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Bruce’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft

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Bruce Heller, Sports Editor

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Now that Superbowl LI is complete, focus now shifts to the NFL Offseason, particularly the draft.  On Thursday April 27th, the first round will commence and 32 football players will have their lifelong dreams of becoming professional football players come true. But until then, they are hard at work preparing for the draft.  So without further ado, here is my 2017 NFL mock draft:

1.Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE Texas A&M

 

 

The Browns own two first round picks, the question is, what will they do with this one? It definitely seems that their never ending QB problem is still unsolved, especially since they could’ve drafted a much needed QB last year with the number 2 overall pick, but traded the pick to Philadelphia. In a year where the QB class is considered one of the weakest classes in a long time, it would be hard to justify taking a QB with the top overall pick, and it would be almost impossible to trade out of this spot. Right now, Garrett seems to be the consensus top pick. The Browns went 1-15 last season, with a total of just 26 sacks, so they could certainly use an elite pass rusher. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will certainly lobby to add Garrett to his four-man front.

2San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson 

There is a lot of debate as to where the Quarterbacks will land, and while I have my concerns about Watson after a season filled with inaccuracy and poor decision making, I still think he is the Best QB available. While most people are projecting that North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky will go ahead of  watson, I disagree. While I  think Trubisky will be a great NFL quarterback someday, he only has 13 college starts under his belt, and  probably won’t be developed and ready for the Nfl for a couple years at best. Meanwhile, Watson has proven he is more than capable of being a great Dual threat Quarterback. He has shown an ability to complete throws on the outside while also showing the zip to make good passes up the middle.

 

  1. Chicago Bears- Jonathan Allen, DT Alabama

As long as the defensive-minded John Fox is still head coach in Chicago, reinforcing the defense will  always be a priority. The 6 foot 3, 292 pound Allen offers unique versatility to go along with the production and intangibles the current regime prioritized in draft picks last spring. Allen is amazing against the run and a proven pass rusher with 19 sacks in his past 26 games. The Bears could truly benefit from taking him at number 3.

 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB LSU

The Jaguars offense definitely had it’s struggles last season, and what better way to  improve a struggling offense (and boost the confidence of QB Blake Bortles) than to install a game-breaking runner who can shoulder the load and alter the unit’s personality? While there is a lot of debate whether Fournette or Florida State running back Dalvin Cook should be the first running back taken, I personally feel that while they are almost identical runners, Fournette is better out of the backfield  in the passing game.

 

5.Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)- Malik Hooker, S Ohio State

Dick Lebeau’s famous defense in Pittsburgh truly took off once playmaking hall of fame safety Troy Polamalu was drafted. That isn’t a fair comparison to put on hooker, and I’m not saying that I think he  is going to be the next polamalu. But I do think that he can be the kind of instant impact player that can take Tennessee’s improving defense to the next level.

 

  1. New York Jets- Jamal Adams, S,LSU

The Jets need to get a lot better and a lot younger at a lot of positions. There is no need to draft a quarterback, given that Christian Hackenberg (drafted 2016), and Bryce Petty (drafted 2015) are still being assessed and developed. Adams could immediately strengthen the team’s poor play on the back end of the defense and find himself paired with Darrelle Revis in what might be a dynamic safety duo for a defense that needs to reboot in several areas.

 

  1. Los Angeles Chargers-Ryan Ramczyk, T Wisconsin

He showed good promise in his only season with the Badgers, and the Chargers need a lot of help on the offensive line if they hope to get several more productive seasons out of 35 year old QB Philip Rivers.

 

  1. Carolina Panthers- Dalvin Cook, RB Florida State

One of the reasons for Carolina’s huge step backwards this season has been an inconsistent running game, putting the spotlight once again on Jonathan Stewart’s struggles with injuries and durability. Stewart has only played in 16 regular season games three times over his nine-year career and hasn’t done it once since the 2011 season. Cook is an amazing talent, and has one of  the most exciting combinations of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Reuben Foster, ILB Alabama

It seems like it’s time for the Bengals to reload at inside linebacker especially since they are relying on vontaze burfict, who has been on and off the field throughout his career due to injuries and suspension. Foster can bring the heat  in base packages but also seems to have the cover skills to stay on the field in sub packages.

