2017 NFL Pro Potential Power Rankings

For many college football players, the goal is to have success at school to earn a spot in the NFL. Most players who turn pro after college enter the league via the NFL Draft.

I started this project a year ago, ranking each school based on the how many athletes they send to the NFL and how high those athletes are drafted. I only look at the last five years of NFL drafts to keep the sample size manageable. This also reflects modern trends in college football, rather than historic ones. With this five-year rule, that means results from the 2012 NFL Draft are no longer considered. Oregon and Baylor take major hits in the rankings as a result. This is college football we are talking about, so here is the top 25.

The scoring system is as follows:
1st round-10 points
2nd round-7 points
3rd round-5 points
4th round-4 points
5th round- 3 points
6th round- 2 points
7th round- 1 points

Alabama Logo1. Alabama Crimson Tide- 253 points
Previous: 1 (225 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Amari Cooper, 4th Overall, 2014
It is good to be king. Alabama just sent one of its most loaded draft classes yet to the NFL, with seven players going in the first two rounds. All that did was stretch the lead atop the rankings for ‘Bama. The Tide have had 10 first round selections since 2013.

Ohio State Logo2. Ohio State Buckeyes- 200 points
Previous: 3 (166 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Joey Bosa, 3rd Overall, 2016
Ohio State isn’t going anywhere. With eight first rounders in the past two drafts, Urban Meyer has turned Colombus into a football factory again. Having moved passed Florida State, the Buckeyes will take aim at Alabama next.

Florida State Logo3. Florida State Seminoles- 192 points
Previous: 2 (183 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Jameis Winston, 1st Overall, 2015
Jimbo Fisher has turned Florida State into a breeding ground for NFL talent. The Seminoles increased their point total with a strong draft class, but didn’t have a first rounder for the first time since 2009. As a result, they drop to three.

Florida logo.jpg4. Florida Gators- 181 points
Previous: 6 (145 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Dante Fowler Jr., 3rd Overall, 2015
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, the Sunshine State is churning out pro prospects. The Gators close in on their in state foe while passing up SEC rival LSU. A deep group this season has Florida in the top five.

Louisiana State University logo5. LSU Tigers- 175 points
Previous: 4 (160 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Leonard Fournette, 4th Overall, 2017
LSU sent eight players to the NFL this year, including three first rounders. Yet, the Tigers slide back a spot to round out the top five. Three first round picks in one draft weren’t enough to make up for back-to-back years without a player going in the opening round.

Clemson Logo6. Clemson Tigers- 151 points
Previous: 8 (134 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sammy Watkins, 4th Overall, 2014
Five straight years Clemson has had a player selected in the first round. Only a year removed from a national title and with Dabo Sweeney still calling the shots, there is a good chance that Clemson unseats someone in the top five next year.

Notre Dame Logo7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish- 123 points
Previous: 5 (151 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Ronnie Stanley, 6th Overall, 2016
A down year for the Irish on the field leads to a meager draft class and a drop in the rankings. Notre Dame had only two players selected this year, in the second and seventh rounds respectively. Brian Kelly’s group might fall a little more before he rights the ship.

Texas A&M logo8. Texas A&M Aggies- 115 points
Previous: 10 (108 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Myles Garrett, 1st Overall, 2017
Texas A&M makes a small leap in the rankings after seeing Myles Garrett go first overall, followed by four more of his former teammates before the draft was over. The Aggies should continue to rise playing in the ultra-competitive SEC.

UCLA logo.jpg8. UCLA Bruins- 115 points
Previous: 17 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Anthony Barr, 9th Overall, 2014
A huge jump for UCLA sees it move up nine spots after sending six more prospects to the pros. Takkarist McKinley made it two straight years with a Bruin going in the first round. Josh Rosen will likely make it three in 2018.

Stanford Cardinal10. Stanford Cardinal- 113 points
Previous: 7 (137 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Solomon Thomas, 3rd Overall, 2017
Despite Stanford producing two first round picks this year, Stanford falls three spots. That’s because those were the only two players the Cardinal had drafted this year. With that 2012 class that featured Andrew Luck no longer counting, Stanford saw it’s point total dip significantly.

MichiganWolverines11. Michigan Wolverines- 107 points
Previous: Unranked
Highest Drafted Player- Taylor Lewan, 11th Overall, 2014
We all knew it was coming. Michigan roars into the top 25 after sending 11 players, including two first rounders, to the NFL this year. That was the most by any school this spring. With Jim Harbaugh continuing to produce quality players, it would not be a surprise to see the Wolverines nestled into the top 10 next year.

USC logo12. USC Trojans- 105 points
Previous: 11 (107 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Leonard Williams, 6th Overall, 2015
The Trojans had a player selected in the first round for just the third time since 2013. A solid class of five prospects should bolster USC for the near future. Entering the top 10 is unlikely until it starts producing first rounders regularly, but I have a feeling that Sam Darnold should help with that.

Miami logo13. Miami Hurricanes- 98 points
Previous: 14 (92 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Ereck Flowers, 9th Overall, 2015
Don’t look now but the U is returning to its former glory. Success on the field is growing and as a result, Miami climbs closer to the top 10. In the early 2000s, the Hurricanes would have dominated this list. Now, they are sending deep classes to the NFL, just not the star-studded ones of yesteryear.

Washington Huskies logo.jpg14. Washington Huskies- 97 points
Previous: 25 (71 points)
Highest Drafted Player– John Ross, 9th Overall, 2017
The biggest jump of any team from last year’s rankings belongs to Washington. John Ross made it five straight years that a Washington player went in the first round. The difference from previous classes is that there were several more Huskies that followed. As a result, Washington finds itself in the thick of the top 15.

