With the NFL Scouting Combine less than two weeks away, it’s time for a “Pre-Combine” mock draft before the Underwear Olympics shake up draft boards.
This will be a three-round mock draft. Today will just be the first round, but in a change from previous years I will be posting the second round Thursday and the third round on Friday.
So then, let’s get to it and see who the New York Giants could draft at 23rd overall.
1 - Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M) - This is the obvious pick. Garrett is simply the best player in the draft and it isn’t really close. Not only is he an elite athlete at a premium position, he is a natural football player.
Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina) - San Francisco has a lot of holes on its roster, but it doesn’t matter what they do if they don’t add a quarterback.
3 - Chicago Bears
Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State) - The Bears could easily take a quarterback here, but instead John Fox will add a long, athletic, and talented cornerback to help combat the passing attacks in the NFC North.
Jonathan Allen (DL, Alabama) - The Jags have made investments in their defensive line in past years, but they have yet to really pay off. Assuming he is healthy, Allen could have an impact like Aaron Donald on the interior with the versatility to play the edge as well.
5 - Tennessee Titans
Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama) - You build to win your division, and the AFC South features some talented wideouts. Humphrey only has one season of production, but he was the next best thing to “shut-down” in 2016. He has the traits to go early in the draft.
6 - New York Jets
Malik Hooker (FS, Ohio State) - The Jets’ once-fearsome secondary is in a sorry state. They could go for a cornerback here to supplant Darrelle Revis, but instead they’ll take the Buckeyes’ rangy ball-hawking safety to pair with Calvin Pryor
7 - Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams (WR, Clemson) - Philip Rivers is at his best when he has big athletic targets to throw to. Williams has the size and athleticism to be a number one receiver in the NFL, and outstanding body control to make acrobatic catches.
Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU) - There are a lot of ways the Panthers could go here, but with Jonathan Stewart aging and expensive, they get another big, physical, athletic running back. The Panthers’ offense features quite a few big, physical players so Fournette would fit right in.
Tim Williams (EDGE, Alabama) - The Bengals’ defense lacked the pass rush firepower they have enjoyed in recent years. Williams might have the best first step in the entire draft class and a versatile frame to rush from a two or three point stance. He has off-field questions, but his talent is undeniable.
10 - Buffalo Bills
Teez Tabor (CB, Florida) - Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is not only a free agent, but the best at his position on the market and it could be too expensive for the Bills to keep him. Tabor might be the third corner off the board here, but he could be the first, and likely would in any other draft.
11 - New Orleans Saints
Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) - The Saints desperately need a second defensive player in addition to Cam Jordan. Thomas might not look like your average edge rusher, but he is a wrecking ball.
12 - Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles)
DeShaun Watson (QB, Clemson) - Cleveland finally gets its quarterback. Watson might not be pro-ready right away, but his athletic ability and intangibles make his future bright.
13 - Arizona Cardinals
Reuben Foster (LB, Alabama) - The Cardinals could use a weapon in the passing game after cutting Michael Floyd, but their defense has fallen off as well. Daryl Washington was a blast to watch before his career fizzled, and they could get some of the same play from Foster.
14 (tie) - Indianapolis Colts
Dalvin Cook (RB, FSU) - The Colts need to build in the trenches. Andrew Luck desperately needs blocking up front and they need to address their front seven as well. However, the Colts have a predilection for drafting skill players highly and ignoring the lines of scrimmage. It’s still a mystery whether that will change with a new general manager.
(note: Ties are decided by a coin flip on draft night)
14 (tie) - Philadelphia Eagles
Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan) - The Eagles’ receivers were atrocious in 2016, there’s no other way to put it. There are some who believe that Davis is the top receiver in this draft, and his route running would play well in Philly’s offense.
16 - Baltimore Ravens
Jamal Adams (S, LSU) - At this point this is pure, unadulterated value. Eric Weddle is still good, but aging. Adams can play free safety, strong safety, or even slot corner. Malik Hooker’s ball skills get him recognition, but Adams’ all-around game might be better.
17 - Washington Redskins
John Ross (WR, Washington) - Washington could find itself without both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in 2017. The Redskins need to replace that offensive firepower, and Ross is the best deep threat receiver in the draft.
18 - Tennessee Titans
O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama) - The Titans’ “exotic smash-mouth” offense caught fire toward the end of 2016, at least before Marcus Mariota broke his leg. Howard is an athletic and well-rounded tight end who will help out in both the run game and as a big target for the young quarterback.
19 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee) - Barnett is a remarkably consistent defensive end who has posted at least 10 sacks in each of the last three years. The Bucs could use his help dealing with Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and MVP Matt Ryan.
