique position to grab the best player on their board and not feel pressure to overdraft a signal caller. Now, let’s just hope they don’t screw this up and miss out on one of the best defensive ends to come out of college since Julius Peppers.
2) San Francisco 49ers: Deshaun Watson (QB – Clemson)
He was my number one quarterback heading into the combine and cemented himself there with the best workout of any signal caller. With intangibles you just can’t teach, Kyle Shanahan can feel confident building his offense around Watson who has outstanding accuracy to all levels of the field. Watson also has sneaky athleticism and the ability to scramble for big chunks of yards when he sees the defense napping. Outside of Carlos Hyde Watkins doesn’t have a strong supporting cast, which will hinder his numbers out the gate, however, his skill-set and tools make him pro-ready and able to put up some juicy performances against the right match ups.
3) Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas (DL – Stanford)
The new cornerstone inside the middle of the Bears front-seven. Thomas will make everyone around him better and allow big talent like Jon Bullard and Leonard Floyd to start making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams (S – LSU)
After putting together rock-solid drafts the past two years and winning the offseason with the signing of A.J. Bouye, the Jags are in a unique position to step on the gas with another top five pick. Grabbing a blue-chip saftey is a top priority making Adams a no brainer. Flip on the tape and Adams jumps off the screen with incredible play speed and acceleration. Whether you want him in the box against the run or guarding the pass in the back end Adams has the football instincts and quickness to shut down his man, regardless of the situation.
5) Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore (CB – Ohio State)
In a ultra-rich class of cornerbacks Lattimore is starting to separate himself from his peers as the consensus number one guy. With lightning quick feet and smooth hips and movement skills, Lattimore has all the tools to be that lock-down cornerback defensive coordinators dream of. Given proper time and seasoning, it won’t be long before Lattimore is shadowing opposing team’s number one wide-out all over the field. This will be a nightmare for opposing QBs for years to come.
6) New York Jets: Leonard Fournette (RB – LSU)
With only a handful of core guys on the roster the Jets are starting from scratch with no quarterback and minimal roster talent. Fournette becomes the best option here as a guy that will come in and make the offense competitive right out the gate. With the quarterback position in shambles Fournette can be relied on to take 25-30 touches a game and be successful controlling the clock and moving the chains. I fully expect him to have over 1,000 yards and 10 or more touchdowns in his rookie season given his generational talent combined with the amount of touches he will get.
7) San Diego Chargers: Sidney Jones (CB – Washington)
The Chargers will take a long look at Malik Hooker however, given his growing list of injuries Jones is the safer play. Jones was forgotten about in a good way at the end of his career thanks to coaches staying away from him and his side of the field after making them pay with shutdown coverage prior. Jones has the size and length to continue his success immediately in the NFL and will have the luxury of working across from one of the league’s best in Jason Verrett.
8) Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen (DL – Alabama)
Thanks to QB-needy teams, the Panthers get a top-five player to fall in their lap. Allen will enter the league with a chip on his shoulder, literally. After it was announced he has arthritis, teams could now pass on him. However, there’s no way Riverboat Ron can better help himself as a defensive line aficionado. Rivera continues to bolster the defensive trenches with a ludicrous amount of talent when healthy.
9) Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster (ILB – Alabama)
I don’t know what the hell happened at the combine, but in three years people will be calling this the steal of the draft. Foster is on that Patrick Willis- and Luke Kuechly-type level, and like them he, too, falls farther than he should. A shot of youth and talent into the Bengals linebacking unit is just what the doctor ordered in a physical, beat ’em up division.
10) Buffalo Bills: O.J. Howard (TE – Alabama)
The total package from blocking, size, speed and durability. In this pass-happy league Howard will be used all over as a chess piece for Tyrod Taylor. Now, with a tremendous core of talent in Sammy Watkins, Lesean McCoy and Howard Taylor has the talent surrounding him to look and play like a franchise quarterback.
