I’ve said it many times before, and i’ll say it once again: it amazes me how worked up people get about mock drafts, especially this early into the offseason.
So, before you get up in arms about the selections made below, exclaiming”MY TEAM WOULD NEVER TAKE [insert player name here]!!” or “WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL IF WE DRAFT [insert player name here]!!,” just relax.
At this point in time last year, we thought Laremy Tunsil going #1 to Tennesee was a done deal, that Cleveland would be taking a quarterback with the #2 overall pick, and the Chargers couldn’t possibly pass on Jalen Ramsey. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. So right now, I don’t have any more real insight into what a team is or isn’t going to do with their top pick than you do.
Plus, this entire mock will be obsolete in a week or two anyway, after the Senior Bowl practices and game conclude. That’s not even mentioning the Scouting Combine, all the college pro days, and then a whole myriad of individual workouts. Hell, the team with 2nd overall pick in the draft still doesn’t have a head coach, and we don’t even officially know the full, finalized order of the entire first round.
So, basically, at this point in time, things are more fluid than a hot tub at a frat house.
Then why even spend the time putting together this mock draft? Outside of the fact that mock drafts always draw great traffic, they’re a useful tool for discussing who are some of the top-ranked prospects in the upcoming draft, and who — very theoretically — might be available when their favorite team makes their pick.
But, just remember: take this entire thing with an iceberg-sized grain of salt.
With that in mind…
1. Cleveland — Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Myles Garrett is #1 on basically everyone’s big board, at this point in time. Cleveland ranked 30th last season in quarterback sacks. Unless they end up talking themselves into taking a quarterback with this pick, Garrett is a no-brainer here.
2. San Francisco — Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: The 49ers and Bears (with the next pick) control this entire draft, depending on how they go about addressing their needs at quarterback this offseason. I could Watson just as easily see him being taken this high, as I could see him falling into the early second round. Of course, who knows who Kyle Shanahan — the presumed favorite for the 49ers head coaching position — will want as his quarterback.
3. Chicago — Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: The Bears are finally going to move on from Jay Cutler this offseason, meaning they also have a major question at the quarterback position. Ironically, Trubisky’s playing style does remind me a good bit of Jay Cutler. If the Bears did go this way — and they’re reportedly spending a lot of time scouting the top quarterback prospects — I think they’d be best served letting Trubisky sit behind a “bridge starter” like Matt Barkley for as long as possible.
4. Jacksonville — Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: This would be a home run-type pick for them. Many people believe Jonathan Allen might be the best overall player in this draft. Assuming new defensive coordinator Todd Wash keeps elements of the old Seattle-style defense (which Gus Bradley ran), Allen fits perfectly at the defensive end spot that could be vacated by Tyson Alualu (who’s currently a free agent).
5. Tennessee (via Los Angeles) — Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: There are some people who felt that Mike Williams was actually the biggest star for Clemson in their national championship win. He’s a big, strong, deceptively fast receiver that’s a menace in jump ball situations, reminding you a lot of Dez Bryant (minus the knuckleheaded personality). He could be the #1 wide receiver that the Titans don’t presently have.
6. NY Jets — Rueben Foster, LB, Alabama: The Jets need talent at so many different positions, in the worst way. General Manager Mike Maccagnan is a proponent of taking the best player available, and the Jets might part ways with inside linebacker David Harris this offseason anyway. Foster is the type of cornerstone player you could rebuild your defense around.
7. San Diego — Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU: Jamal Adams is an incredibly gifted safety prospect who could reasonably play both safety spots, but could be one of the best in the game as an in-the-box strong safety early in his career. The Chargers could pair him next to free safety Dwight Lowery from day one, potentially giving them one of the most talented secondaries in the AFC.
8. Carolina — Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: This pick would admittedly be a little bit of a stretch. But, the Panthers need to do a better job protecting Cam Newton, as he was one of the 10 most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL last year. Plus, Carolina General Manager Dave Gettleman believes in building a team through the trenches, first and foremost.
9. Cincinnati — Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: Defensive end is one of the biggest needs for the Bengals entering this off-season, as right end Michael Johnson had a really disappointing year by most accounts. Derek Barnett is probably best suited to play a 4-3 end, so this would be a great fit for both sides.
10. Buffalo — Malik Hooker, Safety, Ohio State: The Bills could have a big need at Safety next season, as incumbent starter Corey Graham is a free agent, and there’s no guarantee that new head coach Sean McDermott and his staff will want him back. Malik Hooker is one of the best pure free safety prospects to come out of school in a long, long time. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah ranked Hooker as the #2 overall prospect in this draft.
11. New Orleans — Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida: The Saints need depth at the cornerback spot pretty badly, especially in the pass-happy AFC South. Wilson is one of the most overlooked prospects cornerback prospects, even though he might actually be the best corner in his draft. He’s got protoype size (about 6’1 and 215lbs), along with the speed, athleticism, fluidity and football IQ that you’d want from a cornerback.
12. Cleveland (via Philadelphia) — Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: if the Browns somehow walked out of this draft with Myles Garrett and Leonard Fournette, there would — or should — be dancing in the streets of Cleveland. They’d be walking out of this draft with two of the best overall prospects. We haven’t seen a running back who runs with the ferocity that Fournette does since Adrian Peterson.
13. Arizona — Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: Expect a lot of discussion, between now and late April, about the Cardinals potentially using this pick to draft their quarterback of the future. If they don’t take a QB here, cornerback is their next biggest need, as the had a revolving door of guys opposite Patrick Peterson last year.
