Gridiron Experts Staff Final Mock Draft

2017 NFL Final Mock Draft

The explosion in popularity of dynasty and devy fantasy leagues has increased the interest in the NFL draft process substantially. Not that long ago, nobody would have ever suggested putting the draft on television would be a good idea. Now, the business of football has become a 24/7, 365 global entity, and people have entire careers based on evaluating players throughout the draft process.

The following is a final staff Mock Draft with two writer breakdowns beneath the table. Jody Smith and Mark Bonadonna have offered their thoughts along with their predictions for the first round.


Jody Smith’s Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE | Texas A&M

There are rumors beginning to surface that the Browns might take a quarterback here, but I’m not buying it. This isn’t a great class of signal-callers, and the Browns are all but assured of getting one of the top QB options with their second selection, at 12. Garrett is a special player and Cleveland’s new analytics staff will recognize the benefits of adding a once-in-a-decade talent to their defensive front. Darkhorse move: take a king’s ransom, move down a few spots, and acquire even more draft capital.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Soloman Thomas, DE | Stanford

A new regime in San Francisco means the Niners could go any number of directions. John Lynch and company have needs at practically every position on the field, so trading down to accumulate more picks is definitely in play- if they can find a trade partner. Assuming they stay, rebuilding the defensive front is always a high priority for rebuilding squads, and local pass rusher Soloman Thomas has the versatility to fit anywhere.

3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DT | Alabama

Similar to the 49ers, the Bears have enough needs to be flexible with this pick. By signing QB Mike Glennon to a healthy contract, I think we can rule out a signal-caller here, and none of the wideouts warrant a selection this high. I think Chicago looks to the defensive side and takes arguably the best defensive lineman in this draft.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB | LSU

With Tom Coughlin now running things in Jacksonville, we might see an end to the club’s draft incompetence. What the Jags have done this offseason is continue to reinforce a talented young defense, while ignoring the offense. The Jaguars running game has been one of the worst in the NFL and nabbing a tremendous talent like Leonard Fournette would instantly turn around that unit and help take pressure off of struggling quarterback Blake Bortles. The Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott at the No. 4 spot last year and proved that elite running backs can still warrant high draft consideration, and Leonard Fournette is certainly in the elite prospect class.

5. Tennessee Titans: Jamal Adams, S | LSU

The Titans, coming off of a 9-7 season, continue to build a contender in the AFC South and with two first-round picks can really establish themselves as the division favorites. Rumors are that the team plans to reinforce their secondary. Since this is a very deep cornerback class, I think the Titans nab a premiere safety here and will look at the corners in Round 2, where there will still be a surplus at that position.

6. New York Jets: O.J. Howard, TE | Alabama

The Jets, with needs all over the field, will likely approach the first round with a “best available player” approach. New York also has one of the worst group of pass catchers in the NFL, and there are even rumors that the team will part ways with Eric Decker, further necessitating the need to acquire skill position talent. Howard is considered one of the best tight end prospects to come out of college in years and would solve a need at a position that has been almost vacant for years. If they pass on Howard, cornerback Marshon Lattimore is in play here.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S | Ohio State

If this plays out, the Chargers will have added two straight elite defensive starters from Ohio State. Last year, nobody saw San Diego selecting Joey Bosa and the Chargers hit a home run. Now in Los Angeles, the Chargers could look to add Bosa’s former teammate as a huge piece to a rebuilt Charger defense. The secondary is probably the biggest need for Los Angeles, so they’re fortunate to get their man at No. 7.

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB | Stanford

I really don’t like this pick, but rumors are starting to take off that McCaffrey is going to be selected in the top-10. From a need standpoint, this move makes sense. The Panthers have little depth behind 30-year old Jonathan Stewart and McCaffrey’s chess-piece type of skill set could add a new dimension to Carolina’s offense. For me, the fit isn’t ideal, as I feel McCaffrey would be best-suited being selected by a creative play-caller that knows how to properly utilize his talents

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Rueben Foster, LB | Alabama

Foster is one of my favorite players in this draft and fits a need for the Bengals. It’s almost too perfect to work out. Cincinnati could also go in a number of different directions, including offensive tackle, wideout, or pass rusher.

