The event that we have all been waiting for is almost upon us! The 2017 NFL Draft is now just a few weeks away and because of that, I decided it was time for me to put together my first complete first-round mock draft of the year.
I personally like to wait until approximately a month away from the NFL draft to do this. It gives me more time to collect all the information I need, which gives me a much better understanding of not only the prospects themselves, but of teams needs as well.
Continue reading below to see how the first-round of my 2017 mock draft shakes out and why I drafted each prospect for that particular team.
Cleveland still needs to find their franchise quarterback, but there simply isn't a QB worth the #1 pick. Myles Garrett is a difference making DE with All-Pro potential. He is hands-down the best prospect in the 2017 draft class.
The 49ers are rumored to be pretty high on Foster and have already met with him privately. There is however talk that the Carolina Panthers are trying to make a trade for the #2 pick to select LSU's former RB Leonard Fournette. Regardless, Foster is likely the 49ers target whether at 2 or 8.
Chicago's defense ranked 15th in total defense and 27th against the run in 2016. Thomas can help improve those numbers and has the versatility to play outside as a DE or in the interior as a 3-tech DT in the Bear's 4-3 defense.
Jacksonville needs a workhorse RB to improve their poor rushing to attack and take the pressure off of QB Blake Bortles. Fournette checks nearly every box for an NFL RB and will help improve the Jaguars offense from day one.
The Titans ranked 30th in pass defense in 2016 with only 12 interceptions. Lattimore is an instant upgrade and a day one starter on the outside for Tennessee.
Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrest are the current starting safeties for the Jets, but Gilchrest tore his patella tendon in December making him questionable to start the season. Adams is an instant upgrade to the back end of the Jets secondary and has Pro Bowl potential as a rookie.
The Chargers clearly missed Eric Weddle's presence in their secondary in 2016. With Hooker they add the best ball hawking safety in the draft class, fill the void left by Weddle, and instantly improve their secondary after finishing 20th in pass defense last season.
If the Panthers aren't able to work out a trade with the 49ers to move up to draft Leonard Fournette, Cook would make a nice consolation prize. He does have some injury concerns, but he might just fit the Panthers offense better than Fournette because of his receiving ability.
Cincinnati lost both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency and need help along the offensive line. Lamp can play anywhere along the offensive line, but is probably going to make his living on the inside as guard.
Buffalo needs more playmakers in the receiving game, especially with Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin leaving via free agency. The Bills have their choice between the top WRs, but Corey Davis is more pro-ready then Mike Williams at this point in their careers.
The New Orleans Saints finished 1st in overall offense in 2016, but 27th in total defense. Any defensive player they draft at this point is likely an upgrade, but Humphrey comes in and instantly upgrades their secondary.
The Browns have started 18 quarterbacks in the last decade, but haven't found anything to stick as of yet. There are rumors that they are in love with Trubisky and could even consider taking him at #1 overall. Getting him at #12 would be ideal, especially after getting Myles Garrett first.
At 37, Carson Palmer is starting to show signs that his age is starting to catch up to him. The Cardinals currently don't have his successor on the roster, which is why Mahomes makes a lot of sense here. Bruce Arians loves to throw the ball down the field and Mahomes has the strongest arm in the 2017 draft class.
The Eagles need to find some offensive weapons for their young QB Carson Wentz, and Mike Williams would instantly step in and be the best WR on the roster.
Indianapolis needs to improve their front seven after finishing 30th in total defense and 19th in sacks in 2016. Allen is arguably the best DT in the draft class, but there are concerns about his long-term future in the NFL due to a arthritic condition in his shoulders.
O.J. Howard is the best all-around tight end in the 2017 draft class and helps the Ravens offense in both the running and passing game as a rookie. He is a mismatch problem as a receiver and an excellent in-line blocker.
The Redskins can use Reddick as a OLB or LB and their 3-4 defensive scheme. He could start off as an OLB while Trent Murphy serves his suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy, then move to LB once he returns.
WR John Ross could be a strong consideration here for the Titans, but improving their defense might be of bigger importance. Harris is just starting to scratch his potential, but could turn into a dominant pass rusher with more time and NFL coaching.
Mixon certainly comes with baggage, but his talent is undeniable. The Buccaneers fielded a carousel of running backs in 2016 because of injury and Doug Martin can't be relied upon as their featured back. Tampa Bay has a young talented team and Mixon's addition could take them to the next level.
The Broncos need to improve their offensive line to protect their QB and open up the running game. Bolles would step in as the starting left tackle and add a spark to the unit because of his infectious attitude of nastiness.
Ezekiel Ansah had just two quarterback sacks in 2016 and is entering his contract year. Barnett isn't the flashiest of players, but he would be a day one starter because he knows how to get to the QB.
Njoku may be the second best tight end in this draft class, but it's by a small margin. QB Ryan Tannehill could use another weapon in the receiving game, and Njoku is a mismatch problem for both DBs and LBs.
The Giants really need to improve their offensive line and Robinson has the versatility to play either tackle or guard at the NFL level. This would give the Giants some flexibility with how they put together their starting offensive line for 2017.
The Raiders could use a big physical DT in the middle of the defensive line, especially after giving up 375 yards a game last season. At 6'6", 300, McDowell would step in and instantly be an upgrade in the middle of the Raiders defensive line.
As things stand right now Tom Savage is the Texan starting QB in 2017. Kizer has the intangibles NFL teams look for in their signal callers and shouldn't have a problem stepping in and commanding Bill O'Brien's offense as a rookie.
The Seahawks fielded one of the youngest and most inexperienced offensive lines in the entire NFL in 2016. Although they improved throughout the season, they could definitely use Ramcyzk. He would immediately be an upgrade at LT and protect Russell Wilson's blindside.
