USA TODAY Sports’ Lorenzo Reyes looks at some of the big questions that will help shape the outcome of the 2017 NFL draft in Philadelphia.
USA TODAY Sports
azcentral sports NFL insider Bob McManaman offers the third edition of his annual mock draft. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac.
The NFL draft is April 27-29 in Philadelphia, but it’s never too early to start taking a look at how things could play out in the first round. Last year in his final mock draft, he correctly projected 25 of the 31 players that would be selected in the first round with six going to the designated team he predicted.
His picks are based on observations, team needs, scouting services, various NFL sources:
1. Browns: DE Myles Garrett, 6-4, 268, Texas A&M
Comment: No change, but here’s the thing: The Browns still need a quarterback and they could be very tempted to deal this pick and a few others to New England for backup Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s a deal that could get done just before the draft. If not, the pick will be Garrett, who is the consensus No. 1 prospect in this year’s class.
2. 49ers: DE Solomon Thomas, 6-2, 275, Stanford
Comment: I had them taking cornerback Marshon Lattimore here, but you can’t overlook the Stanford connection with new GM John Lynch. Although that’s a reach of a reason on how to use the No. 2 overall pick, don’t put it past this franchise. Thomas, however, is a top 10 pick in my opinion. I just don’t think he’s the second-best pick.
3. Bears: DE/DT Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 291, Alabama
Comment: No change. Allen makes a lot of sense and so would Lattimore, the Ohio State cornerback. Frankly, the Bears could do just about anything here and it would improve their team. Unless, of course, they draft a quarterback at No. 3. Don’t put it past them, though.
4. Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette, 6-1, 230, Louisiana State
Comment: I’m going back to Fournette, whom I projected here in my original mock draft. The Jaguars are loading up on both sides of the ball, but the one thing they’re missing a star No. 1 running back. Problem solved.
5. Titans: CB Marshon Lattimore, 6-0, 195, Ohio State
Comment: Pick change. It’s still a defensive back, but now the Titans get the best corner available and not a safety. Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker are both worthy picks, however. There are some whispers about Tennessee taking a wide receiver here and, as we know, there are three very good ones who will go in the first round.
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6. Jets: S Malik Hooker, 6-2, 205, Ohio State
Comment: Pick change. I had them taking Fournette here last time out. Now it’s Hooker, a rangy and talented deep man who brings some real energy to the Jets’ secondary. Could they take a quarterback here? They could. They’d really have to love the guy, though, and they haven’t gotten it right on a quarterback in years.
7. Chargers: S Jamal Adams, 6-0, 211, Louisiana State
Comment: Pick change. Previously, the projections were Hooker and most recently, Clemson receiver Mike Williams. I’m going back to a defensive back, where Adams rates as the best available still on my board. Gauging the Chargers, however, has never been easy to predict.
8. Panthers: RB Dalvin Cook, 5-11, 206, Florida State
Comment: No change. I’ve had the Panthers selecting Cook in all three of my mock drafts now it’s for a reason – they need a game-changer at the position with fresh legs. From what I’m hearing, they prefer him over Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, but they’d take Fournette if he were to fall this far.
9. Bengals: DE Derek Barnett, 6-3, 265, Tennessee
Comment: Pick change. Previously, I had the Titans taking Stanford’s Thomas. No problem. Barnett is just as worthy here as a pass rusher and edge presence. If they look at another position here, it could be a linebacker and the Cardinals hope it isn’t Alabama’s Reuben Foster.
10. Bills: TE O.J. Howard, 6-6, 249, Alabama
Comment: Pick change. I’m going from Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson to Howard, who has been soaring up draft boards everywhere, including mine. I still don’t know what the Bills are going to do long-term at quarterback, but he’ll need another pass catcher and even though the top three receivers are available, I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s the best tight end in the draft.
11. Saints: DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley, 6-2, 265, UCLA
Comment: Pick change. They could still take ILB Reuben Foster here, but they have a bigger need for an edge rusher, and McKinley can solve that problem. Keep in mind also that the Saints dealt Brandin Cooks to the Patriots and the draft’s top three wide receivers are still available.
12. Browns: QB Deshaun Watson, 6-2, 215, Clemson
Comment: Pick change. It’s still a quarterback, but now it’s Watson instead of Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. Then again, as previously mentioned, the Browns might still be able to find their quarterback via trade with New England. If not, they’ll feel the pressure to draft one and my guess is it’s either Watson or Mitchell Trubisky.
13. Cardinals: ILB Reuben Foster, 6-1, 236, Alabama
Comment: The Cardinals, I’m assuming, would love this scenario. Foster is still available and so are wide receivers Mike Williams, Corey David and John Ross. Kizer and Trubisky are still on the board as well. I don’t think the Cardinals will go for a quarterback at No. 13, but they could move up to make sure they get Foster or they could trade down and nab one of the quarterbacks in addition to picking up another draft choice. They may also decide to trade back in the first round to grab a quarterback such as Patrick Mahomes.
14. Eagles: WR Mike Williams, 6-3, 225, Clemson
Comment: Pick change. I’ve written before that the Eagles will draft a receiver at some point in the first few rounds, but I can’t see how they pass on one with this pick, considering the big three are all available. Williams might not be here in reality, of course. Neither might Corey Davis. Cornerback is also a position they will be targeting high.
