The 2017 NFL Draft is nearly upon us and the buzz is palpable across the pro football landscape.
With a little under two weeks to go the big boards are set, but exactly where everyone ends up remains anyone's guess.
Who trades up? Who moves back to snaffle some mid-round sleepers? Who is going to take the chance and take the plunge into one of the most up and down quarterback classes in years?
Well we don't know, but we can have as educated a guess and, after much deliberation, here is our second Independent Sport mock draft:
Pick 1: Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett DL (Texas A&M)
The Browns shouldn’t overthink it – Garrett is the best player in the class and they simply cannot not take him. End of.
Pick 2: San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas DL (Stanford)
The Niners would love to get out of here but it’s hard to see anyone trading up at this point. Thomas has tremendous upside and fills a need.
Pick 3: Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams S (LSU)
Adams is a locker room leader with outstanding intangibles. The Bears need a playmaker on the back end and he provides it.
Pick 4: Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette RB (LSU)
The best way to help a struggling quarterback? A running back. Fournette is a rare talent and would be an instant upgrade to help take some pressure off Blake Bortles under centre.
Pick 5: Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams WR (Clemson)
Tennessee need to give Marcus Mariota some weapons on the outside and the big and physical Williams would be the true #1 they are looking for.
Pick 6: New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore CB (Ohio State)
The Jets have regrets from picking corners high in the past but Lattimore is the best in the class and would fill a huge hole.
Pick 7: San Diego Chargers – Malik Hooker S (Ohio State)
The Chargers missed Eric Weddle badly last season. Hooker is his heir apparent and a no brainer here.
Pick 8: Carolina Panthers – Jonathan Allen DL (Alabama)
The Panthers could move around the board from here but in this scenario add a versatile pass rusher who would join an already deep group.
Pick 9: Cincinnati Bengals – Reuben Foster LB (Alabama)
The best linebacker in the class would join Vontaze Burfict in one of the most fearsome and versatile combos in the league.
Pick 10: Buffalo Bills – Deshaun Watson QB (Clemson)
They shouldn’t do it, but there’s just too much noise about Buffalo pulling the trigger on another QB high in the first round. Watson is a winner and has as high a floor as any of this year’s passers.
Pick 11: New Orleans Saints – Gareon Conley CB (Ohio State)
The Saints are desperate for defensive help and Conley could grow into the best cornerback in the class.
Pick 12: Cleveland Browns – OJ Howard TE (Alabama)
Cleveland need as many good players as they can get and Howard may well be the safest pick in the whole draft. As close to a home run selection as you are likely to get.
Pick 13: Arizona Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes QB (Texas Tech)
Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger and Arizona must begin to look for their QB of the future. Mahomes polarizes opinion but, with the right coaching, could be a real difference maker at the next level.
Pick 14: Philadelphia Eagles – Christian McCaffrey RB (Stanford)
This would represent a steal for the Eagles if McCaffrey falls this far. An electric playmaker in space the Stanford man could learn the ropes from the player he’s perhaps most simlar to in the pros, Darren Sproles.
Pick 15: Indianapolis Colts – Dalvin Cook RB (Florida State)
Andrew Luck needs help and after new GM Chris Ballard addressed the defence in Free Agency he gets a new puzzle piece to play with on offense. Cook has his detractors but there’s enough on tape to suggest he’s good enough for this level of draft capital.
Pick 16: Baltimore Colts – Corey Davis WR (Western Michigan)
With Steve Smith gone Baltimore need a new #1 and Davis could well be it with the ideal blend of speed, size and strength teams look for in their wideouts.
Pick 17: Washington Redskins – Haason Reddick LB (Temple)
The Redskins have a big need at linebacker and Reddick, perhaps the fastest riser in this year’s draft process, would be the perfect player to fill it.
Pick 18: Tennessee Titans – Marlon Humphrey CB (Alabama)
The Titans addressed offense at five so here they could defence and replace the outgoing Jason McCourty with the tall rangy corner from Alabama.
Pick 19: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Joe Mixon RB (Oklahoma)
Mixon is the draft’s most divisive prospect but, like it or not, someone is going to pick him and the Bucs may well suck it up and do it here for fear of missing him later on. I wouldn't do it and it wouldn’t be a popular one in the room but, from a purely on-field standpoint, would be a big upgrade for the Bucs at a position of real uncertainty.
Pick 20: Denver Broncos – Forrest Lamp OL (Western Kentucky)
Denver need O-line help in a big way and Lamp, a tackle in college, would be a shrewd addition inside at guard.
Pick 21: Detroit Lions – Taco Charlton DL (Michigan)
Ziggy Ansah needs a running mate and the Michigan alum doesn’t leave the state to help add some size and speed off the edge.
Pick 22: Miami Dolphins – Jarrad Davis LB (Florida)
Despite inking Kiko Alonso to a new deal the Dolphins need to improve at linebacker and the uber-athletic Davis would do that.
Pick 23: New York Giants – David Njoku TE (Miami)
There are a number of ways the Giants could go here but they may plump for the super-talented Njoku to join the plethora of pass-catching talent already in place.
Pick 24: Oakland Raiders – Derek Barnett DL (Tennessee)
Barnett deserves to be a much higher pick and the Raiders would be delighted to scoop him up in this scenario. The Tennessee standout would join reigning DPOY Khalil Mack in one of the best one-two punches around.
Pick 25: Houston Texans – Mitchell Trubisky QB (North Carolina)
After watching Tony Romo ride off into the sunset the Texans have no other way to go if they want to avoid the Tom Savage experience for another year. Trubisky’s lack of starts are a worry but his upside could persuade Rick Smith to take the plunge.
Pick 26: Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Ramczyk OL (Wisconsin)
One day Seattle will help Russell Wilson and stop him getting smacked around. That day could come in the first round this year with a number of lineman likely to be there at 26. Don’t be surprised to see them trade out of here either.
Pick 27: Kansas City Chiefs – Charles Harris DL (Missouri)
KC could go QB here but with the impressive Harris on the board look instead to set up their pass rushing future behind Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, neither of whom are in their first youth.
Pick 28: Dallas Cowboys – Tre’Davious White CB (LSU)
The Cowboys need a cornerback. So where better to go for one than DB U. White offers an extremely safe floor and would start day one in big D.
Pick 29: Green Bay Packers – Chidobe Awuzie CB (Colorado)
The Packers are likely to go secondary here too and may fancy Awuzie who offers a similar skillset to Micah Hyde who departed in Free Agency.
Pick 30: Pittsburgh Steelers – John Ross WR (Washington)
If Ross falls this far Pittsburgh will be as fast up to the podium as the Washington flyer was at the Combine. Adding him to Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Eli Rogers would give the Steelers the best receiving corps in the league.
Pick 31: Atlanta Falcons – Cam Robinson OL (Alabama)
The Falcons could go offense, defense or not pick at all here but some more help up front protecting Matt Ryan wouldn’t go amiss. Robinson could go much higher and would be great value this late in the first.
Pick 32: New Orleans Saints – Deshone Kizer QB (Notre Dame)
The Saints probably should go defence again with their second pick of the first round but the opportunity to draft what could be Drew Brees’ successor may prove too enticing to pass up. Kizer is another up and down prospect, but one with traits that could intrigue coach Sean Payton. Don’t rule out a trade down here either.
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