The 2017 college football season is now over and the NFL draft is right around the corner. It’s time to take a look at my first mock draft of the season. With the all-star games, combine, and pro days still ahead, this will surely change.
*The order of the draft is based on regular season record, then opponents strength of schedule. Oakland and San Francisco will have a coin flip to determine who picks 9th and 10th. The records are based on the end of week 17 and have not taken into account the playoff games.*
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
The DeShone Kizer experiment is a failure so far and this time the Browns can’t afford to wait on their QB. With John Dorsey stepping in as the Browns new GM, he has to nail the position. I think the most logical situation is Dorsey signs or trades for a veteran QB, drafts Sam Darnold knowing he isn’t ready right away, and does the same thing Kansas City did with Patrick Mahomes this year. Ironically the veteran QB that Dorsey has ties with and is the most likely candidate to join him in Cleveland is Alex Smith, who was the starter for Kansas City.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
With a new front office, I think that Eli Manning’s time in NY is over. Josh Rosen is the best pure passer in the draft and would be a perfect personality for the big apple.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Colts need to protect their franchise quarterback before his body completely gives out on him. Nelson is the best offensive line prospect in the past 10+ years. He has a chance to be a All-Pro every year of his career.
4. Cleveland Browns (From Texans)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Browns have two decent running backs in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Crowell will be a free agent, and couldn’t build off a decent 2016 season. Johnson was much better than Crowell but is still not viewed by the coaching staff as the answer at the position.
Saquon Barkley has a rare combination of speed, size, quickness, and power that just aren’t normal for a human. Barkley is not quite the pure runner Zeke Elliot is, but he is more versatile and explosive as an athlete. Barkley could come in from day one and take over both rushing roles of Johnson and Crowell.
5. Denver Broncos
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
John Elway has missed on basically all of his drafts up to this point. Elway needs to get a hit, especially at QB. Baker Mayfield is a fiery prospect and his size is troublesome, but Mayfield’s heart and competitiveness will be too great for Elway to pass on.
6. New York Jets
Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
With all of the quarterbacks of value taken, the Jets will look to draft the best player available. Bradley Chubb is in the running along with Nelson and Barkley as the top prospect in the draft.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Buccaneers desperately need to sure up their defense, but also must help Jameis Wintson on offense. Connor Williams has the potential and traits to be the next Joe Thomas of the league, if he can stay healthy.
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears have seemingly found their QB of the future in Mitchell Trubisky, now they must build around him. Ridley does not have eye popping physical traits, but is excellent at creating separation and has soft hands.
9. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
Getting NaVorro Bowman this season helps, but the Raiders need a long term answer in the middle. Enter Roquan Smith, his performance against Auburn in the SEC title game is one of the best individual LB performances you’ll ever see.
10. San Francisco 49ers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
After trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, the 49ers are no longer in the market for a QB and will likely take the best player available. Minkah Fitzpatrick is said to be a Nick Saban clone (mentally). He is the type of player that could transcend a defense. If he is still on the board it will be a huge steal for the 49ers.
11. Miami Dolphins
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
Pass rusher Cameron Wake is 35 years old and the Dolphins will need to replace him sooner than later. Ferrell is only 20 years old, and has one of the higher upsides from anyone in this class.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
An inconsistent season has landed the Bengals only 3 places better this year (picked 9th last year). After losing many key free agents along the offensive line a year ago, drafting a few will be a priority for them. Mike McGlinchey has been inconsistent himself over his career at Notre Dame but as all of the traits of an NFL tackle.
In 2015, McGlinchey was absolutely amazing at right tackle, but in 2016 he moved to the left and struggled. This is McGlinchey’s second season on the left side, and he was much improved, but still not quite back to his 2015 form. McGlinchey’s skill set would make a starter for the Bengals on day one.
13. Washington Redskins
Derwin James, S, Florida State
If Kirk Cousins leaves, then this pick will probably be a QB. In this scenario, Cousins stays a Redskin for the long haul and they can address other areas. Derwin James might have the highest ceiling of any prospect in the draft, but the Redskins main challenge will be deciding where he plays.
