NFL Mock Draft 2017: Updated Predictions for Top College Prospects

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2017

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers reacts after a touchdown by running back Wayne Gallman #9 (not pictured) during the fourth quarter against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As much fun as the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl can be, the weeks immediately after the big game are painful for football fans. There is still a ways to go until free agency and the NFL draft, but all we can do is try our best to suppress those offseason woes and try to get excited about the upcoming season.

This year's draft has elite talent near the top and also some depth, particularly at the skill positions, throughout the middle to late rounds. It's nearly impossible to predict what some teams are thinking and planning on doing up until April 27, but some teams are more obvious than others.

Take the Cleveland Browns, for example. It's no secret that they're looking for their franchise quarterback, but will they find their signal-caller in the draft or via free agency? Much is left to be desired, but the best we can do for now is speculate.

2017 NFL Mock Draft
1Cleveland BrownsMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
2San Francisco 49ersMitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
3Chicago BearsJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
4Jacksonville JaguarsJamal Adams, S, LSU
5Tennessee Titans (via Rams)Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
6New York JetsMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
7Los Angeles ChargersCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
8Carolina PanthersLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
9Cincinnati BengalsSolomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
10Buffalo BillsO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
11New Orleans SaintsReuben Foster, LB, Alabama
12Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
13Arizona CardinalsJabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
14Indianapolis ColtsDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
15Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
16Baltimore RavensTim Williams, LB/DE, Alabama
17Washington RedskinsMalik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
18Tennessee TitansMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersDesmond King, CB, Iowa
20Denver BroncosDeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
21Detroit LionsCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
22Miami DolphinsCarl Lawson, LB, Auburn
23New York GiantsRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
24Oakland RaidersCaleb Brantley, DL, Florida
25Houston TexansZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
26Seattle SeahawksTakkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA
27Kansas City ChiefsJohn Ross, WR, Washington
28Dallas CowboysMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
29Green Bay PackersTaco Charlton, DE, Michigan
30Pittsburgh SteelersRaekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
31Atlanta FalconsTeez Tabor, CB, Florida
32New England PatriotsChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
David McCracken's mock draft

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Defensive lineman Myles Garrett #15 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates after sacking quarterback Sean White of the Auburn Tigers during an NCAA college football game on September 17, 2016 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Butch Dil
Butch Dill/Getty Images

As badly as the Browns need a quarterback, they can't afford to pass on a player like Myles Garrett.

He can be a starter from day one of training camp and immediately give the Browns a threat on the edge of their defensive front. Garrett is athletic and big enough to even shift inside on some downs and can be the versatile force who so many defenses around the league wish they had. 

The only problem with selecting Garrett, however, is that he sounds like he doesn't want to play for Cleveland. And in all honesty, who could blame him?

While Garrett did eventually backtrack on his desire to specifically play for the Dallas Cowboys, saying that he would play for Cleveland, it's hard to imagine that he won't be targeted for his lack of commitment to his teammates and franchise if he makes more comments like that.

Having said that, Cleveland would be silly not to make Garrett the player of its future on defense. 

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller labeled Garrett as the best prospect in this year's draft class, calling him a "6'5", 270-pound team-changing presence." This pick is simple enough that even the Browns can't mess it up.

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers runs with the ball during the second half against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9,
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Now that they have their star on defense, the Browns can focus on their less-than-stellar offense. 

Armed with the Nos. 1 and 12 picks in this year's draft, Cleveland has the opportunity to draft a quarterback at the top of the first round. It's tough to peg how the Browns would rate Deshaun Watson, and if they did think highly of him, would they draft him that high? 

It's not often that a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and national champion quarterback has question marks surrounding his ability to win in the NFL. No one is questioning Watson's off-field personality or athleticism, so what's the problem?

There may be other options to choose from in this year's draft, including Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer, but Watson has the work ethic and chip on his shoulder to prove his doubters wrong.

Pass on him at your own risk, but Cleveland should pull the trigger on Watson at No. 12.

Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN

Clemson's Deshaun Watson preps for full NFL combine. SMU's Chad Morris: "He's going to hurt you if you pass on him." https://t.co/zPVy2GGomW

Jonathan Allen, DE/DT Alabama

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 31:  Jonathan Allen #93 of the Alabama Crimson Tide tackles Myles Gaskin #9 of the Washington Huskies during the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With so much attention fixated on Garrett, Jonathan Allen is flying under the radar, which is a shame because he deserves more attention as a top-five pick in this year's draft.

Allen gave offensive coordinators headaches all year long during this past season at Alabama. Not only can Allen read defenses, shed blocks and make sure-handed tackles, but he also knows a thing or two about getting to the quarterback.

Just watch below as he sheds his blocker and attacks the quarterback. That type of hustle can't be taught, and Allen's technique is what separates him from the rest of the pass-rushers in this draft. 

Garrett will be selected before Allen on the night of the draft, but that's not any slight on Allen. Sitting pretty at No. 3, the Chicago Bears will be salivating at the thought of adding one of the most fierce defensive linemen to come out of the draft in recent years to help kick-start their defense, which has lost its swagger.

Allen will not only put up numbers in Chicago, but he will also be the catalyst in bringing back its historically intimidating defense. 


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