The 2017 NFL Draft is still several months away, but the teams out of the playoff hunt have already started looking at this year's draft. While many prospects still have yet to decide whether to return to school or turn pro, we do have a general idea of where players will be selected. Much can, and will, change between now and the actual draft. This is an exercise about trying to project team needs and where a player could go.
It's a strong class for pass rushers, secondary, running backs and tight ends, but a weak one at quarterback and offensive tackle. This is a first and second round only mock, but there are numerous players who could end up going in those rounds who aren't listed.
Now that the NFL regular season has concluded, the top 20 picks are set with the remaining 12 set to be determined by the playoffs. The order is based on as things currently stand. Here's how I predict the first two rounds of the draft will shake out, as of now.
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Don't mess this up. QB is a need, but Garrett is the best player in the class. Plus, the Browns need almost everything, so this also fills a need. Garrett is the best prospect to come along since that Clowney/Mack draft. He's that good and would provided a need boost for the Browns defense.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
The 49ers would LOVE if Garrett fell to them and there's a chance they will. They need weapons for a QB badly, but also a QB in general. The 49ers' decision at head coach (and general manager) could affect who the 49ers target. But at No. 2, the Niners seem likely to take a quarterback. Trubisky is the early favorite to be the first QB taken, as he's accurate and a solid decision maker. Trubisky has just one year of starting experience, but has risen throughout the season.
3. Chicago Bears: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
There was a point where Matt Barkley was making a case to at least get a longer look. But he committed way too many turnovers down the stretch and it's clear he's not the long-term answer. So don't be surprised if the Bears take a QB early, with Kizer making the most sense if Trubisky is off the board. Kizer is raw, make no mistake about. But he has the tools to be a franchise QB, even if another year of development would be best. Take the franchise guy in Kizer, bring him along slow and keep building like they are.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Do the Jaguars really need Allen? Not really, but their other needs don't match the value of the players on the board. So take Allen, the second-best player in the draft, and plug him at at DE or DT on a already solid defensive line. They could move to a 3-4 scheme with their new head coach and plug Allen in as the 3-4 DE. But regardless of the scheme, Allen makes sense. If the Jags let Jonathan Cyprien walk, Jamal Adams makes perfect sense.
5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
With free agency still pending, it seems the Titans will go one of three ways with their first round picks: safety, wide receiver or cornerback. Corner seems like the least likely for the time being, meaning it's down to LSU S Jamal Adams or Clemson WR Mike Williams. Either makes sense, but the Titans could really use Williams as a bona-fide No. 1 WR. Marcus Mariota could use a legit No. 1 option.
6. New York Jets: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jets routinely take the best player available, and that's Fournette (assuming his ankle checks out medically). He's a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott and reminds me of Adrian Peterson. Defense (and QB) is a bigger need, but Fournette would change the Jets' offense in a positive way.
7. San Diego Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Don't let their record fool you: the Chargers have a lot of talent, it just could stay healthy the past two year. They might just take the best player available, and that is Adams. He also happens to fill a need, as the Chargers need an impact safety. Adams is better as a strong safety than a free safety, but this is a really good value for him.
8. Carolina Panthers: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
An offensive tackle would be ideal, but I'm not sure there's one drafting in the Top 15, let alone Top 10. Barnett was an insanely productive pass rusher and would fill a need for the Panthers. Remember, both Mario Addison and Charles Johnson are free agents. A corner is also an option and this might be Fournette's floor.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Bengals haven't played up to their talent level, which makes things a bit tricky here. They could use some impact players regardless of position on defense and that's what Foster provides. Foster is the best player on the board, even if the Bengals don't badly need a LB. It's a value pick and he can help the defense right away.
10. Buffalo Bills: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
I don't agree with it, but it seems like the Bills are going to move on from Tyrod Taylor. With Cardale Jones (who is not ready and might not be the answer anyway), the Bills will need a new QB. Don't be surprised if Watson doesn't actually go in the first round (let's see how he fares against Alabama), but the Bills have reached for a QB before. If the Bills don't add someone in free agency, they might be forced to draft one early.
11. New Orleans Saints: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Defense. It doesn't matter what position (well, maybe not safety), the Saints just need to pick a defensive player. We'll slot them another edge rusher for the time being, since Cam Jordan is the only proven, reliable option out there right now. I hadn't slotted Thomas in any first round projections because I wasn't sure he was actually going to declare. But he wrecked UNC in the Sun Bowl and was a first rounder even before that game. Tim Williams might be a better prospect, but Thomas is a better fit. If the Saints want to invest every pick on defense, that's fine with me.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker is turning pro and for good reason. He's a dynamic, impact safety and could go before this. He's going to be a great free safety in the NFL and is a better prospect right now than Jabrill Peppers. Hooker would provide the Browns with a real boost in the backend.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
QB is an option, if one of the top three are on the board. But the biggest need for Arizona is at CB, where Marcus Cooper isn't getting the job done at CB. Humphrey has lockdown corner ability and has the size teams want out of their CBs. Humphrey would be a great fit in Arizona, even if he needs to work on his footwork.
14. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Good news Colts fans, one of your two biggest needs has plenty of options. The Colts need to do a better job of protecting the passer on offense and getting to him on defense. Williams is one of the better pure pass rushers to come along in recent years. He needs work elsewhere, but he is exactly what the Colts need right now. He'd be a great fit in Indy as a 3-4 OLB. One quick note on this pick: the Colts and Vikings (giving their pick to the Eagles) are tied for the 14th spot. That tiebreaker will be settled by a coin flip at the NFL Combine.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Eagles need CB help, but they also have to get some weapons for Carson Wentz. Corey Davis can be the bona-fide No. 1 option the Eagles desperately need. Don't worry about the level of competition. Davis is legit. Don't rule out Dalvin Cook here (or to the Colts).
16. Baltimore Ravens: Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
Ozzie Newsome loves Power 5 prospects in the first round, especially if they play in the SEC. Harris checks both those boxes and fills a major need. He'd be a great fit in Baltimore, although the Ravens could take any number of different players here. He's a bit undersized, which could cause him to fall.
17. Washington Redskins: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Peppers has a ton of hype around him, although his level of play and NFL prospects aren't quite as high as the hype might suggest. He's a jack of all trades, master of none and needs to work on his coverage skills. But he has all the tools to be a great player, even if his position is a little unclear. There might be some overlap with Peppers and Su'a Cravens (who is moving to safety), but this is solid value and the Redskins can find a spot for him.
18. Tennessee Titans: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Two picks for the Titans, and I would be surprised if they didn't spend at least one on the secondary. I actually prefer Teez Tabor, but Wilson isn't far behind. He's got great a tool set and could be the first corner taken overall.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
WR is a bigger need and John Ross makes some sense here. But with Doug Martin's future now in doubt, the Bucs could elect to take Cook. It's also great value for Cook, who is a Top 15 player and could go earlier than this. It's really good value and Cook gives the Bucs an every-down back if Martin's time with the team is up.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
In a down tackle class, Ramczyk looks like the best one who will turn pro. He has the potential to be a left tackle, and the Broncos can play him at right tackle until he's ready. There's a hip injury and some other concerns, but the Broncos badly need a tackle and this is good value.
21. Detroit Lions: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
McDowell can be a 5-technique (3-4 DE), or a 3-technique (4-3 DT). The Lions don't have a truly disruptive force at DT, as A'Shawn Robinson profiles more as a replacement for Haloti Ngata. McDowell hasn't reached his potential yet, but he has all the tools. The Lions went OL in the first last year, and I think they go defense this time.
22. Miami Dolphins: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
A guard would make sense, but it's probably too early. With Mario Williams gone after this season, the Dolphins need another pass rusher. They're old at the position. The good news it's a great class for edge rushers. Lawson isn't the biggest guy and has injury issues, but he's productive when healthy.
23. New York Giants: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Giants tried to draft a tackle high last year and they tried to sign one in the offseason. They failed at both and must upgrade the position this offseason. Robinson is a right tackle, and has some off-the-field worries. But the Giants need a right tackle, as Bobby Hart isn't the answer. If JPP leaves, DE might be the pick.
24. Oakland Raiders: Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
Perry Riley has been a quality addition for the Raiders, but Malcolm Smith hasn't struggled. The main need is in pass coverage, as TEs tend to beat up on Oakland. Cunningham is better against the run, but he has the skills to be effective in coverage. He can also play as a 3-4 ILB or a 4-3 OLB. That fits Oakland's scheme, although he must stop missing so many tackles.
25. Houston Texans: Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn
The Texans need DL help badly. Without J.J. Watt, the defensive line has struggled. Vince Wilfork is no longer getting the job done either at nose guard. Adams has all the tools and has shown plenty of flashes, but has a tendency to disappear at times. He might be better as a 4-3 DT, but has enough size to handle the 3-4 DE role and maybe even nose guard on passing downs.
26. Green Bay Packers: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
The Packers could go a few different directions, but pass rusher is among the most likely. Julius Peppers, Nick Perry and Datone Jones are free agents. Peppers is aging and Clay Matthews is also on the decline. McKinley is a riser and although he doesn't have the best size, he'd help the Packers' pass rush. Alabama TE O.J. Howard is also an option here.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
The Seahawks need to pick an offensive lineman. Any offensive line, be it a guard or tackle. It's a massive need and Bolles has potential. A highly touted JUCO recruit, Bolles has plenty of potential as a tackle. But he'll turn 25 and had serious off-the-field issues before getting his act together in college. But for the Seahawks, he's worth the risk.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dawuane Smoot, EDGE, Illinois
I think this will be a LB, but inside or outside? There are options at both and this is the right range for Smoot. He could easily go before this selection. He had issues staying healthy that helped cause him to drop, but he's got all the skills.