Georgia Logo15. Georgia Bulldogs- 96 points
Previous: 9 (125 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Todd Gurley, 10th overall, 2015
Georgia has been very hit or miss with recent draft classes. After producing five prospects last year, including first rounder Jarvis Jones, the Bulldogs had just one player drafted this year. Fifth rounder Isaiah McKenzie was the lone Georgia player in the 2017 draft. Georgia’s fall in the rankings is reflective of that.

Oregon logo16. Oregon Ducks- 88 points
Previous: 13 (101 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Marcus Mariota, 2nd Overall, 2015
It is unbelievable that Oregon is envious of Georgia’s draft class, but when not a single Duck gets drafted, that’s what happens. I guess when Chip Kelly left, all of the blue chip prospects disappeared with him. The likelihood is that Oregon will continue to fall.

Oklahoma Logo17. Oklahoma Sooners- 87 points
Previous: 12 (106 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Lane Johnson, 4th Overall, 2013
The Sooners fell pretty hard in these rankings and seemed poised to continue to do so. Oklahoma has not produced a first round pick since Lane Johnson in 2013. Good for them they have produced a ton of players drafted in rounds four through six or they would already be off the list.

Missouri logo18. Missouri Tigers- 86 points
Previous: 21 (81 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sheldon Richardson, 13th Overall, 2013
Missouri hasn’t exactly been competitive in the SEC of late, but it continues to send highly valued prospects to the NFL. Charles Harris represented the only player from Missou selected this year, which likely means that the Tigers are due for a drop come next year.

Louisville logo19. Louisville Cardinals- 85 points
Previous: 18 (88 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Sheldon Rankins, 12th Overall, 2016
Only producing two players this year in the sixth and seventh rounds certainly hurt the Cardinals, but with Louisville looking like a team on the rise, there could be more prospects on the way to bolster its ranking. Still, the Cardinals could be in for a sharp drop in a couple of years with its 2014 class accounting for more than a third of its points.

Wisconsin logo19. Wisconsin Badgers- 85 points
Previous: 15 (92 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Melvin Gordon, 15th Overall, 2015
A really solid 2012 draft class accounted for much of Wisconsin’s success a year ago and with how tight the points are in the middle of the table, it shows. Wisco drops four spots, but now has a good base to build from with two first round picks in 2017.

UNC logo.jpg21. UNC Tar Heels- 84 points
Previous: 22 (74 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Mitchell Trubisky
You would think that having the second overall pick in the draft would correlate with a big jump up the rankings. Instead, North Carolina moves up just one spot, but seems set to climb higher. A deep class this year consisting of six players should keep the Tar Heels in the top 25 for the foreseeable future.

West Virginia logo22. West Virginia Mountaineers- 83 points
Previous: 16 (90 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Kevin White, 7th Overall, 2015
This is my pick for the school most likely to leave the rankings next year. With West Virginia’s 2013 class consisting of five players taken in the first three rounds and just one player drafted this year in round five, the Mountaineers would need a stellar draft next year to keep them in the conversation.

Michigan State logo23. Michigan State Spartans- 75 points
Previous: 20 (87 points)
Highest Drafted Player– Jack Conklin, 8th Overall, 2016
The Spartans slid a little with just two players selected in 2017. A rough season for Michigan State in 2016 could seal its fate for the future of these rankings. Still, East Lansing has produced more than its fair share of Day 2 selections, which could keep them alive.

Utah_Utes_logo23. Utah Utes- 75 points
Previous: Unranked
Highest Drafted Player- Star Loutelilie, 14th Overall, 2013
Utah is quietly becoming a football school. The PAC-12 is improving each year and NFL teams are noticing. Washington has climbed the rankings. Utah has it’s niche now. Colorado is a candidate to join a in the future. The Utes have produced several mid-round selections headlined by the occasional first rounder; a solid recipe for success.

Auburn_Tigers_logo25. Auburn Tigers- 74 points
Previous: Others Receiving Votes (66 points)
Highest Drafted Player- Greg Robinson, 2nd Overall, 2014
After just missing the rankings a season ago, Auburn snags the final spot. A solid if unspectacular 2017 group pushed the Tigers over the hump. Tennessee is knocking on the door though and could push Auburn out if its draft success does not improve.

Others Receiving Votes: Tennessee- 66 points, Penn State- 65 points, Ole Miss– 62 points, Arkansas- 59 points

Note: All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

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2017 NFL Draft Grades

We’ve had about a week to let things settle now. There were some interesting developments that took place in the draft, from the Bears trading up for Mitch Trubitsky to the Jets taking two safeties to John Ross going in the top ten. With a few days gone by to digest all of this, it is time to grade each team’s draft haul.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals
Grade: B+

With all three of the perceived top quarterbacks off the board at 13, Arizona took the best player available and filled a need in Haasan Reddick. Fourth round pick Dorian Johnson will compete right away. Budda Baker is a great pick to have in the second round, but he fills a similar role to Deone Bucannon as an in the box safety who can play in the slot. Not taking a quarterback in a deep signal caller class was an issue as well.

