We are a little over three weeks away from the 2017 NFL Draft. First round action is scheduled for Thursday, April 27th at 8:00 EST. Rounds 2-3 will follow on Friday with rounds 4-7 on Saturday.
Trying to project how it will unfold is no easy task and near impossible to get right. A big part of that is all the trades that take place on draft day. I’ve studied the offseason moves and picked players that fit both the schemes and needs of each team.
2017 NFL Mock Draft First Round Predictions & Projections
2016: 1-15 (4th AFC North)
With no clear-cut QB worth taking this high in the draft, Cleveland has no choice but to take Garrett. He’s got the potential to be one of the best to every play given his size and athleticism. A talent like Garrett will help speed up the rebuilding process.
San Francisco 49ers
2016: 2-14 (4th NFC West)
The 49ers have taken a defensive linemen in the 1st round each of the last two years. While many will have Jonathan Allen pegged here, I think they look elsewhere. New San Fran GM John Lynch knows how important the safety position is. Jamal Adams is a perfect fit in the back end of the defense. A big hitter with a lot of range will help improve on the 49ers 32nd ranked run defense last year (165.9 ypg).
2016: 3-13 (4th NFC North)
Chicago spent quite a bit of money to bring in Mike Glennon, so I think they pass on reaching for a QB here. The Bears like what they have at RB with Jordan Howard, so Fournette is likely also not in the mix. Chicago could go receiver, but I think they focus on the defense. The Bears could sure up the interior of their defense with Allen from Alabama.
2016: 3-13 (4th AFC South)
The Jaguars have spent a ton of resources in the draft and in free agency on defense. It’s time to focus on getting more weapons for Blake Bortles on offense. I could see them going after O.J. Howard at tight end, but I don’t see how they pass on Fournette. If he’s the next coming of AP, Jacksonville could finally take that next step.
2016: 9-7 (2nd AFC South)
This is the first of two first round picks for the Titans (also pick 18th). There will be those wanting Tennessee to reach for a receiving weapon for Mariota. That’s definitely a possibility, but I think pass defense is the priority here. The Titans ranked 30th against the pass last year. They desperately need a ball hawking safety and can get a big time talent here in Hooker from Ohio State.
New York Jets
2016: 5-11 (4th AFC East)
It’s hard saying what the Jets are doing right now. I wouldn’t be shocked if they were the first to pull the trigger on a QB, but I think they hold off. I think New York can help whoever ends up being their quarterback in a big way by drafting Howard. He’s got the tools to be unstoppable in the passing game.
Los Angeles Chargers
2016: 5-11 (4th AFC West)
The Chargers need help on the offensive line, but there’s just not much talent at that position. At least not any worthy of being a Top 10 pick. That’s not saying they won’t reach, but I think they would be ecstatic to get Thomas from Stanford. The combination of Bosa and Thomas would give the Chargers an elite front seven for years to come.
2016: 6-10 (4th NFC South)
Carolina got a little big-headed and let Josh Norman get away. I’m not saying that’s the only reason for the collapse last year, but it definitely played a part. The Panthers finished 29th in pass defense. They already added in Captain Munnerlyn. Bringing in Lattimore, the top rated corner in the draft, turns a weakness into a strength.
2016: 6-9-1 (3rd AFC North)
This might surprise some people. Sure the Bengals have the likes of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard on the roster. The thing is, neither is elite, plus Hill can’t stay healthy and Bernard can’t handle a full workload. I believe the addition of Cook from FSU could be a game-changer for Andy Dalton. Cook comes with some baggage, but Marvin Lewis seems to love these kind of guys. Could be the missing piece to get the Bengals over the hump.
2016: 7-9 (3rd AFC East)
The Bills lost Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins simply can’t be trusted to stay healthy. Buffalo made the right move and brought back Tyrod Taylor. They need to make sure he has someone he can lean on. I think Clemson’s Mike Williams is a perfect fit. If Watkins returns to form, could be a dynamite 1-2 punch.
