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Mocking the second

33. Green Bay (from Cleveland)                 CB Kevin King, Washington

34. Seattle (from San Francisco)                G/T Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky

35. Jacksonville                                              G/T Cam Robinson, Alabama

36. Chicago                                                      CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado

37. LA Rams                                                    DB Obi Melifonwu, UConn

38. LA Chargers                                             DB Budda Baker, Washington

39. NY Jets                                                      QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

40. Carolina                                                     DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State

41. Cincinnati                                                  DE Tarell Bashem, Ohio

42. New   Orleans                                           LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt

43. Philadelphia                                             RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State

44. Buffalo                                                       WR Zay Jones, East Carolina

45. Arizona                                                      QB Davis Webb, California

46. Indianapolis                                             OLB Tyus Bowser, Houston

47. Baltimore                                                  OLB Tim Williams, Alabama

48. Minnesota                                                 RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee

49. Washington                                              DE Malik McDowll, Michigan State

50. Tampa Bay                                                RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma

51. Denver                                                         RB/WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State

52. Cleveland (from Tennessee)                   WR Chris Godwin, Penn State

53. Detroit                                                         DE Quincy Wilson, Florida

54. Miami                                                           OG Dan Feeney, Indiana

55. New York Giants                                        DT Chris Wormley, Michigan

56. Oakland                                                       LB Raekwon McMillan

57. Houston                                                      G/T Dion Dawkins, Temple

58. Seattle                                                          G/T Taylor Moton, Western Michigan

59. Kansas City                                                  LB Duke Riley, LSU

60. Dallas                                                            CB Sidney Jones, Washington

61. Green Bay                                                     OLB Carl Lawson, Auburn

62. Pittsburgh                                                     FS Josh Jones, North Carolina State

63. Atlanta                                                           OG Dorian Johsnon, Pittsburgh

64. Carolina (from New England)                  CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA

First day winners and losers

Its always tough to pick winners and losers in the middle of the draft because one just never knows how the players are actually going to perform on the field until they actually get on the field. It was hard not to like what several teams were able to accomplish during last night’s opening round.

Let’s start with San Francisco where rookie G.M. John Lynch, who had never worked for a minute in an NFL personnel department prior to taking over the 49ers, put the boots to the theory that you need tons of experience to get the job done. The 49ers were able to steal a couple of mid-round picks as well as future selection from Chicago and still got the guy they were going to take all along in Stanford DE Solomon Thomas. Then they used one of the picks they got from the Bears to move back up into the latter part of the first round to take Alabama LB Reuben Foster, a player they had seriously considered with the 2nd pick, at #31. Of course, Foster slipped all that way because of health concerns, but a nice haul for the rebuilding 49ers.

Cleveland still doesn’t have its QB of the future, but the Browns did add three really nice building blocks for the future in DE Myles Garrett, the consensus top prospect overall, along with former Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers, arguably the most versatile player in college football the past couple of seasons, and Miami TE David Njoku, one of the three dynamic players at the position this year. To boot, the Browns also added yet another 2018 first rounder in the trade in which Houston moved up from the 25th to the 12th spot to take QB Deshaun Watson.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than in the good at the draft and several teams were able to grab really good players that they really didn’t expect to be there when they picked. New Orleans, which desperately needs coverage help, had to be doing cartwheels when Ohio State CB Marshon Lattimore fell to them at #12; Lattimore had been considered to be a top 5 candidate, but he slipped when so many teams picking at the top of the board went with potential impact players on offense. And the  Saints may have been singing the same tune at the end of the round were then able to land Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk, arguably the top offensive line prospect this year who dropped because of injury concerns, with the 32nd pick acquired from New England. The only quibble we might have with the Saints picks is that OT didn’t appear to be a major immediate concern for the defensively-challenged team.

Meanwhile, other teams that got lucky when players unexpectedly landed at their door steps included Indianapolis (Ohio State FS Malik Hooker at #14); Washington (Alabama DE Jonathan Allen at #17); and Tampa Bay (Alabama TE O.J. Howard at #19).

At the same time, one of our favorite picks on the day included Arizona getting Temple OLB Haason Reddick with the 13th pick. The Cardinals reportedly really wanted one of the top three QBs, but they should be able to address their QB-of-the-future needs at next year’s QB-rich draft, while Reddick could instantly upgrade their defense today. A couple or three other bold picks of players who maybe weren’t rated quite as highly included Tennessee taking super athletic USC CB Adoree Jackson at #18, Detroit nabbing Florida LB Jarrad Davis at #21, and the Giants selecting dynamic Ole Miss TE Evan Engram at #23. The latter could make what was already the NFL’s best receiver corps downright scary.

Because in the NFL one just never knows, we might to say teams were losers so let’s just put them in the ‘time will tell’ file for now. It is certainly possible for example that Mitch Trubisky will end up being a fine NFL QB, but it appeared that the Bears may have panicked a little by giving up three picks to move up one spot to get the former North Carolina star. And that may be especially the case for a team with plenty of holes that already has a young developmental QB in free agent signee Mike Glennon.

