2017 NFL Mock Draft - Kevin Hanson- Updated: Friday, March 3rd
With nearly two months to go until the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, here's one prediction that's sure to come true: This mock draft will look a lot different in April than it looks today.
It's virtually impossible to predict how things will shake out two minutes before the start of a draft, let alone two months before it. After the NFL Scouting Combine and bulk of NFL free-agency moves, we'll get a clearer picture of what an NFL team might do.
With that said, here is how Round 1 could play out based on what we currently know:
1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
No position in sports, not just football, is more important than quarterback and the Browns lack of success in finding their franchise quarterback has been well-documented. Using a third-round pick last year on Cody Kessler, a low-end starter if not career backup, the Browns enter the 2017 offseason still in need of a long-term answer at the position.
With so many other holes on the roster, however, it's presumed that the Browns will select Garrett, the consensus top player in the 2017 NFL Draft. Ranking 31st in total defense and 30th in scoring defense, only Oakland (25) recorded fewer sacks than Cleveland (26) in 2016.
On a positive note, Emmanuel Ogbah, one of the team's 2016 second-round picks, led the team with 5.5 sacks. Racking up 31.0 sacks in 34 career games over three seasons, Garrett has the length and explosion to make an immediate impact with the potential to develop into a perenniel All-Pro pass-rusher.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Only a few seasons removed from being a fixture in the NFC Championship Game, the 49ers have cycled through one-and-done head coaches. With Kyle Shanahan (and GM John Lynch) signing a six-year contract, there will hopefully be some stability and patience for a team with so many needs.
Perhaps the 49ers pull off a trade for franchised (again) quarterback Kirk Cousins. If they don't, however, the patience that this regime could be afforded allows them some time to develop Trubisky, only a one-year starter at UNC.
In fact, the biggest knock on Trubisky is that -- his relative lack of experience as a starter. Possessing a strong arm and mobility, Trubisky completed 68.2 percent of his pass attempts with 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2016.
3. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Expected to move on from Jay Cutler this offseason, it's unclear who will be under center for the Bears on opening day. Perhaps the Bears select Clemson's Deshaun Watson or Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer here, but few prospects are as safe as Allen. With the versatility to play multiple spots along the defensive line, Allen closed his collegiate career with back-to-back seasons of double-digit sacks and will help shore up Chicago's 27th-ranked run defense.
RELATED: Bears select a QB in my way-too-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Thomas has a tireless motor to go along with outstanding quickness and strength. Despite the 'tweener label, Thomas would give defensive coordinator Todd Wash a versatile chess piece that he could use to create mismatches all along the front.
Watching Stanford's Solomon Thomas looks incredibly similar to watching JJ Watt when he was coming out of Wisconsin. Very, very, similar— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) January 4, 2017
5. Tennessee Titans (Draft History), via Rams: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
With a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the Titans exceeded expectations in 2016 and have a bright future. One area that needs to be addressed via the draft and/or free agency, however, is their pass defense, which ranked 30th in the NFL last season. Possessing great size (6-1, 213) and a first-round pedigree (father George was a first-round pick in 1984), Adams has the versatility to play either safety spot and is a defensive tone-setter.
6. New York Jets (Draft History): Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Of the eight teams to surrender 30-plus passing scores, the Jets were the only team to record single-digit interceptions. In addition, only the Raiders and Buccaneers allowed more 40-yard receptions than the Jets (13). No longer a shutdown corner, Darrelle Revis was recently released. The top-ranked cornerback on my 2017 NFL Draft Big Board, the 6-foot-1 Lattimore possesses elite athleticism and cover skills and had four interceptions in his first season as a starter in Columbus.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (Draft History): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Drawing comparisons to Ed Reed, Hooker is a play-making safety with tremendous range and finished his first season as a starter with seven interceptions. The redshirt sophomore won't work out at the Combine due to a pair of offseason surgeries, but he should still be a top-10 pick and even possibly the first defensive back off the board this April.
8. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The last time Jonathan Stewart did not miss at least three games in a season was 2011. Stewart, who turns 30 this month, averaged just 3.8 yards per carry in 2016 and there was some speculation earlier this offseason that he could be a cap casualty. With a rare combination of size, power and speed, Fournette would help take some pressure off of Cam Newton and significantly upgrade the long-term outlook of their rushing attack.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Rueben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Bengals could save $3.6 million by releasing linebacker Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict will be a free agent after the 2017 season. The Butkus Award winner as college football's top linebacker, Foster is a devastating hitter with sideline-to-sideline range.
10. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Tyrod Taylor's days as starter in Buffalo appear to be numbered, so the Bills could be in the market for a starter with this pick. There is plenty to like about the dual-threat Watson, who led Clemson to a national championship win over Alabama and a runner-up finish the year before. While he has come up big in big games, he has struggled with accuracy and thrown too many interceptions -- 30 over his past two seasons -- so it's possible that Trubisky and/or Kizer are selected before him.
11. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Saints top offseason need? Defense. Of course, that's an oversimplification, but the team's defense ranks at or near the bottom of the league virtually every year and could use help on all three levels. To be fair, a defensive improvement to just mediocre would go a long way with a Drew Brees-led offense that can score in bunches. His slight frame is the obvious concern, but Jones possesses elite cover and ball skills with nine interceptions in his three seasons.
12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History), via Eagles: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Nate Ulrich recently wrote of RG3, who's due a $750,000 roster bonus on March 11th: "... it would be more surprising if Griffin were retained than if he were cut." In addition, the Browns could be in Tyrod Taylor market if he's released by the Bills. And of course, the team may try to pull off a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo with this pick as part of any deal. If the Browns retain this pick and don't sign or trade for a veteran, selecting Kizer here would make sense.
13. Arizona Cardinals (Draft History): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Based on talent, Williams and Western Michigan's Corey Davis are both worthy of being top-10 picks. Not too long ago, the trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown gave the Cardinals one of the best trios in the league, but it's now a position of need. Bouncing back from a serious neck injury in 2015, the physical Williams (6-3, 225) finished with 98 catches for 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns for the national champions.
** Note: A coin flip will break a tie to determine whether the Colts or Eagles pick 14th or 15th. **
14. Indianapolis Colts (Draft History): Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Frank Gore was a 1,000-yard rusher, but the veteran back turns 34 in May and has now averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in back-to-back seasons with the Colts. Cook is a true difference-maker at the position and is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (Draft History), via MIN: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis has dominated lesser competition with 1,400-plus yards and 12-plus touchdowns in each of his past three seasons. The senior receiver has excellent size (6-3, 213), speed, hands and is an outstanding route-runner and he'd give Carson Wentz a true No. 1 wide receiver going forward.
16. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Under-utilized within Alabama's offense, Howard has saved his best games of the year for the past two National Championship Games -- 5/208/2 and 4/106/1, respectively. In fact, those were his only two 100-yard games in his collegiate career, but he has the physical tools to become a complete and much more productive NFL tight end.
- Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2017 NFL Mock Draft
- For more 2017 NFL mocks, check out our NFL Mock Draft Database.
- Our way-too-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft
- Our 2017 NBA Mock Draft
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