By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
It’s that time of year again. The time when the stars align, the moon illuminates brighter than usual, and strobe lights highlight the 253 college players who enter the league and become the latest rage in a fan’s heart. The future of your team and all that mushy crap.
Let’s face it. Three quarters of these guys will be out of the NFL within three years. Hell, maybe more. A fan can hope though, right? While we link our futures to some random fifth round pick with high hopes and strong 40 time, let’s keep an open mind.
Let’s just pay attention to the fun stuff. Those offensive guys that are coming into the league that are going to help your fantasy team for hopefully the next ten years. More likely three. Actually, some of these guys will be relevant for like three weeks and then it’s time for the next crop of rookies in 2018.
You get the drift.
When I started this venture with The Commish last year, I had a lot of fun doing this mock draft. Being an NFL GM would probably be the ultimate dream — aside from seeing Club Fantasy be the go-to source for all things fantasy football, but that’s another topic for another day. So mocking their drafts is the next best thing. But I usually save that for Twitter. (Yes, that was a double entendre.)
This is based on how it will help your fantasy team. Yes, there are a lot of defensive players that will get drafted. A LOT. Maybe if you play in an IDP league, you’ll get something out of those picks. The rest of us are just hoping they add ten sacks to a team’s D/ST unit. Seriously. That’s an extra 20 points a season! Big time help.
Last year, I had seven of the first eight picks correct – the Chargers selecting Bosa threw me and everyone for a loop, even though it was clearly the right call. Let’s see how well I do this year with so much uncertainty around the top quarterbacks and top offensive linemen in this year’s draft.
First on the clock, the Cleveland Browns!
With the 1st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select – Myles Garrett, DE from Texas A&M.
If this isn’t the easiest pick in the draft, I don’t know what is. But it is the Browns. I’m really hoping they don’t “Browns” this up. Garrett is the best pass rusher in this draft. If the Browns defense can improve just a fraction from last year, they might go from the 32nd ranked D/ST unit in fantasy… to the 31st ranked D/ST in fantasy. This is a selection to build the foundation of the franchise going forward. Just remember though, it’s not basketball where one player can take the worst team in the league to the playoffs. Patience is needed.
With the 2nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select – Jamaal Adams, Safety from LSU.
I’ve seen a lot of mock drafts where Solomon Thomas, DE from Stanford, stays in state. Maybe it’s just me, but selecting him this high just feels like a repeat of the Dante Fowler Jr. mistake the Jaguars made in 2015. An athletic guy with awesome measurables and a questionable motor. Plus, Thomas is a redshirt sophomore. Needless to say, I’m not high on folks with so little experience. They tend to disappoint. Adams is my favorite defensive player in this entire draft. He plays in the box, back deep, and has some of the best instincts of anyone. The 49ers are in no rush to grab a QB and there’s no clear cut top guy. Take the best available. And that player is Adams. He could have two sacks, three INTs, and bring instant credibility to the defensive side of the ball.
With the 3rd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select – Jonathan Allen, DL from Alabama.
Allen is in a situation that feels eerily similar to when teams passed on Leonard Williams, who fell to 6th overall and is now the best defensive linemen in the AFC East. Yes, I typed that. Allen is big enough to play tackle, and quick enough to play on the edge on passing downs. If teams get scared off by the reported shoulder issues, those teams will regret it. Allen is a monster. The Bears are developing something on defense and nailed last year’s 1st rounder in Leonard Floyd. Add Allen on the interior and Floyd can easily hit 10 or more sacks. With so much depth in the secondary in this draft, the Bears can look to fill in the back end later.
With the 4th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select – Leonard Fournette, RB from LSU.
