The NFL Combine workouts are set to begin on Friday and run through Monday, March 6. Throughout the event, draft rankings are set to see big changes. But before they do, let’s examine how the NFL Draft could play out in my final pre-Combine mock draft.
1) Cleveland Brows - Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
This is a very easy pick. The Browns need talent all over the field, and Garrett is the best player in the draft. The pairing of Jamie Collins and Garrett could prove to be one of the best outside rusher duos in the NFL, and a building block for the Browns defense.
2) San Francisco 49ers - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
This pick may be a little bit of a reach at number two overall, but the 49ers are desperate for a quarterback. The 49ers had interest in Kirk Cousins, and Cousins had interest in the 49ers. But after the Redskins placed the franchise tag on Cousins, the search for the 49ers starts over. Watson is the best quarterback in this class because of not just his ability on the field, but also his intangibles and experience. Watson resembles Marcus Mariota for his arm talent combined with his running ability. Watson struggled in portions of the 2016-17 college football seasons, but on the biggest moments on the biggest stages, Watson made every play that Clemson needed. Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina is a prototypical pocket passer with a higher floor, but Watson has the higher ceiling.
3) Chicago Bears - Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Allen would have been a late first round or early second round pick had he left school a year earlier. Allen decided to return to Alabama for his junior season, and it turned out to be an excellent decision. Allen was awarded the Chuck Bednarik and Bronco Nagurski awards as the nations top defender. The Bears will be more than pleased to add Allen to their defensive front.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
A running back goes at fourth overall for the second straight season. The Jaguars offense was anemic at points in the 2016 season, and much of this falls on a horrible running game. With the fourth overall selection, the Jaguars add one of the best and most complete running back prospects in recent memory. Fournette will be a cornerstone for the Jaguars offense to build around.
5) Tennessee Titans - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
in 2016, the Titans secondary was bad, really, really bad. Outside of Jason McCourty, the Titans have almost no talent in the secondary. In terms of safeties, Kevin Byard was graded as the best on the team according to Pro Football Focus, but Byard received a lackluster 79.0 grade. The Titans take the first step in fixing the back end by adding Hooker, a safety who has drawn Ed Reed comparisons. Hooker showed incredible instincts in college and emerged as the best ballhawking safeties in college. Despite this, Hooker is very raw and still has much room to grow. The sky is the limit for the former Buckeye.
6) New York Jets - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The 2017 cornerback class is one of the deepest ever. With a combination of strong coverage skills, high end speed and elite ball skills, Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore has vaulted to the top of the cornerback pecking order. The Jets desperately need help in the secondary, and Lattimore will immediately step into a starting role, as the Jets continue to rebuild.
7) Los Angeles Chargers - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Chargers are looking for a safety to replace Eric Weddle, and while Hooker is off the board, Jamal Adams is much more than a consolations prize. Adams is an enforcer on the back end, unafraid, and in fact willing, to deliver big hits on opposing receivers. Adams was regarded by many around the LSU program as one of the best leaders to come through the school (per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com).
8) Carolina Panthers - Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The loss of Josh Norman was huge for the Panthers. The Carolina secondary very quickly became one of the worst in the NFL. James Bradberry showed promise in his rookie season, but he needs help. Sidney Jones is the solution. Despite his slender frame, Jones is a very physical corner. But what makes him such an elite prospect is how polished he is. Jones is the most NFL ready cornerback, and arguably has the best coverage skills.
9) Cincinnati Bengals - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Bengals will be looking to infuse youth into its pass rush, and they are able to fill that need with Solomon Thomas. The Stanford product has skyrocketed up draft boards since the end of the college football season. Thomas is an incredible athlete, but figures to be a tweener, two small to play on the interior, but not long enough to play on the edge. Thomas is a better fit with the Bengals on the edge. Thomas looks to be a high risk, high reward prospect.
10) Buffalo Bills - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
With Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin set to hit free agency in this summer, the Bills will be looking for a wide receiver to line up across from Sammy Watkins. Mike Williams is a huge upgrade over both Woods and Goodwin, and will help create a dynamic passing game across from fellow Clemson product Watkins.
11) New Orleans Saints - Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Another really, really bad defense. Any defensive player is a good pick for the Saints, and Reuben Foster is the best one on the board. Foster is an all-around excellent middle linebacker prospect. He is a hard hitting run defender, but he also is good in pass coverage, finishing the year with 10 passes defended.