There were also three teams – Philadelphia, Miami and Dallas – that took DEs who were productive enough in college, but who just don’t have the speed of speed and explosion teams are usually looking for in a first-round edge rushers. In fact, one could pretty much look forever to find a 259-pound DE with 4.88 speed, a 253-pounder with a 4.82 40 clocking, or a 277-pounder who runs over 4.9 who currently excel at getting to the QB in the NFL. As we say time will tell.

The other big ‘loser’ on the day may have been Alabama. The Tide were expected to dominate the last night’s top ten, but instead DE Jonathan Allen, LB Reuben Foster and TE O.J. Howard all dropped into the bottom half of the opening round. In fact, it was a little bit of a shock that CB Marlon Humphrey, who had been thought might fall right out of the first round, was the first Alabama player taken when he was selected 16th overall by Baltimore. In fact, four schools – LSU, Clemson, Stanford and Ohio State – each had two players selected before the 1st Alabama player came off the board. However, in the end, Alabama still did lead all college programs with four players taken in this year’s opening round, while LSU and Ohio State had three each.

In fact, led by Alabama and LSU, the SEC dominated the opening round with a total of 12 players selected. The SEC was followed by the Big Ten with 7, the Pac-12 with 6 and the ACC with four. On the other hand, the Big XII had only one player taken, while the MAC and American conferences also had one each.

Packers on the clock

Pack on the clock … The second round of the 2017 draft gets underway in just under 18 hours with Green Bay on the clock with a pick they acquired from Cleveland late in the opening round. The busiest team on Friday night though will be Seattle which has 6 picks in rounds two and three with 2 in the second and 4 in the third. For the record, no other team currently has more than three second day selections. Here is the updated list of picks by team heading into the draft’s second day.

Draft day morning buzz

The draft kicks off in just over 10 hours and like just about every year one of the biggest questions is where and when do the QBs start coming off the board. Nobody seems to like this year’s QB crop all that much. By all accounts, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky is still a possibility to go first overall to Cleveland. There is also a growing buzz – here and here – that Jacksonville may in fact be targeting Clemson’s Deshaun Watson with the 4th pick. The Jags, of course, still have Blake Bortles, a top 5 pick in 2014, but he regressed last year, and with Tom Coughlin back at the helm in Jacksonville anything is possible. There have even been some whispers that Chicago has considered Watson at #3, but those aren’t as strong. Listening to Bears’ G.M. Ryan Pace one gets the sense that he’d really prefer to trade down and he’ll likely get some calls. In fact, one keeps hearing that several teams are looking to leapfrog each other to get LSU RB Leonard Fournette including possibly Carolina and Cincinnati which have the 8th and 9th picks respectively. At the same time, one keeps hearing that more than one team – which may include the Panthers – actually have Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey rated ahead of Fournette. And if the Panthers may have to move up just to get McCaffrey. One also has to be cautious at this time of year because one actually hears a lot!!

No one should be surprised if the contingent of Alabama prospects including DE Jonathan Allen, TE O.J. Howard, LB Reuben Foster, and CB Marlon Humphrey all go later than expected. Allen may simply get caught up in the numbers game early, while teams just aren’t sure about Howard on game. He’s got all the physical tools to be a great one at the next level, but teams still don’t why he wasn’t more of a presence with the Tide. On the other hand, guys one keeps hearing mentioned as possible late first rounders include Ole Miss TE Even Engram, Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara, and CBs Tre’Davious White of LSU and Quincy Wilson of Florida.

One of the pivotal spots in tonight’s open round could be in the 15-16 range where both Indianapolis and Baltimore reportedly are targeting an edge rusher. However, based on the conventional draft board out there, it doesn’t look like there will be any top edge-rushers available to either team at the spot. And that could open the possibility of a surprise pick of an OLB like Takk McKinley from UCLA or Houston’s Tyus Bowser, or Kansas State DE Jordan Willis at that point. Of course, both Indianapolis and Baltimore also have other issues – the Colts the offensive line, the Ravens WR and their OL – which they could address with a more conventional pick. We’ll find out soon enough.

It could also be kind of interesting a little earlier at the 10-11 picks where there might not be a neat fit between what Buffalo and New Orleans are looking for respectively at that spots and the talent that will likely be available. The Bills’ biggest issues for example appear to be at WR and CB, but unless Ohio State corner Marshon Lattimore somehow miraculously falls to them at #10 they’ll have to reach if they want either one of the top receivers or second-tier corners. Meanwhile, New Orleans also desperately needs an upgrade on the corner, as well as in their pass rush, but they could be in the same situation as the Bills. That could open either or  both to a trade down , especially if there was a team like Houston that wanted to move up from the mid-twenties to get a QB.

