Less than 24 hours in, national media outlets and local Cleveland Browns fans alike have condemned the Cleveland Browns draft strategy as an abject failure. All in response to the Browns decision to trade back from 12 with the Texans.
The result of the trade netted Houston their quarterback after promptly snagging Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. The Browns secured pick 25, which turned into Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers, and a future first rounder.
Photo: Brandon Wade, AP
Now I can understand the national media’s annual witch hunt. If they aren’t clubbing Cleveland over the head, who else would they direct that pent-up aggression at? But Cleveland fans are better than this.
Now I understand the arguments, the anger, and some of it is completely justified. “It’s been years”. “You need players not picks”. “What good are picks if you can’t identify talent”. “At this rate, me and everyone I know will be dead by the time we win anything” etc, etc.
But let’s take a step back here and talk about why this is all going to work out in the long run.
“This front office can’t identify talent”
Really? We’re one year in. I understand several “regimes” have floated through Cleveland the last few years. That said, Sashi Brown and Co. have only had their finger on the trigger for one complete draft thus far. That same draft where they amassed an insane amount of capital for the future.
Granted, the jury’s still out on Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah and Cody Kessler. Writing off an entire draft class, based on one rookie season with little talent around them is premature at best.
Executive Vice President of Football Operations Sashi Brown addresses the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
How are we doing so far in 2017? Consensus top overall player in the draft. Fills a need.
Versatile safety, who can play multiple positions, on a team that needs athletes at multiple positions. Fills a need.
Sashi utilizing that “future capital” to move up and acquire the second ranked tight end in the draft. Fills a need.
Obviously, as with any pick, it remains to be seen how these decisions play out. What you absolutely can’t say is the Browns didn’t acquire starting caliber talent in round one.
“Players not picks”
“Picks are just a promise of something in the future, not guarantees.” If you’re searching for guarantees in the National Football League, keep searching. Guess what a good strategy is to hedge against one player being a bust, having another player.
“This team has holes everywhere.” Agreed, how would you like to fill those holes? I understand the Hue Jackson’s award winning smile helped the Browns net Jamie Collins, but free agents aren’t exactly breaking down the door to come to Cleveland. I know you want to fill all the holes now, or a decade ago, but you can’t have that.
Embrace the realization that the only way to plug this many holes is with a lot of picks. Collecting a lot of picks takes a lot of time. Sashi has done a fantastic job of amassing a lot of picks in a “relatively” short period.
I know it’s relative for us because we’ve been waiting near two decades for this, but we must hold on. Pink Floyd once said “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding, and you can’t have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat.” In this terrible analogy, getting picks is the meat, and getting wins is the pudding.
“You need a quarterback to win”
I’m so sick of this *insert expletive here*
Here you go, here are some quarterbacks…
2016 Robert Griffin III (5) / Josh McCown (3) / Cody Kessler (8)
2015 Josh McCown (8) / Johnny Manziel (6) / Austin Davis (2)
2014 Brian Hoyer (13) / Johnny Manziel (2) / Connor Shaw (1)
2013 Jason Campbell (8) / Brandon Weeden (5) / Brian Hoyer (3)
Of the quarterbacks drafted in round one this year, how many are franchise guys? Of course, no one knows. What we do know is that in nearly every draft one to four quarterbacks are taken in the first round.
What we also know is that a small percentage of those end up being franchise guys. Of those franchise guys, a small percentage of them end up being in the top tier or even top 15.
The point here is that all teams, not just the Browns, are constantly reaching for quarterbacks. The mantra around the league is do what it takes to get your guy. Given the high failure rate for the position, if a team doesn’t feel like the guy is there, how can you fault them for not going that route.
Ultimately, do you need a quarterback to win? Yes. Should the Browns waste draft picks, on players they evaluate as mid-tier, during years they aren’t going to compete? No.
This is not a re-tool or re-load, it’s a re-build. It’s a completely unfair ask of Browns fans at this point but additional patience is required here. Even if you’re not sold on the names in the front office, at least there’s a strategy in place. It’s clear, it’s long term, and if they stick with it we may just see some winning football a few years down the line.
Stay strong fellow Browns fans!
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Josh!
Hue Jackson loves Cody Kessler, and now RGIII is in the mix to start for the Browns. It would be a mistake to take a quarterback here, but I wouldn’t put it past Cleveland to make that mistake. If Jackson is able to have a say in who is drafted, Garrett will be the pick. Garrett is a freak athlete, who is a great pass rusher, but is also good at stopping the run. He is the best player in the draft class and can help the Browns get a defense to help their young offense.
2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
No quarterbacks are worthy of being taken in the first round, but their values always rise on draft day. Kizer has all of the physical tools to be a franchise quarterback with a strong arm and good build. He misses some easy throws that he should make, which means accuracy is an issue. The 49ers need a quarterback to replace Collin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, as neither have been good this season.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The Jaguars’ defensive line has been terrible. A lot of people thought that Jacksonville would be a surprise team this season, but you can’t win games if you aren’t good in the trenches. Allen is a good pass rusher and play-maker for the Alabama defense, as he has scored touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.
4. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
Matt Barkley has been playing well, but the Bears will still want to go in a new direction. Trubisky only has one season of college football experience under his belt, but he has played well for the Tar Heels. His main asset is protecting the football, with only four interceptions thrown on the year, two thrown during a hurricane and two against rival Duke.
5. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Humphrey is only a sophomore, but has proven he is a reliable shut-down corner. He only has two interceptions on the season, which is a result of other teams not testing him too often. His length will be something that NFL scouts will like. The Jets need to upgrade their secondary, as they are getting torched far too often.
The Titans have a lot of needs, but luckily have two first round picks to fill those. Their linebacker core hasn’t gotten the job done this season. While inside linebackers don’t typically go this high, Foster might be the best linebacker that Alabama has produced under Nick Saban.
7. Carolina Panthers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Secondaries that need upgrading is a problem that a lot of teams have. The Panthers could use a corner or a safety here. Adams can cover tight ends and play the run well, making him the most desirable safety in this draft class.
