This article is Part Two of the NFL Mock Draft. You can find Part One here.
- Washington Redskins (8-7-1): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
This one was a tough pick. Washington has a bunch of needs, but the way the draft board was falling in this mock didn’t leave any obvious candidates for selection. I considered wideout John Ross strongly since Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both free agents. Additionally, Washington is weak in the trenches, making offensive linemen Forrest Lamp and Ryan Ramczyk and defensive linemen Malik McDowell and Caleb Brantley options as well. However, I felt that Humphrey was the best combination of need-filler, as Bashaud Breeland does not belong as a starter in the NFL, and value. Humphrey has a good size-strength combo and posted a 4.41 40 at the Combine, making him a capable complement for Josh Norman.
Previous edition: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
- Tennessee Titans (9-7): John Ross, WR, Washington
In the event you’ve been living under a rock, this guy from Washington took down Chris Johnson’s legendary 40 yard dash Combine record by running a 4.22 (He did not, however, wear the adidas shoes that would have won him an island. Ross doesn’t care much however, citing an inability to swim as well as a lack of ownership of a boat). While the straight-line speed is impressive, Ross is more than just a pure sprinter. The former Husky broad-jumped 11’1” and was so athletic the wideout/kick returner started three games at cornerback during his college career. His stat lines matched his pure talent, posting 23 touchdowns despite only receiving 112 touches. The knocks on Ross are his small stature, as well as a lack of polish on short and intermediate routes. The Titans badly need weapons, and Ross gives Marcus Mariota his first true home run threat.
Previous edition: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Tampa Bay has a bunch of holes for a team that nearly made the playoffs, making this another difficult selection to predict. Vincent Jackson is a 34 year-old impending free agent, making wide receiver an area to address. The Bucs could also use help along the offensive and defensive lines as well, but could probably find value picks at those spots later in the draft. Doug Martin is coming to the end of his career and Jacquizz Rodgers is a free agent, putting a hole in the backfield. McCaffrey’s disappointment in the bench press grabbed headlines at the Combine, but he excelled in the rest of the drills and his stock is on the rise.
Previous edition: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
- Denver Broncos (9-7): Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos are almost certainly going to be targeting the offensive line with this pick. Their unit is among the weakest in the league, and they need to give their quarterback duo of Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian time in the pocket if they want to challenge the Raiders and Chiefs for playoff berths. Russell Okung is a free agent, so an addition at tackle may be a requirement with this selection. Ramczyk is a bit of an unknown quantity, as he has only one year of big-time NCAA experience since he transferred to Wisconsin from Stevens Point. Additionally, he underwent hip surgery after the Cotton Bowl, preventing him from participating at the Combine as well as his upcoming Pro Day. He will be ready for Week One provided there are no major setbacks, and whatever team grabs him will have a prototypical left tackle.
Previous edition: Same
- Detroit Lions (9-7): Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
The Lions had a surprisingly successful 2016, making the playoffs behind a big year from Matt Stafford. However, making it back will be a challenge. The offensive line was one of the principal reasons for the Lions’ success, though Riley Reiff and Larry Warford are free agents. Warford, especially, will command big money on the free market. Lamp is one of the best players available at this juncture, and would be a quality replacement should either Reiff or Warford leave due to Lamp’s positional versatility. The former Hilltopper had a huge Combine, running a 5.00 40, benching 34 reps of 250 pounds, and broad-jumping 9’3”, strong numbers for a 6’4”, 309-pound guy. He doesn’t have particularly long arms, making him better suited for guard at the next level.
Previous edition: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
- Miami Dolphins (11-5): O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
The Dolphins were another surprise playoff team in 2016, and matching that 11-5 record will be a tall task for this squad. They have problems at linebacker, but the stocks of Reuben Foster and Zach Cunningham are dropping after problems at the Combine. Outside ‘backer T.J. Watt could be in play here as well, but Howard is one of the top prospects available and fills a need for the Dolphins. This team will only go as far as Ryan Tannehill will take them, and he needs a big target to succeed. With Jarvis Landry working short and intermediate routes and Kenny Stills going long, Howard will work the favorable matchups up the seam. The Alabama product was one of the top performers among tight ends in almost every drill, and his 4.51 40 speed will be hard for defenders to counter considering Howard stands 6’6” and weighs 256 pounds.