14. Green Bay Packers
Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama
The Packers are severely lacking at the LB position. Rashaan Evans has the skillset to play inside or out, and is great against both the run and the pass.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
With both Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer retiring, the Cardinals head into the offseason in a full rebuild mode. In what is a loaded QB class, the new regime will look to make a big splash with Lamar Jackson, the most electrifying QB since Mike Vick.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Ravens have been missing a stud workhorse back since Ray Rice. Guice is an excellent, violent runner capable of breaking tackles, and taking it the distance on any play.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan
Philip Rivers is towards the end of his career, so QB will also be in play. However, Okorafor can play any position along the line and gives that line a much needed boost.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Another team in dire need of offensive line help is Seattle. Brown is the son of a formal NFL player and his immense size has scouts drooling. Brown projects more as a right tackle at the next level.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Cowboys are one player away from each position group on defense, so I see this pick as being the best defensive player available. At 6’4″ and 350 pounds, Vea has immense size and even better physical traits. On film Vea consistently took on and beat double teams, and man-handled essentially any linemen he faced one on one. As a prospect he is super raw, but has an extremely high ceiling. Thanks to his size and athleticism Vea is already a stud against the run, and if he can develop some pass rush moves, look out.
20. Detroit Lions
Arden Key, DE, LSU
Ezekiel Ansah has made his name as an excellent pass rusher, but the Lions could benefit greatly by adding another. Key has been very inconsistent, and many question his drive to play football. He is another player where the upside will be too great to pass on.
21. Tennessee Titans (from Rams)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Landry came into the 2017 season ranked much higher than what he currently is. A season plagued by injuries has caused Landry to slip ever so slightly, but given his athleticism and the value of his position, he should still be a first round draftee.
22. Buffalo Bills
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
After trading Marcell Dareus to the Jaguars, the Bills have huge holes to fill up front defensively. Payne is one of the more athletic interior linemen in the class, evident by his receiving touchdown against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl.
23. Atlanta Falcons
Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Without many glaring needs, the Falcons could have the luxury to trade back, or choose the best player on their board. The Falcons biggest need is a defensive tackle and Christian Wilkins would be a great fit next to Grady Jarrett on that defensive line. Wilkins has the ability to play inside or outside, whose style mimics that of Aaron Donald from the Rams.
24. Carolina Panthers
Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson
Bryant is a super long and athletic pass rusher off the edge. The Panthers have a solid front seven against the run, but need more athletes to rush the pass. Enter Bryant.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Blake Bortles had a great year in 2017 and have quieted the talks for a new QB, for now. Allen Robinson’s career has been inconsistent and full of injuries so far. Sutton is a physical freak and has the highest upside in the class. If Sutton pans out, this will be a steal for the Jaguars.
26. Buffalo Bills (From Chiefs)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Although the Bills made the playoffs behind QB Tyrod Taylor, it is no mystery that the organization wants to move on. Despite his flaws on film, Allen will be first round selection because he has some of the best physical traits as a QB, ever. It will only take one coach or GM to say “I can make this guy special”.
27. Los Angeles Rams
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Another year, another Ohio State corner selected in the first round. Ward is just the next great defensive back from the Buckeyes, and the Rams will be in desperate need of defensive backs as they try and overhaul the back end of that defense.
28. New Orleans Saints
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The Saints could very well be in the market for a new quarterback, but I think Brees still has a few more years in New Orleans. Davenport is a physical freak and should dominate at the combine. His name will become more and more known as the process wears on.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Arguably the biggest riser of any player this year, Jackson led college football in interceptions this year. Recently, Jackson converted from the wide receiver position, making people think this is only the beginning of what he can do.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
With Lane Johnson entering the tail end of his career offensive line will be in play, but is not the biggest need for the Eagles. Sidney Jones made his debut late in the season but other Eagle corners have been inconsistent all season. Oliver is bigger and more physical than Jones and could make for a nice pairing.
31. New England Patriots
Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
Patriots value versatility, consistency, and work ethic in their prospects. Hubbard embodies all of that while also filling a major need.
32. Minnesota Vikings
Billy Price, OC, Ohio State
Last year the Vikings began their offensive line overhaul by selecting Buckeye Pat Elflein. This year they finalize that rebuild by securing Price, who played alongside Elflein for 3 years. These two already have incredible chemistry and could sure up that unit for the next 10+ years.