[Editor’s note: This mock draft was originally published on April 18, 2017.]
With less than two weeks remaining until the league descends upon Philadelphia for the 2017 NFL Draft, I take my best pass at Round 1. A couple of observations before we dive into my first mock draft of the year:
- Quarterbacks: I’m simply not down on this quarterback class. I just don’t think there is much difference in the top four’s chances of success in the NFL. They all can do some things really well, but all have issues, too. If I wanted a quarterback in this class, I would let the market dictate who I drafted; I would not want to spend a top-10 pick on any of them, because I would feel my chances of success would be just as great with QBs Nos. 2–4. Therefore, I would let the first two quarterbacks go off the board and then try to trade up to get one of the next two. There are so many talented players in this draft, I wouldn’t want the risk associated with either of the first two quarterback choices. But history tells us that QBs will go early, and I think it will happen again.
- Talent, talent, talent: Teams that have a lot of picks in the first two rounds have to be loving their chances. We once took a Disney Cruise with our children, and there were so many kids in the Mickey Mouse pool on the first day, I told my wife, “You couldn’t hit water if you threw a ping-pong ball in that thing.” I feel the same way about this draft — you will have to work really hard to miss in the early rounds.
1. Cleveland Browns
The real drama for the Browns doesn’t come until their pick at No. 12. The No. 1 pick has only two options: draft Myles Garrett, or trade out of the pick for someone who wants him enough to pay a heavy price. Either scenario works for Cleveland. Garrett moves like a point guard who is completely in control of the action — Jason Pierre-Paul in his prime comes to mind. The former Aggie’s speed and quickness will set up bull-rushes when the tackles are on their heels. When he smells a sack, he has a great burst. The Browns cannot lose with the first pick.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Finished in the top three among edge defenders in overall grade in all three years of college.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) February 19, 2017
2. San Francisco 49ers
If I were John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, I would be trying like crazy to trade out of this pick. But unless someone has fallen in love with one of these QBs, who would they be trading up to get? My guess is the 49ers have to make a pick here. A quarterback at No. 2 is a huge risk that I don’t think these two decision-makers will take with their first pick together. Prospect Solomon Thomas can play the valued 3-technique that Warren Sapp played in Tampa Bay, Marshon Lattimore gives them the best cornerback, and John Lynch has to admire the play of safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker. You can’t go wrong with the work ethic of Thomas, though, and the Stanford connection doesn’t hurt. A patient but solid pick, Thomas heads to the Bay Area.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led all interior defensive linemen with a 92.5 run-defense grade. PFF College award winner for Best Run Defender in the nation.
???? Best Run Defender ????
Solomon Thomas, @StanfordFball
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 5, 2017
3. Chicago Bears
I’m going to guess that John Fox really believes that Mike Glennon is his QB of the future, so the Bears will draft one of two areas of need: defensive line or cornerback. Eventually you have to beat Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North, so would you rather get an interior push to flush the Green Bay QB out of the pocket, or a corner to cover his receivers? One CB is never enough, so I guess Allen will get the call. Flushing Rodgers out of the pocket may not be the best strategy, but it will now be Allen’s job. As scouts like to say, God only made so many bodies like Allen’s, so you better get them early. Newly-acquired Akiem Hicks and Allen will be rock solid inside for the Bears.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led all interior defensive linemen with 67 total QB pressures in 2016.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
This pick comes down to whether Tom Coughlin and company are sold on Blake Bortles. Coughlin loves playmaking, physical tight ends, so Alabama’s O.J. Howard has to be considered, despite the Jaguars picking up Mychal Rivera from the Raiders. An offensive linemen or a pass-rusher like Tennessee’s Derrick Barnett also would fit, but I’m taking my first big swing here and going with Deshaun Watson at quarterback. Bortles has some mechanical issues that slow his release time; he may still make it in the NFL, but Jacksonville needs proven leadership with a history of winning in the toughest moments. Watson is a risky pick, but just feels like the kind of dynamic playmaker this fan base is crying out for. Watson has a much tighter release than Bortles, a great understanding of the back-shoulder concept (and would have the receivers in Jacksonville to make it work), reads defenses well, and is a committed pocket-passer despite his ability to move. He’s a little like Dallas’ Dak Prescott in that regard. This probably never happens, but I like Watson here.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Ranked third in the draft class with an adjusted completion percentage of 76.1 percent and second in the draft class in adjusted completion percentage of 60.0 percent on passes thrown in the 21-to-30-yard range.