Peppers is a highly sought after player due to his versatility on defense. He was an elite defensive back, before moving to linebacker this season. His ball skills are his only true weakness, as he doesn’t have many passes defended and only one interception in his career. The Bengals have been terrible on defense all season and could use a versatile player like Peppers.
9. New Orleans Saints- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
New Orleans’ defense isn’t playing as badly as they did to start the season, but they still aren’t an acceptable NFL defense. Jalen Tabor was supposed to be the first corner taken out of Florida, but Wilson has quietly had a great season across the field from him.
10. Cleveland Browns (via PHI)- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette will likely not drop this far, but running backs aren’t usually taken in the top ten, so maybe the Browns can get lucky for once. Cleveland already got their pass rusher in Garrett and now can take Fournette to help out Kessler and the rest of the Browns’ offense. Fournette has all the tools to be an elite NFL running back.
11. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
What Phillip Rivers has done with the Chargers this season is nothing short of amazing. He has a coach that isn’t great, an offensive line that is below average at best and not many weapons to throw to. The first thing the Chargers should do is get him some more help on the offensive line. Robinson will need to grow into it, but can be an effective starting tackle in the league.
12. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
Calias Campbell can’t play forever and is soon to be a free agent. The Cardinals should take a replacement here. McDowell is great at taking on double teams and stopping the run, but won’t ever record many sacks.
13. Indianapolis Colts- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Colts defense needs to be upgraded as a whole, and they can take the best player available. Lattimore is a ball-hawk at corner with four interceptions on the season.
14. Houston Texans- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Brock Osweiler has been a problem, but there are no quarterbacks worth taking here. The right side of the offensive line needs to be upgraded and McGlinchey will probably wind up at right tackle or guard for his pro career.
15. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
It isn’t a secret that Marcus Mariota needs more weapons. Williams provides a tall receiver who will be a great red zone threat for the Titans.
16. Buffalo Bills- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The biggest surprise of this season may be how good Washington’s secondary has played. The Bills’ corners haven’t played well this season, but at the very least Jones can provide some good depth.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (via Min)- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
Jackson is one of the best play-makers in the class. He plays both sides of the ball and returns kicks for the Trojans. His best skill is his speed. Jackson almost qualified for the Olympics in track, but came up just short. People watching Jackson play will be reminded of Deion Sanders with the way Jackson baits quarterbacks into throwing to receivers, before speeding up and intercepting the pass.
18. Green Bay Packers- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The running game has been a huge issue for the Packers. Cook is a first round talent, who can be a great receiving threat out of the backfield for Aaron Rodgers.
19. Washington Redskins- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker plays like Ed Reed. He follows the quarterback’s eyes very well and then makes a play on the ball. He may return to school, but if he comes out, he can start for the Redskins from day one.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Buccaneers drafted Noah Spence last year, who is having a solid rookie season. Williams Gholston is not playing well on the other side of the line. Barnett has had his best pass-rushing year at Tennessee of his career with 16 sacks. He is also able to stop the run at an average level for prospects.
21. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Miami’s offensive line hasn’t played well, despite Jay Ajayi and Ryan Tannehill heating up. Drafting Nelson will give the Dolphins options. They can move Laremy Tunsil back to tackle or just use Nelson to replace Jermon Bushrod, who has struggled this year.
22. Baltimore Ravens- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Some scouts believe that Tabor is better than Vernon Hargreaves III, who was drafted number eleventh overall last season, which shows how loaded this year’s class is at corner. Tabor’s ball skills will be questioned because he didn’t have an interception for the second half of the season, but for the most part he shuts down opposing receivers.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Pittsburgh is known for having great pass rushers, but they are right in the middle of the pack as a team for sacks. The Steelers drafted secondary help in last year’s draft and now can select a pass rusher to supplement them.
24. Atlanta Falcons- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
There aren’t many better stories in college football than Cunningham. He grew up in Alabama, but was shunned by both Alabama and Auburn and elected to go to Vanderbilt. He is great at diagnosing plays and making great plays for his team. The Falcons need a lot of defensive help and can start by getting a great linebacker in Cunningham.
25. Detroit Lions- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Lions’ edge rushers haven’t played well this season. They rank near the bottom in sacks in the league and need to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Williams may not be an every down player in the NFL, but can rush the passer really well, helping out on third downs.
26. New York Giants- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Howard is under-utilized at Alabama, but is a good target and decent blocker. The Giants could use a good tight end to take some of the coverage off of Odell Beckham Jr.
27. Denver Broncos- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
Jared Crick hasn’t played well this season and if the Broncos want to keep up the elite defense they have, they will need to fill holes like this. Brantley is a good run stopper for Florida, making him a perfect fit for the Broncos defense.
28. Seattle Seahawks- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple
There aren’t really any offensive linemen in range here, but the Seahawks are desperate. Dawkins may take some work, but could be an upgrade on a bad offensive line.
29. Kansas City Chiefs- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
The Chiefs offense is really opening up now with the emergence of Tyreek Hill. Smith-Schuster has had a disappointing season, but is talented nonetheless. If Kansas City wants to make their offense even more dynamic they can take Smith-Schuster here.
30. Oakland Raiders- Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Oakland’s corners are overpaid for the amount of their production. They need to continue to improve their defense to become an elite NFL team.
31. New England Patriots- Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
This season the Patriots have some glaring weaknesses. One of those is the front seven on defense. They need to start drafting players for depth purposes at the very least.
32. Dallas Cowboys- John Ross, WR, Washington
Ross is one of the fastest players in college football and makes explosive plays for the Huskies. The Cowboys’ defense can use some work, but Ross can be a great number two receiver behind Dez Bryant, making Dallas’ offense even better.
Hue Jackson believes in Cody Kessler and the rookie has shown that he can be an efficient passer. That means the Browns can make a smart decision and pick the best player in the draft class. Garrett is an elite pass rusher, who is also good at stopping the run. Cleveland needs help everywhere, but especially defensively. Garrett can be an impact player from day one in the NFL.
