Pre-NFL Combine Mock Draft (2017)

Greetings! Technically, the NFL Combine already kicked off on Wednesday, but the athletic testing begins this morning, and that’s when the real fun begins.

Each year I enjoy seeing how different mock drafts look before vs after the NFL Combine. That’s why I like to do one at the last minute before the drills kick off.

Aright then, let’s get to it! There’s no time to waste!



2nd Option: Jonathan Allen
3rd Option: Deshaun Watson
Dark Horse: Give Baltimore another franchise.

– In the 2017 Draft class, there’s Myles Garrett…and then there’s everyone else. He’s in a tier all of his own, and he just so happens to play the most sought after position in football outside of quarterback. He should be the man for Cleveland. Let’s just hope they don’t get “too cute” for their own good like they did last year by trading down from the #2 spot. Passing on Carson Wentz is a memory that will surely haunt fans of the franchise for the years to come. Passing on Myles Garrett could be an even greater sting.



2nd Option: Deshaun Watson
3rd Option: Jonathan Allen
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– The 49ers’ roster is undermanned across the board. There are wholesale changes that need to take place, which is why they brought in GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan to help right the sinking ship.

It’ll be interesting to see what side of the ball the Niners focus on with Shanahan being the offensive juggernaut that he is and Lynch making his bread and butter as a defensive stud at safety back in the day. Regardless, a new face of the franchise at quarterback has to be priority #1 now that Colin Kaepernick has officailly opted out of his contract to become a free agent. So the question now is whether they’ll trade for an established quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo? Kirk Cousins?), or if they take one with this pick.

There are reports Kirk Cousins and Kyle Shanahan want to be reunited together, so that’s something to certainly keep an eye on leading up to the draft. In order to land him, they’d have to make a significant trade proposal since Washington just franchise tagged Kirk a could of days ago. If they pony up to get him, this pick could potentially go to Washington. In that case, I’d still peg Mitch Trubisky to be the selection.

But what about Deshaun Watson? He’s certainly a possibility. But while he has the proven pedigree at the collegiate level, there are simply too many concerns about his consistency as a passer to make me believe he’d go ahead of a prototypical QB prospect like Trubisky. That said, Shanahan was rumored to be enamored with Marcus Mariota when he was still an offensive coordinator with Cleveland a few years back. Mariota and Watson are/were very similar prospects to one another, so it’s reasonable to speculate Shanahan could also become enamored with Watson.



2nd Option: Jonathan Allen
3rd Option: Jamal Adams
Dark Horse: Deshaun Watson

– It’s easy for most to peg Jonathan Allen here; he’s one of the best prospects in this draft class and is honestly the only prospect (outside of a quarterback) that can possibly come close to challenging Myles Garrett for the top spot. But I’m of the belief that a team like Chicago, one in dire need of help in the secondary, will favor an elite corner prospect like Marshon Lattimore over a 5 technique like Allen would be in their system. They have a good group speedy edge rushers to pressure the QB, and now they need talent in the secondary to break up/intercept rushed throws.

Lattimore checks off all of the boxes for what teams look for in a potential shut down cornerback: Speed, height, agility, ability to shadow, awareness/play recognition, the works. The only thing to worry about here is his longterm health. He’s been nicked up quite a bit during his time at Ohio St. That could scare some teams away from selecting him this high.



2nd Option: Jamal Adams
3rd Option: Malik Hooker
Dark Horse: Mitch Trubisky

– The Jaguars are one of those sneaky teams who play their cards close to the vest. In the past few years, the media has had a hard time deciphering who the Jaguars were truly honing in on each time. Perhaps the biggest surprise was when they took Blake Bortles as the 3rd overall selection in 2014. Barely anyone saw that one coming.

This year, I think Jacksonville does something similar and blows the lid off of this draft by selecting Deshaun Watson.

While many assume the Jaguars will give Bortles one last season to prove himself as a viable franchise QB, one has to wonder if Jacksonville already knows that the odds of that happening are slim to none at this point. Not only has he been a disaster on the field, but he hasn’t fared much better off of it either. Sounds as There’s no reason to continue this experiment when they know it’s going to ultimately end ugly. Now’s the perfect time for a changing of the guard since they brought back Tom Coughlin to help shape this roster up.