29. Atlanta Falcons: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State
The Falcons need another pass rusher to pair with Vic Beasley. Walker was highly productive at Florida State and is a good scheme fit for Atlanta. He could potentially kick inside on passing downs too if needed. Defensive line and corner, because of the depth, seem like the two most likely targets early for Atlanta.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
I prefer Tabor to Wilson, but off-the-field issues might help him slide a bit. But the Chiefs likely won't dock Tabor for those concerns. After all, they did draft Tyreek Hill. Tabor has all the tools and fills a major need. The Chiefs must find an upgrade at the No. 2 corner spot this offseason and Tabor is fantastic value here.
31. Dallas Cowboys: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
Where do the Cowboys go? David Irving's play might be enough to convince the Cowboys to overlook DE for the time being, unless someone falls. CB is a need, with Morris Claiborne and Brandon able to leave this offseason. Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown might be better fits at nickel corner and this is great value for Sidney Jones, even if he might need to bulk up. I expect either a few corners or edge guys to slip, the Cowboys will benefit as a result.
32. New England Patriots: Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida
There are several different routs the Patriots could go, with front seven help at the top of the list. After all, they did cut Dominique Easley and need some help on the line. Brantley could sneak into the first round this year, despite not being a stellar pass rusher. Or, knowing the Patriots, they'll just trade down.
Looking for more first round mock drafts? Check out the DC Pro Sports Report Mock Draft Database!
33. Browns: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
Brad Kaaya and Patrick Mahomes are options, but the Browns would likely elect to pass on both. Instead, the Browns continue to upgrade the defense with Tankersley, who could go in the first round. He'd provide the Browns with a need boost at corner.
34. 49ers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
If the 49ers go QB in round one, they'll need to get their new franchise option a legit weapon. John Ross could easily be the pick, but Smith-Schuster might actually be the better pairing for Trubisky. Either one works, although both have flaws. Ross isn't strong, needs to add bulk and might be limited to being a deep threat only. Smith-Schuster is almost the opposite: a big possession receiver who might lack the ideal speed.
35. Bears: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
If the Bears don't bring back Alshon Jeffery, WR might be the pick here. Conley could go in the first (it's a loaded CB class) and he'd help the Bears. Outside of Kyle Fuller, they might not have a true starter, although there are some guys that can play on the roster. Still, Conley provides an upgrade and that's the Bears need.
36. Jaguars: Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana
The Jags will look for an upgrade at guard early, since their two starters are free agents. They weren't that great anyway. Feeney could be the first guard off the board and there's an outside chance he sneaks into the first round.
37. Rams: Ethan Pocic, OG, LSU
The Rams need help on the offensive line badly. Pocic can play guard or center, although the Rams would likely plug him in at guard. Don't rule out a tackle either. The Rams must find a way to open holes for Todd Gurley and protect Jared Goff better.
38. Jets: Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC
The Jets need help at corner: they were torched through the air this year. Jackson is a fantastic athlete, perhaps the best in the draft. He might need to bulk up a bit for the NFL, but he's going to be fun to watch. He's near the top of the top players on the board, which checks off that box for the Jets.
39. Chargers: Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
The Chargers could use an upgrade over King Dunlap. Dawkins might not go this early, but I suspect many of the pass protectors will rise as we get closer to the draft.
40. Panthers: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Bad news for the Panthers: they miss out on the only other tackle worth taking at this point, unless they want to reach for someone like Antonio Garcia. The good news is they can address their corner need. In a normal draft, White is probably a first rounder. Instead, he slides to the Panthers in round two.
41. Bengals: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
Landry is the top of prospect who could rise as we get closer to the draft. He's a quality edge rusher and in a lesser class, he could be a first rounder. The Bengals need some depth and a long-term replacement for an aging Michael Johnson.
42. Bills: John Ross, WR, Washington
If the Bills go QB earlier, they'll likely look for another weapon. Ross is a burner, but has injury concerns and size issues that could cause him to drop. A safety, namely Budda Baker, is also an option here.
43. Saints: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
No surprise here, it's another defender for the Saints. They really need linebacker help and Davis can start right away. Don't rule out a QB like Brad Kaaya here either.
44. Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Corner or running back seems like the likely options here, and this is really good value for McCaffrey. He reminds me a lot of Reggie Bush and would fit in the Eagles' offense. He could easily go before this.