  1. Buffalo Bills- Deshone Kizer, QB Notre Dame

The Bills might have to take a gamble here with QB’s Tyrod Taylor and EJ Manuel likely both hitting the market. It wouldn’t be the worst situation in the world for Kizer, whose development would get a huge boost, with assistance from Buffalo’s top ranked rushing attack and top receiver Sammy Watkins. Kizer Proved in the 2015 season that he can be pretty darn effective when he is surrounded by playmakers.

  1. New Orleans Saints-  Soloman Thomas, DE Stanford

2016 was another awful season for a Saints defense that ranked dead last in the league against the pass. Thomas could be a guy who helps Saints DE Cam Jordan generate pressure on the pass rush, relieving some pressure off of a secondary that was constantly under attack in 2016, playing in the pass heavy NFC south division.

  1. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)-  Mitch Trubisky, QB North Carolina

Trubisky will definitely be a bit of a project at the pro level, but Browns head coach Hue Jackson might be the perfect guy to develop him. And with both Robert Griffin III and Cody Kessler on the roster, Trubisky wouldn’t have to be rushed  into playing while he adapts to the NFL.

  1. Arizona Cardinals- Marshon Lattimore, CB Ohio State

Arizona is facing a lot of questions on defense. Especially since defensive stars Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones and Alex Okafor are all among their pending free agents. Unless the Cardinals reinvest in their pass rushers, boosting their secondary with Lattimore, who is gaining momentum as the top cornerback in this draft class, is a very viable option.

  1. Indianapolis Colts- Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee

Outside Linebacker Eric Walden contributed a third of the Colts’ 33 sacks last season, and with longtime defensive end Robert Mathis retiring, reinforcing the pass rush needs to be one of the Colts’ top priorities on draft night.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)- Mike Williams, WR Clemson

Williams seems to have all of the skills, and all of the tools to become a top receiver, and QB Carson Wentz, who is entering his second year could clearly use a better primary weapon than wide receiver Jordan Matthews and Tight End Zach Ertz, who would both benefit from playing alongside a more explosive target.

  1. Baltimore Ravens-Jabrill Peppers, S Michigan

With starting safety Matt Elam heading into pending free agency, and safety Eric Weddle entering his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary come draft night. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle man to man coverage.

  1. Washington Redskins-Malik Mcdowell, DT Michigan State

Mcdowell has an impressive blend of Power, Size and athleticism that will allow him to be effective at multiple positions along the defensive line. An area that Washington desperately needs improvement

  1. Tennessee Titans- Corey Davis, WR Western Michigan

The only thing missing from Tennessee’s offense is a bona fide number one receiver for QB Marcus Mariota to throw to. With WR  Kendall Wright heading for free agency, there is an opening on the depth chart. Davis has all the tools to develop into a good NFL receiver for a team that will look to continue emphasizing the run game.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- O.J . Howard, TE

The Bucs have a solid young tight end in Cameron Brate, but I wouldn’t be surprised by any means if GM Jason Licht decided to upgrade the position. After all, Howard was the best player in the senior bowl and Having  Howard on the  same field with pro bowl wideout Mike Evans could give the Bucs a dominant 1-2 combination of pass catchers that will help QB Jameis Winston take his personal game, and the team as a whole to the next Level.

  1. Denver Broncos-Garett Bolles, OT Utah

Bolles started only one season for the Utes after coming over from a junior college, but he had an amazing season. He has great  feet and at 6 foot 5, 300 pounds, he can do a great job of driving defenders off the ball. Denver has to get some help on the offensive line in order to get back on top of an AFC West division that features two games every season against Justin Houston of the Kansas City Chiefs, Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders and Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers, Who are three of the top Pass rushers in the NFL.

