With the offseason now looming it’s time to look ahead at ways to improve your team, and what better way to do that then with a mock draft. The Senior Bowl is done and there is a new Super Bowl champion, so now is the time to evaluate prospects and team needs heading into free agency and the combine.
This will be the first in a series of mocks taking you all the way up to the 2017 NFL Draft, showing you how the DLP staff sees the draft board playing out around the league. Hopefully we can give you a good look into where guys are currently stacking up, how the rest of the NFL is looking to address their needs, and how that impacts the Lions for the 2017 season.
Now that we have a Super Bowl winner (after a phenomenal game) the draft order is finally set with Atlanta 31 and New England yet again 32. Today’s article contains the first ten picks, with the next eleven coming out later this week and the final eleven after that so stay tuned in. There will be a condensed version at the bottom that shows the run down of the mock to this point without the explanations. This week I have fellow staff writers Ash Thompson and Brandon “the temp” Knapp joining me to profile their picks, so lets jump right into it.
Ash’s Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Brandon’s Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Adam’s Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Myles Garrett at this point is the consensus number one pick and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon. Despite being the obvious best talent in this class, Garrett is a versatile highly disruptive edge rusher that has absolute game wrecking ability. The best way to explain him in simple terms is that he is Jadeveon Clowney 2.0. All of the nightmarish disruption and matchup impossibility Clowney offered coming out, but bigger, faster, and with better awareness. He will come in day one and be a massive help for a Browns defense that is transitioning to a 4-3 base formation under new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
San Francisco 49ers
Ash’s Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Brandon’s Pick: Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Adam’s Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The 49er’s are entering complete rebuild mode in year one of the new Lynch/Shanahan regime and with reports emerging that Colin Kaepernick has seen the end of his days in San Fransisco, a quarterback is a natural fit with their first round pick. With no obvious choice as the number one guy in this draft class though, we differ on just which guy that the 49er’s will go with.
Brandon views Deshone Kizer as the best fit due to his raw athletic talent, namely his duel threat ability and powerful arm. Ash has Mitch Trubisky, the most refined quarterback prospect and best pure passer of the bunch to make for a nice potential Matt Ryan copy for Kyle Shanahan to mold. I decided to go a little more bold with my pick and take the dark horse controversial signal caller from Clemson Deshaun Watson.
Despite inconsistent grades early on, his stand out finish to the National Championship game has caused Watson’s stock to steadily rise to the top group due to his leadership ability, raw skill, and rare intangibles. The decision will really come down to what Kyle Shanahan wants out of a quarterback and who he thinks he can do the most with.
Ash’s Pick: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Brandon’s Pick: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Adam’s Pick: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
The Bears can go several directions with this pick depending on where they view their franchise and leadership going forward. With Jay Cutler reported to be on the way out of Chicago, they could either decide to hit the reset switch or let John Fox and company keep rebuilding a strong defense with a veteran quarterback. Brandon leans toward more of the former thought, with Mitch Trubisky hopefully offering a stable presence at the position that the Bears can start to create some form of a passing attack around. Ash and I however lean toward Jonathan Allen and shoring up the defense. John Fox is well known for preferring veteran quarterbacks and is far from a guru so it’s easy to see him try to keep building the defense and let Jordan Howard carry the offense. Jon Allen will be a DE in Fox’s 3-4 defense but can play every position on the D-line offering both power and penetration for a unit that struggled to get home last year.
Ash’s Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Brandon’s Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Adam’s Pick: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Jacksonville is a hot mess in a lot of areas, leading to a wide range of different picks in this slot. Ash tried to address their absolutely desperate need for help on the o-line with a reach on Ryan Ramczyk, the raw and athletic but injury prone tackle prospect. He has the great technique to be a day one contributor but some potential red flags that could significantly limit his ceiling as well. Brandon was able to slot Jonathan Allen in here who could really help the Jags create a dominant front along with their current crew on the defensive line. I went more for creating a dominant secondary then a dominant d line, upgrading on Jonathan Cyprien who’s a free agent and has been a disappointment for Jacksonville thus far. Adding dominant physical safety Jamal Adams is a huge upgrade in every aspect to add to a sneaky good secondary. He can also serve as a vocal leader on the defense which is sorely missed in Jacksonville currently and can help rein in young star Jalen Ramsey.
Ash’s Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St
Brandon’s Pick: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Adam’s Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St
With Tennessee’s first of two first round picks they are close to a lock to address their most obvious need: secondary. The Titans had almost without question the worst defensive backfield in football last year and it was a massive liability despite boasting a fairly solid front seven. Ash and I had them going for potentially the best pure cover corner in the draft in raw but insanely talented Marshon Lattimore. The Titans need to improve coverage period so taking the best cover guy possible is a good step to doing that. Brandon went solo on this pick, instead taking the physical big play guy Quincy Wilson. While Wilson doesn’t offer the same coverage ability, his hard nosed persona fits Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz scheme like a glove.
