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2016 NFL Mock Drafts

Pete Prisco
By Rob Rang
The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Improvement was expected after finishing dead last in the NFC a year ago, but few anticipated that the Dallas Cowboys would rise to the top of the conference standings with an offense built around rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

The future is bright for the Cowboys despite a disappointing finish to the season Sunday, especially if the club is able to add another explosive playmaker to complement its young stars.

With the official list of eligible underclassmen announced on January 16 and the draft order nearly settled, here is an updated look at how the first round of the 2017 NFL draft might shake out.

NFL Mock Draft - 1/19/2017
Round 1
1. Cleveland Browns

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: In his previous tours as defensive coordinator and as head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2001-2003, new Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams preached an aggressive and varied pass rush. Though an ankle injury limited him in 2016, the 6-5, 262-pound Garrett is widely regarded as the top prospect in the draft. He is much more agile than Emmanuel Ogbah (who led the Browns with 5.5 sacks in 2016) or Carl Nassib, early picks by Cleveland last year, offering a prototypical combination of length, burst and bend off the edge.
2. San Francisco 49ers

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: The 49ers were nearly as bad on offense as the Browns were on defense last year, among the reasons why Chip Kelly was shown the door. San Francisco ranked 27th in points scored, 31st in total yards and dead last in passing yards. Sure there is skepticism surrounding Trubisky, who only emerged as the Tar Heels starter in 2016, but other than experience, he possesses many of the traits scouts look for in a franchise quarterback including accuracy, arm strength, mobility and poise.
3. Chicago Bears

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: As long as the defensive-minded John Fox is calling the shots in Chicago, reinforcing this side of the ball will be a priority. The 6-foot-3, 292-pounder offers unique position versatility to go along with the production and intangibles the current regime prioritized in draft picks last spring. Allen is stout against the run and a proven pass rusher with 19 sacks in his past 26 games.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Tom Coughlin will bring a no-nonsense approach back to Jacksonville, including a recommitment to the running game. Jacksonville was the only team in the NFL to fumble the ball away more times (nine) than score touchdowns (eight) in 2016. Instinctive, explosive and durable, Cook might be hard to pass up for a franchise that has gone with a local flavor with its past three first round picks -- QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida), DE Dante Fowler (Florida) and CB Jalen Ramsey (Florida State).
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)

Jamal Adams, SS, LSU: The Titans improved in virtually every category in 2016 but one significant exception was in pass defense, where Tennessee ranked 31st in the NFL. Fortunately for Tennessee, the 2017 draft appears to be loaded with playmaking defensive backs. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and secondary coach Deshea Townsend may see shades of former Steelers' star Troy Polamalu in Adams, due to their similar awareness, athleticism and enthusiastic style of play.
6. NY Jets

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Youngsters Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg have shown little evidence that either is the long-term answer at quarterback and with veterans Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith set to hit the open market, at least one addition to the position group is likely coming. Watson is a polarizing player in the scouting community, dazzling with his dual-threat potential but throwing 28 interceptions over the past two seasons, most in the FBS. He could be an intriguing fit in Chan Gailey's offense, however, and has the history of performing well under the bright lights that may mean more on Broadway.
7. San Diego Chargers

Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State: The Chargers won big with Joey Bosa a year ago and could see the speedy Hooker as an ideal replacement for Eric Weddle, whom the club clearly missed in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Hooker possesses the range and ballskills to complement San Diego's small but physical cornerbacks.
8. Carolina Panthers

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: One of the reasons for Carolina's slip this season has been an inconsistent running game, putting the spotlight once again on Jonathan Stewart's struggles with durability. Stewart has only played in 16 regular season games three times over his nine-year career and not since 2011. Fournette is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.
9. Cincinnati Bengals

