We’ve reached Week 6 of the college football season and Week 5 of the NFL season, which seems like the perfect time to put out another mock draft after the first quarter. For those who have not read my first NFL mock draft, take a look right here.
After the first quarter, we start to get an idea of what the needs of each NFL team are, as well as which college players are garnering first-round attention. There’s still a long way to go until the 2017 draft, but I’m here to provide an insight on whose draft stock I feel is rising and falling. Here’s my mock draft after the first quarter of the season, in which the draft order is based on the current records on teams in the NFL.
1) Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)
Cody Kessler is showing some flashes at the moment, but it’s time for the Browns to find a long-term replacement. Despite a slow start to the year, Watson is starting to pick things up as the season goes on. His best weapons include a deep ball and his mobility. However, he’ll need to work on his accuracy as so far this season, he’s only completed 61% of his passes, compared to 68% in his first two years at Clemson.
2) Tennessee Titans – Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)
Garrett is far and beyond the best player in this draft and if it weren’t for the Browns needing a quarterback, he’d be going #1 overall. His ability to show both power and finesse when trying to beat tackles is rare. He compares well to former #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, except Garrett may have a better work ethic and effort than Clowney did at South Carolina. An example of this was in Week 1 against UCLA’s top tackle prospect Conor McDermott, where he posted a sack, three hits and seven hurries.
3) Miami Dolphins – Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU)
There’s not many needs for the Dolphins, so they may go with the best available player here. However, Arian Foster is not a long-term answer at running back and Jay Ayayi is more suited as a back-up or change of speed tailback. Therefore, I’m going with Leonard Fournette, who you can argue is the best player available. His combination of speed and power makes him a one-of-a-kind talent at running back. It’s not in my recommendation to take a back in the top 10, but unless they’re similar to talents like Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley, then be my guest. And I feel Fournette is in that league of running backs, possibly even better.
4) San Francisco 49ers – Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)
The 49ers are in need of a quarterback after the troubles of Blaine Gabbert this season. Although players in the locker room are ready for Colin Kaepernick and Christian Ponder to become the starter, the solution may be found in the 2017 draft. Kizer is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s system, with his Cam Newton-like arm, excellent athleticism and high football IQ. His Notre Dame side may be struggling, but that didn’t stop Jared Goff from being drafted #1 overall.
5) New York Jets – Jabrill Peppers (CB, New York Jets)
Surprisingly, the Jets have had a slow start to the year, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick being inconsistent. However on the other side of the ball, the secondary for the Jets has also been having trouble, even with the efforts from the defensive line. Jabrill Peppers is a jack-of-all-trades player who can fill in anywhere on a defense, from corner to safety or even a linebacker. His versatility makes him a strong top 10 pick. If selected here for the Jets, he’ll slot in as a safety. He could also fill in at cornerback, where he has the speed to match receivers, leaving Darelle Revis to jump in at safety instead.
6) San Diego Chargers – Mike Williams (WR, Clemson)
The Chargers need a left tackle badly. So, why didn’t I choose a tackle here? The tackle class this year is very weak, with the top tackle prospect having a ton of off-field issues that could see his draft stock falling fast, while another top prospect has announced he’s returning to school. Therefore, I’ve gone with the next position in need – wide receiver. San Diego thought they found their go-to guy in Keenan Allen, but injuries over the past couple of years, including a season-ending torn ACL season to go along with the countless other injuries the Chargers have, have halted his career. It’s best to look for a replacement now, which is where Mike Williams comes in. Williams is by far the top receiver in this class, with his size, length and smooth route-running ability and has been a star in Clemson’s offense this year.
7) New Orleans Saints – Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)
I could go quarterback here, but the biggest concern seems to be a lack of a pass-rusher. Allen is one of the best defensive players in college football. For a near-300 pounder, he knows how to get to the quarterback and it’s rare to see him make mistakes on the field. He also has the IQ to disrupt both the pass and run, which is much-needed for the Saints defense.
8) Indianapolis Colts – Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)
I said earlier that taking a running back in the top 10 is a risky move, but both Fournette and this man out of Florida State are as talented as their top 10 predecessors from previous years. You can argue that Cook is a better prospect than Fournette, as he possesses similar speed and power as him. One thing that Cook is better at is receiving, where he’s become a threat at receiver this season for the Seminoles. There’s a lot of Jamaal Charles in Cook, as they have similar traits, and he’s the help in the backfield that Andrew Luck needs.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jamal Adams (S, LSU)
The Bucs can go with anyone who plays in the secondary, but the biggest gap is at safety. Jamal Adams has great range and athleticism and can run with both tight ends and wide receivers. He’s also a strong hitter, with a similar game to Eric Berry. Adams is an immediate over Chris Conte.