Late Tuesday draft buzz

With the draft now less than 48 hours away, it is still relatively quiet around the NFL, but there is a little bit of buzz starting to heat up. In fact, about the only storyline around the league the past week or so was that Cleveland, which was reportedly split on whether to take either DE Myles Garrett or QB Mitch Trubisky with the first pick overall, was working to try and trade back up into the top 10 from the 12th pick to grab Trubisky if, as expected, they take Garrett at #1. The NFL Network added some fuel to that speculation with a report from NFL analyst Michael Silver which indicated that the Browns have had discussions about trading up from the 12th spot with at least three of the other 7 teams with top 8 picks. Silver speculated that the three teams were Tennessee (a #5), the Jets at #6 and Carolina at #8. First, we would have thought that the Browns would actually have had pretty serious talks with all 7 teams picking right after them; and while the Titans and Jets would make a lot of sense, it just seems to us that Carolina would be a little late to ensure getting Trubisky …

In fact, one other story that has resurfaced in the past few hours is that Carolina is actually much more interested in trying to trade up to the #2 spot with San Francisco. What isn’t as clear is exactly who the Panthers would be moving up to target. The original story several weeks ago was that the Panthers were interested in DE Solomon Thomas, but more recent reports suggest it might be for RB Leonard Fournette, although Thomas is still in the mix and would actually make more sense. Take your pick!! …

Figure that that there is a better than even chance that CB Gareon Conley, who is reportedly under investigation by Cleveland for an alleged sexual assault earlier this month, could suffer the same fate as former LSU G/T La’el Collins suffered two years ago when he was completely passed over at the 2015 draft after it was reported that he was a ‘person of interest’ in the murder of an ex-girlfriend. In the end nothing came of it for Collins, but it was too late for him to be drafted. Whether Conley falls all the way out of the draft remains to be seen, but its unlikely he’s going to be taken in the top half of the opening round as had been projected up until today. And that could be a bit problematic for teams picking in the middle of the first round who are looking for help at CB. Conley was being considered as the #2 CB in this draft behind Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and there is a drop-off into the 20s for the next tier of corners. There is a similar story for Florida DT Caleb Brantley. Brantley was a second day prospect until he was charged with assaulting a woman earlier this month and there is a growing buzz that no one should be totally surprised if he isn’t drafted at all … On the other hand, while most teams boards are pretty well set, one guy who appears to be maybe making a late first-round push is USC CB Adoree Jackson.

Bills don’t match Gillislee offer

Bills won’t match Pats Gillislee RFA offer sheet; get 5th round pick … Buffalo has announced they won’t match the restricted free agent offer sheet RB Mike Gillislee signed with New England. As compensation, the Bills will get New England’s fifth-round pick this year, the 163rd overall. With this deal, the selection order for this week’s draft, as well as as the picks by team file have been updated.

BROWNS Mock Draft 2017

This is ny BROWNS team mock which appeared online two weeks ago in the Orange & Brown Report. I have made no changes to what appeared at that website.

R1P1 MYLES GARRETT/ER TEXAS A&M 6’5/272 PPR#1

R1P12 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB UNC 6’2/222 PPR#10

R2P33 GAREON CONLEY/CB OHIO STATE 6’0/195 PPR#35

R2P52 DION DAWKINS/OG TEMPLE 6’4/315 PPR#50

R3P65 MARCUS MAYE/S FLORIDA 6’0/210 PPR#68

R4P108 PAT ELFLEIN/G/C OHIO STATE 6’3/303 PPR#111

R5P145 ELIJAH LEE/LB K-STATE 6’3/229 PPR#129

R5P175 JEREMIAH LEDBETTER/DE ARKANSAS 6’3/281 PPR#177

R5P181 HOWARD WILSON/CB HOUSTON 6’1/184 PPR#180

R5P185 MACK HOLLINS/WR/ST UNC 6’4/221 PPR#187

R6P188 COLE HIKUTINI/TE LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201

This Mock and some other BROWNS related thoughts can be found at the Orange & Brown Report, which covers BROWNS activity in great depth.

Pigskin

Trade options for Browns in search of Trubisky

Browns’ trade options in search of Trubisky … We mentioned in our report earlier in the week that if Cleveland does indeed intend to try and trade back up into next week’s top ten from the 12th pick in order to try and acquire North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky they may not have to look far to find a dance partner. In fact, just about every team picking 2nd thru the 7th pick in the opening round are on record as saying they are looking to trade down. Tim Bielik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has examined the likelihood of the Browns moving up to each of those spots. So far, though, there hasn’t been a lot of buzz indicating anything is imminent on that trade front, although there was an unconfirmed report earlier in the week that the Browns were talking with the Jets about flipping the 6th and 12th picks. That would be an interesting situation because the Jets also have major QB issues, but if they are indeed thinking of moving down with the top-rated prospect at the position still on the board it may be an indication that they are planning on giving young QBs Christian Hackenberg and Brice Petty another year to develop before committing a #1 pick to the position. In fact, looking at the board, the most logical trading partner for the Browns would be Tennessee at #5. Meanwhile, the other QB-trade situation to watch is Houston. Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien is believed to really like Patrick Mahomes, the Texas Tech gunslinger, and if he should make it out of the top 10 would Houston consider pulling the trigger. Stay tuned.