10. Buffalo Bills: Marlon Humphrey, CB | Alabama

Wide Receiver is certainly in play here, but this is an underwhelming group or wideout, and after re-signing QB Tyrod Taylor, I don’t think they’re looking at the signal-callers. Instead, the new-look Bills will nab an outstanding cornerback to replace Stephon Gilmore. Humphrey might be the best corner in this deep draft class and means the Crimson Tide now have four of the top 10 players selected in this draft.

11. New Orleans Saints: Taco Charlton, DE | Michigan

The biggest need for the Saints is a pass rusher, and versatile Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton can fit in just about anywhere along the defensive line or as an edge rusher. The Saints have shown a lot of interest in Charlton, meeting with him at Michigan’s pro day and again for one of their private visits. Cornerback is definitely in play, but with this deep class, New Orleans can afford to address that need a little later.

12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB | North Carolina

Quite simply, the Browns biggest needs is to acquire a franchise quarterback. Although this is an underwhelming group of QB’s, the Browns have shown interest in all of them. Unless the club can trade down here- which is a real possibility- they’ll likely try to solve that need by taking Trubisky, who appears to be the most pro-ready of the first-round quarterbacks. The 12th pick is a prime spot for teams interested in nabbing a quarterback to trade up, so there’s a good chance this pick is Trubisky or another QB, regardless of who owns the selection when the card is turned in.

13. Arizona Cardinals: DeShone Kizer, QB | Notre Dame

With Carson Palmer nearing the end of the road, it’s expected that the Cardinals are going to be very interested in acquiring his heir apparent sooner rather than later. Head coach Bruce Arians has said that he only feels one quarterback in this class is ready to start now, and although that isn’t necessarily the plan as long as the Cards still have Palmer, Arians is said to be impressed with Kizer.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Marshon Lattimore, CB | Ohio State

A lot of people still have the Eagles looking at wide receivers, but after signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, I don’t see that as a need at all. Running back could be a consideration, as could a pass rusher, but the Eagles have done a ton of homework researching many corners in this draft. Lattimore is a top-ten talent that Philly will happily take here at 14 to beef up their secondary.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Cam Robinson, OT | Alabama

The Colts have a lot of defensive needs, but their biggest priority has got to be to better protect franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, who took a lot of punishment last season behind Indy’s poor offensive line. This is considered a substandard draft for offensive tackles, so the Colts will gladly take the No. 1 prospect who happens to fill a huge need for the team.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE | UCLA

This is the typical smart pick by Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, who hits first-round home runs in the draft with talented, versatile edge rusher like McKinley. Although he’s rehabbing an injured shoulder, McKinley is an ascending prospect who would fit in perfectly as an edge rusher for Baltimore renowned defense.

17. Washington Redskins: Zach Cunningham, ILB | Vanderbilt

Dalvin Cook is a real possibility here, but it makes more sense for the Redskins to do something to improve a defense that ranked 27th in weighted DVOA last season. Jay Gruden eluded to the team’s need to acquire a playmaker in this draft, and Cunningham is capable of being a three-down player for Washington.

18. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR | Clemson

The first wide receiver is finally off the board. The Titans desperately need to put some more pass-cathing weapons around QB Marcus Mariota and they’ve shown a lot of interest in Williams, meeting with him at the combine and once again for a private visit. Williams is big and is an excellent ball-tracker who would make a great red zone target for Mariota.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB | Florida State

Doug Martin’s play tailed off badly last season and now he’s facing a three-game suspension to start the 2017 campaign. Charles Sims has missed 17 of a possible 48 games, so the Bucs are going to need to address the backfield. I think Cook is going to be a very good NFL running back and potential three-down starter in his first season. In this scenario, he’ll get the chance to become the starter in his home state of Florida.

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT | Utah

Denver’s offensive line struggled badly last season, especially in the run game. With a new offensive system, Utah’s Garett Bolles looks like a good fit to potentially start at either tackle spot for the Broncos, who will need to not only implement a new scheme but better protect their two young quarterbacks.

