The final mock draft is the one that counts. It is Football Christmas Eve, as the 2017 NFL Draft begins tomorrow night from Philadelphia. The end of this process is always a bittersweet moment for the analysts and fans that have been studying these prospects endlessly, as it signals the time to put all of this hard work to test against 32 NFL team’s draft boards – while also adding work in the all-important mock draft of integrity.
Here is my last attempt at mocking the first round of this 2017 NFL Draft, along with all eight of the Dallas Cowboys’ selections.
R1/1 – CLE: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
This is easy. You need a quarterback and a pass rush to win in the NFL. The Browns don’t have either, and they don’t have a QB on the board worth taking over the best player in this draft – edge rusher Myles Garrett.
R1/2 – SF: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
The 2nd overall pick has never been used on a safety, but in my evaluation there are two legitimate difference makers on the defensive side of the ball in this draft. With one of them already off the board, the 49ers land a rangy safety that can turn the ball over and get it back into the hands of Kyle Shanahan’s new offense.
R1/3 – CHI: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
With no quarterbacks drafted through the first two picks for the first time since 2014 here, the Bears land the most pro-ready QB in this class surrounding reports that they’re interested in the North Carolina product despite signing Mike Glennon in free agency.
R1/4 – JAC: Solomon Thomas, DT, Stanford
With a lot of money spent in the secondary this offseason, the Jaguars should be thrilled at the opportunity to draft Stanford’s Solomon Thomas – arguably the second best player in this class. A ready-made pro, Thomas’ elite strength translates to the edge as well as inside where he is a force for guards to deal with.
R1/5 – TEN: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
Jamal Adams has one of the highest floors of any prospect on either side of the ball in this draft, making him the perfect pick to fill a clear need on a Titans team that picks again at 18th overall.
R1/6 – NYJ: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Jets roster is one of the thinnest in the entire league, with clear needs at nearly every position. Resisting the urge to add another young quarterback to struggle through a long rebuild, the Jets add this year’s top CB in Marshon Lattimore – who is immensely hard to separate from with the ball skills to create turnovers.
R1/7 – LAC: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Once thought to be a pipe dream for any team picking outside of the top five, some shoulder concerns for Alabama’s freak-of-nature in Jonathan Allen could see him slide to the Chargers at seven. Allen can wreck any offense’s game plan with his combination of size and speed inside, with the ability to play with these traits just as well on the edge too.
R1/8 – CAR: Christian McCaffery, RB/WR, Stanford
Christian McCaffery’s top-ten pick buzz has honed in on the Carolina Panthers at eighth overall. In need of another weapon for Cam Newton, the Panthers can use McCaffery out of the backfield as an elusive runner that effortlessly catches passes at both RB or WR.
R1/9 – CIN: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Bengals could use some young talent to add to their solid defensive line, and drafting Tennessee’s all-time leader in sacks is a good start. Barnett can immediately win on the edge at the next level in a variety of ways, and will only benefit from not having to be “the guy” in Cincinnati.
R1/10 – BUF: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Stop me if you’ve heard this before – the Buffalo Bills are going through a transition. The one player this team seems to be committed to (for now) is QB Tyrod Taylor, so adding another legitimate weapon for him to throw to is a good idea with this 10th overall pick. Williams simply does not lose at the catch point and can create separation downfield with quickness at the line of scrimmage.
R1/11 – NO: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
With two picks in the first round of this defensive-heavy draft, the Saints need to come away with immediate starters to add to a defense that was dead last in points allowed per game a season ago. Quincy Wilson fits this mold as a lengthy CB out of Florida, a fluid athlete that mirrors receivers exceptionally well with textbook technique.
R1/12 – CLE: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
With their desired QB in Trubisky off the board, and no must-have defenders sliding to the Browns second pick of the round, Cleveland gets a quarterback that can grow into any offense with Pat Mahomes – who possesses all of the intangibles to start in this league should he improve his decision making.
