- The Lions have signed free agent punter Kasey Redfern, according to a team announcement. Redfern, 25, was sent to the Browns last August as part of the Panthers’ Andy Lee acquisition, but didn’t end up making Cleveland’s final roster. A Wofford alum, Redfern has bounced around the NFL since entering the league in 2014, but has yet to appear in a pro contest. Detroit signed punter Sam Martin to a four-year extension in September, so Redfern won’t act as anything more than a camp body in the Motor City.
The 2017 NFL Draft begins on Thursday night, and Pro Football Rumors is back with its second mock draft of the year. While our initial mock attempted to project what will happen in Round 1, we’ve taken a different approach for mock draft 2.0.
PFR editor Zach Links and I conducted this live mock draft on Tuesday morning, rotating picks and breaking down what we would do were we in charge of these selections. We posted each pick on Twitter, followed by a short explanation of our thought process on this page.
Here’s the complete mock:
1. Cleveland Browns (Zach) – Myles Garrett, LB, Texas A&M
I suspect this is the easiest pick either one of us will make all day. Garrett is the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Browns would be foolish to go in any other direction at the top of the draft.
2. San Francisco 49ers (Dallas) – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Reports that the 49ers are considering a quarterback with the second overall selection stand out as a potential smokescreen, and instead San Francisco uses the No. 2 pick to bolster its defense. Hooker, who recently earned a full medical clearance following combine rechecks, has been commonly linked to the Chargers as a perfect fit for Los Angeles defensive coordinator Gus Bradley‘s scheme. But the 49ers are running the same defensive look as the Chargers under new DC Robert Saleh, and Hooker would give the team a centerfielder with the upside of an Earl Thomas. San Francisco’s plan to convert nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward to safety won’t stop it from adding Hooker, who is possibly the draft’s No. 2 overall prospect.
3. Chicago Bears (Zach) – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
Dallas’ bold pick left my Bears with a golden opportunity. The Bears could go safety or cornerback in this scenario, but the talent of Thomas is too good to pass up. Thomas can be used on both the inside and outside of the Bears’ defensive line and I see him as one of the safest talents on the board.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Dallas) – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
No, we didn’t forget the Jaguars used a top-five pick on Jalen Ramsey in 2016 and then handed a $67.5MM contract to A.J. Bouye in free agency last month. But one of Ramsey’s key selling points last year was his versatility: while he’s a shutdown corner at his best, Ramsey can man the slot, cover tight ends, and dabble at safety. As such, adding Conley doesn’t mean Jacksonville is facing cornerback overload, especially given that NFL clubs are in the nickel more than two-thirds of the time. Conley is viewed as a safer prospect than his Ohio State teammate Marshon Lattimore, and he’d give the Jaguars a Broncos-like secondary.
5. Tennessee Titans (Zach) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Titans, arguably, get the best cornerback available in the draft even though they are the second team to address the position. No, we don’t have a ton of film to go on for Lattimore, but his combine numbers indicate that he could be a megastar. Few teams in the NFL would have a young cornerback duo like the Titans if they can pair Logan Ryan with Lattimore.
6. Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Jets) (Dallas) – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
In need of a franchise quarterback, the Browns send the No. 12 and No. 52 pick to the Jets in exchange for No. 6 with the intention of drafting Trubisky. It’s a slight overpay for Cleveland (at least, based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s draft value chart, which is likely what the Browns front offices uses), but it does the deal anyway to land a long-term option under center. Given that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is reportedly pressing the club to select a quarterback early — and the fact the Cleveland may still be considering Trubisky with the first overall selection — landing the UNC signal-caller at No. 5 for the cost of a mid-second-round pick is a move the Browns can’t pass up.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (Zach) – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
In this scenario, it seems like Allen’s subpar workouts have led to a bit of a drop. His size (6’3″) is a bit of a concern, but he has the ability to be an effective defensive end while spending some time on the inside as well. Allen would look great lining up on the opposite end of Joey Bosa.