10) Arizona Cardinals – Brad Kaaya (QB, Miami)
The Cardinals may want to start looking for a replacement quarterback as Carson Palmer’s NFL career is slowly coming to an end. Kaaya is tall, lean and a highly intelligent prospect with a lot of poise. He’s used his instincts and accuracy to propel his Miami side into relevance again. The hiring of Mark Richt was a blessing in disguise for Kaaya and he’s shown major improvement this season, as a lot of his old traits seem to have disappeared. He may not be as exciting as Watson and Kizer, but his talent is right up there with those two.
11) Jacksonville Jaguars – Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama)
There’s not a lot of needs on this Jaguars defense, but that won’t stop Jacksonville from making their defense any more stronger. Foster is a the top linebacker prospect here and is a blur all over the field. He possesses amazing speed, instinct and range – a lot quicker than most linebackers. The idea of him pairing up with another speedy linebacker in Myles Jack makes the Jaguars defense stronger than ever.
12) Chicago Bears – Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)
With the weak offensive tackle class this year and Jeremy Langford and Jordan Howard holding down the running back positions, the next positional need is in the secondary. Eli Apple was selected #10 overall last year, but he wasn’t even the best player in his secondary. That honour goes to Gareon Conley, who’s toughness, range and size allows him compete with bigger wide receivers in the NFL.
13) Carolina Panthers – Quincy Wilson (CB, Florida)
The loss of Josh Norman has had a huge negative impact on the Panthers secondary. Cornerback Bene Benwikere was released after allowing 300 yards to Julio Jones last week. There’s a lot of cornerback options that fit this range in the draft, but I’ve gone with Quincy Wilson from Florida. Heading into this season, all the focus was on the other cornerback Jalen Tabor, but Wilson has outplayed his teammate this season. His physicality, toughness and instinct is well liked by scouts and he doesn’t have the off-field issues that Tabor has.
14) Detroit Lions – Malik McDowell (DT, Michigan State)
The defensive line hasn’t been the same since Ndamakong Suh left. McDowell is tall and rangy, but also has the speed to burst into the backfield. This pick will give Ziggy Ansah a lot of help and may gain back some of the talent lost when Suh left.
15) Buffalo Bills – Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)
I said heading the season that I wasn’t a fan of Derek Barnett. However, his contribution to Tennessee’s undefeated start to the year hasn’t gone unnoticed. Barnett has racked up four sacks in his first five games and despite being a speed rusher, he can also stop the run as well. His game is a lot similar to Shaq Lawson, the Bills’ first round pick this year.
16) Kansas City Chiefs – Charles Harris (OLB, Missouri)
The Chiefs need a pass-rusher. With Justin Houston out, Tamba Hali declining and Dee Ford not doing anything, the answer lies at Missouri. Harris is a strong and lengthy pass rusher who is explosive off the edge. His has a never-ending motor and has posted multiple games of two or more sacks in his career, which is what the Chiefs defense is looking for.
17) Washington Redskins – Caleb Brantley (DT, Florida)
Washington can fill in the gap they failed to fill in this year’s draft by getting a defensive lineman. Brantley has great leverage and hand use which allows him to plug up the run. He’s part of a highly talented defense at Florida but is doing his best to make himself standout out of the lot.
18) Cincinnati Bengals – Tim Williams (LB, Alabama)
A lot of the defense is starting to age, especially the linebackers and defensive lineman. I like Williams as a prospect, but he was recently arrested for possession of a weapon, which could see his draft stock drop. NFL teams will look to question his character over the coming months and he could experience a similar draft day as either La’el Collins or Laremy Tunsil.
19) New York Giants – Raekwon McMillan (LB, Ohio State)
There’s a need for a running back, but there’s a lot of options in the 2nd round. The biggest concern on defense is at linebacker, where they don’t have a star to fill that position. McMillain isn’t like previous Buckeye linebackers Ryan Shazier or Darren Lee. Instead, he has toughness and great size which compares to Dont’a Hightower. He can slot in as an anchor on defense and develop as a leader.
20) Green Bay Packers – Dawuane Swoot (LB, Illinois)
Swoot isn’t a big name pass rusher like SEC stars Myles Garrett and Derek Barnett, but who has been balling on the Illinois defense. He’s tallied 3.5 tackles for loss this year and despite not registering a sack, his impact on the field is evident. Coming from a smaller school, he has the pass rush potential to make an impact right away.
21) Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Ram) – Jalen Tabor (CB, Florida)
The Titans secondary has been abysmal this year and upgrading through the draft with their second first-round pick would be the right option. There’s no disregarding the talent of Jalen Tabor. He’s a shutdown corner with the talent to be picked in the top 15, maybe even top 10. However, his off-field issues will need to be addressed. He’s been suspended for fighting with a teammate, which isn’t a good look for teams trying to build a strong and united locker room. Whether a young Titans side can overlook his immaturity is the question.
22) Seattle Seahawks – Desmond King (CB, Iowa)
The Legion of Boom is still going strong, but they’ll need to plug up that cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman. King is a ball-hawk for Iowa, possessing the technique and ball skills that can make the LOB stronger than ever. The Seahawks like their aggressive and tough corners and King fits this bill.
23) Houston Texans – Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State)
The depth at safety is not up to scratch and Hooker would be an immediate upgrade in either safety position. Hooker had a strong start to the year, getting three interceptions in his first two starts, then adding 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack in the next two. His ceiling is high and right now, looks to be a prospect than last year’s Ohio State safeties, Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell.
24) Atlanta Falcons – Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)
The Falcons are having a successful start to the year, but still need to be able to pressure the quarterback. Vic Beasey hasn’t developed well enough and may need help at the other defensive end position. Thomas has been a monster for Stanford this season, and has length, power and a surprising burst of speed for a 6″3, 273-pound pass rusher.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers – Marlon Humphrey (CB, Steelers)
The secondary still remains a problem for the Steelers, even though they solved part of the problem in the 2016 draft, getting Artie Burns. They can add to the other side of the secondary by getting Humphrey out of Alabama. At 6″1, he has good size and speed to keep up with receivers.
26) New England Patriots – Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford)
McCaffrey just seems like the perfect player for New England. He’s smart (of course he is, he goes to Stanford) and has great vision between the tackles. He can become a triple threat for the Patriots, serving as mainly a running back, as well as a receiver and returner.
27) Oakland Raiders – Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida)
The Raiders have a solid defense, but it’s still missing some pieces that can put them into that elite level. It needs an anchor in the middle and Jarrad Davis can be that anchor. He’s a speedy linebacker who can pack a punch with his hits. This tough, athletic and rangy linebacker is the type that will suit this defense, which allows help Khalil Mack get to the quarterback more often.
28) Baltimore Ravens – Devonte Fields (DE, Louisville)
The Ravens need a pass rusher with Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs starting to slow down with age. Fields was dismissed form TCU earlier in 2014 for an assault charge, but since arriving at Louisville, he’s posted 22.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 13 games last season. Already this year, he has an interception, 2 TFLs and 2 sacks. He’ll be questioned about his off-field issues earlier in his career, but there’s no question that’s he’s a disruptive force on the field.
29) Dallas Cowboys – Cordrea Tankersley (CB, Clemson)
Dallas has had trouble with their secondary for a while. Brandon Carr and Morris Claibourne aren’t proficient options. Tankersley stood out during the College Football Playoffs last season as part of a strong Clemson secondary. He has great size, physicality and can hang with any wide receivers he’s assigned to.
30) Philadelphia Eagles – Jourdan Lewis (CB, Michigan)
The Eagles are thin at cornerback and need to fill the depth chart. Lewis has great coverage both in man and zone, and is quick enough to attack underneath routes. He possesses solid footwork and ball skills. Lewis is also a locker room leader, which NFL teams will like. One of his best highlights this season was a spectacular one-handed interception that clinched Michigan’s win over Wisconsin. Clutch plays like that will see Lewis rise up draft boards.
31) Denver Broncos – OJ Howard (TE, Alabama)
The main concern is the offensive line, but I’m still not sure what to make of this year’s class. As a result, I’ve gone with the tight end out of Alabama, who can become a security blanket for whichever young quarterback starts for the Broncos. Virgil Green is a nice blocker, but having a downfield threat like Julius Thomas was a few years ago will make this offense dangerous again.
32) Cleveland Browns – Cameron Sutton (CB, Tennessee)
After filling one need at the start of the first round, the Browns use the pick gained from the Eagles to fill another need. Cam Sutton has great size and speed for a corner and has had a solid career at Tennessee. Last year, his physicality led to quarterbacks avoiding him in games. This year, he’s been troubled by injury, but came up with a clutch interception to avoid an upset against Appalachian State.