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Post-FA Period 3-Round Draft
Published at 3/16/2017 12:30:33 PM
We're acting on all assumptions as of 9:00am, March 16th, 2017. This is usually the begin of the eschewed spin, where the free agency craze has officially settled down and the images of where teams are willing to look for their signal caller of the future become clear. So let's take a stab at this, looking at the first two rounds of the draft. No trades, besides those already in place, are made here.
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One of the biggest faults Cleveland has consistently shown is its unwillingness to go with the obvious. I'm not sure that Garrett is necessarily guaranteed to be a 10-year guy, pass rushing the Browns into the upper echelon, but he does offer the best chance to get that type of transformative player in a weak defense for Cleveland. Yes, they need a quarterback. We know. There isn't an obvious number one in play. Garrett is, for all intents and purposes, the easy and obvious call.
I've gone back and forth with which route the Niners will go, but due to investment in QB this offseason in Brian Hoyer, I'd assume the contingent in San Fran isn't exactly in love with a signal caller. So, we have to look elsewhere for San Fran, and the one thing they do so desperately need is help in the secondary, having thrown money at the offense in free agency already. Lattimore isn't necessarily my top ranked CB, but he certainly earned a higher pick thanks to the combine.
Even more difficult is the situation for the Bears, who invested high in Mike Glennon. There are infinite routes that the Bears could go here, but I'm going to take one of the less obvious options. Their current safeties are Quentin Demps and Adrian Amos; neither of whom is objectively great. Adams is a special talent as a strong safety in a class that has tons of safety talent, but not so much in the SS role, and instantly makes the Bears dangerous again defensively, paired with Kyle Fuller.
Jacksonville's biggest need this draft is on the offensive line, but there isn't even CLOSE to being an offensive lineman worthy of a pick in the top 10. I'd bet, heavily, that Jacksonville wants to move down, especially if one of Cleveland, San Fran, or Chicago starts grabbing QB's early. But if Jacksonville is stuck here, their next best bet is to grab the BPA. Fournette is a generational talent at RB, for all intents and purposes, and a clear upgrade over the likes of TJ Yeldon.
Nearly every note on the Titans' draft plans this year has been "Secondary + WR = Victory". So let's give them that member of the secondary. It's rare that two safeties will go in the top 5, but Hooker and Adams are that good, and even though Hooker is dealing with a torn labrum, he is still, and fairly clearly, a top 5 player in this class.
So, why would the Jets not grab a QB here? Simply, they've already got two young QB's on the roster that are, in essence, the exact same. There is no benefit to adding another body into the QB room who changes nothing, since Mitch Trubisky and Deshone Kizer are going to face the same challenges Petty and Hackenberg are dealing with, and Watson and Mahomes don't exactly make sense in the context of what the Jets are doing in terms of scheme. Thomas can shore up a Jets defense that will likely be in massive transition the next two seasons.
Los Angeles would love Malik Hooker, but he's gone. They'd love an O-Lineman, but there isn't one worth taking. If Sidney Jones had been healthy, he'd be the obvious pick, but he's unfortunately been the victim of a draft day injury. That leaves WR, which may not seem obvious; after all, Travis Benjamin and Dontrell Inman were incredibly effective in 2016. But both are very similar in terms of receiving style, while their would be WR1, Keenan Allen, is almost consistently hurt. Davis may give the Chargers a last gasp at offensive relevance at the tail end of the Philip Rivers era.
There's really 4 things the Panthers need to obtain in this draft: an offensive tackle, a cornerback, a running back, and a pass rusher. I don't think they've had any indications on a first-round pass rusher, and, again, O-Lineman are down this year; plus Fournette being off the board in this scenario leaves them without the obvious option. Let's have them grab the best (healthy) CB left in play.
The joke is often lobbied that the Bengals are willing to worth with less-than-savory characters who have high potential, but right now, I don't see Cincy wanting to rock the boat too much, which eliminates Reuben Foster for the moment. They need a linebacker, Cunningham is a pretty clean-cut linebacker who is well worth his first-round hype, it makes sense.
This has been hinted at for a while seeing as the Bills are currently suffering at the TE position. It's not exactly my first pick for the Bills, but there really is no other "obvious" fit at this position, and with the reinvestment in Taylor, I don't think they'll be angling for a QB in the first frame. Howard provides Buffalo a complimentary receiving threat for Watkins, making whoever is throwing the ball instantly better.
There's this almost consistent debate I see among Saints fans about which way to go in the 2017 draft; do they grab a secondary player? Perhaps a pure linebacker? Is there a solid enough offensive lineman? Or can they snag a pass rusher? Barnett is my pick, as he just slips from the top 10 in this scenario due to a high run on CB's, but is well worth the pick here.
This isn't rose-colored "SEND THE CLEVELAND BOY TO CLEVELAND" glasses here; Hue Jackson's recent statements have been basically coy flirting with Mitchell and the potential of bringing him in. I'm seriously debating if the grab for Osweiler wasn't to also buy them a year to sit any potential drafted QB for 2017, showing patience we haven't seen out of Cleveland in any way since their return in 1999. But Trubisky, with some refinement, could certainly become a viable NFL-level QB.
I'm probably way too high on Davis (and another LB later), and I waffled a bit if this would be where Reuben Foster falls, but I don't think his little combine dust-up is going to just go away; even if he wasn't at fault (as some reports suggest), there are several worthy LB prospects in the first round that could lap him out of precaution. But that could change, as Davis didn't do much at the combine and could slip with a poor pro day. For now, he makes sense in the desert.
Something tells me the concern about Allen's shoulders is going to be amplified in the coming weeks. Teams below the top 10 want a crack at him, but I'm genuinely not sure that it's that big a concern. At the combine, Allen looked resoundingly...proficient? He didn't really stand out from the crowd, but his talent on tape is still fantastic, and with the Eagles suddenly having a hole on the D-Line, I could see them slotting in Allen to pair with Fletcher Cox, provided my inclination about a slide is correct.
Jim Irsay is dumb. Let's just get that out of the way. He's a dumb dumb dummy who has been wasting the development of Andrew Luck, hamboning him with a useless defense and an insufficient offensive line. After investing heavy on the O-Line in the 2016 draft, this needs to be fixing the other side of the ball, and with one of the worst LB groups in the NFL, McKinley just makes too much sense. But don't say I'm an idiot if I think Indy would, for whatever reason in hell, grab another offensive weapon here.
Baltimore's kind of shafted at this point in this mock. McKinley and Barrett are gone, depriving Baltimore of a top pass rusher. The top line CB's are all out of play. They couldn't even pull off grabbing Jonathan Allen in his slide. So, let's add to one of their weaker groups. The Breshad Perriman experiment has been...not really a disaster, but it hasn't been good. Mike Wallace is old and cranky. That leaves Kamar Aiken and approximately 7,034,657 TE's for Joe Flacco to throw to. Mike Williams would fit in immediately to this offense and add a very needed threat at 6'4"