Now that championship weekend is behind us, we are closing in on a very depressing time of year. Super Bowl 51 being less than two weeks away means that soon enough we’ll have to go back to shitty, regular life. I cringe at the thought of going through an entire week of hardship just to start over again on Monday, without my fix of NFL action on Sunday. Baseball season, NBA playoffs, NHL playoffs, and March Madness may be on the horizon, however none of these things are quite like the National Football League. Once the next champion is crowned, the fans will begin another long wait until the greatness returns next September. Until then, mock drafts and free agency rumors will takeover the NFL news spectrum. With that being said, let’s take a look at the first version of Group Sports Network’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft:
1. Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
The Browns should be ashamed of themselves if they mess this one up. Myles Garrett is easily the best talent in this draft class, and is most likely going to be a franchise-altering player. With a large amount of holes to fix as well as another pick in their back pocket at #12, this one should be a no-brainer for the Browns. Garrett, who does not play quarterback, should do just fine in Cleveland.
2. San Francisco 49ers: QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
San Francisco appears to be more than ready to move on from the infamous kneeler, QB Colin Kaepernick. Watson’s championship performance against Alabama surely drove his draft-stock through the roof, and it is likely that one of the top 3 teams in the draft take a shot with the Clemson product. With Chip Kelly out the door, it’s time for a rebuild in the Bay Area. Every good rebuild starts with finding your franchise quarterback.
3. Chicago Bears: QB Mitch Trubisky, UNC
The Bears, like the 49ers, also appear ready to move on from their longtime gunslinger. The later half of Jay Cutler’s career has been a disappointment to say the least, and his services are useless for any young team that is trying to rebuild. Trubisky offers a fresh start for the Bears, who haven’t made the postseason since 2010. Chicago desperately needs a new face to come in and officially rid the city of Cutler’s resting douche face.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
Jacksonville saw an extreme drop-off in offensive production in 2016. It was disappointing for the young Jaguars, who looked like they were finally on the rise following a strong 2015 campaign by both QB Blake Bortles and WR Allen Robinson. Bortles’ struggles in 2016 were largely in part due to his offensive line and assuming he’s still the man in Jacksonville, ownership should look to protect their QB and give him more time to make plays. Robinson, at 6’6 and weighing 310 lbs., is arguably the most dominant offensive lineman available.
5. Tennessee Titans: WR Mike Williams, Clemson
Tennessee will also select at #18 with their own pick, so this one gives them the opportunity to snag a top 5 talent. While the Rams watch from home in agony, the Titans should take the guy who’s been drawing comparisons to Calvin Johnson. QB Marcus Mariota flourished in 2016, posting career numbers before breaking his fibula during week 16. Pairing Mariota with a legitimate #1 weapon through the air would take the Titans offense to an entirely new level. The Rams will rue the day that they traded away this pick for Jared Goff next season, when Mike Williams posts more receiving yards than passing yards by Goff during his rookie year (1,089).
6. New York Jets: OLB Tim Williams, Alabama
The Jets, like Cleveland, are another team that has a wide range of draft needs. They finished the 2016 season on a rather embarrassing note it and started to look like addressing secondary would be their top priority going into the offseason. New York needs a serious edge-rushing linebacker to take the pressure off the secondary and get their defense back to where it was in 2015. Tim Williams is the perfect fit for this role. If New York decides to stick with Christian Hackenberg or Bryce Petty at QB, look no further than the Alabama juggernaut at #6.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: S Jamal Adams, LSU
Fresh off a move to Los Angeles, the new-look Chargers should look to bolster their secondary by selecting Jamal Adams out of LSU. The Bolts defense allowed an average of 26.4 points per game in 2016, which was 29th in the league. Adams would look to fill the void left by Eric Weddle and anchor a defense that needs major improvement for the sake of Philip Rivers’ mental health.
8. Carolina Panthers: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
The Panthers are more than ready to put 2016 behind them and move on from the hangover they suffered all year following their Super Bowl 50 loss. RB Jonathon Stewart was banged up to begin the season and upon return did not look as strong as he did in 2015. At age 29, he isn’t going to get any younger. Although cornerback is a major concern, Carolina should turn their attention to Fournette, who was highly regarded as the best back out of this draft class before his late-season injury.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: DE Derrick Barnett, Tennessee
The Bengals are in desperate need of a spark on the edge of their defensive line. Although Jonathon Allen is projected to be taken ahead of Barnett and is assumed to be the better player, Cincinnati already has two talented veterans in Domata Peko and Geno Atkins locked in at DT. With that being said, defensive end is the top priority for the Bengals and Derrick Barnett is the best available after Myles Garrett.
10. Buffalo Bills: WR Corey Davis, Eastern Michigan
If the Bills decide to stick with Tyrod Taylor at QB, they should give him another weapon in Corey Davis. Davis running routes opposite to Sammy Watkins with LeSean McCoy and Taylor in the backfield would form a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Buffalo should take any help they can get on offense with defensive-minded head coach Sean McDermott set to take over in 2017.