2017 NFL Mock Draft 9.0: The first three rounds should be dominated by defense

Chris Burke
Sports Illustrated
This is approximately our 107th mock of the draft season, so it's only appropriate that we swing back into the three-round format and cover picks 1 through 107.

2017 NFL Mock Draft 9.0: The first three rounds should be dominated by defense

This is approximately our 107th mock of the draft season, so it's only appropriate that we swing back into the three-round format and cover picks 1 through 107.

This is approximately our 107th mock of the draft season, so it's only appropriate that we swing back into the three-round format and cover picks 1 through 107. In the time since we last forecasted the first two days, the league handed out 32 compensatory picks, 11 of which were tacked onto the end of Round 3 (starting at pick No. 97) to push the mock into triple digits for the first time all year.

As was the case a couple weeks ago, we have no quarterbacks in the top 10 this time. It's still not too difficult to see two or three QBs wind up there, though.

Let's get into it.

1





1Myles Garrett


DE, Texas A&M

Are we still pretending there is any drama to be had in this pick? If the Browns don’t take Garrett here, it will be an all-time draft stunner.



KAPLAN: Texas A&M coaches defend Myles Garrett’s competitive fire










2





2Jamal Adams


S, LSU

This is where the real intrigue begins. It’s hard to entirely shake the feeling that new, offensive-minded coach Kyle Shanahan will want to hand-pick his potential franchise quarterback here. But the Brian Hoyer/Matt Barkley duo is at least serviceable, the No. 33 choice provides a window later on and the defensive options might be too numerous to ignore here.










3





3Malik Hooker


S, Ohio State

Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas (depending on how well the Bears believe the latter can transition to a 34) also should be in play here. Hooker, though, is a passing-game eraser. In a matter of months, the Bears could go from an unsettled safety situation to a HookerQuintin Demps combo.

4





4Solomon Thomas


DL, Stanford

Thomas may not get past San Francisco. But if he does, the odds are very much stacked against him then slipping beyond this spot. Thomas could learn the NFL game behind veteran Calais Campbell, with an eye on an eventual starring role.










5





5Jonathan Allen


DL, Alabama

(Pick via Rams) The Titans have to be loving where they are at, assuming Marcus Mariota heals on time from his late-season leg injury. Already a playoff contender, they have two top-18 picks and minimal glaring needs coming out of free agency. Hence the ability to nab Allen at No. 5, even if they have a steady D-line. Worries about his shoulders aside, Allen stands out as a potential perennial Pro Bowler.










6





6Marshon Lattimore


CB, Ohio State

Given the choice of every available quarterback, would the Jets really pass here? They would if they a) don’t love any of those QBs, b) have even a tiny bit of faith in Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg developing, or c) feel safer nabbing an elite defender. Lattimore covers the final variable. He can be a lock-down No. 1 corner.










7





7Corey Davis


WR, Western Michigan

The Chargers’ offense was a top-10 scoring unit last season thanks to Philip Rivers and the unexpected emergence of a couple wide receivers. But wouldn’t it be fun to see what this group could do at full speed, with a powerhouse 12 punch like Davis and a (hopefully healthy) Keenan Allen? The Rivers era will end soon enough. May as well lean into it.










8





8O.J. Howard


TE, Alabama

Speaking of leaning into a strength, few QBs in the league have the rapport with their tight ends that Cam Newton and Greg Olsen share. So, how about pairing Olsen with one of the draft’s most dynamic offensive threats?










9





9Leonard Fournette


RB, LSU

Gio Bernard’s status for early 2017 is up in the air due to an ACL injury and Jeremy Hill, in the final year of his contract, has averaged 3.7 yards per carry the past two seasons. Fournette could give this offense a huge boost.










10





10Reuben Foster


LB, Alabama

Buffalo nabbed Foster’s ex-Alabama teammate, Reggie Ragland, in Round 2 last year. This time around, the Bills would find it tough to say no to the Crimson Tide product with a better all-around game.