14. Indianapolis — Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: The Colts defense finished 27th in passing defense DVOA last season. All four of their starting linebackers for most of the season were at least 30 years old. Erik Walden, a former sixth-round pick who never had more than six sacks in a given year, led the team with 11 sacks last year; but, he’ll also be 32 years old when next season starts. They could really use a young pass rusher.
15. Philadelphia (via Minnesota) — Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: The Eagles really need help at cornerback and wide receiver, but Dalvin Cook would simply be too good to pass up here. There is a growing group of people who believe Cook is the best running back prospect in this draft, ahead of Leonard Fournette. He plays bigger than his size (5’11, 206), while showing impressive footwork, agility, lateral quickness, and vision
16. Baltimore — Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: The cornerback formerly known as Jalen Tabor reminds you a lot of fellow Florida alum Joe Haden. Tabor has the combination of size, athleticism, and swagger to succeed in the NFL, if he can learn to polish his overall technique. Baltimore’s secondary was a liability last season, with Jimmy Smith continuing to deal with nagging injuries, and teams picking on the Ravens’ second cornerback.
17. Washington — Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA: A lot depends on who the next defensive coordinator is in Washington, but the Redskins could really use an upgrade at pass rusher. Even if they bring back Junior Galette, and even with guys like Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith and Trent Murphy, they don’t really have an elite edge pass rusher. McKinley is a long, athletic pass rusher with a great combination of speed and motor. He’s been compared by some to DeMarcus Ware.
18. Tennessee — Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: The Titans biggest need entering this offseason is actually at the cornerback spot. Tennessee was ranked #26 in passing defense DVOA last season, and was the third worst passing defense in the NFL in yards allowed per game. Cornerback Perrish Cox was so bad that the team released him during the season, and their depth is razor-thin after Jason McCourty.
19. Tampa Bay — Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: The Buccaneers could really go for a big-bodied defensive tackle, but there’s none worth taking at this spot. Their next biggest draft need is wide receiver, as they could really use somebody who can stretch the field and take some of the pressure off of Mike Evans. Corey Davis is a big, polished, productive, high-intangibles guy.
20. Denver — Ryan Ramcyzk, OT, Wisconsin: Denver needs help at multiple positions along the offensive line, so a pick like this would make a lot of sense towards patching things up. They could potentially start Ramcyzk along the inside of the line early in his career, before moving him outside.
21. Detroit — Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: The Lions need another pass rusher to compliment Ziggy Ansah, who only had two sacks last season as teams began to focus on eliminating him. Kerry Hyder led the team with eight sacks last season, but they still need more depth and production from their edges.
22. Miami — Jarrad Davis, LB, Miami: The linebacker position has been a patchwork mess for several seasons now, and they’ll enter this offseason with a need at both outside linebacker spots. Davis is an athletic sideline-to-sideline linebacker that would add some much-needed athleticism to the group.
23. NYG — OJ Howard, TE, Alabama: As good as Odell Beckham Jr. was for the Giants last season, it was painfully obvious at multiple points in the season that Eli Manning really had nobody else to throw the ball to. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Sheppard is only going to get better, but they still need more weapons. The Giants haven’t had a truly dangerous tight end in years, and Howard is easily the most well-rounded tight end prospect in this draft.
24. Oakland — Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State: The inside linebacker spot for Oakland was a bit of a disaster this past year, after Ben Heeney went down with an injury. They really need an athletic, tone-setting guy for the middle of that defense. McMillan is a smart, well-built linebacker that’s well-suited to be a “mike” in the NFL.
25. Houston — Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan: Houston’s defense didn’t get enough recognition for how good it was last season, especially considering it basically carried their inept offense into the playoffs. But, they still have one of the most underwhelming situations at Safety in the NFL. If they can figure out how to use Peppers, he will provide an insanely athletic presence in their secondary.
26. Seattle — Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State: There can’t be any question as to what group was the weakest for the Seahawks this past season. To make matters worse, two of their starting tackles from this season — Bradley Sowell and Gary Gilliam — are free agents after this season is over. If nothing else, they could sign one of them to man the left side, and put Johnson on the right side.
27. Kansas City — Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Marcus Peters might have emerged as one of the five-to-seven best cornerbacks in the NFL last season, but the cornerback spot opposite of Peters was a revolving door for Kansas City. In a division with Derek Carr and Philip Rivers (for now), they need to upgrade their depth at the position.
28. Dallas — Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: The Cowboys have invested high draft picks in recent years on Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, but those two produced a grand total of two sacks last season. Finding players who can rush the passer would make this team even more dangerous.
* Green Bay — Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Eddie Lacy enters this offseason as a free agent, and coming off two highly disappointing seasons, there will be plenty of intrigue as to whether he’ll be back in Green Bay. Without Lacy and James Starks, the Packers running game was reduced to Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael. McCaffrey would add a speed element to the Packers offense, as well as a very capable receiver out of the backfield.
* Pittsburgh — Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn: The Steelers didn’t have a single player record more than five sacks last season, and the guy who led the team in sacks last year — James Harrison — isn’t getting any younger. They need a pass rusher on the edge opposite of Bud Dupree.
* Atlanta — Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida: As good as the Falcons have been this season, their running defense hasn’t been nearly up to par. Atlanta finished the season ranked 29th in rushing defense DVOA. Brantley would be a nice addition next to Grady Jarrett along the defensive line.
* New England — Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: The Patriots were ranked 23rd in passing defense DVOA last season, mostly on account of the fact that they really couldn’t generate much of a pass rush on opponents all season. At 6-6, 270 pounds, Taco Charlton has the size and athleticism to play right end for the Patriots from day one, and provide a shot-in-the-arm to the pass rush.
* = draft pick order has yet to be determined