2017 NFL mock draft: Christian McCaffrey jumps into the top 10

The Stanford running back can go high and it all makes sense.

The perfect first round of the 2017 NFL draft for the Cleveland Browns is somehow ending up with both pass rusher Myles Garrett and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. This week’s mock draft explains exactly what Cleveland will need to do to make that happen.

There’s also been buzz connecting Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey to the Carolina Panthers. This week the dots get connected on why that makes sense.

This week’s mock draft also features a big drop for a top five player, three quarterbacks in total and a top running back falling out of the first round.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Adam Schefter of ESPN recently reported that the Browns have not made up their minds with the No. 1 overall pick and are considering Garrett and North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. It’s true, Browns head coach Hue Jackson has said this offseason that having a good quarterback is better than having an elite non-quarterback. I just think the Browns have the draft assets to make a trade to get both. If they don’t take Garrett first overall, he won’t last the second pick.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

While it may seem overkill to take Thomas after taking Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner the past two years, it’s a clean slate in San Francisco. However, this offseason new 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has made it clear that defensive linemen in the last two first rounds won’t affect how he drafts. Thomas slots into the Leo position for San Francisco and gives them someone who can play the run or get after the passer.

3. Chicago Bears: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Bears could take Adams, Malik Hooker or Marshon Lattimore and feel good about the selection. Adams is a sound all-around safety who can be used in a variety of ways.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama

Allen is the type of player who can play anywhere. That versatility will give Jacksonville the pass rusher they need while also helping bolster their run defense.

5. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

I think on draft night this trade happens. If the Browns truly want Trubisky they have to get up to the fifth pick, at least, to make it happen. There’s some logic behind expecting this move. If you use the old Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, the fifth pick is worth 1,700 points and the combination of 12 and 33 is 1,780 points. If you go further and use the new trade value chart developed by Chase Stuart, an even closer deal is actually picks 12 and 33 for picks five and 83.

The Titans might be enticed by this trade because, while they have two first-round picks, they’re without a second rounder this year. The Browns and Titans also executed a draft night trade last year, so their front offices are familiar with each another.

6. New York Jets: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

If Trubisky is gone when the Jets pick, I think they move on to Fournette, a player they can build an offense around while they either develop an on-roster quarterback or take one in 2018.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Hooker can be the dynamic superstar coverage safety the Chargers need. He can roam in deep center field and cover out of the slot.

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Lets piece this pick together. I think the Panthers’ preference is Fournette, but if he’s gone they move on to McCaffrey. Then you have this little piece of information:

Next piece of information: Earlier this year the Panthers hired Lance Taylor as wide receivers coach. Who cares, right? He was McCaffrey’s running backs coach at Stanford.

The fit is there too. The Panthers still have Jonathan Stewart, and McCaffrey’s speed and quickness game dovetails to his style. The Panthers also need speed at receiver, which McCaffrey can provide out of the slot. McCaffrey can also be the return man the Panthers need. It all adds up.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

The Bengals have taken an SEC player in 19 consecutive drafts, the most of any team in the NFL. They could push teh streak to 20 in the first round with Barnett, an ultra-productive pass rusher who had 33 sacks in three years at Tennessee.

10. Buffalo Bills: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

The Bills go into the draft needing pass catchers and will face an interesting scenario if Howard and the three top wide receivers are available. The wide receivers have question marks. For Mike Williams and Corey Davis it’s speed, and for John Ross it’s health. If you get past his shockingly limited use at Alabama, it’s hard to find holes in Howard’s game.

11. New Orleans Saints: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

It’s not as extreme as quarterback, but defensive end is one the positions that can be over-drafted. With his combination of size and athleticism, Charlton will be an attractive option on draft night. He can allow the Saints to easily shift between four- and three-man fronts.

12. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

This might be further down the draft than we’re used to seeing Lattimore, but teams might be worried about his past issues with hamstring injuries. Of course by trading back the Titans risk a team in of them picking him. If that happens, they could easily take a player like Gareon Conley of Ohio State here.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Although the Cardinals will be making a playoff push in what could be the last season for Carson Palmer, you have to wonder if this draft will have an eye toward the future. If Arizona takes Watson, or any other quarterback, that’s what they’re doing.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

If Williams is there, the Eagles have to strike and come back on positions like cornerback and linebacker later in the draft.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Reddick over Foster might be absurd, but there are some questions about Foster from his playing size to his attitude. Those questions don’t exist for Reddick, who can act as not only an edge rusher but a linebacker who can come up and play the run or drop in coverage.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Like a bad Mid-American Conference defense, Davis could quickly run past former first-round pick Breshad Perriman and become Baltimore’s No. 1 wide receiver.

