Evan Silva

Mock Draft

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Silva's 2017 NFL Mock Draft

Monday, April 24, 2017


1. Cleveland Browns – Texas A&M EDGE Myles Garrett

The most valuable commodity in pro sports is a franchise quarterback. The second most valuable commodity in pro football is quarterback disruption. There are no quarterbacks worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Garrett ruined offensive schemes at the highest level of college football, dominating the SEC with a fierce bull rush, lightning-quick inside spin move, and ferocious burst off the snap. Garrett also received strong run-defense grades from PFF College throughout his career. A truly complete edge defender with basketball-player athleticism, Garrett should have an easy NFL transition.

2. San Francisco 49ers – Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore

Despite his team’s No. 31 finish in Football Outsiders’ run-defense DVOA and No. 23 ranking in sacks, rookie GM John Lynch has publicly cited defensive line play as one of San Francisco’s greatest strengths. On that admittedly weak basis, I’m pivoting away from popular 49ers mock pick Solomon Thomas and onto the top corner in this draft. Ideally built (6’0/193) with 4.36 speed and 96th-percentile athleticism, Lattimore allowed a 30.2 passer rating on throws into his coverage last season, and missed zero tackles. Recurring hamstring problems that date back to high school are Lattimore’s big red flag.

3. Chicago Bears – Stanford DL Solomon Thomas

Be it Deshaun Watson or Mitchell Trubisky, I don’t doubt that a quarterback will be in play at the No. 3 pick. Ultimately, I think the Bears are building in traditional John Fox mold and will settle for a high-floor defensive stud with scheme and position versatility whom DC Vic Fangio should have a great feel for as the former defensive coordinator at Stanford, where Fangio undoubtedly maintains connections. While I remain highly skeptical of Mike Glennon as a long- or even short-term solution, the Bears presently have the makings of a team that can compete week in and week out with a high-volume, foundation running game and coming-together defensive front. A dynamic difference maker on the line is one missing piece.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars – LSU RB Leonard Fournette

Daniel Jeremiah (NFL.com), Rob Rang (CBS Sports), Bucky Brooks (NFL.com), Chad Reuter (NFL.com), Josh Norris (Rotoworld), and Lance Zierlein (NFL.com) all have Fournette going to Jacksonville in their latest mock drafts. I’m not going to quibble with that. Drafting tone-setting workhorse Fournette would be one way for new top executive Tom Coughlin to attempt to change the Jaguars’ offensive identity and minimize error-prone quarterback Blake Bortles’ impact on games. Supremely loaded at all three levels on defense, the Jaguars can start the Coughlin era as a run-first, smash-mouth, ball-control team.

5. Tennessee Titans – Ohio State CB Gareon Conley

The Titans have two big needs – cornerback and receiver – and they are positioned well to address both at the Nos. 5 and 18 picks. Clemson WR Mike Williams should be in play here, and I think Washington WR John Ross is a candidate to be drafted far earlier than anyone expects. Pass defense was still Tennessee’s largest 2016 weakness – by far -- and Conley is a better prospect than any wideout in this draft class. Bigger (6’0/195), longer (33-inch arms), more durable, and nearly as athletic (4.44 speed, 86th-percentile SPARQ) as college bookend Marshon Lattimore, Conley is a day-one starter at boundary corner. On college tape, it stood out that the Buckeyes’ coaching staff consistently left Conley on a one-on-one island versus aforementioned Williams and Penn State’s Chris Godwin with no safety help. Able to cover on the perimeter and in the slot, Conley compares to Desmond Trufant.

6. New York Jets – North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky

Early in the draft process, several news outlets reported the Jets’ interest in Trubisky. I’m more inclined to believe that than late-process reports which can be “smokescreens” or tea-leaf reading during a time where NFL teams have nothing to gain from making their draft interests public. The Jets have embraced full-on tank mode, and are realistically in no position to put a rookie quarterback on the field, especially one entering the NFL with 13 college starts. At the same time, the Jets have almost nothing to hang their hats on from a forward-thinking standpoint. I could envision them settling for a theoretically “safe” pick like LSU SS Jamal Adams, or adding higher-ceiling value to the roster with a quarterback risk. Trubisky erases last year’s round-two Christian Hackenberg pick that never should have happened.

7. Los Angeles Chargers – Ohio State FS Malik Hooker

Assuming the board falls like it is prognosticated here – it won’t – the Bolts have a tough decision at No. 7 between Hooker and LSU S Jamal Adams. Whereas Adams draws higher marks for his leadership and all-around game, Hooker’s center-field ability makes him a rarer commodity and arguably more valuable with field-flipping takeaway skills. Hooker plays safety like a wideout and is a touchdown threat every time he touches the ball, averaging an obscene 25.9 yards per runback on seven interceptions last year, including three pick sixes. While Adams and Hooker both would fit new DC Gus Bradley’s defense, Hooker’s game more closely resembles what Earl Thomas brought to the table for Bradley in Seattle.

