We’re now just under a week away from the NFL draft, and once again, this leads me to my Mock Draft craving. This draft is particularly fascinating as there it seems there is so much variation from one Mock Draft to another. You can see my Mock Draft 1.0 here, and there is plenty of change afoot from that Mock to this one. So once again, (Fake) Cleveland Browns are on the clock…
1 – Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
There’s been some talk this week about the Browns maybe being divided between Garrett and Trubisky with the Number 1 overall pick now. Even though taking a QB first overall makes sense as the most important position on the field; there will likely be a chance to take a QB who won’t be much worse than Trubisky at Number 12 overall. Common sense should prevail here with Garrett, but I wouldn’t put it past the Browns to…well…be the Browns.
2 – San Francsico 49ers: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Once again, Trubisky and other QBs are in consideration here, maybe more so after the Redskins are seriously considering the Transition Tag next season for Kyle Shanahan’s target Kirk Cousins. But a team with so many needs can’t be reaching too much for a QB so they take Allen. He was once the consensus 2nd best player in the draft but has slipped a little down some boards with Arthritis in his shoulder; don’t let that fool you that’s he’s ultra talented a fine addition to a weak 49ers pass rush.
3 – Chicago Bears: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
No change here from my first mock draft, as the Bears take Hooker 3rd overall. The more you watch his tape, the more impressive he gets. Think about how many safeties in the NFL are real playmakers, you could probably count them on one hand. That’s how rare someone like Hooker is who can make a dynamic play from deep, making 7 interceptions; yes SEVEN interceptions, from safety. With all positions of need, the Bears get someone who could be the best player in the draft when all is said an done.
4 – Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Another no-change pick here as the Jags take Fournette at 4 overall, a huge upgrade at the position for them. Jacksonville is tired of winning the off-season and they need a piece on offence that will finally get them over the hump. As we saw with Dallas last year, a dominant Running Back (all be it behind the best O-Line in Football) can help both sides of the ball, keeping your defence off the field for long periods of time to rest them up for their next series.
5 – Tennessee Titans (from Rams): CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
The Titans seem incredibly close to being an AFC Playoff team once again, after a few years picking at the top of the draft to nab Mariota and then a haul of picks from the LA Rams. A Wide Receiver is certainly on the list, but they can improve on a good but not great defensive unit by added a number 1 corner in Marshon Lattimore. After Sidney Jones’ unfortunate injury, Lattimore has risen to the top CB in this class and could lock down one side of the field for the Titans.
6 – New York Jets: QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
I still have the Jets taking a QB, but lately I’ve been really impressed with Trubisky and he looks a whole lot more pro ready than DeShaun Watson right now. The Jets have had a go at drafting “project” QBs the last two years with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, and quite frankly I think jets fans are tired of a train crash in the QB room. Trubisky will immediately be able to play in the Jets offence and have the potential to be the franchise QB in East Rutherford for a while.
7 – Los Angeles Chargers: S Jamal Adams, LSU
I still really like the Chargers in their new surroundings this year, after being bitten by the injury-bug last year. However one of the concerns before half their team ended up in the physio room was Safety; and with Jamal Adams falling into their laps at 7 they’ll gladly snap up the LSU standout. He was a proven leader in the secondary, and will be much needed with a largely inexperienced group. If he can inspire the Chargers defence to be above average they may vault straight back into contention for the AFC West.
8 – Carolina Panthers: RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Somewhat of a shocker here, as he flies up draft boards everywhere with the every tape of him being watched. The Panthers would gladly snap McCaffrey here given all the things he can do with the ball in his hands a s back/receiver/returner. It’s the latter two that have really caught some team’s eyes, and makes perfect sense for the Panthers who after losing Tedd Ginn could do with another dynamic receiver after the catch. They also have Jonathan Stewart to not bombard him with 50 odd touches a game.
9 – Cincinnati Bengals: DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
There are three top defensive linemen in this draft, unfortunately one of them is going to drop due to the shortage of genuine game-breaking playmakers at defensive back in this draft; and the ridiculously deep Defensive Line class. Solomon Thomas will be a huge addition to a somewhat decimated Bengals defence. This could be one of the steals of the draft for the Bengals if he really does fall this far, but don’t rule out a trade also as a QB needy team may try to jump ahead of the Bills to nab Watson/Kizer/Mahomes.
