Last Update: 1/20/2017
2017 NFL Mock Draft, Round 1
If the Browns front office continues to engineer their plans for rebuilding the team despite media criticism, I think Cleveland will look to trade down in the draft again this year if they can find a willing partner. How highly teams value quarterback Mitch Trubisky and how he does in pre-draft workouts could change the whole draft. Teams have to give up a ransom for the #1 pick, so it usually only happens for a quarterback. Cleveland could also of course be "wowed" by Trubisky themselves and keep the pick because of him.
For now, though, we'll slot Garrett here at number one as the Browns are reportedly in love with him as a prospect and have given him an "astronomical grade." He's a dominant pass rusher that will likely require offenses to avoid him on Sundays.
2. San Francisco 49ers - Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
It's tough to make an educated guess with this pick without knowing who the next head coach of the team is going to be, but with Josh McDaniels reportedly dropping out of the search and them honing in on Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, we'll assume Shanahan is the next coach.
Mitch Trubisky does appear to be the kind of quarterback that would fit well in Shanahan's scheme, and after a successful season with Matt Ryan at quarterback Shanahan has to feel some pressure to find a quarterback to build around. The North Carolina prospect has all the tools teams look for in franchise quarterbacks, although his lack of on-field experience undoubtedly will have some scouts concerned.
In what is otherwise expected to be a weak quarterback class, Trubisky might be the only true chance at finding a player capable of turning their franchise around. Some insiders have suggested a Shanahan-coached 49ers team could potentially target Kirk Cousins.
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. The Browns will likely take a long look at Allen at number one, so the Bears would be more than happy to land someone this talented at #3.
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.
5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams) - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
At first glance, drafting an inside linebacker makes no sense for the Titans. They have two very solid inside linebackers in Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson, and Sean Spence isn't a bad player either.
However, Woodyard and Williamson could both be lost to free agency soon, and Foster has the potential to be one of the league's best linebackers. The Titans badly need help in the secondary, and while Jamal Adams is a popular choice at this point, he's not as great in coverage as some suggest. I think he'll be a great player, but the Titans need a lock down corner more than a hybrid safety. I don't see a lock-down corner available in this draft, and certainly not this early.
The fact that the team will pick again later in the first round also allows them to choose the best player available here and target a more pressing need with their next pick.
6. New York Jets - Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
After a disaster of a year that began with high expectations, the Jets clearly need to find an answer at quarterback first and foremost. I would expect to see them make a push for Tony Romo, if anyone is in fact willing to trade for his contract. If Romo becomes a free agent, I can't imagine him choosing the Jets over other suitors.
Drafting a quarterback a year after taking Christian Hackenberg in the second round seems unlikely, not because Hackenberg is the future but because the team will likely be gun shy about drafting a quarterback so highly after Hackenberg disappointed as much as he did.
Tabor has the potential to be a great cornerback if he can just become more consistent. He has great tools and instincts, and with the right development and coaching he could very well become a capable #1 corner. With Darrelle Revis a shell of his former self and likely to move to safety or be cut, the Jets need to develop a new defensive back.
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.
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 - Cam Robinson, LT, Alabama
It's no secret that the Panthers need to protect their franchise quarterback, Cam Newton. Looking to another Cam to fill their needs now may be the right strategy.
The 6'6, 326 pound giant of a man would be a great addition to a solid offensive line, and would go a long way toward keeping Cam Newton upright long enough to move the offense down the field. Mike Remmers isn't the worst starting tackle, but the team would prefer more than average play from a cornerstone position.
The Panthers could potentially target a running back like Dalvin Cook or one of many edge rushers, but I think they can try to fill those needs later in the draft.
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.
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 - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Buffalo would be very happy if Adams were to fall this far in the draft. Seen by many as the next great safety, I think Adams has the potential to be a star for sure. I think he can have trouble in man coverage against NFL-caliber receivers/tight ends, which makes him less versatile than teams are currently projecting.
He's a great player and will make a difference, but in a pass-happy league he'll need to show better instincts as he learns the NFL game. Safety is a major need for Buffalo, and Adams is capable of playing either safety position.
11. New Orleans Saints - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
I can't imagine Sean Payton being very happy about a pick like this, as Watson obviously won't play anytime soon. However, the organization needs to think toward the future and there's no denying Drew Brees could retire at any point. Great quarterbacks don't gradually decline, they almost always go from great to bad and then retire. It's impossible to know how long Brees will continue to play at a high level.
Watson had a remarkable season, is by all accounts a great person, and a great leader to build a football team around. Saints fans would welcome him as the future of the team.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles) - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Cleveland would be jumping with joy if Cook were to fall this far, in my opinion. Hue Jackson has always loved to build an offense around a talented running back, and Cook could be among the best running backs in the league in the near future.
