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Gridiron Experts NFL Mock Draft 2.0

Five-Headed NFL Mock Draft

What’s better than one guy taking a stab at predicting the upcoming results of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft? How about five guys trying to accurately guess where this year’s crop of rookies will land. We all know it takes just is one trade to create a ripple effect that will no doubt throw a Mock Draft out the window, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best at trying to figure out what the GM’s are targeting in their respected war rooms.

The following NFL Mock Draft includes no trades, however, listed below the Mock Draft are some random thoughts from the five writers who took part in this first NFL Draft Mock for Gridiron Experts. Enjoy.

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Thoughts From the Writers

Myles Garrett – To make this short and sweet, he is simply the best player in the draft. His size, strength, and speed was all highlighted in the NFL combine where he ran 4.64 forty yard dash; he benched pressed 225 pounds 33 times and an incredible 41′ vertical. If Garrett isn’t the first overall pick, it would be shocking. -Mitchell Renz 

Solomon Thomas – A lot of hype surrounding the 49ers taking Thomas is starting to develop. Thomas played exceptional in 2016 with Stanford earning multiple All-American honors and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. Even though his size is in question with some scouts, he has a relentless motor combined with exceptional athletism. He can win off the blocks with quickness or strength thus giving the 49ers a dynamic player on defense. – Mitchell Renz 

Leonard Fournette – If you’re following this year’s crop of rookies and are up to date on the NFL rumor mill, then you’ve likely heard the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers are very interested in the LSU stud RB Leonard Fournette. Both teams aren’t exactly desperate at the position but do feel they could use an upgrade at the position to help bail out their quarterback. Currently, I think the Panthers biggest need is at the wide Receiver position, making the Jaguars my prediction to where Fournette will land. However, after years of team’s ignoring the RB position in the first round throughout NFL Drafts, the trend of drafting one high again with the emergence of Ezekiel Elliott– Mike Rigz 

Malik Hooker The Chargers are in desperate need of an upgrade at the safety position to compliment their two Pro Bowl corners. They are transitioning to a 4-3 defense under new coordinator Gus Bradley that places a great emphasis on having a ball-hawking safety to play centerfield. With an elite range and an innate ability to find the ball, the Bolts would do well to bring in Malik Hooker. – Paul Maland

Mike Williams At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, Williams has outstanding size and an uncanny ability to go after contested passes and jump balls. That combination makes him an intriguing red zone target. Williams also makes good use of his hands in tight coverage and change-of-direction routes, creating separation from smaller corners. Not a burner (4.5-40), but quick enough to play in the slot, Williams needs work on routes and could stand to get a bit stronger. Overall, he could easily be the first wide receiver selected in this draft, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him come along slowly, like Josh Doctson and Laquon Treadwell did last season. – Jody Smith

Christian McCaffrey – There are a lot of rookies I’m excited to see where they end up on Draft Day, but probably none more that Christian McCaffrey. I can’t stop watching highlight and profile videos of him on YouTube. This kid may be the ultimate game changer, and he deserves to be a first-round pick. He’s extremely quick, with shifty moves and seems tough to bring down. However, the problem with this electric RB prospect is he might not be an every-down player for most offenses. You would need a very clever coaching staff to figure out a way to splice this type of weapon into your offense, and the Saints, in my opinion, fit that mold. -Mike Rigz 

Corey Davis – The Bills brought back QB Tyrod Taylor for the 2017 season. However, if they want to give him the best chance to succeed, they will need to add another weapon or two to their arsenal. Corey Davis is a height/speed matchup nightmare for defensive backs and would be able to make an instant impact at the next level. Despite not being able to perform at the combine or his pro day, he is worthy of a top-10 selection. – Paul Maland 

Derek Barnett After ranking 31st in total defense during the 2014 and 2015 regular seasons, New Orleans improved just slightly to 27th in 2016 under defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. While there are multiple areas of need within this unimposing unit, seizing Barnett would rejuvenate a consistently ineffective pass rush that has averaged a modest 32 sacks since 2014. Barnett assembled a Tennessee school record 33 by himself during that three-year span and is fully capable of performing as a disruptive force on end opposite Cameron Jordan. -Phil Clark

Mitchell Trubisky The Browns just traded for Brock Osweiler, but that won’t stop them here drafting another quarterback with Trubisky. This is, of course, a risky pick since he has only one year under his belt at North Carolina. That being said he showed great pocket awareness, passing accuracy, and decent athletism. Trubisky has the intangibles Hue Jackson looks for in a player and not to mention he is an Ohio native with upside. – Mitchell Renz 

O.J. Howard – The Cardinals have been known in recent years for having one of the more prolific offenses in the NFL. However, they have always lacked the luxury of a playmaking tight end. O.J. Howard is a 6’6″ big-bodied target with soft hands and quality speed who knows how to use his size and strength against defenders. With Larry Fitzgerald back for one more season, Arizona would do well to bring in the best tight end in this draft class to work as a security blanket for Carson Palmer. – Paul Maland 