Fournette isn’t my number one RB in this draft – I hate to say it because I ardently root against FSU, but it’s Dalvin Cook – but Fournette will be the first RB off the board. He’s a physical freak that will bulldoze you. He’s Adrian Peterson in his prime. You don’t run a 4.51 40-yard dash at 240 pounds. That’s not supposed to happen. The Jaguars selected T.J. Yeldon in the 2nd round two years ago, and he’s solid as a pass catcher, but he’s not an every down back. Then they brought in Chris Ivory in free agency in 2016, and he promptly bombed like many of us predicted he would. The Jaguars have invested so much into their defense the past two free agent periods, they should give the offense a jolt. Fournette will help Bortles throw less, thus making less mistakes.
Fantasy outlook: Fournette will rush for over 1,000 yards in Jacksonville. They have some offensive line issues, but Fournette is a monster and will likely lead the league in yards after contact. Seriously. He’s a second round pick in your fantasy draft if he lands in Jacksonville and is a high end RB2 with clear RB1 upside.
With the 5th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select – O.J. Howard, TE from Alabama.
I feel like everyone thinks the Titans will go defense first. And they very well could. Marshon Lattimore here would hardly be a stretch. But when you lead the league in two-tight end sets run on offense, you need another weapon to line up with the aging, yet still effective, Delanie Walker. Howard is going to be a 1st round pick. And his work at the Senior Bowl and his performance at the combine made it easier for teams to pick a TE in the top 5. That team should be the Titans.
Fantasy outlook: With Walker being a top 5 TE in fantasy, I think drafting Howard causes him to slide some, down to like 7 or 8 on that list. Howard will likely have a similar impact to Hunter Henry in San Diego a season ago. He’ll flash, but won’t be a weekly starter just yet. He’ll be top 20, and definitely a TE to target in dynasty leagues.
With the 6th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Jets… screw this up.
Kidding. That was for my Jets friends out there.
The New York Jets select – Deshaun Watson, QB from Clemson.
The Jets are the one team in the top 10 who I just can’t get a read on. They jettisoned damn near every veteran on their roster and they have more holes than a target at a shooting range. They have selected a quarterback in each of the last two drafts – Bryce Petty in 2015 and Christian Hackenberg, in the 2nd round, in 2016. After incumbent Ryan Fitzpatrick bombed, Bryce Petty underwhelmed and Hackenberg was clearly hazed by his teammates and glued to the bench. Do the Jets have their QB of the future? It would appear not. Watson is arguably the best quarterback on the biggest stage in this draft. If there’s anyone I think that could handle New York, it’s Watson. This would be a good first step in getting back in the fans’ good graces.
Fantasy Outlook: Watson should be a high add in dynasty drafts. He has no fear when throwing the football, and he has a big target in Quincy Enunwa that can go up and get some of Watson’s errant throws. He’ll throw for over 3,000 yards but his touchdown to INT ratio will look more like 23:21 than the 41:17 he posted for the Tigers en route to a National Championship.
With the 7th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the
San Diego Los Angeles Chargers select – Forrest Lamp, OL from Western Kentucky.
I still can’t get used to typing “Los Angeles” in front of “Chargers.” Last year, they surprised many of us when they selected Bosa at number three. Not because Bosa wasn’t worthy, just for a lack of fit. If you ask most pundits, they’ll say a linemen doesn’t belong in the top 10, maybe even top 20. The Chargers still need to work on their defense, but with this draft so deep on the defensive line and in the secondary, I think they opt to give Rivers protection and a mauler to create running lanes for Melvin Gordon. I also think they try and trade back to get better value from taking a linemen. Of course, they’d need to find a partner willing to trade up. I think this pick is between Lamp and Hooker, the safety out of OSU. But with Anthony Lynn as their new head coach, a former running back and offensive coordinator with the Bills, Lamp is a perfect fit as a versatile linemen who can play either tackle spot or be most effective at guard. Great fit here.
Fantasy Outlook: If Lamp is effective out of the gate, Gordon will exceed 1,000 yards, approach the 12 touchdowns he had a year ago, and Rivers will continue to throw for 4,000 yards. All good for us fantasy football owners.
With the 8th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select – Derek Barnett, DE from Tennessee.
