It’s draft season, and after the Senior Bowl has solidified our perspective on certain prospects, I thought it was time to write up a mock.
This mock will be based roughly on my board, and roughly what I think teams ought to do, which is different than what I think they will do.
1. Cleveland Browns – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
In real life I might take Myles Garrett, because in real life I suspect NFL teams are going to nitpick the QBs to the point that one of the top guys (maybe even Watson) falls to the Browns at 12. But in my draft, teams are going to play it smarter, so Cleveland can’t afford the risk. (Plus, they drafted two pass rushers highly last year and traded for Jaime Collins this year.)
2. San Francisco 49ers – Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Best overall player in the draft, and I think Colin Kaepernick is good enough to stay with, so they don’t need to force a QB selection here.
3. Chicago Bears – Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
Chicago needs a QB and I’m a big believer in Mahomes– my heart even wants to rank him QB1, but it’s hard to overlook Watson’s body of work. Mahomes’ size, cannon arm, and ability to extend plays reminds me of Brett Favre.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Seems high for a running back, but as we saw with the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott, the right back can make a huge difference. Jacksonville’s invested heavily in most every other position on the team, but the Chris Ivory – T.J. Yeldon tandem is mediocre. Cook’s skills make him a three-down back in a pass-heavy offense, and he perhaps can provide more consistent games to take the pressure off Blake Bortles.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Rams) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
One of the top players in the draft at a position of weakness. I considered others here– Mike Williams in particular makes a great fit– but in the end went with the better overall player.
6. New York Jets – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
This is a bit of a reach for Kizer on my board, but he’s the highest QB left and has a first-round grade, and when you need a QB, you take a QB with a first-round grade.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
I feel like the Chargers have a surprisingly talented team for the record they managed last year. I wasn’t sure where to best add a player. Pass rush was tempting, but they went there last year and I rather like the Bosa / Ingram duo (with Attaochu as a third). The receiver crew has suffered so many injuries– it’s unclear how much Keenan Allen can be relied on going forward– that adding another top-notch guy might be the best overall option.
8. Carolina Panthers – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Jonathan Stewart is getting old. Fournette is a legitimate game-breaker in a power scheme, and he and Cam Newton will feed off each other and help each other’s production by providing two targets in the run game the team has to worry about.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
At 274 pounds, I think he’s best used on the edge in a 4-3. He’s undersized for the interior but he’s got great athleticism for a guy his size coming around the corner.
10. Buffalo Bills – Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
Will probably slip in the real draft due to “off-field concerns.” It’s a double dip at the position for the team after taking Shaq Lawson in the first last year, but Lorenzo Alexander is probably a fluke, and Jerry Hughes is more of a secondary rusher, so Williams’ elite athletic talent will prove a big boost to the pass rush even if he only plays part-time.
11. New Orleans Saints – Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford
The defense still needs help. I didn’t go cornerback here because the team has invested heavily there in recent years; they’ve just suffered lots of injuries. I don’t trust Hau’oli Kikaha even if he can get healthy, though, so Thomas provides his replacement on the edge opposite Cameron Jordan. Between these two and Sheldon Rankins (as well as Nick Fairley if they re-sign him), the Saints might actually develop a quality pass rush once again.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles) – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Our top-rated corner in the draft and a steal at this point. I almost mocked him to San Diego at #7; I think even Tennessee or Jacksonville could have taken him without me thinking badly of it.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Just a matter of taking the best player on the board who fell here. He’s a steal given public perception of him, although this is probably closer to where he should be drafted. And unlike Robert Nkemdiche, he might get on the field (although if the Cardinals ever unlock Nkemdiche’s potential and play the two of them alongside Calais Campbell, look out).
14*. Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings) – Teez Tabor, CB, Florida
I’m sure someone will “red flag” his name change from Jalen to Teez, but he’s our clear #2 corner and corner is a position the Eagles need.
15*. Indianapolis Colts – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
With Cook and Fournette gone, the Colts go McCaffrey. This might be a reach if you think RBs are fungible, but on talent, it’s not. He could be an explosive playmaker for a high-octane offense like the Colts.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA
May slip if concerns about the shoulder injury are warranted. On talent, though, he belongs here, and the Ravens are good at re-stocking their trenches with quality players.
17. Washington – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
A good player at a position of need. I’m not buying some of the hype on Foster as a top-10 selection, but he fits here well.
