The Hearttrhob’s 2017 First Round Mock

The NFL Draft is an interesting time.  Sports fans everywhere become experts on college kids they’ve read about or seen a few times.  Some base their entire opinion on a kid coming out of college because of how he looked at the combine or even because of that cool word “tangibles.”  Whatever it may be, it’s supposed to be fun at the end of the day.  The start of a career for a young athlete, hope for fans of downtrodden franchises or,  building blocks for the continued success for others. Keep in mind, I never claim to be a draft expert, but today I will claim to be just that.  Deal with it.  Here is how the first round will shake up.


1.    Cleveland Browns – will trade this pick to the JetsJets select Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC   – good luck, Mitchell 

2 .   San Francisco 49ersDeshaun Watson, QB, Clemson  – after all their posturing – this was the guy they wanted, not Trubisky
3.    Chicago BearsJamal Adams, S, LSU    – they won’t do this, because this is who I think is the best player in this draft and the Bears love to make me miserable.  Let me dream though. . . please?
4.    Jacksonville JaguarsLeonard Fournette, RB, LSU – This is pretty much the last stand for quarterback Blake Bortles – they will continue to give him weapons – up to him to do something with them.

5.    Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams) – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M – Oh, nobody wants the highest rated player in the draft?  “Thanks” say the Titans.

6.    New York Jets  traded pick to Browns, Browns select – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama.  Good luck, John.
7.    Los Angeles ChargersMarshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State  – ugh, how many editors are going to not correct sports-writers who say L.A. Clippers instead of L.A. Chargers this year? . . .
8.    Carolina PanthersMike Williams, WR, Clemson  – This team relies on Cam to do everything – but he has close to nothing to work with.  This should help out.
9.    Cincinnati BengalsMalik Hooker, S, Ohio State    – really nothing cute to say about the Bengals – they’ve gotta blow this team up, I think.
10.    Buffalo Bills trade pick to Indianapolis Colts   – Colts select O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama – Choosing to ignore their terrible defense they just load up on offense.
11.    New Orleans SaintsJohn Ross, WR, Washington – replacing Brandin Cooks won’t be easy but – oh wait, they just did with this pick!
12.    Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech – I’m just putting this selection here because everyone else is.

13.    Arizona CardinalsAdoree’ Jackson, CB, USC   – this could be a major pickup for a team that needs to become a contender again – secondary should be legit.
14.    Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee – Need pass rushers in this division.
15.    Indianapolis Colts traded pick to BillsCorey Davis, WR, Western Michigan – Hopefully, he can avoid injury unlike Sammy Watkins and become a consistent, week to week threat for the Bills.
16.    Baltimore RavensCam Robinson, OT, Alabama  – it’s boring, it’s typical, it’s Baltimore . . . Robinson will be a four time pro-bowler though.
17.    Washington RedskinsDalvin Cook, RB, Florida State – keep adding good weapons around Cousins, so it’ll make his goodbye at the end of the season that much more painful.

18.    Tennessee TitansSolomon Thomas, DL, Stanford – Good thing this is a mock-draft because the Titans are the best team in the league after this draft!    
19.    Tampa Bay Bucs Marcus Williams, S, Utah – just makes sense for a team moving in the right direction
20.    Denver BroncosDavid Njoku, TE, Miami    – Denver is just stuck right now.  Probably drafting two more QB’s in later rounds
21.    Detroit LionsChristian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford – great versatile weapon for a team that lacked consistency in the back field last year
22.    Miami DolphinsHaason Reddick, LB, Temple – Dolphins fans attacked me a lot on twitter last year.  I still don’t get it. But whatever, I hope you guys win 5 games this year.
23.    New York GiantsRyan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconin – He’ll be the best offensive lineman on this team as soon as he’s drafted.  Hope they win fewer games than the Dolphins though.
24.    Oakland RaidersZach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt   – This falls into their lap and it’s exactly what they need at the moment.
25.    Houston TexansDeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame  – Houston pulls the trigger that Denver wouldn’t and draft Kizer.  Immediately regret this decision though by week three. Kizer is out of the league in 4 years.
26.    Seattle SeahawksEthan Pocic, G, LSU     – Time to protect Wilson, and time to start running the ball more.  Pocic is a quiet late first round steal.
27.    Kansas City ChiefsJoe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma – Chiefs are willing to take a gamble on him.

