Boris makes opening round picks
The 2017 NFL Draft is now just hours away, and make no mistake about it, today is a great day to be a football fan. However, it’s even a greater day to be a “draftnik.”
For the first time since 1961, this year’s Draft comes to you from “The City of Brotherly Love,” and with every team seemingly wanting to trade back in this year’s draft (with the exception of Cleveland), anticipation and unpredictability is at an all-time high. Nonetheless, I’m here to offer some insights on this year’s first round with the release of my 2017 final mock draft, which has become an annual staple of the Times News for the past 17 years and has been ranked as the most accurate mock draft in the industry over the past six years according to
www.thehuddlereport.com.So, without further ado, here’s how I see things unfolding tonight (before the first trade blows it all up):1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)… As usual, there’s a lot more buzz as the pick draws closer, but ignore the hype. The top overall pick is down to two players: Garrett (a stud) and North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky (a question mark). The Browns need to add a surefire impact player here instead of taking a chance on a quarterback that has started only 13 games in his entire college career. Don’t screw this up Cleveland!2. San Francisco 49’ers – Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)… The entire draft literally hinges on this pick, as no one really seems to know what the 49’ers are going to do here. I do know that they desperately want to trade down, but finding a trade partner might be a tough task. The popular pick here is defensive end Solomon Thomas (Stanford), but I just can’t see the team using its first round draft pick on a defensive lineman for the third straight year. I’m not sure how much the 49’ers brass loves Carlos Hyde, but Fournette is being touted as the best running back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson. If they don’t take Fournette, safety Jamal Adams (LSU) could very well be the pick.3. Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams (S, LSU)… The Bears only had 11 takeaways last season, which tied for the worst single-season total in league history. Chicago might be tempted to take a quarterback here, but that would be stupid considering they just paid Mike Glennon a ton of money in the offseason. Upgrades in the defensive backfield like Adams, safety Malik Hooker (Ohio St.) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (Ohio St.) make a ton of sense. Adams is the better (and safer) prospect with less medical red flags.4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)… LSU’s Leonard Fournette makes a ton of sense here since the Jaguars desperately need a playmaker in the running game, and if he’s still on the board, I think the Jags take him in a heartbeat. However, new football boss Tom Coughlin likes to build his teams from the inside out, which is why I’m going with Allen. If Fournette is still on the board when the Jaguars pick though, it would be awfully tempting.5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) – Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)… The Titans have two first-round picks this year, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they make a first-round trade for the second straight year (everyone knows that Cleveland is looking to move up, and I’m actually projecting a trade with the Browns here). Regardless, I think Tennessee needs to come out of the first round with a wide receiver and a defensive back. Safety Jamal Adams is a popular pick here, but with the team signing Johnathan Cyprien, I think a cover cornerback like Marshon Lattimore is a stronger need. However, cornerback is one of the deepest positions in this draft, so the Titans will probably be able to get a good one with pick #18 and land their offensive weapon with their first pick (either here or in a trade down).6. New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)… The Jets have holes all over their roster so I think they can go in many different directions with this pick. If I had to link four players to the Jets here, I would say Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore, Leonard Fournette and O.J. Howard are all in the conversation. However, this might be the opportune time to consummate a trade with Cleveland. The Browns can come up for Mitchell Trubisky and the Jets can acquire more picks. If there is no trade, Lattimore is the best corner in the draft and gives them a replacement for the recently jettisoned Darrelle Revis.7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)… How weird is it to reference the “Los Angeles Chargers?” In any case, the Chargers could stand to upgrade their defense early in this draft and they should have a host of candidates to pick from: Hooker, Jonathan Allen and Solomon Thomas to name a few. Hooker has some medical red flags, but I hear the Chargers love him. He projects to be an Ed Reed-type playmaking safety and would be a great replacement for Eric Weddle.8. Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)… McCaffrey is a Swiss army knife type of player and can help a team in a variety of ways. He is soaring up draft boards and may even be selected by the time the Panthers are on the clock. He is firmly on the Panthers radar though, and with Jonathan Stewart turning 30 this offseason, I’m sure Cam Newton would love to have a dynamic playmaker like McCaffrey join him in the Carolina backfield.9. Cincinnati Bengals – Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)… This would be a dream come true for Cincinnati, as the Bengals biggest need is an edge rusher to complement Carlos Dunlap. Thomas could go as early as the second overall pick to San Francisco, but if he falls this far, the Bengals would scoop him up in a heartbeat. If Thomas is off the board, pass rushers like Derek Barnett and Charles Harris would also be in play. Also, don’t rule out Alabama tight end O.J. Howard here as Tyler Eifert has only played in 42-percent of the team’s games, is coming off back surgery and is in a contract year.10. Buffalo Bills – O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)… The Bills could go in a number of directions with this pick – a wide receiver like Mike Williams, a tight end like O.J. Howard or a cornerback to replace Stephon Gilmore. I’m sure Buffalo would love if Marshon Lattimore fell into its lap, but I don’t know if that’ll happen. O.J. Howard might make the most sense here though, as he can do a little bit of everything – catch like a wide receiver, drag piles like a running back and make key blocks on the edge.11. New Orleans Saints – Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)… With two first round selections, New Orleans needs to shore up its defense, especially with a pass rusher and cornerback. The Saints needs defense playmakers in the front seven, and the versatile Reddick is one of the fastest risers in this year’s draft. He has the speed the rush the quarterback off the edge and cover backs and receivers downfield. If the Saints want a true 4-3 defensive end, Derek Barnett or Charles Harris would also be solid selections here.12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles) – Mitchell Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)… With two top-12 picks, the Browns are in a position to get the best player in the draft (Myles Garrett) and the quarterback they covet (Mitchell Trubisky). The only question is how far the Browns will need to trade up to get him. A trade with the Titans (which I am projecting here) or Jets might be the most logical, as Trubisky fits head coach Hue Jackson’s offense perfectly and Cleveland ownership wants a franchise quarterback to build around (sorry Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler).13. Arizona Cardinals – Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)… The Cardinals might be tempted by quarterback Patrick Mahomes here, but inside linebacker is a real need for Arizona and the Cardinals won’t be scared off by Foster’s off-field issues (after all, they selected Robert Nkemdiche and Tyrann Mathieu in the past). The Cardinals also have the perfect mentor for Foster in Karlos Dansby. Arizona can also consider a cornerback with its first round pick.14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings) – John Ross (WR, Washington)… Cornerback is a bigger need for the Eagles, but Gareon Conley’s ongoing rape allegations caused me to pivot to the offensive side of the ball for this pick. The Eagles invested in Carson Wentz and now their job is surround him with weapons. Alshon Jeffrey was only signed to a one-year deal and Jordan Matthews is in a contract year. Ross (4.22-second 40) is the fastest timed player in NFL history and can take the top off of a defense in a hurry. The Eagles would love Christian McCaffrey but there is no way he makes it to them.15. Indianapolis Colts – Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)… The Colts have so many needs on defense, but the primary thing they need to address is finding a talented edge rusher. Players like Barnett, Charles Harris (Missouri), Takk McKinley (UCLA) or Haason Reddick (Temple) are all names that can and will be considered here (depending on who is available). Protecting Andrew Luck with an offensive lineman is also in play, but upgrading the pass rush is the top priority.16. Baltimore Ravens – Cam Robinson (OT, Alabama)… The Ravens lost Ricky Wagner to free agency and failed to replace him. Rumor has it that the Ravens love Robinson and general manager Ozzie Newsome is an Alabama alumnus who has an affinity for Crimson Tide players. Connect the dots and this pick makes too much sense not to happen. Baltimore could also consider a wide receiver upgrade in the form of Mike Williams, Corey Davis or John Ross.17. Washington Redskins – Adoree Jackson (CB, USC)… The Redskins could use depth along the defensive line and in the secondary, but they just need to add talent, period. This is one of the tougher picks to predict because Washington can go in so many different directions. I’ve narrowed the choice down to Jackson, Charles Harris (Missouri) or Takk McKinley (UCLA). I was very close to slotting Harris and McKinley here, but Jackson just seems like a “Jay Gruden guy.”18. Tennessee Titans – Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)… Earlier in my mock draft, I said the Titans’ most pressing needs were a wide receiver and a defensive back. Since I gave them a wide receiver with their first pick, I’ll go with the cornerback here. The Titans had a big need at corner before they released Jason McCourty. That void is even greater now, so Humphrey certainly makes a ton of sense.19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)… The Buccaneers are looking to get Jameis Winston as much help as possible, so why not look to reunite him with his former teammate at Florida State. Doug Martin is suspended for the first three games and can’t be counted on. Cook’s draft stock is sliding based on poor combine numbers and character concerns, but he is an explosive three-down back that can bring a tremendous amount of balance to the Tampa Bay offense.20. Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk (OT, Wisconsin)… The Broncos haven’t seen solid days on the blind side since Ryan Clady, so the choice here is an offensive tackle. Deciding which one though is the dilemma. Ramczyk and Utah’s Garett Bolles are the two tackles I’m considering here, and I’m giving Ramczyk a slight edge. If for some reason Haason Reddick fell this far, I think he would make a lot of sense as well.21. Detroit Lions – Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)… The Lions need help all over their defense and this pick is just screaming defensive end to me. Charles Harris (Missouri), Takk McKinley (UCLA) and T.J. Watt (Wisconsin) are all very real possibilities here. However, the thought of “Corey Davis to the Lions” just keeps resonating in my head. Yes, he’s a local product, but the Lions need a third receiver, especially since Anquan Boldin remains a free agent and Andre Roberts is no longer with the team.22. Miami Dolphins – Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)… Definitely defense with this pick and I think the Dolphins are zeroed in on a pass rusher (Harris or Derek Barnett) or linebacker (Haason Reddick or Jarrad Davis). Harris would be an ideal fit in a 4-3 defense, but it’s all going to depend on who is still on the board by the time the Dolphins pick. There’s been talk of the team being linked to offensive guard Forrest Lamp of Western Kentucky as well, but I’m not sure I’m buying into that.23. New York Giants – David Njoku (TE, Miami)… Eli Manning began his career with an athletic, seam-busting tight end taken in the first round from the “U” already on the Giants (Jeremy Shockey). He can now come to the end of his career with one too. It’s been six years since the Giants last had a down-the-seam threat at tight end, so now might be the perfect opportunity to upgrade. If not Njoku or Evan Engram, the Giants might as well look to the trenches with offensive tackles Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin) or Garett Boles (Utah).24. Oakland Raiders – Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)… The Raiders are expected to address their defense with this pick, whether that be a linebacker such as Davis or a cornerback such as Washington’s Kenny King. General Manager Reggie Mackenzie always thought he could fill linebacker needs late in drafts or in free agency but this match is too good to pass up. Davis can play sideline to sideline and the Oakland defense needs playmakers.25. Houston Texans – Patrick Mahomes II (QB, Texas Tech)… Desperate times call for desperate measures. Tom Savage as your starting quarterback? No thank you! Houston needs to fix this position and they need to do it early in this draft. If Mahomes is still on the board (and it’s a big IF), the Texans should run the card to the podium. Personally, I think Mahomes is a better fit for the Texans than Deshaun Watson, but either quarterback would work.26. Seattle Seahawks – Garett Bolles (OT, Utah)… It’s no secret that Seattle’s offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. Plain and simple, the Seahawks need to address it on draft day. Forrest Lamp (guard) and Garett Bolles (tackle) will both be targets, although Seattle may need to move up ahead of Denver and the New York Giants to get their guy. I could also see the Seahawks addressing their secondary, so a versatile playmaker such as Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu can’t be ruled out.27. Kansas City Chiefs – Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)… I project three quarterbacks to go in the first round and Kansas City is another logical landing spot. Watson has a winning pedigree and I can see a little bit of Donovan McNabb in him. He can sit and learn behind Alex Smith for a year and solidify the quarterback position in Kansas City for years to come. An offensive guard like Forrest Lamp could also be in play here.28. Dallas Cowboys – Takkarist McKinley (DE, UCLA)… Assuming they stay put, the Cowboys will select the best defensive end or cornerback still on the board. I think Dallas has their eyes on Missouri’s Charles Harris but I’d be surprised if he is still on the board at this point. McKinley (who drops due to shoulder issues) had a pre-draft visit to Dallas and he’s been dropping hints that he’d love to play for the Cowboys. If it’s not a pass rusher, a cornerback like Kenny King or Adoree Jackson would make a lot of sense as well.29. Green Bay Packers – T.J. Watt (LB, Wisconsin)… The Packers greatest needs are on defense and nothing helps more on that side of the ball than a pass rusher. Watt is a local product and he certainly has the bloodlines (his older brother is J.J. Watt) to succeed at the next level. Watt is a high-effort player with tons of upside and he seems to fit perfectly in Green Bay. Cornerback could also be in play here for the Packers depending on who is still on the board.30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)… The Steelers are looking for playmakers in the secondary who can cover all over the field. Peppers is extremely versatile and can be used in so many different ways (offense, defense and special teams) – the Steelers coaching staff will just have to figure out how to use him properly. Peppers tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the Combine, but this is a guy that could be the next Troy Polamalu in the Steel City. A pass rusher or even a quarterback (Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer) to eventually replace Ben Roethlisberger can’t be ruled out either.31. Atlanta Falcons – Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)… The Falcons are rumored to want to trade up and if that materializes, I feel the player they have their eye on is Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp. Chris Chester retired after starting the last two seasons at right guard, which leaves a gaping hole in the Falcons interior line. A defensive end, such as Kansas State’s Jordan Willis, will also be considered.32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots) – Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)… Assuming the Saints don’t pull off a draft day trade for New England’s Malcolm Butler, New Orleans has made no secret that they need to add multiple cornerbacks to the roster. There’s a good one sitting there right in the Bayou in LSU’s Tre’Davious White. White can also help in the return game in place of the departed Brandin Cooks.