Deshaun Watson is "one of the most difficult evaluations in the class"https://t.co/qYD15du5yL
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 5, 2017
5. Cleveland Browns (trade up from No. 12 pick with Titans)
[Trade details: Browns give first-round (No. 12 overall), second-round (No. 52 overall), and fourth-round (No. 108 overall) picks to Titans for first-round (No. 5 overall) pick.]
With Deshaun Watson off the board, and the very real possibility that the Jets take Mitchell Trubisky with the next pick, if the Browns want the former Tar Heel quarterback, this is where they have to land. Cleveland has the picks to make the move, but it wouldn’t surprise me if any of the QB-needy teams jump into a bidding war here. The Jets, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, or Texans are all possible trading partners for the Titans if they consider Trubisky to be the clear No. 2 QB — or the No. 1 choice if Watson hasn’t been taken yet. If the Browns get Trubisky and Garrett in the first five picks, their draft is a success no matter what they have to give up. This order could change if Trubisky or Watson is taken by San Francisco, Chicago, or Jacksonville, but I still see this fifth pick as the key to the draft for teams that want priority over the Jets. Trubisky has good size and mobility, with quick feet in the pocket. He seems to process his thoughts quickly. His three-quarters motion is a little like Dan Marino or Philip Rivers, and doesn’t scare me. He does miss some easy throws and came up short on a few deep balls, but this is about the right spot for Trubisky to be taken.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Ranked third in the draft class with an adjusted completion percentage of 76.9 against the blitz in 2016.
6. New York Jets
The Jets have a desperate need at quarterback. But in his heart, Todd Bowles is a defensive coach who wants to play man coverage, and the best cornerback in this draft just fell into his lap. Lattimore is simply just too good to pass up here. He may not be Darrelle Revis, but then again, he just might be. The Jets have so many needs — quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive line among them — but passing on clearly the best player on the board is too much, and the Jets take Lattimore.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Recorded seven pass breakups and four interceptions while allowing only 23 receptions in coverage.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Anthony Lynn hired Gus Bradley as his defensive coordinator, whose roots run through Seattle. I always thought safety Earl Thomas’ ability to cover sideline-to-sideline was the secret sauce behind that Seahawks’ defensive success. LSU’s Jamal Adams is a tremendous player, but Malik Hooker reminds me more of Thomas with his playmaking from centerfield. His ability to cover mistakes by the corners on deep balls is what sets him apart. I know most people think Adams is the fit here, and the former Tiger is a much better tackler than Hooker, so he could be, but I wrote down Earl Thomas’ name five times while watching Hooker’s tape, so he gets my vote. The former Buckeye’s poor tackling is a problem, though, and he may give up as many big plays as he creates unless it improves.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Tied for the national lead among safeties with seven interceptions, but ranked 136th in tackling efficiency, with 13 misses on 82 attempts.
8. Carolina Panthers
This pick is tough. Better players may be on the board, but I can’t get the idea of Fournette playing with Cam Newton out of my mind. Can you imagine a read-option with those two? What makes the read-option so difficult to defend is that you end up a half-step too slow getting to the ball carrier while reading the QB/RB mesh point, and whether that is Fournette or Newton, you have a problem on defense. Good luck with that arm-tackle. In any other offense, Fournette would be a two-down player, but the Panthers like to grind it out with power, and by the fourth quarter, those two monsters will have you worn out. I know they want to take carries off Newton and help that offense line with play-action — Fournette should deliver both. Now the Panthers just have to hope a decent tackle is still there in the second round.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led the nation with 85 forced missed tackles in 2015.
Best fits for Leonard Fournette, including Panthers, Giants and … https://t.co/8DUBXnKGlW
— PFF (@PFF) April 17, 2017
9. Cincinnati Bengals
I cannot believe the number of great players left available to the Bengals at the ninth pick. Cincinnati needs a wide receiver opposite A.J. Green, an offensive lineman after the loss of both Andrew Whitworth (Rams) and Kevin Zeitler (Browns), a pass-rusher to help Carlos Dunlap, and another corner with Adam Jones finally showing signs of age and continued off-field struggles. I’m guessing the team goes defense, and the Bengals usually only draft pass-rushers and corners this high. Tennessee’s Derek Barnett is the best pass-rusher I have left on my board, so pencil him in here. He has a quick inside move, can really get low around the edge, has a natural spin move, and his pressure percentage has been in the top three the last two years.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Ranked second overall among edge defenders in 2015 and third overall in 2016.