Falcons logoAtlanta Falcons
Grade: A-

Nabbing Takkarist McKinley after trading up definitely improves an already solid pass rush. He is versatile and crafty. Duke Riley could also see some meaningful time as a cover linebacker and special teams ace. Adding offensive line and running back depth was a good move. Not adding a young safety is the biggest knock here.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens
Grade: B

Rebuilding the defense with four straight defensive picks is a great move. However, Baltimore could use some help at the skill positions. With no true starting running back, a middling receiving core that just lost Steve Smith Sr. and a number of unproven tight ends, offense would have been a good focus. Still Tim Williams could develop into a stud, Marlon Humphrey is going to play smash mouth football. Tyus Bower and Chris Wormley will contribute right away as well on passing downs. But come on Ozzie, passing on O.J. Howard???

Bills logoBuffalo Bills
Grade: A-

Buffalo stood pat on drafting a quarterback when it didn’t one. Instead, they landed another first rounder and took a versatile corner who can contribute right away. Taking Zay Jones could lead to Sammy Watkins finally getting a true compliment in their offense. Nathan Peterman might just develop as well. Really high upside draft for the Bills, who realize that they are more than one piece away.

Panthers logoCarolina Panthers
Grade: A

Only knock here is not adding a corner. The offense just became a lot more electric though with Christain McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel joining the mix. Taylor Moton could challenge for a starting spot right away. There are some holes on the defense still but Carolina took a huge step in the right direction.

Bears logoChicago Bears
Grade: D

No one has quite figured out what the Bears were thinking yet. Trading up to take a player they could have taken at 3 doesn’t make much sense, especially after signing Mike Glennon. The potential of Adam Shaheen and Eddie Jackson prevent this from being a F. But when you have only five picks, your mistakes are compounded.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals
Grade: C-

Another slightly confusing draft class here. John Ross is a blazer, but top-10 is bold. There were some much better players still on the board. Adding a controversial figure like Joe Mixon to a backfield that already has Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill is a head-scratcher as well. Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson have a lot of potential. This is a big draft class for the Bengals, but a very risky one as well.

Browns logoCleveland Browns
Grade: A+

What. A. Haul. The Browns took the best player in the draft in Myles Garrett. Adding a potential playmaker in Jabrill Peppers and added a huge offensive weapon in David Njoku whose potential is through the roof. Deshon Kizer could be the quarterback of the future and Cleveland landed him in the second round. Caleb Brantley is an intriguing pick as well. This doesn’t guarantee the Browns will be better, but this is the best think they could have done to improve. Oh and they got another first round pick for next year.

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys
Grade: A-

After landing a stellar class a year ago, Dallas made a lot of smart moves this season. Taco Charlton should help the pass rush right away. The secondary got a lot deeper with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Both could develop into solid number two guys. With Jaylon Smith coming off a full offseason, this defense should be better. What holds this back is the inability to find a tight end of the future, Jason Witten is getting up there.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos
Grade: B

This would have been lower if they hadn’t just signed Jamal Charles. Garrett Bolles fills a need, but I think he was the third best tackle available. DeMarcus Walker won’t be DeMarcus Ware, but represents a smart pick. Jake Butt could be a steal for a team that hasn’t had a ton of production at tight end since Julius Thomas left town.

Lions LogoDetroit Lions
Grade: B+

Jarrad Davis and Teez Tabor will compete for time right away and improve a defense that ranked last in opponent’s completion percentage. Michael Roberts will be a red zone threat and Kenny Golladay has a huge build to work with. Detroit adding some interesting pieces that need some molding. Solid class, but it won’t blow anyone away.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers
Grade: B+

Green Bay went defense on it’s first four picks. Kevin King and Josh Jones should improve what was a dreadful secondary a year ago. Montravius Adams will develop into a solid defensive lineman. The biggest thing still missing is a true inside linebacker to ensure that Clay Matthews stay on the outside in that defense. Jamaal Williams from BYU should be a nice complementary running back from day one for the Packers as well.

Texans logoHouston Texans
Grade: A-

Filled some major needs and added a few pieces that will contribute this year for a team that made the divisional round of the playoffs last year. Cornerback was the only need not filled with A.J. Bouye in Jacksonville, but Deshaun Watson, Zach Cunningham and De’Onta Freeman could make this a special draft class. Cunning needs to improve his tackling mechanics but he is great at diagnosing plays. Freeman adds some power to the run game and Watson is the most pro ready quarterback entering the league this year. Julie’n Davenport might be the starting tackle by 2018 too. It just better pay off with no first rounder next season.

Colts logoIndianapolis Colts
Grade: B+

Still not adding anyone to protect Andrew Luck was a mistake. The Colts waited until the fourth round to draft an offensive lineman. However, adding Marshon Lattimore and Quincy Wilson will make this secondary very good this year. Wilson will slot in next to Vontae Davis. Marlon Mack could be the heir to the throne as well at running back. Good draft class for Indianapolis.

Jaguars logoJacksonville Jaguars
Grade: A

This might finally be the draft class to pull the Jaguars out of a top five draft spot. Leonard Fournette projects to be a beast. Cam Robinson will be a good offensive lineman when Jacksonville determines what his best fit is. Dede Westbrook is a burner, but has some durability concerns. Dawaune Smoot is a future starter with a high motor. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a developmental quarterback.

Chiefs LogoKansas City Chiefs
Grade: B

The Chiefs made some risky moves in this year’s draft. Patrick Mahomes could pan out great as the future at quarterback. Kansas City gave up a lot to get him though. Tanoh Kpassagnon, Kareem Hunt and Jehu Chesson all have a ton of upside, but won’t make much of an impact this season. In two years, this could be an A+ class, or a complete failure.