Pigskins looks at small s-chool prospects

Pigskin ranks small-school prospects … Over the years, the draft has been pretty much the preserve of big-time college football programs. Every year, though, there are breakthroughs from guys playing at lower levels. And this year will be no exception, although the odds are stacked against anyone from outside the ranks of FBS schools being selected in this year’s opening round. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has posted his final ranking of the top prospects from the so-called small schools including 4-5 players with second-day potential.

BUCCANEERS 2017 Team Mock

Once the RAIDERS move to Vegas, Florida will lead the NFL with 3 franchises. But only one can currently be considered a Play-Off caliber club and that is the BUCS in Tampa Bay. QB JAMEIS WINSTON has quickly become the cornerstone of the franchise after the BUCS wisely chose him No. 1 overall two years ago. It is critical that the team add some serious young talent to add depth to their current roster. So let’s help them with their 7 Picks coming up next week.

Round1 Pick19 HAASON REDDICK/LB TEMPLE 6’2/237 PPR#22
I don’t think anyone has risen up draft boards faster/further than REDDICK in this post-season. He was arguably the top performer in Mobile during Senior Bowl week. And then he flashed a ton of athleticism at the Combine. And he should absolutely fit in with the young, athletic LB the BUCS currently have in DAVID & ALEXANDER. He should start right away, allowing others on the depth chart to specialize in Special Teams play. REDDICK ran a 4.52 at the Combine and may play even faster than that. In his first full season as a LB he had 22 1/2 TFL while also dropping into coverage to record 1 INT & 4 PBU. He should only get better with more playing time as a LB. Mark him down to make their LB group the best young unit in the NFL.

Round2 Pick50 JOSH JONES/S N.C.STATE 6’1/220 PPR#57
The team is not desperate in the deep secondary but with the loss of Brad McDougald they could use another full-time S. JONES really emerged in his Junior season at State and represents a very athletic upgrade. He’s an aggressive tackler, with 109 during the 2016 season. He can find and get to the ball, as evidenced by his 11 PBU & 3 INT last season. He ran a CB-like 4.41/40 at the Combine. His biggest challenge as a Rookie may be to curb his enthusiasm and not overreact to what he thinks he sees. But most of his flaws are coachable and correctable. His upside and athleticism could well make him an elite pro S.

Round3 Pick84 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR TEXAS A&M 6’3/195 PPR#88
REYNOLDS plays even longer than his 6’3 frame would indicate. He can outreach most defenders for high throws and has enough speed to outrun many defenders once he gets the ball in the open field. His 4.54/40 at the Combine was a disappointment, but I trust what I saw at the Senior Bowl. He gets open and can go the distance once the ball is his. He averaged 17 yards per catch in 2016 and scored 12 TD. When a team has their Franchise QB it is crucial to provide him with a steady stream of targets. REYNOLDS combined with VFA DeSEAN JACKSON should seriously upgrade the target selection on game day for Jameis.

Round4 Pick125 JAMAAL WILLIAMS/RB BYU 6’/211. PPR#127
The BYU grad topped off a solid college career by running for 1375 yards as a senior for an average of 5.9 ypc, while scoring 12 TD. He’s a slashing runner who can turn on the jets when he hits the open field. He can also run over smaller DB. He also provides a solid target as a receiver having caught 60 balls in his career at BYU. His weak spot is his pass-pro blocking. Unless he shows significant improvement in that part of his arsenal he won’t see the field much after 2nd down. He also will need to improve his ball security. But given the DOUG MARTIN uncertainty he should provide another viable option for the BUCS running attack.

Round5 Pick 162 CHARLES WALKER/DT OKLAHOMA 6’2/310 PPR#165
The BUCS need some extra beef and athleticism along their DL and WALKER could solve both of those issues. But he’s the guy who left the Oklahoma team to go to a performance camp in December. If that situation has been properly vetted he could be a steal for some team this late. He’s Top 100 talent, but still seems a bit too selfish and perhaps lazy. He will require extra attention from the coaching staff and an attitude adjustment, but the pro level talent is there. If you don’t see him drafted next week then know that he flunked his interviews badly.

Round6 Pick204 COLE HIKUTINI/TE LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201
A JC Transfer who only started as a senior for Louisville. But he showed enough athleticism and receiving acumen to be invited to the Senior Bowl. A knee injury caused him to miss that venue, as well as receive a medical exemption at the Combine. But he accounted for 50 catches and 8 TD before his injury. He’s a long guy, who will work in the middle of the field when needed. He catches well, in part because of a 10″ hand spread. Wins a lot of jump balls. Needs to run tighter patterns and block better, but appears to have upside. Good value in Round 6.

Round7 Pick237 JAYON BROWN/LB UCLA 6’/231 PPR#248
Many folks have him rated a lot higher than I do, but I am concerned about his size. He played inside in college and he’s just not big enough for that at the pro level, IMO. But he did rack up 120 T, including 7 TFL, as well as dropping into coverage to produce 6 PBU and 3 INT in his senior season. Those are some very nice combo numbers. He ran a 4.71/40 at the Combine. He should be an immediate hit on Special Teams, while they try to slot him into their D. The BUCS like smaller, active LB do don’t count him out in the long run. Could be a big value Pick who pays a lot in a season or two, if he responds to coaching. Long term, sub-packages and Special Teams could make a solid pro career.

