With the NFL Draft Combine on the way, much of the NFL mock draft 2017 speculation will be changing in the coming weeks. Most of the predictions have focused on the top order of the draft board which includes lowly teams from the past season such as the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. However, a few teams that shouldn’t be overlooked based on their draft history are the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys. Could these two top franchises end up drafting star players from the University of Michigan?
In the upcoming NFL Draft, the team order is based on regular season finish, or in the case of playoff teams, where they ended up in the postseason. Dallas lost in the NFC Divisional round to the Green Bay Packers, while New England won it all. That puts the Cowboys at No. 28 and the Super Bowl champion Patriots at No. 32, saving the best for last. The two teams could look to improve their rosters that much more by taking two stars from the top-ranked Michigan Wolverines’ defense.
Over at the latest mock draft via CBS Sports, two of their analysts each believe that the Cowboys will draft defensive end Taco Charlton, and the Patriots will take strong safety Jabrill Peppers. CBS Sports‘ Jared Dubin and Ryan Wilson believe Dallas will draft Charlton, while Pete Prisco and Wilson both believe that New England takes Peppers. These two players could definitely improve two rosters that are already light years ahead of teams above them in the draft order.
Peppers is a versatile star who lived up to all the hype that came along with his signing at Michigan. The Wolverines safety was a First Team All-American and Heisman finalist who finished third in tackles on the team and third in all-purpose yardage. He averaged 6.2 yards on the ground and 14.8 yards per punt return, while also scoring four touchdowns this past season, which nearly saw the Wolverines in the College Football Playoffs.
Charlton isn’t necessarily as celebrated as Peppers was at Michigan, nor is he is as skilled just yet. However, what scouts like most are the flashes of potential he has shown, which could translate into him being a future star in the NFL. The one-year started set career-bests while playing at defensive end under defensive coordinator Don Brown this past season. In 2016, he earned First Team All-Big Ten honors as he led the team with 9.5 sacks, an improvement over his first few seasons.
Over at Walter Hill Football‘s mock draft, it’s believed that Dallas could snag Peppers before the Patriots even get the chance. The reasoning is that Barry Church and J.J Wilcox are free agents, making this a wise choice. However, it’s also noted that teams are still undecided on whether or not Peppers is even a first-round pick. It will all come down to how much a team really likes what they saw from him during his college football season and during any NFL Combine participation.
The site speculates that Taco Charlton will go higher up at No. 22 to the Miami Dolphins, and the Patriots will take Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson. The basis for the pick is that the team has a trio of cornerbacks right now with two going into free agency over the next few seasons, so it’s unlikely that all three of those players will remain as Patriots players. New England will simply have to hope that they’re lucky enough to land one of the aforementioned defensive gems at No. 32 on the board.
The New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys are already the two teams listed near the top of favorites for next year’s NFL championship. However, adding these two defensive players, if they’re available, will help solidify their rosters that much more in the hopes of another title run. It’s hard to say New England needs anything, but more defense never hurts. As for the Cowboys, the team was a big stop or two away from advancing past Green Bay in their hunt for a Super Bowl appearance, so more help on defense could certainly aid them in that quest next postseason.
The NFL Scouting Combine gets started next Tuesday in Indianapolis and runs for nearly a week. That will provide scouts a better look at what many of the prospects they’re considering are capable of, to some degree. A good combine showing could really boost a player’s draft stock ahead of the NFL Draft in late April.
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