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Marvin Lewis will remain the Bengals head coach in 2017 but with the pressure on, he likely will be pushing for players who can make an immediate impact. The 6-3, 257-pound Barnett lacks the length and pure explosiveness scouts would prefer, but he's a well-rounded player who combines quickness, strength and technique to be effective against the pass and run, alike.
10. Buffalo Bills

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: No team was more dependent on running the football in 2016 than the Bills, which led the NFL with 164.4 yards per game on the ground but ranked 30th in passing with just 189.8 yards per game through the air. With no less than five receivers currently slated for free agency, the Bills will likely be looking for replacements and could see reuniting the 6-3, 225 pound Williams with his former Clemson teammate Sammy Watkins as the perfect solution.
11. New Orleans Saints

Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: Given that the Saints finished dead last in the NFL against the pass in 2016, adding one of the talented cornerbacks from this year's class would seem like a shoo-in selection. Possessing remarkable closing speed and the physicality to intimidate, Foster could offer immediate impact ability against the pass and run, alike.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: Hue Jackson and his staff deserve credit for an improving offense. The defense remains a quagmire, despite several premium draft picks being spent on the unit in recent years. With the need for an edge rusher potentially filled with the trade for former New England Patriots standout Jamie Collins (a pending free agent), the Browns might opt to pair Tabor with former Gators star Joe Haden to add some bite to the secondary.
13. Arizona Cardinals

DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: Poor performances and injury concerns for Carson Palmer has rekindled questions about the Cardinals' long-term plans at the position. As just a redshirt sophomore, Kizer is understandably raw but he possesses the size, arm strength and field vision to be an ideal developmental project for Bruce Arians.
14. Indianapolis Colts

Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: Outside linebacker Erik Walden contributed a full third of the Colts' 33 sacks this season and with longtime standout Robert Mathis retiring, adding reinforcements to the pass rush should be among GM Ryan Grigson's top offseason priorities. Williams comes with off-field concerns but he is arguably the most explosive edge rusher in this class, winning with terrific snap anticipation and bend off the edge.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: Despite plenty of draft picks invested in the position, the Eagles lack a go-to target in the passing game to aid the development of Carson Wentz. Starring in the MAC rather than a Power 5 conference, Davis does not earn the attention he deserves but he's a polished route-runner with an ideal combination of size (6-3, 213) with 4.4 speed.
16. Baltimore Ravens

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: The Ravens could be looking for a new right side of the offensive line in 2017 with guard Vladimir Ducasse and tackle Rick Wagner each pending free agents. A former five star recruit, Robinson has starred the past three years at left tackle for the Tide, earning the Outland Trophy this season as the best blocker in college football.
17. Washington Redskins

Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: A dominating performance in the Sun Bowl has Thomas' stock on the rise but the redshirt sophomore has been a standout all year long, earning the Morris Trophy as the Pac-12's top defensive lineman. At 6-2, 275 pounds, Thomas may lack ideal size but his quickness, power and technique are top 20 caliber.
18. Tennessee Titans

Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: Already boosting a leaky secondary at No. 5 overall with Adams, GM Jon Robinson may opt to double down on defensive backs similar to the way he did last year with the trade for DeMarco Murray and selection of Derrick Henry. Jones is a silky smooth athlete with the poise and ballskills scouts covet at the position and is more physical in run support than his 6-foot, 181-pound frame implies.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan: The Bucs' duo at safety of Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald is one of the league's least athletic. That certainly is not the case with Peppers, who wowed with his athleticism and instincts regardless of where the Wolverines lined up him.
20. Denver Broncos

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: The Broncos gave veteran left tackle Russell Okung a one-year "show me" type of deal but his play in Denver has thus far been just as inconsistent as it was in Seattle. Ramczyk has been one of this year's most pleasant surprises, starring 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 Gary Kubiak's zone blocking scheme.
21. Detroit Lions

