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2017 NFL mock draft: The Senior Bowl effect

O.J. Howard and Haason Reddick were the top players in Mobile, but do both land in the first round?

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

The Senior Bowl is complete, but did any players really help their stock in the 2017 NFL draft?

Compared to last year, not really. There just wasn’t a player at the Senior Bowl this year like Carson Wentz whose draft stock began to really skyrocket in Mobile, Ala. For a few players there was still plenty of benefit to the week of practices, and in this week’s mock draft we’ll see a few of them sprinkled in.

Note: Pick Nos. 31 and 32 are based on regular season record.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Garrett has been the projection for the Browns by many for well over a month at this point. But what type of player could he be for Cleveland? Largely considering his length for the position, the most natural comparison for Garrett is Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants. Ideally with the first pick in the draft, the Browns would hope that Garrett is more consistent than JPP season over season.

2. San Francisco 49ers: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Frankly, it’s impossible to get a feel on what the 49ers will do with this pick. No one saw the hiring of John Lynch as general manager coming in San Francisco, and currently no one would see a pick of Kizer coming. Here’s what we do know: Lynch and incoming head coach Kyle Shanahan are getting six-year deals. You can also argue that Kizer has the most upside of the three top quarterbacks in the draft, but requires the most development. Since Lynch and Shanahan appear to have the time, why not swing for the fences?

3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DT/DE, Alabama

The Bears need help at a lot of areas, including quarterback, cornerback, and even wide receiver. Unless they fall in love with one of the quarterbacks, though, it may be hard to pass on Allen. Chicago has one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, something that Allen can help fix straight away. Allen also happens to be a good scheme fit in Chicago.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

It’s really hard to justify a running back with a top-five pick, but Fournette can be an exception. While Jacksonville’s offensive line is an issue for any running back, Fournette’s ability to gain big yards on the edge and break tackles might make that less of an issue. Having a star runner like Fournette would also take a lot of pressure off Blake Bortles, who seems to be approaching a make-or-break season in Jacksonville.

5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Jamal Adams, S, LSU

With the right draft picks, the Titans in 2017 could be what the Oakland Raiders were in 2016. On the brink of the playoffs, the Titans would be smart by adding impactful and pro-ready players like Adams. He’s a complete player at safety and should slot into the starting lineup with ease.

6. New York Jets: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Every week I go back and forth about the Jets drafting a quarterback. It makes no sense if you consider that they just used a second-round pick on Christian Hackenberg, and having Bryce Petty and Geno Smith still on the roster. The counter to that is that they’ve all been bad in New York. If the Jets fall in love with Trubisky, he could be their fourth quarterback drafted in as many years.

7. San Diego Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Chargers have a sure-thing playmaker on the front of the defense with Joey Bosa, and could get one for the back half with his former college teammate Hooker. He’s the rangy type of free safety the Chargers need.

8. Carolina Panthers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

The past few mock drafts have had the Panthers getting Fournette. Even with him gone, they don’t miss out on much by taking Cook. The Panthers need impact at skill positions, and Cook does the job as a runner and pass catcher.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Thomas is a player who’s stock rose slowly throughout the season before exploding in Stanford’s bowl game. He’s an effective power rusher who can be lined up outside and inside, and would give the Bengals a sack threat opposite Carlos Dunlap.

10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

My pick for the Bills has often been a quarterback. But what if general manager Doug Whaley is so enamored with Cardale Jones that he refuses to take a quarterback in the first round? If that’s the case, the Bills could finally get that ace wideout to use opposite Sammy Watkins who, by the way, will be looking for a new contract sooner than later.

11. New Orleans Saints: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

This pick might seem blasé and pretty common if you look at some other mock drafts around the internet, but it just makes sense. The Saints desperately need to be better at getting after the quarterback, and here is where Barnett’s draft range should start.