  1. Detroit Lions- Forrest Lamp, OL Western Kentucky

Although Lamp played tackle in college, he will probably change positions to play guard in the NFL due to his short arms. Either way, he’s a great fit in Detroit, where the Lions could possibly lose the right side of their offensive line (Tackle Riley Reiff, and Guard Larry Warford) to free agency.

  1. Miami Dolphins- David Njoku, TE Miami (FL)

With all of their current tight ends, Dion Sims, Jordan Cameron and MarQueis Gray in the final year of their respective contracts, the Dolphins will certainly be looking for help at Tight end and could be too intrigued with the athletic upside of the local product, to let him leave town.

  1. New York Giants- Taco Charlton, DE Michigan

With defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul likely not coming back, defensive end will likely be a position of need this offseason. Charlton has some traits that remind me of former giants pass rusher Justin Tuck when he was first coming out of college, Charlton has all the ingredients to be a star in the NFL.

  1. Oakland Raiders- Tre’Davious White, CB LSU

The Raiders need to get better defensively. While I think that drafting an interior defensive line might be an option here, I think that ultimately they will realize how thin they are at corner and opt to pick white. White is the latest in a long, proud line of LSU defensive backs.

  1. Houston Texans- Quincy Wilson, CB Florida

While it is true that most of Houston’s problems stem from the offensive side of the ball, their top ranked defense might have to let breakout CB A.J Bouye walk in free agency, which would make reloading with wilson a logical option

  1. Seattle Seahawks-Cam Robinson, OT Alabama

For the sake of their running game, and QB Russell Wilson’s health, Seattle desperately needs to reload its offensive line. Robinson is a player who can carry a load and will immediately open up some rushing lanes on the right side.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs-Haason Reddick, OLB Temple

Assuming the Chiefs are able to re sign pending free agents Dontari Poe and Eric Berry, inside Linebacker is one of the few obvious positions of concern for the Chiefs. Especially with Linebacker Derrick Johnson’s career in jeopardy due to injury. GM John Dorsey, who is a former Linebacker himself, could very well be intrigued by Reddick, whose agility and closing speed was just as effective in the senior bowl as it was attacking off the edge for the owls last season.

  1. Dallas Cowboys- Charles Harris, DE Missouri

The Reigning NFC East champs could definitely use an accomplished pass rusher on their defensive line. Especially with Randy Gregory’s ongoing problem with substance abuse. Harris was a constant presence in opposing backfields in his past two seasons with the Tigers.

  1. Green Bay Packers- Christian McCaffrey, RB Stanford

Imagine the damage he could do as both a runner, and a receiver given the spacing QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Offense naturally creates. McCaffrey and former Stanford teammate Ty Montgomery could form a lethal combination.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tim Williams, OLB Alabama

Former first round pick Jarvis Jones turned out to be a bust, and even if James Harrison re signs, he’ll be 39 years old and would probably be best used as a role player. Pairing Williams with fellow Outside Linebacker Bud Dupree  could create a quality tandem that would preserve the “ Blitzburgh” nickname for years to come.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- Caleb Brantley DT Florida

If you thought Grady Jarrett was good this past season (and in the Superbowl) Just wait until he has an impact performer next to him on the  inside of the defensive line Brantley’s burst and power means he will be tough to block heads up, which is what teams will have to do with Jarrett patrolling.

  1. New England Patriots- Demarcus Walker, DE Florida State

Given that they traded outside linebacker Jamie collins during the season, and that Dont’a Hightower, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long are all in the final year of their contracts, the Patriots will likely be focusing on pass rushers in the 2017 draft. The 6 foot 2, 273 pound Walker tied for first in the nation  with 15 sacks during the  regular season last year , showing more refined pass rush technique than the similarly sized Dominique Easley, the Patriots’ first round in 2014.

 

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