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: Stellar play from quarterback Matthew Stafford has diverted attention away from a pass rush in Detroit which has struggled with star Ziggy Ansah limited with an ankle injury. The Tigers need not look far for help. Only emerging as a full-time starter for Michigan this season, Charlton has developed into the country's better edge rushing prospects, boasting exciting initial quickness and bend given his 6-5, 272 pound frame.
22. Miami Dolphins

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: With current tight ends Dion Sims, Jordan Cameron and MarQueis Gray each in the final year of their respective contracts, the Dolphins could be looking for an upgrade at the position. Howard lacks the flashy statistics most often associated with first-round prospects, but he is a freakish athlete at 6-6, 242 pounds who may very well wind up being more productive in the NFL than he has been for the Crimson Tide.
23. NY Giants

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: The Giants rushed for a miniscule 3.5 yards per carry in 2016 and scored a league-low six touchdowns on the ground. McCaffrey isn't a bruiser but his instincts, shiftiness and soft hands out of the backfield could make him an intriguing weapon for Big Blue.
24. Oakland Raiders

Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt: The Raiders' rise to the playoffs is directly attributable to its explosive offense but if the club is to take the next step - and remain a consistent post-season threat - help must be on the way for a defense that surrendered an average of 375 yards per game, 26th in the NFL. Plugging the speedy Cunningham in between Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin would give the Raiders arguably the most athletic linebacker corps in the league.
25. Houston Texans

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: The Texans have quietly assembled one of the better young rosters in the NFL. Due in part to the injury to former Defensive MVP JJ Watt, one area that could use improvement is along the defensive line, At 6-5, 282 pounds, McDowell has the size and athleticism to play virtually anywhere along the defensive line. Talented but inconsistent and injury-prone, he could blossom under Watt's wing.
26. Seattle Seahawks

Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: Though it is far from the only concern, the Seahawks' decision to invest their salary cap space in every position other than the offensive line was the single biggest factor in the team's struggles in 2016. With just one season at the FBS level, Bolles is raw but he plays with the combination of physicality and competitiveness that Seattle prioritizes.
27. Kansas City Chiefs

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: The Chiefs already boast one of the NFL's best young tandems in Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson but with so many offenses now going to three and four receiver sets, adding depth at the position is always a priority. Kansas City prioritizes length and physicality at cornerback, which is exactly why scouts are so excited about Humphrey, a 6-foot-1, 196 pound redshirt sophomore.
28. Dallas Cowboys

John Ross, WR, Washington: For as dynamic as Dallas' offense was in 2016 with Prescott, Elliott and Dez Bryant, the lack of a legitimate deep threat was a relative weak spot with speedsters Terrence Williams and Brice Butler seemingly dropping as many passes as they caught. Ross is a DeSean Jackson-clone with the electric elusiveness and acceleration to make an immediate impact as a receiver and returner, alike.
29. Green Bay Packers

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: With edge rushers Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Datone Jones each set to enter free agency, the Packers will once again be looking for help at the position. Lawson has struggled a bit with injuries over his career, but he is a power-packed edge rusher who could step right in for the Packers.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA: McKinley is not as well known nationally as some of this year's top edge rushers but just wait until the Senior Bowl. McKinley possesses the explosive upfield speed and flexibility to wreak havoc off the edge, a possible need in Pittsburgh with former first round pick Jarvis Jones and the great James Harrison in the final year of their respective deals.
31. Atlanta Falcons

Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: The emergence of Vic Beasley significantly boosted Atlanta's defense this season but reinforcements should still be an offseason priority. Harris has the burst upfield to help and has shown enough strength and savvy to slide inside to defensive tackle, as well.
32. New England Patriots

DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State: With Jamie Collins traded to Cleveland and Dont'a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long each in the final year of their respective deals, the Patriots will likely be focusing on pass rushers in the 2017 draft. The 6-foot-2, 273 pound Walker tied (with Boston College's Harold Landry) for the national lead with 15 sacks over the regular season, showing more refined pass rush technique than the similarly sized Dominique Easley, the Patriots' first round in 2014.

Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange

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