10. Buffalo Bills
John Ross ran a 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the combine, the fastest time ever recorded at the event. He is only 5-foot-11 and has some injury issues, but is such an exciting player to watch. Unlike most speed receivers, he is tough and willing to take a hit. I like his hands, too. It is almost laughable how far off cornerbacks play against him. It seemed that anytime Washington wanted an easy completion, it was there to Ross. He is also a great red-zone player for someone his size. Ross loves those slants and skinny posts in the red zone and scored 17 TDs his final year at Washington. With Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy, and John Ross, the pressure is on Tyrod Taylor to produce.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Averaged 3.18 yards per route run vs. Power-5 competition in 2016, fifth-best in the nation and third-best in the draft class.
11. New Orleans Saints
It’s always hard to pass on receivers when I’m picking for New Orleans — Mike Williams or Corey Davis would be fun to watch in this offense — but the Saints have to take defense, right? If there is a spot for Foster, this is it. The league has changed, and cover linebackers that don’t have to come off the field on third down are so valuable to continuity on the defensive side of the ball. As one defensive coordinator once told me, teams don’t lose games on run plays — they lose on passing plays. Foster will fly sideline to sideline and cover backs and tight ends. He can flip his hips like a cornerback in coverage. The former Alabama standout is a flashy prospect that plays with a lot of emotion, and should be a fan favorite in New Orleans for years to come. I hope the combine incident was an aberration.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led all FBS linebackers with a run-stop percentage of 16.3 in 2016.
12. Tennessee Titans (trade down from No. 5 pick with Browns)
[Trade details: Titans give first-round pick (No. 5 overall) to Browns for first-round (No. 12 overall), second-round (No. 52 overall), and fourth-round (No. 108 overall) picks.]
With the way the Titans can run the ball, if they can find a receiver that cannot be covered one-on-one outside due to his size and physical skills, then teams will really struggle to load the box against Tennessee. The NFL is really all about scoring in the red zone. All teams move it between the 20s, but the teams that win score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals. Williams completes the equation for Tennessee’s offense — mobile QB, power running game behind a physical offensive line, and now a big, TD-scoring wide receiver. Mike Williams is my choice for the Titans.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Caught 51.9 percent of deep targets (20-plus yards downfield), the sixth-best mark in the nation.
13. Arizona Cardinals
I’m very tempted to put DeShone Kizer here; the former Notre Dame quarterback fits the Ben Roethlisberger/Carson Palmer style of play that Bruce Arians has had so much success with. However, the Cardinals need cornerbacks — the Arizona faithful have to be sick of watching big plays on the side of the field opposite star CB Patrick Peterson. To fix the problem, Alabama’s Marlon Humphry is my choice. He is a physical corner who plays his guts out, but does give up a few big plays. Tre’Davious White may be a better pure cover corner, but he won’t hit anybody, and I’m not sure Arians could stomach him. Humphrey is a hitter with perfect height, weight, and speed numbers. Plus, he is a low-risk pick at a position of great need for the Cardinals.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Allowed exactly 50 percent of his targets to be completed each of the last two years, but surrendered 16.9 yards per reception.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
I want to give the Eagles a receiver with the speed of John Ross to play alongside Alshon Jeffery, but Philadelphia has to have a cornerback, and White is the next best available. He may drive Jim Schwartz nuts if he refuses to tackle, but Schwartz has no choice — you can’t compete without corners. I love White’s ability to find the ball in the air. Most young corners are afraid to turn their head and look for deep balls, and they end up getting beat. White is rock-solid there. I also don’t see him as a guy that will get a lot of cheap fouls; he keeps his hands to himself. I thought White would run a sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash, but at 4.47, he was a little slower than his run-and-cover style would suggest. White has legitimate coverage skills, though, and should go in the first half of the draft.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Allowed a passer rating of 61.0 on passes into his coverage in 2016 after surrendering a passer rating of 114.4 in 2015.
15. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have to create a quicker passing game to keep quarterback Andrew Luck healthy. Luck’s greatest weakness is his belief that if he holds the ball, something will happen downfield. If he has a weapon that would encourage him to check it down, this entire offense could explode, and Luck might make it through the season in one piece. The most versatile weapon in this draft is McCaffrey. Marshall Faulk was drafted by the Colts once upon a time, and McCaffrey may not be Faulk, but his style is very similar. He can split out and play wide receiver without any issue. Plus, he has really quick moves running inside. His hands are better than most wide receivers, and he has no fear. McCaffrey is surprisingly tough to tackle, and averages 3.3 yards after contact, a very good number. It would not surprise me if McCaffrey ended the 2017 season as Rookie of the Year.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Forced 43 missed tackles as a runner and 21 missed tackles as a receiver in 2016.
Christian McCaffrey "has the rare ability to take games over."
— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 21, 2017
16. Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have intimidated for many years with great edge pressure. However, Terrell Suggs is older, Elvis Dumervil has been released, and Baltimore needs help. There are so many pass-rushers in this draft, but Haason Reddick from Temple is different. Pure speed and athleticism off the edge, he can rush inside despite his small size, and can stand up and play off the ball at linebacker. I’m not sure where he will play, but Reddick brings the element of pass-rush intimidation back to the Ravens’ defense. He doesn’t even look at blockers when he rushes; he knows they won’t block him. He runs a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and has a 36-inch vertical jump — his explosiveness is apparent in his play. Reddick will live in the backfield, and tackles-for-a-loss will be a regular occurrence.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Picked up 10 sacks, four QB hits, and 29 hurries on only 248 rushes in 2016.
17. Washington Redskins
I can’t believe Jamal Adams has fallen this far in my mock. If he is available at No. 17, the Redskins will jump for joy. Adams is more of the Troy Polamalu-style prospect that can play anywhere. He is an excellent tackler and can play in the slot, middle of the field, or inside linebacker. He is much more of a strong safety-type than Malik Hooker, but still looks good covering slot receivers. I love his energy and the way he wraps up tackles low and around the legs. He rarely misses tackles in the open field. I do like Adams better around the line of scrimmage than in the middle of the field, but he should be a terrific player for a decade in Washington.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Missed only 24 tackles on 191 attempts in his three years at LSU.
18. Tennessee Titans
The Titans got their receiver with their No. 5 pick, and now look for a pass-rusher or cornerback. I am going to my secret weapon on this pick: Malik McDowell. McDowell is 6-foot-6 and weighs almost 300 pounds. He played only 425 snaps last season due to an ankle injury, but was dominant in those snaps according to Pro Football Focus’ data. McDowell has a very unusual sprinter’s stance, but plays outside, 3-tech, and nose tackle. With his stance, he will occasionally get washed down, but will get coached on that, and likely only improve. NFL teams will not be able to resist the perfect body type for a defensive lineman.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Picked up 30 total QB pressures on only 206 rushes in 2016.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I know the pressure will be on Tampa Bay to take former FSU running back Dalvin Cook to re-unite him with Jameis Winston, but Winston has to survive first. The Buccaneers need an upgrade at left tackle, and Ryan Ramczyk from Wisconsin will be a solid LT for years. He is physical in the run game, confident and efficient in protection against top pass-rushers, and is ready to play coming out of a Wisconsin system that has offensive linemen NFL-ready with their pro-style system. He is coming off hip surgery, but his consistent play against top-caliber competition like Michigan and Ohio State makes him the first tackle off the board. The New York Giants will shed a tear, but Ramczyk goes here.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led all FBS offensive tackles with an 84.6 run-blocking grade in 2016.
20. Denver Broncos
I’m going back-to-back offensive tackles here, as the Broncos have to improve their offensive line. Cam Robinson from Alabama will be more physical, and I believe may end up becoming a Pro Bowl left tackle. The Broncos have to improve both their running game and pass protection if they are going to win with young quarterbacks. Robinson is the biggest of these tackles, but can still move in space. He is not as strong as Tyron Smith of Dallas, but is tough to beat once he gets his hands on you. He can get top-heavy with that forward lean sometimes, but will figure that out. Robinson is the perfect answer for the Broncos at No. 20 — John Elway will be thrilled with this pick.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Ranked 90th among FBS offensive tackles in 2016, but saw his pass-blocking grade increase all three years in college.
