2017 NFL Mock Draft: Saints overhaul D, take Derek Barnett and Haason Reddick
New Orleans adds a pass-rusher and a versatile linebacker in the latest attempt to revamp the defense
We’re over a week into the free agency period now, and the changes all around the league are sure to send ripples up and down draft boards. Needs for the teams at the top and even the middle of the draft have stayed relatively stable since this time last week, but the teams near the bottom have seen some shakeups. Late changes abound in this Mock Draft 5.0.
Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: Garrett is going No. 1, unless something weird happens.
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: Between the Stanford connection, Thomas’ athletic testing at the combine, and all the noise around Thomas heading to San Francisco, this seems like where the No. 2 pick is heading.
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: There are few better ways to build a defense than by assembling a strong front. Allen has the athleticism and flexibility to move around a bit, and he’ll help Chicago’s defense right away.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: As we said last week, the Jags have spent a ton of money assembling a defensive front and have playmakers at the second level, but adding a third corner like Lattimore could take things to another level. Teams have three on the field pretty much at all times anyway.
5. Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Whether Jay Cutler winds up in New York or not, he’s not their quarterback of the future. Watson can be. Eventually, the Jets need to find someone with real talent at the position.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Fournette is the kind of punishing runner that fits well in Carolina’s scheme and can take some of the goal-line running pressure off Cam Newton, who can use the physical break.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: There might be some concern about Foster after his dismissal from the combine but he’s still a top-10 talent. The bet here is still that the talent wins out over other concerns.
10. Buffalo Bills
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: We had Washington speedster John Ross here last week, but Davis is the more complete receiver. With Sammy Watkins still dealing with his foot issues, zeroing in on someone that combines size and speed makes more sense than taking a pure burner, especially given Ross’ injury history.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: The Saints added another pick late in the first with the Brandin Cooks trade, and they’ll likely use both to address their holes on defense. They pick up a pass-rusher early, and some second-level help late.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: The Cardinals’ window may have officially closed after Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson walked in free agency, so they need to find the quarterback that will take over for Carson Palmer. Kizer has the size, arm, and tape to fit the bill.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: The Eagles’ signings of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith knock a wide receiver off the board here. Instead, they swing over to McDowell, who helps make up for the loss of Bennie Logan to Kansas City. Given his build, he can play tackle or end for Philly.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Cook’s versatility gives the Colts the kind of weapon they haven’t had out of the backfield during the Andrew Luck era. He can break off big gains via the run or the pass and play on all three downs.
16. Baltimore Ravens
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Howard isn’t just any tight end. He’s a ridiculous athlete and matchup nightmare that can give the Baltimore offense an explosiveness it has lacked in recent years.
Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt: Washington lost both its top receivers and free agency and there’s still uncertainty around Kirk Cousins, but run defense is still its biggest issue. Cunningham can come in right away and solidify an important area.
18. Tennessee Titans
John Ross, WR, Washington: The Titans can’t rightly let Marcus Mariota enter Year 3 with Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews as his top two wideouts. Ross would open up the field for everybody, in addition to being a great fit with Mariota’s passing style.
Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut: Melifonwu tested off the charts at the combine and seems firmly in the mix as a potential first-rounder. Tampa could use a complement to the recently-signed J.J. Wilcox at the safety position, and an athlete like Melifonwu would be a good fit.
20. Denver Broncos
21. Detroit Lions
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: We’ll keep saying it: When you sack the quarterback only 26 times in a season, it’s safe to say you need help getting after the passer.
22. Miami Dolphins
David Njoku, TE, Miami: Adam Gase loves athletic tight ends that can stretch the field and box out in the red zone. That’s Njoku, who can team with Julius Thomas in two-tight sets whenever Thomas is healthy enough to play and be the No. 1 guy when Thomas is on the sideline.
23. New York Giants
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: The Giants signed D.J. Fluker last week, but he’s apparently set to play right guard and not tackle. Take Robinson, kick Ereck Flowers over to the right side, and move forward with a fully upgraded offensive front.
24. Oakland Raiders
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Oakland’s offense is ready for prime time, but even after last offseason’s remodeling, the defense needs work. Humphrey can help solidify the back end by adding an element of physicality on the outside.
25. Houston Texans
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: The Tony Romo situation could continue to drag out, and if things are still up in the air on draft day, they could just snag Mahomes instead.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Garett Bolles, OT, Utah: The Seahawks chased T.J. Lang and signed Luke Joeckel, but still need offensive line help. Bolles could bump Joeckel inside to guard, and would be a great fit for the style of running game Seattle utilizes. Tom Cable would love him.
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Kansas City has Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill at wideout, but Williams provides a level of size and physicality neither of those players has. Given Alex Smith’s predilections, Williams would be a good fit.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA: We had Sidney Jones here last week, but then he went and suffered an Achilles injury at his pro day. Dallas instead swings to Moreau, who tested out as one of the most athletic defensive backs in this draft and has the kind of size the suddenly DB-needy Cowboys like in the position.
Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky: T.J. Lang has moved on. The Packers have options on the line but most seem like tackles rather than guards. Lamp could slide in as a starter in front of Aaron Rodgers.
31. Atlanta Falcons
32. New Orleans Saints
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