R1/13 – ARI: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Many have mocked Carson Palmer’s replacement to the Cardinals with this pick, but I still feel that the veteran quarterback has a window to contend for a Super Bowl in Arizona – or at least that the Cardinals feel that way. If this is the case there’s no way the Cardinals pass on a dynamic play maker like Corey Davis to inject some youth into an offense he’ll fit perfectly with.
R1/14 – PHI: Marlon Humphrey, CB/S, Alabama
An absolute nightmare for WRs coming downhill towards the football, Marlon Humphrey can greatly upgrade the Eagles’ secondary with his length and tenacity – using his strong arms better than most CBs in this entire draft. Regardless of if he plays at cornerback or safety, the Eagles will get a good player for Jim Schwartz to use in Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey.
R1/15 – IND: Haason Reddick, DE/LB, Temple
The Colts have added some nice pieces to their defense in free agency, most notably DT Jonathan Hankins. Come week 1 of 2017 though, Haason Reddick could be their most visible front seven defender. An absolute blur on tape, Reddick shows range and closing speed at SAM LB with the ability to hold up at DE in the NFL.
R1/16 – BAL: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Ravens lack an identity with their running game on offense, going through a transition at the WR position as well. Fournette is a steal with the 16th overall pick, and will not only greatly help Joe Flacco but the entirety of this Baltimore team in setting the tone each game.
R1/17 – WAS: John Ross, WR, Washington
Committed to Kirk Cousins for at least another season, the Redskins can continue to have one of the strongest offenses in the NFL should they find an ideal replacement for DeSean Jackson. Washington’s John Ross, who broke the Scouting Combine’s record for the 40-yard dash, is exactly that as a burner with the shiftiness to win underneath.
R1/18 – TEN: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Titans offense under Marcus Mariota is truly unique, as their spread concept still plays to the strengths of two downhill running backs in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. O.J. Howard would be an absolute perfect fit to this passing offense with his ability to block and run routes as an inline TE as well as split out wide and be a big target that consistently wins downfield with strong, reliable hands.
R1/19 – TB: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
Tampa Bay’s top priority moving forward should be giving QB Jameis Winston a clean pocket, and drafting my top OL prospect would go a long way in doing that. While Lamp played LT at Western Kentucky, his fine tuned technique and size projects him best as a dominant guard at the NFL level.
R1/20 – DEN: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Offensive tackle might arguably be the bigger need in Denver, to protect whoever is playing QB, but with no tackles jumping off the board as “must-have” players here, David Njoku becomes the better pick at a position of need. The true definition of a modern-NFL tight end, Njoku will help the Broncos speedy WRs win on the outside by wearing out the middle of the field and showing off his athleticism blocking on the edge as well.
R1/21 – DET: Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
It is no secret that the Lions value above-average athleticism across their defensive line, and Charles Harris has a chance to be their most athletic rusher at RDE on day one. Teams will love the Missouri product’s ability to win on the edge with his spin, inside counter, and consistent bend.
R1/22 – MIA: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Original pick: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
With Conley’s recent sexual assault allegations, the Dolphins change their focus at CB to a player that will be at the draft – with speculation that he’ll be one of the inevitable players that doesn’t hear his name called in day one. Here, Awuzie gets his shot as an instinctive cornerback that fights for every ball like it’s his.
R1/23 – NYG: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
I’m sorry, fans of other NFC East teams. It is finally time for the Giants to replace the failed pick at LT that was Ereck Flowers. A disaster in protecting Eli Manning, the Giants have reportedly considered using this pick on Manning’s predecessor at QB – instead opting for a much more reliable option at tackle in Wisconsin’s Ramcyzk.
R1/24 – OAK: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Raiders’ current roster makes them one of the most up-and-coming teams in the NFL, with a young star at DE in Khalil Mack. A natural SAM LB, Zach Cunningham can play behind Mack and add even more physicality to the Raiders defensive front with his tackling ability and play recognition skills.