21. Detroit Lions: Malik McDowell, DT | Michigan State

There is talk of McDowell sliding out of the first round altogether, but the fit makes too much sense for me. First, the Lions have shown a lot of interest, meeting with McDowell twice, including at the combine. Second, McDowell would plug a big need for the Lions, who are have struggled to fill the large void left by Ndamukong Suh’s departure. Finally, it would be another hometown fit or the Lions, with McDowell attending Michigan State.

22. Miami Dolphins: Jabrill Peppers, S | Michigan

The Dolphins will definitely be looking to beef up their secondary and could be looking at cornerback here, or even an offensive lineman. Miami also has needs at linebacker and could be intrigued by Jabrill Peppers’s versatility. Peppers worked out with linebackers at the combine and could fill in nicely in the secondary, or around the line of scrimmage as a run-stopper or pass-rusher.

23. New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk, OT | Wisconsin

Eli Manning is nearing the end, so the Giants could think about a quarterback here. New York also is still trying to build a new offensive line and Ramczyk could be a day one starter at right tackle. Don’t be surprised if the G-men also look at linebacker or another pass-rusher at 23.

24. Oakland Raiders: Chidobe Awuzie, CB | Colorado

Oakland’s defense struggled badly last season, in particular in the secondary. I expect the Raiders to address their defense with most of their picks, including their first-rounder. Awuzie (6′, 205) is a big corner who uses his size well and can also run with AFC West wide receivers. Awuzie and the Raiders have also met twice outside of the combine, for a private visit and once again for a private workout. There appears to be a lot of mutual interest here.

25. Houston Texans: Pat Mahomes, QB | Texas Tech

I was early onboard the Mahomes-to-the-Texans hype after watching Mahomes game tapes. There’s a little bit of that Bret Favre gunslinger mentality and swagger with Mahomes, who would rather try to throw a dangerous pass into a tight window than throw the ball away. Of course, that sounds like a big problem for a Bill O’Brien signal-caller, but the Texans whiffed badly on Brock Osweiler last year and must address the quarterback position. Mahomes has a big arm, is a good runner and is accurate, but he worked exclusively out of the shotgun, so he’s going to have to be taught how to take snaps under center and his footwork will need a lot of work. The big question is: do the Texans view him as a 2017 starter, or someone to develop behind Tom Savage?

26. Seattle Seahawks: Obi Melifonwu, S | UCONN

There were rumors that the Seahawks were shopping CB Richard Sherman, but they do a great job of finding top-notch corners later in the draft, so they may address corner later. Melifonwu has the ability to play anywhere in the secondary, which will appeal to Pet Carrol and company, who prefer versatile defenders.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Deshaun Watson, QB | Clemson

Watson might actually be the best quarterback in this class and even though the Chiefs are in good shape with Alex Smith, Watson has intriguing athleticism and enough upside that the Chiefs will nab their heir-apparent when he is surprisingly still on the board at 27.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Corey Davis, WR | Western Michigan

The Cowboys have got to upgrade their receiving corps to take pressure off of Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott. Davis would instantly be a huge upgrade over Terrance Williams and he would immediately be on the fantasy radar as an NFL WR2 to open the 2017 season.

29. Green Bay Packers: Derek Barnett, DE | Tennessee

Green Bay has more pressing needs at linebacker and at defensive back, but when a quality pass rusher like Barnett is unexpectedly available this late, the Packers will gladly add another defensive lineman and take advantage of the depth of cornerbacks later in the draft.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: David Njoku, TE | Miami

Nearing the end of his career, QB Ben Roethlisberger has been vocal about his desire for the team to draft a tight end. With Njoku, the Steelers get an excellent in-line tight end who could, along with Ladrius Green and Jesse James, be a nightmare in ’12’ sets for opposing DB’s.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris, LB | Missouri

The Falcons are good at Sam linebacker with Vic Beasley, but could use upgrades to the the rest of their linebacking corps and at defensive end. Harris can be a solid pass rusher from multiple positions- something that the Falcons must upgrade if they hope to return to the Superbowl.

