Normally at this time of the year, the top story in regard to the NFL draft is centered around the race for the No. 1 pick. But the Cleveland Browns continue to cling to the top spot and show no signs of relinquishing that control.
The San Francisco 49ers are one game behind the Browns and, if the Browns were to pull off an upset victory, the 49ers’ strength of schedule would currently give them the tiebreaker for the top spot.
Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Browns schedule down the stretch does not bode well. The most winnable games remaining for Cleveland are home contests against the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers.
Here’s a look at an updated mock draft, featuring the current draft order through Sunday night’s action, followed by a few other NFL draft storylines to keep an eye on. The order is determined using the full-season strength of schedule as the tiebreaker.
|1||Cleveland Browns||Mitch Trubisky||QB||North Carolina|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Myles Garrett||DE||Texas A&M|
|3||Chicago Bears||Jonathan Allen||DL||Alabama|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||Malik McDowell||DL||Michigan State|
|5||New York Jets||Jabrill Peppers||S/LB||Michigan|
|6||Cincinnati Bengals||Leonard Fournette||RB||LSU|
|7||Tennessee Titans (from LA)||Mike Williams||WR||Clemson|
|8||Carolina Panthers||Cam Robinson||OT||Alabama|
|9||San Diego Chargers||Jamal Adams||S||LSU|
|10||New Orleans Saints||Derek Barnett||DE||Tennessee|
|11||Green Bay Packers||Reuben Foster||LB||Alabama|
|12||Arizona Cardinals||Marlon Humphrey||CB||Alabama|
|13||Tennessee Titans||Marshon Lattimore||CB||Ohio State|
|14||Buffalo Bills||Tim Williams||LB||Alabama|
|15||Baltimore Ravens||John Ross||WR||Washington|
|16||Indianapolis Colts||Dalvin Cook||RB||Florida State|
|17||Pittsburgh Steelers||Desmond King||CB||Iowa|
|18||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Zach Cunningham||LB||Vanderbilt|
|19||Cleveland Browns (from PHI)||Ethan Pocic||C||LSU|
|20||Miami Dolphins||Teez Tabor||CB||Florida|
|21||Atlanta Falcons||Jarrad Davis||LB||Florida|
|22||Detroit Lions||Solomon Thomas||DL||Stanford|
|23||Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN)||Ryan Ramczyk||OT||Wisconsin|
|24||Washington Redskins||Lowell Lotulelei||DT||Utah|
|25||Houston Texans||Marquis Haynes||LB||Ole Miss|
|26||New York Giants||Charles Harris||DE||Missouri|
|27||Kansas City Chiefs||Raekwon McMillan||LB||Ohio State|
|28||Denver Broncos||Taco Charlton||DE||Michigan|
|29||Seattle Seahawks||Dan Feeney||OG||Indiana|
|30||Oakland Raiders||Gareon Conley||CB||Ohio State|
|31||New England Patriots||D’Onta Foreman||RB||Texas|
|32||Dallas Cowboys||O.J. Howard||TE||Alabama|
Leonard Fournette‘s Ankle Injury
Will Carroll of SEC Country reported last week that LSU running back Leonard Fournette‘s ankle injury, which has hobbled him for much of the 2016 season, is a chronic issue that will linger throughout his career.
This is obviously a shocking headline that will lead to concerns about Fournette‘s draft stock. However, Carroll goes on to explain that chronic ankle injuries are not necessarily a serious issue, and surgery can often correct them.
Fournette has been playing through pain for much of the season, and he has remained productive. This could ease some of the concerns teams have over the injury. If it does pop up again in the future, they may feel more comfortable having already seen how Fournette performs when he is not 100 percent.
For now, any adjustment to Fournette‘s draft stock would be a pure guess. Even NFL teams won’t know how to adjust his placement on their boards until he’s checked out by the medical staff at the NFL combine in February.
Until then, it’s probably safe to assume Fournette remains a first-round lock.
Entering this season, there was optimism surrounding the 2017 quarterback class, but the season has been filled with disappointment.
According to Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton, while speaking on SportsTalk 790 in Houston, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s gave a grave outlook for one of the most highly touted prospects:
Bombshell from @LanceZierlein– he hasn’t heard one NFL person who thinks Deshaun Watson goes in the first-round this spring.
— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 15, 2016
Watson’s lack of development has been disappointing. He remains a productive college quarterback, but he has struggled to build upon his breakout sophomore year and continues to make many of the same mistakes that have led to 26 interceptions over the past two seasons.
Unfortunately, this quarterback class is starting to look a lot like the 2013 draft.
In 2013, West Virginia’s Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley received a lot of early hype but ultimately fell out of the first round entirely. EJ Manuel, the only first-round quarterback that year, quickly turned into a bust for Buffalo Bills, and none of the quarterbacks from that class entered the 2016 season as starters.
The one quarterback who could still save this year’s draft class is North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky.
Dane Brugler of CBS Sports said that Trubisky, in his first year as the Tar Heels starter, has the skills to be a first-round talent.
ESPN’s Todd McShay also has Trubisky listed as his top-rated quarterback and the only quarterback among his top 32 players.
Crowded Class of Cornerbacks
Check the comment section of any mock draft, and you’ll find someone complaining about their favorite cornerback being left out—and they probably have a legitimate gripe.
Talented cornerbacks load this draft class, and some extremely valuable players will fall to the second round simply because the position is overflowing with talent.
In fact, there’s so much talent that multiple schools could produce two first-round cornerbacks.
Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley are among the first-round options. Florida also has Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson as potential early selections.
McShay listed four cornerbacks among his top 32 prospects on his latest big board. CBS Sports’ Rob Rang listed five, but he has only one overlapping player with McShay (Tabor).
Between those two draftniks, that’s a combined eight corners with first-round grades, demonstrating the incredible depth at the position in this class.