I had the Chargers reach for a lineman at 7, and I was tempted to do the same here. With Lattimore and Hooker still on the board, one of them will be hard to pass up. But when was the last time you saw Carolina draft a player in the first round who wasn’t a offensive or defensive linemen? They believe in building on the lines. That’s why they let Norman leave, and it’s why they won’t draft a running back like McCaffrey or Cook (or Fournette if he falls here. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in this draft, and did it against SEC comeptition. Over 30 sacks in 3 years. With their top three pass rushers all over the age of 30, this just feels like a match made in football Heaven. He likely will be a situational rusher at first, so I don’t see more than 5 sacks in year one, but look out Winston, Brees and Ryan. Barnett will be coming for ya.
With the 9th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals select – Rueben Foster, LB from Alabama.
I wouldn’t rule out a pass rusher here, or even another offensive linemen considering they lost their top two linemen in free agency. But after cutting lose Rey Maualaga, the Bengals needs a new field general in the middle of their defense. Foster raised some eyebrows after the hospital incident that caused his dismissal from the Combine, and proceeded to follow that up with a “failed” drug test. The Bengals have never been shy about taking a chance on a player with “character flaws” but I hardly think Foster truly falls into that category. Foster could be the closest thing to Luke Kuechly since, well, Luke Kuechly.
With the 10th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select – Marshon Lattimore, CB from OSU.
It’s easy to plug Clemson WR Mike Williams here. Watkins is a Clemson guy and there’s a clear need for a number 2 WR in Buffalo. But their new head coach is a defensive guy. Sean McDermott will want to build the defense in his image. Hooker would be ideal, but you can’t pass up a potential shut down corner, especially when you just lost your number one corner, Stephon Gillmore, in free agency. The Bills will trudge through snow, if needed, to get this pick in as fast as possible.
With the 11th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select – Malik Hooker, Safety from OSU.
With Malik Hooker falling this far, and the Saints having just released free agent bust Jarius Bryd, I don’t think a more obvious decision could be made. Hooker will pair with Kenny Vaccaro to form a potent back end safety duo, one that should take pressure off their average corners. They also pick again at 32, and can address CB there.
With the 12th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns select – Mitchell Trubisky, QB from UNC.
I truly believe the Browns will have to trade up to secure their QB, if they even want one in the 1st, but just go with it. The Browns passed on Wentz last year – thanks for that, signed, every Eagles fan across the world – and snagged an extra 1st rounder in the deal, among other picks. They can get the best pass rusher in the draft and now the quarterback that fits their system best. Trubisky is an Ohio guy and is up to the task of bringing the Browns back to respectability. He and Kessler can battle for snaps in 2017 – or Brock Osweiler is you’re up for being funny – and Trubisky can take the reigns in 2018 and beyond.
Fantasy Outlook: I think Kessler is likely the guy in 2017, but Trubisky is the future. Snag him in your dynasty leagues, and hope WR Corey Coleman gets healthy so he has a nice target to throw to. (And yes, that’s shade at Kenny Britt. Really not a fan of that signing.)
With the 13th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals select – Mike Williams, WR from Clemson.
I really wanted to slot a defender here. The Cardinals lost so much on that side of the ball in free agency that they need to restock. But as they play a 3-4, most of the top available defensive linemen are better suited for a 4-3. So they take the best player available and find a long term replacement for the soon-to-be-riding-off-into-the-sunset Larry Fitzgerald. Williams is big and runs well and he’ll be a great weapon for Palmer until he retires. Plus, he’ll fit great opposite speed guys J.J. Nelson and John Brown.
Fantasy Outlook: This is still Larry Fitzgerald’s offense. But with the departure of Michael Floyd and the inconsistent health of John Brown, Williams can make an immediate impact. If Palmer stays in tip top shape, both Williams and Fitzgerald could top 1,000 yards, and Williams could add 6 TDs. I like Williams in the Cardinals offense.
With the 14th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles select – John Ross, WR from Washington.