That runs us out of Picks BUCS fans. My only big regret is not finding an OT of value in the middle rounds to try to develop. The team may have to try to sign another VFA after the Draft to fill a depth need there, as well as sign an URFA OT or two as well. Many folks would agree with the teams ongoing slogan that “It’s a BUCS life!” with WINSTON at the helm.

Pigskin

Are Pats trades back on ???

Throughout much of the early pre-draft process the only buzz out there were rumors about potential trades involving New England QB Jimmy Garoppolo and CB Malcolm Butler. Cleveland was reportedly interested in acquiring Garoppolo and were believed to be considering parting with the 12th pick in this year’s draft as part of the compensation, but weren’t willing to include the #1 pick overall. Meanwhile, Butler, a restricted free agent, met with New Orleans, but the Saints weren’t willing to offer him a contract because they’d have to give the Patriots their top pick in this month’s draft, the 11th overall, rather than the 32nd pick which the Saints acquired from the Patriots earlier this year for WB Brandin Cooks. Those deals, though, kind of slipped to the backburner several weeks ago, but it appears that they may be back on the table.

New England director of player personnel Nick Caserio, for example, left the door open to a possible trade when asked about Garoppolo’s status at a pre-draft presser. According to Caserio, “anything that we do, we’re always going to do what we think is in the best interest of our football team, and that’s how we approach it. That’s not going to change. Whatever you think is best for our team for 2017, for that season, then that’s what we’ll do. However that manifests itself, not exactly sure, but that’s where the focus is, is trying to put together the best team possible for the 2017 season. However that comes about, then we’ll take it as it comes.” That’s word salad for anything is possible. Meanwhile, a possible trade for Butler came closer to fruition after he signed his first-round tender earlier today. Now that he is back on the Patriots roster they can discuss trade possibilities with other teams that they could not do as long as he was a RFA. Stay tuned.

Foster shoulder surgery story

Conflicting story on state of Foster shoulder surgery … There are conflicting stories on the condition of Alabama MLB Reuben Foster’s surgically repaired shoulder. ESPN had a report by Shane Alexander that Foster had not been given a clean bill of health at the medical re-checks conducted in Indianapolis last week for injured players and that it was possible that he would have to undergo a second surgery on his shoulder. It does not appear as if any other outlets have carried a similar report and Foster’s agent is disputing the claim. In fact, Foster has been something of a polarizing prospect this year. He was one of the most productive defensive players in the country in college football, but hasn’t been able to work out through the pre-draft process because of the shoulder. Then there was the combine where he weighed in at 230 pounds, about ten pounds less than teams were expecting and then was sent home from Indianapolis after getting into a spat with hospital staff at his original medical tests. That had analysts speculating that he might slide at next week’s draft, but of Foster’s 7 known pre-draft visits, 6 were with teams with picks in the top half of the opening round including the Jets and Baltimore, who pick 6th and 16th respectively, both of whom will have him in for visits this week. Needless to say we’ll find out for sure in ten days or so when the opening round of the 2017 draft gets underway on the 27th.

Another big week in Indy

Another big week in Indy … It’s all done behind closed doors, but the key activity in the draft process this week are the medical re-tests of injured players in Indianapolis. Every year, players with medical issues are invited back to the combine site in April to see where their conditions stand in the 2-3 weeks before the draft. And this year these tests are really important because so many top prospects come with injury concerns including Alabama LB Reuben Foster (shoulder), Ohio State safety Malik Hooker (hip), Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk (hip), WRs John Ross (knees, shoulder) of Washington and Western Michigan’s Corey Davis (ankle), and LBs Takk McKinley (shoulder) of UCLA and Florida’s Jarrad Davis (ankle).

Giants post

Reading the Big Blue tea leaves … With the 23rd pick in this month’s draft, the New York Giants could go in a bunch of directions with their early round picks. GBN Associate Editor Pigskin Paul Guillemette has some thoughts on where they might go in his latest team mock. At the same time, GBN Editor Colin Lindsay explores the pseudo-myth of the Giants taking the best player available and what it may (or may not) mean for the 2017 draft in the latest edition of the Giants Report.

Palace intrigue starts to percolate!