10 – Buffalo Bills: WR Mike Williams, Clemson
As mentioned above, the Bills could well go DeShaun Watson here, but I do think their main focus with Tyrod Taylor now tied up for next season is added a receiving option. I’d be torn between OJ Howard and Williams here, and we stick with Williams from my previous mock. The Bills second best WR right now is potentially Walt Powell (no I don’t know who he is either) and Williams would give them a heck of a one two punch with Sammy Watkins.
11 – New Orleans Saints: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
With a rapidly improving defence that still can get a lot better, Conley will be a great fit for the Saints and give them a good young corner to build the secondary around. It looks like, for now, the Malcom Butler talks have died down, and they’ll need to look at other options to improve the pass defence. Conley has been gaining some traction towards the Top 10 lately, and he will narrowly miss out.
12 – Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): QB DeShaun Watson, Clemson
Thanks to no massive standout QBs in this draft, Cleveland can afford to wait until their second first round pick to nab one of the most intriguing QB prospects in this year’s draft. Watson stole the spotlight this season with his historic win over Alabama, and you wonder if he can be the man to bring back a winning culture to Cleveland. Garrett and Watson would be an incredible 1st round haul for the Browns.
13 – Arizona Cardinals: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
There’s been a lot of buzz around Mahomes of late, who is certainly rising up draft boards; including the Cardinals who are now in a position where they really need to consider a successor to Carson Palmer. Mahomes is certainly not the finished product, but he has all the raw talent required; and if he can reign in his determination to hit a Home Run play on every single series then the Cardinals could be set for a seamless transition at QB in the near future.
14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings): RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
The McCaffrey pick earlier in the draft may mean the Eagles go after a back who could well turn out to be the best Running Back in the entire draft. Cook has had a sub-par build up to the draft, being outshone by Fournette and McCaffrey, but he is just as talented and would be an instant upgrade on Ryan Mathews, with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield a huge improvement and would take a whole lot of pressure off Wentz.
15 – Indianapolis Colts: DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
In my last mock, I had the the Colts finally getting themselves some Offensive Line support with Ryan Ramczyk; but this team has a lot of needs and when there are so many true game-changing talents like Barnett falling because of a run on QBs and RBs early, you have to improve the D-Line. Barnett has been long touted as a Top 10 pick, but as with every year, QBs rise up boards late and big talents fall.
16 – Baltimore Ravens: WR John Ross, Washington
This is such a good fit that it has to happen right? John Ross is in the DeSean Jackson mould right now, with the perfect blend of top of the scale speed and the ability to use it with great effect at Washington. We also know that Joe Flacco has a tendency to work well with particularly speedy Wide Receivers like Breshad Perriman, Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace and this would be no different; but Ross could have the potential to be the best yet.
17 – Washington Redskins: DE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
This is a big trade-down opportunity for the Redskins if a particular team falls in love with the likes of OJ Howard or Corey Davis in order to jump ahead of the Titans. But if the Redskins stick here then McKinley would be a huge upgrade on one of the worst D-Lines in the league right now. I expected the Skins to strengthen this in the off-season but they drafted two essentially project guys so a guy with the potentiqal to be elite here would be huge.
18 – Tennessee Titans: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
As mentioned above, it’s possible that a team could jump ahead of the Titans here but assuming all stays as is then the Titans quite simply have to get better weapons for Marcus Mariota. Their young QB looked ready to take the next step last season, but when your best weapon on the outside is Rishard Matthews; you need a bit more. Davis hasn’t been getting as much buzz as Williams and Ross have but he could well be just as good when all is said and done.
19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE OJ Howard, Alabama
Want a pick that can really take the Buccs to the next level, well OJ Howard could help transform them from a good not great offence to one of the best with ease. Howard is one of very few College TEs who has the ability to make an impact right away in an NFL offence and can build on an unfair set of weapons with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cameron Brate. Good luck with that NFC South, you may well need it if they grab Howard.
20 – Denver Broncos: OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Possibly the sole reason the Broncos didn’t make the playoffs last year was their dreadful Offensive Line. It helped keep their Quarterbacks on the turf from a sacks and didn’t give their Running Backs any chance to find a hole and make a play. Despite the rise of players like Cam Robinson and Garrett Bolles, Ramczyk is still the best Offensive Tackle in the draft and will be a perfect fit here for Danver.
21 – Detroit Lions: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
Someone who’s draft stock has been falling of late is Reuben Foster, but even 21 is incredibly low for such a gifted player. Once again, thanks to the run on QBs and RBs early, there are some real steals to be had later in the first round. Foster was one of the key cogs in Alabama’s incredible defence the last few seasons and will give the Lions real thumper in the middle, and adds some extra leadership to their defensive front.
