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2016 NFL Mock Drafts

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

Quarterback-needy teams picking in the top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft may have little choice but to address other positions of concern with this year's top passers failing to impress thus far.

That includes Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, a redshirt sophomore who has struggled after a hot start to the season and might be better served returning for more seasoning before making the NFL jump.

Carson Wentz proved at the Senior Bowl a year ago that a quarterback can make a huge leap up draft boards late in the process. While Kizer (who is no longer projected in this mock draft) and Clemson's Deshaun Watson have earned the most attention to this point, the quarterback with the most buzz currently is North Carolina junior Mitch Trubisky.

For now, however, the teams up top should be focusing on a terrific class of defensive linemen.

NFL Mock Draft - 10/24/2016
Round 1
1. Cleveland Browns

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: The quickest way to turn around a franchise is to find a star quarterback but as fans in Cleveland know all too well, early picks invested in the position are far from a guarantee of success. On the other hand, Allen - the best player on the best team in college football - might just be the safest prospect in the draft. 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. Stout against the run and a proven pass rusher with 18 sacks in his past 23 games, Allen would help solidify a defense that currently ranks 31st in the NFL in total yards allowed.
2. San Francisco 49ers

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Like the Browns, the 49ers need help at quarterback but with better players at other premium positions, the choice might be made for them. Garrett has been limited this season with an ankle injury but is a proven difference-maker when healthy. The 6-5, 262-pound junior possesses an explosive first step and rare flexibility to wreak havoc off the edge.
3. Chicago Bears

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: Chicago has made strides since coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio came to town, but this remains a largely toothless Bears defense. McDowell possesses the strength and athleticism to play all over the defensive line and is perfectly suited to playing the 5-technique defensive end role in Fangio's 3-4 scheme.
4. 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.
5. NY Jets

Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan: Now as the Jets' head coach and previously as the defensive coordinator in Arizona, Todd Bowles has prioritized versatility in his players. Linebacker, safety, cornerback, returner - put him wherever you would like - Peppers is a natural playmaker with the instincts and athleticism to carry over his success and versatility into the NFL.
6. Jacksonville Jaguars

Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: With four pending free agents along the offensive line (including injured former No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel), Jacksonville will clearly be looking to once again rebuild the offensive line. Robinson stars at left tackle for the Tide, but projects better inside at guard or at right tackle due to his size (6-6, 310) and power in the running game.
7. New Orleans Saints

Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: While rookie Sheldon Rankins still has a chance to make an impact as a rookie once he returns from a fractured fibula and Cam Jordan remains one of the NFL's best, the latest injury to pass rusher Hau'oli Kikaha (torn ACL) only reinforces New Orleans' lack of depth up front. Perhaps possessing the most explosive get-off in the country, Williams has excelled as Alabama's pass rush specialist and projects perfectly as a stand-up edge rusher in the Saints' 3-4 alignment.
8. Cincinnati Bengals

Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech: The Bengals remain hopeful, of course, that tight end Tyler Eifert returns to the dominant form he showed before breaking his ankle in the Pro Bowl. If not, tight end could be a position to watch for Cincinnati next spring and Hodges is exactly the type of freakish athlete Bengals general manager Mike Brown has been willing to gamble on in the past.
9. San Diego Chargers

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Now fully recovered from the neck injury which forced him to miss virtually all of last season, the 6-3, 220-pound Williams has re-emerged as one of the elite pass-catchers in the country. Athletically, he is said to be in the same class as former Clemson stars Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. Williams could be a godsend for a Chargers team lacking healthy playmakers.
10. Miami Dolphins

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: If the trio of Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake does not result in the production Miami is looking for in 2016, the Dolphins could find immediate help in the form of McCaffrey, whose stock should not slip despite Stanford's struggles in every other regard this season.
11. Indianapolis Colts

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Adding some juice to the backfield in Indianapolis could be the perfect way to support Andrew Luck and few are better than Cook, who last season shattered Florida State's all-time single-season all-purpose record with 1,691 yards - nearly 450 more than the great Warrick Dunn registered 20 years earlier.
12. Arizona Cardinals

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: Poor performances and injury concerns for Carson Palmer has rekindled questions about the Cardinals' long-term plans at the position. Scouts are intrigued by the strong-armed and accurate Trubisky, who has excelled in UNC's up-tempo attack. He could be a particularly good fit in Bruce Arians' offense.
13. Tennessee Titans

Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama: Titans general manager Jon Robinson cut his teeth in New England, where Bill Belichick repeatedly invested early picks in explosive linebackers. Foster was overshadowed a year ago by SEC Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Ragland, but he's a better athlete and arguably the most feared hitter in college football.
14. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Some clubs seem to annually struggle at certain positions and with not a single cornerback from Tennessee in the modern era having earned multiple Pro Bowl nods, general manager Jon Robinson could be looking for an upgrade at the position. After a brilliant debut last year for the national champion Crimson Tide, scouts are already buzzing about Humphrey, a redshirt sophomore seemingly ticketed for a first-round selection soon.
15. Baltimore Ravens

