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 Target: South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel
Our search for a new pass catcher for the Cowboys in this years' draft class continues, this time with a wide receiver.
South Carolina's Deebo Samuel put himself on the map with a strong Sophomore season, but fell off a bit due to a severe leg injury early in 2017. After a strong 2018 campaign, and an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, Samuel has played himself back into early Day Two draft discussions.
I don't know that anyone "won" Senior Bowl week more than Deebo Samuel did this January. Samuel, who had to deal with some poor quarterback play throughout his college career, didn't get much of a break in that department either at the Senior Bowl. But, he did show out every day at practice, and seemed to go viral on Twitter at least once a day.
During his actual collegiate season, Samuel finished with 882 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 catches, solid production especially coming off an injury and playing in a limited offense. Initially in the NFL, Samuel is going to make his money in the slot. He's a shifty yet explosive receiver type than can quickly beat defenders with his speed. He's not the speedster than someone like Marquise Brown is, but he is explosive enough in his own right, especially in terms of short-area quickness.
Samuel isn't someone who will go up and grab the ball consistently, or even make up for inaccurate throws as often as some others might be able to. But he does have reliable hands, and his ability to get open quickly and create separation should give someone like Dak Prescott easy windows to find him in for completions.
What makes Deebo Samuel so fun for me to watch, though, is his ability after the catch. Despite his lack of size, Samuel is tough as nails, and rarely defers out of bounds or avoids contact. He's built well enough to withstand that contact as well, and when he gets free, he's hard to catch and bring down.
Drafting Deebo Samuel 58th overall would be a heck of a haul for the Dallas Cowboys. In need of another playmaker in the passing game, the Cowboys could make immediate use of Samuel's talents in 2019, specifically as a slot receiver.
As has been mentioned ad nauseam, it seems unlikely that Cole Beasley will be returning to the team this season, which makes the need for a slot wide-out that much greater. Samuel has big play ability from the slot already, and has traits which project him to potentially work outside as well. If he tests well enough at the combine, reps on the outside could very well be in his future.
Samuel should be on every Cowboys fans' shortlist of draft targets in the second round this year.
3 Potential Day 2 Tight End Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys
By now it's no secret the Dallas Cowboys don't have a first-round draft pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. The Amari Cooper trade took care of that, meaning sitting through the entire Day 1 could be a little tiresome for us fans. But, Day 2 of the draft could get really interesting for the Cowboys, especially as it pertains to the players/positions they could target.
Today, I wanted to take a look at a few of the Day 2 tight end prospects the Dallas Cowboys could be interested in. This would be the second tier of TEs behind the likes of T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Irv Smith, all of which should be gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock at 58th overall in the second round.
I really believe that if the Dallas Cowboys plan on drafting a starting caliber tight end in this year's draft class they are going to have to do it with either their second or third round selection. The TEs available beyond that point probably aren't much of an upgrade over Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz, which is praise in itself about the upside of the young TEs they currently have on the roster.
With all of that in mind, I put together a list of three tight ends I would personally target on Day 2 if I were the Cowboys. I tried to identify what they typically look for in a starting TE (size, speed, athleticism), while also taking into account the ones that are are versatile enough to contribute on all three downs in both the running and passing game.
Isaac Nauta, Georgia
Isaac Nauta is a former five-star recruit who never really lived up to his billing during his time with the Georgia Bulldogs. He is a top-notch blocker both in line and when split out wide, but due to the Bulldogs run heavy offense he never really developed into the pass catcher many envisioned him becoming. He possesses good speed and terrific hands to be a threat in the passing game though, even if he doesn't show a lot of separation ability on film.
Nauta looks and plays like a prototypical Dallas Cowboys tight end. He has the desired size (6'4", 246), athleticism, and skill set to step in and be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie. His blocking ability alone will get him on the field early, but he also shows enough pass catching ability to be a threat in the passing game as well. Overall, Nauta is a pro-ready three down TE who is a high floor prospect with very little downside.
Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Jace Sternberger is a former three-star recruit and the definition of a one-year wonder. He was basically a complete unknown before the 2018 season and had just one catch for 5 yards during his two years at Kansas before deciding to transfer to JUCO. He didn't fare much better at Northern Oklahoma A&M, but Jimbo Fisher thought enough of him to bring him aboard a Texas A&M, essentially turning him into an All-American and first team All-SEC.
Sternberger is almost the exact opposite of Isaac Nauta, but still has the desired traits the Dallas Cowboys look for in their tight ends. Unlike Nauta, Sternberger is much more accomplished as a passing threat. He runs and moves like a big wide receiver and possesses good separation ability. Due to his size (6'4", 250) and athletic ability he is difficult to bring down after the catch as well. He's not as accomplished as a blocker as Nauta, but he shows good technique and will improve in time with added strength. He has the ability to be the Cowboys TE1 as a rookie.
Dawson Knox, Ole Miss
Dawson Knox is a former walk-on quarterback at Ole Miss, but spent the last two years playing tight end for the Rebels. He is one of the more difficult tight ends to evaluate in this draft class due to the unorthodox offense he played in and his usage in the system, but may actually be more pro-ready than many of us believe. He does have the size (6'4", 250), speed, and natural hands to be a complete three-down TE in the NFL and reminds me a little bit of George Kittle when he was entering the league.
Knox is still pretty raw as a player, but moldable and he has the upside to be one of the best tight ends in this entire draft class. He could probably compete to be the Dallas Cowboys TE1 as a rookie, but it might be better for him to be in a timeshare of sorts while he develops his God-given talent. Nevertheless, I have a hard time seeing him making it out of Day 2 of the draft, especially after he puts on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine. His talent might be too much for the Cowboys to pass up.
Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?
The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.
Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.
Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.
If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.
Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.
It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.
The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
3 Free Agent Targets for the Dallas Cowboys Offense
Player News2 weeks ago
A Lot Had to Happen for Amari Cooper to Join the Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
2019 Player Watch: Cowboys Should Keep an eye on Kyle Rudolph’s Situation
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys S Jeff Heath Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
5 Pre-draft Moves Cowboys Should Consider Making in Free Agency
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Will Cowboys WR Terrance Williams Be a 2019 Salary Cap Casualty?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
How Does LB Joe Thomas Fit Into Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Plans?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Uncertainties Surrounding The Cowboys Offseason