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2017 NFL mock draft: Big changes in the top 5

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If the 49ers take Solomon Thomas at No. 2, it causes a chain reaction throughout the top 10.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 NFL draft is just over three weeks away, but players are still moving around in this week’s mock draft. The big changes this week happen inside the top five, causing several shakeups throughout the first round. Chief among them is slotting Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas to the 49ers. That causes a chain reaction through much of the remainder of the top 10.

This week’s mock draft also sees running back Christian McCaffrey move up, wide receivers move down, and a surprise cornerback going in the top 25.

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

The Browns have been poking and prodding Garrett recently. They might just be making sure he’s still among the living. As long as he is, the consensus No. 1 pick remains the consensus No. 1 pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

For the past several weeks, I’ve gone with Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, but decided to change things up this week to see how the dominoes fall differently. Thomas is just as logical of a choice as Hooker. Even though the 49ers have taken defensive linemen in the first round the past two years, Thomas is a different type of player than Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.

3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

I’m not as concerned with Allen’s shoulders as others. Any team picking starting at No. 2 who shares that belief should take Allen and feel good about it. He dominated at Alabama and can play inside and outside. Although the Bears took a similar-style player in Jonathan Bullard last year, Allen is much better.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

This pick started to become popular a couple of weeks ago, and it does make some sense. As a tight end, Howard grades out better than any player at the position in the past several years. He can do everything, and would give the Jacksonville offense a terrific security blanket.

5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

This pick has always been Marshon Lattimore, but Hooker hasn’t been available in most mock drafts. He gives Tennessee the type of coverage safety they just don’t have with Jonathan Cyprien and Da’Norris Searcy. Hooker has unreal range and should be a star in the NFL.

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

There have been enough reports about the Jets liking Trubisky that either they’ve put down the most elaborate smoke screen possible, or they have a rat in the front office. Although the Jets have invested a lot of draft capital at quarterback, if they like Trubisky that much, it doesn’t matter. Suddenly, Christian Hackenberg is trade bait (if there’s even a suitor).

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Players like Howard and Trubisky going in the top six is good news for the Chargers. That means Hooker or Adams should fall to the seventh pick. I like either for the Chargers, but with Hooker gone, Adams is the pick. He can come down and work near the line of scrimmage and has enough range to drop.

8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

This has been a normal pick for Carolina for months, and it just fits. Fournette is a player who can change the tenor of the offense in Carolina.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

At this point I’ve cycled through Davis, John Ross of Washington, and Mike Williams of Clemson for the Bengals. They need a foil for A.J. Green, and Davis provides more of an all-around threat than Ross or Williams.

10. Buffalo Bills: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Bills are often given a wide receiver or tight end with this pick, but they’re thin at cornerback and Lattimore happened to slip in this week’s mock. He’s a top-five talent, so if he’s there it should be a simple pick for Buffalo.

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

This pick is starting to become obvious at this point. The Saints have a massive need at pass rusher, and Barnett put in an eye-popping 33 sacks in three seasons at Tennessee.

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

Although I think the Browns would prefer Trubisky to Watson, they should take whichever one is available with the No. 12 pick. Watson has the winning mentality the Browns desperately need. You just hope his arm won’t be an issue in the NFL.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Outside of Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals don’t have a lot of talent at cornerback. While this leaves them scrambling to a degree on quarterback, they could target a player like Davis Webb of California in the second round.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Don’t be surprised if on draft night McCaffrey is the second running back picked. He offers many of the same things Dalvin Cook does, and he doesn’t have the background questions as the Florida State star. The Eagles need a playmaker this draft, and McCaffrey can do it from the running back spot while also working as a wideout and return specialist.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

If one of the top three running backs is left on the board, the Colts should strike on them in the first round. In this case it’s Cook, who could be brought in to replace Frank Gore. Cook ran for more than 4,400 yards and 46 touchdowns in three seasons at Florida State, and he caught 79 passes. He could be a factor immediately in the NFL.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA

Will Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome prefer a high-effort pass rusher or a wide receiver like Mike Williams or John Ross with the No. 16 pick? The choice this week is McKinley, who can be groomed as the successor to Terrell Suggs.