20 - Denver Broncos
Garett Bolles (OT, Utah) - At 25 Bolles will be an unusually old first round rookie, but he is probably the top offensive tackle in the draft. He is a polished technician and a smooth mover who should be able to start immediately.
21 - Detroit Lions
Haason Reddick (LB/EDGE, Temple) - The Lions need to upgrade both their linebacking corps and their pass rush, and Reddick does both for them. A former defensive back, Reddick has the ability to drop into coverage while still being an explosive edge rusher from his days as a defensive end at Temple.
22 - Miami Dolphins
Ryan Ramczyk (OT, Wisconsin) - The Dolphins just traded Brandon Albert to the Jaguars. That fixed their need at tight end, but opened a hole on their offensive line. Ramczyk is inexperienced, but he was still the best run blocking lineman in college last year. He is a natural knee bender with good feet and plus power.
23 - New York Giants
David Njoku (TE, Miami) - This was actually a fairly agonizing decision. My choices here were ultimately narrowed down to Njoku or Charles Harris. Ultimately, I decided to go with the dynamic pass catcher who could help shake defenses out of the 2-Man coverage shell they settled into to limit Odell Beckham Jr.’s opportunities for explosive plays.
Njoku is a “good enough” run blocker who can deal with linebackers or defensive backs at the second level. But his real appeal is as a match-up nightmare who can be moved around the offensive formation, stretching and stressing defenses. With his athleticism and production in college, Njoku could be special with a quarterback like Eli Manning and in the same offense as a receiver like Beckham.
Schematically, he could also allow the Giants to adopt a “New England” style 12-personnel offense along with Will Johnson, Jerell Adams, or Will Tye.
Here are a few David Njoku highlights from this season. Led this FBS TE class in YAC at 6'4/240 lbs pic.twitter.com/WvCkihiJ6S— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) February 22, 2017
24 - Oakland Raiders
Sidney Jones (CB, Washington) - The Raiders’ offense is scary. Their defense, despite the presence of Khalil Mack, is less-so. Jones is a bit smaller than teams are looking for nowadays, but his quick feet and oily hips make him an excellent cover corner.
25 - Houston Texans
DeShone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame) - The Texans’ chief concern is getting better at quarterback. Kizer has sky-high potential, and might get drafted much earlier than this based on it, but he isn’t quite ready yet. Brock Osweiler’s contract makes parting ways with him problematic in the near-term, so a developmental quarterback might be the way they have to go.
26 - Seattle Seahawks
Cam Robinson (OT, Alabama) - The Seahawks need to upgrade their offensive line in a major way. Whether he stays at offensive tackle or has to slide inside to guard, Robinson is a big, mauling lineman who can immediately help Seattle pound the ball in the manner to which the Seahawks had become accustomed at their best.
27 - Kansas City Chiefs
Malik McDowell (DL, Michigan State) - The Chiefs have developed a habit of taking players with character questions and turning them loose on the league. Two years ago it was Marcus Peters, and last year it was Tyreek Hill. There are questions surrounding McDowell’s desire and motor, but his when he is on, he is almost unblockable.
28 - Dallas Cowboys
Charles Harris (EDGE, Mizzou) - The Cowboys need to upgrade their defense and they can’t count on Randy Gregory to stay clean. Harris has an excellent first step, a nasty spin move, and the ability to play as both a defensive end and a rush linebacker. His downfall is his run defense, but he is disruptive behind the line of scrimmage.
29 - Green Bay Packers
Tre’Davius White (CB, LSU) - The Packers’ secondary was exposed toward the end of the season by injury and poor play. White isn’t in the top tier of corners but he has good size, athleticism, movement skills, and is dependable in coverage.
30 - Pittsburgh Steelers
Zach Cunningham (OLB, Vanderbilt) - The Steelers’ need to continue to rebuild their defense after the once-dominant unit aged out of the league. Cunningham is a rangy and athletic player who is solid in coverage and capable of “WOW” plays coming downhill. Paired with Ryan Shazier would give the Steelers a potent pairing.
31 - Atlanta Falcons
Jaleel Johnson (DT, Iowa) - The Falcons’ offense is the class of the league, but their undersized defense proved to be their Achilles’ Heel when it mattered most. Johnson lives at the line of scrimmage, playing with power and short-area quickness. He can disrupt or stop the run on the inside.
32 - New England Patriots
Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford) - I think the rest of the AFC (and NFL in general) just mock-peed themselves a little. Bill Belichick is a master of putting players that nobody else seems to know what to do with in position to play to their absolute best. If he could make Chris Hogan a Super Bowl hero, he would be drooling to have a super-versatile talent like McCaffrey to work with.
Stay tuned for Round 2 Tomorrow!