Previous edition: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
- New York Giants (11-5): Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster’s fall comes to an end here, as the Giants’ prolonged needs at linebacker finally get a solution. The leader of Alabama’s lockdown defense, Foster was sent home early from the Combine due to an altercation with a hospital worker during the medical pre-exam. A major red flag, Foster’s top ten status has all but dissolved, but he is too good of a player to not be taken in the first round. A sideline-to-sideline player with tremendous hitting ability and good coverage skills, Foster could have a long and productive NFL career. He may not have the size needed to be a Mike linebacker in a 4-3 scheme in the pros, but the G-Men could use help at both outside linebacker spots.
Previous edition: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
- Oakland Raiders (12-4): Adoree Jackson, CB, Southern California
It is no secret that the Raiders need cornerback help, as DJ Hayden is a free agent and David Amerson is mediocre at best. Sean Smith is a dependable veteran, but the Silver and Black need help across from him. There are a number of quality corners to be had at this point in the draft, with Jackson, Quincy Wilson, Teez Tabor, and Tre’Davious White all options here. Jackson gets the nod due to the Raiders’ perpetual affinity for speed and big-play ability. A star track athlete at USC, Jackson is one of the best pure talents in this draft class, and brings a home-run threat to complement Jalen Richard in the return game. Jackson is on the small side for an outside cornerback at 5’11” and 185 pounds, but smaller corners like Darrelle Revis and Jonathan Joseph have been perennial Pro Bowlers despite a lack of height.
Previous edition: Tre’Davious White, CB, Louisiana State
- Houston Texans (9-7): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Passing on DeShone Kizer would be very tough for this team to do, but I think they will pursue a signal-caller through either free agency or trade. With all of the pieces needed to contend for a championship with the exception of a quarterback, the Texans can’t afford to let an unproven rookie compromise their short window of opportunity to win it all. The offensive line is the Texans biggest weakness outside of the Brock Osweiler-Tom Savage duo, especially after Derek Newton’s double patellar tendon tear. That injury could spell the end of Newton’s career, and his backup Chris Clark was ineffective in relief. Cam Robinson has seen has stock tumble after an unspectacular Combine, as Garett Bolles usurped his title of the top offensive tackle in this draft class. There are character concerns about Robinson, but he has the ideal size and athleticism required for a blindside protector in the NFL.
Previous edition: Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
- Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1): Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
With all of the top offensive linemen off the board, the ‘Hawks are forced to go in another direction. The Legion of Boom isn’t as fear-inducing as it was in the past, and adding a cornerback across from Richard Sherman could be the move here. But Seattle was most successful when their team was built around the punishing rushing attack spearheaded by the now-retired Marshawn Lynch. Seattle drafted three running backs last year, but none have shown the capability to fill the role Pete Carroll desires of them, while incumbent Thomas Rawls spent 2016 either injured or ineffective. Alvin Kamara’s name is moving up draft boards after showing off his top-tier athleticism at the Combine, as his 10’11” broad jump and 39.5” vertical were the top marks among running backs. Despite some shade being thrown his way from Jalen Hurd’s mother, don’t be surprised if Kamara surpasses Christian McCaffrey or Dalvin Cook by the time draft day rolls around.
Previous edition: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
- Kansas City Chiefs (12-4): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Once in consideration for a top three selection, Kizer’s stock has declined consistently, and may continue to do so before draft day. Regarded as equal to Mitch Trubisky in the earlier part of the draft process, Kizer is now the #3 or #4 ranked quarterback on most teams’ boards. While he has great size for an NFL quarterback, Kizer’s athleticism was subpar, when especially compared to Trubisky, DeShaun Watson, and Pat Mahomes. He didn’t perform particularly well in the throwing drills, displaying his cannon arm but also his weak technique and inconsistent accuracy. Kansas City, who have been sniffing around the quarterback market, are willing to look past Kizer’s shortcomings and tab him as Alex Smith’s successor. Playing behind a successful veteran and having a quarterback-friendly head coach in Andy Reid will give Kizer the polish he needs.
