I would like to preface this mock draft by saying that I did not try to predict trades. This draft is the hardest one to mock that I can remember, there is a lot of late 1-3rd round talent, but no clear top-end talent. A lack of top QB talent will make this draft interesting, and I don’t expect to see as much trades this year compared to past years. Then again, this is the draft, and anything can happen. Enjoy.
1. Cleveland Browns: DE Myles Garrett
There’s been a lot of news lately saying the organization is torn on whom to pick, and it could go either way. It’s fair that Hue Jackson likes and wants Mitch Trubisky. At the end of the day, teams can’t do anything special without a franchise QB. However, I would remind them that this isn’t a 2-year rebuild; it’s going to take a few successful drafts for the Browns to turn it around. It’s very important that they nail their picks, and Garrett has all-time potential. This has to be the pick.
2. San Francisco 49ers: S Malik Hooker
This pick is incredibly hard to predict as it can go several ways. The two I nailed it down to is Hooker and Fournette, both are players that Shanahan needs. The reason I went with Hooker is because this team is switching to a Cover 3 defense and the key piece in that defense is the free safety position. Think Seattle, where they too have a Cover 3. Shanahan needs his Earl Thomas, and Hooker can fit that spot damn well. Malik has incredible range and great ball skills. He would make it hard for teams to attack what have traditionally been the weak spots of the Cover 3 defense (the seams and the space in between the linebackers and the safety).
3. Chicago Bears: QB Mitch Trubisky
The Bears brass has struggled to get the team to be competitive, and I think that they have the “hottest seat” coming into the year. The Bears currently have Glennon, Mark Sanchez, and Connor Shaw as the QBs on the roster. It is ludicrous to think that the current QB group is good enough to go into the season with. If the Glennon experiment doesn’t work out (which I don’t think it will), the Bears will be lucky to win 3 games. Trubisky graded out as my top QB, by a fairly wide margin. He’s a natural thrower, has more than enough arm, and looks comfortable in the pocket. I think he’s more than deserving of a top-5 pick.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette
The more I think about this pick, the more I think it could be a QB. I would not be surprised if this pick ends up being Deshaun Watson. Yet, if the defense plays up to its potential, the offense won’t need to be necessarily great to get the Jags to the playoffs in the AFC South. Fournette would give this offense a special talent in the backfield it needs. Fournette could end up making life much easier on Bortles, meaning the team won’t have to rely on the floundering QB as much.
5. Tennessee Titans: TE OJ Howard
OJ is one of my favorite players in this class. He’s a do-it-all tight end with special athleticism. The way this team has been built is similar to the Patriots offense, inside out. The Titans built up the offensive line and got good running backs to take some heat off of Mariota. The one thing they are missing is a dangerous duo of tight ends. Delanie Walker is good, but adding OJ Howard takes this offense to the next level. A number 1 wide receiver is the popular pick here, but if they are building a team similar to the Patriots, how important is a traditional WR1? Name one outside (deep threat) receiver other than Randy Moss that has had good success in the Patriots offense. OJ Howard is a monster and a day 1 beast in this offense.
6. New York Jets: CB Marshon Lattimore
This team has all kinds of needs, and with Trubisky off the board; there are several ways this team can go. The Jets no longer have Revis, who they basically didn’t have last year considering his struggles. With no corner capable of guarding #1 receivers on this roster, I have them taking Lattimore, who has a lot of potential and can develop into a lock down CB in this league. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the best to come out of this class.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: S Jamal Adams
The Chargers could really use some offensive line help, but there should be guard or tackle options for them in the second round, especially considering no lineman is worth the 7th pick. This pick boiled down to Jamal Adams or Jonathan Allen. They are the best two on the board, and can both be seen as needs for this team. Either one would be a great pick, but I think Adams has a slightly higher ceiling at his position. Adams has the speed and tackling ability of a top-10 safety, and not to mention that he’s a great leader.
8. Carolina Panthers: DL Jonathan Allen
Allen is the best on the board, and Carolina should welcome him with open arms. He plays with power, and his hand technique is in the top of the class. He’s smart and has the athleticism to make plays. I’ve seen some people have him as an end, I couldn’t disagree more. He’s capable of coming off the edge, but his best spot is inside, where pressure can be the most dangerous for an offense. He is a three-down player, and a big upgrade to the Carolina defensive line.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: DL Solomon Thomas
I think having Thomas in the top-3 is crazy talk. He’s been overly hyped this draft season. I’m not saying Thomas is a bad player, I like him, but he’s not as good as everyone is making him out to be. I don’t think anything about Solomon Thomas is “freaky” like it is with Garrett, Allen, and McDowell. His athleticism isn’t the best, he doesn’t have the greatest build, and nothing about his length is special. But he’s quick and uses his hands very well. Combine that with the football IQ and experience, and you have a guy who can be a solid 3 down player for many years. Let me clarify, I’m not saying he’s not athletic. He’s very athletic, he just isn’t “freaky” athletic. Similar to Allen, people have been saying Solomon is a defensive end. Again, he can play on the edge, but he’s best when doing work on the interior of the line.