For weeks now we have been lamenting the fact that there just wasn’t any buzz at all surrounding the 2017 draft. However, with 15 days to go, things may be starting to percolate, although one always has to bear in mind that this is the season of smoke and mirrors. And the growing buzz starts in Cleveland where ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Browns, who hold the #1 pick overall at this month’s draft, are ‘split’ on whether to select Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett or North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky. It’s not totally clear what is going there, but there has been speculation that the Browns would actually like to get both guys: Garrett is the top overall prospect with the potential to be a real impact player at the next level, while Trubisky has emerged as the clear front runner at QB – and hails from the Cleveland area to boot. And of course the Browns are desperate to finally find an elite QB who can lead them out of the proverbial football wilderness. In fact, at one point earlier in the process, there was some speculation that the Browns might try and double up at the top of the board by trying to acquire the 2nd pick from San Francisco with a package that would obviously include the 12th pick, although that hasn’t been the Browns MO in recent years in which they have stockpiled extra picks like packrats. At the same time, though, there is also some speculation that the Browns may be floating the possibility of taking Trubisky to try and generate some trade interest in the #1 pick; certainly, the Browns have not been shy about trading down under their new regime the past couple of years, although at some point one has to start to cash in those chips.

Certainly, one element adding to the intrigue surrounding the upcoming draft is the sense that this year’s top QBs are growing on people around the league. As noted, Trubisky has emerged as the top rated passer is this year’s draft class with top 5 potential, while it also appears that one or both of Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson have also convinced a lot of teams they have legit top 10 potential. At the same time, along with the Browns, there are a bunch of teams with early picks looking at QBs including the 49ers at #2, the Jets at #6, the Chargers at #7, the Bills at #10, the Saints at #11, and Cardinals at #13. Buffalo, for example, had a full contingent, including team owner Terry Pegula, at Texas Tech this week for a private work out with Mahomes, while Arizona reportedly wined and dined Trubisky this week during a pre-draft visit. Bottom line right now is that there are more teams chasing QBs than the number of QBs available which suggests that the former may have to move to get one of the latter if that is indeed there goal. Stay tuned!

GIANTS MOCK DRAFT 2017

With deference to our Editor, let’s start off my Team Mocks with his favorite team the G-Men in NYC. I will expect a critique and alternate picks from him, in short order, after this is published. But for now…

Round1,Pick23 HAASAN REDDICK/LB/TEMPLE 6’2/237 PPR#22
Once upon a time the GIANTS D was ruled by perennial Pro Bowl LB like L.T., HARRY CARSON, VAN PELT, HUFF, etc. In recent years the LB talent has been mediocre, at best. REDDICK instantly becomes the teams top LB.

Round2,Pick55 JAKE BUTT/TE/MICHIGAN 6’6/246 PPR#60
Assuming that BUTT has cleared on medical tests regarding his knee, he could be an instant starter and remind GIANTS fans of a guy named BAVARO who excelled in the Big Apple once upon a time.

Round3Pick87 JERMAINE ELUEMUNOR/OL/TEXAS A&M 6’3/233 PPR#102
This big guy has been rising up Draft boards since the Combine. His arms might be a tad short out at OT, but he could dominate inside at OG. He also has dominant power and good feet. He’s a bit raw, but could be really good, soon, if coached up properly. They should try him out at OT first.

Round4Pick140 ELIJAH HOOD/RB/UNC 6’0/232 PPR#139
A big, power back with some burst to balance out their fairly “small” RB group.

Round5Pick167 CHARLES WALKER/DT/OKLAHOMA 6’2/310 PPR#165
Versatile, athletic DL who could help provide some quality depth in their DL rotation.

Round6Pick207 COLE HIKUTINI/TE/LOUISVILLE 6’4/247 PPR#201
Since they are building their TE position let’s give them another fairly athletic TE.

Round7Pick241 NATE GERRY/SS/NEBRASKA 6’2/214 PPR#245
A big, physical S who should help a lot on special Teams.

Sorry GIANTS fans you only have 7 Picks this year.

Pigskin

Projection updated

New 3-round projection … We weren’t planning on posting any new mock drafts until perhaps just before the draft, but with the lack of any kind of buzz surrounding the upcoming draft, we thought we’d throw one out there just to spice things up a little. We only do so with the proviso that people remember – and genuinely take to heart – what we posted back in mid-March about what mock drafts can do and what they don’t do. Bottom line is that no mock drafts, even the very best ones, are going to tell you with any greater accuracy than that of the proverbial blind squirrel who finds an acorn every once in a while, is what specific player a specific team is going to take at any particular spot in the draft. Yet that is exactly how most people read them; indeed, we get the sense that the vast majority of mock readers treat them almost like a mini-draft in themselves. What a good mock draft can do, though, is give readers some idea what players are likely to be available at the different spots in the various rounds. That said, here is the updated GBN 3-round round mock.

Who’s hot; who’s not

We have noted that the run-up to this year’s draft has been unusually quiet; however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t necessarily any movement just beneath the surface. It’s hard not to sense, for example, that Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes continues to gain momentum. Indeed, there’s a palpable sense around the league that Mahomes is now the second rayed QB behind North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and that the gap between the two has closed significantly. For the record, Mahomes was in Cleveland on Friday visiting with the Browns, who actually had worked him out privately earlier this month. Needless to say, Mahomes won’t be the Browns’ conversation about the #1 pick, but he could very well be in the mix at #12. In fact, there is a growing sense that if Cleveland wants Mahomes with their second pick, they may have to move up into the top ten. Meanwhile, there is also the sense around the league that QBs Deshaun Watson of Clemson’s and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer are no longer first-round locks. And Kizer’s former Irish head coach Brian Kelly didn’t do him any favors when he suggested that maybe Kizer would have been better off staying in school for another.