28.    Dallas CowboysJabrill Peppers, ??, Michigan – Cowboys are willing to take a chance on Peppers.  They don’t even know what substances he used.  They don’t even know what position he plays. But it’s cool. . .
29.    Green Bay PackersT.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin    – home town product stays put
30.    Pittsburgh SteelersMarlon Humphrey, CB. Alabama – quiet as kept, Pittsburgh’s draft position doesn’t really show how adequate they are.  This is a great pick for them if he’s around though.
31.    Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, LB, UCLA   – The Falcons blew a 28-3 lead.

32.    New Orleans Saints (from New England)Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan – who else wants to hear the name “Taco” at the end your draft party!?


G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Silver and Black Beast

Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch announced his retirement the same day as Super Bowl 50 back in early 2016.  He left behind a legacy of being bruising-back, with a very specific personality.  His final season though in 2015, was one to be forgotten.  A sports hernia injury limited him to half the season where he had his lowest yards per-carry average in five seasons (3.8 ypc) and when he did return in the playoffs, he was held to 20 yards rushing by the Carolina Panthers.

He has sat out an entire year after this and now is ready to play again.  And he wants to play for his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders.  Alrighty then. . .

The Raiders are in need of a running game.  One would guess that the current starter is Deondre Washington, who ran for over five yards a carry on limited opportunities behind Lativius Murray.   Although the Raiders organization likes Washington, they are a team that feels they can challenge the Patriots in the AFC – and a healthy Marshawn Lynch just might be what pushes them ahead.

Lynch and the Raiders have apparently come to an agreement and it’s all pending a trade with the Seahawks, who still own Lynch’s rights.

If the Raiders aren’t going to have to shell out a lot of dough for Lynch, it’ll be worth the gamble.  Lynch provides them a strong running game as well as a tough and veteran presence in the huddle.

There are a few red flags though when considering this move.

The most obvious is that Lynch’s running style is violent and after years of running as hard as he does, are we to believe that a 30 year old back, who is a year removed not only from the game of football but also a sports hernia injury, can be the player he once was?   And even if he is that  guy on the field – remember the mention earlier of his specific personality?

Lynch is on another planet.  He gives the media a hard time and is pretty much a loner.  His playing style goes in contrast with his personality – he does not exhibit the “brute” type of energy off the field.  He is more of a recluse, who tells corny jokes while staring at the floor.  For a team like the Raiders, it’s obvious they all gel together.  From Derek Carr all the way down, the culture has been remixed in Oakland and everyone is feeling good about themselves.  Lynch could potentially throw a wrench into that harmony.  As stated by Matt Calkins of the Seattle Times, Lynch was integral to building the culture in Seattle and “that gave him locker-room clout that might not await him in Oakland.”

The Oakland Raiders averaged 4.4 yards a carry last year, and know that in order to maintain the success their offense had this year, and to maintain the progression of their young quarterback Derek Carr they would like to keep that the same, or obviously, get better.  If Lynch has at least one more good run left in him, it will turn out to be an upgrade for a team that already boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC East: First Round Mock

The NFC East is usually a crap-shoot when it comes to guessing which of these four teams will finish the season on top.  The Redskins have the roster – but are a mess of a franchise; the Eagles are always a popular pick but usually fizzle out; the Giants get a pass on average seasons because of their recent history in the playoffs and the Cowboys – well, you either love ’em or hate ’em.