18. Tennessee Titans – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
We’ve been debating in our war room whether Foster or Cunningham is better. But they are both fine selections here, as again, Tennessee fills a defensive need.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
A slight reach here, but this is a situation where the Bucs are intent on finding an outside WR to complement Mike Evans. Davis is substantially the best option for that selection, even though his proper “value” is closer to the mid-20s.
20. Denver Broncos – Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
The great and likely Hall of Fame-bound DeMarcus Ware is aging, and I never thought Shane Ray was that good to begin with. This is a matter of taking the best player available at an important position, even if it’s not an immediate need.
21. Detroit Lions – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
They’ve been looking for an answer opposite Darius Slay for some time, and Humphrey might be that answer.
22. Miami Dolphins – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
A steal here, but tight ends are not very highly valued, so he slips in the draft. With Jordan Cameron proving a waste of a signing, and Dion Sims being just a guy, Howard offers a true game-breaker at the one offensive skill position where the Dolphins aren’t set.
23. New York Giants – Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
Jason Pierre-Paul is an impending free agent, Owamagbe Odighizuwa has struggled to get on the field after battling injuries, and Romeo Okwara is a nice story, but a true first-round talent added to the pass rush could elevate the Giants defense to another level.
24. Oakland Raiders – Montravius Adams, DL, Auburn
He’s somewhat inconsistent, but early film returns suggest a very athletic guy up the middle who can blow up plays. The Raiders could use someone like that; I haven’t been a fan of most of their recent defensive line picks (Khalil Mack being the obvious exception).
25. Houston Texans – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I’m torn between Trubisky and Brad Kaaya for QB4. I thought Trubisky had a better year, but as I explained here, his age and lack of experience concerns me. Edward Gorelik on Twitter makes a similar point, though he focuses on a prospect’s “breakout season”. Four of the top-5 QBs “broke out” at age 19 in college. Trubisky broke out at age 22. That’s worrying. Nevertheless, the Texans obviously need a quarterback, and Trubisky has the talent that could fit the bill for the #25 overall pick.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
There’s talk of moving him to guard, but I think he can play tackle at the next level. Either way, on tape he’s the best lineman we’ve seen so far.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
They’ve struggled to find a running mate for Marcus Peters– disappointing, as we really liked Phillip Gaines as a prospect– and Jones is a steal here and the potential answer.
28. Dallas Cowboys – David Njoku, TE, Miami-FL
Jason Witten may be ageless, but no matter if he keeps playing, he’s more of a security blanket, and to get to the next level the Cowboys need more potential game-breaking receiver options on offense than Dez Bryant.
29. Green Bay Packers – John Ross, WR, Washington
The Packers are in a strange state at receiver. Jordy Nelson is aging and Davante Adams isn’t as good as hoped (though they still both put up significant numbers regardless). Randall Cobb is a slot guy and may be overpaid for his role. Ross is a guy whose speed and willingness to attack the ball can give this offense a consistent big-play dimension.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
For what we’ve seen on film so far, the talk of Hooker as a top-10 prospect seems overstated. But he’s a fine pick here and would give the team a playmaker with range at free safety (whereas Mike Mitchell is more of a hitter).
31**. Atlanta Falcons – Ryan Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
Only a part-time player at Alabama, but Anderson’s talent makes him a potentially valuable pass-rushing asset. They don’t have much on the edge after Vic Beasley– Brooks Reed is mediocre and Dwight Freeney is nearing the end of the line.
32**. New England Patriots – Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
The pass rush suffered as the team traded both Chandler Jones and Jaime Collins in the last year. Harris has the talent that can pick it back up.
( * – pending coin flip)
( ** – pending Super Bowl)
33. CLE – Budda Baker, S, Washington
Playmaker on the back end that they’ve missed since they let Tashaun Gipson walk.
34. SF – Taylor Moton, OL, Western Michigan
With the retirement, departure, or failure to pan out of various offensive linemen, the 49ers need someone who can step in and play. Moton is often projected to guard, but can play tackle– he’s remarkably athletic for 330 pounds.
35. JAX – Cam Robinson, OL, Alabama
I still have my questions about him and why he is projected so highly by most, but I also see the talent that makes him worth a chance. I just think this is a better place to take that chance than the first round.
36. CHI – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Good player, need filled.
37. Los Angeles Rams – JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
I’m still not sure I’m entirely sold on Smith-Schuster. I do, however, think his youth and his ability to produce at a high level in college at age 19 is a good sign for the future, and the Rams are going to take a chance on upside, trying to find a #1 receiver for Jared Goff.
38. LAC – Carlos Watkins, DL, Clemson
A good body up front for a team that could use them.