17. Washington: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Washington may have signed Zach Brown to pair with Mason Foster inside, but there’s a reason he’s only on a one-year deal. Foster, who can actually work some as a pass rusher, could not only be the future inside, but of Washington’s entire defense.

18. Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR, Washington

The first round continues to pay off for Tennessee, who get the speed they need at wide receiver.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami

Although the Buccaneers have Cameron Brate, the other tight ends on the roster leave a lot to be desired. Fielding an offense with Brate, Njoku, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson on the field at the same time would give Tampa one of the league’s top receiving groups.

20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

This is about as far as Ramczyk should drop on draft night, and if the Broncos really want him they may have to execute a trade up. He’s an instant starter at left tackle.

21. Detroit Lions: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State

McDowell is a player I think can play on the inside and on the edge. That kind of player is what the Lions need to help create pressure up front.

22. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, G/OT, Western Kentucky

If you’re looking for a low ceiling/high floor player, Lamp might be the safest player in the entire draft. The Dolphins can put him anywhere on the offensive line.

23. New York Giants: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

With Howard and Njoku gone, tight end might be out of the first round equation for New York. Then you have to weigh whether they grade Cunningham or Utah left tackle Garrett Bolles higher. Cunningham can be the middle linebacker the Giants have needed since Antonio Pierce was playing at a high level 10 years ago.

24. Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

With the small run on inside linebackers happening, the Raiders could be left going for Davis. That’s not a bad thing. He’s a smart and instinctive linebacker who can move into the middle for the Raiders.

25. Houston Texans: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

The momentum clearly is in Mahomes’ favor between who will get drafted first between he and DeShone Kizer. You wonder if on draft night the Texans will feel the need to move up and get him. If so, combining their first- and second-round picks this year should get them to about pick No. 15.

26. Seattle Seahawks: Garrett Bolles, OT, Utah

A cornerback will get a lot of consideration here, but the Seahawks would have a hard time explaining that over a player like Bolles. The mean and nasty left tackle has limitless potential thank to his athleticism.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

All of the linebackers are gone, so that crosses off one need for the Chiefs. This pick then comes down to immediate contribution. A player like DeShone Kizer will be intriguing, but only one cornerback has been picked in this mock draft. Some teams have Conley as the top cornerback in the draft this year. He would be a nice fit opposite Marcus Peters.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

The Cowboys are a couple pieces away on defense from potentially being a Super Bowl favorite heading into next season. One of those pieces needed is secondary help. White, who started 47 games at LSU, is a pro-ready outside cornerback who can get physical with wideouts. Safety Obi Melifonwu would get consideration as well, but the need for cornerbacks is too great.

29. Green Bay Packers: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Speaking of needing cornerback help, that’s certainly the case in Green Bay where some high picks at the position just haven’t panned out. Humphrey, who has good physical size and athleticism, could be the solution.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin

The feeling is that Watt will be taken in the first 32 picks, and we’re starting to run out of teams. He is a nice pairing opposite Bud Dupree at outside linebacker. Watt is good at getting into the backfield, both to get after the quarterback and stop the run.

As an aside, when I was putting together this week’s mock draft, I was wondering where a good landing spot for John Ross would be if he slips past the Titans at No. 18. Even though the Steelers just gave Antonio Brown a big contract, doesn’t Ross just scream Pittsburgh in his play style?

31. Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris, OLB/DE, Missouri

If Forrest Lamp is gone by time the Falcons pick, they should turn to an edge rusher. The choices came down to Harris, Derek Rivers of Youngstown State and Takkarist McKinley of UCLA. Rivers is a favorite of Falcons fans, but I just think Harris is the better player.

32. New Orleans Saints: Kevin King, CB, Washington

If the Saints stay here and the Malcolm Butler trade doesn’t go down, cornerback will be a prime target. The tall and lanky King would add talent to a group that was decimated by injuries last season.

Ultimately, if the Browns fail to get a quarterback early, I expect this pick to be traded to Cleveland. The Saints won’t miss out on a player and get an extra pick while the Browns would get a fifth-year team option on a cornerback.

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