The other hot skill-position guy these days appears to be Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey who has some people around the league talking top ten. Indeed, while it’s hardly definitive, McCaffrey reportedly visited Carolina, which has the 8th pick overall, this week. Of course, the Panthers have already either worked out and/or visited with this year’s other top backs including LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, but McCaffrey, who is a terrific receiver and return guy, brings some elements of his game which few other backs possess. Plus, of all this year’s back, McCaffrey may be the cleanest in that he is a character player without any major off-field concerns, while he has also stayed relatively healthy throughout his career to date.

Meanwhile, no one in the NFL will be totally shocked if either or both Fournette or Cook go a later than expected when the draft finally convenes in just under three weeks. Fournette has that lingering ankle issue that was described as potentially ‘chronic’ during the season, while Cook just hasn’t looked all that quick or explosive in pre-draft workouts, although NFL teams certainly see it on tape. On the other hand, no one will be shocked if both still go in the top ten, but it is a fluid situation that will be interesting to watch on the 27th.

Speaking of fluid situations, one also gets the sense that teams around the NFL are still struggling to slot the top WRs onto their final draft boards as each of Corey Davis of Western Michigan, Washington’s John Ross and Clemson’s Mike Williams all have red flags of sorts. Davis, for example, has not been able to work out at all this spring because of a lingering ankle problem so nobody has a read on his pure footspeed. Then there is the fact that while Davis was uncoverable at times this fall, he didn’t face Power 5 corners every week. Meanwhile, Williams did not run as well as hoped in pre-draft testing. No such problem, of course, for Ross who broke the combine record for the 40 with a blazing time of 4.22, but he’s had two ACLs in the past and currently is sidelined after undergoing shoulder surgery so there are real questions about his durability. Again, no one should be totally shocked if any, or all, of the top WRs last a little bit longer than projected in most mocks.

On the other side of the ball, maybe the hottest player these days is Florida LB Jarrad Davis. He had been considered to be a solid early second round candidate throughout most of the pre-draft process, but his stock has spiked since he turned in a very athletic performance at the Gators’ pro day where he ran under 4.6 seconds in the 40 and had a 38-inch-plus vertical leap. Indeed, maybe the only keeping davis from being a first-round lock at this time are durability concerns as he has missed time in the past with injuries including 4 games this year with an ankle issue that also kept him out of the combine.

There is also a bit of a late-first round buzz growing around Ohio DE Tarell Bashem, the MAC defensive player of the year after he posted 11.5 sacks last fall. Bashem is a rangy 270-pounder with 34-inch-plus arms who ran under 4.7 second in the 40 at the combine with a very quick 1.61 second 10-yard split, the third fastest among defensive linemen in Indianapolis. Along with the athleticism, Bashem also boasts a nice array of pass rush moves; he uses his hands well and can dip his shoulder and turn the corner, plus has that ability to spin, plant and change direction. The word is that Bashem is high on the radar of teams like Atlanta and New Orleans picking late in this year’s opening round.

One other edge-rusher people don’t want to sleep on is Youngstown State DE Derek Rivers. He may be a little undersized at just 248 pounds to fit as a 4-3 DE at the next level, but he has a quick get off and excellent closing speed and should be attractive to 3-4 teams looking for an edge-rushing OLB in the latter part of the second round. Meanwhile, other players who no onbe should be shocked at it the end up in this year’s opening round include Temple G/T Dion Dawkins, Washington FS Budda Baker and Ohio State RB/WR Curtis Samuel.

Texas RB Foreman flies at pro day

‘Horns RB Foreman flies at UT pro day … The focus of today’s pro day schedule was supposed to be on the state of Florida where Florida State and Florida had workouts scheduled. In fact, there were some notable performances at the two Florida schools, but in the end the story of the day may have been Texas RB D’Onta Foreman. Foreman led the nation in rushing yards per game – in fact by almost 30 yards per game – in 2016, but wasn’t getting much traction from pro scouts because of concerns about his long speed. Foreman put those concerns to rest, though, today with a strong performance at the Longhorns pro day. Read more