Chargers logoLos Angeles Chargers
Grade: A+

There is no one happier with his team’s draft class than Philip Rivers. After signing Russell Okung in the offseason, the team added Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney to finish rebuilding the offensive line into a strength. Throw in the best receiver in the draft in Mike Williams and suddenly this offense has been transformed. Desmond King could also be a steal in the fifth round if he makes the transition to safety smoothly.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams
Grade: C

That other Los Angeles team added some weapons for Jared Goff. Cooper Kupp could develop into a really solid number two receiver. Josh Reynolds has a ton of upside. Gerald Everett is solid pick, but in a tight end class like this one, his selection is a bit of a let down. Overall, the Rams did alright without much draft capital. Sixth rounder Tanzel Smart might be an early impact guy as well.

Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins
Grade: B+

Miami went defense on five of its seven draft picks, including each of its first three picks. All three, Charles Harris, Raekwon McMillan and Cordrea Tankersley could all have an early impact. The Dolphins lose points though for taking Harris with Takkarist McKinley, T.J. Watt and Taco Charlton still on the board. Isiah Ford in the seventh round could turn out to be a great value pick.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings
Grade: A-

Without a first round pick, Minnesota still got a first round talent in Dalvin Cook. Pat Elflein will be an above-average interior lineman for the next decade. Minnesota also added a lot of depth to its receiving and linebacking corps. Sixth round pick Bucky Hodges will be a good piece to develop. The only knock is that Minnesota waited until the 245th pick before taking a player in the secondary.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots
Grade: B+

The Pats made a number of moves in this year’s draft, coming away with just four players. Fitting that Patriots did not make any of their originally slotted selections either. The draft class itself isn’t overly impressive. Adding Brandin Cooks and Kony Ealy make it seem a bit better. New England only selected defensive and offensive linemen. One of them is bound to be a Pro Bowler, but failing to add a linebacker or young wide receiver hurts a bit. On top of all of that, only Derek Rivers is likely able to have any impact on this year’s team.

Saints logoNew Orleans Saints
Grade: B

Adding all of the talent that the Saints did makes this class very impressive. Giving up Brandin Cooks and having only one pick after the third round hurts it a little bit, especially when New Orleans failed to take a receiver with any of its picks. Marshon Lattimore dropping to 11th makes him a steal. He could develop into a good starting corner. Ryan Ramczyk is a prototypical right tackle. Alvin Kamara is good, but after signing Adrian Peterson with Mark Ingram still on the roster, it seemed like overkill a bit. There is also still no long term plan for when Drew Brees retires and that has to be a little worrisome.

Giants LogoNew York Giants
Grade: B-

I’m going with my gut on this one, but many people mocked the Giants’ decision to take Eli Apple at number 10 last year. He turned out to be a big contributor. Evan Engram might be a similar style pick. I can’t help but wonder why not David Njoku though, who went six slots later. Dalvin Tomlinson is the best pick of the lot and will pair up with Damon Harrison to create a road block in the middle of that defense. Davis Webb and Wayne Gallman have potential. For what feels like the millionth time though, the Giants did not address the linebacker position in this draft.

Jets logoNew York Jets
Grade: C+

Mike Maccagnan started trading, and then never really stopped. Jamal Adams is a great pick. So is Marcus Maye honestly with Calvin Pryor headed for the door. Ardarius Stewart has the makings of Jerrico Cotchery. However, not drafting an offensive lineman after losing Ryan Clady and Nick Mangold is questionable. As is waiting until the sixth round to draft a corner. Jordan Leggett might be a steal though in the fifth round, giving the Jets a much needed pass catcher at the position.

Raiders logoOakland Raiders
Grade: B+

D. J. Haden went to Detroit, so Gareon Conley is a great pick, but carries some baggage. Obi Melifonwu with start next two Karl Joseph, giving Oakland a very solid young secondary. Eddie Vanderdoes might turn out to be a sleeper going late in the third as well. I felt like a pass catcher would have been nice to add to this offense to take some pressure of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Linebacker is also still a concern with Aldon Smith’s status seemingly perpetually up in the air. Overall, a very solid group.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles
Grade: A-

This team filled just about every perceived hole. Philly added a pass rusher in Derek Barnett, even if in between positions. Sydney Jones might just end up being the best corner in a very deep draft if he can recapture the form he had before tearing his ACL. Rasul Douglas will help now while Jones recovers. Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson both won’t see the field much this season, but if Alshon Jeffrey doesn’t stay and the team moves on from Jordan Matthews, these two could find some meaningful playing time.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh Steelers
Grade: B

Overall, a solid draft class, but Pittsburgh waited a bit to address the secondary and made a confusing move to grab JuJu Smith-Schuster in the second round. T. J. Watt should help an aging pass rush though and John Connor will be a nice goal line back when needed. Adding a young quarterback to develop in Joshua Dobbs doesn’t hurt either.

49ers LogoSan Francisco 49ers
Grade: A+

Obviously, the trade to move back one spot and still land Solomon Thomas boosts this grade. Reuben Foster might be a Pro Bowler one day, even if he might miss his rookie year. Adding a young signal caller makes sense and George Kittle is a big sleeper in a deep tight end class. He will be on the field from day one as a blocker and developing receiver. Expect Joe Williams to play a role as well. San Francisco really took the idea of rebuilding seriously and made the most of it selections.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks
Grade: C

This was a bit of an odd draft for Seattle. Malik McDowell has some effort concerns, something that the Seahawks have had previous issues dealing with. Ethan Pocic is a great pick for a team that lost Max Unger. There are a few intriguing pieces looking down the rest of the board, but with no corner to develop or linebacker depth, this is a little disappointing by Seattle standards. However, John Schneider has been known to know what no one else in the room knows with some of these later round picks. In two years, this grade might be a little harsh.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers
Grade: B+

Landing O.J. Howard 19th is a coup for Tampa, who desperately needed a game-changer at tight end. Justin Evans is going to need a lot of time before he can contribute though with poor tackling form. Jeremy McNichols and Chris Godwin both have upside and could develop into starters one day. The Bucs have had success taking running backs from Boise State (Doug Martin).