While the team would still need to find a quarterback, Cook is simply too talented to pass up at this point for a team that really needs talent any way it can find it. A first round of Myles Garrett and Dalvin Cook would be a home run.
13. Arizona Cardinals - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Cardinals will be looking for an inside linebacker this off-season, but whether that comes through free agency or the draft remains to be seen.
Cunningham could start very early next season, as he's a polished prospect who still possesses plenty of upside. He's not quite the player Reuben Foster is, but that doesn't mean he isn't a great prospect in his own right.
Arizona could also potentially look to draft a quarterback for the future, but Cunningham is too good of a player at a position of need to pass up.
14. Indianapolis Colts - Jabril Peppers, S, Michigan
It's no secret that the Colts GM Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano are on very thin ice, as owner Jim Irsay reportedly has reached out to both Jon Gruden and Peyton Manning. After years of misguided first round draft picks, the Colts don't have enough cheap talent around franchise quarterback Andrew Luck to allow the team to win consistently.
Peppers is without a true position in the NFL and is a bit undersized, but after seeing how successful Tyrann Mathieu has been after being a similar college player, NFL teams would be silly to pass up on the talented playmaker.
Grigson and Pagano need to be sure there choice is able to make an impact from day one, and Peppers appears to be one of the most NFL-ready prospects in the draft.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings) - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Some experts have Ohio State defensive back Marshon Lattimore as the top corner in the draft, and that's certainly possible. Humphrey has been a better college player overall, flashing far more consistency and fantastic technique.
The Eagles defensive backs need an upgrade, and getting a potential future lock down corner back for the average, overpaid Sam Bradford is a win for the Eagles in every possible way.
16. Baltimore Ravens - Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
The Ravens defense is at their best with great pass rushing edge rushers, and McKinley could develop into a quarterback's worst nightmare with the right development time.
A talented player with a very high motor as well, McKinley will rack up highlight reel sacks and coverage sacks from his constant hustle. If he tests out as well at his pro-day or the NFL combine as some expect, he could be a fast-riser into the top 10.
17. Washington Redskins - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Washington has bigger needs along the defensive line and they could use an inside linebacker, but Lattimore is a potential top 10 pick that would pair very nicely with Josh Norman for the next few seasons.
Lattimore's cheap cap number during the next four seasons also would allow the Redskins to spend money elsewhere in free agency, and by the time Lattimore is due an extension, Norman will likely be retired or ineffective.
18. Tennessee Titans - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
While Titans fans would've been hoping Lattimore fell just one more spot, his Ohio State teammate isn't a bad second choice. Hooker showed better coverage instincts all season than LSU's Jamal Adams, and he might be faster as well.
Hooker's not quite the run defender or pass rusher that Adams is, which is why he'll likely grade out slightly below the LSU star. For a Titans team with a porous pass defense, a player like Hooker could step in immediately and contribute.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
Clinton McDonald is a serviceable player, but adding a difference maker next to Gerald McCoy could help the Bucs take that next step next season. McDowell is capable of moving along the defensive line depending on the down and distance, and would likely split time at defensive tackle with McDonald as a rookie.
The Michigan State standout struggled a bit this past season, as he dealt with constant double teams and injury issues. If he can prove he's healthy, teams will likely look past his limited production this season as his game film remains strong.
20. Denver Broncos - Ryan Ramcyzk, LT, Wisconsin
This seems like a great fit on paper, and most mock drafts seem to think so as well. I'll quote CBS Sports writer Rob Rang's mock draft for Ramcyzk, since he put it perfectly:
"Ramczyk was one of this season's most pleasant surprises as he starred at left tackle for the Badgers after transferring from D-III UW-Stevens Point. The 6-6, 314-pounder is long and surprisingly agile, making him a potentially perfect fit in Denver."
21. Detroit Lions - Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Williams best position is likely as a 3-4 OLB, but his athleticism and talent should allow him to be a 4-3 DE or OLB depending on the scheme. The Lions need someone capable of rushing the passer and a linebacker capable of covering in space. While Williams will need to improve in coverage, he has the athletic ability to stay with most tight ends and running backs, and he's a great pass rusher.
Williams is a top-5 talent in my opinion but he will fall some on draft day because of a misdemeanor gun charge he dealt with in September.
For a Lions team that may have been a healthy Matthew Stafford away from making a post-season run, adding a talent like Williams would be bad news for us Vikings fans.
22. Miami Dolphins - Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Mario Williams is a free agent and while the Dolphins may look to bring him back, adding a young pass rusher to develop for a year would be a wise decision. Harris flashed superstar potential at times, and continues to add bulk to his frame. There are times in watching his film that Harris looks as good as a pass rusher as Texas A&M's Myles Garrett.
