2017 NFL Re-draft Part 2: How Far Will McCaffrey Fall?

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 09: Christian McCaffrey
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 09: Christian McCaffrey /

This is the 2nd part of my 2017 NFL Re-Draft which gives a look at how things would look after getting a taste of the rookies.

For part one of this 2017 NFL Re-Draft, click here.  

With most of the elite talent of the board, part two of the 2017 Re-draft is marked by players who have seen limited snaps in the NFL. Teams who drafted well late (like the Giants, Steelers and Saints) may miss out on pieces that have helped them tremendously this season. Additionally, several later-round picks jump into the first round.

This may be the first time you hear some of the names on this list (such as Eddie Jackson or Marcus Maye). But if they continue to play like they have been early on in their careers, it certainly won’t be the last.

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17. Washington Redskins – Carl Lawson, DE – Auburn

Though Coach Jay Gruden would prefer to limit his role, Chris Thompson has been too good to keep off the field. As a result, he has steadied Washington’s rushing attack through Rob Kelley’s absence.

While they would rather have their original pick—Jonathan Allen—the Redskins instead turn to defensive end Carl Lawson. With 4.5 sacks this season, Lawson continues to earn playing time for Cincinnati. Ryan Kerrigan has been fantastic this season, and adding a rusher opposite him would improve their already formidable pass rush.

18 . Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams, WR – Clemson

The entire Titans defense has been impressive. Tennessee’s problem is their passing offense, which isn’t even averaging a full passing touchdown per game, and has only seven passes of 25+ yards this season (30th in the NFL). The absences of Marcus Mariota and Corey Davis have obviously hurt. But it has been quite some time since Tennessee has had a legitimate outside threat.

Here, they take Mike Williams out of Clemson. The big-bodied receiver has great hands, ball-tracking ability, and can make contested catches. Whether his speed translates to the next level is still up for debate. If it does and he can get consistent separation, Williams would be a welcome addition to any offense.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Gareon Conley, CB – Ohio State

I’ll avoid the obligatory Hard Knocks joke for now, but Tampa Bay has been among the most disappointing teams in the league. Their defense allows the third-most passing yards per game and has only seven sacks this season.

While Vernon Hargreaves has shown flashes, safety Chris Conte is horrible, T.J. Ward is more of a run defender than coverage maven, and Brent Grimes has slowed after a solid start. Of the top secondary options left, Gareon Conley has the most upside, as well as the best ball skills. He honestly could probably play receiver for some teams:

He has better hands than most of the players he covers, high points the ball extremely well, times his deflections perfectly, and often beats receivers to their routes. In his senior season at Ohio State, he allowed only .51 yards per cover snap according to Pro Football Focus.

20. Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles, OT – Utah

As I have written about previously, the Broncos offensively line is a disaster. That’s a problem in a division where you encounter Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, Joey Bosa and Melvin Engram twice a season. Unfortunately for Denver, this was a weak class of offensive lineman.

They seem to have drafted the best of the bunch in Garrett Bolles. A starter at left tackle since week one, Bolles has allowed only two sacks, while his counterparts at right tackle—Menelik Watson and Allen Barbre—have given up eight and four, respectively. For reference, last year Joe Barksdale led the league in sacks allowed with ten in 15 games. The Broncos have only played seven.

21. Detroit Lions – Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State

The Lions finally have their franchise running back. Prior to tearing his ACL, Dalvin Cook looked incredible in Minnesota. Here, he can bring some balance Detroit’s offense by adding consistency to their anemic rushing attack.

The lackluster RB committee is barely on pace to crack 1,000 rushing yards for the entire team, averaging only 82.1 yards per game and scoring only two touchdowns.

22. Miami Dolphins – Joe Mixon, RB – Oklahoma

Miami’s rushing attack (76.4 ypg) is even worse than Detroit’s. For all the hype about Adam Gase’s offensive mind, this team ranks second to last in both yards per pass and yards per rush.

Though I believe Christian McCaffrey is more talented, the Dolphins already have the best short-game passing option in the league with Jarvis Landry. That makes Joe Mixon the best runner available.

He routinely makes the first defender miss and is a nightmare in the open field. Yet my favorite thing about Mixon is the way he balances looking to turn up field with the patience to let the play develop. He also has great hands. If you have 5 minutes, watch his highlights against Green Bay to see all his skills on display.


23. New York Giants – Ryan Ramczyk, OT – Wisconsin

Yet another team whose biggest issue is their offensive line. It’s an even bigger concern for New York than for most other teams due to Eli Manning’s immobility. No one in the league is more reliant on a clean pocket to operate than Eli. Combine poor protection with his attempts to fit the ball into tight windows and you have a turnover machine.

Ryan Ramczyk isn’t by any means the best player available in this scenario. But he has shown the ability to play both right and left tackle, getting the job done in both the running game and in pass protection. New York doesn’t need a superstar. Simply being replacement level at left tackle would improve every aspect of this offense.