Titans logoTennessee Titans
Grade: C-

Now, this isn’t as bad as Chicago, but passing on Mike Williams for Corey Davis makes no sense. Neither does passing on Gareon Conley and Tre’Davious White to take Adoree’ Jackson. Taywan Taylor might turn out to be a good slot man, but Jonnu Smith over some of the other tight ends available (George Kittle, Jake Butt) is a bad pick. Tennessee filled needs, but not with the best available players.

Washington made up logoWashington
Grade: A-

Even without a GM, Washington quietly had a good draft. Johnathan Allen has some health concerns, but if he can play, he is a top ten talent. Ryan Anderson will contribute right away. Samaje Perine will hopefully aid a struggling backfield. Taking a gamble on Joshua Holsey could pay off as well. Drafting a quarterback to develop would have been nice with Kirk Cousins mulling a move elsewhere after the season, but Washington got some good value from this draft.

2017 Aftermath NFL Mock Draft

Welcome back NFL Draft fans. Matt, Brian and Jack join me once again for our annual mock draft. This is who we think each team should take at their spot, not who we think they will take.

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns shouldn’t overthink this. Just take Garrett and move on. He is a great talent that would hugely improve a terrible pass rush in Cleveland. This is a deep quarterback draft, wait on selecting one. -CM

2. San Francisco 49ers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
While a QB is tempting here, I would rather test out Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley first and then wait for next year when there is a stronger QB class. So, they need to fill their defense, and with the last 2 first round picks being D-linemen, a strong secondary presence makes sense for the Niners. -ML

3. Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
After a 3-13 season, the Bears need to fix a lot.  Importantly, they need to continue to rebuild their defense.  More importantly, a shut down corner can expedite the process, and even with the injuries, Marshon Lattimore is the best cornerback on the board for the Bears to pick. -BM

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
This was easy. Fournette fills a need and was probably the best talent at this point. Also, imagine how this offense will look when the passing game is not the only threat on the field. -JV

5. Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Titans fired their receivers coaches at the end of last season. Rishard Matthews led the way with 65 receptions for 945 yards, in other words, great stats for a number two receiver. Adding Mike Williams fills the void of a big-bodied playmaker who can stretch the field and make third down conversions easier with his huge catch radius. Marcus Mariota was having a Pro Bowl caliber season in 2016 before his injury. Adding Williams would accelerate his growth and make the ground game even more viable, keeping the safety out of the box. -CM

6. New York Jets: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
I really struggled with this pick. In order to avoid the trap of drafting another QB, I really think the Jets should trade down. Malik Hooker made sense here as well, and while Reddick is a stretch, the guy was a freak at the combine and has the ability to play all over the field. Plus, the last guy the Jets drafted out of Temple? Muhammad Wilkerson. -ML

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The Chargers could have gone with a safety with this pick, but I feel Thomas will have a larger impact on the Chargers defense. Imagine Thomas lined up opposite to Bosa. Do I need to say anything more? -BM

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Jonathan Stewart only has so many more miles left on those legs. Not to mention McCaffrey has the hands to catch passes from Cam Newton. This will add another dimension to the Panthers offense. -JV

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
It might not be the biggest need for the Bengals, but adding a great pass rusher and likely the best player remaining makes a ton of sense. He could be a long-term replacement for Michael Johnson or start alongside Geno Atkins. -CM

10. Buffalo Bills: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
This guy is for real.  Howard is a big target, and has the speed and power to match it.  He can make all the catches, run all the routes, and even his blocking as a TE is strong. With the Bills having locked down Tyrod Taylor, it’s time to give him a new toy to play with. -ML

11. New Orleans Saints: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Like every other year, the Saints have a Super Bowl contending offense, but a very flawed defense.  With Hooker dropping this far in the draft, the Saints need to draft him even with the injuries. -BM

12. Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Turbisky, QB, UNC
It’s the same old song and dance. The Browns need a quarterback. Except this time Turbisky apparently wants to play in Cleveland. I guess some people are just gluttons for punishment. -JV

13. Arizona Cardinals: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
While rumor has it that this will be a quarterback, Arizona would be smart to draft the future for wide receiver. Davis can block and is a polished route runner. He needs to work on cutting out drops, but who better to learn from than Larry Fitzgerald. -CM

14) Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Having satisfied their receiver need by signing Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, the Eagles ABSOLUTELY need to take a cornerback, no matter how tempting a RB is. Dalvin Cook is available, but the aggressive corner from the SEC with great open-field tackling skills will be more valuable in the long run. -ML

15. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, LB,  Tennessee
The Colts did a good job improving their defense this offseason, and one could say drafting an OL with this spot would not be reaching.  However, Barnett gives the Colts defense pass rushing they sorely need.  He could even be the most explosive pass rusher after Garret in this draft. -BM

16. Baltimore Ravens: Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, OLB
The Ravens defense has not been the same in recent years and I think they will address that upfront by taking Takkarist McKinley. -JV