KLEMKO: Reuben Foster, inside and outside the lines










11





11Derek Barnett


DE, Tennessee

Since they’re now armed with two first-round picks, the Saints remain a wild card to swoop in on a QB-Sean Payton put Patrick Mahomes through a private workout a few days ago. But the pressing needs are at defensive end and cornerback. In Barnett, they can land the piece they need opposite Cam Jordan.










12





12Mitchell Trubisky


QB, North Carolina

(Pick via Eagles) In last week’s trade-filled mock, the Browns moved up to No. 4 to take Trubisky. They may have to make a move like that to secure the QB they want, be it Trubisky or a different prospect. The three picks they have between 12 and 52 have to be used in some combination to land a quarterback. Full scouting report










13





13Patrick Mahomes


QB, Texas Tech

It is becoming painfully obvious that Carson Palmer is close to the end of his career rainbow. Rather than wait on his departure and try to find their QB then, the Cardinals can get a head start with a dazzling but raw talent. Full scouting report










14





14Haason Reddick


LB, Temple

(Pick via Vikings) Feels like the Eagles have been shopping LB Mychal Kendricks since approximately the moment they drafted him. He obviously is not a part of their long-term plans. Enter Reddick, who could pair with Jordan Hicks to form an exciting, young LB duo.










15





15Taco Charlton


DE, Michigan

Adding John Simon and Jabaal Sheard provided the Colts a lot more life off the edge, but they should not stop there. Charlton could use a landing spot like this, where he doesn’t have to shoulder the load immediately. The long-term payoff stands to be massive. Full scouting report










16





16Mike Williams


WR, Clemson

Davis for Rivers, Howard for Newton, now Williams for Joe Flacco ... apparently, this mock is all about appeasing the NFL’s quarterbacks. While Baltimore has weapons at WR, it lacks a true No. 1.












17





17Malik McDowell


DL, Michigan State

If those who continue to question his level of desire are to be believed, a McDowell pick is not risk-free. But the potential reward is pretty apparent, too. They don’t build ’em like McDowell, who has top-five talent among this class if he finds his motivation.










18





18John Ross


WR, Washington

Ross has an injury history on each of his knees and he needed shoulder surgery after the combine. That we’re even discussing him as a Round 1 prospect anyway, let alone a top-20 guy, should tell you all you need to know about his skill level. He doesn’t fit the No. 1 receiver profile the same way Davis or Williams does, but he could thrive with Mariota firing him passes.










19





19Dalvin Cook


RB, Florida State

There are enough excuses available if a team wants to pass on Cook, including that spending in Round 1 at RB is a tough investment. Cook’s game is just so explosive, though, that a team needing a go-to back should jump at the opportunity to draft him. Tampa Bay has that need.










20





20Garett Bolles


OT, Utah

Good draw for the Broncos in this mock, with the likes of Christian McCaffrey, David Njoku, Zach Cunningham and every OT still on the board. Bolles is older than the typical rookie, but his outstanding athleticism would be a perfect fit in this offense. Full scouting report










21





21Zach Cunningham


LB, Vanderbilt

The modern NFL demands defenses have athletic linebackers, and the Lions ... well, don’t. If Cunningham or Reddick (or Foster, in a long shot) is available here, he should trump the pass-rushing options.










22





22Forrest Lamp


G/T, Western Kentucky

Physical limitations aside, Lamp probably could hold his own as a tackle if the Dolphins wanted to keep Laremy Tunsil at guard. Better yet, he might be an absolute gem at guard himself if Tunsil is to be the franchise left tackle. Full scouting report










23





23Ryan Ramczyk


OT, Wisconsin

This pick has been reserved in prior mocks for Cam Robinson. Should the Giants feel he too closely resembles Ereck Flowers, though, they could turn to Ramczyk, a plug-and-play option on either side of the line. Full scouting report










24





24Christian McCaffrey


RB, Stanford

The only thing lacking from McCaffrey’s game is the prototypical NFL running back size. Maybe that’s enough to drive him out of the top 20, but he should be in Round 1. The Raiders have a need at running back, and any team could use McCaffrey’s versatile explosiveness.