2. San Francisco 49ers- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
No quarterbacks this year are worthy of a first round selection, but they always get drafted high. The 49ers need to move on from all of their quarterbacks. Kizer has good size and arm strength. His issues come with accuracy on throws that should be easy. Even when he hits the receivers, it isn’t usually in a good spot to let the receiver run after the catch.
3. Chicago Bears- Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC
Trubisky has had a great year, in his first full season as the starting quarterback at UNC. Two games are blemishes on his record, against Virginia Tech in Hurricane Matthew, and Duke. For the most part though, Trubisky has played good, mistake-free football. The Bears have a lot of issues, but really need to move on from Jay Cutler.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jacksonville has some young offensive talent, quarterback talk aside, but they have a chance to get even better with this selection. Fournette is a complete back, but is rumored to have chronic ankle issues. If he is able to get cleared by doctors at the combine, he will be a top five pick.
5. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Darrelle Revis is getting old. The Jets shouldn’t reach and take a quarterback here. Humphrey is a solid all around corner, but if the Jets scout the helmet instead of the player, they might be afraid of Humphrey being another Dee Milliner.
The Bengals’ defense has disappointed so many times this season. They need fundamental football players in the secondary and at linebacker. Jabril Peppers can play anywhere in the back end of the defense. He doesn’t intercept passes, but tackles really well and is always in good position, which has led him to get mentioned as a candidate
Tennessee is in playoff contention and gets an extra first round pick this year via the trade last year with the Rams. One area that the Titans have to upgrade is their secondary. Many believe Tabor is a better corner than Vernon Hargreaves III, who was drafted very high in last year’s draft.
8. Buffalo Bills- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Allen is a very versatile defensive lineman, who is able to play multiple positions. He is great at stopping the run and rushing the passer, making him a three down player. Rex Ryan would love to get his hands on more players like this.
9. Indianapolis Colts- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
This is not a very deep class in terms of offensive linemen, but the Colts have to attempt to protect Andrew Luck. McGlinchey is versatile enough to play either tackle spot and has in college. He will most likely be a right tackle in the NFL.
10. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Phillip Rivers deserves the MVP award for doing so well with such a bad team. The offensive line is awful and they need to protect Rivers as he ages. Robinson hasn’t had the best season, as Alabama as a team struggled to run the ball against inferior competition, but he has gotten better as the season has gone on.
11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
It seems like Adams has been at LSU for longer than he has because of playing big early in his career. He has the ability to come up and stop the run and also cover elite tight ends at the college level. The Bucs need secondary help in order to stop the good quarterbacks in their division.
12. New Orleans Saints- Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC
Is this Deion Sanders reincarnated? He plays both ways, returns kicks and baits quarterbacks to throwing passes before speeding up to intercept them. His biggest asset is his speed, as he almost qualified for the Olympics in track. New Orleans’ defense has been better, but they could still use help all over.
13. Carolina Panthers- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
Jones has been flying up draft boards with his play this year as much as Washington has flown up rankings as a team. The Panthers have missed Josh Norman a lot, whether they want to admit it or not. Jones will have to learn to play their zone scheme, but he is more than capable of doing so.
14. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DL, MSU
Can Calais Campbell play forever? If he can’t McDowell seems like a perfect guy to replace him. He is big and has unprecedented quickness off of the line for a guy that big.
15. Green Bay Packers- Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Yes Aaron Rodgers is struggling, but the defense isn’t that great either. The Packers need a good inside linebacker to be able to keep Clay Matthews on the outside. Foster is one of the best linebackers that Alabama has had and is easily a top fifteen talent in this draft.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
How is Mike Mitchell still a starting safety? He has actually played decently for the Steelers this season, but they still need help in their secondary. Hooker is a ball-hawk safety, who could cover the mistakes of Pittsburgh’s corners.
17. Miami Dolphins- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
The Dolphins have been playing so well lately that they might make the playoffs. Taking Derek Barnett here would help there already good defensive line. Pressuring Tom Brady is the first step to compete for the division.
18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Marcus Mariota needs more weapons in order to become a complete quarterback. Williams has good speed and size, but needs to clean up some of his route-running, which is something that can be taught by NFL coaches.
19. Washington Redskins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Washington is playing running backs such as Matt Jones, Robert Kelly and Chris Thompson. Needless to say they need a play-maker at the position. Cook can is a speedster, who will also give Kirk Cousins a good receiving target out of the backfield.
20. Cleveland Browns (Via Phi)- Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Browns have a chance at a really good draft if this becomes a reality. Lattimore, like the rest of the Ohio State secondary, is great at intercepting passes. He is tasked with guarding the other team’s best receiver and usually shuts them down.
21. Baltimore Ravens- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
The Ravens need pass rushers to make their defense truly elite again. Harris has to work at stopping the run, but is effective rushing the passer.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (via Cle)- John Ross, WR, Washington
If the Eagles want the Carson Wentz era to go well they have to get him some good receivers to throw to. Ross is a burner, who might be the fastest player in college football.
23. Detroit Lions- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham isn’t the fastest or strongest guy, but he makes plays. He has had games of 19 tackles this season. The Lions need defensive help and will get it with this tackling-machine.
24. Houston Texans- Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
Houston weak on the interior of their defensive line. Brantley is great at stopping the run and can free up J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney to get sacks.
25. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Giants don’t have a running game to speak of. Rashad Jennings is over the hill and they have a chance to pick a running back that is elusive as they come. McCaffrey can also line up in the slot and return kick, making him very versatile.
26. Atlanta Falcons- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Jacob Tamme just suffered a serious injury and Austin Hooper is unproven. Howard can provide the Falcons with yet another weapon for Matt Ryan to throw to.
Does anybody else want to see what Russell Wilson can do with a good offensive line? If they can get an offensive lineman with decent value, they will take him here.