22 – Miami Dolphins: OLB/DE Haason Reddick, Temple
Reddick continues to move up draft boards, but he doesn’t move up in my latest mock as the Dolphins snap him up with the 22nd pick. Miami are desperate to get younger in their pass rush with Mario Williams departed and Lawrence Timmons trying to delay the undefeated Father Time. He’ll be a great upgrade picking off edge runs with ease in a division that has more shifty one-cut backs than power backs.
23 – New York Giants: DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
With Jonathan Hankins still unsigned as yet, there’s a gaping hole along side Damon Harrison on the Defensive Line right now; enter Malik McDowell who has a whole lot of talent to keep that Giants D-Line dominant next season and be the spearhead for another playoff push. Also, with natural leaders in JPP and Damon Harrison, they will be able to motivate him to reach his potential (similarly to Hankins in a fashion).
24 – Oakland Raiders: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
The Raiders had one of the best offences in the NFL with Derek Carr at the helm, however the same couldn’t be said about their defence that was among the worst. There are a few different directions here, but with a few holes, they go best defensive player available in Taco Charlton. Racking up nearly double digit sacks in his last two seasons, a pairing with Khalil Mack on the Raiders pass rush could be lethal.
25 – Houston Texans: QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
Tony Romo now out of the picture, it looks like the Tom Savage show to begin with in Houston but that hardly seems like the long term solution to the Texans QB woes. This is definitely a reach to get one of the Top 4 QBs (given the drop off after these 4) but Kizer showed flashes in the first half of the 2016 season and has had solid pre-draft workouts so could be worth a shot for the Texans here.
26 – Seattle Seahawks: OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
Seattle go in search of yet another playoff birth with a few questions surrounding some positions. Most notably will be Offensive Tackle as it fell to pieces towards the end of the season. Robinson is a physical specimen and could certainly sure up the Seahawks Offensive Line, but there are questions as to whether he can stick at Tackle, or maybe move to Guard to begin with at least. Wherever he ends up, he’ll be an upgrade for Seattle.
27 – Kansas City Chiefs: RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Kansas City may well have considered finding a replacement for Alex Smith here, but with Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes and Kizer all off the board they look elsewhere and a very controversial elsewhere as well with Mixon. His off the field antics are going to come under scrutiny, but there’s no doubting his ability and if the Chiefs were willing to take Tyreek Hill last year despite off the field worries then Mixon will definitely make their board and upgrade them over Ware and West.
28 – Dallas Cowboys: CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
The Cowboys defence is one of the more glossed over stories of last season as Zeke and Dak stole the headlines in Jerry’s world. But it was bad, as evidenced by the many shootouts they had; most notably the NFC Divisional Round against the Packers. Adding White won’t solve everything, but it could give them a lockdown CB to build their secondary on now Barry Church has gone.
29 – Green Bay Packers: OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
Somewhat in keeping with my favourite Packers drafting funny named people that I mentioned in 1.0, we add Forrest Lamp to that group in the first round. Lamp is by far the best natural Guard in this year’s fairly weak draft class. He can play anywhere across the Offensive Line and also would be a natural replacement for Josh Sitton who was cut before the start of last season. Hopefully they can keep Aaron Rodgers upright a bit more often and give him another MVP type season.
30 – Pittsburgh Steelers: S Budda Baker, Washington
There’s a huge gap from the top safeties in this class (Adams and Hooker) to the next group; but don’t discredit how strong this year’s Safety class is. Baker is a perfect example of this as people are underrating him because he’s not Hooker/Adams, but still very much worthy of first round consideration. With Polamalu retired (maybe on the way to Canton) the Steelers need to fill that noticeable hole.
31 – Atlanta Falcons: LB/S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
How do the Falcons recover from the Superbowl heartbreak of last year to the Patriots? That’s the million dollar question, but the place to start is on the defensive side of the ball. Even if the offence regresses without Shanahan, they need to sort out a defence that was one of the worst in the NFC. Peppers fits the bill perfectly as a complete wild card that can play safety and also drop into OLB to put some extra valuable pressure on the QB. Dan Quinn would love a player like this in his scheme.
32 – New Orleans Saints (from Patriots): TE David Njoku, Miami
And we wrap up the round with the Saints customary picking of an Offensive weapon for Drew Brees in David Njoku from Miami. The Saints have had incredible success getting the ball to Tight Ends and making them play above their ability since Jimmy Graham left such as Benjamin Watson and Coby Fleener. So if they can help Djoku live up to his potential then he really could be a game breaker in New Orleans.
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