25





25Deshaun Watson


QB, Clemson

Watson could go anywhere from No. 2 to Round 2 and no one would be all that taken aback. That said, if Houston can get its hands on him, the draft’s most NFL-ready quarterback could push for a starting job on a playoff team.










26





26Quincy Wilson


CB, Florida

A long wait for the second cornerback off the board in this mock. It’s a wait well worth it for the Seahawks, who find a long, physical defender in Wilson to help round out their secondary.










27





27Jabrill Peppers


S, Michigan

Perhaps the Chiefs aren’t the perfect fit for Peppers, but they make for a darn good one. Kansas City utilizes enough three-safety looks to be able to take advantage of Peppers’s positives, plus the Michigan star even could drop down and help cover the depth issues at linebacker.










28





28Cam Robinson


OT, Alabama

In losing Doug Free (retirement) and Ronald Leary (free agency), the Cowboys’ previously unmatched O-line has taken a step back. Dropping in Robinson at right tackle would reestablish the unit’s dominance. Robinson would help keep Ezekiel Elliott on track, and he blocked for a mobile QB last year at Alabama. Full scouting report

29





29Tre'Davious White


CB, LSU

While the loss of Micah Hyde hardly qualifies as a fatal blow for the Packers’ 2017 hopes, it does leave them down a playmaker. White would make up for that departure by giving Green Bay another interchangeable outside/slot defender. Full scouting report










30





30David Njoku


TE, Miami

A luxury pick? Maybe, but a team picking at 30 can make one of those. Njoku’s development will require some patience, but he has the skill to be all that the Steelers hoped they were getting in Ladarius Green, and more. Full scouting report










31





31Takkarist McKinley


DE/OLB, UCLA

McKinley’s post-combine shoulder surgery could drive him out of the early Round 1 spots and right onto the roster of an established contender. Atlanta would love to find one more pass rusher to complement Vic Beasley. Full scouting report










32





32Kevin King


CB, Washington

(Pick from Patriots) Take your pick on the cornerbacks still out there: King, Gareon Conley, Marlon Humphrey, etc. King’s brilliant combine turned him into a trendy Round 1 name. But he’s more than just hype. With his size and speed, he has the look of a dominant NFL cornerback.











Round 2







33





33Caleb Brantley


DT, Florida










34





34DeShone Kizer


QB, Notre Dame










35





35Joe Mixon


RB, Oklahoma










36





36Chris Wormley


DT, Michigan










37





37Charles Harris


DE/OLB, Missouri

If multiple quarterbacks come off the board in the top 15, as was the case with this mock, then the 49ers (or Bears or Jets) might be compelled to move back into Round 1 to address the position. Without any trades, the 49ers are able to stay put and add Kizer to Jamal Adams, giving them a centerpiece on each side of the ball.

Scouting reports: Caleb Brantley | DeShone Kizer | Chris Wormley | Charles Harris

As for Mixon, be prepared for him to be gone on Day 2 ... and maybe on Day 1. He has obvious NFL-level talent, enough to put him in the class of Fournette and Cook, and we’ve now heard several GMs speak positively about him. In making the move at 35, the Jaguars finally answer their RB conundrum-neither T.J. Yeldon nor Chris Ivory reached 4.0 yards per carry last year.





38





38Budda Baker


S, Washington










39





39Taylor Moton


OT, Western Michigan










40





40Jordan Willis


DE, Kansas State










41





41Carl Lawson


DE, Auburn










42





Jarrad Davis


LB, Florida

Baker belongs in the first round. The sheer number of defenders that deserve to come off the board before Friday, as well as Baker’s size, could drop him into Round 2. Good news for the Chargers that it happens, because he’s better than any safety they have. Davis just had a terrific Pro Day, and if he can stay healthy he can offer just as much as a guy like Zach Cunningham.