8. Carolina Panthers (Dallas) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Sitting at pick No. 8, the Panthers certainly have options. General manager Dave Gettleman & Co. could go after a running back like Leonard Fournette or Christian McCaffrey, bring in a young edge rusher to play alongside veterans like Charles Johnson and Julius Peppers, or even reach for an offensive tackle given Michael Oher‘s health questions. With Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown having defected via free agency, the Panthers need another wideout to pair with Kelvin Benjamin. Enter Davis, who topped 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (Zach) – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster’s stock, by all accounts, is slipping after he turned in a diluted urine sample and got into an argument with a hospital worker at the combine. However, with other teams in the market for an inside linebacker (like the Jets at No. 12, for example), it would be somewhat risky to trade down into the teens and expect Foster to still be there. The Bengals have been willing to overlook character concerns in the past, so I see no reason why they can’t do the same here and land the Alabama star.
10. Buffalo Bills (Dallas) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
While the Bills gave Jordan Poyer a four-year deal with $6MM in guarantees earlier this offseason, I’m still not convinced Buffalo views him as a definite starter. Those questions come to the forefront with Adams still on the board, and the Bills don’t hesitate to take the LSU defensive back. With ex-Packer Micah Hyde also in the fold, Buffalo can field one of the more diverse and flexible safety tandems in the league. Adams is viewed as a leader in the locker room, and has been favorably compared to former Cowboys All Pro Darren Woodson by Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
- Don’t expect the Lions to be drafting offensive lineman, either. As Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Bob Quinn spent much of last season revamping the unit, so it’s unlikely that he commits more picks to the offensive line. Instead, the general manager expects to select the best players available, especially in the first round. “I’m big into the best player available,” Quinn said. “I mentioned it last year, best player available, meshing with kind of what your needs are on your team, so I think you kind of have to look at both avenues when you’re making decisions in the draft.”
- Entering a contract year, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could become the highest-paid player in the NFL by next offseason, though Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press argues that he’s not worth it. While Monarrez expects the Lions to cave to Stafford’s demands, he opines that the signal-caller’s age (30 next February) and zero playoff wins are among the reasons the team would be better off letting him test the market than become the league’s richest player in Detroit.
- Speaking of the Lions, general manager Bob Quinn addressed the strengths of this year’s draft Thursday, saying it’s particularly deep at running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and tight end (Twitter link via Tim Twentyman of the team website).
The Lions will have to make a decision on tight end Eric Ebron‘s fifth-year option by May 3, but their front office has “talked very little about” it, general manager Bob Quinn said Thursday to reporters, including Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Quinn added that team brass is undecided on Ebron’s option and will “spend the next two weeks discussing” it.
Exercising Ebron’s option would give the Lions control over him in 2018 for around $8.5MM, which would be guaranteed for injury only. But Ebron could become superfluous to the Lions beyond the upcoming season if they spend a high pick in this year’s draft on a tight end, which Meinke notes is a possibility. Ebron himself was a high pick not long ago, in 2014, when the Lions selected the ex-North Carolina standout 10th overall.
The 24-year-old Ebron has been fairly prolific during his career, having progressed from 25 catches as a rookie to 47 in 2015 to 61 last season. Only nine tight ends finished 2016 with more receptions than Ebron, who also posted a career-high yards-per-catch average (11.7) and logged a personal-best 13 starts. However, he finished last among TEs in drops (seven) and caught just one touchdown (four fewer than his 2015 total).