10. Buffalo Bills: CB Gareon Conley
I think everyone is sleeping on the fact that Buffalo could still go QB with this pick. For now, I have Conley going here. I think people don’t give Conley enough credit for his athleticism. He has great closing speed, and some of the longest arms in the class. He can play press or off man, and has shut down corner potential. The biggest issue is his awful hand usage. For some reason, he rarely tries to jam receivers at the line, and the fact that he had as good of a career that he did without putting his hands on receivers says something.
11. New Orleans Saints: LB Reuben Foster
Man people love Reuben Foster… Everyone should pay attention, don’t ever compare Reuben Foster to Luke Kuechly because you will regret it. At Boston College Kuechly read, instantly reacted, and flew around the field. Where it differs from Foster is the reaction part. I’m not sure why his reactions take so long, but he constantly pauses before committing. This could be because he doesn’t trust his reads, or struggles to read, but something is off. He’s got plenty of potential, but I’m honestly hesitant to call him a future top 10 Will Linebacker in this league. Again, he has great potential, and this is a big time need for the Saints, so it’s not a bad idea to take a chance.
12. Cleveland Browns: DL Malik McDowell
Everyone wants to put a QB here, but it is tough to tell. The media is telling us that Hue loves Trubisky, but what do they think of the other QBs? Don’t forget, the media has a lot to say this time of year, and most of it never comes true. So with Trubisky gone, I have them taking McDowell. However, could there be a chance that the love for Trubisky is a smoke screen from the Browns, and they really love Deshaun Watson (my #2 QB)? Gotta love draft season. For now, I’ll give them Malik McDowell to round out a defensive line that is legitimately scary. Garrett, McDowell, Shelton, and Ogbah with Nassib rotating in; that’s some incredible potential. I think McDowell has been a victim of the draft season. I don’t think the character and effort issues are nearly as bad as they are made out to be. He’s a top 5 talent in this class, one of the few “freaks” and a homerun pick for Cleveland. Greg Williams will get effort out of anyone, anyway.
13. Arizona Cardinals: LB Haasan Reddick
One of the big risers of this process, Reddick has the athleticism that coaches drool over at the LB spot. He is such a smooth mover, and once he gets coached up as a LB, his potential is unlimited. He’s an off-ball linebacker that the Cardinals need and a player+leader that Arians will love.
14. Philadelphia Eagles: WR Corey Davis
This could be seen as a bit of a surprise pick considering the offseason moves Philly made. But how much can the Eagles trust Alshon Jeffrey? He has suspensions and injuries in his past, and if he becomes unavailable, the Eagles did not improve the WR position (Torrey Smith is not an improvement). To add on to this point, they don’t have a plan after this year for WR. What if Alshon has a bad year, or if he has a great year and looks for a massive contract? Instead of worrying about this position next year, solve it this year. I love Corey Davis. He’s a polished receiver with impressive movement skills for his size. Davis is my best player left on the board, and he would become the favorite target for Carson Wentz.
15. Indianapolis Colts: DE Derek Barnett
People like Barnett way more than I do. I don’t see much potential with Barnett. He’s got underwhelming athleticism, bend, and arm length. He had a great college career, no doubt. But he won with snap anticipation and great hand usage. I don’t necessarily see that translating to similar NFL success. It is not to say that Barnett can’t be a solid defensive end. At absolute best, he might be able to hit 7-8 sacks in a couple of seasons, but I don’t really see much more. A good rotation player, he’s durable and will be able to have a role as a rookie.
16. Baltimore Ravens: WR Mike Williams
It is safe to say the receivers in Baltimore are less than impressive. Nothing about this Baltimore offense really stands out or scares defenses. Mike Williams is also a guy I really like. He’s got a very big catch radius, and attacks the ball at the high point. He’s not a guy that will get separation, but he can out muscle and out length corners to make the catch.