As for Watson, he’s not so perfect either, mind you. Most noteworthy is that he has trouble consistently placing the ball in the right spots for his receivers, namely with the long ball. But by all accounts, he has everything you look for “upstairs” in a franchise QB; tough as nails and cool under pressure. He’s what every team with a culture of losing needs. There’s not a better leader in this draft class than the two time Davey O’Brien Award winner. Watson has proven he has that “it” factor Jacksonville so desperately needs. It’s a factor that simply can’t be quantified with any advanced statistical metric or algorithm.



2nd Option: Jamal Adams
3rd Option: Malik Hooker
Dark Horse: Corey Davis

– Chalk this one up to, “best player available.” Addressing their need in the secondary will be tempting here, but Jonathan Allen and Jurrell Casey would make for one incredibly devastating duo at the 5 technique in their 3-4 scheme. And considering the depth of corners in this draft class (spoiler: it’s insane), I’m sure it’ll be easier for them to pass on one here expecting there to still be a lot of great names still available at pick #17.



2nd Option: Leonard Fournette
3rd Option: Solomon Thomas
Dark Horse: Corey Davis

– It should be tempting for them to grab Leonard Fournette here, but Todd Bowles’ emphasis on defense needs to be addressed before they have the luxury of drafting a RB high in the draft.

The dark horse candidate to be taken here here is Corey Davis after the recent release of Brandon Marshall. Many peg Mike Williams as the top receiver in this draft class, but my proverbial money is on Davis for that honor.



2nd Option: Malik Hooker
3rd Option: Corey Davis
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– If Thomas is still on the board at pick #7, I don’t think San Diego Las Angeles passes up the opportunity to pair last year’s rookie sensation Joey Bosa with the freakish Solomon Thomas along the defensive line. Alex Smith, Paxton Lynch (Tony Romo…?), and Derek Carr would absolutely loathe this selection.



2nd Option: Malik Hooker
3rd Option: Jamal Adams
Dark Horse: Dalvin Cook

– This is one of those obvious pairings that would be a match made in heaven. The Panthers have plenty of issues they still need to address on defense before they can return to their 2015 Super Bowl form, but adding a devastatingly elite power runner like Fournette to the mix bodes extremely well for Cam Newton, who needs some pressure taken off of him in a big, big way.



2nd Option: Derek Barnett
3rd Option: Corey Davis
Dark Horse: Ryan Ramczyk

– Not once have I ever seen McKinley go as high as #9 in any mock drafts, but I think there’s a real possibility if he tests well at the Combine like I think he will. He’s pretty raw and lacks the finesse you want to see in an edge rusher, but he has the speed on the edge that teams will covet come draft night, and Cincinnati will be prioritizing the pass rush on defense this offseason according to Director of player personnel Duke Tobin. Also noteworthy here is that the Bengals won’t mind breaking their mold of only going for prototypical ends who are 6’6 or taller. McKinley definitely comes up on the short end of the stick at 6’2, but that won’t matter as long as he can continue to thrive using his speed to power.



2nd Option: Corey Davis
3rd Option: Mike Williams
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– This is another pick I haven’t seen in any other mocks…but I certainly don’t mind making it!

A few years ago, Buffalo was hot to trout for the athletically gifted TE Eric Ebron. But they weren’t able to land him, and they haven’t really done anything to resolve their need for a quality TE since then. Enter Njoku. He already measured extremely well at the Combine during measurements, and I have no doubt he’ll blow people out of the water when the TE hits the field in a couple of days. Speed, power, vertical…think the next Vernon Davis here.

Finding more pass catchers is imperative for Buffalo, and Njoku would help solve that.



2nd Option: Malik Hooker
3rd Option: Derek Barnett
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– I have Jamal Adams falling a littler further than most, but it’s hard to envision him falling any lower than #11 to his hometown of New Orleans.



2nd Option: Malik Hooker
3rd Option: Ryan Ramczyk
Dark Horse: O.J. Howard

– Out of the top 3 QBs in this draft class, I think Kizer is the riskiest for Cleveland. Most will agree that Watson or Trubisky would be their preference, but there’s not much they can do if the two are already gone by this pick. On the positive size, Kizer’s size and strength would make for a great cold weather QB. He’ll be one of the strongest QBs in the NFL from day 1.