Philadelphia Eagles

Finished with a  7-9  record

Def Yards: 13th   Off Yards: 22nd

The Eagles started off 5-0 and were a train wreck the rest of the season.  They had a horrific record away from home 1-6 and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz had a terrific start and was sent right back down to the Land of Humble Pie by year’s end.  They spent the off-season getting offensive line help and more depth at the wide-out position and although they could use a new look at running back, chances are they will address the defense with the 14th pick in the first round.   Tennessee’s Derek Barnett is a defensive end who can help out the Eagles pass rush.  They finished in the middle of the NFL with 34 sacks last year and a pass-rusher of this caliber will help put them in the upper tier of that category and as we all know.  In a division where the Cowboys and Redskins both finished in the top five of total offenses next year – this would help the Eagles tremendously.

New York Giants

Finished with a 11-5 record

Def Yards: 10th    Off Yards: 25th

My least favorite team to talk about.  Ever.  They went out and signed Brandon Marshall at wide-out giving them a three headed monster at the position along with Odell and Sterling but they lack a punch with the offensive line, Eli seems to be regressing and zero-talent at the running back position.  Defensively they over-achieved playing against a lot of back up quarterbacks last season so it’ll be interesting where they go.  Jerry Reese usually just goes with the “best player on the board” concept during the draft.  Their might be two linebackers in that spot and two offensive linemen in that spot.  The Giants need to address the offensive line if they ever intend to have a running game and expect to keep Eli upright.  Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk is a tough tackle who worked to get where he is.  He worked through the FBS ranks to find himself starting at left tackle for Wisconsin.  Wisconsin plays a brand of “tough” football so he’s no stranger in mixing it up at the line of scrimmage.  Could be a very, very good pick for the Giants.

Dallas Cowboys

Finished with a 13-3 record

Def Yards:14th    Off Yards: 5th

The Cowboys are turning the page in the franchise and it’s clear that the future is now, with quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliot.  Losing safety Barry Church in free-agency might’ve been a blessing in disguise because he was a perennial under-achiever who “just happened” to play well in a contract year.  Knowing who the Dallas Cowboys are, they will fill in that safety spot with the biggest grin on their faces as they take Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers.   Peppers is one of the true first-round-wildcards because people love his versatility and athleticism but wonder how well it will translate in the pros.  If Peppers is there at the 28th pick, you better believe the Cowboys are wasting no time and going with the flashy pick that may end up being well worth it.

Washington Redskins

Finished a 8-7-1 record

Def Yards:28th    Off Yards: 3rd

Oh man.  Why won’t they just give Kirk Cousins the contract he wants?  Why?  The stupid, stubborn Redskins finally have a good thing going and they are going to watch it blow up in their faces.  Cousins is primed to have another good year.  He’s seemingly mastered Jay Gruden’s system and is in a contract year.  The Redskins, aside from their average record, really have a nice roster.  They could go cornerback at this spot, and help out Brashad Breeland (who really disappointed me last season – get it together Breeland, I still believe in ya’!) or go draft a running back – I mean that’s what Dallas did and it worked for them right?! (that’s me imitating the Washington brass. . .)  Florida State running back Dalvin Cook makes the most sense just because it is a guarantee that Cousins won’t be here next season, so having all the pieces on the offense around a new quarterback might be exciting for a free agent or draft pick in 2018.  The Redskins are going to look flashy from time to time this year and Cook has all the tools to be a big play maker for them in the backfield.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Chicago Bears 2017 Mock Draft

When you finish 3-13 on the season, everyone on the roster and upper management is expendable.  Even though this is a situation where the Bears should have patience and let general manager Adam Pace have some time to do his job – the fan-base has just about had it.  And why not?  The Bears have seen the Packers dominate the division, and even seen the Vikings and Lions do things “the right way” to find themselves in a positive light.  The Bears do everything in a mediocre fashion – at best.

All is not lost though, they seem pretty formidable on both sides of the line of scrimmage and if last year wasn’t a hoax, running back Jordan Howard could be the back this franchise has been clamoring for, for decades. . .