45. Cardinals: Chris Wormley, DL, Michigan
Wormley could play a few different spots on the defensive line and he'd fill a need. The Cardinals need more defensive linemen, especially if Calais Campbell leaves this offseason. Both he and Taco Charlton could be early Day 2 picks (or higher).
46. Vikings: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy
Frankly, this might be too early for Garcia. But we can forgive the Vikings, who had terrible offensive line play this year. They don't have many needs. Don't rule out a RB if the Vikings let Adrian Peterson leave this offseason.
47. Colts: D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
The Colts could take RB in the first, since Frank Gore can't play forever. Foreman is a bulldozer, although he might be two-down back only. Still, he'll be a fantastic bruising back to help take some pressure off Andrew Luck.
48. Ravens: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King's play at Iowa was indicative of a first round corner. But, there are serious concerns about his size and his speed. That might cause him to drop, especially if teams view him as a slot corner or safety. But, this good value and fills a need for the Ravens.
49. Redskins: Eddie Vanderdoes, DL, UCLA
The Redskins front office wants to build through the trenches. If they don't take a defensive lineman in the first, they probably will in the second. Vanderdoes has some injury worries, but has the tools to be a classic run stuffer. That's something the defense really needs.
50. Browns (via Tennessee Titans): Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State
Elflein might not last this long. If he does, the Browns should snag him. Cameron Erving has been just terrible and offensive lines tend to struggle when the center plays poorly.
51. Buccaneers: Curtis Samuel, WR, Ohio State
Samuel will draw Percy Harvin comparisons, and for good reasons. He's a WR/RB hybrid at OSU, but slot WR is his likely NFL home. Teams might need to be creative to get the ball in Samuel's hands, but he gives the Bucs another weapon that Jameis Winston needs.
52. Broncos: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
There's a good chance Howard doesn't last this long. The Broncos could even take him in the first round, as he'd give them the actual receiving threat at TE they currently lack. Howard is the best TE in this year's class, especially with Jake Butt tearing his ACL.
53. Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
This is really, really good value for Charlton. He could sneak into the first round. The Lions have Ziggy Ansah and Kerry Hyder was a nice surprise this season, but another pass rusher wouldn't hurt.
54. Dolphins: Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
There are some size worries with Walker, but I think they can be overlooked better in the 4-3 scheme. He was highly productive at Northwestern and this is the top-end of his range.
55. Giants: Joe Mathis, DE, Washington
An unheralded prospect, Mathis was very productive at KSU. He'd need to bulk up a bit to be a 4-3 DE, but the Giants need depth at the position. If Jason Pierre-Paul leaves, the Giants might spend a first rounder on the spot. Had Mathis not been hurt, he could have been in the running to be a first round pick.
56. Raiders: Budda Baker, S, Washington
Baker might not last this long and he frankly shouldn't. But if he does, the Raiders should run to the podium. He's the eventual replacement for an aging Reggie Nelson.
57. Texans: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (FL)
Well, hello. Brock Osweiler doesn't look the answer at all. Kaaya doesn't have the strongest arm and lacks mobility, but he has almost everything else. Perhaps he can finally be the QB Bill O'Brien is looking for.
58. Packers: Wayne Gallman, RB, Clemson
Will Eddie Lacy be back? Ty Montgomery has shown some ability, but do the Packers truly trust him? They haven't given him steady carries. Gallman could be a feature back and the Packers could add a RB early if they don't bring Lacy back.
59. Seahawks: Lowell Lotulelei, DL, Utah
In addition to the injury to Earl Thomas, the Seahawks' defense hasn't been as good because of some issues on the defensive line. Lotulelei could help plug some of those holes. He's the younger brother of Panthers DT Star Lotulelei.
60. Steelers: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
McMillan is a perfect for the Steelers defense, where he'd play alongside fellow former Ohio State LB Ryan Shazier. McMillan might go before this.
61. Falcons: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
There's one hole on the Falcons' offensive line and it's Chris Chester. Here's the upgrade in Lamp. He plays tackle for WKU, but will likely shift inside in the NFL.
62. Kansas City Chiefs: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Dontari Poe is a free agent. Kansas City surely wants to bring him back, but with just $14 million in cap space for next year (assuming they dump Nick Foles), they might not be able to afford him. Remember, Eric Berry still needs to be brought back. If they can't re-sign Poe, Vea makes sense as a replacement.
63. Cowboys: Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech
I'm a big Ford fan, even though he might better as No. 2 WR than a No. 1. He's an upgrade over the still-inconsistent Terrance Williams (a free agent).
64. Patriots: Jordan Willis, EDGE, Kansas State
This is the right range for Willis, one of several gifted edge rushers this year. He has the tools to be a versatile player, which fits in exactly with what the Patriots want. There's a chance Willis goes higher than this.