The 2016-2017 season may be over, but football fandom never takes a break.
As the football world congratulates the New England Patriots on another Super Bowl victory, Bucs fans are surely eager to see what’s next for their team, which that showed a lot of promise in 2016, and hopes to be playing in that final game of the postseason sometime soon.
Last week, PewterReport.com gave Tampa Bay fans a good idea of which prospects the Buccaneers might be interested in for the 2017 NFL Draft with it’s second 7-round, Bucs-specific mock draft of 2017. This week we’re give you even more background to that by providing you with a full NFL first-round mock draft.
Understanding Tampa Bay’s draft possibilities through all seven rounds is important, but knowing what future opponents are planning is also worth knowing, as well as seeing which prospects could realistically be where in terms of draft selection in the first round (which will determine how the rest of the draft plays out).
With that said, let’s have some fun, keep an open mind, and visualize how the 2017 NFL Draft could shake out – after all, it’s nothing more than fantasy football at this point.
1. Cleveland Browns
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TEXAS A&M DE MYLES GARRETT
We’ve all seen the Cleveland Browns’ continuously scratched out quarterback jersey meme. This franchise needs a solid signal caller like no other team in the world. However, I’m not sure they pull the trigger on one of the quarterbacks in this class at No. 1 – they do have another pick at No. 12, which they could use to get better value for a quarterback.
Garrett is a pass-rushing machine. His build and his skills make him the obvious top choice in a stacked defensive class, which is really saying something. He should be their guy here.
2. San Francisco 49ers
NOTRE DAME QB DESHONE KIZER
Though I don’t have the Browns taking a quarterback at No. 1 for a few reasons, I think the 49ers will overlook those due to their situation being a bit different. The Niners are bringing in a new GM and a new head coach in 2017. With them will come an entirely new philosophy, not just in how they play on the field, but in how they build their team and theme the organization moving forward.
That makes me think that, even though the quarterbacks at the top of their class have their risks, they’ll take the one with the highest ceiling as the new identity all around. With size, build, arm strength and intangibles, that highest ceiling belongs to Kizer. But, it’s important to note that he has a long way to proving that potential.
The 49ers might be #TheProcess team of the NFL for the next few years – a play off what the Philadelphia 76ers have been in basketball developing high ceiling players and acquiring draft picks.
3. Chicago Bears
NORTH CAROLINA QB MITCH TURBISKY
As Tampa Bay fans saw first-hand this season, the Jay Cutler experience needs to be coming to a close in Chicago.
With Kizer off the board, the choice here will be between Turbisky or Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. I think the NFL will hold Turbisky in higher regards than Watson.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
FLORIDA STATE RB DALVIN COOK
Many have mocked LSU’s Leonard Fournette to the Jaguars at No. 4, but I think Cook overtakes him as the top back.
The important variable for Cook’s draft stock will be his medical review at the NFL Scouting Combine. As long as he doesn’t have anything chronic or lingering (ankles, shoulder), his stock will be worthy of the Top 10. The Jaguars desperately need some consistency on offensive, and though Cook doesn’t fix Blake Bortles’ bad decision making, his success means Bortles wouldn’t have to throw as much.
5. Tennessee Titans
WESTERN MICHIGAN WR COREY DAVIS
This is pretty high for Davis, huh? I don’t think so, and after Davis’ Pro Day (since he’s not running at the Combine), I don’t think NFL teams will think it is too high, either.
Clemson’s wide receiver Mike Williams would also be a good choice here, but I see rare athleticism from Davis. I think Williams is the more polished prospect out of the two right now, but I think Davis has the better potential to make those Dez Bryant, Julio Jones-like athletic plays.
I think he’s a Top 10 talent, and being the top at any position means there’s a chance at going high.
6. New York Jets
CLEMSON QB DESHAUN WATSON
I do not believe in Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg, and after at least one season with both, I’m not sure the Jets do, either.
Watson’s a leader. He performs best when the moments is at their greatest – like a certain quarterback we just witnessed win his fifth Super Bowl – and knows how to command an offense. He doesn’t have the best arm distance-wise, and his accuracy can be a bit shaky at times, but I think both of those narratives are being blown out of proportion compared to the amount of good he’s shown as a quarterback.
The critics on Hooker are all the same. People say his tackling is an issue, but I think that narrative is lazy. For a first year starter playing in a deep safety role (not box or walk-up safety), I thought he did just fine. Hooker’s instincts are stuff you can’t teach; they’re drawing comparisons to Ed Reed and Earl Thomas, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having a player like that for the Chargers’ 3-4 defense elevates every level.
8. Carolina Panthers
WISCONSIN OT RYAN RAMCZKY
Say this one with me: Weapons aren’t the best way to help a quarterback, the offensive line is. Writers like to pick on Carolina’s receiving corps. – and, don’t get me wrong, it’s not good – but their offensive line is so much more of a problem.
I think the Panthers finally get to fixing that and even double dip in this draft with some offensive linemen. For the first, they’ll have their pick of any whether it be Alabama’s Cam Robinson or Ramczyk. The latter is the better prospect, and the guy I think they take the bait on.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
ALABAMA LB RUEBEN FOSTER
When we hear the term “playmaker” we often correlate that with offense, but the same can be said for defensive players, too.
The Bengals have a strong defense, but they need playmakers on defense. They need one of those guys who can fly around and make stops when no one else can. That’s Rueben Foster. You’re going to read this pick being a lock for a while, but it makes too much sense if Foster doesn’t go sooner.
Clemson WR Mike Williams – Photo by: Getty Images
10. Buffalo Bills
CLEMSON WR MIKE WILLIAMS
The Bills have a big question mark at quarterback due to Tyrod Taylor being an upcoming free agent, and backup quarterback E.J. Manuel being terrible. Taylor said he wants to come back, and with an offense that has LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Marquise Goodwin, I don’t blame him.
However, though those guys have that big-play potential, Taylor – or whoever becomes the starting quarterback – will need that guy who they can always count on to get intermediate yards for first downs. Williams is a great option for that, and he would also be a top red zone threat.
11. New Orleans Saints
ALABAMA DE-DT JONATHAN ALLEN
It seems odd that Allen would drop this low, but in this mock, offensive players and position preferences made it possible – to the Saints’ delight.
I’ve seen plenty of debate on whether Allen is an interior defensive lineman or if he’s an edge player. I tend to side with the former. I think Allen’s best work is done when he’s able to move and shed blockers on the inside. He might need to put on a little weight, but I don’t see that as a hurdle for getting the most out of his skill. Regardless, he’s a versatile defensive lineman who can disrupt from many spots.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org