Round 1: Pick 3:

Jamal Adams – Safety – LSU

Before the signing of Mike Glennon, many believed the Bears would take a quarterback here.  Namely Mitchell Trubisky or DeShone Kizer.  It’s apparent that management wasn’t comfortable with naming either of those guys the “future” of the franchise, so instead they outbid – well no one, really – and signed Mike Glennon.  The Bears secondary is one of the worst in the league – and has been for a few years now. Jamal Adams may be one of the best complete players in this year’s draft.  He can cover one on one, has great reaction to the ball and is a fearless tackler as well who can play in the box to combat the run.  He was the leader of one of the best defensive units in college and leadership is something this secondary needs.  He can change the tone of this defense from day-one.

Round 2:  Pick 36

Evan Engram – Tight End – Ole’ Miss

If the Bears get luck and Engram is there, they HAVE to snatch him up.  Besides being a great receiving tight end, this is a position (tight end) that the Bears need to rectify this off-season.  Engram is a game-changer at tight end – great receiving skills and route runner.  He’s not the most polished blocker, but at least he tries – that already makes him potentially better than, let’s say, a Jimmy Graham. . .

Round 3: Pick 67

Taylor Moton – Offensive Tackle – Western Michigan

Although offensive line isn’t a huge need, it’s a need none-the-less and it’s always good to gain versatile big men upfront.  The Bears caught lightning in a bottle last season with the versatility of Cody Whitehair, and Moton offers that versatility in a bigger package.  Moton is 6’5″ 330 and started at guard but then moved into right tackle for the Broncos.  It’s always a gamble when taking a lineman out of the MAC as they don’t see the defensive line talent seen at the Big 10 or SEC, but his versatility is key.

Round 4: Pick 111

K.D. Cannon – Wide Receiver – Baylor

His draft grades have been everywhere from the second round to the sixth round.  Draft expert Justin Higdon predicts that he’ll be available in the 5th or 6th round, but in terms of “wishful thinking” let’s just say he’s around in the fourth. . . the Bears have a need at receiver which is why they went and signed two in the off-season.  They lost Alshon Jeffrey to free agency (which will turn out being a blessing in disguise) and are relying on Kevin White to finally be healthy.  Cannon is explosive and loves the spotlight.  He hasn’t shown much of the route-running ability due to the way Baylor football is run, but he is definitely a gamer and has “big-play” ability, something the Bears desperately lack.

Round 4: Pick 117

Damonte Kazee – Corner Back – San Diego State

Is this a reach?  Probably but the Bears are limited with draft picks and Kazee has an “upside” that is very promising.  He went back to college for his senior year because he wasn’t impressed with his draft grade after being the Mountain West defensive player of the year but even with all his stats, it seems he’s destined to be slotted in the 4th – 6th rounds. He’s  5’10” 180 and is a decent tackler, but a great cover guy, who also works his way to force some fumbles.

Round 5: Pick 147

Chad Kelly – Quarterback – Ole Miss

Not too many guys beat Alabama.  He did.  He can make all the passes, great arm strength and above average mobility.  Unfortunately character concerns and a leg injury last season have folks very wary of the gunslinger out of Ole Miss.  After the Johnny Manziel fiasco the NFL had to deal with, having a young headache at the quarterback position is something no team wants to deal with.  For a team like the Bears though, it’s worth the gamble.  Pound for pound, if given the chance he can surpass the likes of Mike Glennon – it’s all about how focused the young Rebel is. . .

Round 7: Pick 221

Krishawn Hogan – Wide Receiver – Marian University

One of my favorite prospects in the draft, Krishawn Hogan.  At 6’3″ 220 pounds, he brings the physicality corners fear to the position of wide out.  Not many people see football games played by Marian University, and he was the first player from his university to be invited to the NFL combine.  It was there where the naked eye revealed that he belonged.  Good hands, good speed for his size (4.6 at the 40) and showed  nice cutting ability.  He could be a steal if there ever was one in the NFL Draft.