Harris could potentially help replace Cameron Wake when he retires in the near future, but for now would help form a solid pass-rushing tandem.
23. New York Giants - Christian McCaffery, HB, Stanford
It's hard to believe that McCaffery spent most of the 2016 season under the radar after a standout 2015 season. He didn't have a bad year, he was spectacular yet again, but Stanford as a team wasn't quite as good. I don't think that was McCaffery's fault.
The son of former Broncos great Ed McCaffery, Christian is a versatile running back that would be a perfect fit with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. The Giants improved this season thanks to a very good off-season last year, and adding McCaffery to shore up one of their biggest weaknesses would be a huge steal.
24. Oakland Raiders - Raekwon McMillan, ILB, Ohio State
McMillan had a very good college career and should test well at the scouting combine. The biggest knock on McMillan is that he doesn't look fluid in coverage and some teams fear that he'll have to come off the field in passing situations.
While that's certainly going to be true as a rookie, McMillan has the work ethic to improve over time. Also, pairing him with speedy and rangy outside linebackers like Bruce Irvin and Kahlil Mack would help off-set some of his coverage deficiencies.
Oakland could also look at a defensive tackle or a cornerback at this spot.
25. Houston Texans - Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Despite being maybe this season's worst playoff team (A Derek Carr injury gifted them a wild card win) the Texans roster is built well for the future. However, they badly need a quarterback. Mahomes would compete with Brock Osweiler for the opening day job, and while I think Osweiler would get the first shot at the job, he's quite clearly not the answer the team needs.
At 6'3 with an NFL ready body, mobility and good arm strength, Mahomes has several tools teams look for in franchise quarterbacks. Quarterback guru Bill O'Brien will enjoy working with this kid, and he gets to stay in Texas.
DeShone Kizer could be another potential pick, but Mahomes is going to impress more people during his workouts I think.
26. Seattle Seahawks - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Seattle badly needs offensive tackles, but I just don't see the value in reaching for one at this point as the remaining tackles are more long-term development players than instant contributors. Barnett is a potential top 10 pick like most of the first round defensive end prospects, but team needs and preferences could push him outside the top 20 as well.
He'd be a steal at this point in the draft after a dominating season in the SEC this past year. Adding Barnett to an already elite defense would be a classic case of the rich getting richer.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Finding a young talented corner to pair with budding superstar Marcus Peters should be a priority for a Chiefs team that should contend in the AFC again next season.
Wilson has good size and some scouts have suggested he has more potential long-term than Teez Tabor, who we had going at #6. I think Tabor will be the superior player, but Wilson would be a good player to pair with Peters long-term.
28. Dallas Cowboys - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Cowboys badly need help on the edge, and Charlton should be able to contribute from day one. He had some games this season where he was downright unstoppable and looked like a sure top 5 pick, and other times where he disappeared for too long of stretches.
Charlton's versatility would allow the team to use him all over the line, which would allow the Cowboys to find another more seasoned pass rusher in free agency as well.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers - OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
OJ Howard never really became the kind of playmaker at Alabama that some experts thought he would, but that's likely more a case of the offense being run than anything Howard did wrong. He's a great prospect with fantastic size and athleticism for his position.
The Steelers don't seem to need much offensive help as the unit is very strong already, but adding a player like Howard to their already fantastic cast of stars could help them be even better next season.
30. Green Bay Packers - Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Lewis is a wonderful man-to-man cover corner, and if he was 6'2 instead of 5'11 he'd be in the discussion for a top 5 pick. He's extremely talented and his ability to follow receivers all over the field should translate well to the next level.
The Packers defensive backs were terrible this season, and they had little depth when injuries weakened the unit further. Adding someone with Lewis' talent would be a no-brainer.
31. Atlanta Falcons - DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
While Atlanta has done well recently by drafting athletic, rangy defenders that fit coach Dan Quinn's scheme, Walker reminds me of Michael Bennett, a player who has thrived in the same system in Seattle.
The FSU standout won't wow you with his athleticism, but he's a film junkie (Thanks, A Season with Florida State Football) and he had a great season as a senior this year. I would imagine Atlanta has scouted him plenty being so close in proximity.
32. New England Patriots - Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
I would expect the Patriots to trade out of the first round as they seem to do basically every year they can, but in the event they stay put I think they'll continue their strategy of drafting mostly along the offensive and defensive lines early.
Boles needs some time to develop, which the Patriots wouldn't mind, and he has versatility to potentially back up several positions while he learns the league.
Thanks for checking out our 2017 NFL Mock Draft!
Special thanks are in order for NFL.com writer Lance Zierlein, who's article helped greatly in finding needs for each team.