There was a noticeable drop off in the Chiefs defense when Derrick Johnson went down with an injury. Cunningham is a very similar player to Johnson and would likely step in is a day one starter.
The Cowboys would probably prefer to go with a pass rusher here, but the cupboard is pretty bare at this point. Conley has a prototypical size for an NFL CB and would it be a day one starter opposite either Anthony Brown or Nolan Carroll.
The Packers biggest weakness in 2016 was their secondary because of the the injuries they had to deal with throughout the year. Peppers has the versatility to play several different positions on defense for the Packers and could be utilized on offense as well.
James Harrison is 38 years old and Jarvis Jones just left through free agency. McKinley may miss the first month of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery, but he fits the mold of a Pittsburgh defensive player.
Vic Beasley has emerged as one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, but the Falcons can use someone playing opposite him to get after the QB. In 2016 they got by with a 37-year-old Dwight Freeney, but Charlton is a bigger/younger prospect who has immense upside.
With the draft pick they received from the New England Patriots for Brandin Cooks, the Saints replace their speedy deep threat with a similar player in John Ross. This is the ultimate win-win for New Orleans. They get another deep threat and avoid having to pay Cooks a big money contract or risk losing him in free agency without any compensation.
I decided to go with a cornerback at 28 for the Dallas Cowboys because nearly all of the defensive ends that I have with a first-round grade where already drafted. I actually like the selection of Gareon Conley, but I'm willing to bet that the majority of you are going to to be disappointed that the Cowboys didn't get a pass rusher in the first round.
Takkarist McKinley was still on the board, but I decided to pass on him. He is likely going to miss the first month of the season because he's recovering from shoulder surgery, which means he's going to have a hard time getting up to speed. It is going to be hard for him to make much of an impact in 2017 after missing so much time and the Cowboys need immediate contributors, especially with their early round draft picks.
Please for free to use the comment section below to pick apart any selection that you don't agree with.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys Mock Drafts Address Needs at 3 Different Positions
"Tier two" of NFL Free Agency is here, meaning the Dallas Cowboys can set their sights on adding depth and filling the holes left by departed FAs Anthony Hitchens and Jonathan Cooper.
It may take another week for mock drafts to reflect the losses of both starters by the Cowboys, but the ongoing draft process does not slow down at any point. A few of the names the Cowboys will bring in for pre-draft 30 visits have already been released, and this week's roundup of national mock drafts continues to address the overall needs on this Dallas roster.
CBS Sports: Calvin Ridley, WR - Alabama
"Ridley's stock is down after an unimpressive combine, but the Cowboys decided to use one of their predraft visits on the talented wideout, who might not fall any further than this pick. Considering wide receiver is one of the team's biggest needs, they could jump at the chance to draft Ridley, who could eventually take over the No. 1 role if the Cowboys move on from Dez Bryant next offseason, which would save them more than $12 million on the cap."
The Dallas Cowboys will be meeting with free agent WR Allen Hurns today, a tangible second receiver that could immediately upgrade Terrance Williams' position. Hurns, unlike the lesser-known pass catchers the Cowboys looked at previously in free agency, may have enough talent entering his fifth season to take Calvin Ridley out of consideration in the first round.
For now, Ridley should absolutely remain in the conversation as this draft's top receiver. Frequently finding his way to the Cowboys in many post-Combine mock drafts, the Alabama star is just getting started in reaching his football potential and becoming an option for Dak Prescott on the outside.
Draft Wire: Vita Vea, DT - Washington
"Vea could realistically go higher than No. 19, but there may not be a ton of teams willing to draft a nose tackle early on in the draft. Vea’s much different from the average nose tackle, though, which is something the Cowboys would see firsthand if they were to pick him."
The hype for Vita Vea as a prospective Dallas Cowboys target has died down ever since Stephen Jones mentioned the team's preference to find 1T DTs with the traits to also rush the passer as a 3T. Simply being "different from the average nose tackle," as Infante writes here, may not be enough for Vea to be selected at 19th overall by the Cowboys.
Should the Cowboys be surprisingly wiped out at both guard and linebacker on their board, considering a rare prospect like Vea and the impact he could make in Rod Marinelli's scheme could become much more realistic though.
An investment like Vea at nose tackle feels like the safest way for the Cowboys to protect their franchise tag investment on DE DeMarcus Lawrence - while also potentially boosting the play of Maliek Collins and David Irving inside at DT.
Drafttek: Isaiah Wynn, G - Georgia
"... Isaiah Wynn played LOT for the SEC Champion and National Champion runner-up Georgia Bulldogs. Bill O'Brien's South coaching staff moved Wynn inside and he was easily the most impressive interior OL prospect during practice sessions..."
This would be one of the highest value picks the Dallas Cowboys could make at 19th overall. As it stands today, this team is in need of a starting left guard they can trust, which Isaiah Wynn can be from day one at the next level.
Despite their clear need up front, using another first round pick on an offensive lineman will surely generate some eyes rolls around Dallas on draft night. As if his mauling style of play and NFL-ready build aren't enough for the Cowboys to sell their fans on Wynn, his flexibility to provide needed depth at OT puts this Georgia product over the top.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
Recent trades by the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills to shake up the draft order may just be scratching the surface for the run of quarterbacks that takes place annually atop each draft. With as many as five QBs coming off the board prior to the Cowboys' first pick, their ability to add a quality starter at a position of need looks good.
Exactly what these positions of need will be by the end of free agency, and which prospects fill needs in Dallas, will update weekly as we continue to prepare you for the 2018 NFL Draft here at Inside The Star.
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