We’re now less than a month away from the NFL Draft and hopefully you’re well into your rookie research. I think doing a full 32 pick mock draft is a good, albeit time consuming, exercise for dynasty owners because it can help you identify the landing spots for the best offensive talent. Hopefully, that offensive talent will feature prominently on your 2017 RSO team. I have included the first sixteen picks below, check back next week for the rest of the first round.
Garrett is the consensus first overall pick and will be an instant impact on the Browns defense. He was a starter for three years at A&M and produced each season (31 sacks, 47 tackles for loss). His closest combine comparison over the last few years would be the Vikings Everson Griffen who started out slow his first three seasons but is now coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons.
Thomas is a versatile DE who showed out in the Sun Bowl against Mitch Trubisky’s Tar Heels (7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 very important late sack). He can move inside when needed and will give flexibility to a team that finished 2016 in the bottom half of sacks.
The Bears have other needs but will go Best Player Available (BPA) here and go for offense later. Like Thomas, Allen is versatile and can get to the quarterback from either his interior DT position or from the end. He had 22.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
The Jags signed Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson but neither is the long term answer, more like a stop gap. Jacksonville was dead last in 2016 with just 7 INTs, meanwhile, Hooker had 7 himself with the Buckeyes last season. He is coming off injury so he won’t immediately take over but should be firmly entrenched come midseason.
CB Jason McCourty is a UFA in 2018 so I expect the Titans to draft his replacement at #5. They can take that luxury pick because they have the #18 where they can go for an offensive weapon for Marcus Mariota. Lattimore is young, he’s only a redshirt sophomore, and only had 16 career games at Ohio State. He would benefit from that time behind McCourty if they don’t push him into the lineup beside him right away.
I don’t believe any of this year’s QBs are worth the #6 pick so the Jets should go BPA and take Adams. His stock has fallen slightly recently so he might still be available here rather than going in the Top 5 as was previously thought. Many mocks have Fournette going here but with the serviceable duo of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell I don’t think they would invest this heavily at RB.
I’m sure the Chargers would prefer safeties Hooker or Adams but they will likely miss out. Instead, they will have to settle for the next best CB to help their secondary. This feels like a great spot for a team to trade up and grab the first QB (I think the Panthers, Bengals and Bills are pretty solid with who they want and who will be available so don’t think those three would trade back) or for somebody to grab Fournette before the Panthers do.
Fournette won’t come into the NFL as much of a sure-thing as Zeke Elliott was last year, but he’s pretty close. Dynasty players have been planning for Fournette for two years now. The Panthers did just extend Jonathan Stewart’s contract but Ron Rivera has a history of using multiple RBs (i.e. Stewart, DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert) so I don’t think that precludes them from taking Fournette. I could foresee two seasons of a Fournette-Stewart combo that helps Cam stop taking so many hits on short-yardage plays and extend his career.
The Bengals lost Karlos Dansby in free agency, signed Kevin Minter to replace him and still have Vincent Rey on the roster. Foster totaled 115 tackles and 5 sacks in 2016, including 12 tackles and a sack in the championship game against Clemson. Foster will instantly be the best ILB on the roster so this is a no-brainer.
Personally, I have Williams ranked below Corey Davis but I’m not sure if most NFL teams would agree. Now that he got his new contract, Tyrod Taylor will need some help; the Bills lost Robert Woods this offseason and Sammy Watkins is unreliable due to injury. I also would not be surprised to see the Bills go for OJ Howard or David Njoku here and be the first team to start the run on TE. Williams injury history (he missed all of 2015 with a neck injury) does worry me but he did return just fine in 2016. He has a big frame that helps him catch off target passes which is good when you have an average quarterback.
Charlton is the biggest DE in the Top 100 or so prospects and had more tackles and sacks than Myles Garrett last year. If Charlton’s 40-yard dash wasn’t so bad (4.92) he could have snuck further up the draft board. The Saints were 28th in sacks last season and Charlton will help get pressure on the QB. And, just think of the marketing possibilities with a guy named Taco.
If the Browns only had one pick in the first round, I don’t think they would use it on Trubisky. However, to leave the first round with Garrett AND Trubisky is huge – that could set up the franchise for a decade to come if both hit. Trubisky is a hometown guy (from Mentor, only about 30 min outside of Cleveland) and seems to be the consensus best QB in this class. I don’t think Trubisky is good enough to start from Day One since he is so inexperienced but maybe since he doesn’t go #1 overall the Browns can be more patient.
We all know that the QBs will be drafted higher than their value warrants and I think this is the most “reach” of a pick thus far. I don’t like Watson but he does have a championship pedigree and seems to have good leadership skills. He won’t need to start at all in 2017, barring an injury to Carson Palmer, and that should help his long term prospects.
Matt Waldman has compared Christian McCaffery to Brian Westbrook. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson played with Westbrook on the Eagles in 1999 and was on the coaching staff at the back end of Westbrook’s career there so you’d assume there is some synergy there. I still believe McCaffery is a better football player than a RB but given the lackluster options ahead of him on the depth chart (Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood), McCaffery could see significant time right away if taken by Philly. McCaffery had a staggering 6,000+ all-purpose yards combined in 2015 and 2016.
This OT draft class is historically bad as we have investigated. In most years, Ramczyk would be the 3rd or 4th best tackle but this year he is probably the best despite being injured. I would hope that by now the Colts brass are tired of Andrew Luck missing games due to injury or playing hurt and are willing to invest some draft capital to fix that problem. Unfortunately this is not a more talent rich class at the position but that doesn’t mean they can just ignore the need.
Steve Smith has retired (presumably), leaving Mike Wallace (who was the team’s leading WR in 2016) and injury prone Breshad Perriman at the top of the depth chart. Wallace is already 30 and is just not very good so to rely on him in 2017 is likely a mistake. Enter Corey Davis who is a great route runner with a good combination of size and speed. Davis is #1 on the all-time NCAA receiving yards list and is #2 in TDs and #4 in receptions. Davis doubled, or nearly doubled, Mike Williams in most counting stats. It shouldn’t be surprising that Davis’ numbers are better given that Williams missed 2015 but to see the stats doubled is surprising (Davis played 50 career games, Williams played 38). He’s good and he’s the guy I’m targeting at the top of my RSO rookie drafts.
**Note: When watching film for a player, I typically pick two games at random to watch. I do not necessarily want to watch games where they did very well or very poorly as that may not be a great illustration of their true ability. If possible, when comparing players at the same position I also like to watch film against common opponents. Full disclosure, I am not watching film of every single game any player plays, instead I am looking for a representative sample. When researching college players I use a number of resources, I would recommend bookmarking the below sites…
Robert F. Cowper is a freelance writer who lives in New Jersey. Robert works as a recreation professional, specializing in youth sports, when he isn’t acting as commissioner for his many fantasy sports leagues.
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