Thursday, March 16, 2017

Updated NFL Mock Draft: Top 10

With the NFL Scouting Combine behind us and most of the key free agents now signed, it's time to take an updated look at our 2017 NFL Mock Draft. Today, we'll reveal the first 10 picks of the first round. The remainder of the round will be revealed by Monday. At this point, we are not projecting any trades.

1. Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M

Despite the Browns clear need for a franchise quarterback, the team seems to be zeroing in on A&M's Myles Garrett. Garrett was widely regarded as the most likely player to go #1 overall all off-season, and after a 4.64 40 yard dash and 33 bench press reps at the combine, there's little doubt he's the drafts best prospect.

The Browns were reportedly in love with him as a prospect prior to the NFL Combine, and after Garrett's standout performance this past weekend he's likely only increased his draft stock. Barring some kind of off-field issues, Garrett seems like a lock for the top pick at this point.

2. San Francisco 49ers - Jamal Adams, S, LSU

With a new regime in the Bay Area, led by Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, drafting a franchise quarterback isn't out of the question. However, rumors continue to swirl that the team is in discussions with the Washington Redskins to land quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was originally drafted by Kyle's dad Mike.

The Redskins don't seem ready to commit to giving Kirk Cousins the largest contract in NFL history (and his leverage thanks to multiple years of the franchise tag will give him that contract) so if that's the case this would be the time to move on.

Adams is widely regarded as the best safety in the draft, and someone like John Lynch will know how to get the most out of him thanks to his days as a hall-of-fame caliber safety. Adams will need to improve his coverage skills to be a true difference maker, but the potential is there for him to be one of the league's best safeties in a very short amount of time. Malik Hooker or Marshon Lattimore would make sense as well.

3. Chicago Bears - Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama

While it's no secret the Bears need a franchise quarterback, I can't see John Fox and company drafting someone like DeShone Kizer when they might be out of a job next season. The Bears have several holes to fill, so they can choose arguably the best prospect in the whole draft.

The Alabama standout is capable of moving all along the defensive line, and a defensive minded coach like John Fox would find ways to use his versatility to the team's benefit.

Allen's combine performance didn't hurt him at all, although persistent shoulder injuries have some teams worried. Allen is certainly tough enough to play through injuries whenever possible, but as a player who uses his strength as a major part of his game, healthy shoulders are a must. His medical checkups leading up to the draft will be very important.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Jacksonville seemed poised to finally take a step forward this past season, as a talented young core and incoming draft class were supposed to make a difference for Gus Bradley and his team. As we all know, that didn't happen, and Jacksonville has yet another top five draft pick.

While the Jaguars have several capable running back options, including Chris Ivory, Fournette is a rare talent at the halfback position, combining enormous size and strength with breakaway speed. The Adrian Peterson comparisons are spot-on, in my opinion, but Fournette is even bigger. He would help the Jaguars control the ball for longer periods of time, and help an already strong offense get even better.

He ran a 4.51 40 and weighed in at 240 pounds, which makes him a physical freak. He's not a great pass catcher so most of his value will come from running the ball a lot. A team like Jacksonville who doesn't appear to be sold on Blake Bortles could build their offense around a workhorse running back while they try to find their next franchise quarterback.

5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams) - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Despite only playing 16 collegiate games over two seasons, Lattimore's game tape and combine performance have solidified his status as the drafts top corner. He posted the third fastest 40 time among defensive backs at 4.36, has tremendous instincts and he was able to rotate his hips as well as anyone during the combine drills.

The Titans have the luxury of simply taking the best player available as they could use upgrades at almost every position. Lattimore has dealt with hamstring injuries the past two seasons at Ohio State and may have tweaked it during his 40-yard-dash, but he says it was a hip flexor and everything is fine. His medical checkups will also be of the utmost importance.

6. New York Jets - Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

After a disaster of a year that began with high expectations, the Jets clearly need to find an answer at quarterback first and foremost.

Drafting a quarterback a year after taking Christian Hackenberg in the second round seems foolish, but it was clear this past season that Hackenberg still has a long way to go to be an NFL caliber quarterback. The Jets need a true franchise quarterback to rebuild around, and if Trubisky does indeed fall to this spot it'd be very difficult for the organization to pass on him.

The Jets have also hinted at potentially trading out of the #6 pick, but teams say all kinds of things at this juncture.

7. San Diego Los Angeles Chargers - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

After a scary neck injury ended his 2015 season, Williams came back and had a great season for the national champion Clemson Tigers. His production and size should guarantee him a top-10 selection, although his 40-yard-dash time will have some effect on his draft slot as well.

Williams chose not to perform at the NFL combine, so his pro-day workout will draw plenty of attention. If he can run anything under a 4.5, he should be the first receiver off the board, and if he somehow eclipses 4.4, he might slide into the top 5.

The Chargers need to find a receiver to both play with Keenan Allen and one that can fill in for him if he should suffer a third serious injury in as many seasons. With Philip Rivers nearing the end of a wonderful career, it's important for the team to add some playmakers to help him try and make one last run as a Charger.

The team could also target someone like Williams teammate DeShaun Watson, if they decide they need a young future quarterback for their move to LA. I think a player that can help now, though, is much more likely.

8. Carolina Panthers - Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA

While the Panthers badly need to find a left tackle to protect franchise quarterback Cam Newton, it seems likely that they'll target a veteran free agent instead of drafting one. With a deep free agent class of average to above average left tackles, that's probably the smartest use of assets for the team. Signing a player like Matt Kalil, who's brother Ryan already plays for Carolina, seems like a real possibility.

Kony Ealy has flashed talent at times, most notably in the Super Bowl, but his overall play has been average at best and he may be best suited as a situational player. McKinley ran a sub 4.6 40 at the combine, showing off the athleticism most scouts expected to see.

McKinley has the potential to rack up sacks year after year if he continues to develop, and for a team like Carolina who relies so heavily on pressure from their defensive line, he's a great fit.

9. Cincinnati Bengals - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Thomas has been rising up draft boards with his performance in Stanford's bowl game, but he's been a great player all season. With the Bengals defensive line aging, a player like Thomas would be a great value at this point. His combine performance solidified his top-15 draft status, in my opinion.

There isn't much value in a 4-3 outside linebacker at this point in the draft, although a cornerback is a possibility with Adam Jones' recent legal trouble and his age making him a possible cap casualty.

The Bengals have solid players at several positions, and I expect them to bring back Andrew Whitworth for another season at left-tackle. The team can almost certainly wait and take the best player available.

10. Buffalo Bills - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

The Bills re-signed quarterback Tyrod Taylor and saw Percy Harvin retire again. It's no secret that the team is in dire need of a playmaker opposite Sammy Watkins, and Davis fits the bill. He has yet to run a 40-yard dash and likely won't before the draft, which means teams will have to draft him based on his tape.

His tape is sensational. He has great hands, runs crisp routes, high points the ball and has an impressive vertical leap. His speed looks impressive on tape as well, and if he were to run in the 4.4's he'd lockdown his top-10 status. His ankle injury is going to make running almost impossible prior to the draft, and even if he does run he may not be 100%.

Having two injury-prone receivers would be a bit of a risk for the Bills, but a healthy Davis-Watkins combo would make Tyrod Taylor's job an awful lot easier.


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