17. Washington: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
Washington takes a page out of Dallas’ playbook and continues to build its offensive line up. Giving Kirk Cousins as much time to throw is critical and with so many running backs still available, adding one in the later rounds will bolster the running game. -CM

18. Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
He might just be the better of the Ohio State corners. Lattimore tends to be more highly rated, but his inflated stats are due to teams consistently targeting Conley, who performed admirably under the pressure. With a clean bill of health that his former teammate does not have, and great size and speed for a corner, Conley could step in as a day one starter for the upstart Titans. -ML

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Bucs could go a few different directions with this pick, but their running back corps is in flux with the suspension of Martin.  Cook is a game changing talent once one looks past the off field issues, and Tampa Bay loves Florida State products. -BM

20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos need someone to protect that young quarterback of theirs. Ramczyk comes from a Wisconsin system that usually translates well to the NFL. -JV

21. Detroit Lions: John Ross, WR, Washington
Calvin Johnson is gone and not coming back. Anquan Boldin might skip town too. That leaves a pretty serious void behind Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. Ross can start in the slot right away and spread the field underneath by taking the top off of defenses. -CM

22. Miami Dolphins: Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
Once Pouncey returns healthy for the 2017 season, the offense will be shored up, so the Dolphins most glaring hole is CB.  Jackson is explosive and can immediately be plugged next to Byron Maxwell.  An added benefit is his strong play on special teams. -BM

23. New York Giants: Jarran Davis, LB, Florida
For years, ever since Antonio Pierce retired to be honest, the Giants have desperately needed a linebacker, and never taken one. They should this year in one of the strongest LB classes to date, and Davis might just be the best of the bunch. Davis has great tackling instincts, flies to the ball, and word on the street is he’s the kind of character you want to lead your team. -ML

24. Oakland Raiders: David Njoku, TE, Miami
You know how the Raiders usually draft big fast wide receivers? Well, why not a big fast tight end to throw into the mix? Njoku could be a real threat for this team who opens up different areas of the field for other players. -JV

25. Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
About time Houston lands a quarterback. The likelihood is that Watson will be long gone by this pick, but in this scenario, selecting him makes a ton of sense. The one thing that Houston desperately needs is a quarterback. Watson is the most pro ready in this draft, making him a great fit for Houston. -CM

26. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Seattle is transitioning to a central focus on Russell Wilson, and therefore need to keep him upright so he can make the plays he has to. So, Seattle needs to take the best lineman available who is ready to play right now. I think that guy is Robinson, as the LT at Alabama for 3 years has the experience against great SEC defenses to make an immediate impact on Seattle’s line. -ML

27. Kansas City Chiefs: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Foster dropped in the draft because of his off field issues, and looking past that, he is clearly the best player available. Derrick Johnson is coming off a torn achillies and will be 35 in November. I have the Chiefs drafting Foster because they should go with the best player available route. Also, Reid knows how to deal with players with previous off field issues, and on the field, Foster will put the Chiefs over the top. -BM

28. Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
As much as I wanted to add to the Cowboys’ offense here, their secondary really needs help. Even though White might be the fourth or fifth corner taken, this is a deep cornerback draft and the Cowboys are getting a good cover corner in White. -JV

29. Green Bay Packers: Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
Keeping Clay Matthews at outside linebacker is essential. Adding Cunningham will allow for that. He needs to improve his tackling, but he always seems to be around the ball. He will likely improve the run defense right away. -CM

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
This was my favorite pick of this mock draft, because I honestly think it is a perfect fit at the end of the first round.  Ever since Troy Polamalu retired, his presence has been missed, as Pittsburgh misses his wrecking ball mentality and his playmaking abilities.  Peppers is athletic enough to fill that void, and if handled correctly, could vault the Pittsburgh defense right into line with its explosive offense. -ML

31. Atlanta Falcons: Budda Baker, FS, Washington
Although the Falcons defense improved last season, there is still a lot of work to be done.  One could argue they need a defensive lineman or a linebacker to help shore up the rush defense, but the secondary needs help.  Baker is a playmaker and could easily make the Falcons secondary the strength of their defense. -BM

32. New Orleans Saints: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Similar to the Cowboys above, I was really tempted to take some offensive talent, but could not ignore the issues the Saints have on defense. Again, this is a deep cornerback draft and we could see quite a few cornerbacks go in the first round. This Saints defense looks a lot better with Hooker and King coming to town-JV

Top remaining potential draft steals

Most of the well-known names are off the boards, it is the point in the NFL Draft where everyone is looking for a potential steal. The fourth round is about to get under way. Here are my top five potential steals left on the board as we enter day three.

Cardale Jones, Quarterback, Ohio State
Jones’ potential is through the roof. He has a tremendously high ceiling but also a very low floor. That comes as a result of Jones being very raw and sporadic. He has some really great game film from the end of the 2014 college season. However, his film from 2015 is less than compelling. The biggest concern is his inconsistency and lack of game experience. He will be a project, but he is oozing with potential.

Jordan Howard, Running Back, Indiana
His very interesting college career might be causing him to slide. He has very solid speed, running a 4.59 40 time. However, he lacks some agility that would make him a great player at the professional level. He might not always need it though because he is a bit of a bruiser. Howard had a ton of production in college, which should bode well for him going forward. He could be a great compliment to a speed back somewhere else in the league.

Christian Westerman, Offensive Guard, Arizona State
He started out at Auburn and eventually went back home to ASU, but he projects well in the NFL. He has massive hands, which allows him to control defensive players at the point of attack. Westerman has great raw strength, but he doesn’t always find the best way to translate that into his play. Give him a year to learn from an experienced line coach and Westerman could be a starting lineman in 2017.