PFF scouting report for Alabama tackle Cam Robinsonhttps://t.co/ooNIS1EwYl
— PFF College (@PFF_College) March 8, 2017
21. Detroit Lions
The Lions saw a down year from Ziggy Ansah, and were saved by an unexpectedly good season from Kerry Hyder, with eight sacks. The Lions need more from their rush, and Charles Harris from Missouri is a great fit. This former basketball player has a beautiful spin move that looks effortless. He recorded just a 4.8-second 40-yard dash, but he plays fast and gets consistent hits on the quarterback. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is holding the ball and creating now more than ever, so finding more people to attack him is the first step to competing in the NFC North.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Pass-rush grade of 88.7 ranked 12th among FBS edge defenders in 2016.
22. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins took huge strides on offense under Adam Gase, QB Ryan Tannehill was much improved until injured, RB Jay Ajayi was brilliant at times, and WR DeVante Parker is coming on. Now the Dolphins’ good luck continues, as O.J. Howard falls to No. 22. Howard runs a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, is an athletic blocker for those outside-zone runs the Dolphins love, and recorded just three drops over the last two seasons. He lacks a little physical toughness to be a top-15 pick, but has a ton of upside that Gase will develop. Greg Olsen, the receiving tight end from Carolina, is a good comparison.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Run-blocking grade of 81.5 led all FBS tight ends in 2016. Averaged 7.8 yards after the catch per completion over the last three years.
23. New York Giants
The Giants have to get better at tackle. I don’t think Ereck Flowers is the answer at left tackle, but he may be a solid right tackle. Bolles is probably 25 pounds lighter, and bull-rushes may be a problem for him. He has exceptional feet and will not get beat quickly on the edge. Eli Manning gets rid of the ball so fast, it will be a rare that a pass-rusher will get through Bolles quickly enough to get to the QB. Don’t expect a power blocker in the running game — he is much more of a stretch run-type tackle. The Giants, with offseason additions Brandon Marshall and Garett Bolles, should be a contender.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Recorded the second-highest percentage of positively-graded run blocks among this class’ offensive tackles in 2016.
24. Oakland Raiders
With so many quality players left on the board, the Raiders can’t miss. Marshawn Lynch is in many ways the key to this pick. If he signs (it’s not yet official), the Raiders may pass on a first-round back, but they could also draft a complementary player here like Cook from FSU. The most elusive back in college football has the speed to break open games as a runner and receiver. He is smaller and doesn’t block well, but at the very least, you will get a playmaker on third down. I worry a little about his shoulders and don’t love him running inside, but at No. 24 in the first round, Cook is too good to pass up.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: In 2016, Cook led the FBS in elusive rating, breaking 99 tackles (92 on rushes, seven on receptions) and averaging 4.19 yards after contact.
In what range do you think Dalvin Cook will be drafted?
— PFF (@PFF) March 22, 2017
25. Houston Texans
How strongly do the Texans feel about Tom Savage? Quarterback is the obvious choice now that Tony Romo is working for CBS. At this point, they’re likely choosing between Patrick Mahomes and DeShone Kizer. My guess is that if Mahomes falls to pick No. 25, the Texans will take him. Think Brett Favre coming out of college: it’s a wild and fun show watching Mahomes play, but he is all over the place. He is going to sling the ball and worry about it later. His arm strength is tremendous, he can run for first downs, and has no guilty conscience after interceptions. But Mahomes is a project, and thinking of him as a ready-to-play rookie would be a mistake. Savage will likely be the opening-day starter regardless of which quarterback the Texans take.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Ranked second in the nation in big-time throws, but third in the nation in turnover-worthy throws.
26. Arizona Cardinals (trade up into Round 1, pick No. 26, with Seahawks)
[Trade details: Cardinals give Seahawks 2017 second-round (No. 45 overall) and 2018 second-round picks for 2017 first-round pick (No. 26) overall.]
The Cardinals guess correctly that Patrick Mahomes would be the next quarterback off the board, and make a move to get the QB they wanted all along — DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame. Kizer is just 21 years old and has plenty of upside. By giving him a chance to work with Bruce Arians and play behind Carson Palmer for a year or two, the Cardinals will have a logical succession plan in place for the most important position on the field. This may end up being one of those picks 10 years from now that people look back and say, how did all those teams pass on him? With RB David Johnson as a check-down, you will see Kizer not taking the sacks he took at Notre Dame. Arians teaches with tough love and is a great preacher of fundamentals — both fit Kizer’s needs. The Seahawks will now be able to load up on picks in a deep draft. If Seattle keeps the pick, offensive line is the obvious choice.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Had a passer rating of 154.7 when using play action, best in the nation.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Gareon Conley, the “other cornerback” from Ohio State, is too good to pass up at No. 27. The Chiefs will also need to look for a replacement for Derrick Johnson at linebacker, but with Marcus Peters on one side, Conley on the other, and safety Eric Berry in middle, this secondary starts to look like it’s on a level with Denver’s unit. Conley isn’t flashy, but does such a great job getting his head around and finding the ball — he may end up with a lot of interceptions. He isn’t quite as quick-twitch as some of the others, but he is a steal here.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Allowed a passer rating of only 13.6 on passes into his coverage in 2016, the best mark in the nation.