It would be nice to see the Bears maybe trade for a few more late round picks, which may very well happen.  Maybe draft a running back to push Jeremy Langford at the two spot behind Jordan Howard. Maybe Baylor’s Shock Linwood or Utah’s Joe Williams deserve a look from Chicago.  Of course they can also look for a sleeper pass rusher like Steven Taylor of Houston or even Illinois product Hardy Nickerson, whose father of the same name,  played in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio



NFC North: First Round Mock

This is a division that just tears at my soul. . . as a Chicago Bears fan, it hurts to see all other three teams in this division have some kind of potential or hope.  All the while, the Bears fumble through their seasons as if they have just learned the sport. . .

Green Bay Packers

Finished with a 10-6 record

Def Yards:22nd    Off Yards: 8th

The Packers pass defense ranked 28th in the league giving up 248 yards a game, but that stat is misleading because the Packers rush defense was so good, teams usually had no other option but to throw the ball against them.  Their 17 interceptions on the year proves that their defense was up to the challenge and their 40 sacks last season were the sixth highest total by any team in the league.  Green Bay might just fine tune this defense up a bit and do it with some home good cooking.  Wisconsin’s T.J. Watt is another one of these athletic linebackers who can play in or out.  He has his brother’s knack for swatting passes if he can’t get to the quarterback and is playing to make a name for himself.  The in-state talent would fit in great here and there is no “becoming accustomed to the weather” type of scenario for this former Badger.

Minnesota Vikings

Finished With an 8-8 Record

Def Yards: 3rd   Off Yards:28th

No team was smacked back down to reality faster than the Minnesota Vikings last season (eh, maybe the Eagles too. . .).  They started the season 5-0 and only managed to win 3 more games after their bye-week.  Adrian Peterson is gone so they signed Latavius Murray to the squad, who is mediocre at best.  Unfortunately, the Vikings traded their first-round pick for quarterback Sam Bradford last season.  It looked like a thing of genius early, but then it just looked like Sam Bradford. . .

Detroit Lions

Finished With a 9-7 Record

Def Yards:18th    Off Yards: 21st

For quarterback Matthew Stafford, he had his first taste of life without Calvin Johnson.  He threw 8 fewer touchdowns, but he made the playoffs – so it depends on what you’re looking for, I guess.  Maybe a running game would’ve helped out – because the two-headed monster of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah is more like a sleeping dragon. . .that sleeps. . . and sleeps. Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey may be exactly what this team needs to get a ground game going. McCaffrey is a true dual-threat back, who has the ability to break a big play from anywhere on the field.  He is a smart player, who is patient in waiting for his blocks.  He should amount up to what Abdullah was supposed to be. . .

Chicago Bears

Finished With a 3-13 Record

Def Yards: 15th   Off Yards:  15th

The Bears did a good job drafting last year.  They scooped up Leonard Floyd in the first round and he showed flashes of his pass rushing ability frequently last year.  Cody Whitehair proved to be a starting offensive lineman in this league, drafted to be a guard and became the day one center for the Bears; and Jordan Howard, the fifth round running back out of Indiana ran for over 1300 yards in his rookie campaign.  The Bears won 3 games though. . . if the Bears enter next season healthy they actually do have some skill and size on both sides of the line of scrimmage – receivers and secondary players though . . .they might be the worst in the league at both of those positions.   The Bears haven’t had a good safety since Mark Carrier left the team in 1996 (sorry, Mike Brown fans) – LSU’s Jamal Adams is a safety that can be an All-Pro for many years to come.  Besides having excellent instinct on the ball, he is an aggressive player, who can line up in the box and also cover down the field in man coverage.  If the Bears are ever going to make strides in this secondary, getting a player like Adams is the perfect place to start.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

NFC South: First Round Mock

This is a division that has represented the NFC Conference in the last two Super Bowls.  Unfortunately for the Falcons and Panthers, they ended up on the wrong side of memorable losses.  The Saints are trying to give coach Sean Payton and veteran QB Drew Brees “one more run” and the Buccaneers are a team definitely on the come up.  . .