17. Washington: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama

If Foster is still available, he should be an easy choice for Washington. Foster is a fast and violent linebacker who was the leader of Alabama’s defense the past two seasons. You can make a case for several positions on Washington’s defense, but a player of Foster’s caliber will be hard to pass up.

18. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

This could be Williams or John Ross of Washington. Williams obviously doesn’t offer the same type of speed threat as Ross, but he’s the better all-around player. He is a physical wide receiver coming off a season of 1,361 yards and 11 touchdowns and should continue the growing line of good NFL receivers from Clemson that includes DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami

The Buccaneers never shy away from taking athletes, and there are few better athletes in the draft this year than Njoku. The Hurricanes tight end averaged 16.6 yards per catch in college and is a threat working the seam out of the slot.

20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

The momentum is building for Ramczyk who, on draft night, could end up being a top-15 pick. If he’s still available when the Broncos pick, he should be an easy selection. He’s an immediate starter at left tackle. If he’s gone and McCaffrey happens to be there, he could be the pick.

21. Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Charlton may be considered a one-year wonder at Michigan, but he finally broke out last season when the Wolverines moved to a four-man front on defense. At 6’5 and 277 pounds, Charlton has unique athleticism for his size and can play on either side of the line.

22. Miami Dolphins: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Bringing in Lawrence Timmons was a smart move by Miami, but they could still use a linebacker who can move around and add something to the pass rush. That’s exactly what Reddick can do.

23. New York Giants: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Ereck Flowers is proving himself to be a bad pick to play left tackle, so the Giants could be back to looking for another blindside blocker in this year’s draft. Bolles would be a nice choice. You don’t have to coach up his attitude, and his type of aggressive playing style would quickly make him a fan favorite.

24. Oakland Raiders: John Ross, WR, Washington

This probably seems like a strange spot for Ross, but he’s going in the first round and he spices up the Raiders passing game. The Raiders don’t lack speed at wide receiver — especially after getting Cordarrelle Patterson — but they have nothing like the speed of Ross on the outside. At the least, Al Davis would be proud.

25. Houston Texans: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Mahomes or Kizer? Kizer or Mahomes? With Tony Romo retiring, it’s likely that the Texans will face that decision on draft night. The pick could end up being Kizer, the more traditional pocket passer that might fit Bill O’Brien’s offense easier.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Kevin King, CB, Washington

There’s a strange amount of smoke swirling about the Seahawks trading Richard Sherman. Even if that does eventually happen, the Seahawks might use this draft to start restocking the cornerback position. King is generating a lot of first-round buzz in the weeks leading up to the draft, and he has the size that fits in Seattle.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

This pick came down to Mahomes or Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham. I went for high upside with Mahomes. If he pays off, he gives the Chiefs a franchise quarterback for the long term. A linebacker like Raekwon McMillan in the second round would then be a possibility.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

For such a high-caliber team, the Cowboys are dangerously thin on talent at cornerback. Conley is an instant starter in Dallas. Don’t be surprised if they draft two corners this year.

29. Green Bay Packers: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

After getting killed by Packers fans for mocking offensive lineman Forrest Lamp here, this week is being changed up to White. He’s an aggressive cornerback who started four seasons in the SEC. He should be able to push for a starting job as a rookie.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Pittsburgh needs linebackers, and Cunningham is a player that can play the middle in a 3-4 formation and the weak side in nickel packages. He can do a little of everything, and would give the Steelers a player who is comfortable in coverage and working forward.

31. Atlanta Falcons: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

Defensive line versatility is an asset in Atlanta, and that’s exactly what a player like McDowell provides. He can work all over the line in Atlanta’s system and if anyone can get him to consistently play hard, it’s Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.

32. New Orleans Saints (via New England Patriots): Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

If Jones didn’t suffer an Achilles injury during his pro day, he would’ve been a top-20 pick. While he’s a risky first rounder at this point, the Saints might be able to gamble on his potential since they have two first-round picks.


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