With less than three weeks to go until the 2017 NFL Draft, you can’t go more than two or three clicks on the internet without stumbling onto a mock draft.
That also means that it’s time for APC’s contributors to fire up the draft projection parts of our brains and put our heads together for the official APC mock draft. Seven contributors are pitching in for this year’s mock, each of whom was assigned either four or five teams. We also took care not to assign more than one team from the same division to any one writer.
Taking the reins for Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers will be Jason B. Hirschhorn, but you’ll have to wait a few days for his pick. We’ll run down five picks per day in round one, as we lead up to the Packers’ pick on Friday.
Here are picks one through five, with explanations for the reasoning behind each pick.
1.1 - Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M (J.E. Barnett)
Browns spent much of their offseason building their offense back up. Additions of J.C. Tretter, Kevin Zeitler and Kenny Britt while re-signing Joel Bitonio mean the Browns look more like a stable offensive team. There is no serious threat at Quarterback, but there are two good Running Backs and a really solid Offensive Line. That means the Browns turn to Defense. Luckily the highest rated players in this draft are generally defensive players. Myles Garrett is a strong, fast edge player who can get to the Quarterback. He will be the cornerstone of this defensive rebuild. Measurables and production are both amazing.
1.2 - San Francisco 49ers
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford (Mike Vieth)
With the second pick in the draft, the 49ers go with Stanford DL Solomon Thomas. While the 49ers have a need at quarterback, there isn’t one that will make an impact at the second overall pick. Thomas is a safe pick here and the best defensive player in the draft behind Garrett. Thomas is extremely versatile and has been mostly a defensive end but could cause problems playing the 3-technique at the NFL level. This moves bolsters the defense and give the 49ers a nice young, talented group up front that could be very disruptive for new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.
1.3 - Chicago Bears
DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson (Owen Riese)
Quite simply, Watson is a winner, and that’s something the Bears haven’t done consistently in quite some time. Watson has played his best football against the closest thing he’s seen to NFL level competition, and his leadership and stability will be a calming influence for the Bears, who need a restart at the quarterback position. Watson
doesn’t have the sexy size like DeShone Kizer, or the huge arm like Patrick Mahomes, but he’s got the highest floor of the rookie quarterbacks in this class, and honestly, even if he only becomes an above average starting QB, rather than a superstar like you expect quarterbacks picked this high to be, it’s a win for the Bears.
1.4 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (Mike)
With the fourth pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars select LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Jacksonville spent some money revamping their defense in free agency and in the draft; they decide to give Blake Bortles some help. Taking a running back this high might be a gamble but Fournette gives the Jags a threat from the backfield that they haven’t had since Maurice Jones-Drew and will take a lot of pressure off Bortles. He’s the most complete running back in this class and will be a rookie of the year candidate when the all is said and done.
1.5 - Tennessee Titans (from Rams)
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State (Tex Western)
Though young - just a redshirt sophomore - and only having one year of significant college football experience, Lattimore has surged to the top of the class of defensive backs this season thanks to excellent tape in 2016 and a terrific Combine workout. Lattimore ran a 4.31 40-yard dash, showing that he has the elite speed to stay with the fastest receivers in the NFL, and he both played tough, physical coverage and had a nose for the football, recording four interceptions. Although the Titans just signed Logan Ryan to a big contract, he is arguably best in the slot. A tandem of Lattimore and Jason McCourty should lock down the boundary well while Ryan roams inside.