32. New Orleans Saints: Adoree Jackson, CB | USC

Having drafted Taco Charlton at 11 to shore up their pass rush, the Saints can now concentrate on their other defensive liability, the secondary. Jackson has outstanding athleticism and could double as a dangerous returner. He might be better suited as a slot corner due to 5-foot-10 frame, but Jackson would be a big improvement for a Saints’ secondary that was bottom-10 against both quarterbacks and wide receiver in 2016.


Mark Bonadonna’s Mock Draft

With Trades

1. Cleveland – Myles Garrett DE

Even the Browns can’t screw this one up. Okay maybe they can, word is the Browns owner want Trubisky but the football people want Garrett. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, but this has the makings to be Irsay like when Colts owner Robert Irsay overruled GM Ernie Accorsi and traded John Elway for cents on the dollar.

2. San Francisco- Leonard Fournette RB

I think the 49’ers are trying to trade down. If they can’t they pull off a shocker and start the rebuild with RB scouts compare to as the next AP.

3. Chicago- Jamal Adams S

Former Bears Scouting Director Greg Gabriel says the Bears are out on Jonathan Allen. Other leagues execs are like 99% certain if the Bears don’t trade down & keep the pick they’ll take a DB.

4. Jacksonville DeShaun Watson QB

Tom Coughlin is running the show now and the Jags pull off a shocker by picking star QB of the national champion Clemson Tigers.

5. Tennessee- Marshon Lattimore CB

Titans need secondary help. Supposedly they like the top rated corner available- Lattimore.

6. Cleveland (via trade with Jets)- Mitchell Trubisky QB

The Jets are the most likely team to trade down and Cleveland makes sense. Browns move up to nab yet another QB in the 1st round. Maybe this time they’ll finally get it right? Alright Mark snap out of it already- of course they won’t. They’re the Browns!

7. LA Chargers Malik Hooker S

The Chargers get a ball hawking center fielder. Hooker seems to be a natural and is still just a pup learning the position. Scouts compare him to Ed Reed. Sources report that the Chargers brass likes Hooker.



8. Carolina Solomon Thomas DE

If Fournette is off the board, despite the buzz about McCaffrey I think GM Dave Gettleman goes defensive line here. His philosophy has always been to build through the trenches. The Panthers signed Julius Peppers in free agency, but his best days are behind him and Carolina could use a youth movement to improve their pass rush.

9. Cincinnati Jonathan Allen DE

Allen fits the Bengals prototype of big defensive ends. If the shoulder holds up he could be a steal.

10. Buffalo- Mike Williams WR

The Bills need a WR badly & that’s if Watkins stays healthy. If he can’t they’ll be calling Andre Reed out of retirement. I’ll go with them selecting another Clemson WR.

11. New Orleans- Taco Charlton DE

The Saints could go McCaffrey, but they need a pass rusher more. Taco Gumbo anyone?

12. NY Jets (via trade with Cleveland )- Charles Harris DE

Harris is rising up draft boards. The Jets take a pass rusher as part of their rebuild.

13. Arizona- Patrick Mahomes QB

The Cards could go LB or WR here. Word is GM Steve Keim wants the QB of the future, Mahomes because Carson Palmer is on his last legs, but head coach Bruce Arians want the pieces to win now. Corey Davis, Reuben Foster or a CB are also in play.

14. Philadelphia- Derek Barnett DE

A lot of buzz that Philly will take McCaffrey or a CB, however, flying under the radar I think they secretly want a DE. A pick where Eagles dare. Barnett went to the University of Tennessee- the same school as other famous Eagles pass rusher- some guy named Reggie White. In addition, he came highly recommended by former Eagles WR Fred Barnett who thought he had a cool name.

15. Indianapolis- Christian McCaffrey RB

The Colts need a lot of help, but they definitely need an upgrade at RB. Frank Gore can’t play in the NFL forever, can he? Another Stanford guy who is smart and adds versatility makes sense. Sources close to McCaffrey say the Colts are one of the teams showing the most interest.

16. Baltimore- Cam Robinson OL

The Ravens usually take best available over need so this could go a bunch of ways. Word is they like Cam & need an offensive lineman after losing Rick Wagner to free agency.

17. Washington – Reuben Foster LB

The Redskins could also go a bunch of different routes. Best guess is they take the best player available in Foster and, in the process, address a need to improve their defense.