Miles Killebrew, Safety, Southern Utah
I am very surprised to still see Killebrew on the board. I really thought he would be a day two selection, which means him still being on the board gives him the label of a steal. He is hard hitter with great size at 6’2″ and 215 pounds. He also possesses really good straight-line speed running a 4.5 at his pro day. He is a bit of a raw talent, but he was very productive at Southern Utah. I wonder if his time at a small school is hurting him here, but he should be a special teamer early on before moving into a potential starting role down the line.

Scooby Wright III, Middle Linebacker, Arizona
This is a tough one. Wright was one of the best linebackers in college football in 2014, but fell off significantly in 2015. Part of that is due to a knee injury, but the dropoff is concerning. He was a very productive college player, but his play is often described as sporadic. He is not a clean tackler and often lacks balance needed to stay on plays. With some coaching and some time to clean up his technique, he could be a very good player. Some scouts were comparing him to Zach Thomas. I wouldn’t mind drafting another Zach Thomas in the fourth or fifth round.

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First Round Draft Grades

Our coverage of the NFL Draft continues here on The Aftermath. The first round is in the books. The second round is under brown, and there are some really good players still on the board. (Myles Jack, Reggie Ragland, Sterling Shepard, Derrick Henry and Jarran Reed to name a few)

Let’s take a look at how each team did in the first round. I am looking at not just the player each team took, but how he fits into the team’s philosophy, how he projects in the team’s system and where they selected him.

Arizona_Cardnals_logo_(1994-2004)Arizona Cardinals: Robert Nkemdichie, Defensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Grade: A-
This wasn’t exactly a need for the Cardinals but this team has been looking to improve the pass rush for the last few years. Adding Chandler Jones this offseason started the trend and Nkemdichie makes it even better. He has some off the field concerns, but I think Bruce Arians will handle that well.

Falcons logoAtlanta Falcons: Keanu Neal, Safety, Florida
Grade: C+
Atlanta certainly had a need here, getting a nickle safety who is physical enough to drop down into the box and provide run support. He was probably a bit of a reach at 17 though, but after Karl Joseph went 14 to the Raiders, the Falcons did not want to wait though which is why this pick does not score higher.

Ravens logoBaltimore Ravens: Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
Grade: B+
Larmey Tunsil is probably the better player, but clearly his social media antics caused him to slide. Stanley will improve this offensive line, eventually at left tackle but probably beginning at right tackle. Stanley is a much better pass protector than run blocker, and Baltimore really needed the latter, but Stanley is still a good pick.

Bills logoBuffalo Bills: Shaq Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson
Grade: A-
Rex Ryan gets another defensive player and a Clemson guy in one pick. He will lessen the blow of Mario Williams leaving in free agency. Overall, Lawson should aid the pass rush right away and down the line become a great three-down lineman. Kyle Williams is coming off knee surgery at age 33 as well, making this pick even more of a need.

Panthers logoCarolina Panthers: Vernon Butler, Defensive Tackle, Louisiana Tech
Grade: B+
The Panthers did a good job not to panic and reach on a corner at this spot. Instead, they take one of the best players left on the board in Butler. However, this is already a very talented defensive line, so it will probably be a while before we see him get significant playing time.

Bears logoChicago Bears: Leonard Floyd, Outside Linebacker, Georgia
Grade: B+
The Bears needed to improve their pass rush and they accomplished that by taking Floyd. He has a bit of a ways to go before he is a complete linebacker, but he should help a rebuilding defense from day one. Bonus point to them for sneaking ahead of the Giants to snag him too.

Bengals LogoCincinnati Bengals: William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston
Grade: A-
This was a great selection for Cincy. They have spent a lot of first round selections on corners but I think Jackson is a better fit. He has great speed that makes him a natural fit at nickle corner as a rookie and he can grow into the defense as he develops.

Browns logoCleveland: Corey Coleman, Wide Receiver, Baylor
Grade: A
Cleveland nailed this one. Coleman is probably the receiver in this draft with the highest ceiling. The Browns are not going to be a contender this year so grabbing a receiver with high upside makes sense. On top of that, they raked in a bunch of early round picks over the next three drafts. That’s a good way to start rebuilding.

Cowboys logoDallas Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliot, Running Back, Ohio State
Grade: A
The likelihood is Dallas might have been able to trade down a few spots and still take Elliot. However, Elliot is a slam dunk pick for Dallas. NFL.com compared him to Edgerrin James. I think he is like LeVeon Bell. This kid is going to be really good in the NFL.

Denver_BroncosDenver Broncos: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis
Grade: D
The Broncos needed a quarterback in the worst way after Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler spurned them for Houston, but this was not the one to take. Lynch is going to need a few years of sitting on the bench before he can really contribute, but the Broncos have a roster built to win now. That pairing doesn’t seem to make much sense.

Lions LogoDetroit Lions: Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Grade: B+
Many thought the Lions would go receiver with this pick but the move to take Decker is a smart one. Riley Rieff’s contract expires after this season and the Lions need to give Matt Stafford more time in pocket. He should also improve a struggling Detroit running game.

Packers logoGreen Bay Packers: Kenny Clark, Defensive Tackle, UCLA
Grade: C-
The Packers are usually one of the best team’s on draft day, so maybe I just don’t understand the genius of this pick, but with Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson and Vernon Butler still on the board, taking Clark is confusing. I also still think this should have been Reggie Ragland, so Green Bay could finally move Clay Matthews back outside.

