As 12 teams prepare for the playoffs, the other 20 begin looking ahead to the 2017 NFL draft in earnest.
This week’s mock draft explores how things could play out over two rounds. What it shows is a draft class that is largely going to be reliant on underclassmen going pro. Even if all of the players projected below do enter the draft, the choices after the top 50 drop off dramatically in talent.
Next week’s mock draft will look at some trades that could take place that will reshape the first round. For now, a standard two-round mock:
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett announced his intention to enter the draft on Saturday night after a stellar three-year college career that included 32.5 sacks and 48.5 tackles for loss. He’s the clear cut best player in the draft. Just don’t let his comments about preferring not going to a team that plays in cold weather change the pick, In announcing his decision, Garrett said “I will play for any NFL team that gives me a chance,” and Cleveland should be that team.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The merits of Trubisky going this high will be argued for the next four months, assuming he declares. But with San Francisco starting fresh with a new general manager and head coach, they can go full rebuild with a quarterback high in the first round.
3. Chicago Bears: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
Allen might not filling Chicago’s biggest need — and they’re going to scout the heck out of Trubisky, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson — but his value even at No. 3 overall is too great to pass up.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
In LSU’s dominating 29-9 Citrus Bowl win, Adams was overwhelmingly the best player on the field. For Jacksonville, he could quickly slide into the strong safety position. Having him in the secondary would make players like Tashaun Gipson and Jalen Ramsey better.
5. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
With the impressive depth at cornerback in this year’s draft, the Titans can wait until they pick again at No. 18 to fix the position. At No. 5 they could go after Williams, the draft’s best receiver. He could be a Dez Bryant-like threat in Tennessee.
6. New York Jets: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jets remain a mess at quarterback, but drafting a star runner like Fournette could totally shift the focus of the offense.
7. San Diego Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
A few weeks ago Hooker said he would be back at Ohio State next season. After losing to Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl, he said he wants to talk his pro decision over with coaches and family. It’s hard to see why Hooker wouldn’t get a first-round draft grade despite starting just a season with the Buckeyes. His speed closing on the ball is elite, and the Ed Reed comparisons aren’t unfounded.
8. Carolina Panthers: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
With no offensive linemen in this draft being worth a top-10 pick, the Panthers could be a team hoping to trade down. If they stick here, they could find a pass rusher who could replace the producing of Mario Addison if he prices himself out of town in free agency.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama
Barnett would have been the ideal choice for Cincinnati, but with him gone there isn’t a defensive end with the same value as Foster. Alabama’s latest star linebacker could slot right into a start job inside for the Bengals. Another name to consider here is Washington’s John Ross, a wide receiver who can get separation and take pressure off A.J. Green.
10. Buffalo Bills: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Bills seem to be done with Tyrod Taylor, and Cardale Jones is a big project. Watson could be an option in the first round for whoever the Bills hire as a head coach.
11. New Orleans Saints: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The draft stock of Thomas is skyrocketing, and if he chooses to go pro he could very well land this high. It’s clear the Saints need pass rush help this offseason and Thomas could provide it.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
The Browns have so many holes, you could argue about five different players here. The team cycled through several safeties this season, and failed to find one who could consistently make plays. Peppers could be a player the Browns use all over the field.
13. Arizona Cardinals: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Kizer is a perfect fit for Arizona’s offense and could be the heir apparent to 37-year-old Carson Palmer.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Eagles have gone years without drafting a highly rated cornerback, and the lack of secondary talent really shows. They could get their pick of cover men, and Humphrey is arguably the best.
15. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
With Robert Mathis’ stellar career over, the Colts could find his replacement in Williams. He’s a speedy pass rusher with production and good athleticism.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
Terrell Suggs’ career is winding to a close, and fellow pass rusher Elvis Dumervil could be a salary cap casualty. McKinley is a talented player who would fit because he can play standing up or with his hand down.
17. Washington: John Ross, WR, Washington
With rumors swirling that DeSean Jackson could be headed back to Philadelphia, why not add the player who could be passed off as his clone?
18. Tennessee Titans: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
This is where waiting on a cornerback pays off for the Titans. At 18, they could have their pick of either Florida cornerback or either Ohio State cornerback, assuming they go pro.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis can be the type of No. 2 wide receiver the Buccaneers need to take the pressure off of Mike Evans.