Ebron will make $3.9MM in 2017, potentially his final season in Detroit.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley visited the Lions this week, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). As a result of the shoulder surgery he underwent in March, McKinley could be on the shelf until at least July. Nevertheless, he still has a realistic chance to end up a first-round pick after breaking out last season with 10 sacks. The Lions finished with a paltry 26 – the fewest in the NFC and the second-worst mark in the NFL.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters Tuesday that he “would love” to sign an extension with the Lions, but further comments indicate he’s looking to cash in – not take any kind of a discount – writes Kyle Meinke of MLive.com. Stafford addressed whether a mega-deal with the Lions would hinder their ability to build a quality team around him, saying: “I know every year teams find good ways to put good teams around good quarterbacks. You see it every year. So I’m not too worried about that. I know that the salary caps and all that kind of stuff is as malleable as you want it to be, so I think you just go and try and make a good decision for not only the player but the team and go from there.” Only four of the NFL’s 10 highest-paid quarterbacks were on teams that made the playoffs last season, with top-compensated signal-caller Andrew Luck among those whose clubs didn’t qualify. Thanks to the ever-rising cap, Stafford, 17th in QB salary in 2016, could be in line to supplant Luck as the league’s richest passer on his next deal.
More from the NFC:
- The fact that quarterback Drew Brees is entering his age-38 season is a good reason for the Saints to swing a deal for New England cornerback Malcolm Butler, argues Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Butler would occupy a hefty chunk of New Orleans’ cap room with an extension and would likely cost the team the 32nd overall pick, but he’s young enough (27) and has proven enough to make a trade a worthwhile move for a win-now team whose best player, Brees, might not have much time left, Triplett suggests. Butler signed his restricted free agent tender Tuesday, making him eligible for a trade. The Saints have shown significant interest in Butler this spring, even engaging in productive contract talks with him last month.
- If the Cardinals were to draft a quarterback, that player would step into a “unique” situation, head coach Bruce Arians told Darren Urban of the team’s website (Twitter link). The Cardinals will rest aging starter Carson Palmer each Wednesday during the season, enabling the rookie to helm the first-team offense in practice once a week and perhaps expedite his development. Arizona owns the 13th overall pick and has shown interest in several draft-bound QBs, including prospective first-rounders Mitch Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Davis Webb and DeShone Kizer.
- The way the Redskins approach the offensive tackle position in the draft could be a sign of how extension talks are going with Morgan Moses, observes Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The right tackle is set to play a contract year, so it’s possible the Redskins will spend an early pick on a potential replacement. On the other hand, if they only address the position late or not at all, it may bode well for a new Moses deal. Washington has the money to get a deal done, opines Tandler, who expects Moses to earn $6MM to $7MM annually on his next pact. The 25-year-old has certainly made a case for a raise – he’s coming off his second consecutive 16-start season, one in which he ranked as Pro Football Focus’ 17th-best tackle among 78 qualifiers.
- Meanwhile, Tandler senses that Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy and safety Bashaud Breeland are inclined to wait on discussing extensions (though it’s unclear whether the team is pursuing deals with either). While Murphy tallied a career-high nine sacks last season, his contract year has already gotten off to an inauspicious start with a four-game suspension. Breeland just switched agents, but judging by Tandler’s report, he’s not ready to put his new rep’s negotiating skills to the test quite yet.
Tulloch, 32, entered the league as a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2006. After serving as a backup during his first two seasons with Tennessee, Tulloch became a full-time starter in 2008 and never looked back, starting 107 games over the next eight years. He joined the Lions one a one-year deal in 2011, but played well enough to be handed a five-year extension in 2012.
Injuries plagued Tulloch during his final few years in Detroit, and he was ultimately released in 2016. Subsequently, he followed former Lions head coach (and current Eagles defensive coordinator) Jim Schwartz to Philadelphia, inking a one-year pact with the club last August. Tulloch played sparingly, however, seeing the field for just seven percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps.
PFR wishes Tulloch all the best in retirement.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The latest minor moves…
- Raiders defensive end Denico Autry has signed his RFA tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Raiders gave the 2014 undrafted free agent an original-round tender, leading to speculation that he could draw interest from elsewhere. Instead, Autry will return to the Raiders on the heels of back-to-back three-sack seasons. ERFAs Seth Roberts (WR) and Denver Kirkland (G) are also back in the fold, according to Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter).