Texans logoHouston Texans: Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Notre Dame
Grade: F
Yeah, I really don’t like this pick. Fuller is a straight line speed guy who struggles to run routes. He has small hands and a small frame. He is a deep threat, but not a first round talent. Also, why the heck did you give up a sixth round pick to move up one spot to take him? Yeah, I just really don’t like how this went down.

Colts logoIndianapolis Colts: Ryan Kelly, Center, Alabama
Grade: A-
I really thought the Colts could have traded down and still grabbed Kelly, but he is a great player and it definitely fills a need. Andrew Luck has to be very happy about this selection.

Jaguars logoJacksonville Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, Cornerback, Florida State
Grade: A
Jacksonville was patient and ended up landing probably the best prospect in the draft, much like the Jets did last year with Leonard Williams. Gus Bradley has to be thrilled with this pick, but now he is out of excuses. This defense needs to perform this year.

Chiefs LogoKansas City Chiefs: No Selections
Grade: B
Kansas City was smart to trade back and rack up a couple more selections. There weren’t any receivers going at that point. Now they sit early in the second round, and picked up a fourth and sixth.

Los Angeles Rams logoLos Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, Quarterback, California
Grade: C+
The Rams gave up a lot to take Goff, who doesn’t really fit the system Jeff Fisher runs. However, he should be the best quarterback on the Rams’ roster by the end of 2016. He might take a little while to get going, but he should be a solid player.

Dolphins logoMiami Dolphins: Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Grade: A+
The Dolphins ended up with the likely steal of the first round. Tunsil is a future stud and while Miami might not be the best environment given his off the field antics, the Dolphins’ offensive line is set with him and Juwan James for the next several years.

Vikings logoMinnesota Vikings: LaQuon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Grade: A
This fills a need for Minnesota and it is the right guy for their system. Treadwell should be a good possession receiver to compliment the explosive potential of Stefon Diggs and Corradelle Patterson. Also a great run blocker for a team that has Adrian Peterson in the backfield. Teddy Bridgewater needs to deliver now.

Patriots LogoNew England Patriots: No Selections
Grade: C

No movement to speak of for the Patriots, they will get two picks at the end of round two. For right now, they are just average.

Saints logoNew Orleans Saints: Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle, Louisville
Grade: B+

This is what many assumed the Saints would do at 12. Passing on Lynch was a good move for them. They had the worst defense in the league last year so any defensive player was a smart move for them.

Giants LogoNew York Giants: Eli Apple, Cornerback, Ohio State
Grade: C-

I have to admit I was a little confused by this one. Hargreaves was still on the board and this wasn’t a major need for the Giants. Apple will be a good player, but this definitely a reach.

Jets logoNew York Jets: Darron Lee, Outside Linebacker, Ohio State
Grade: B+

The Jets didn’t take Paxton Lynch, which already makes this a good pick. Lee is far from perfect, but this Jets’ linebacking core has needed an infusion of athleticism for a long time. They get that with Lee.

Raiders logoOakland Raiders: Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
Grade: B-
Oakland definitely jumped the gun by taking Joseph at 14, but they got their guy. He is a big play safety with a nose for the ball. The Raiders needed someone to bolster the secondary. Slight injury concern with him, but still a solid pick.

Eagles LogoPhiladelphia Eagles: Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State
Grade: B
Wentz might end up being the best quarterback in this draft when all is said and done. However, Philly created a major quarterback controversy with this pick and had to give up some high draft picks to make this selection. The future is set, as long as the locker room survives it.

Pittsburgh_Steelers logoPittsburgh Steelers: Artie Burns, Cornerback, Miami
Grade: C
Pittsburgh filled a need with this pick, but Artie Burns is a questionable first round selection. Obviously, the Steelers would have preferred if William Jackson had fallen just one more pick. Pittsburgh addressed a problem in the secondary, but not with the best player.

Chargers logoSan Diego Chargers: Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State
Grade: B
He isn’t a great system fit, as he would have done better in a 4-3 system, but Bosa is a great player for San Diego. He definitely helps a Chargers defense that ranked 27th against the run last year. He is a polished product ready to contribute from day one.

49ers LogoSan Francisco 49ers: Deforest Buckner, Defensive End, Baylor and Joshua Garnett, Guard, Stanford
Grade: B
Trading up into the first round for Garnett hurts this grade. Buckner was a great pick for the 49ers and should be a force from day one. Garnett is a good player and fills a need for San Francisco, but trading up to get him didn’t make a whole lot of sense considering that no one else was likely to take him.

Seahawks logoSeattle Seahawks: Germain Ifedi, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M
Grade: A-
Trading back and still getting offensive line help is a big win for Seattle. He is a tough, physical and will be able to contribute fairly early in his career. Picking up some extra picks in the process makes it even better.

Buccaneers logoTampa Bay Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, Cornerback, Florida
Grade: A
Tampa needed this guy all along to help fix their secondary. They also added a fourth round pick for their swap with Chicago. He plugs in as a starter from day one.

Titans logoTennessee Titans: Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State
Grade: B-
Conklin fills a major need here for Tennessee, who needs to better protect Marcus Mariota. However, even with the character concerns, Tunsil was still on the board and the Titans had to give up some picks to get up to take Conklin. Probably smart to move ahead of the Giants, but still a little bit early for him.

Washington made up logoWashington: Josh Docston, Wide Receiver, TCU
Grade: B
Not necessarily a need for Washington, but Docston should help make Kirk Cousins look even better. Bonus points for adding an extra draft pick by moving down one spot. Not sold on Doctson yet, but he shows some potential with that big body.