R1/25 – HOU: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Also following the, “our QB is gone so let’s get a guy to protect whoever has to throw passes for us” draft strategy, the Texans see Pat Mahomes long gone and instead opt for an athletic LT with tons of upside in Alabama’s Cam Robinson.
R1/26 – SEA: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Knocked by many for his speed at both the Combine and his Pro Day, Teez Tabor still displays elite zone coverage skills and awareness with an instinct for the football that Seattle can’t ignore in replenishing a secondary that can still protect a young player like Tabor. With plenty of veterans continuing to fly around and make plays for them, Tabor should fit in nicely with the Seahawks.
R1/27 – KC: Kevin King, CB, Washington
The thought of Kevin King joining Marcus Peters and Eric Berry in the same secondary is a terrifying one for any offenses facing the Chiefs this season. King may not get his hands on as many passes as the other two players listed here, but his massive frame and strong hands make him a tough CB to gain a step on.
R1/28 – DAL: Tyus Bowser, DE, Houston
Coming on late here in this draft process, Tyus Bowser is a hidden gem at this point in the first round when it comes to this year’s DEs. Asked to drop into coverage far too much at Houston, Bowser can be the feared defensive end Dallas is desperately lacking once he is asked to rush every play and display his burst and elite change of direction skill.
R1/29 – GB: T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
A Wisconsin kid and brother to Texans’ star J.J. Watt, the Packers ignore their glaring need at CB – with starters available there well into this draft – and grab another flexible player with a high ceiling to their front seven. Playing just one full year defensively in college, Watt shined consistently as a pass rusher and hunting LB with a nose for the ball.
R1/30 – PIT: Takk McKinley, DE, UCLA
The Steelers have pass rushers that they feel comfortable starting the season with, which puts them in a great position to potentially deal with Takk McKinley having to miss time through training camp. When he at his best coming off the edge, McKinley is one of the most explosive players in this class with the speed to set up tackles up field combined with the bend and upper body strength to finish.
R1/31 – ATL: Malik McDowell, DE, Michigan State
With Dan Quinn modeling the Falcons defense after his Super Bowl winning defense in Seattle, Atlanta rolls the dice on getting Malik McDowell to play with a consistent motor. If he does, the reigning NFC Champions’ rotation of pass rushers would become much more lethal, as McDowell has top-five talent in this draft class with the ability to also play at DT.
R1/32 – NO: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
A Combine star that has the tape to match it, Florida LB Jarrad Davis deserves to go late in the first round. Capable of playing at all three spots, Davis stops running backs in their tracks and does not stay blocked for long all across the field. Landing his Gators teammate in Quincy Wilson at 12th overall, the Saints add two ready-made SEC defenders at positions of need.
Depending on how you quantify a “starter” in the Cowboys offensive or defensive scheme, I think this full Dallas mock brings them five new starters in total.
Tyus Bowser is more than ready to develop into the feared pass rusher this team needs, while Tarell Basham is the perfect rotational piece for Rod Marinelli to use early in his career.
In the secondary, there’s a clear role for Marcus Williams to make a massive day one impact at safety, and the same can be said at cornerback with either Kazee or Decoud starting alongside Anthony Brown, Nolan Carroll, and Orlando Scandrick.
Both of the Cowboys’ offensive picks here would be players to keep a close eye on through training camp and the preseason, as Fred Ross would be hard to take off the field should Dak Prescott find his chemistry with him once again. At running back, snaps are available for Aaron Jones – with the question being if they come ahead or behind Darren McFadden.
Getting younger at key positions is never a bad idea in the NFL, and that is exactly what the Dallas Cowboys continue to do in this mock draft.
It is far from over, but I would like to thank everyone that took the time to learn about this draft through my work and that of my peers here at Inside The Star this offseason. The NFL Draft has quickly grown into one of my deepest passions, with the potential to be much more than just a hobby sometime soon.
Let’s all get ready to welcome some exciting new players to Cowboys Nation!