8. Carolina Panthers – Alabama DL Jonathan Allen

Based on how this draft is going, LSU S Jamal Adams, Clemson WR Mike Williams, Tennessee DE Derek Barnett, Alabama TE O.J. Howard, and popular mock pick Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey are all in play at No. 8. I simply don’t trust GM Dave Gettleman to resist his latest, greatest hog molly. In Gettleman’s mind, this is what the early rounds are for. Allen won the 2016 Nagurski, Bednarik, and Ted Hendricks awards as the nation’s top defensive player and defensive end, capping a decorated career by finishing No. 2 in Alabama history in sacks (28.5) and earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. Albeit in a relatively small sample size, SEC Defensive Players of the Year have had an excellent NFL hit rate.

9. Cincinnati Bengals – Tennessee DE Derek Barnett

Understandably not a favorite of the draftnik community for his snap-jumping tendencies and 25th-percentile measurable athleticism, Barnett’s dominant production at an exceptionally young age against SEC competition is nevertheless tough to diminish. A Volunteer at ages 18-20, Barnett broke Reggie White’s school record for career sacks (33) in only three years in Knoxville, and was compared to Vikings DE Everson Griffen by NFL Films’ Greg Cosell based on game tape. I’m not entirely sure why RE Michael Johnson remains on Cincinnati’s offseason roster, let alone in the starting lineup. A team that once sported one of the league’s most fearsome pass rushes, last year’s Bengals finished a lowly 23rd in sacks.

10. Buffalo Bills – Clemson WR Mike Williams

Williams’ college tape reveals a wide receiver who wins almost strictly on back-shoulder fades and contested catches. Tyrod Taylor is a playmaker innately, but I’ve never seen him with a receiver whose game is so tied to chemistry, rhythm, and timing with his quarterback. Admittedly, the Williams-Tyrod fit is questionable. This team-player match would be driven by need and value for a Buffalo club desperate for pass-catching help with a glaring hole beyond foot- and hip-hobbled Sammy Watkins and overpaid, knee-hobbled Charles Clay. The Bills can’t evaluate Taylor properly without getting him another weapon.

11. New Orleans Saints – Alabama ILB Reuben Foster

I am almost certain New Orleans will use its first-round pick on defense. The Saints’ linebacker corps if the season began today? Panthers castoff A.J. Klein, Ravens/Dolphins castoff Dannell Ellerbe, and Browns castoff Craig Robertson. Foster is the tone setter the Saints hoped for when they whiffed on Stephone Anthony two drafts ago. A top-five consideration before his diluted urine sample, Foster’s technically-failed test pushes him to No. 11 here. I’m selling whispers it will cost Foster a first-round slot entirely.

12. Cleveland Browns – LSU SS Jamal Adams

I prefer to be completely transparent: I have no confidence mocking a draft because I’ve been doing this for over a decade and know that each year, the best mock draft in the nation hits on 33-40% of its first-round picks. Actual NFL hit rates are only marginally better. Outside the top ten, I really have no clue whom each team will take. I do know the Browns need good football players, especially in the secondary. Productive in a big sample, of NFL lineage, adequately athletic, and an impact player versus both the run and pass, Adams checks every analytical box as a high-floor, low-risk pick at No. 12.

13. Arizona Cardinals – Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes

There is a reported disconnect among Cardinals brass. As rumor goes, coach Bruce Arians wants an immediate-impact first-rounder, while GM Steve Keim is thinking longer term and realizes Carson Palmer is entering his last year. In this hypothetical scenario, Keim focuses on the future by selecting a signal caller at No. 13, and gives his offensive-minded coach a big-armed passer to spend a year learning Arians’ decidedly vertical-pass-minded scheme. An out-of-structure gunslinger in college, Mahomes should benefit as a first-year redshirt watching structure-oriented Palmer from the bench.

14. Philadelphia Eagles – Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey

Eagles GM Howie Roseman is well aware of how his bread will be buttered, if it’s to be buttered at all. Roseman desperately needs Carson Wentz to succeed. In free agency, Roseman signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, slapped a second-round restricted tender on reserve tight end Trey Burton, and made multiple moves on the offensive line designed to ensure the Eagles’ front five doesn’t collapse if it loses one player, which happened last year during RT Lane Johnson’s suspension. Roseman’s next logical step is to further bolster Wentz’s supporting cast with a high-percentage pass catcher and upgrade in the running game. Should the Eagles pass on McCaffrey – or not have the opportunity to draft him if he goes earlier than No. 14 – beat writers expect them to consider similarly versatile Joe Mixon in round two.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Washington CB Kevin King

Rookie GM Chris Ballard knows where his roster weaknesses are. The Colts made seven additions to their defensive front seven in free agency. They still lack a quality No. 2 corner opposite Vontae Davis, whose contract is up after this year. A pass-rush upgrade is entirely possible here; Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt immediately comes to mind. King is a terrific alternative, and arguably addresses a more pressing need. At a sturdy 6-foot-3, 200 with impressive 32-inch arms, King is the highest-rated SPARQ athlete in this year’s cornerback class and allowed just one touchdown pass over his final 28 college games.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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