Hearing one's name called at the NFL draft is the dream of just about every collegiate football player. Not only does it mean a chance at professional glory awaits, it creates a sense of accomplishment for the many years of hard work, studying and sacrifice.
The 2017 draft is set to kick off on April 27. When it does, 32 former NCAA stars are going to hear their names called on opening night. This is something of which we can be certain. What we don't know is exactly which 32 players it is going to be.
We're here, of course, to make our predictions based on what we know so far. The draft picture will undoubtedly become clearer after the scouting combine and pro-day workouts, but we still have a fair amount of information now.
We'll be running down the current draft order and making our predictions based on factors like projected player potential, team needs and team fit. We'll also take an in-depth look at some of our top projections.
2017 NFL Mock Draft
|Pick #||NFL Team||Proj. Selection|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama|
|3||Chicago Bears||Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Jamal Adams, S, LSU|
|5||Tennessee Titans (from LAR)||Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan|
|6||New York Jets||Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford|
|12||Cleveland Browns (from PHI)||Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Mike Williams, WR, Clemson|
|14*||Indianapolis Colts||Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin|
|15*||Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN)||Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State|
|17||Washington Redskins||Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri|
|20||Denver Broncos||Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky|
|21||Detriot Lions||Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois|
|22||Miami Dolphins||Teez Tabor, CB, Florida|
|23||New York Giants||O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama|
|24||Oakland Raiders||David Njoku, TE, Miami|
|25||Houston Texans||Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||John Ross, WR, Washington|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Sidney Jones, CB, Washington|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA|
|32||New England Patriots||Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida|
|*Order to be determined by coin flip|
1. Myles Garrett to Cleveland Browns
Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett appears to be a near-lock to be the first overall player selected in this year's draft. He's definitely made it clear that this is the position in which he wants to be drafted.
“I just want to go No. 1 and be the best player in the draft and the best in the league for years to come," Garrett recently explained in an interview with Alex Marvez of the Sporting News and co-host Gil Brandt on SiriusXM Radio. "It doesn’t matter who I'm with. I'd love to play for the Browns. I'd love to play for anybody who picks me No. 1. But my goal is just to go No. 1 and have a successful career."
While there's no guaranteeing that Garrett can have a successful pro career—especially if the Cleveland Browns are involved—he certainly would make sense for Cleveland at No. 1.
The Browns are in dire need of talent all across the roster. Garrett can bring a load of it to the defensive side of the ball and to the pass rush, which was lacking in 2016. Pro Football Focus rated Cleveland just 26th in pass rush for the season.
With the Browns' hire of Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator, the team is likely to switch to a more 4-3 look, and Garrett could certainly help provide a base for the transition. In fact, the only way the Browns probably don't take Garrett No. 1 overall is if they fall in love with a quarterback or trade the pick away before draft weekend.
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2. Jonathan Allen to San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are in a position similar to the Browns in the fact that they are devoid of playmaking talent all across the board. This is why adding an elite defender like Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen makes a lot of sense for the rebuilding franchise.
As is the case with Garrett and Cleveland, Allen could anchor a new-look defense in San Francisco.
The 49ers recently hired their new defensive coordinator, former Jacksonville Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh. This is likely to precipitate a significant defensive shift for the 49ers.
“Robert Saleh is as smart as anyone I’ve been around,” Shanahan said on the "Murph and Mac Show" on KNBR. “He studies everything. He knows a lot of different systems, but he knows the true Seattle-Atlanta-Jacksonville system inside and out, as much as anybody I’ve been with."
According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, Saleh's system will feature a modified 4-3 base look:
Allen has the talent and the physical requirements to help make a 4-3 front work for San Francisco. He could anchor the interior of the line on early downs and switch to the edge on long downs. In fact, Allen has so much potential that some believe he could even be selected first overall ahead of Garrett.
"Either Jonathan Allen, the defensive tackle from Alabama, or the big defensive end Myles Garrett from Texas A&M," NFL Media's Mike Mayock said of the first pick on NFL Network's Total Access. "I think Garrett affects the game on the outside. I think Allen affects the game on the inside."
Unless the 49ers feel they absolutely have to grab a quarterback, they can sit tight here and grab one of the two best defenders in the draft.
3. Deshaun Watson to Chicago Bears
With Garrett and Allen going first and second, this leaves the Chicago Bears with their pick of quarterback—presuming the Bears choose to move on from Jay Cutler. Right now, I have Clemson's Deshaun Watson ahead of North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky, so I'm pairing Watson with the Bears here.
If the Bears are going to move on from Cutler, they're going to want a quarterback with grit, leadership skills and physical upside. Watson possesses all of these qualities, plus he's managed to shine on the biggest stages of his career.
The argument against Watson—and, really, all of the quarterbacks in this class—is that he isn't NFL ready. However, at least one person who has watched Watson up close believes otherwise.
Former North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik recently spoke with Stewart Mandel of FoxSports.com about Watson and Trubisky. Chizik obviously had exposure to Trubisky, and his team played Watson and the Tigers in the 2015 ACC title game.
While Chizik had positive remarks for both quarterbacks, his analysis of Watson was intriguing:
When the ball kicked off, he was [a] fierce competitor, tough as boots, wiry—I thought he made some great tight window throws. He is going to make somebody a fantastic NFL quarterback. Dak Prescott is kind of what I see Deshaun being, a guy that comes in, he’s a football guy, he picks it up well and becomes successful early in his career.
It's probably a bit premature to be predicting Prescott-like rookie success since, you know, no one could have predicted Prescott's success a year ago. However, if Watson really can grasp the NFL game as a rookie like Prescott did, the Bears should be quick to pounce at No. 3.