New Orleans Saints
2016: 7-9 (3rd NFC South)
This will be the first of two first round picks for the Saints. New Orleans used their first four picks on defensive players last year. They need to keep adding more pieces on that side of the ball. The Saints struggled to get pressure on the quarterback (27th in sacks) and as a result were dead last against the pass. They not only feel a need, but could be getting a steal here in Barnett out of Tennessee.
2016: 1-15 (4th AFC North)
I’m on the bandwagon that the Browns skip on a quarterback again. If there’s a quarterback they like enough to take here and believe he’s a franchise guy, they should take him No. 1 overall. Otherwise keep stockpiling elite talent. The Browns have holes every where, so why not pick the best player available. I believe that’s Foster from Alabama. Garrett (No. 1 pick) and Foster could transform Cleveland’s defense into one of the best in no time.
*Note I still think they are working on some kind of trade with the Patriots for Garoppolo.
2016: 7-8-1 (2nd NFC West)
The Cardinals have a good amount of depth. That gives them the luxury of adding in a weapon on offense. Larry Fitzgerald likely retires after this year and when he does that’s a big void needed to be filled. I believe Corey Davis from Western Michigan is the perfect fit here. Not only is he an elite talent, but he would benefit from learning the ropes from one of the best.
2016: 7-9 (4th NFC East)
The Eagles lost both starting corners in the offseason. Their projected top three right now are Jalen Mills (7th round pick last year), Patrick Robinson and Ron Brooks. I believe this is one of those times that you have to reach to fill a need. LSU’s Tre’Davious White has the potential to be special.
2016: 8-8 (3rd AFC South)
Indianapolis can’t go wrong with taking a defensive player. I just think the first priority for the Colts has to be to protect Andrew Luck. They used a 1st round pick last year on Ryan Kelly and need to keep the trend going. There’s three tackles expected to be taken in the first round. I think Utah’s Garett Boles is worth the risk at this spot.
2016: 8-8 (2nd AFC North)
If you have been following the draft process, you know that Temple’s Haason Reddick has been jumping up draft boards. When you watch the tape it’s easy to see why. This guy produces on the field and has ridiculous measurements for a guy his size. He’s also a jack of all trades, as he can play inside or outside in a 4-3 or 3-4. I think the Ravens would be ecstatic to get him here.
2016: 8-7-1 (3rd NFC East)
Washington could go a lot of different directions here. There’s some tempting skill players on offense that would be nice fits. I just believe the Redskins focus is to improve their defense. Washington needs help on all three levels. Defensive line is arguably the biggest need and McDowell is a great fit. He’s quick off the ball with the ability to impact the game against both the run and pass.
2016: 9-7 (2nd AFC South)
Here’s where the Titans can add in that weapon for Mariota. No one made a bigger splash at the combine than Washington wide out John Ross. His 4.22 40-yard time puts him on a different level in terms of speed. Think Tyreek Hill for the Chiefs last year. He might not be as good in the open field as Hill, but is more polished as a receiver.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2016: 9-7 (2nd NFC South)
Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom half of the league against both the run and and pass on defense. Outside of Gerald McCoy in the middle, I’m not blown away by the defensive line. I love the idea of them adding in Charlton from Michigan. He’s a great fit for their 4-3 scheme and could be a steal at this point. I have seen mock drafts with him going in the top 10.
2016: 9-7 (3rd AFC West)
Denver is another one of those teams in the quarterback conversation. However, after drafting Paxton Lynch in the first round last year, forget about the Broncos taking one here. Defense isn’t really a priority and they got weapons at the skill positions. The smart thing is to keep working on that offensive line. The starting left tackle right now would be Donald Stephenson. Alabama tackle Cam Robinson is worth the risk here. Worse case he moves inside to guard.
2016: 9-7 (2nd NFC North)
The Lions were tied for 30th in the NFL with a mere 26 sacks in 2016. Kerry Hyder led the way with 8. The hope is that Ziggy Ansah returns to 2015 form (14.5 sacks), but more help needs to be added. If UCLA’s McKinley is still on the board, the Lions need to pull the trigger.