More Clemson coverage

More Clemson pro day notes … Still trying to get an accurate 40 time for big-time Clemson WR Mike Williams from today’s pro day. As noted earlier, the school announced a time of 4.49 for Williams, who did not run at the combine, while there were press later press reports that had Williams running anywhere from 4.53 to 4.58. For the record, 4.55 was what scouts were expecting from Williams, one of the top 2-3 rated WR prospects in this year’s draft. By way of comparison, three Clemson players ran at both the combine and today’s pro day; in all three cases their times were faster today by 0.05 seconds, 0.08 seconds and a full 1.2 seconds or an average of roughly 0.08 seconds. At the same time, Williams’ time today was the same as that for fellow Clemson WR Artavis Scott who clocked a 4.61 in Indianapolis. So it is probably a safe bet to figure that Williams’ actual time is somewhere in the 4.57-4.60 range. Again, that’s not bad for a receiver who is almost 6-4 and 218 pounds, but it may not be quite top 10-15 type time either. Among other for Clemson players who ran today after not running at the combine, TE Jordan Leggett timed in the high 4.7 range, while rugged MLB Ben Boulware likely ran in the high 4.8 territory. Bottom line is that neither was a particularly good clocking. We also noted in the earlier report that Chicago, which has the 3rd pick overall this year, had a full contingent at the Clemson pro day including G.M. Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox. They were one of four teams that had both their G.M. and head coach there including Detroit and Tennessee, and Pittsburgh, although we should point out that Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin go to just about every major pro day, as well as a whole bunch of less major ones. One team that apparently didn’t send any top execs to Clemson was Cleveland, although the Browns do intend to attend a private workout by Watson; the Browns will also reportedly have Watson in on for one of their 30 pre-draft visits.

Mocks

You want mocks! We got mocks!! … Actually we have seriously considered making the GBN a ‘mock free’ draft zone! Not that they are not fun to do. And not that they can provide a certain level on information. However, what we sense is that the vast majority of fans, and even most media, tend to completely misinterpret the value of mock drafts, to the point that they become almost totally irrelevant and just this side of useless. With that proviso, we do have a couple of updated 2017 projects, but you have to go here first: next!

Mock drafts: What are they good for??

The simple answer is not much! They are fun to do! And what a good projection can do is provide some insight into what players are going to be available at different points in the draft. What no mock draft, even the very best ones, is going to tell you with any greater accuracy than that proverbial blind squirrel who finds a nut every once in a while is what specific player a specific team is going to take at a particular spot in the draft.

Yet that is exactly how people read them. In fact, we sometimes wonder if the vast majority of mock watchers actually treat them literally as mini-drafts on their own. They come across a mock draft and scroll down to their team and say: “Gee, Mel Kiper, or Mike Mayock or Grumpy Lindsay thinks that the Buckeroos are going to take a “fill-in-the-blank” with their ‘X-round” pick this year. And then comment ‘love that pick’ when it fits what they personally hope their team will do or wonder WTF we were they smoking when we made that pick when it doesn’t.

Fact is that neither Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock nor Grumpy Lindsay, nor any other draft analyst has any idea who that particular team is actually going to take. However, based on their knowledge of the talent available, the Kipers, Mayocks and Lindsays of the world can make a reasonable guess based on the players that are likely to be available at any particular point in the draft what a particular might do based on its needs and past draft tendencies.

Fact is that whenever we do a mock draft here, and for just about every pick, we’ll have a list of 2-3, and sometimes more players, that one can make a pretty good case that that particular team could take at that particular point. In fact, one could finish a mock and then come back, change just a few picks and the second version would look quite different than the first. And so on. What tends not to change all that much, however, is the general area that players come off the board. In that sense, the real value of a good mock is to give readers a sense of what players are likely to be available at different points in the draft.

The final thing we note that mocks are in reality projections and all projections are based on a certain set of assumptions. Change the assumptions and the projection will likely change. In this year’s draft, for example, one could do a projection starting with the idea that will be an early run on QBs. One could also do one in which the QBs didn’t go all that early. And so on. Although in the end, again, the vast majority of players are still going to go within several picks whatever the underlying assumption.

All that said, in order to get to the two updated GBN mock drafts please click the appropriate link: I have read the above and now understand how to read a mock.

 

Mock links

GBN Three-round Projection

Larry Parker March Mock

Mixon, Allen visits scheduled

Guess who’s coming to dinner … While the pro day workouts are the focus of the pre-draft process these days, teams are also starting to arrange on-site visits of prospects they would like to bring to their facilities. For the record, every team is allowed to bring in up to 30 out-of-town prospects for interviews and follow-up medical tests, while on-field activities are not allowed. And while one shouldn’t read too much into these visits, they can provide some intel. For example, if a player is visiting with teams picking around the same spot in the opening round, then there is a pretty good chance that that is around where that player is graded. In that context, it is interesting to note that Alabama DE Jonathan Allen has reportedly scheduled meetings in Chicago and Jacksonville. There were a few questions around the league that Allen could slip a little after he ran a disappointing 5-flat 40 at the combine. However, the fact that the Bears and Jaguars have the 3rd and 4th picks respectively suggests that if Allen does slip it may not be all that far. Meanwhile, enigmatic Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon reportedly has set up a visit with Cincinnati. Mixon is arguably one of the best backs in the 2017 draft class, but his draft status has been clouded by an off-field incident in 2014 when he assaulted a female. The Bengals aren’t going to take Mixon with their #1 pick – they select 9th – but could be tempted in a later round.

There is no way a 6-4, 224-pound safety should run under 4.5 but UConn’s Obi Melifonwu is a different dude and may just be having the best combine of any one this year. FTR Melifonwu who could actually get some looks as a CB ran a 4.46.