20. Denver Broncos: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
If Cook happens to slip in the draft, a team like the Broncos needs to pounce. He’s a stellar all-around running back who will be effective as a runner and pass catcher.
21. Detroit Lions: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
The Lions could choose to stay local and fill a big need with McDowell. He’s the type of penetrating defensive linemen their defense needs. Pairing him next to A’Shawn Robinson could give Detroit a great pair on the inside for years.
22. Miami Dolphins: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
Miami has a good young piece at cornerback in last year’s second-round pick Xavien Howard, but not the true No. 1 guy like Tabor could be.
23. New York Giants: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Ereck Flowers experiment has been rocky. If Robinson slides into the 20s, the Giants could grab him to play left tackle while deciding whether Flowers can be moved to guard or, perhaps more likely, the right side.
24. Oakland Raiders: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Oakland can continue adding high-end talent on defense with a player like Cunningham. He’s a capable middle linebacker with length and smarts.
25. Houston Texans: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
If Davis gets drafted to a place like Houston, or even Oakland, his NFL position is likely to be at middle linebacker. That’s the case here, where the Texans need to get better up the middle on defense.
26. Green Bay Packers: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Green Bay has gotten a minimal amount of production out of its tight ends this season, and a player like Howard could be a perfect fit.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Ramczyk has positioned himself as the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect this year, and fills Seattle’s big need up front.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
The Steelers could be going after a pass rusher yet again this offseason, and could land one with Anderson. He’s not as natural of a blitzer as his Alabama teammate Williams, but his skills should translate to the NFL just fine.
29. Atlanta Falcons: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson could could be gone in Atlanta after this season, and if they are the Falcons will look to draft a player early to fit up front. Brantley is a disruptive tackle who can do many of the things Babineaux did in his prime.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Budda Baker, S, Washington
Once again, safety could become a big need for the Chiefs if Eric Berry happens to leave Kansas City in free agency. Baker excels in coverage, and isn’t afraid to get into the mix against the run.
31. New England Patriots: Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn
After trading Chandler Jones before last year’s draft, the Patriots were left without a bonafide pass rush star. Lawson could be that player thanks to his athleticism and speed off the edge.
32. Dallas Cowboys: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Lattimore wouldn't talk about his draft plans following Ohio State’s blow loss to Clemson, but if he goes pro he’s almost guaranteed to be a top-40 pick. For Dallas, he profiles as a lockdown cornerback thanks to his size and quickness.
33. Cleveland Browns: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
34. San Francisco 49ers: Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri
35. Jacksonville Jaguars: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
36. Chicago Bears: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
37. Los Angeles Rams: Adam Bisnowaty, OT, Pittsburgh
Of course this isn’t a sexy pick, but the Rams need a player in the second round who will immediately slide into a starting position and make the team better. That’s exactly what the experienced Bisnowaty can do. He could slide directly into the left tackle spot, which would push Greg Robinson inside to guard. Los Angeles’ pass blocking would be bolstered for second-year quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley should have more holes to work through up front.
38. San Diego Chargers: Harold Landry, edge rusher, Boston College
39. New York Jets: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
40. Carolina Panthers: Forrest Lamp, OT, Western Kentucky
41. Cincinnati Bengals: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
42. New Orleans Saints: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
43. Philadelphia Eagles: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Southern California
44. Buffalo Bills: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
45. Arizona Cardinals: Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
46. Indianapolis Colts: Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
47. Baltimore Ravens: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
48. Minnesota Vikings: D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
With Adrian Peterson’s future in Minnesota up in the air, the Vikings could find his replacement in Foreman. A big body runner who ran for more than 2,000 yards this season, Foreman has the power to run through defenders and enough speed to get past them.
49. Washington: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson
51. Denver Broncos: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
52. Cleveland Browns (via Tennessee Titans): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
53. Detroit Lions: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California
54. Miami Dolphins: Dion Dawkins, OT/G, Temple
55. New York Giants: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech
56. Oakland Raiders: Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan
57. Houston Texans: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
58. Green Bay Packers: Pat Elflein, G/C, Ohio State
59. Seattle Seahawks: DeMarcus Walker, DE/DT, Florida State
60. Pittsburgh Steelers: Zach Banner, OT, Southern California
61. Atlanta Falcons: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
62. Kansas City Chiefs: Anthony Walker Jr., MLB, Northwestern
63. New England Patriots: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
64. Dallas Cowboys: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State