As an Eagles fan, I really want Dalvin Cook. But with his off field questions and poor testing, I think he’s going to fall. I hate that I’m buying into that. Some team is going to get a steal there. I can easily see this as a landing spot for Christian McCaffrey as well, but I think the Eagles continue to fill in their WR corps. They brought in Alshon Jeffrey on a one year deal, and Torrey Smith’s 3-year deal is essentially a one year deal. They’ll look to bring back Jeffrey if he does well, but in bringing in the speedster Ross, Smith will be expendable. And I think the Eagles will realize that early when they get Ross in uniform. He isn’t just speed. He runs crisp routes, has great hands, and may challenge Usain Bolt as the Fastest Man Alive. The Eagles remember DeSean Jackson. John Ross will be better, and they want themselves some of that action.
Fantasy outlook: Is 40 catches for 750 yards and 4 TDs out of the question? If Jeffrey’s hammy acts up, he could hit 1,000 yards. But with Zach Ertz poised to breakout and Jordan Matthews still there, Ross is, at best, option four. He should be a top add in dynasty leagues though!
With the 15th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select – Ryan Ramczyk, OT from Wisconsin.
The theme for the Colts last year was to protect Andrew Luck. They drafted four offensive linemen with mixed results. They could still use more, and Ramczyk will fit nicely on the right side opposite Anthony Castonzo. Teams beefed up their lines with big time contracts in free agency, so it’s clear teams are getting the memo. Great offensive lines make offenses great. Of course, the Colts could look to trade out and accumulate more picks, and still get a good offensive lineman that can help them right away. That’s how this offensive line class looks in the eyes of most.
Fantasy Outlook: I don’t know if Luck could’ve had a better season throwing the football than in 2016. But the running game behind him could surely use some good blocking in front of him. Ramczyk is a 1st round talent, especially in a draft not especially deep on the offensive line. Frank Gore and his 34-year old legs may have one more 1,000 yard season in him.
With the 16th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select – Corey Davis, WR from Western Michigan.
This pick just feels so uncharacteristic for the Ravens. They usually go defense or offensive linemen, but a playmaker? Breshad Perriman hasn’t blossomed the way they’d hoped, and Mike Wallace thinks every route is a 40-yard dash. They need a true number one for Flacco, and Davis is my favorite WR in this entire draft. He can fly (4.3+ 40), is the best route runner in the draft, and has some of the best hands in this draft. He’ll fall behind Williams and Ross because of the ankle injury that’s prevented him from doing much testing leading up to the draft.
Fantasy Outlook: It seems like every year, one rookie WR makes the leap into our fatnasy hearts. Of the big three this year, I think it’s Davis. Especially if he lands here. He could easily have a Michael Thomas-like impact for the Ravens. 80+ catches, 1,100+ yards and 7 TDs. Yes, I can see that.
With the 17th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins select – Solomon Thomas, DE from Stanford.
This feels better. I just don’t trust sophomores who come out, I don’t care about their measurables. The Redskins could definitely use some help on offense, but their defense is worse off. Next to Ryan Kerrigan, Thomas could realize that potential. It just won’t be immediate. Look for about 4 sacks, some hurries, and some frustrations from Redskins fans who wonder why he can’t pick up the scheme fast enough.
With the 18th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select – Kevin King, CB from Washington.
With Sidney Jones getting hurt, King has vaulted up draft boards. Even before Jones’ injury, some evaluators wondered if King wasn’t the better prospect anyway. King is huge, 6’3″ and lanky. When you play in a division with DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson, two star WRs over 6’3″, having some length can help. The Titans need help at CB even after signing Logan Ryan. This feels like a solid pick.
With the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select – David Njoku, TE from Miami (FL).
I know Jameis Winston and the Bucs like them some Cameron Brate – as does Commishie – but how can you pass up a TE with this kind of athleticism? The answer: you can’t. Njoku is a good blocker too, so he can play with his hand in the dirt, or stand up in the slot and destroy defenses. This Bucs offense could be something special in 2017.