2nd Option: Malik Hooker
3rd Option: Ryan Ramczyk
Dark Horse: John Ross III

– It will be tempting to grab Malik Hooker here, but the Cardinals have a real big issue with WRs outside of the aging Larry Fitzgerald. They need another big bodied vertical threat, and Davis fits that mold. He makes remarkable circus grabs and is elite with his elusiveness after the catch for someone his size. He’s essentially a swiss army knife.



2nd Option: Ryan Ramczyk
3rd Option: Mike Williams
Dark Horse: Sidney Jones

– This would be quite an excellent steal for the Eagles. They had one of the worst secondaries this past season, and Malik Hooker has the range and athleticism to cover the entirety of the field. Many have him ranked as a top 5 prospect, and landing him at #14 could be the steal of the draft.



2nd Option: Dalvin Cook
3rd Option: O.J. Howard
Dark Horse: Taco Charlton

– It’d be easy to go for the sexy pick in Dalvin Cook, but the Colts need to continue setting their sole focus on protecting Andrew Luck before worrying about anything else. Ramczyk is a little risky in that he only had one season playing Division I football, but it sure was a great season for him, and these elite Wisconsin linemen tend to succeed in the NFL due to how the program prepares them for a pro, run based offense.



2nd Option: Dalvin Cook
3rd Option: Sidney Jones
Dark Horse: Cam Robinson

– I have Mike Williams falling to this spot for two reasons. One, we don’t know if that scary neck injury from a couple of years back will have any lingering effects tagged by medical at the Combine. Two, I don’t think he’ll run very well at the Combine. Otherwise, what you get with Williams is a long, big bodied receiver who can go up and get the best of almost anyone in 50/50 jump ball situations. He’s going to be a nice, big safety blanket for the QB fortunate enough to have him on their roster. In this case, Joe Flacco. He could really use some consistent targets to throw to right now.



2nd Option: Corey Davis
3rd Option: Mike Williams
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– They’ll likely need to replace both Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon at WR via the draft and free agency. But Cook falling this low will be too hard for them to pass up, especially since their own backfield is somewhat of a mediocre mess right now.

Don’t put it past them to trade up for Trubisky, Watson, or Kizer if they decide to trade Kirk Cousins this offseason. Or they could even trade down for Patrick Mahomes II.



2nd Option: O.J. Howard
3rd Option: Marshon Humphrey
Dark Horse: Hassan Reddick

– The Titans are on the cusp of being a quality playoff team. To reach that next level, they’ll need to address their secondary in a major way this offseason. The cupboard is pretty bare. Drafting Sidney Jones is a significant step towards fixing that. He’s an efficient, technically sound corner who should be a great “shadower” in the NFL.



2nd Option: Derek Barnett
3rd Option: Mike Williams
Dark Horse: Teez Tabor

– It’d be intriguing if they drafted one of the Florida cornerbacks to pair with former teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, but it’s sure going to be tough passing on O.J. Howard if he’s still somehow left on the board by pick #19. Honestly, I don’t feel very good putting him this low. I think he has top 10 talent along with David Njoku, who I had Buffalo taking earlier on.



2nd Option: Cam Robinson
3rd Option: Taco Charlton
Dark Horse: Forrest Lamp

– The Broncos need to fix their offensive line in about the worst way possible. If Cam Robinson is still on the board here, it will likely be a coin toss decision between Robinson and and Bolles. If they want to focus on the power run game, they should go with Robinson. If they want to focus on pass protection more than anything else, then Bolles is the guy. I clearly have them favoring the latter.



2nd Option: Derek Barnett
3rd Option: Taco Charlton
Dark Horse: D’Onta Foreman

– It sounds as if the Lions want to focus on fixing their putrid run game this offseason. Drafting Cam Robinson would go a long ways towards accomplishing that goal. They’ll still need a good power runner, though. Which is why I expect them to aim their focus on D’Onta Foreman in round 2.



2nd Option: Taco Charlton
3rd Option: Teez Tabor
Dark Horse: Tim Williams

– Derek Barnett likely won’t wow anyone at the Combine. Probably the opposite, in fact. But his production during his time at Tennessee, which included breaking records set by some guy named Reggie White? That speaks for itself. That should carry over into the NFL. This could be a classic case of putting too much stock in the Combine instead of letting production speak for itself.