11) New Orleans Saints: Malik Hooker (S – Ohio State)
The Saints are making a serious push at rebuilding their defense from the ground up, even if it means trading away core pieces like Brandin Cooks for extra picks to do so. As long as Drew Brees is the starter the team will be in plenty of shootout style of games. Hooker will allow the defense to start closing out games late in the fourth quarter with his game changing ball skills in centerfield. Hooker has to answer some lingering injury questions and is just an average tackler in the box. However, his ability to create turnovers in the passing game and force opposing quarterbacks to settle for short checkdowns is something the Saints defense haven’t had in close to a decade.
12) Cleveland Browns (via Eagles): Mitchell Trubisky (QB – North Carolina)
The Browns have the potential to do more damage in this draft than any other team, starting with the No. 1 player of the class, followed by a new franchise quarterback. While it’s rumored they’re interested in Tyrod Taylor, it’s also important to remember that Trubisky only started 13 games in college. Having him sit and learn the nuances of the NFL for not one but two years will be a catalyst to his long term success. If the team can add another playmaker opposite of Corey Coleman, then Trubisky will have great value as a fantasy option too once the dust settles for the 2018 season.
13) Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes (QB – Texas Tech)
My sources told me the Cardinals were after a quarterback to groom last year in the draft but never found the right value. This year, they have no choice but to pull the trigger early and get a young live arm in the room to start learning the playbook. No one fits the vertical passing game of Bruce Arians game plan like Mahomes who owns the biggest arm of any signal caller of the class. With his ability to make every throw and create plays outside of the pocket, Mahomes offers the most upside of the big four with the proper guidance and grooming. With the help of Arians and Carson Palmer, and surrounding weapons like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, Mahomes has serious dynasty appeal when looking at his draft stock.
14) Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings): Garett Bolles (OL – Utah)
One of the most important things to do after selecting a franchise quarterback is to start surrounding him with talent. The Eagles have gotten off to a fast start in free agency nabbing two top tier wide outs in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Now, adding protection to a true pocket passer will be the last piece to the puzzle giving Wentz that extra second to go through his reads. The first offensive tackle off the board in a weak class, Bolles showed off the most impressive movement skills of any of his peers in Indianapolis. Given his size, Bolles shows impressive footwork and athletic ability. Bolles biggest knock is the fact he’s only played one full year of Division 1 football. While he at times dominated his competition, the lack of consistent play will cause some teams to wait to pull the trigger. Bolles fits great in Philadelphia, however, with an instant improvement to the pass protection and some real physicality to the running game.
15) Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook (RB – Florida State)
Colts were lucky enough to go from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck but have been horrible in building anything around him. Throwing away early picks on guys like Trent Richardson (via trade) and Phillip Dorsett instead of investing into defense or polished skill players. Cook is exactly that as a three-down running back who will finally take the pressure off Luck for once, with the ability to hit a homerun every time he touches the ball. Of all the offensive skill players, no one will be in a better position for major production like Cook. Playing with Luck forces defenses to respect the passing game giving Cook plenty of room and open space to work with both in the run and short passing game. Here is your early rookie of the year candidate and the most likely to reproduce the production Zeke Elliot has in Dallas as a rookie.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Teez Tabor (CB – Florida)
Ozzie Newsome is still one of the better general managers in the league and recognizes special talent when he sees it. Newsome wisely takes advantage of a rich class of defensive backs and steals Tabor, who owns the best man-coverage skills of anyone here thanks to outstanding and polished hand technique and usage that translates seamlessly into the NFL (something you just don’t see from most rookies). While grabbing the best available player, Tabor just happens to fill a monster need for the Ravens in the process.
17) Washington Redskins: Mike Williams (WR – Clemson)
It’s very rare to select the same skill position early in consecutive years. However, Gruden is set to lose both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, leaving a major hole outside to work opposite of Josh Doctson. When both are healthy and up to speed, this could turn into an ugly trio for the rest of the NFC East with Jordan Reed in the mix. Williams wins with his big frame and body control by boxing out his defender away from the ball. With an offensive guru as his head coach, Williams will get opportunities deep down field to help maximize his skill set becoming a big play machine early on in his career.