12) Cleveland Browns - Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The Browns added a cornerstone on defense with the number one pick, and with the team’s second pick in the top 15, the quarterback position will be addressed. Trubisky is the most NFL ready quarterback in this class, and is likely an upgrade over any other quarterback on the Browns roster. Trubisky doesn’t have long to prove himself however, as the Browns undoubtedly have their eyes on the star studded 2018 quarterback class headlined Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.
13) Arizona Cardinals - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Cardinals could look for a wide receiver to replace Larry Fitzgerald here, but the team would be better off looking for a player who can impact the offense in the 2017 season. That player is O.J. Howard. The Cardinals don’t have good play from their tight ends, but that changes with Howard. Howard is the best tight end prospect since Eric Ebron, and Howard is more talented.
14) Indianapolis Colts - Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Colts have failed to address the defense for years, but with new management, that finally changes. The Colts defensive front is atrocious, thus making the addition of Malik McDowell perfect. McDowell best trait is his interior pass rushing skills. The Colts need someone that can put pressure on the quarterback, and McDowell is the best defensive front prospect available.
15) Philadelphia Eagles - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
A backfield comprised of Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood is just not good enough to get the job done. Since the departure of LeSean McCoy, the Eagles have not had a strong running game. But that could change with the addition of Dalvin Cook. By adding Cook, the Eagles will get a dynamic running back to take some of the weight off of Carson Wentz’s shoulders while the young quarterback continues to develop.
16) Baltimore Ravens - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
I honestly, can’t remember a draft post I have put up on Baltimore Beatdown that doesn’t have Corey Davis ending up as a Raven. The Ravens desperately need a number one receiver, and that is Corey Davis. Davis reminds me of Amari Cooper due to similar route running abilities coming out of college, as well as an ability to make plays after the catch. Davis will be a perfect fit for the Baltimore Ravens.
17) Washington Redskins - Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
Peppers is the most controversial player in this year’s draft. He is arguably the best athlete, and he had an incredible 2016 season with the Michigan Wolverines. But many NFL teams are not truly sure how to use him. Peppers is too small to be a linebacker in the NFL, but his coverage skills could be improved, making a placement at safety difficult. The Redskins will be willing to take the risk as Peppers has immense potential if developed properly. In addition, the Redskins need both a safety and a linebacker. He also is a major upgrade over Jamison Crowder in the return game.
18) Tennessee Titans - Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
The Titans added a safety to help on the back end with the fifth pick, and with the 18th pick, they add a corner to line up opposite McCourty. Wilson has rocketed up draft boards as he outplayed his more hyped teammate Teez Tabor in 2016. Wilson needs time to develop, but he is a very physical prospect who possesses solid ball skills.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee
With possible free agent departures and players coming off of injuries, the Buccaneers could be looking to make an addition to its defensive line. Barnett reminds me of Terrell Suggs as the Tennessee product has fallen due to athleticism concerns despite high production, just like Suggs. Barnett has the potential to be a great pass rusher, and will form a great duo with Noah Spence.
20) Denver Broncos - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos need help on their offensive line more than anything else, especially at tackle. Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk is the best overall offensive tackle in this year’s class. Ramczyk is a technician with his hands and feet, something that will be important in a division with Khalil Mack, Melvin Ingram and Justin Houston. Alabama’s Cam Robinson may have more upside, but Ramczyk is a safer pick with no off the field concerns.
21) Detroit Lions - Taco Charlton, DE/OLB, Michigan
The Lions are yet another team in need of infusing youth into a porous pass rush. In Taco Charlton, the Lions get a long, strong and athletic pass rusher. Charlton came on strong down the stretch of the 2016 season with incredible performances against Ohio State and Florida State. Charlton has drawn comparisons to Chandler Jones.
22) Miami Dolphins - Hasson Reddick, ILB, Temple
Next to Peppers, Hasson Reddick may be the most versatile player in this draft class. Reddick played safety in college as well as outside linebacker. But in the Senior Bowl, Reddick showcased his skills as an inside linebacker, and impressed draft analysts across the NFL landscape. As an ILB, Reddick has strong skills as a pass rusher and in pass coverage. The Dolphins defense has gotten poor play from linebackers in recent seasons, and Reddick will look to reverse that trend.
