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.
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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