Fantasy outlook: With Brate in tow, Njoku has something of a low ceiling in year one. And by low, I’m thinking like 2016 Clive Walford numbers – something like 30 or so catches, 300-400 yards and 2-3 TDs. Like high 20s in 2017. Draft in dynasty, otherwise keep an eye on him while he floats around waivers.
With the 20th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos select – Garrett Bolles, OT from Utah.
Did you see how atrocious the Broncos offensive line was last year? Who am I kidding, it was hard to miss. They’ll likely have four cards ready – Lamp, Ramczyk, Bolles and Cam Robinson – and their highest rated one that’s available gets rushed up front. That will be Bolles, who has some serious athleticism for a big guy. The Broncos won’t be disappointed.
Fantasy outlook: Remember C.J. Anderson? I know, I almost forgot about him too. But he’s still the lead back in Denver, and any help to the offensive line will help him stay healthy and running behind it. If Devontae Booker doesn’t take a massive leap, Anderson should be good for about 900 yards. Can’t complain when a rookie tackle helps your RB do that.
With the 21st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select – Takkarist McKinley, DE from UCLA.
Remember when the Lions took Ziggy Ansah 5th overall and many people were like, “All he has is speed! He’s hardly proved himself!” I’m guessing that’s what they said. McKinley isn’t that unlike Ansah. He’s got a serious motor, and when you can run a 4.59 40, you’re going to provide opposing offensive tackles some headaches. Now, imagine you have two defensive ends with that kind of speed? With McKinley, the Lions would have just that. Those types of scenarios are what cause you to pass on Christian McCaffrey. He’d be a nice add here too, especially with the improved like the Lions put together.
With the 22nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select – Haasan Reddick, LB from Temple.
Reddick has had a meteoric rise up draft boards. And I really don’t like workout warriors. All too often, they turn into colossal busts. But when you watch Reddick play, you get the sense people were sleeping on him because he played at Temple. This kid flies across the field and is a tackling machine. Pretty sure the Dolphins could use some help in their linebacking corps. Keep an eye on Cam Robinson. With Laremy Tunsil moving to tackle, they could use a guard. Robinson could slot in there and be an emergency tackle if need be. Versatility is a must in this day and age.
With the 23rd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New York Giants select – Cam Robinson, OT from Alabama.
They could use a defensive tackle, but it just feels early for Malik McDowell, especially with some very real motor issues. The Giants have ben trying to get their offensive line right for some time, so why not throw another dart at the board? Robinson has talent – he gave Myles Garrett a serious run for his money – and played left tackle in college. Is he a LT in the NFL? Evidence points more to a right tackle or even guard, which would still help upgrade the Giants line. Can’t argue with this pick.
Fantasy outlook: Any time you can upgrade your line, it benefits everyone on the offense. Paul Perkins will likely benefit most. With the team moving on from Rashad Jennings, this is Perkins’ job to lose. And he looked good late in the season. He could approach 1,000 yards if the line holds in front of him.
With the 24th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders select – Dalvin Cook, RB from FSU.
Sure, the Raiders like Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, but neither of them hold a candle to Cook. Cook can run between the tackles, catch the ball, and has the kind of burst that leaves people in the dust. The problem? He hasn’t showed much of that in offseason testing. That’s why he’s available at 24. The Raiders won’t complain, and they certainly shouldn’t be turned off even if they reach an agreement with soon-to-be-reinstated Marshawn Lynch.
Fantasy outlook: Cook is a 1st rounder in fantasy if he lands in Oakland. He’s a top 10 back with top 5 upside. And he’ll win ROY too. Think 1,300 yards and 10 TDs with another 30 catches and 300 yards receiving. Huge year. If the Raiders bring in Lynch, expect much less. Much, much less.
With the 25th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Houston Texans select – Quincy Wilson, CB from Florida.