Jabril Peppers The instability within Washington’s front office has been on full display during a wobbly offseason. But Team President Bruce Allen and the team’s remaining decision makers must now deliver a productive draft, that injects a collection of defensive talent onto to a roster that sorely needs it. The Redskins ranked 28th in total defense during the 2016 regular season, while being equally susceptible to the run (ranked 24th/120 YPG), as they were to opposing passing attacks (ranked 25th/258 YPG). While Washington could address its defensive line with the initial selection, the enticement of adding a player that possesses Peppers’ versatility will not be ignored. -Phil Clark

John Ross – The Titans want to have an exotic smash run offense and the best way to assure teams don’t stack the box is to add a field-stretcher like Ross. So adding an electric receiver like John Ross would give defensive coordinators nightmares. Last season with the Washington Huskies he had 17 receiving touchdowns, this shows that even though he may be a smaller receiver at 5’11” 190 pounds he finds the end zone. Ross is great at manipulating coverages with shifty footwork, but his speed is what the Pro scouts are drooling about. At the NFL Combine, he ran an NFL record 4.22 forty breaking, Chris Johnson’s record. -Mitchell Renz 

Cam Robinson – The Denver Broncos are in need to upgrade their offensive line. What better way to do it than Cam Robinson the reigning Outland Award winner as college football’s best blocker. If the Broncos have any chance of signing Tony Romo, they will need to improve their offensive line. A big, athletic guy who is tough to move, but struggles with speed rushers which are his greatest weakness. -Mitchell Renz 

Chidobe Awuzie – Detroit could opt to bolster the defensive line. However, only one team surrendered more touchdowns through the air in 2016 (33), while only six teams garnered fewer interceptions (10). The Lions did sign former 1st round pick D.J. Hayden, who was a bust during his four seasons with Oakland. But it will be difficult to bypass an opportunity to strengthen the cornerback position even further, by seizing the versatile Awuzie. His instincts and physicality should enable him to become an immediate contributor, who could surpass Hayden on the depth chart during the regular season. -Phil Clark

David Njoku – Even though the Dolphins did just sign tight end Julius Thomas, the addition of Njoku would be a great fit for the offense. First Thomas has never played a full 16 game season so it would be insurance at the position with Njoku. Adam Gace loves tight ends and will be able to mold the incredibly athletic 6’4″ 245 pound Njoku. -Mitchell Renz 

Malik McDowell – General Manager, Reggie McKenzie’s acumen for assembling talent on Oakland’s roster has improved dramatically. However, the Raiders’ veritable collapse once Derek Carr was sidelined, underscored the need to continue that process. McKenzie can instantly bolster the team’s interior defense by securing the 6’6” McDowell, whose formidable combination of athleticism, size and strength should fortify a run defense that ranked 23rd while yielding 4.5 YPC in 2016. McDowell should also improve an anemic pass rush that finished dead last with just 25 sacks last season while lacking a reliable contributor to that total beyond Khalil Mack (11), and Bruce Irvin (7). Plus, he can become an unsettling presence for opposing offensive units, who will then be forced to divert a larger percentage of attention away from the uniquely talented Mack. -Phil Clark

Pat Mahomes II – Early on during the draft process I mocked Pat Mahomes to the Houston Texans at No. 25. Right after that, it became a more popular slotting around the football community, but that is dependant on the Texans signing Tony Romo and developing Mahomes. I love Mahomes overall. He’s a gunslinger with a big arm, underrated running ability, and strong leadership. He’s not afraid to challenge defenders and try to force the ball into tight windows. That’s also a negative. Mahomes will have to work to become more disciplined, and his footwork is a work in progress. In Texas Tech’s “air raid” offense, Mahomes took nearly zero snaps under center, so that’s another skill he’ll have to develop. Still, I love the overall positives in Mahomes and think he’s a real option as the No. 2 QB in this class and is in play anywhere after the 20th pick. – Jody Smith 

Garett Bolles – The top priority for the Seahawks this offseason is fixing their leaky offensive line. Bolles has arguably the best footwork off all lineman in this draft and is one of the most athletic. He has the potential to be a Pro Bowl type run blocker, and with the addition of Eddie Lacy, the Seahawks want to establish a tough running style much like what they had when they appeared in back to back Super Bowls. – Mitchell Renz 

Gareon Conley The Cowboys saw both of their starting corners leave in free agency and will look to reload their secondary through the draft. Gareon Conley was largely overshadowed by Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore at Ohio State but can be a day-one starter in the NFL. He excels in man-coverage and plays better along the perimeter than inside the hashes. With 4.4 speed he can maintain a receiver’s hip and has the quickness to recover when beat. – Paul Maland 

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