43





Marlon Humphrey


CB, Alabama










44





Gareon Conley


CB, Ohio State










45





45Tim Williams


OLB, Alabama










46





Raekwon McMillan


LB, Ohio State










47





T.J. Watt


OLB, Wisconsin

The long-awaited cornerback run begins here, with the Eagles and Bills joining the fun. So, too, does a continuation of the edge-rusher run, with outside linebackers Williams and Watt following DEs Willis and Lawson (picks 40 and 41). It is anyone’s guess which of those four will make the best pro.

48





Pat Elflein


G/C, Ohio State










49





49Desmond King


CB, Iowa










50





50Obi Melifonwu


S, UConn










51





51Evan Engram


TE, Ole Miss










52





52Adoree' Jackson


CB, USC

(Pick via Titans)

What if the Broncos could solve their TE production issue and their need for a slot receiver all in one? Engram isn’t the home-run hitter that offense covets, but he would be a valuable chip. The player with the brightest future among this group may be Elflein. He could compete for a starting guard job out of the gate in Minnesota, then eventually move over to replace 34-year-old Joe Berger.

53





53Derek Rivers


DE, Youngstown State










54





54Fabian Moreau


CB, UCLA










55





55Tarell Basham


DE, Ohio










56





56Teez Tabor


CB, Florida










57





57Marcus Williams


S, Utah

Maybe some team sneaks in another skill-position prospect at some point. It should be evident, though, how much defensive value there could be in Round 2 this year. Tabor and Williams are potential starters as rookies-Tabor’s brutal 40 times at the combine and his Pro Day could drive him into Round 2, but he never had the look of a speedster CB. Rivers and Basham can be productive pass rushers in Year One, if nothing else.

Moreau and Washington’s Sidney Jones (coming soon) are going to be of interest to just about every team if they slip into Day 2. They both were headed for Round 1 before suffering Pro Day injuries. Moreau (torn pectoral) faces a shorter, more predictable timeline than does Jones (torn Achilles).

MMQB: Behind the scenes with Adam Schefter for the first 24 hours of free agency





58





58Tyus Bowser


DE/OLB, Houston










59





59Cordrea Tankersley


CB, Clemson










60





60Curtis Samuel


RB/WR, Ohio State










61





61Dan Feeney


G, Indiana










62





62Chidobe Awuzie


CB, Colorado

After handing the Cowboys Cam Robinson in Round 1, it may be too much to double up on offense at pick 60 when Dallas has pressing defensive needs. But this is both a value pick-Samuel has top-50 talent-and one that would further open up the field for the run game. A less flashy, arguably more important pick in the 58-62 range: Feeney. He can start as a rookie, and the Packers just lost T.J. Lang.

63





63Larry Ogunjobi


DT, Charlotte










64





64Sidney Jones


CB, Washington

(Pick from Patriots)

If Ogunjobi could hand-pick his destination, Atlanta would have to be at least top five. The defending NFC champs could use him to take snaps off Dontari Poe’s plate, while also mixing him into the lineup on passing downs. And as promised, here is Jones. The extended recovery period he is facing may send him spiraling into Round 3 ... or Day 3. However, the reward for giving him a shot could be a legit No. 1 cornerback, and the Panthers have enough young CBs on their roster to afford a little patience.

Round 3







65





65Alvin Kamara


RB, Tennessee










66





66JuJu Smith-Schuster


WR, USC










67





67Dion Dawkins


G/T, Temple










68





68Cameron Sutton


CB, Tennessee










69





69Ethan Pocic


C, LSU





70





70Zay Jones


WR, East Carolina










71





71Nathan Peterman


QB, Pittsburgh










72





72Jaleel Johnson


DT, Iowa

(Pick via Panthers)