12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Even with February about to start, it’s still impossible to gauge how NFL teams really feel about the three top quarterback prospects. Although I rate Watson higher than Kizer and Trubisky, you can toss them all in the air and logically explain why they make sense in any order. This week it was Kizer/Trubisky/Watson, next week it could be Watson/Kizer/Trubisky. In past mock drafts, the assumption was the Browns getting a veteran quarterback via a trade or free agency. Obviously that’s not the case here, where they get Watson, the athletic playmaker who could make something out of a Browns offense that is filled with nothing.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

With the quarterbacks and Williams gone, the Cardinals could go after whomever they consider to be the top cornerback in the class. Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey would make sense because of his size and physical style. Lattimore edges him, though, thanks to his superior athleticism and quick feet.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Lattimore was the pick for Philadelphia last week, but the differences between he and Humphrey are minimal. Humphrey specializes in getting physical at the line of scrimmage and pushing receivers around.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

Here’s a fair warning about these weekly mock drafts: If Williams is on the board at No. 15, he’s probably going to be the pick for the Colts unless a change is made intentionally. In a limited number of snaps on an Alabama defense that rotated heavily, Williams still managed 16 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2016. He knows how to get into the backfield, which is exactly what a team like Indianapolis needs.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The run on cornerbacks continues, and there’s still value with the third one off the board. Wilson is a player the Ravens could look at as a cornerback or safety depending on what happens with Lardarius Webb.

17. Washington: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama

I know this seems a little too far in the first round for Foster, and it very well may be. However, over the years we’ve seen plenty of inside linebackers drop so it shouldn’t be a total surprise if it happens to Foster. If that happens, Washington should pounce and get a player who can develop into the leader of the defense.

18. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

As said above with the fifth pick, the Titans need instant impact and can get that with Davis. He would add a dimension to the offense that Tennessee just doesn’t have.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

Peppers’ drat stock seems to be all over the place because of his positional ambiguity. Safety becomes a big need for Tampa Bay if Bradley McDougald leaves in free agency, so Peppers could be used to fill his spot.

20. Denver Broncos: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Even all the way at pick No. 20 the Broncos could have their pick of offensive tackles. Robinson has his flaws, namely against speed rushers. However, his run blocking is impressive enough to warrant this choice.

21. Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Detroit needs someone who can get after the quarterback, regardless of whether or not its from the edge or up the middle. In this mock, it’s from a player who can do both.

22. Miami Dolphins: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

The Dolphins need linebacker talent so badly it’s hard to see this pick not being Cunningham if he’s on the board. He’s an instant-impact player for a team like Miami thanks to his dependability and ability to play all three downs.

23. New York Giants: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

After a good showing at the Senior Bowl, Howard’s stock may be on the rise, but it was still difficult to find a spot for him before this pick. That’s good news for the Giants, who would get a good all-around tight end and safety valve for Eli Manning.

24. Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis may not have blown the doors off the Senior Bowl last week, but he didn’t do anything to hurt his draft value either. The choices for Oakland were down to Davis or one of the defensive tackles on the board. Davis was the pick because after him the talent at middle linebacker drops considerably while there will be some good interior defenders later in the draft.

25. Houston Texans: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

This is a repeat pick from last week, which may be a little boring, but it just makes sense for the Texans. As the draft approaches, look for Houston to put in a lot of work on Ramczyk, Robinson, and Utah’s Garett Bolles.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Again, this is a repeat selection but it just makes sense. Seattle’s need on the offensive line is so dire that it doesn’t matter that they’re taking the third tackle off the board.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

If Cunningham or Davis would have been available, they would have been the choice for Kansas City because Derrick Johnson’s immediate future is unknown following a ruptured Achilles in December. Finding a cornerback like Jones to pair opposite Marcus Peters fills a big need. If Eric Berry leaves in free agency, Jones’ Washington teammate Budda Baker would get a long look.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State

During his Michigan State career, McDowell bounced back and forth between end and tackle. If his size remains in the 6’6 and 275-pound range, which is how he was listed at Michigan State, his best NFL position could be on the edge.

29. Green Bay Packers: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

Speaking of teams that need edge talent, the Packers go into the offseason with Nick Perry entering free agency. Given his inconsistent career, the Packers may choose to move on and draft a true pass rusher like McKinley.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Haason Reddick, OLB, Temple

The star of the Senior Bowl finds a spot in the first round thanks not only to his play, but also Pittsburgh’s need at the position. Reddick has shown he can work inside and outside, so he’d give the Steelers a lot of versatility.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

Reminder Falcons fans: You’re only at No. 31 because of regular-season record. A player like Brantley fits Atlanta’s defense as a penetrating tackle who, on certain downs, could move to end.

32. New England Patriots: Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn

With Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long entering free agency after the season, the Patriots could be looking for a pass rusher. Lawson’s range seems to be between picks 25 and 40, so this is the mid-range for his value.

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