NFL Mock Draft 2017: Latest Predictions for Top-Tier 1st-Round Prospects

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2017

FAYETTEVILLE, AR - NOVEMBER 12:  Leonard Fournette #7 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The Tigers defeated the Razorbacks 38-10.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

So much remains incredibly fluid when it comes to projecting the NFL draft in April. Free agency and trades will affect team needs. The NFL Scouting Combine and pro days will play into evaluations. Certain teams will fall in love with certain players. 

The NFL draft, as always, remains an inexact science. But let's take a look at how the draft could unfold given what we know, at the moment, about these prospects and about the needs each team possesses. 



2017 NFL Mock Draft
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersMitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
3Chicago BearsMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
4Jacksonville JaguarsJonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama
5Tennessee Titans (via Rams)Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
6New York JetsQuincy Wilson, CB, Florida
7Los Angeles ChargersJamal Adams, S, LSU
8Carolina PanthersLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
9Cincinnati BengalsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
10Buffalo BillsDeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
11New Orleans SaintsSolomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
12Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13Arizona CardinalsMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
14*Philadelphia EaglesCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
15*Indianapolis ColtsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
16Baltimore RavensGareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
17WashingtonJabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
18Tennessee TitansMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersJohn Ross, WR, Washington
20Denver BroncosRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
21Detroit LionsMontravius Adams, DE/DT, Auburn
22Miami DolphinsO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
23New York GiantsDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
24Oakland RaidersMalik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State
25Houston TexansCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
26Seattle SeahawksSidney Jones, CB, Washington
27Kansas City ChiefsZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
28Dallas CowboysTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
29Green Bay PackersTakkarist McKinley, OLB/DE, UCLA
30Pittsburgh SteelersTim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama
31Atlanta FalconsCaleb Brantley, DT, Florida
32New England PatriotsChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
*Order to be determined by coin flip

I continue to believe that the Cleveland Browns will take the best available player at No. 1, in this case Myles Garrett, and will wait to see if a quarterback they like falls to No. 12. If that player was Deshaun Watson, I don't think the Browns would hesitate for a moment to add a player who led his team to consecutive National Championship Games and won the title this past year.

Then again, pretending to know what the Browns will do at the draft is like trying to predict President Trump's next target for a Twitter beef. You know both the Browns and Trump will pick someone, but who will it be?

Because Garrett feels like a smart bet to go No. 1, the draft will really begin with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 2 and the new pairing of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. Mitch Trubisky is probably a bit of a project, but the 49ers aren't currently anywhere close to the playoffs, so a project with Trubisky's upside is a smart investment.

And Shanahan will likely want his quarterback situation resolved sooner rather than later. Drafting Trubisky and adding a veteran to start in the short term would be a logical plan for the Niners. 

At No. 5, the Tennessee Titans are going to address either wide receiver or cornerback. Mike Williams is a better prospect than any cornerback at this point in the draft—and has the upside to be a game-changing receiver for Marcus Mariota over the next decade—so he'll be the pick.

If Leonard Fournette falls to the Carolina Panthers at No. 8, well, look out NFL. The combination of Cam Newton and Fournette in that backfield—along with Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin in the passing game—will have the Panthers thinking playoffs again in 2017.

"I think he's a guy, much like Ezekiel Elliott, that can step in right away and possibly be a Pro Bowl rusher," Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson told Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report.

Fellow Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk agreed.

"I think he's kind of similar to Ezekiel Elliott," Faulk said of Fournette, per Tanier. "I hope that he gets the experience that Ezekiel experienced—to go to a team with a great offensive line that maybe experienced some misfortune last year."

No pressure, Leonard.

How about the rest of the quarterbacks in the first round?

Don't be surprised if the Buffalo Bills go after a quarterback at No. 10. DeShone Kizer's upside and talent may be too much to pass on. And we already spoke about Watson, one of the more polarizing prospects in this year's draft.

Some folks love his big-game poise, leadership and ability to cause defenses stress with his mobility. Others bemoan his propensity for turnovers and question whether Clemson's system made him look better than he actually was during his college career.

Put an offensive system around him that best suits his ability and Watson seems more than capable of managing a game. Doing so worked for the Titans with Mariota, a player with a particular set of skills that the Titans have embraced. 

Often, teams try to put square-peg quarterbacks into round-hole offenses. Do so with Watson, and he will likely struggle. Build a system around him, however, and he's proved he can lead a winner.