New York Jets
Ash’s Pick: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Brandon’s Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Adam’s Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
New York is another team that needs help all over the place and some terrible contracts prevent them from doing much of anything to deal with their holes in free agency. Leonard Fournette would provide a cornerstone player that could grind the ball down the field and make at least something happen on the offense and keep pressure off of whatever young quarterback that the Jets decide to start off with next season. When you draw comparisons to the likes of Bo Jackson and Adrian Peterson you’re something special and Fournette’s combination of speed and power does not disappoint regardless of what is in front of him. Ash’s selection of Teez Tabor tries to serve as a replacement to Darrelle Revis who was an absolute mess last year. The Jets have a serious need at corner so while Tabor has some character issues, his talent is undeniable and might have the highest potential likelihood of offering a replacement for “Revis Island” in New York.
Los Angeles Chargers
Ash’s Pick: Solomon Thomas, OLB, Stanford
Brandon’s Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Adam’s Pick: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio St
Previously of San Diego, the new abomination that is the LA Chargers have definitely mixed things up heading into next season. Despite having a high pick this year, on paper this is a fairly talented roster that just cannot find ways to stay healthy and could only be a guy or two away if things broke the right way. The most obvious spot to upgrade would be free safety which has been a major hole since Eric Weddle left a year ago. Malik Hooker is the natural decision if they go that way as a potential Ed Reed level talent but he also lacks experience and is now out until camp after undergoing surgery for a torn labrum and hernia. If the injury pushes him down team’s boards though, Ash’s pick of Solomon Thomas who’s value has soared of late could be a smart addition. He’s a very athletic and refined pass rusher off the edge that could give a much needed hand to Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, or replace Ingram should he depart in free agency this offseason. Brandon’s selection of big Alabama tackle Cam Robinson could help upgrade on their very aged tackle position and help protect Phillip Rivers with who Brandon views as the best tackle prospect in this class.
Ash’s Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Brandon’s Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St
Adam’s Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St
Carolina’s offense is quite obviously predicated around the run and that won’t change any time soon so long as Cam Newton is behind center. That bering said, Jonathan Stewart is one of the most injury prone starters at the position in the league and will turn 30 next month with no obvious heir apparent behind him. Seeing as this is one of the most obvious needs in the league it’s not shocking that we all decided to target it as early as possible. Ash still had Leonard Fournette on his board and I’m sure that Carolina would love to have him should he fall that far. Dalvin Cook on the other hand feels like the more natural fit as a lightning quick, scat-back style runner with great vision adding a totally different dynamic to the Panthers more physical pounding style. The real issue here will be if he can pass team physicals at the combine after suffering multiple shoulder injuries in college. I will leave him for now because of how great a fit he is with the Panthers but he could quite easily fall should he have trouble with his medical evaluations.
Ash’s Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Brandon’s Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Adam’s Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
The only other consensus pick of this mock draft, we all jumped on the opportunity to get Reuben Foster to Cincinnati. The Bengals biggest need at this point it could be argued is at inside linebacker with Rey Malaluga on his last legs and Vontaze Burfict becoming a liability with his undisciplined play. Foster serves as a major athletic upgrade at the position as he can thump in the middle better then anyone in this draft agains the run and is a perfect fit for the 3-4 scheme. He has rare speed at the position to match his strength and is a prototype player for an old school AFC North style defense.
Ash’s Pick: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Brandon’s Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Adam’s Pick: Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Bills decision at 10 will hinge very much on who is still available and what they decide to do with some specific key players. I still do not buy that the new staff is intent on keeping Tyrod Taylor after they made such extensive efforts to run him out of town, and if Kizer AND Trubisky were still on the board they would be in a dream scenario to move on. I chose Kizer simply because I think he’s got the highest celling and him and Cardale Jones are the most comparable players. Buffalo, or Aaron Williams himself, could also decide to move on at the strong safety position which makes a very nice spot for Ash’s pick of Jamal Adams. The Bills defense could use a big play vocal leader to build around as they transition back to a 4-3 base and a lot of their main veterans continue to age. If they decide to let Robert Woods walk (or even if they decide to keep him for that matter), then Mike Williams could be a smart decision as Brandon noted. Sammy Watkins is hurt all the time and they don’t have much of anything beyond him so they could use another Clemson weapon to help open up the field for Lesean McCoy and the run game.
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