18. Tennessee- O.J. Howard TE

The top tight end slides in my mock. I think the Titans go offense to help out their young star QB. For me, this pick is between Howard & WR Corey Davis. According to most scouts, Howard has the higher grade so I’ll go with him.

19. Tampa Bay Dalvin Cook RB

The Bucs were slammed with injuries at RB last year. Sources indicate they like Cook and WR Corey Davis. If Cook is there he has the higher grade, but also more off the field concerns. I say talent wins out. Long shot possibility- they look for Roberto Aguayo’s replacement. Those crazy Buccaneers! Sorry Buc fans I couldn’t resist that one after last year’s decision when they used a 2nd rounder on a kicker. Good grief!

20. Denver- Garett Bolles OL

The Broncos need help on the line after losing tackle Russell Okung to free agency. With McCaffrey off the board, I think they look to Bolles to help out their young QBs. One of our writers is names Bollers and lives in Colorado. Hmnn…coincidence? I think not.

21. Detroit- Haason Reddick LB

The Lions need help at LB and with Foster off the board, Reddick is the next best option.

22. Miami- Forrest Lamp OL

The Dolphins could go defense or shore up the o-line. The loss of Branden Albert pushes last year’s top pick, Laremy Tunsil, to tackle and opens up a guard spot. Run Forrest Run!

23. NY Giants- Zach Cunningham LB

The Giants could also consider o-line. If TE O.J. Howard fell they’d take him as best available, but I think he’s long gone. If New York stands pat & doesn’t trade up I say they go LB. Word is they don’t want Potsie they want Cunningham. The Fonz gives thumbs up to this pick with an emphatic “Eyy!”

24. Oakland- Tre’Davious White CB

The Raiders need to improve their secondary. It’s dealers choice here on which one they choose, but the consensus of many seems to be that White would be a solid pick.

25. Houston Ryan Ramczyk OL

I think Houston is in win now mode. They’ll wait to draft a QB since there’s no one worth taking here. Ramczyk has experience against some good Big Ten competition & upgrades their o-line. If I’m wrong and Mahomes slips he’s in the conversation here. Word is Coach Bradley really likes him. The Texans are desperate for a QB. The problem- Mahomes is a developmental QB because of the system he played in at college.

26. Seattle- Obi Melifonwu CB/S

Seattle needs help on the o-line, but with a weak draft class this year I think they go best available. Word is they love Melifonwu and use the force to draft Obi 1.

27. Kansas City- Takkarist McKinley DE

The Chiefs need a replacement for Derrick Johnson, but McKinley might be best used as an outside linebacker. Scouts say he reminds them of current Chiefs pass rushing force, Tamba Hali. Kansas City could also look for their future QB if either Watson or Mahomes falls here.

28. Dallas- Adoree’ Jackson CB

Dallas was hit hard in their secondary this offseason and that was after Aaron Rodgers branded them in the playoffs. They love Jackson & he can also help out on special teams.

29. Green Bay- Marlon Humphrey CB

The Packers need to overhaul their defense after Atlanta went through their Swiss cheese defense in the playoffs. That would be a great promotion in Lambeau by the way- Swiss Cheese Day. Well, I’m just saying- Packer fans like cheese. Anyway, I’ll go with a DB quickly rising up draft boards in Humphrey.

30. Pittsburgh- Jabrill Peppers S

Like the Packers, the Steelers need to upgrade their defense. Finding the future replacement for James Harrison is also a possibility here. Word is GM Kevin Colbert loves Peppers so I’ll take him to improve their secondary where he projects best as a safety.

31. Atlanta Budda Baker S

Coach Dan Quinn is still in shock after what Tom Brady did to the birds in the Super Bowl. Budda brings the Falcons enlightenment along with their own version of the Legion of Boom.

32. New England (via trade to New Orleans) Jordan Willis DL

No, I didn’t mix this up. I think the Patriots trade back into the 1st round with their old friend the Saints. My prediction- they trade Malcolm Butler to the Saints in order to draft a pass rusher- because lord knows the Saints don’t have any to trade to them. Best guess- Jordan “What’s you Talkin’ About” Willis to help improve the pass rush for the defending champs.

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