I’m going to be really upset if the Texans reach for a QB. The Jets and Browns already have and lets face it, the Texans are a smarter organization than those two. But when Tony Romo decided to head to CBS to be a broadcaster, the Texans saw their last hope at a respectable QB situation in 2017 disappear. Suffice it to say, they’re screwed. Tom Savage? Brandon Weeden? Yikes. Honestly, I couldn’t blame them if they took Patrick Mahomes II or DeShone Kizer. Hopefully they take Wilson, or another CB they rate higher. They lost A.J. Bouye to division rival Jacksonville, and have a glaring hole across from veteran Jonathan Joseph, and Wilson is legit and more talented than Kareem Jackson. Go defense. Keep that the strength of your team.
With the 26th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select – Marlon Humphrey, CB from Alabama.
On the real, I think Humphrey is overrated. Just a product of Alabama’s phenomenal defensive scheme. But he’s long, he’s got good speed, and playing across from Richard Sherman and in front of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor should give him ample confidence to stop the plethora of passes that will inevitably be thrown his way.
With the 27th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select – Christian McCaffrey, RB from Stanford.
This just feels like an Andy Reid kind of pick. The Chiefs are going to select a QB at some point in this draft, but they don’t need to be reactionary and do it in the first round when there are talented players still available. And McCaffrey is just that, too talented to pass up. He’s a white Jamaal Charles. He’ll usurp the starting tailback job from Spencer Ware and he’ll be a star out of the gate for a Chiefs squad that will throw him 75 passes out of the backfield and let him run for another 800 yards. It’s going to be fantasy goodness.
Fantasy outlook: I’m thinking 1,500 total yards and 5 TDs. He’ll be a RB2 in fantasy, a likely 4th or 5th round pick, and he’ll give Dalvin Cook a run for Rookie of the Year.
With the 28th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select – Charles Harris, DE from Missouri.
The Cowboys are drafting someone on defense. That much is certain. And they need pass rushers. Harris is the best available. I really like Obi Melifonwu from Connecticut, but the Cowboys haven’t had a viable pass rush since they released DeMarcus Ware. All of their attempts have been whiffs. They’ll take Harris hoping they finally hit one out of the park.
With the 29th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Green Bay Packers select – Gareon Conley, CB from OSU.
I know I’m not alone in stating that the Packers secondary belongs in a kitchen. As a strainer for spaghetti. It leaks worse than a Russian toilet. I could keep going, but you get the point. Conley has skyrocketed up draft boards after an outstanding combine. And of the three OSU defensive backs I have going here in the 1st round, Conley has more experiencing starting than Lattimore and Hooker. Combined. That’s the best thing I can say about him. He’s not a 1st rounder in my opinion, but injuries at the position have moved him up. The Packers could still use help and he’ll provide depth.
With the 30th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select – Jarrad Davis, LB from Florida.
After losing Lawrence Timmons in free agency, the Steelers have a glaring hole in the middle of their defense. Davis is rising up draft boards and he’s a thumper. He can be the steady presence in their defense for the next ten years. Not unlike Timmons was for the last ten years. Plus, I just can’t buy into the rumors of the Steelers GM falling in love with Jabrill Peppers. He will not be a 1st round pick in my mock draft!
With the 31st pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select – Taco Charlton, DE from Michigan.
Charlton could very easily fall out of the 1st round. When you’re an effective defensive end in college, but only run a 4.92 40 at the combine, you will tumble like a boulder down the side of a mountain. The Falcons would go the route of Charles Harris if he falls here but it never hurts to have pass rushers, no matter who they are. Charlton feels like this year’s Noah Spence. He’s got skills, but he’s hurt by measurables. Sometimes you have to trust the tape. The Falcons should trust the tape.
With the 32nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select – Tre’Davious White, CB from LSU.
White is my favorite corner in this class. He’s a senior, and one that played for four years. That kind of experience hardly ever comes into the NFL anymore. He’s under six feet tall, but trust me, that won’t make him worse for wear. The Saints need to rebuild their defense. After adding a talented safety with their first pick, a corner with their second pick in the 1st round will be the ground work for the rebuild.