2016: 10-6 (2nd AFC East)
Miami could look to reach on a corner here, but I think the bigger need for them is on the offensive line. They got a steal in last year’s draft with Laremy Tunsil falling to them at No. 13. Taking Lamp from Western Kentucky makes so much sense for this team.
New York Giants
2016: 11-5 (2nd NFC East)
Giants’ fans have to be excited about the potential of this pick actually happening. New York has a defense that figures to be one of the best in the league. They have a proven quarterback and big weapons in the passing game. How scary would their offense be with someone like McCaffrey out of the backfield?
Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders
2016: 12-4 (2nd AFC West)
Khalil Mack was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. As good as he was, Oakland finished dead-last in the league with 25 sacks. Mack led the way with 11 and Bruce Irvin added 7. The rest of the team had 7. I think it’s safe to say pass rusher is something Oakland could target with this pick.
2016: 9-7 (1st AFC South)
This would be a dream scenario for the Texans. Houston is done with Osweiler and Romo is going to TV. Right now the Texans starting QB would be Tom Savage. If there’s any team that need to gamble on a signal caller, its Houston. I believe Trubisky will be the first off the board.
2016: 10-5-1 (1st NFC West)
I know the Seahawks appear uninterested in addressing the offensive line, but at some point they have to crack. I believe Seattle tries to sure up their protection for Russell Wilson here. Ramcyzk out of Wisconsin can help right away at right tackle.
Kansas City Chiefs
2016: 12-4 (1st AFC West)
Kansas City still has Alex Smith and are going to ride it out with him for now. With that said, they know he’s not the long-term solution. They had the intentions of taking Lynch in the 1st round last year. Watson is someone I think could either be a special player or a complete flop. It’s worth the risk. The Chiefs have a bunch of picks and great depth across the board.
2016: 13-3 (1st NFC East)
Dallas has all the weapons on offense that you need to be successful. Their only focus here should be on improving that defense. Forget about trying to figure out where Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers fits in the NFL. The kid is a special talent that will find his way on the field. Not to mention he could help out in the return game.
Green Bay Packers
2016: 10-6 (1st NFC North)
When you get to this point of the first round, anything is a possibility. With that said, Green Bay learned the hard way that you can’t have enough depth at the corner back position. It would make a lot of sense for the Packers to make sure that unit is a strength going into next season. Washington’s Kevin King is rising up boards and worth the risk at this point.
2016: 11-5 (1st AFC North)
The Steelers have a lot of good young pieces on the defensive side of the ball. I think with the talent they have on offense, there’s no reason not to keep addressing this side of the ball. I believe the biggest weakness for Pittsburgh is safety. Lucky for them there’s a talented one still on the board in Baker out of Washington.
2016: 11-5 (1st NFC South)
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Falcons continued to make defense a priority in the first round. With that said, I think they have a chance to take their offense to the next level by taking Miami TE David Njoku.
New Orleans Saints
2016: 7-9 (3rd NFC South)
I had the Saints taking a pass rusher with the No. 12 pick and I have them sticking to defense with this selection. New Orleans needs help in the secondary in a big way. Ohio State’s Gareon Conley is another defensive back climbing draft boards.
You won’t see many of the NFL win totals adjust after the draft no matter who a team takes. Rookies just rarely have that big of an impact.
Sometimes the early NFL odds that have been released will change and you can use that information to update the expected win total of a team and take advantage of your win total wagers.
I think it’s important for handicappers to have a full grasp of the team needs of each franchise so they can better prepare for the season. I go through each team thoroughly so my premium and free NFL picks are top notch once the season starts.
The draft and free agency are the two ways teams fill gaps, if they do then you would think they would be improved. Teams that don’t help themselves likely will remain in the basement of their divisions.
For more draft coverage check out the MockDraft database at DCProSportsReport.com.