28. Denver Broncos- Ryan Ramczyck, OT, Wisconsin
The defense will be solid again next year, so drafting an offensive lineman will be important. Their tackle play hasn’t been great. Ramczyck might be a little bit of a reach at this spot, but it fills a need for the Broncos.
29. Oakland Raiders- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Oakland’s defense isn’t where it needs to be in order for them to compete for championships. Improving their secondary will be important as their corners haven’t produced. White is a shut down corner and team leader at LSU.
30. Kansas City Chiefs- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King is a fundamental player who stops the run and makes tackles. The only question with him is his speed. The Chiefs have a good corner in Marcus Peters, but could use some help behind him on the depth chart.
31. New England Patriots- Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois
Watch for the Patriots to trade this pick to a team desperate for a quarterback, but if they don’t Smoot would be a good pick. He has good pursuit of the ball carrier, but is most known for his pass-rushing.
32. Dallas Cowboys- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Cowboys have had a great season and still don’t have a good pass-rusher who doesn’t get suspended. Williams is one of the best pass rushers in the class and has even improved his run-stopping abilities this season.
Notre Dame may be slumping right now, but people are still raving about how good Kizer is. He has all the tools you want in a franchise quarterback: arm strength, accuracy, build and football IQ. His build fits with Hue Jackson very well, as before he worked with Andy Dalton, he preferred big strong armed quarterbacks. The Browns are starting to build a roster, but need a quarterback to help them win games.
2. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If Chip Kelly is still the head coach, he’s going to need some of his type of players to succeed. Watson is appealing because of his dual-threat abilities and should fit right into how Kelly wants to run his offense. At Clemson this season, Watson hasn’t looked quite as good as he did last season, but scouts have enough tape to see what he is capable of.
3. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Three quarterbacks in a row? If these three teams draft in the top three they will all be looking for quarterbacks. The Bears are going to move on from Jay Cutler. Kaaya is more inclined to stay in the pocket than the other two quarterbacks, but has decent mobility himself. He is accurate, has average arm strength and makes smart plays with the ball. One knock on Kaaya is that he doesn’t make the big plays that you would expect out of a highly touted quarterback. He also doesn’t have many impressive wins at Miami
4. New York Jets- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Jets have many issues on offense, including quarterback, but before a quarterback can be successful for them, they need the offensive line to step up. If the Jets can improve their offensive line play and get a running game going, it’s possible one of their young quarterbacks (Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty) can be moderately successful.
5. Carolina Panthers- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The defense hasn’t been great for the Panthers this season, but the running game has also been an issue. A backfield with Cam Newton and Fournette would be hard for any defense to stop. Fournette has been injured this season, but did come back and have a career day against Ole Miss. The Panthers can get a steal here, as Fournette is one of the two best players in this class.
6. San Diego Chargers- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett is the best player in this class, but quarterbacks always rise on draft day. The Chargers got Joey Bosa in the first round this season, and can have one of the best young front sevens in football with Garrett and him paired together. Garrett is a better pass rusher than he is a run stopper, but is still good at stopping the run. He pursues plays very well and is a sure tackler.
7. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Ryan Tannehill is taking baby steps under new head coach Adam Gase, so they will likely want to see how he progresses after another year in the system. Cook can run the ball in between the tackles, but can also be a valuable receiving weapon for Tannehill out of the back field. If Jay Ajayi continues his good play, the Dolphins may be able to address other needs.
8. Indianapolis Colts- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Alabama’s win over Texas A&M was highlighted by a scoop and score by Allen. He is a versatile defensive lineman who can stop the run and rush the passer at very high levels. He has six sacks in eight games for the Crimson Tide. Indianapolis needs to upgraded every position on defense, so they can take the best defensive player available.
9. Cincinnati Bengals- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
The Bengals picked a corner with their first pick last season, William Jackson III, but Adam Jones’ play has been declining and Dre Kirkpatrick hasn’t lived up to expectations. Jackson is a great cover corner, who is one of the most athletic corners in college football. He also can provide a spark in the return game for the Bengals.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida
Tampa Bay needs to improve their defense if they want to continue to grow in the NFC South. They are in the bottom half of the league in pass yards allowed. A lot of scouts have said that Tabor is better than his former Florida teammate Vernon Hargreaves III, who was selected 11th in last years’ draft by the Buccaneers and is having a good season thus far.
11. New Orleans Saints- Jabril Peppers, LB/DB, Michigan
Peppers is the best defensive player in college football this season. He is versatile enough to play corner, safety, linebacker and even return kicks and plays offense for the Wolverines. The only knock on Peppers defensively, is that he isn’t a ball hawk. He has zero interceptions in his career at Michigan, but is a sure tackler and hardly ever gets beat in coverage. The Saints will be happy to have someone so versatile on their defense, which is so bad.
If Gus Bradley wants to bring a legion of boom feel to Jacksonville, he needs to bring a couple more players in. The Jaguars are doing better against the pass this season, but can continue to build in their secondary. Humphrey isn’t necessarily a shut-down corner, but makes plays on the ball when it is thrown his way.
13. Detroit Lions- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Detroit doesn’t have the same defensive line depth they had a few years ago. All four players on the Lions’ defensive line have failing grades according to Profootballfocus.com. Harris follows a line of good pass rushers coming from Missouri, but is really good at stopping the run. He had 18.5 tackles for loss last season for the Tigers.
14. Tennessee Titans- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Adams is the best safety in this class (if Peppers isn’t counted). He is really good at stopping the run, but proved he can cover elite tight ends, by holding Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram to 15 yards receiving. The Rebels tried to find Engram in the end zone a couple times, but Adams shut him down. The Titans have a solid pass rush, but can improve their secondary to make their defense more dynamic.
Smith-Schuster had a slow start at the beginning of the season, but is picking it up as of late. He is the best receiver right now in a bad class of wide receivers and has good speed, but sloppy route running at times. The Ravens have Mike Wallave and Steve Smith at wide receiver so replacements will be needed.
16. New York Giants- Malik Mcdowell, DL, Michigan State
Mcdowell can play multiple positions on the defensive line and eats up multiple blockers. This will be great news for the Giants who have an NFL-low six sacks on the season.