15. Colts: OT Ryan Ramczyk, 6-5, 314, Wisconsin
Comment: No change. The Colts swapped drafting spots with the Eagles and I still have them taking the first offensive lineman in the draft. They can’t invest enough in added protection for Andrew Luck. Another option is pass rusher and there still are a handful of very good ones left.
16. Ravens: WR Corey Davis, 6-3, 213, Western Michigan
Comment: Pick change. Previously, I had them grabbing a cornerback but the Ravens are in desperate need of a playmaking wide receiver and they’ll be incredibly pleased to land one such as Davis, who is a sure thing in everyone’s book.
17. Washington Redskins: SS/ILB Jabrill Peppers, 6-0, 205, Michigan
Comment: Pick change. In my last mock draft, I had them taking Vanderbilt inside linebacker Zach Cunningham, who I believe is going to be a perennial Pro Bowl player. But Peppers’ name keeps getting linked to Washington more and more and I’m not sure how many teams have Cunningham ranked as high as I do.
18. Titans: WR John Ross III, 5-11, 185, Washington
Comment: Pick change. It’s still a receiver, but now it’s the speedster Ross instead of Corey Davis, who is off the board. Ross could end up going higher than this, but I think this is a great landing spot for him. Whoever gets him could have a real playmaker on their hands.
19. Buccaneers: RB Christian McCaffrey, 5-11, 200, Stanford
Comment: Pick change. I’m switching from Michigan State defensive tackle Malik McDowell to McCaffrey, who could make a huge difference in the Bucs’ backfield. I didn’t have him as a first-rounder in my previous mock draft, but it’s becoming clearer that McCaffrey is Round 1-worthy.
20. Broncos: OT Garett Bolles, 6-5, 296, Utah
Comment: No change. I still think it’s going to be an offensive lineman and again, it’s either Bolles or Alabama’s Cam Robinson. The Broncos might pick McCaffrey if he’s available.
21. Lions: TE David Njoku, 6-4, 240, Miami
Comment: Pick change. It’s still a tight end, but since O.J. Howard is long gone, they take the next-best thing and grab Njoku, who many scouts believe will be a star player at the next level. It’s no secret the Lions need more pass catchers, either.
22. Dolphins: G/C Forrest Lamp, 6-3, 305, Western Kentucky
Comment: Pick change. It’s looking more and more likely that the Dolphins are targeting help on the offensive line so instead of a cornerback it’s Lamp, who now seems primed to be a first-round pick.
23. New York Giants: ILB Zach Cunningham, 6-3, 230, Vanderbilt
Comment: Pick change. Last time out, the pick was Njoku, but in Cunningham, they’re getting one of my favorite players in this year’s draft. I think Cunningham is a bigger version of Luke Kuechly, and if you know anything about linebackers, you know that’s pretty good. Giants fans had better not boo this pick if it happens.
24. Raiders: DE/LB Haason Reddick, 6-1, 237, Temple
Comment: Pick change. I’ve gone from receiver to cornerback to linebacker and Reddick’s stock has been soaring lately. Don’t be surprised if he’s taken even higher than this. He could go as high as No. 13 to the Cardinals.
25. Texans: QB Mitchell Trubisky, 6-3, 235, North Carolina
Comment: Pick change. Previously, the pick here was Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson, but in light of their quarterback situation let’s go Trubisky this time. The Texans need somebody to line up under center. Maybe this kid will pan out and be special.
26. Seahawks: CB Adoree’ Jackson, 5-11, 185, Southern California
Comment: Pick change. I’m moving on from Jabrill Peppers, the Michigan safety, to Jackson. Given that Seattle appears to be serious about trading Richard Sherman, this pick makes a lot of sense. There’s two to three other corners the Seahawks may consider, however.
27. Chiefs: CB Gareon Conley, 6-0, 195, Ohio State
Comment: Pick change. Previously, the choice was Trubisky. Now it’s Conley, who moves into my first round for the first time. I still think the Chiefs need to draft a quarterback, though, and I won’t be shocked if they end up using this pick exactly for that. Mahomes and Kizer are still available.
28. Cowboys: CB Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 196, Alabama
Comment: Pick change. I went from cornerback to wide receiver to cornerback. Humphrey, to me, looks like a steal this late in Round 1. Problem is, you never know what Jerry Jones is going to do on the first day of the draft.
29. Packers: CB Tre’Davious White, 6-0, 184, LSU
Comment: No change. The Packers need all sorts of help in their secondary and thanks to the benefit of this year’s class being so heavy in quality defensive backs, they can have their pick of the litter.
30. Steelers: DT Malik McDowell, 6-4, 276, Michigan State
Comment: Pick change. It’s still a defensive lineman, but now it’s McDowell, who is a solid disruptor up front. The Steelers might think about drafting a successor to Ben Roethlisberger with this pick, but I think they’ll draft the best available athlete.
31. Falcons: DE Charles Harris, 6-3, 260, Missouri
Comment: No change. For the third straight time, I’m sticking with Harris as the Falcons’ pick, especially after talking with coach Dan Quinn recently at the NFL owners meetings.
32. Saints: CB Teez Tabor, 6-0, 201, Florida
Comment: The Saints acquired this pick from the Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade and they’ll likely use it on a defensive back. I’m guessing it will be Tabor, who becomes the sixth cornerback to go in the first round.
Reach McManaman at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.