John Ross, WR, Washington: The Ravens remain hopeful that 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman will take his game to the next level, but as it stands now veterans Steve Smith and Mike Wallace are Baltimore's most reliable pass-catchers. Ross possesses a similar brand of straight-line speed as Smith and Wallace, who have absorbed a combined 24 seasons of NFL punishment between them.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jamal Adams, SS, LSU: The Bucs' duo of Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald is one of the league's least athletic. Adams possesses the range, agility and playmaking ability to warrant comparison to former LSU (and current Arizona Cardinals) star Tyrann Mathieu and is bigger at 6-feet, 211 pounds.
17. Detroit Lions

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: The Lions' secondary remains one of the team's primary weaknesses. Tabor comes with some off-field concerns, but his coverage skills and knack for the big play make him a top 15 candidate.
18. NY Giants

O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Rookie Sterling Shepard has diversified the Giants' offense, but the team remains too reliant upon Odell Beckham, Jr. and is in need of more weapons, especially down the seam. 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.
19. Washington Redskins

Marcus Williams, FS, Utah: Given the wide open passing attacks of today's NFL, ballhawking safeties are worth their weight in gold. Williams is a twitchy athlete with good speed and instincts. He was recognized as a First Team All-Pac-12 defender last season with five interceptions as a sophomore and has continued his big-play flair this season.
20. Buffalo Bills

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Southern California: As long as defensive-minded head coach Rex Ryan is calling the shots, the Bills will have to find unique athletes at the skill positions to make up for a lack of creative play-calling. Pairing the physical and highly competitive Smith-Schuster with the explosive Sammy Watson would give the Bills a legitimate 1-2 punch on the perimeter.
21. Houston Texans

Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah: The Texans have quietly assembled one of the better young rosters in the NFL. One of the obvious exceptions is at nose guard, where the aging (34) and increasingly rotund (listed at 325) Vince Wilfork is still eating up blocks. Like his older brother, Star, Lotulelei offers power and bulk at the point of attack and could earn early-round consideration if he continues to develop.
22. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: With two first-round selections (and an NFL-high 13 projected picks overall), Cleveland can afford to be a little patient with its search for yet another quarterback. Watson has not shown the consistent accuracy from the pocket that normally warrants top five consideration, but could be available here. Hue Jackson showed a willingness to work with dual-threat passer Robert Griffin III and likely will be impressed with Watson's intangibles.
23. Kansas City Chiefs

Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt: Cunningham isn't a nationally recognized name (yet) but the Commodores star is well known in the SEC, especially among coaches who voted him to the First Team squad with 16.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles in 2015 - more than any Vandy defender this century. He could be an ideal apprentice for Derrick Johnson, who will turn 34 this season.
24. Green Bay Packers

Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois: With edge rushers Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Datone Jones all in the final year of their respective deals, the Packers will once again be looking for help at the position. Smoot possesses the explosive first step and flexibility to be a terror off the edge and is well-coached, learning under former Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Bucs head coach Lovie Smith.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers

Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana: Just two of the club's past 33 draft picks have been used on blockers. Feeney, a returning All-American who considered leaving school early for the NFL last year, is powerful, athletic and technically sound - among the reasons why he has only allowed one sack in his three-plus seasons as a starter.
26. Atlanta Falcons

Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: To this point, former No. 8 overall pick Vic Beasley has been a huge disappointment in Atlanta, but the news isn't much better around the rest of the defensive line. The addition of Harris - who led the SEC with 18.5 tackles for loss last year and is off to another strong start - could be a big help.
27. Oakland Raiders

Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon: While youngsters Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have flashed as complements to starter Latavius Murray, neither has shown the durability or consistency to ignore a talent like Freeman. The 5-11, 230-pound Freeman possesses a flashy blend of power and speed, projecting as a legitimate bell-cow runner in the NFL.
28. Denver Broncos

Desmond King, CB, Iowa: With Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, Jr., and Bradley Roby, the Broncos possess arguably the league's top trio at cornerback. Big contracts and Talib's propensity for trouble off the field, however, could push John Elway to consider taking advantage of this year's strong cornerback class. While perhaps lacking in straight-line speed, King's instincts, physicality and ballskills are top notch.
29. Seattle Seahawks

Jarrad Davis, OLB, Florida: The Seahawks have taken a tag-team approach in replacing former first-round pick Bruce Irvin, featuring Cassius Marsh as a third down pass rusher and using veteran Mike Morgan as more of the traditional strong-side linebacker. Davis lacks elite size at 6-1, 240 pounds, but he is highly athletic, aggressive and physical - traits that coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have prioritized in the past.
30. Dallas Cowboys

Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: While all of the focus has been on the Dallas offense with rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, the there is concern on the defense, especially given the team's weak pass rush. Lawson has struggled with durability throughout his career but when healthy, the explosive pass rusher is a proven difference-maker.
31. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: The Eagles gave up their first-round pick to move up for Carson Wentz, then recouped a first-rounder by dealing Sam Bradford and clearing the way for Wentz. Philadelphia needs to protect that investment and LT Jason Peters is 34. 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 possesses the agility to handle any of the four exterior line positions.
32. New England Patriots

Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: With Jamie Collins, Don't'a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long each in the final year of their respective deals, the Patriots will likely be focusing on edge defenders in the 2017 draft. 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.

Copyright NFLDraftScout.com, distributed by The Sports Xchange

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