18) Tennessee Titans: John Ross (WR – Washington)
Get Mariota his weapons. Out of the big three wideouts, one could argue Ross’ skill set as a vertical threat matches up with Mariota’s ability to extend plays outside the pocket, helping the Titans continue to dominate these early-round picks. After a new combined record with a 4.22 40-yard dash, Ross will be the buzz of the town and could flirt with top-10 status. However, his torn ACL and shoulder surgery could scare off teams once the medical check comes back fishy. If he can stay healthy it won’t surprise me to watch Ross become the best wide receiver in the class, especially when considering his young and emerging quarterback that thrives on big plays through the air.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Obi Melifonwu (S – UConn)
You could make a case no other player flashed at the combine like Obi did. This kid displayed a size and athletic ability you just can’t find at the safety position at a towering 6’4” and fluid movement skills. Someone will take a shot on this talented prospect that has the ceiling of a top safety in the league if given the proper coaching and development. Teaming him up with first round rookie Vernon Hargreaves instantly forms one of the most talented defensive backfields in the division.
20) Denver Broncos: Corey Davis (WR – Western Michigan)
He wasn’t at the combine, but Davis will show off superb athleticism for a big-boy frame in the mold of his new teammate Demaryius Thomas. It’s a good player-type to have two of. Davis will add much-needed youth to the team’s receivers and finally give the club a legitimate third option in a league of spread em’ out passing attacks. Davis will be a day-one starter in three-wide sets. He should see plenty of one-on-one looks on the boundary and in the slot for big chunk plays, and inside the red zone given his aggressive ball skills. Projecting 800 yards and eight touchdowns seems more than reasonable given his supporting cast and NFL-ready talent.
21) Detroit Lions: Haason Reddick (OLB – Temple)
I’ve heard from inside sources the Lions have grown to love Reddick throughout the process. This guy stole the show at the Senior Bowl and was hands down the best defender on the squad. Not only did he show an explosion off the ball and into the backfield that was unmatched, but also the smooth hips to follow running backs and tight ends all over the field. His 4.52 40-yard dash all but sealed his fate falling no further than Detroit.
22) Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp (OL – Western Kentucky)
Safe is sexy. When you draft Lamp you know exactly what you’re getting. A tough-nosed interior lineman that shut down Alabama and can play anywhere you need him in a pinch. Forget about his size and arm length, the guy can flat out play. Think Zach Martin lite. With Laremy Tunsil set to move outside to tackle, Lamp instantly fills the would be gap and makes a strength even stronger. With this young core the Dolphins will own one of the best units up front, which will open up even more holes for Jay Ajayi in the running game.
23) New York Giants: Cam Robinson (OL – Alabama)
It’s time to call it quits on the project known as Erik Flowers at left tackle as he’s been a major liability from the get go. While he still can add value in the trenches, finding a new blindside protector for Eli Manning and the passing game is pivotal. Robinson didn’t live up to the high expectations put on him heading into his final season, however, still showed strength and power you just can’t find nowadays. He will need to be refined as a pass protector as he was caught lunging far too often, however, his upside and ability to move people in the run game will be an instant improvement for the entire offense from day one.
24) Oakland Raiders: Budda Baker (S – Washington)
Size is the issue for Baker. Two inches taller and he’s in the discussion to Jacksonville at four. He is, however, a torpedo on the field with unmatched acceleration and game speed. Baker finishes plays behind the line of scrimmage with the ability to cover like a slot cornerback. Think Honey Badger-lite.
