Final first-round mock
Figured I’d give this one last swing before the draft. The Zone Reads Big Board will be out later today as well. I tried to include some brief writeups on each player here when I could.
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Don’t overthink this one. Garrett’s not a perfect prospect, but there are no such things– he’s the clearest #1 in some time, possibly since Andrew Luck. Combination of film, production, and athleticism is exactly what you want in a top pass-rushing prospect.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford
I suppose they could take a quarterback here; it’s not outside the realm of possibility, given that they have nothing on the roster that suggests any kind of future at the position. I have no idea what they like at the position, though, so I’m going to go with the safe pick, an athletic freak of a pass rusher.
3. Chicago Bears – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
Similarly, I hear the Deshaun Watson rumors to Chicago, but in the world of NFL politics, I don’t see it happening. How bad will Ryan Pace and John Fox look when they’re $45 million free-agent baby never starts a game? They go with a rare player on defense instead. Hooker’s range, ball skills, and instincts make an ideal free safety prospect.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Now here, on the other hand… I don’t think Dave Caldwell would do this, but I’m banking on Tom Coughlin having more say in the war room and not giving a damn about Blake Bortles. Bortles isn’t working out. Watson is a different kind of QB– less physically gifted, but he also isn’t a complete mechanical mess, and he has the intelligence, processing speed, and ability to read defenses necessary for success at the position.
5. Tennessee Titans – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Could go a lot of different directions here, but again, I decided to play it safe with the best prospect available, hamstring injuries aside. Cornerback becomes a bigger need with Jason McCourty gone, and Lattimore shows potential of being a true shutdown player on film.
6. New York Jets – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
They can’t really go into the season with just the guys they have now. The Christian Hackenberg pick was a comical mistake– if you asked me now, I’d say Mike Maccagnan’s GM record has been very bad so far. I don’t think Trubisky should be picked this high, but he shows enough traits that a team will take a chance on him. (And the cynical side of me says whiteness is one of those traits, and Maccagnan’s Jets have demonstrated how much they favor that in QBs, but Trubisky isn’t Hackenberg, at least.)
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
I know there are people who say you can’t take a strong safety this high, but the elite prospects are running thin, and better to take a guy who can do it all for his position than a lesser player at a more important one.
8. Carolina Panthers – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
I do believe they love Christian McCaffrey, but it would be hard to resist the thought of pairing Fournette with Cam Newton and running some devastating read-options and play-action. Fournette is a throwback RB but he has superlative talent.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
I don’t think Barnett merits selection this high– he doesn’t have the athleticism to have elite upside– but the Bengals supposedly really like him, and I think he’s their pick of everyone left.
10. Buffalo Bills – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
They need to do more to help Tyrod Taylor. Williams’ ability to high-point balls and win contested catches will pair nicely with Taylor’s deep ball.
11. New Orleans Saints – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Not a high need, but I imagine the coaches are already salivating over the possibilities. Reggie Bush had 150 carries and 88 receptions as a rookie, but never really grew from there; the possibility of a player who’s a better route-runner, better runner between the tackles, and possibly even more athletic would add a new dimension to the Saints’ offense for a long time to come.
12. Cleveland Browns – Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech
They need to come away with a long-term answer at QB. I think Mahomes is worth a pick here, although others don’t; he’s got some wacky footwork and tendencies to leave the pocket too soon, but he’s also got the ability to deliver accurate throws at every single depth, velocity, and angle even while on the move. A talented playmaker with the intelligence and processing skills necessary for the game.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
WR quickly turned from strength to weakness in Arizona this last year, as Michael Floyd was eventually cut and John Brown kept missing time with sickle cell-related injuries. Davis will give the team another true outside receiver and potential #1 after Larry Fitzgerald hangs it up.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Well, with the news of the rape allegations breaking today, this will almost certainly change. But frankly, I didn’t want to re-write this column again. Conley’s talent is a serious need for Philadelphia. I’m not clear at all where they’ll look if they go a different direction, thoguh.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
I don’t think he’ll fall as far as has been rumored, and Indianapolis needs as many solid defenders as it can get.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
With the stories that Baltimore is looking to build a Dallas-esque offensive line (by letting Kelechi Osemele and Ricky Wagner walk in free agency, but I digress), a pick like Robinson makes sense. He’ll replace Wagner at right tackle in the starting lineup.