- The Seahawks have re-signed linebacker Kache Palacio, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. Palacio, a former fullback who went undrafted out of Washington State last year, spent most of 2016 on Seattle’s practice squad.
- Lions ERFAs Brandon Copeland (DE), Kerry Hyder (DT) and T.J. Jones (WR) have signed their tenders, tweets Birkett. Dolphins ERFAs Mike Hull (LB) and Anthony Steen (C) did the same earlier Monday, per Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
- The Panthers have re-upped restricted free agent guard Andrew Norwell and a pair of exclusive rights free agents – center Tyler Larsen and punter Michael Palardy – writes Bryan Strickland of their website. Carolina used a second-round tender on Norwell, who will earn $2.746MM in 2017. Norwell combined for 29 starts over the previous two seasons and ranked 11th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 72 qualified guards last year.
- Steelers RFA cornerback Ross Cockrell has inked his original-round tender, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Cockrell went in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, so the Steelers would have been entitled to a fourth-rounder had Cockrell signed elsewhere and they elected against matching the offer. The 25-year-old caught on with the Steelers in 2015 and has since totaled 31 appearances, 23 starts and two interceptions. Cockrell started in every Steelers game last year, and his performance ranked an improve 28th among 111 qualified corners at PFF.
- Chiefs RFA kicker Cairo Santos has signed his tender, per Schefter (on Twitter). Santos, undrafted in 2014, received a low tender; as such, Kansas City wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had he gone elsewhere. The three-year veteran has connected on 84.3 percent of field goal attempts, including 88.6 percent last season (good for fifth in the league).
- Lions offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas has signed his RFA tender, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The Lions assigned Lucas an original-rounder tender last month, so they wouldn’t have gotten a pick had the 2014 undrafted free agent signed elsewhere and they chose not to match. Lucas is now slated to make $1.797MM this year in Detroit, where he has started in six of 35 career appearances.
- The Buccaneers have re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin, cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah, tight end Cameron Brate, linebacker Adarius Glanton, and wide receivers Adam Humphries and Freddie Martino, per Scott Smith of the team’s website. As a restricted free agent, Griffin is the only one of the bunch who could have potentially gone elsewhere (the rest were exclusive rights free agents). The Bucs tendered the 2013 undrafted free agent at an original-round level last month, and he’ll now try to win the No. 2 role behind Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay’s previous second-stringer, Mike Glennon, is now the Bears’ starter.
- RFA defensive back Marcus Burley and ERFA running back George Atkinson III are returning to the Browns, per a team announcement. Burley, undrafted in 2013, received an original-round tender. The former Seahawk is coming off his first year in Cleveland, where he appeared in 12 games and played just under 40 percent of the Browns’ special teams snaps.
- Fullback Tommy Bohanon and receiver Larry Pinkard have signed with the Jaguars, tweets the team’s account. Bohanon is the only with NFL experience, having logged 36 appearances and 14 starts as a Jet from 2013-15.
- Speaking of the Jets, they have re-signed linebacker Julian Stanford (via Randy Lange of the team’s site). The Jets could Stanford on Friday, but both sides knew that was only a procedural move. Last season was the first as a Jet for the 26-year-old Stanford, who appeared in nine games (two starts) and played about a quarter of their defensive snaps and a third of their special teams snaps.
- The Lions continue to engage in conversations about a Matthew Stafford extension, and the talks are unfolding amicably, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Bob Quinn told season-ticket holders today he and Jim Caldwell, unsurprisingly, want Stafford in Detroit long-term but still doesn’t anticipate anything being done until the summer. That’s been his stance throughout the offseason.
- Stafford joins Matt Ryan and Derek Carr as quarterbacks who could become the league’s highest-paid player by summer’s end. The Lions’ ninth-year starter should look to build in protections for future cap spikes to ensure he stays near the top of that list, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. While this kind of deal has not been completed, Florio notes some quarterbacks and agents have tried to insert such language into contracts. It would cost the Lions $26.4MM to use the franchise tag on Stafford next season.