25) Houston Texans: Deshone Kizer (QB – Notre Dame)
The Texans get a gift as one of the top-tier quarterback prospects falls in their lap. Kizer had early buzz as a top pick but watched his peers out shine him at the combine. Physically you can argue he owns the best frame to mold into a franchise signal caller and on tape made plenty of NFL throws throughout his career. Kizer failed to put any momentum together consistently, though, and too often became a shell of himself when his team needed him in the fourth quarter. With the Texans Kizer can sit like every rookie quarterback should do and will ultimately inherit one of the best wide receivers in the game as well as a top-10 defensive unit. Don’t expect much from him early on, but five years down the road Kizer may end up being the best of the bunch.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Ramczyk (OL – Wisconsin)
The Seahawks should thank their lucky stars they’re able to get such a high-ceiling prospect at such a high-priority position for them at the bottom of Round 1. He was playing Division III ball just a few years ago, but the raw talent and country strength he showed for the Badgers is more than enough to take a chance on a potential starting tackle in an ultra-weak class.
27) Kansas City Chiefs: Kevin King (CB – Washington)
Another big winner from the combine was King who measured in at almost 6’4” with a long wingspan teams covet at the cornerback position. King was overshadowed by teammate Sidney Jones most of his career but shut down his opponents when teams threw his way. Physically, King has everything coaches will drool over to mold into the next Richard Sherman. Andy Reid pulls the trigger here to reunite King with former Husky teammate Marcus Peters, giving the defense one of the most physical boundary cornerback tandems in the entire league. This opens up a whole new world of defensive options and play calling allowing safeties like Eric Berry to roam free all over the field and let his natural football instincts take over.
28) Dallas Cowboys: David Njoku (TE – Miami)
The Cowboys had a magical season but look to build off 2016 and prove it was no fluke. You do that by surrounding your new franchise quarterback with weapons and help to continue to develop and grow his confidence. While Njoku is just a pup at 20 years old, he owns some freaky physical skills with a lethal combination of size and speed for the position. Njoku can be split outside and in the slot creating mismatches and opening up space for guys like Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. It’s true O.J. Howard is the better overall tight end prospect, but Njoku lands in a far better situation for immediate production with a superstar running back and a solid quarterback on his side.
29) Green Bay Packers: Christian McCaffrey (RB – Stanford)
With all the turmoil and criticism the Packers defense took last season in all reality they aren’t many pieces away from being great again with a solid nucleus of talent. A guy who gets knocked because of his lack of size and strength lands in a spot that will help maximize his skill set. A skill set that has home run ability in the running game, passing game, and return game, McCaffery has it all. While Ty Montgomery will continue to have an expanding role, the way Green Bay runs their offense means there will always be room for a talent like McCaffery, especially with his high football IQ and love for the game.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers: Evan Engram (TE – Ole Miss)
After an outstanding week in Mobile, Engram has once again watched his stock rise thanks to a big time show at the combine. Big, smooth, and a natural pass catcher. Engram is a guy you split out wide and let him create space on a linebacker, paving another dimension of passing concepts for Big Ben Roethlisberger once again after clearly struggling without his old safety blanket, Heath Miller. Look for Engram to duplicate similar numbers of Miller who took advantage of open space in the middle of the field on a consistent basis.
31) Atlanta Falcons: Malik McDowell (DT – Michigan State)
Ask three different guys and you’ll get three different answers on McDowell, who flashes dominant (and I mean dominant) top-five potential. After a down season for the Spartans, though, McDowell seemed to quit on his coaches and teammates and that will raise red flags. Keep him motivated and he’s a building block that wreaks havoc in the middle.
32) New Orleans Saints via Patriots: Marlon Humphrey (CB – Alabama)
Adding another legitimate cornerback to take the pressure of their safeties will be vital this offseason. Lucky for them they enter one of the deepest secondary classes I’ve ever seen. After a good combine performance, Humphrey has solidified himself as one of the top-five cornerbacks of this class with good size and length as well as football genes with his father a former player in the league. He’s raw and needs technical refinement, but Humphrey is a guy you look back in a handful of years and wonder how he fell as far as he did.
Luke Inman is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Luke, follow him @luke_spinman.