23) New York Giants - David Njoku, TE, Miami
Larry Donnell had his chance. Will Tye had his chance. Neither of the top two tight ends on the Giants are talented enough to get the job done. With the selection of Njoku, the Giants will attempt to make an offense that struggled to score in 2016 much more potent in 2017. Njoku is an extremely athletic tight end with high end speed for the position. Along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, Njoku could help create one of the better passing attacks in the NFL.
24) Oakland Raiders - Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Who knows how far the Raiders would have gotten if Derek Carr had not went down with a broken fibula. The Raiders are not far from being Super Bowl contenders, but just need help in the secondary. Teez Tabor came into the season as the top corner in this years class, but didn’t have a great season. In addition, questions have arisen regarding his work ethic. The Raiders however cannot afford to pass up on a player of Tabor’s talent and potential.
25) Houston Texans - DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Houston Texans thought they had their quarterback solution when they signed Brock Osweiler last offseason. Osweiler, however, proved to be far from the answer as he did not even come close to living up to his contract. The Texans are set at every other position on offense, and the defense finished the regular season ranked number one. The time is now for the Houston Texans. Therefore, bailing on Osweiler after just one season may be the right path to take. The Texans select the top quarterback on the board, DeShone Kizer. Kizer is incredibly athletic, and has a big, strong frame. Thus comparisons to Cam Newton immediately jump to mind. Kizer has the arm talent to succeed, but he is very inconsistent. The Texans will need to help Kizer refine his game, but it is a risk worth taking for a Texans team with a window that will only be open for so long.
26) Seattle Seahawks - Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Seahawks seemingly need an offensive lineman every year, and it continues into 2017. With Cam Robinson, the Seahawks are getting the most talented offensive lineman in the class, but one that needs more polish. Robinson could become one of the better tackles in the league with the right coaching. In addition, the Seahawks need to make sure they help Robinson stay out of trouble off of the field.
27) Kansas City Chiefs - Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
It’s time for the Chiefs to replace Derrick Johnson at inside linebacker. Zach Cunningham was a playmaker for the Vanderbilt Commodores as he vaulted into first round consideration. Cunningham plays downhill and is a very reliable tackler. Cunningham also has a nose for making tackles in the backfield. Lance Zierlein compared Cunningham to Alec Ogletree, another athletic, playmaking linebacker.
28) Dallas Cowboys - Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Tim Williams is a polarizing prospect due to the combination of his on field talent, but off the field issues. White has incredible speed and unteachable knack for getting the quarterback. The Cowboys would love to add Williams to their defensive front that is in need of a pass rush. In addition, Jerry Jones and the rest of the Cowboys organization has never shied away from a player with off the field concerns.
29) Green Bay Packers - Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The Packers secondary was one of the worst in the NFL in 2016. In the NFC Championship Game, Matt Ryan and the Falcons picked the unit apart. To get to the Super Bowl, the Packers are going to have to beat the Falcons, and to do so, the team need a much better secondary unit. With the 29th overall pick, the Green Bay Packers add Tre’Davious White out of LSU, a player whom Pro Football Focus graded as the top coverage corner in college football for the 2016 season.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers - John Ross, WR, Washington
Outside of Antonio Brown, the Steelers don’t have any truly reliably receivers. Martavis Bryant will be back next year, but the Steelers could use a playmaker in the slot. John Ross is exactly that. Ross is almost an exact clone of DeSean Jackson. Ross is the fastest receiver in this class, and will make plays for the Steelers down field. He also can play outside if injuries or suspensions force the Steelers to push him outside.
31) Atlanta Falcons - Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
Brantley is an extremely powerful defensive tackle. He has a very high motor and the strength to beat blockers whether against the run or the pass. The Falcons defense needs to add a interior lineman, and Brantley is the best one still on the board.
32) New England Patriots - Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA
Takkarst McKinley is an athletic freak. McKinley has a very high motor, and quickly tires out offensive tackles. McKinley had an incredible 10 tackles in the 2016 season and emerged as a playmaker for the UCLA defense. He needs time to develop, but the Patriots have the coaching staff to take advantage of his athletic gifts.
The NFL Combine weekend figures to be an exciting few days of action. It’s not just the on field performances that are important, but the interviews as well. The Combine is as close to a job interview as an NFL prospect will get. Make sure to check Baltimore Beatdown for all of the latest Combine coverage, and an updated Mock Draft next week.