La Canfora's 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Browns, Texans trade up for answers at QB
Plus Jonathan Allen falls further than expected and the Saints double dip in the secondary
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I've put it off as long as possible. And chances are, as you are reading this, I am already begging one of my esteemed editors to make at least a change or two. But here is my mock draft -- the first, last and only one I will do this spring.
In keeping with tradition, and in hopes of holding out for as long as possible to try to glean the best information possible, I've waited until draft day to release it. But now, alas, the time has come. So here goes nothing.
Even if the pick itself isn't correct, in the past I've generally touched on the actual pick in giving some of my reasoning, so read the fine print if you don't mind. Hopefully you don't have to end up killing me on social media after the draft!
1. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Oh, how they need a quarterback, but they have a path or two to take care of that and it doesn't involve this pick. They'll trade for a quarterback, just you wait and see. In the meantime, head coach Hue Jackson gets his wish with the team selecting the consensus top player on the board.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Jamal Adams, S, LSU: They are also considering corner Marshon Lattimore and pass rusher Solomon Thomas . Any of them would make sense. Heck, when your roster is as poor as San Francisco's, everyone makes sense. But with rookie general manager John Lynch a former safety and Adams so clean and safe with abundant impact potential, I'm leaning in that direction.
3. Chicago Bears
Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford Cardinal : Their defense has been a mess forever and Vic Fangio has no talent to scheme up. While I see them going Adams if he's on the board, well, he's not on the board in this scenario.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: The Jags do a good job of shrouding their picks in mystery, and this year is no exception. This powerful back would give their offense an immediate identity and fit Tom Coughlin's MO while solving a long-running need. If they selected Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson , that wouldn't surprise me, either.
TRADE: 5. Cleveland Browns (from L.A. Los Angeles Rams through Tennessee)
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: The Browns finally get a quarterback (assuming they haven't already consummated a deal with the Pats for Jimmy Garoppolo before the draft). The owner wants a passer of the future, and after whiffing on a bunch last year, the Browns can't risk letting their top guy get away here. They could also trade with the New York Jets at No. 6 to make this happen and are in active negotiations with several teams.
6. New York Jets
O.J. Howard , TE, Alabama Crimson Tide : Chan Gailey wouldn't utilize tight ends, but, well, he's no longer the offensive coordinator and they need difference-makers on offense. Receiver Mike Williams would also make a lot sense here, and I could see safety Malik Hooker as well. And if the Browns don't trade up for Trubisky, then Trubisky is the Jets' pick here.
7. Los Angeles San Diego Chargers
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State Buckeyes : The Chargers had an elite safety in Eric Weddle for a long, long time. They could use an anchor on the back end, and while I almost went with Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen , who will merit strong consideration here, I'm going with a safety with immense upside.
8. Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey , RB, Stanford: Sometimes when a pick makes perfect sense and you hear a lot of smoke about it, it's a smokescreen. And other times it's just a great match. This is a great match, and if Fournette goes as high as I anticipate, then I feel strongly this will be the pick.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: Lattimore was getting a lot of attention as a top-five pick, and if not for issues with his hamstring, he would be. He's still in line to be the top corner taken, and while the Bengals could easily go with linebacker Reuben Foster or defensive lineman Derek Barnett here, I'm going Lattimore.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: They need a lot of help in a lot of spots, but I'm not buying them going quarterback here. If a top safety is still on the board, or Lattimore, that's going to be in play as well. But that passing game has to expand at some point, and adding another Clemson receiver would be in character for the Bills.
TRADE: 11. Houston Texans (from New Orleans)
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: The Texans can't afford to just sit back and hope a quarterback gets to them with the 25th pick. They don't have that luxury after the abomination that was The Brock Lobster Experiment. And they need to jump the Cards to get their pick of the remaining passers. I'm playing a hunch and going Mahomes here, but it could easily be Watson.
12. Tennessee Titans (from Philadelphia through Cleveland)
Marlon Humphrey , CB, Alabama: They are able to address a need with a top prospect and continue to accrue a plethora of future draft picks. If they pull this off, there will be a lot of high fives in that war room.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Once Trubisky goes in the top five, the run on QBs will be on. Maybe Arizona moves up to make this happen, because Carson Palmer is at the end and the time to develop the quarterback of 2018 is right now. Could be Mahomes here as well.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)
Derek Barnett, DL, Tennessee: Up until the moment sexual assault allegations were made public against Gareon Conley this week, I would have had him as a slam dunk pick here. And all things being equal, the Eagles probably go with a defensive back here. While Barnett doesn't have world-class metrics, he was very productive in the SEC. I could see cornerback Kevin King being in this spot, or Tre'Davious White as well if they do look in the secondary.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Haason Reddick , LB, Temple Owls : Rookie GM Chris Ballard is going to focus on adding bite to his defense and pass rush above all else. If this kid is still there for him, I believe it's a total no-brainer pick.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is Crimson Tide to his core, and he loves the way this kid plays. There are some red flags but everything I've heard leads me to believe this team is comfortable with him. Sure, a pass catcher makes sense, but I don't see that happening unless Mike Williams is on the board.