24. Oakland Raiders – Eddie Jackson, S – Alabama

Oakland has been a disappointment in every area. Their regression from an elite to a below-average offense has taken away one of the few title contenders from the AFC. However, their defense has been much worse. The Raiders allow 8.0 yards per pass attempt and somehow have zero interceptions through eight weeks.

A bit of a surprise pick, Eddie Jackson is the best coverage safety available. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson allows a catch once per 36.8 snaps spent in coverage. This would help free up Karl Joseph to support the run and protect David Amerson over the top.

He single-handedly won the Bears a game against Carolina, and that playmaking ability is no fluke. At Alabama, Jackson routinely returned interceptions the other way for huge shifts in field position.

25. Houston Texans – Christian McCaffrey, RB – Stanford

Finally, Christian McCaffrey comes off the board. The eight overall pick would provide a nice receiving threat to pair with DeAndre Hopkins, especially in the absence of a receiving tight end. Without a decent QB prospect available, the Texans simply need to add offensive talent that can make plays without much help. Theoretically, that’s what they would get with McCaffrey. 

26. Seattle Seahawks – Alvin Kamara, RB – Tennessee

Remember Chris Carson? How any running back looked decent behind the Seahawks excuse for an offensive line is beyond me. Without Russell Wilson scrambling for nearly 30 yards per game on the ground, the hawks would be almost exclusively a passing team.

Although Alvin Kamara receiving numbers look fantastic, he is more of a bruiser than you’d expect. He can’t be taken down by arm-tackles. Kamara is extremely explosive, doesn’t shy away from contact, and runs well both inside and outside. 

27. Kansas City Chiefs – Dalvin Tomlinson, DT – Alabama

The Chiefs allow the 9th most points per game in the league, and there are plenty of culprits to blame. As Mike Clay of ESPN routinely points out, the cornerback opposite Marcus Peters has been a feasting ground for opposing offenses. However, the Chiefs D is also giving up 4.9 yards per carry on the ground. None of the corners left on the board have played well enough to warrant first round consideration.

But KC can bolster their run defense considerably by adding DT Dalvin Tomlinson. He leads all rookies at his position with 18 tackles, and Pro Football Focus ranks him among the better run-stuffers in the NFL. Tomlinson prefers to bench-press lineman and patch rather than penetrate, allowing him to play two gaps instead of one and free up his linebackers.

28. Dallas Cowboys – Marcus Maye, S – Florida

Dallas doesn’t have any playmakers on the back-end, with only 25 passes deflected and three interceptions this season. At Florida in 2016, Marcus Maye had the second lowest catch rate allowed by a safety per Pro Football Focus.

He currently has two interceptions and sits second among rookies with 42 tackles. New York paired Maye with Jamal Adams to form one of the best young safety duos in the league. Adding him to Byron Jones would help shore up the middle of the defense and add some takeaway potential to America’s team.

29. Green Bay Packers – Derek Barnett, DE – Tennessee

Green Bay is tied for the third fewest sacks in the NFL with 12. There’s not much difference between the next few edge defenders left on the board, but the best passing rushing pedigree is found in Derek Barnett.

Mostly a speed rusher with good lateral quickness, his role has expanded as the year goes on. On Sunday, he responded with two sacks against San Francisco.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers – JuJu Smith Schuster, WR – USC

Even when Martavis Bryant isn’t suspended, he’s still nowhere to be found for the Steelers’ offense. He’ll be the first to tell you that he’s better than rookie JuJu Smith Schuster, but the numbers don’t agree.

Schuster has been a consistent playmaker and welcome second option for Ben Roethlisberger. More importantly, his dice rolls, Dragon Ball Z impressions, and game of hide and go seek may have won him the touchdown celebration title (formerly held by Antonio Brown).

31. Atlanta Falcons – Takkarist McKinley, OLB – UCLA

Is Kyle Shanahan still on the board? Is that how this works? No?

It’s incredible how a roster is virtually unchanged yet performs so different. Even with Desmond Trufant back in action, the Falcons can’t take command in their own division, let alone their conference. Yet talent on offense isn’t the issue in Atlanta, so they stay defensive with their pick and stick with Takkarist McKinley. He ranks third among rookies in PFF’s pass-rush productivity statistic, and first among human beings in keeping promises to their grandmothers.

32. New Orleans Saints – Jourdan Lewis, CB – Michigan

The Saints have an NFL defense. A real, functional, respectable, honest to god NFL defense. What a time to be alive….

However, much of that is due to Marshon Lattimore solidifying the corner position. For this exercise, he is long gone. In a bit of a surprise, New Orleans take Jourdan Lewis from Michigan. Lewis has played well for Dallas this season and ranks third overall in PFF’s Playmaker index. The Saints have always been more focused on turnovers than outright stops, and Lewis’s ability to get hands on passes fits right in.