17. Tennessee Titans (via Rams)- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Williams is tall and long with a lot of speed, making him a great target for Clemson. He is recovering nicely from his severe neck injury last season. Tennessee needs a good target for Marcus Mariota, other than Delanie Walker, to make their offense more potent.
The Cardinals do have Robert Nkemdiche from the NFL Draft last year, but Calais Campbell can’t play forever. Brantley can be a future replacement for him.
19. Cleveland Browns (via Eagles)- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The future of Joe Thomas in Cleveland is in doubt, but to be honest the Browns have a lot of needs. McGlinchey has played both left tackle and right tackle in his college career, but will probably end up as a right tackle in the pros.
20. Kansas City Chiefs- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Marcus Peters has played really well for the Chiefs, but the other corners have not played well. White is a very athletic corner, who is also a leader on the field for the Tigers. LSU awards the number 18 to a player who is a leader and White is in his second straight year with that number. He is a leader among leaders at LSU.
21. Green Bay Packers- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
King is the best corner against the run in this class. He is also a ball-hawk with eight interceptions last year. His athleticism is apparent on punt and kick returns. The Packers don’t have many good corners so upgrading is key for that position.
22. Houston Texans- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Texans don’t have too many glaring needs. Brock Osweiler is still up in the air, but for now he is still the quarterback. Houston could at the very least use some depth for their secondary. Hooker makes plays at safety, but is a little bit inexperienced.
23. Washington Redskins- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Washington already has a good pass-rush, but if their isn’t a chance to upgrade their offense with this pick, they should continue to build that defense. Barnett is one of the best pass-rushers in the class and can have an instant impact, but has been battling injuries this season.
24. Buffalo Bills- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama
Rex Ryan has the Bills getting to the quarterback this season, but they are in the same boat as the Redskins with this pick. Williams is almost exclusively a pass-rusher, but college football analysts and scouts are raving about the impact he can have at the next level.
25. Oakland Raiders- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
The inside linebackers for the Raiders have played awful. In order to become the elite team they want to be, Oakland needs to improve this position. Davis is one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the country. He is a solid player, but won’t have any elite qualities as a pro.
26. Denver Broncos- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
At 20 years old, Johnson’s body is still developing, but he is already 6’7″ and 311 pounds. He has developed into a great tackle at Florida State, but can blossom in Denver. The Broncos might be relying on an unproven quarterback, so they will need to make his protection a priority.
27. Atlanta Falcons- Dawuane Smoot, DE/OLB, Illinois
The Falcons are another team that has a bad defense that needs improving. Smoot might appear to be a good pass rusher based on his DE/LB capabilities, but is actually a better run stopper.
Reuben Foster just feels like a Steeler. Pittsburgh’s linebackers aren’t that talented and they need inside linebackers to step up. Foster is a sure tackler who might be the most talented linebacker to come out of Alabama in the Nick Saban era.
29. Seattle Seahawks- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Christine Michael has been solid for the Seahawks, but they have a chance to take a guy who might be the most versatile running back in the class. McCaffrey can run in between the tackles, runs routes like receivers and is one of the best kick returners in college football.
There has been one constant for the Cowboys in terms of needs and that is defensive line depth. Phillips has five sacks on the season and forced a fumble against Michigan.
31. New England Patriots- Marcus Maye, S, Florida
The Patriots don’t absolutely need safety help, but they will take the bst player available or trade the pick. Maye is the hardest hitting safety in the class and will deter receivers from going across the middle.
32. Philadelphia Eagles (via Vikings)- Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
The Eagles’ defense is having a great year, now that they aren’t on the field so much like they were under Chip Kelly. The weak spot for the defense is the corner back position. Tankersley had five interceptions last season, but isn’t getting thrown at as much this season, and thus has none this season.
Kizer has flown up draft boards since the season began due to his great play. He has the size, arm strength and accuracy to make all throws required of an NFL quarterback. His athleticism is also a huge plus and he doesn’t run recklessly, which will make Browns fans happy after the RGIII injury. Hue Jackson likes Cody Kessler, but Kizer fits more of what he had at quarterback before being successful with Andy Dalton in Cincinnati.
2. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Could there be two straight years of quarterbacks going number one and number two in the draft? The Bears need to move on from Jay Cutler. John Fox has said Cutler isn’t guaranteed the starting job back after he returns from injury, which means he is most likely on his way out after the season. Kaaya isn’t as athletic or big as Kizer, but he is great at knowing how much heat, or lack thereof, to get the ball to his receivers and is very accurate at making throws down field.
3. New Orleans Saints- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
New Orleans has a chance to be the worst defense in the history of football…again. If they draft this high they need to take a guy who can be an elite player for years. Garrett is one of the best pass rushers to come into the league in the past few years. He has great speed and power, but more impressively he is able to set up his opponent to get where he wants to and make a play. He needs to work on his run defense, but the Saints can’t pass up on his pass-rushing abilities.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jags aren’t thrilled with T.J. Yeldon’s production and Chris Ivory certainly isn’t a long term solution. Blake Bortles is accused of being a garbage-time quarterback, because he and his talented receivers are putting up numbers when the game is already lost. One way to help fix this problem is to run the ball early to open things up. Fournette is a physical freak and can do just about anything asked of him. With Fournette, Jacksonville could have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.
5. San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Watson hasn’t played great this season, but last year more than makes up for his slow start this year, so far. Watson can run the ball, but hasn’t done so effectively this year. His passing has been off and he locks on his best receiver Mike Williams a lot. If Chip Kelly is still with the 49ers next year, Watson would be a good fit for his system and would give the 49ers more help on offense.
6. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
If Ryan Tannehill doesn’t start playing well, the Dolphins could go after a quarterback. For now they can get a talented running back, which fills a need. Cook is elusive as a runner and is a great receiver out of the backfield. He is not great as a pass protector, but could improve in time.
