Mel Kiper Jr. 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Notable Picks from ESPN Guru's Final Mock

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 04: Quarterback Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina in action during day four of the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 4, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Hours prior to the start of the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his final, first-round mock draft Thursday. 

Despite Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett being the No. 1 player on Kiper's board, he mocked North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to the Cleveland Browns with the top overall selection due to their desperate need for a franchise signal-caller.

Along with that potential surprise to kick off the draft, here is a full rundown of Kiper's mock, along with a closer look at some of the most intriguing predictions.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s Final 2017 NFL 1st-Round Mock Draft
Pick No.TeamSelection
1Cleveland BrownsMitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
2San Francisco 49ersMyles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
3Chicago BearsSolomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
4Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU
5Tennessee Titans (from Rams)Jamal Adams, S, LSU
6New York JetsO.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
7Los Angeles ChargersDeshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
8Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
9Cincinnati BengalsJonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
10Buffalo BillsHaason Reddick, LB, Temple
11New Orleans SaintsDerek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
12Cleveland Browns (from Eagles)Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
13Arizona CardinalsMike Williams, WR, Clemson
14Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings)Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
15Indianapolis ColtsTakkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
16Baltimore RavensCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
17Washington RedskinsMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State
18Tennessee TitansJohn Ross, WR, Washington
19Tampa Bay BuccaneersCam Robinson, OT, Alabama
20Denver BroncosRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
21Detroit LionsJarrad Davis, LB, Florida
22Miami DolphinsReuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
23New York GiantsDavid Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.)
24Oakland RaidersKevin King, CB, Washington
25Houston TexansPatrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
26Seattle SeahawksTre'Davious White, CB, LSU
27Kansas City ChiefsEvan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
28Dallas CowboysMarlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
29Green Bay PackersForrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
30Pittsburgh SteelersBudda Baker, S, Washington
31Atlanta FalconsJordan Willis, DE, Kansas State
32New Orleans Saints (from Patriots)Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC

Mitchell Trubisky (Cleveland Browns, No. 1)

The Browns have struggled to find a reliable quarterback since their return to the NFL as an expansion team in 1999, but they have an opportunity to change that in the 2017 NFL draft.

While no quarterback in the class is viewed as a sure thing, Trubisky has emerged as the top option despite starting for only one year at UNC.

His physical tools are impressive, and he is coming off a season that saw him throw for 3,748 yards, 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions.

Cleveland had the opportunity to select Carson Wentz at No. 2 last year, but it instead decided to trade out of the spot, allowing the Philadelphia Eagles to nab Wentz.

Taking Trubisky at No. 1 could pay huge dividends if he lives up to his potential, but passing on a talent the caliber of Garrett is a major risk.

Because of that, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News suggested a proposal that could net the Browns both Garrett and Trubisky:

Tim Kawakami @timkawakami

If the Browns really want Trubisky, they should draft Garrett #1 then offer #12 this year plus next year's 1st to 49ers for #2.

The problem with passing on Trubisky is that the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and New York Jets are all teams with major quarterback question marks in the top six.

With that in mind, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Wednesday that Trubisky had emerged as the favorite to come off the board first.

Based on Kiper's final mock, he believes the information relayed to Schefter.

Myles Garrett (San Francisco 49ers, No. 2)

Provided the Browns select Trubisky at No. 1, the 49ers will be in the fortunate position of owning the second pick with the widely regarded top player still on the board.

That would give San Francisco tons of leverage in a possible trade situation, but as Kiper put it in his mock draft, the Niners might "run to the podium" if Cleveland doesn't take Garrett.

The 49ers have multiple needs on both sides of the ball, however, getting a pass-rusher of Garrett's ilk is something that could mask many of their other deficiencies defensively.

With regard to the debate between Trubisky and Garrett, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller believes there is no contest in terms of who the better overall prospect is:

Matt Miller @nfldraftscout

I really like Trubisky. He's QB1 in this class. No way am I drafting him over Myles Garrett.

Garrett registered 31.0 sacks and 47.0 tackles for loss in three years at Texas A&M, and he is a physical freak who dominated at the NFL Scouting Combine as well.

He has an ideal combination of tools and production at the college level that points to a great deal of success at the next level.

When the Niners last made a run to the Super Bowl it was due largely to a top-flight defense, and selecting Garrett would be a significant step toward rekindling that winning formula.

Deshaun Watson (Los Angeles Chargers, No. 7)

The Los Angeles Chargers have a Pro Bowl quarterback in Philip Rivers, but with Rivers heading toward the age of 36, Kiper believes L.A. could opt for a quarterback at No. 7.

With Trubisky off the board, Kiper envisions the Bolts selecting Clemson's Deshaun Watson in an unexpected twist.

Watson had a fantastic collegiate career that included two trips to the National Championship Game and a national title victory last season.

According to NFL on ESPN, Watson was especially good at rising to the occasion against the toughest competition:


When the stage was big, @DeshaunWatson4 played his best football. https://t.co/7ro5ahd6jK

Watson was twice a Heisman Trophy candidate, and last season he threw for 4,593 yards with 41 touchdowns and 17 interceptions to go along with 629 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.

Due to his experience, production and winning resume, Watson told ESPN's Josina Anderson that it would be a "slap in the face" if Trubisky gets taken ahead of him.

Regardless of where Trubisky goes in relation to him, the Chargers could be a good landing spot for Watson since it would allow him to sit and learn behind one of the NFL's top signal-callers.