Carolina Panthers

Finished 2016 with a 6-10 record

Def Yards: 21st  Off Yards: 19th

When you’re below average in offense and below average in defense, it’s easy to see you’re a team that has issues.   In Free-Agency they brought back defensive end Julius Peppers, who is somewhere in the range of 55-65 years old, second year man Devin Funchess’ supposed break-through season, ended up being a bust and Cam Newton was the NFL’s punching bag, literally and figuratively last season.

This is a situation in which you try to figure are you better off giving Cam Newton a chance out there, or do you start to rebuild a defense?  If you’re Ron Rivera and the Panthers brass, you’ve got to hitch your ride on Cam Newton.  Cam was the league two seasons ago and they’ve got to rebuild that confidence, because the entire team goes off of his vibes.  This is why with the 8th pick in this draft the Panthers should select Clemson wide-receiver Mike Williams.  We already mentioned the disappointing season had by Devin Funchess, but the number one option Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t record 1,000 receiving yards (that went to the tight end of the team, Greg Olsen).  Williams is a 6’3″ 205 pound man-child, who is a strong receiver who out-muscles defenders and is an excellent red-zone target.  The Panthers offense isn’t too difficult which is a perfect situation for any rookie wide-out, but Williams has the potential to be a top-10 receiver in the league, some where down the line, and he could end up being Cam’s new number one by the end of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Finished With a 9-7 Record

Def Yards: 23rd  Off Yards: 18th

When your starting safety is Chris Conte, it’s pretty obvious where you should go in the first round.  Bad news is, the top three safeties might be gone by the time the clock starts ticking on the Bucs’ 19th overall pick.  Adams, Hooker and Peppers might very well be gone, which leaves the Bucs to choose from UConn’s Obi Melifonwu and Utah’s Marcus Williams.  Melifonwu is more of the physical type, while Williams is the more skill-base-type of safety.  Williams might be a bit of a stretch this early, so if this is who the Bucs want, they might try to trade further back into the first round and take him, but Williams is a player who came out of a very good defensive school, in a division that has high-powered offenses.  The Pac-12 is a conference that loves to throw the ball around and he did exceptionally well against that.  He has a great knack for being around the ball and can help a defense that gave up 250 passing yards a game last year.

Atlanta Falcons

Finished with a 11-5 Record

Def Yards:25th   Off Yards:2nd

Without depressing Falcons fans (and Patriots haters) on how the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. . . ugh, how can we ignore that?  What a debacle.  Bad play-calling, decision-making and effort all rolled into one of the most classical “choke-jobs” in professional sports history. . . but ANYWAY. . . the Falcons have no use for drafting anything offensively, and although their defense finished 25th in total yardage, towards the end of the season, this unit seemed to be getting it altogether. . .until the end of the Super Bowl.  Getting to the quarterback is what the Falcons needed to do more of against Tom Brady and they failed.  Vic Beasley is the only consistent pass rusher on this defense and with the 31st pick of the NFL Draft, the Falcons might luck in and be able to grab Takkarist McKinley, of UCLA.  McKinley is an outside linebacker who can also play as a defensive end if needed.  He has a good burst off the line and has the ability to become a nuisance off the edge and through the gut.

New Orleans Saints

Finished With a 7-9 Record

Def Yards:27th     Off Yards: 1st

When looking at the defensive and offensive yardage rankings between the Falcons and the Saints, it’s hard to believe that one team was dominant during last season, and the other was the Saints.  Of the Saints 9 losses, only two of those games were determined by double digits, and six of those games were determined by five or less points. The Saints are painfully mediocre with a stellar offense – it’s a tough place to be. . .or even end up at, if we’re being honest.  With Brandin Cooks now in New England (where he will be an amazing addition) it only makes sense that the Saints go after the speedster out of Washington, John Ross.   Ross was the talk of the NFL Combine for running a 4.22 forty-yard-dash and he is the natural comparison to Brandin Cooks.  A small, shifty receiver, with good route running skills and the ability to stretch the field.  The Saints know that with their veteran quarterback Drew Brees, they can’t have him lack a weapon he used as often as he did last season.  If all goes well, it should be a perfect fit and the Saints would not lose a step in their offensive attack.

G.W. Gras