7. San Diego Chargers- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The left side of the Chargers’ offensive line hasn’t played well. Phillip Rivers can play for several more years if he has the proper protection. Robinson is the best offensive tackle in the class by far, making this an easy pick for the Chargers.
8. Tennessee Titans- Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
Jackson is one of the best athletes in this draft class and can do a little bit of everything. The Titans will need him at corner, but he will also help in the return game and could also help out on offense as a receiver. The defense has been awful for the Titans and Jackson can start immediately in their secondary.
9. Detroit Lions- Malik McDowell, DT, MSU
The Lions don’t have great players on the interior of their defensive line. McDowell has great size and athleticism and uses his talents to get through blockers to make plays in the running game. He won’t put up huge numbers as a pass rusher, but he does take on double teams to free up other players on defense to get to the quarterback.
10. Buffalo Bills- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Rex Ryan is a defensive guru, but his players can’t get to the quarterback. The Bills offense may never be too dynamic, so they need to get to the opponent’s quarterback to help keep their team in the game. Allen had 12 sacks last year and already has three this season.
11. Washington Redskins- Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
Josh Norman is the only player on the Redskins’ defense who has played great this season. If they want to continue being competitive they need to upgrade a lot of positions, because their offense won’t win them too many games. Peppers may be the best all-around defender in this class. He has the versatility to play linebacker or safety in the NFL. He is a sure tackler who is always in great position. One knock on him is that he doesn’t have an interception in his college career, so he needs to show the ability capitalize when quarterbacks throw his way. His ability to return kicks will be highly coveted.
12. Indianapolis Colts- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Indianapolis has two options in the draft: 1. help protect Andrew Luck or 2. improve the defense. There aren’t many great offensive lineman in this draft, so the selection should be easy. Harris is a great pass rusher, with three sacks on the season for the Tigers. He can also help stop the run behind the line of scrimmage, he totaled 18.5 tackles for loss last season.
13. New York Jets- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Darrelle Revis hasn’t played well all season. The Jets’ other corners haven’t been the greatest either. Jets’ fans may not like taking another corner from Alabama (they just cut Dee Milliner, a former Alabama player), but Humphrey is certainly talented enough to be selected in the first half of the first round. Humphrey is young, but has already made a lot of great plays for the Crimson Tide. He should continue to grow and get better as this season goes on.
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Barnett is a great pass rusher, who is overshadowed by Myles Garrett. His 21 career sacks are amazing for playing on an SEC team, but he needs to stop the run better to be an elite prospect. The Bucs need better defensive line play to help Jameis Winston take this team where they want to go.
15. Carolina Panthers- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Another team that could use offensive linemen, but there isn’t one worthy of being picked. The Panthers can upgrade over Kurt Coleman, who has been a below average player so far this season. Hooker has been a ball hawk this season and has great size and speed.
16. Arizona Cardinals- Caleb Brantley, DE, Florida
The Cardinals have had a need on defensive line for a long time, but it has been better recently. Calais Campbell can’t play forever though. Brantley is one of the best players on a great collegiate defense at Florida.
Before week four of the NFL season the Bengals had given up the most sacks in the NFL. Right tackle and center need to be upgraded so Cincinnati can fill one of those void here. McGlinchey plays left tackle at Notre Dame now, but has extensive experience at right tackle in previous seasons.
18. Tennessee Titans- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Williams is a tall lanky receiver who is capable of making plays. He isn’t the fastest guy, but uses his size to make grabs over defenders. The Titans’ best receiver is Tajee Sharpe, who has potential, but another good receiver is needed for Mariota’s development.
19. Houston Texans- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Jonathan Joseph has played horrible this year. The Texans look to have a decent offense now, but upgrading the secondary can make their defense elite.
20. Oakland Raiders- Tim Williams, LB, Alabama
Oakland has a terrible defense and needs upgrades everywhere. Even Khalil Mack hasn’t played well this season. Williams has impressed as a pass rusher who has athletic ability this season.
21. Atlanta Falcons- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
The Falcons also has an awful defense and need help just about everywhere. King is a ball-hawk who can turn an interception into a touchdown quickly. He is also a sure tackler who can help in the running game.
22. Dallas Cowboys- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
White is not only an athletic corner who makes plays, but is also a team leader. He has worn the number 18 at LSU for two years now, which symbolizes that leadership. The Cowboys still need pass rushers, but taking a corner here would fill a need as well.
23. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey may be the most complete back in this class. He can return kicks, catch passes and run the ball inside the tackles. He would bring a whole new dimension to the Giants offense and make it better.
24. Kansas City Chiefs- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
Kansas City really only has Jeremy Maclin as a viable receiver. Smith-Schuster has disappointed scouts this season, but still has the necessary size and speed to be molded into a good NFL pass-catcher.
25. Green Bay Packers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Packers have a talented roster as always, so they can take the best player available. Adams is the most accomplished safety in the class as he has started at LSU for multiple years now.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Jesse James hasn’t played great yet and Ladarius Green isn’t reliable. Howard can make the Steelers’ offense even more dynamic. He is very talented, but is underutilized at Alabama.
27. Seattle Seahawks- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Russell Wilson needs to be protected and he hasn’t been for the last two years. Johnson has fallen in most mock drafts, but should produce good value at the end of the first round, while also filling the Seahawks’ biggest need.
28. Cleveland Browns- Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois
Smoot is an underrated player because he goes to Illinois, but he can get after the quarterback. The Browns need help across the board to help their young team. They picked Kizer with the first pick and can now address the pass rush.
Sutton has been hampered by injury this season, but is still a great shut down corner. The Ravens upgraded their safety position by adding Eric Weddle, but can now get some corners to go with him.
30. Philadelphia Eagles- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Carson Wentz has looked great despite not having a great running game. If Chubb can overcome his injuries, he can be a workhorse back in the NFL.
31. Denver Broncos- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
The Broncos lost a few linebackers from their Super Bowl winning team last year and can now get some young guys to help out at that spot. McMillan will fit nicely next to Brandon Marshall, if he is still with Denver next season.