Previous edition: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
- Dallas Cowboys (13-3): Jabrill Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
The Cowboys’ miracle season can’t be repeated unless they step up their play on the defensive side of the ball. Edge rushing is the team’s biggest flaw, and it was really hard to not put Taco Charlton, Charles Harris, Haason Reddick or Takkarist McKinley in this slot. All would be great fits in the Big D, but I think Peppers is a sleeper for this pick. Arguably the best player available here, and the best athlete for sure, Peppers fits in the mold of Jerry Jones’ draft tendencies. Pairing the Michigan product with broad jump world record holder Byron Jones in the defensive backfield would give the Cowboys most athletic duo in the league. Peppers’ positional versatility helps with the Cowboys’ lack of depth at linebacker, and his kick-returning ability would be a welcome addition. Peppers had a good Combine, but teams are still unsure about what position he will play in the NFL.
Previous edition: Taco Charlton, DE/OLB, Michigan
- Green Bay Packers (10-6): T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin
With all of the top running backs off of the board, the Packers choose to tab a replacement for a position that they will be short on in 2017. Julius Peppers is 37 and a free agent, and Nick Perry is set to leave as well. Yes, the Pack are woefully short at cornerback, and there are some good ones available here. However, Watt fills a need, has star potential, and has a hometown connection. J.J. Watt’s younger brother surprisingly forwent his senior senior season despite only having one year of defensive experience after switching from tight end. But after a strong performance at the Combine, the Pewaukee native’s arrow is trending upwards. At 6’5” and 245 pounds, he will have to add some weight, but Watt’s relentless motor and surprising athletic ability make him an enticing prospect.
Previous edition: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
- Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5): Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Steelers can’t rely on James Harrison forever. He is 38 years old, and his counterpart Jarvis Jones is a free agent. Even when those two were on the field, they weren’t all too great at getting to the quarterback. Whichever pass rusher the Steelers to take here, whether it is Harris, Taco Charlton, Haason Reddick, or Takkarist McKinney, they will need to produce from Day One. Charlton is the most established prospect and Reddick is the hottest name right now, but I just have a feeling about Harris. He has been a first round prospect for some time, but also had a strong performance at the Combine. Harris has the frame and athletic ability necessary to succeed in Mike Tomlin’s 3-4 scheme.
Previous edition: David Njoku, TE, Miami
- Atlanta Falcons (11-5): Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
I wasn’t so sure about slotting McDowell here after his underwhelming Combine. After making news by saying he was deserving of a top 3 selection, McDowell’s results in drills have put his first round status in jeopardy. Atlanta has a bad need for an interior defensive line presence, and McDowell has promise. A tremendous athlete for a 6’6”, 295-pounder, McDowell struggled mightily during team interviews and character concerns have been cited as his biggest weakness. One team even described his interview as the worst they had with any prospect. While talent is always enticing, it is useless without a motor. I would be surprised if McDowell finds stardom in the NFL, but Atlanta is in the position to take a risk after nearly winning the Super Bowl.
Previous edition: Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
- New England Patriots (13-3): Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
The authors of the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history are primed to contend for yet another year, and have no obvious weaknesses. Dont’a Hightower is a free agent, but is unlikely to leave, while Jonathan Freeny could be upgraded. Cunningham didn’t produce any waves at the Combine, resulting in a small tumble of his draft stock. However, the former Commodore is set to be a major contributor in the NFL. Overshadowed by the SEC’s numerous defensive stars from powerhouse schools, Cunningham toiled away in the relative obscurity of Vanderbilt. He was the team’s leader and a top producer, while his pure ability is strong as well. Instinctive in the pass game, Cunningham is a difference-maker in the middle of defenses.
Previous edition: John Ross, WR, Washington