28. Dallas Cowboys
There are still a lot of pass-rushers I like here, but the Cowboys need somebody who can stay on the field on run downs as well. Charlton seems to be the best fit. Yes, he was inconsistent at Michigan, but finished well and has the height and long arms that will fit Rod Marinelli’s defense. Marinelli will get everything Charlton has to give. The Cowboys teach technique and hustle, period. This will be the best thing that ever happened to Charlton, and his natural gifts will allow him to grow into a special player.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led the draft class with the highest pass-rushing productivity mark on pressures that came in less than 2.5 seconds (13.4).
29. Green Bay Packers
This is where the mock gets crazy. The Packers used Ty Montgomery at running back last year and Eddie Lacy is in Seattle. Running back seems the obvious choice for Green Bay, and the best back on the board is Joe Mixon from Oklahoma. Of course, he is the guy who punched a female Oklahoma student during his freshman year. Nothing about me wants to pick him in the first round or any other round of this draft, but the reality is that somebody will take him. Mixon will be drafted in the second round at least, so does it make sense for the Packers to pass on him knowing somebody else will likely take him within a few picks? Let me just give you my football opinion without regard to that awful crime: Mixon is the most talented back in this draft. He is a much better receiver than Fournette, bigger than McCaffery, and a much better inside runner and blocker than Cook. My hunch is that the Packers will take Mixon with this pick.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Led draft class running backs with 57.3 percent of his yards coming on breakaway (15-plus yard) runs.
Scouting profile for Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon, who comes in with as many questions as just about anyone. https://t.co/UQ4s3sXg0S
— PFF College (@PFF_College) April 8, 2017
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh needs cornerbacks. Sidney Jones is a top corner in the draft, but he injured his Achilles at his pro day and probably won’t be ready for the season. Jones could be great if given time to develop or heal. But, since the Steelers likely only have Ben Roethlisberger for a few more seasons, I am giving them Carl Lawson as yet another hammer at outside linebacker. James Harrison can’t play forever, and Lawson fits in that big, physical Nick Perry/Terrell Suggs kind of role.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Picked up nine sacks, 13 QB hits, and 45 hurries on only 364 rushes in 2016.
31. Atlanta Falcons
I love Tim Williams opposite Vic Beasley. Williams is a blur of a pass-rusher, but probably would not hold up for many run snaps. The good news is that the Falcons will score a lot of points, and most of their games will be shootouts. When Peyton Manning was with the Colts, they also were scoring a lot of points, and Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were rushing the quarterback the majority of the game. The pair was almost impossible to handle without help — Beasley and Williams could create some of those same issues in Atlanta. One more sack in Super Bowl LI and the Falcons would have been world champions.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Picked up a pressure to the inside of the offensive tackle every 10.7 rushes, second-best in the draft class.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)
The Saints traded away WR Brandin Cooks (Patriots) this offseason and need another playmaker. Corey Davis is a big, quick receiver that has averaged more than 8 yards after the catch over the last three seasons. His routes remind me of Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell’s running style. Bell is so patient sometimes that it looks like he isn’t trying; Davis is the same way. The former Western Michigan standout is so patient that you question his speed, but is so dynamic at the break point that defenders can’t stay with him. He is very crafty and is a creative route-runner. Someone has taught him well. My concern still, though, is his speed. Ankle surgery prevented him from running at the combine; the tape suggests that he could produce a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash, but I’m not sure. Assuming he is 4.5 or better, the Saints have a dangerous new weapon with some red-zone skills.
PFF Draft Pass Stat: Finished in the top 10 in yards per route run among receivers in each of the last three seasons.
Best fits for Western Michigan WR Corey Davis:https://t.co/HvVRlNVQLM
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) April 12, 2017