73





73Josh Reynolds


WR, Texas A&M










74





74D'Onta Foreman


RB, Texas










75





75Carlos Henderson


WR, Louisiana Tech










76





76Davis Webb


QB, Cal










77





77Montravius Adams


DT, Auburn










78





78DeMarcus Walker


DL, Florida State










79





79Justin Evans


S, Texas A&M










80





80Bucky Hodges


TE, Virginia Tech










81





81Brad Kaaya


QB, Miami










82





82Ahkello Witherspoon


CB, Colorado










83





83Carlos Watkins


DT, Clemson










84





84Isaac Asiata


G, Utah










85





85Samaje Perine


RB, Oklahoma










86





86Dalvin Tomlinson


DT, Alabama

(Pick via Dolphins)

There has been Round 1 buzz around Kamara of late. More realistic (especially with Fournette, Cook and Mixon in the first-round mix) is that he hears his name called on Day 2, and the Browns have room for a player with Kamara’s explosiveness to join Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell.

Two more QBs off the board in the top half of Round 3, ending the post-Kizer drought. The Chargers have done zero planning for their lives beyond Philip Rivers, and Peterman has starter-quality traits if given time to develop. Washington almost has to draft a quarterback with Kirk Cousins likely headed elsewhere for 2018. Kaaya is a bit robotic and needs to improve under pressure, but his game is similar to that of Cousins.

The Patriots’ first pick of the 2017 draft is a skilled, penetrating defensive tackle. Bill Belichick loves pieces he can move around up front, and Johnson could help Belichick overcome Malcom Brown’s inconsistencies.

87





87Duke Riley


LB, LSU










88





88Eddie Vanderdoes


DT, UCLA










89





89Antonio Garcia


OT, Troy










90





90Marcus Maye


S, Florida










91





91Kareem Hunt


RB, Toledo










92





92Howard Wilson


CB, Houston










93





93Jake Butt


TE, Michigan










94





94Ryan Anderson


OLB, Alabama










95





95Chris Godwin


WR, Penn State










96





96Kendell Beckwith


LB, LSU










97





97daeshon hall


de, texas a&M





98





98jamaal williams


rb, byu





99





99dorian johnson


g, pitt





100





100eddie jackson


s, alabama

(Pick via Rams)





101





101rasul douglas


cb, West Virginia





102





102Cooper kupp


wr, eastern washington





103





103wayne gallman


rb, clemson

(Pick via Patriots, via Browns)





104





104jalen reeves-maybin


lb, tennessee





105





105isaiah ford


wr, virginia tech





106





106aviante collins


ot, tcu





107





Alex anzalone


lb, florida

A few of the highlights from the final bunch of picks in this mock:

The Texans have to address their offensive line during this draft. Garcia is a developing prospect who needs a healthy dose of NFL coaching, but his length and athleticism are enough to sell him. He moves well enough to be a fit for Houston’s scheme, on either side of the line.

Maye would allow Pete Carroll to sleep a lot more easily at night. Obviously, Seattle’s defense is at its best when Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas are on the field together, but Maye could be a fallback option for either player. The Florida product is that versatile.

Dallas begins handling its defensive issues at No. 92, with the underrated Wilson. There will be a handful of teams (and the Cowboys were among them in this mock) that lean offense in Rounds 1 and 2 because of this class’s depth on defense. There is less starter-caliber DE talent by this point, which limits the Cowboys’ options, but the abundance of skill in the secondary remains.

Carolina had a shot at Fournette (and all the other RBs) at No. 8 but opted to pass, in this mock. Williams doesn’t bring the same upside, but he would be a nice fit behind Jonathan Stewart in that offense. He’s a hard runner with good size.

A couple more injured players off the board: Jake Butt and Eddie Jackson. The former maintains he is well ahead of schedule in recovery from his ACL injury; the Packers’ recent addition of Martellus Bennett means they could ease Butt back, and he would be a terrific option for Aaron Rodgers once he is healthy. Jackson (broken leg) did not work out at the combine, but he was supposed to go through the paces during Alabama’s Pro Day-taking place about the same time as this mock hits the presses. At the very least, a healthy Jackson is a special teams contributor. At best, he’s a turnover-forcing machine from the free safety spot.

This article was originally published on SI.com

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