17. Washington Redskins
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: This kid might end up going in the top five, and it wouldn't shock me. He played at a very high level for the best program in the country. But his shoulder issue is scaring some teams, and if there is a fall for him, I can't see it going beyond No. 17. Washington loves Allen, so if he's still there, this is his spot.
18. Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis , WR, Western Michigan Broncos : He doesn't have that true high-end speed teams covet, but he would be a very nice target for Marcus Mariota in this spot. Tight end David Njoku would also be a great fit and the heir apparent to Delanie Walker , not that Walker is showing signs of slowing down.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dalvin Cook , RB, Florida State Seminoles : His off-field stuff will cause him to drop, but there is big-time talent there, and from everything I gather the Bucs have grown comfortable with him. If they don't go running back here, I suspect they try to make a play for Joe Mixon in Round 2.
20. Denver Broncos
Cam Robinson , LT, Alabama: Denver simply must buttress a weak offensive line if it wants to develop a young quarterback, and this is a weak draft to do it in. But they get their pick of the prospects here, and while Robinson's attitude and work ethic are iffy, there is a lot of clay to mold here and John Elway believes in the culture of his team and locker room.
21. Detroit Lions
Jarrad Davis , LB, Florida Gators : Davis would solve a huge hole for them and add speed and impact to the second level of their defense. The run on linebackers slows down after this pick.
22. Miami Dolphins
Charles Harris , DE, Missouri Tigers : Yeah they need offensive line help, and yes, local product Njoku will draw attention as well. But that defense really needs some potential edge rushers; Cam Wake isn't getting any younger, Mario Williams was a bust for them and they let Olivier Vernon get away a year ago. I see defense here.
23. New York Giants
David Njoku, TE, Miami (Fla.): This has been a blind-spot position for them for quite a while. Eli Manning could use some help, and while free agent Brandon Marshall is a big target, he's nearing the end. A tackle or guard would make sense, but I'm going on an instinct that the potential high-end impact here is too much to resist.
24. Oakland Raiders
Kevin King, CB, Washington: He has the long, lean body many teams covet, and that secondary still needs help. They would love one of those linebackers who went between 15-21, but, alas, they aren't on this board anymore.
25. New Orleans Saints (via Houston)
Obi Melifonwu , S, Connecticut Huskies : The Saints love this kid and believe he could be a corner and safety in their scheme. So much versatility and probably the best overall athlete in the entire draft with him running a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at 6-feet-4 and 225 pounds. On their fast track in that dome, look out.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: They could go corner, or take a shot on a pass rusher, but GM John Schneider has deep ties to the state of Wisconsin and this kid might be the best offensive lineman in this draft; getting him here wouldn't involve much over-thinking. Seems like a fit to me. Offensive lineman Garett Bolles of Utah Utes could be the pick as well, though I've heard in the past few days that Bolles' past is more of a concern for many teams than we might think.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Taco Charlton , DE, Michigan Wolverines : They would love an impact linebacker and they could easily go with the best remaining corner in their estimation here as well. But pass rush -- or the potential of pass rush in the future -- is so hard to land. Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are near the end, and Justin Houston has been oft injured in recent years.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Tre'Davious White, CB, LSU: I am far from convinced that White is actually on the board this long. But if he is, the Cowboys will pounce. Won't take long to bring this card up, which will cause some groans in places like Pittsburgh, where the Pittsburgh Steelers are very high on him, too.
29. Green Bay Packers
Forrest Lamp , OL, Western Kentucky: He projects as a guard or a center, and Green Bay has a hole at guard after the departure of T.J. Lang in free agency, even after signing Jahri Evans . This just makes a lot of sense to me. Joe Mixon, even with the specter of the video of him striking a woman, could come into play in this range as well.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tim Williams , LB, Alabama: He probably can't set the edge and he's somewhat limited, plus he has plenty of red flags. But the one thing he does -- run like the wind while getting to the quarterback -- is something everyone covets. With the defensive backs picked through at this point and with a guy like Jabrill Peppers carrying his own off-field concerns, I could see Mike Tomlin pounding the table for Williams (who I hear he loves). James Harrison can't play forever, and teaming Williams with Bud Dupree could be a boon.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Garett Bolles, OL, Utah: I could see the Falcons going with a safety here ( Budda Baker , Josh Jones ), even though they took one in the first round last year. There are some questions about Bolles, but he could fill an immediate need on the line and might be able to toggle between guard and tackle as needed.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England)
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State: It would take a bold team to select him in the first round after sexual assault allegations emerged this week, but the Saints have the least ownership involvement of any club in the league. They have done a ton of work assessing what actually happened with Conley, and they seem very comfortable with him. The defensive backfield has been a huge problem for a long time, and landing Conley and Melifonwu would be huge. If they stay at No. 11 and take a defensive lineman, Conley would still make a lot of sense here. Some team is probably going to select Conley on Friday, and with him the best corner in this draft in the eyes of some, let's see if New Orleans makes the pick. I don't see Conley's situation mirroring that of La'el Collins two years ago, when he ended up going undrafted.
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