The 2017 NFL draft continues to draw closer. In a little over three weeks, the annual rookie selection process will be underway.
In what order will rookie prospects will be selected at the top of the draft? Well, that part is still a little hazy. We have a pretty good idea which prospects will be selected early in the draft's opening evening, but exactly which teams will be selecting them still remains a bit of a mystery.
Except the Cleveland Brown and former Texas A&M star Myles Garrett. This has been the consensus No. 1 pairing pretty much since the end of the NFL season.
Of course, we're never ones to shy away from trying to pick the opening round of the draft, which is what we're going to do here. We'll run down the current draft order and make projections for each pick based on factors like team needs, team fits, prospect stock and player potential. We'll then examine some of the latest draft-related news and rumors from early April.
2017 NFL Mock Draft
|Pick||NFL Team||Proj. Selection|
|1||Cleveland Browns||Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Jamal Adams, S, LSU|
|3||Chicago Bears||Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU|
|5||Tennessee Titans (from LAR)||Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan|
|6||New York Jets||Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State|
|7||Los Angeles Chargers||Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama|
|9||Cincinnati Bengals||Haason Reddick, LB, Temple|
|10||Buffalo Bills||Mike Williams, WR, Clemson|
|11||New Orleans Saints||Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee|
|12||Cleveland Browns (from PHI)||Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina|
|13||Arizona Cardinals||Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson|
|14||Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN)||Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU|
|15||Indianapolis Colts||Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama|
|16||Baltimore Ravens||O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama|
|17||Washington Redskins||Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State|
|18||Tennessee Titans||Charles Harris, DE, Missouri|
|19||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford|
|20||Denver Broncos||Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky|
|21||Detroit Lions||Takkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA|
|22||Miami Dolphins||Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State|
|23||New York Giants||David Njoku, TE, Miami|
|24||Oakland Raiders||Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan|
|25||Houston Texans||Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech|
|26||Seattle Seahawks||Garett Bolles, OT, Utah|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||John Ross, WR, Washington|
|28||Dallas Cowboys||Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan|
|29||Green Bay Packers||Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State|
|30||Pittsburgh Steelers||Tim Williams, LB, Alabama|
|31||Atlanta Falcons||Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana|
|32||New Orleans Saints (from NE)||Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida|
Jarrad Davis on the Rise
If you're strictly going by game tape, former Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis appears to be one of the best defenders in this entire draft class. The problem with Davis is that an ankle injury cost him a large chunk of the 2016 season and kept him from participating fully at the scouting combine.
In 2016, Davis amassed 60 tackles, 6.0 tackles for a loss, four passes defended and 2.0 sacks. When healthy in 2015, he was even better, racking up 98 tackles, 11.0 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and an interception. Pro Football Focus (PFF College) rated him 56th overall out of more than 1,400 linebackers in 2015.
The good news for Davis is that he was able to show his skills and prove his health at Florida's recent pro day.
According to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel, Davis was able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds. He was also able to produce a 38.5-inch vertical. More importantly, he showed prospective employers that his ankle is no longer an issue.
Davis said the following, per Thompson:
I came out here with the mindset of coming out and showing everybody I’m the same athlete I was before, Just showing an ankle injury is an ankle injury. That happens, but I can bounce back every time. I came out here today wanting to show guys that I’m going to compete, I’m going to compete at the top level. I’m going to execute every time I get a chance to. I feel like I did that.
Because Davis is an off-ball linebacker in a class chock full of quality pass-rushers and defensive backs, his draft ceiling may be at the very bottom of Round 1 at best.
Mahomes Finding More Suitors
We touched on this a bit in a recent mock draft, but it seems that the stock for former Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes continues to be on the rise. In fact, the teams interested in him aren't limited to those without starting-caliber quarterbacks.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Mahomes is set to work out for the Buffalo Bills, who currently have Tyrod Taylor under center. Per Rapoport, Mahomes has also spent time with the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Pittsburgh obviously has the services of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger—assuming the idea of retirement doesn't send him away this offseason.
Realistically, Mahomes would make a lot of sense for either of these teams. He possesses enough size (6'2", 225 lbs) for the position and more than enough arm strength. However, he may need a year or two to make the transition from the Air Raid offense to an NFL offense.
The growing interest in Mahomes around the league—even from teams that don't need a quarterback this year—could easily push him into the middle of Round 1. Teams that really want to take the Texas Tech product may now be prompted to pull the trigger before the Steelers are on the clock at pick No. 30.
Browns Work Out Tabor
The Browns appear destined to snag Garrett with the first overall pick in the draft. However, they still bring plenty of drama to the proverbial table because they also hold the 12th overall selection and two picks in the second round.
This is why it's worth noting that the Browns recently worked out former Florida cornerback Teez Tabor, per Rapoport:
Tabor's stock has been on the decline ever since he ran a 4.62-second 40 at the combine. Had he improved his time at his pro day, this lack of speed might not be a major issue, but he actually ran slower, as noted by Bleacher Report's Matt Miller:
These slow 40 times could push Tabor out of the first round entirely, but this is exactly where the Browns could find some defensive value. The team owns the first pick in the second round and they could use it to scoop up Tabor.
As Steven Ruiz of USA Today pointed out, fellow Florida product Joe Haden ran a disappointing 4.57-second 40 at the combine, yet the Browns still took him seventh overall in the 2010 draft. Haden has since proved that, when healthy, he can be a quality No. 1 corner.
Tabor, who was rated 50th overall among cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus, may soon be in position to do the same. If there's a team that doesn't want him to be playing for the Browns, well, they may have to make him a first-round pick after all.