17. Washington: RB Christian McCaffrey
There are a lot of problems with this organization, and this might lead to Kirk Cousins leaving next year. Personally, I don’t get why Washington is having a hard time paying Kirk. I’m saying this, and I don’t really even like Kirk that much, but he’s proven capable, and there are much worse QB situations in the league. Under McCloughlan, Washington usually went with the Best Player Available (BPA) approach. But with McCloughlan gone, will they continue with this strategy? I have them going with BPA here, and McCaffrey will make an impact his rookie year as a returner, underneath receiver, and rotation back.
18. Tennessee Titans: CB Kevin King
Teams love tall corners with long arms, we all know this. King is 6’3” with 32” arms. At Washington, him and Sidney Jones were often left to guard 1 on 1. King is a little thin, but he moves really well for being as tall as he is. I think he could use his hands at the line of scrimmage better, but that is something he will learn in the league. Another plus is that he likes to hit hard. This pick is a slight reach, but it’s a big need for the Titans.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OT Garrett Bolles
This tackle class is frustrating to be honest. Bolles is the best of the bunch, and he’s probably the only one I’d be confident in to start as a rookie. He moves really well which is important for tackles. He needs to add strength, but that shouldn’t be a problem once he gets NFL level strength training. Some will be hesitant with him considering he will be a 25-year-old rookie, but you can get instant impact from him, and if all goes well, around 8 years of solid tackle play.
20. Denver Broncos: TE David Njoku
With the best tackle just coming off of the board, I have Denver going with Njoku, who is one of my favorite to watch film on. He is one of the “freaks” in this class. A man of his size should not be able to move as well as he does. He has developing to do, but with his ability in run after the catch, he’s a much-wanted middle of the field weapon for whomever plays QB in Denver.
21. Detroit Lions: RB Dalvin Cook
I’m not sure how much of Dalvin Cook’s reported off the field issues are true, but his talent is worth the 1st round pick. I will admit I’m not his biggest fan, especially considering that some have him as RB#1. No one can deny his combination of speed and elusiveness. My issue with him is his lack of power. He isn’t capable of running guys over. Usually, he gets hit and falls, and fails to pick up more yards. Detroit will need to have a power back that can pick up the short yardage, but they have needed a talent bump in the backfield, and Cook offers that.
22. Miami Dolphins: LB Zach Cunningham
I want to start this off with saying, I love Zach Cunningham. He is a starting Mike Linebacker in this league all day. He has 34 & 3/8’s inch arms, which is absolutely crazy for a linebacker. His arms are longer than Taco Charlton’s, and Taco has above average arm length for defensive ends. This arm length means he will reach blockers before they reach him, making it hard for these blockers to get a solid grasp of him. He will need to get bigger as he’s only 234 pounds, but he shows more power than you would expect.
23. New York Giants: OT Ryan Ramczyk
The Giants just really need an offensive tackle. Ramczyk needs to work on a lot of his technique, but nothing suggests he won’t be able to fix his issues. Ramczyk is tough and physical, and he has a chance to start as a rookie. It all matters how quick he picks up the coaching and if he stays healthy.
24. Oakland Raiders: CB Tre’Davious White
White is a day 1 starting nickel corner. He is technically sound, fluid, and uses his hands really well. He is limited to slot receivers who are quicker than fast, but considering how important slot receivers are in this league; White has a lot of value. Oakland will be glad to have him for the next 10 years.
25. Houston Texans: QB Pat Mahomes
Houston is drinking the “juice”. I get it; it’s easy to fall in love with the potential. To be honest, Mahomes graded out as my sixth best QB in this class. I’m nervous about his ability to adjust to an NFL offense. However, Houston has to draft a QB and Mahomes is a good fit for this offense. This guy has a cannon and is all about the deep ball. Think about 2 of the receivers on this team, Hopkins and Will Fuller. They are great deep threats and Mahomes has the arm to compliment Houston’s vertical ability.
26. Seattle Seahawks: CB Cordrea Tankersley
It is crazy to think that the Seahawks really are shopping Richard Sherman. We could see a draft day trade that would send shock throughout the NFL world. Whether that happens or not, Seattle needs to add talent to their cornerback group. Tankersley fits the Seattle mold at 6’1” and a ¼; he played press man coverage at Clemson, and has good closing speed. He really needs to work on avoiding penalties, but that will come with time.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: RB Joe Mixon
Cue the surprise, outrage, and trending twitter talk. Here is my theory; Mixon is a 1st round talent all day, but the reason people think he won’t be taken in the 1st round is because of the incident we all know about. The thing is, do teams believe this is a one-time big mistake? If they do believe that, then it does not matter where he is drafted, there will be outrage, but you don’t have to worry about any more incidents. If he doesn’t have ongoing off the field problems, then why not draft him in the 1st? Kansas City has a history off drafting players like Mixon, and having the process in place to keep them from causing more issues. I’m usually not a NFL comparison guy, but when I watch Mixon, I see Le’Veon Bell.