32. New England Patriots- Devonte Fields, DE/OLB, Louisville
Fields won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year when playing at TCU. There are some concerns about his character, as he was kicked out of TCU, but his on-field play has been great. The Patriots have taken players with questionable backgrounds before and made them into stars.
The order of this mock draft is determined by loosely predicting how the teams will finish this season.
Desahun Watson is not only a threat to win the Heisman Trophy, but also could be the number one pick in the draft. (Photo courtesy: foxsports.com)
San Francisco 49ers- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
If the 49ers have a bad enough year to land the number one pick, they are going to need a new quarterback to run Chip Kelly’s offense, if he is still the coach. It is a weak class for quarterbacks, but they always are picked above value in the NFL Draft. Watson fits what Chip Kelly wants perfectly: He is mobile and accurate. With over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards last season, Watson should be able to have an impact at the NFL level. Watson isn’t the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback and had a bad passing game during a deluge in a win against Notre Dame last season, so he needs to prove that his stature and hand size are capable of being the number one pick. He also needs to show more consistency on deeper throws, but will have a whole season to clear that up.
2. Cleveland Browns- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Browns may also be in the market for a quarterback, but haven’t had much luck drafting them in the first round. They have multiple first round picks, they acquired one from the Eagles, so they can afford to take the best player available. Fournette is a physical freak who is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson. He is fast, strong and has good vision. LSU’s offense doesn’t allow him to have too much time playing in a passing attack, but he needs to work on his pass catching and pass protection to be more well-rounded.
3. Tennessee Titans- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Titans have a couple of good players on offense now, but still need to improve their defense. Myles Garrett is the best defensive player on the board. He may not fit the Titans 3-4 scheme, but will be able to adapt to it. Garrett should continue to break records for sacks this season and be the premier pass rusher in college football. He needs to continue to progress in his run defense, but should still be picked high without too many improvements in that facet of his game.
4. Detroit Lions- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Robinson can help a terrible offensive line in Detroit. The Lions did draft Eric Decker in last year’s draft, but that isn’t enough to fix that line. Robinson has the size and technique to be the top tackle selected and will have games against Garrett and Tennessee star defensive end, Derek Barnett to prove it.
5. Atlanta Falcons- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Atlanta desperately needs better linebacker play, but could also use pass rushing help. Barnett has over 20 sacks in his first two years of college football. He is a bitter shorter and slimmer than Myles Garrett, but produces almost as much.
6. Cleveland Browns- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
Missouri has a good recent history of producing good players from their front seven. Harris was second team All-SEC last season, which is no small feat considering the top of this draft. The Browns continue to take the best player available here and get a player that fits their defense.
Dalvin Cook was injured last season and still played well. (Photo courtesy: tbo.com)
7. Miami Dolphins- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
There is no doubt that it is the year of the running back. Dalvin Cook had a nagging hamstring injury last season, and still rushed for 1,691 yards. He reminds a lot of NFL minds of Reggie Bush because of his speed and elusiveness. The Dolphins have Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi, but Foster won’t be able to play much longer and Ajayi is unproven.
8. Chicago Bears- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
With another bad year for Jay Cutler, it may be time to move on. Kaaya has a lot of the tools teams want in a franchise quarterback, but needs to continue to increase his efficiency. He completed 61% of his passes last season and NFL teams will look for him to show more accuracy.
9. San Diego Chargers- Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State
Johnson has good size and talent for a cornerstone offensive tackle. The Chargers desperately need offensive line help if they plan on Phillip Rivers being able to play for much longer.
10. New Orleans Saints- Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
Tabor was just suspended for Florida’s first game for a violation of team rules. His former teammate, Vernon Hargreaves, got drafted eleventh overall, but some people think Tabor is better. New Orleans needs help everywhere defensively and get a player that can contribute immediately.
The Titans just traded away Dorial Green-Beckham, and they were already not great at the receiver position. Marcus Mariota needs someone else to throw to besides Delanie Walker, and Smith-Schuster is the best in the class. He is a polished receiver in every facet of the game and can help stretch the field for the Titans.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Tampa Bay needs to get better defensively to have a shot at winning the NFC South. They have decent safeties, but they can be upgraded. Adams is a play-maker who does a little bit of everything for the Tigers and could make plays for years.
Adoree’ Jackson is one of the best athletes in the class. (Photo courtesy: bleacherreport.com)
13. New York Jets- Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC
Jackson is one of the best athletes in the class (he plays both ways and almost qualified for the Olympics in track in field), and quarterbacks are afraid to throw his way. His interception stats should go up considering the USC secondary is improved. The Jets could get a steal here and improve an average secondary.
14. New York Giants- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
If Cook isn’t the next Reggie Bush, McCaffrey most certainly fits the name. He is elusive, quick, fast and is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. The Giants starting running back is Rashad Jennings, so an upgrade is needed.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars- Desmond King, CB, Iowa
The Jags picked Jalen Ramsey this year, but with the offense rolling, the defense still needs improvements. Jacksonville may move Ramsey to safety to make this work, but it would be well worth it. King had eight interceptions last season and was a huge part in the Hawkeyes having an undefeated regular season.
16. Denver Broncos- Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Denver’s defense is amazing, but they do have some holes. Demarcus Ware is aging and a rookie, Adam Gotsis, is starting at defensive tackle. Allen is versatile and productive and would help the Broncos’ defensive line be even better.
17. Washington Redskins- Malik McDowell, DT/NT, Michigan State
McDowell would be a perfect fit for the Redskins’ 3-4 defense. He does a good job of taking up multiple blockers, which will free-up others to get to the ball-carrier and quarterback.
Jabril Peppers is making the move to linebacker, after having been successful at defensive back. (Photo courtesy: maiseandbrew.com)
18. Buffalo Bills- Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
Peppers is a dynamic play-maker on defense. He is transitioning to linebacker, but will most likely be a defensive back in the NFL. With a player this good on the board, Rex Ryan won’t be able to pass him up.