2nd Option: Haason Reddick
3rd Option: Taco Charlton
Dark Horse: Patrick Mahomes

– With the release of Victor Cruz, that leaves the door open for a 3rd WR to take his mantle. John Ross III is an exceptional athlete and in the same mold as other shorter WRs with blazing fast speed such as Tavon Austin and Brandin Cooks.



2nd Option: Charles Harris
3rd Option: T.J. Watt
Dark Horse: Alvin Kamara

– The Raiders ranked dead last in sacks last season. Charlton would be a great addition for a team that plays a hybrid defense like the Raiders do. He’s versatile enough to play the end in both 4-3 and 3-4 formations.



2nd Option: Marlon Humphrey
3rd Option: Tre’Davious White
Dark Horse: Patrick Mahomes II

– If the Texans lose free agent A.J. Bouye to a team that overbids for his services, a replacement will need to be on hand. At this point in the draft, Teez Tabor would be a steal.



2nd Option: Marlon Humphrey
3rd Option: Forrest Lamp
Dark Horse: DeShone Kizer

– With Earl Thomas about ready to retire, drafting a replacement makes a lot of sense for Seattle. Baker may be undersized, but he’s a complete ball hawk who covers the entire field and is also be a viable option at nickel.



2nd Option: Tre’Davious White
3rd Option: Charles Harris
Dark Horse: Alvin Kamara

– Alex Smith is getting up there in age, and despite being a decent QB, he just doesn’t appear to be someone who can lead this team very far in the playoffs. Mahomes would certainly bring something different to the table as a QB. While Smith is known as being a safe, check down QB, Mahomes plays like someone who’s playing a Madden video game.


Alright, everyone. At this point, the athletic testing is just minutes away. So I’ll wrap this thing up without additional comments. Happy NFL Combine, everyone!







2nd Round:

browns-cake-icon33) Tim Williams (EDGE – Alabama)

49ers-cake-icon34) Christian McCaffrey (HB-WR / Stanford)

jaguars-cake-icon35) Forrest Lamp (OL / Western Kentucky)

bears-cake-icon36) Cooper Kupp (WR / Eastern Michigan)

rams-cake-icon37) Ju-Ju Smith Schuster (WR / USC)

chargers-cake-icon38) Adoree’ Jackson (CB / USC)

jets-cake-icon39) Haason Reddick (LB / Temple)

panthers-cake-icon40) Zay Jones (WR / East Carolina)

bengals-cake-icon41) Dan Feeney (OG / Indiana)

saints-coke-logo42) Zach Cunningham (LB / Vanderbilt)

eagles-cake-icon43) Alvin Kamara (HB / Tennessee)

bills-cake-icon44) Quincy Wilson (CB / Florida)

cardinals-cake-logo45) Gareon Conley (CB / Ohio St.)

vikings-cake-icon46) Roderick Johnson (OT / Florida St.)

ravens-cake-icon47) Jarrad Davis (LB / Florida)

colts-cake-icon48) T.J. Watt (LB / Wisconsin)

r-words-cake-icon49) Curtis Samuel (WR-HB / Ohio St.)

buccaneers-cake-icon50) Caleb Brantley (DT / Florida)

broncos-cake-icon51) Antonio Garcia (OL / Troy)

browns-cake-icon52) Carl Lawson (EDGE / Auburn)

lions-cake-icon53) D’Onta Freeman (HB / Texas)

dolphins-cake-icon54) Desmond King (CB / Iowa)

giants-cake-icon55) Evan Engram (TE / Ole Miss)

raiders-cake-icon56) Ryan Anderson (EDGE / Alabama)

texans-cake-icon57) Gerald Everett (TE / South Alabama)

seahawks-cake-icon58) Jourdan Lewis (CB / Michigan)

chiefs-cake-icon59) Raekwon McMillan (LB / Ohio St.)

cowboys-cake-icon60) Dawuane Smoot (EDGE / Illinois)

packers-cake-icon61) DeMarcus Walker (EDGE / Florida St.)

steelers-cake-logo62) Cameron Sutton (CB / Tennessee)

falcons-cake-icon63) Dion Dawkins (OL / Temple)

patriots-cake-icon64) Bucky Hodges (TE / Virginia Tech)


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