28. Dallas Cowboys: S/CB Jabrill Peppers
Before you hate me Cowboys fans, hear me out. Peppers has been a victim of the draft process, and many are misled when it comes to Peppers actual position and ability. Harbaugh looked at his Michigan roster and saw big and powerful linebackers, but these linebackers lacked speed. He saw 3 corners: Stribling, Lewis, and Clark, who all are talented and will be drafted this year. He saw safeties Delano Hill, who will be drafted, and Dymonte Thomas, who will be undrafted but will get invited to a camp. Then he saw Jabrill Peppers who is ultra athletic and has the ability to be a great defensive back. The issue was that Michigan didn’t have anybody to block off the edge. So when you watch Jabrill Peppers tape, you see him run to seal the edge, and not move or make the play. He was told to do this so that the running back had to cut to the inside, where the big and powerful linebackers could get a hold of him. In the league, Jabrill is a nickel corner and a strong safety that can play anywhere on the defense, including bringing him near the line of scrimmage. I believe he will be really good on defense for many years, and don’t forget his amazing return skills. He’ll bring instant impact to a Dallas team that is a few players away from being a top 3 NFL team. I think Jerry Jones will be shocked that Peppers makes it this far, and absolutely has to take him.
29. Green Bay Packers: OG Forrest Lamp
It was a rough offseason for the Packers who lost a lot of talent, especially on the offensive line. This would be a slam-dunk pick for Green Bay, who could rely on Lamp to be a starting guard as a rookie. Lamp probably shouldn’t last this long, but guards aren’t too hard to find, and aren’t normally seen as a valuable position. He’s got really good athleticism, and I see him as a pro-bowl caliber guard in a few years.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: EDGE TJ Watt
Watt is a bit of a tweener. He played linebacker in college, but he’s capable of being an end or outside linebacker who rushes the QB. Either way, he is able to get after the quarterback. He plays hard and is a vicious football player. He will bring non-stop energy to a Steelers defense that needs it.
31. Atlanta Falcons: S Budda Baker
Baker is one of my favorites in this class. He flies around the field and looks for turnovers. He is a violent hitter and extremely tough. He’s small and sometimes too aggressive, but he is a great fit for the Falcons and will be a good player in this league.
32. New Orleans Saints: WR John Ross
New Orleans did good to add high draft picks this year. Considering they have maybe 2 or 3 years left with Brees, they need guys who can make an impact in those last years with Brees on the team. I originally wanted to put Deshaun Watson here, but I think Brees deserves an organization wanting to be in win now mode. If Ross is healthy, he can replace Cooks and offers more underneath ability.
33. Cleveland Browns: QB Deshaun Watson
34. San Francisco 49ers: QB Davis Webb
35. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Taco Charlton
36. Chicago Bears: CB/S Marlon Humphrey
37. Los Angeles Rams: WR Chad Hansen
38. Los Angeles Chargers: OT/OG Cam Robinson
39. New York Jets: QB DeShone Kizer
40. Carolina Panthers: WR Chris Godwin
41. Cincinnati Bengals: LB Jarrad Davis
42. New Orleans Saints: EDGE Takkarist McKinley
43. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Sidney Jones
44. Buffalo Bills: WR Evan Engram
45. Arizona Cardinals: CB Chidobe Awuzie
46. Indianapolis Colts: OT Taylor Moton
47. Baltimore Ravens: DE Carl Lawson
48. Minnesota Vikings: OG Dan Feeney
49. Washington: DE Charles Harris
50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Quincy Wilson
51. Denver Broncos: EDGE Tarrell Basham
52. Cleveland Browns: S Josh Jones
53. Detroit Lions: DE Jordan Willis
54. Miami Dolphins: DT/NT Montravius Adams
55. New York Giants: RB Alvin Kamara
56. Oakland Raiders: LB Raekwon McMillan
57. Houston Texans: CB Adoree Jackson
58. Seattle Seahawks: WR Zay Jones
59. Kansas City Chiefs: EDGE Tyus Bowser
60. Dallas Cowboys: EDGE Derek Rivers
61. Green Bay Packers: S Marcus Williams
62. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB/S Desmond King
63. Atlanta Falcons: TE Jake Butt
64. Carolina Panthers: CB Fabian Moreau