19. Baltimore Ravens- Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
The Ravens have one of the worst secondaries in football. Their corners are the main problem and Lewis, an All-American, would be an instant improvement.
20. Oakland Raiders- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Nick Saban says that he thinks Howard can be the top tight end taken and a top 20 pick. Who am I to argue with Saban? Howard could block better, but is a good, athletic receiver. Alabama doesn’t always use him, which hurts his production, but it’s not because of his ability to get open. The Raiders can improve their young team by giving Derek Carr another great target.
21. Houston Texans- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
Houston does have some holes on their defense and they start at the linebacker position. Brian Cushing is a shell of his former self, and they need to find more depth. Davis is the best linebacker on what should be a top ten defense this season.
22. Indianapolis Colts- Anthony Walker, LB, Northwestern
Walker is the best linebacker in Northwestern, surpassing his head coach Pat Fitzgerald for that spot. The Colts need all the defensive players they can get and Walker can be a serviceable linebacker for a long time.
23. Kansas City Chiefs- Ethan Pocic, C/G, LSU
The Chiefs have issues on the interior of their offensive line and Pocic can help at center or guard for them.
Tre’Davious White has been a fixture in the LSU secondary for three years already and will be highly sought-after by NFL teams.
24. Dallas Cowboys- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
Dallas has had the same issues for the past several years. They need defensive line depth and help in the secondary. White can be another key piece to help them shut down the pass.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, ND
McGlinchey is taking over at left tackle for the Irish this season, and has Ronnie Stanley’s big shoes to fill. He has to cut down on how many penalties he picks up, but otherwise is fundamentally sound. The Steelers still have holes on their offensive line and need to protect Ben Roethlisberger as he ages.
26. Minnesota Vikings- Connor Mcdermot, OT, UCLA
Mike Zimmer has the young Vikings’ defense playing really well, but their tackles did not play well last year. If they want to protect Teddy Bridgewater and possibly extend Adrian Peterson’s career, they will take a tackle here.
27. Cincinnati Bengals- Pat Elflein, C/G, Ohio State
Russell Bodine hasn’t been playing well at center for the Bengals and taking Elflein can help their only weakness on the offensive line.
Kevin Minter did not have a great season for the Cardinals last season. If he doesn’t rebound, an upgrade will be needed. Reeves-Martin was All-SEC second team last season and could be a key to a successful season for the Volunteers this season.
29. New England Patriots- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
The Patriots need pass rushers desperately. Lawson has battled injury, but when healthy he has been a force for Auburn.
30. Seattle Seahawks- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana
Seattle’s offensive line issues have been well documented. Feeney is the best pure guard in the class and could be a ten year starter in the NFL.
Mike Williams missed last season, but looks healthy now. (Photo courtesy: tigernet.com)
31. Green Bay Packers- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Last year the Packers’ leading receiver was James Jones. If they take Mike Williams, they can put him and Jordy Nelson on the outside and move Randall Cobb to the slot.
Everyone knows that the Heisman Trophy goes to the best quarterback or running back on one of the best teams in the country. Since 1997, when corner back Charles Woodson brought home the award for Michigan, a player from a position other than quarterback or running back has not won the Heisman Trophy. This award is supposed to go out to the best player in college football, but defensive players are often overlooked. This shouldn’t be the case, as a lot of years the best player in college football isn’t even on the offensive side of the ball. With that being said, here are the players that have the best chance to win the Heisman Trophy, while PRIMARILY playing defense this season.
Photo courtesy heavy.com.
Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
Jackson is one of the most athletic players in the country and proves that by playing defense, offense and special teams very well. He also had a chance at qualifying for the Olympics in Rio for track and field. At corner back he doesn’t make too much noise, because opposing quarterbacks are afraid to throw to where he is covering. He only recorded one interception last season, but that number should increase this season with the emergence of the corner playing on the opposite side of the field of him, Iman Marshall. No wide receiver will have a great game against him, but he will be tested in week one against Alabama.
USC doesn’t let Jackson play offense too much, but when he plays he is always a threat. Jackson hauled in 27 passes for 414 yards last season, while also rushing for 36 yards. These offensive statistics would increase exponentially if USC played him on offense more often this season.
He also is a play-maker on special teams with four career return touchdowns, two on punts and two on kick-offs. This is a huge key for a defensive player to win the Heisman, as Woodson also was a great returner for Michigan. If Jackson continues to do returns well, it could be the icing on the cake to get the Heisman voters to cast their ballot for him.
Photo courtesy freep.com.
2. Jabril Peppers, LB/S, Michigan
Peppers is making a position change to linebacker this year after being successful at corner and safety last season. He will still play those positions sparingly, but will be mainly focused on the linebacker position to start the season. His coverage skills will be the best of any linebacker in the country, due to his history playing defensive back at a high level. Even though he is undersized for a linebacker, his range and closing speed will be unmatched. Michigan is hoping his run-stopping ability will hold up against some physical Big Ten offenses.
The position change makes this a little bit harder for Peppers, but he should see an increase in tackle numbers due to playing closer to the line of scrimmage this season. He will still be able to make plays at his new position, but will have to do a lot to impress Heisman voters. Peppers also played running back and was a returner for the Wolverines, but did both sparingly. If he really wants to be considered for the Heisman Trophy he needs an increase in numbers (on defense, offense and special teams) and have big plays for the voters to be sold on him.
Photo courtesy nationalfootballpost.com.
3. Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The likely number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Garrett has been dominating SEC offenses for the past two years. He had 11 sacks in 2014 and 11.5 in 2015, which makes him the nations premier pass rusher heading into this season. The 11 sacks in his freshman season broke Jadeveon Clowney’s record for sacks by a freshman in the SEC. He currently sits 13.5 sacks away from the all-time sacks leader in college football (records kept since 2005), as Hau’oli Kikaha totaled 36 in his career at Washington.
Garrett won’t have a chance to play on both sides of the ball like the other candidates, but with a record breaking season in his Junior campaign, the Heisman Voters could be won over.