39. NYJ – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
The Jets were pretty weak at cornerback last year even before the demise of Darrelle Revis. Tankersley will be a big boost to the unit.
40. CAR – Ryan Ramczyk, OL, Wisconsin
They have to be happy that a serviceable tackle is available. They can’t keep pretending Mike Remmers is an NFL player.
41. CIN – Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
I still don’t exactly know what I think of him or where to slot him. I decided to give him to a team that seems to regularly take chances on misfits, unusual players, and big-time college producers.
42. PHI – Dan Feeney, OL, Indiana
They have a great pair of tackles, but their guards are unimpressive. Feeney can fill one spot.
43. BUF – Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss
Charles Clay is fine, but not special. Engram isn’t much of an in-line blocker, but his receiving ability is exactly what the team needs to complement Sammy Watkins and help their quarterback (who should still be Tyrod Taylor, if they’re smart).
44. NO – TreDavious White, CB, LSU
Despite what I said in my round 1 writeup, I’d still take a CB for New Orleans if I thought that was the best player on the board. I might have taken Feeney if the Eagles just hadn’t, and if I was more sold on one of the linebackers, I’d do the same. (Haason Reddick is an intriguing possibility as a potential Anthony Barr-type, a combo off-ball LB / pass rusher.)
45. ARI – Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami-FL
They need their QB of the future, and maybe even their QB of the present. Kaaya was a three-year starter who may never be a superstar but should be a capable starting quarterback for some time.
46. BAL – Jaleel Johnson, DL, Iowa
Once again, Baltimore scoops up a good player for the trenches. Arguably Johnson could go in the first round.
47. IND – Haason Reddick, LB/EDGE, Temple
They need defensive help in a bad way. When Erik Walden is your best pass rusher, you have problems.
48. Minnesota Vikings – Ethan Pocic, C, LSU
The entire offensive line needs help, so I picked the guy who rates highest on my current board regardless of position.
49. WAS – Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
With Bashaud Breeland’s step back and possible move into the slot, they need a running mate opposite Norman. Wilson is a fine pick here.
50. TB – Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo
If the rumors of the Bucs moving on from Doug Martin are true, they need to replace him, and Hunt is a killer talent whose speed and agility are complemented by incredible balance.
51. DEN – Garett Bolles, OL, Utah
They have to be happy he fell here to play tackle for them. I’m lower on Bolles than most largely because of his age– he’ll be 25 in May– but if he’s talented enough to step in for them right away, then that’s less of a concern.
52. CLE (from TEN) – Pat Elflein, OL, Ohio State
Apparently moving Cameron Erving to center didn’t help him. The Browns are only set at one of the three interior OL position with Joel Bitonio; whether Elflein plays center or guard, he fills a need.
53. DET – Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida
Just a good, solid player to add to the rotation (I don’t think of A’Shawn Robinson as much more than a run-stopper).
54. MIA – Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
They need linebacker help badly.
55. NYG – Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh
I think this is a reach for him. But he’s likely going to be the QB6 on my board, and the Giants need to be thinking about the future after Eli Manning, who just turned 36.
56. OAK – Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
They’ve continued to struggle at this position, and Jackson might also improve their special teams as a returner.
57. HOU – Roderick Johnson, OL, Florida State
Derek Newton’s health is in question, and Duane Brown isn’t getting any younger either. Johnson can compete at right tackle in year one.
58. SEA – Marquez White, CB, Florida State
A great Senior Bowl week elevates him into the second round.
59. KC – Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State
Derrick Johnson is 34, and I don’t know much about Ramik Wilson, but either way the team could use a talented player at the position to eventually take over for one of them.
60. DAL – Taywan Taylor, WR, Western Kentucky
Dallas continues to focus on adding weapons for Dak Prescott. Taylor should step in immediately as the team’s #2 WR.
61. GB – Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennnessee
Lots of rumors surround what the Packers will do this offseason. Ty Montgomery is a great playmaker, but they probably don’t want to give him 20 carries a game. I’m not sure they’ll trust Eddie Lacy’s inconsistency enough to re-sign him, either, and James Starks is just a guy. They add a talented player who can be the featured back at the position here.
62. PIT – Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
LaDarius Green’s concussions make it difficult for him to get on the field, and Jesse James is a solid receiver but not much else. Leggett gives them a talented do-it-all guy at the position– including at receiver.
63. ATL – Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
Can step right in and play slot corner. Gives the team substantial depth at cornerback, with Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, and Jalen Collins already in the fold.
64. NE – Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina
Can catch everything and works well at high volume. Maybe he can be their more athletic Wes Welker.