17. Washington Snyders – Jonathan Allen, DL/EDGE, Alabama
A good value pick here, and Washington isn’t exactly strong at their 3-4 end position. Allen is not an elite prospect like he was hyped to be from a couple of highlights this season, but he is a very good player.
18. Tennessee Titans – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
They need some kind of pass-catching help for Marcus Mariota, and Howard is a do-it-all guy with loads of talent who will enable the team to run more two-TE sets with Delanie Walker.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Rumor is they love him. There’s not really a better RB on the board right now, either; I don’t think anyone is taking Joe Mixon this highly. Cook’s athleticism and off-field are concerning but he’s a surprisingly smooth runner who catches well out of the backfield too. I was tempted to give them Marlon Humphrey here to keep the run of Alabama prospects going, but alas, it’s snapped at four.
20. Denver Broncos – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
They haven’t done so well with some of their recent offensive line picks and they just let their left tackle walk. Bolles has the athleticism to step right into the position.
21. Detroit Lions – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
I don’t understand why some people are low on him; he’s athletic and plays man and press well, as he demonstrated by largely shutting down John Ross in the CFB playoff.
22. Miami Dolphins – Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
Rumor is they’re definitely taking EDGE with this pick. Harris’ Pro Day alleviates some of my athletic concerns; he’s probably not a top-tier guy, but his variety of moves and counters means he can be an effective NFL pass rusher.
23. New York Giants – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Tackling machine for a team with a good defense but that’s lacking at the position.
24. Oakland Raiders – John Ross, WR, Washington
Ross’ speed would open up a new dimension for the offense. Hopefully it’s not wasted on Derek Carr, who is a relatively cautious passer despite his reputation.
25. Houston Texans – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
I just don’t think they can wait on the position any longer. Kizer is the last guy with a solid shot of becoming a long-term starter, and the Texans need to solve that problem as soon as possible. Hopefully he gets time to recover from the injury he played through last year and return his mechanics where they once were. (Getting away from Brian Kelly can’t hurt.)
26. Seattle Seahawks – Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
A gift that he fell this far. Can play almost anywhere on the line; given the team’s current depth chart, right tackle seems most likely.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Malik McDowell, DL/EDGE, Michigan State
A guy who should go higher than this, particularly if he gets back to his listed playing weight of 275 as opposed to the 295 he showed up to the Combine at. He’s a great penetrator; he didn’t test well at the Combine, but I wonder how much of that was due to the extra weight. The rumors of being a loafer and a malcontent have never bothered the Chiefs before; with McDowell and Chris Jones at 3-4 DE, they’ll have some sick interior penetration.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
I don’t think he should go this high, but supposedly he’s been their target all along, so here he is.
29. Green Bay Packers – Taylor Moton, OL, Western Michigan
I couldn’t think of a great fit for the Packers, but Moton is every bit as athletic as you want in a lineman (especially for his size) and could start out at guard, where the Packers are currently starting two undrafted free agents. He’s good enough to play tackle if the team decides to ever move on from Bryan Bulaga.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – David Njoku, TE, Miami-FL
Adds another dimension to the passing offense. Rumors are that Ben Roethlisberger is lobbying for tight end help.
31. Atlanta Falcons – T.J. Watt, LB/EDGE, Wisconsin
With his athleticism, he’ll make a nice counterpart to Vic Beasley. Gives the Falcons two premier athletes along the edge.
32. New Orleans Saints – Haason Reddick, LB/EDGE, Temple
They need help at linebacker and they need help at pass rusher. Get you a guy that can do both.
OTHER GUYS I CONSIDERED IN THE FIRST: Chris Wormley; Budda Baker; Obi Melifonwu; Raekwon McMillan; Chidobe Awuzie; Jordan Willis