As many of our loyal readers know, I’m basically dreadful at anything predictions related. Unless it’s picking the standings of the AFC West, I somehow nail that one consistently.
Anyway. It’s time to churn out my first (of only two) Mock Drafts this year. I, like most, never actually pick these things very well. But it’s always fun to speculate and argue over what teams will or won’t do in the draft.
So without further ado, here we go:
- Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M - At this stage in the game, Garrett seems to be the clear front runner to be the top pick in the draft. If selected, Garrett would be the second defensive player in the last four years taken number one overall. At the combine, Garrett got a chance to show off his athleticism, which has helped him stand above many in this class. The Browns have many needs after a disastrous campaign in 2016, and pass rush is definitely one of them. Some mocks have Cleveland opting for a QB, but I can’t see it. There isn’t a QB in this class worth the top pick (or a top five in my opinion), so Cleveland should go with the best overall player. It would seem that’s Garrett.
- San Francisco 49ers - Jamal Adams, S, LSU - I really wanted Solomon Thomas here, as many have the 49ers taking him. However, the 49ers only have three safeties on the roster, none of whom I would consider to be playmakers. A strong secondary is important, LSU defensive backs have been high picks (for good reason) recently, and new GM John Lynch was an All-Pro safety. Add that up and Adams seems like a good fit here. I would note, if the 49ers go safety they could easily go for Malik Hooker instead. But I like Adams better and I could see him becoming a leader of the 49ers defense for years to come.
- Chicago Bears - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford - You could just as easily make the argument for Jonathan Allen here. It really comes down to who the Bears like better between the two. Personally, I like Thomas more, so I’m giving him the nod in Chicago. For a team that has a reputation for good defense, taking a player who could anchor the line for many seasons is an obvious choice. Thomas is a little more versatile than Allen as well, allowing the Bears to show a few different looks in the front seven if they choose.
- Jacksonville Jaguars - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State - The Jaguars always seem to throw a curve in the draft, so anything is on the table. If I’m a GM, I love the possibility of adding Lattimore on the other side of the field to Jalon Ramsey. In the news few years, if all goes well, this Jaguars defense could be special. In this situation, though, I still have Jonathan Allen available, which could be a viable option. Regardless, I like Jacksonville going defense, especially after Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls on the back of a fierce pass rush and Giants defense.
- Tennessee Titans - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan - If there was one thing the Titans didn’t have last year, it was a scary receiving threat. If Davis is as good as many scouts are projecting, he could give the Titans the receiving threat that they so desperately need (and have needed for years). Obviously a big key for the Titans is if Marcus Mariota returns to form. If he does, and Davis is a legitimate receiving threat, the Titans suddenly could become an AFC South favorite.
- New York Jets - Mitch Trubisky, QB, UNC - I’m not sold on Trubisky at all, and if I’m the Jets GM, I pass on him here. However, the Jets are the Jets, and they are in need of a real QB. Because of that, I think they go with the best QB prospect in this draft here. Do I think the Jets could move back at still get their guy? Yep. But I doubt they will.
- LA Chargers - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State - Almost every Mock has this pick, and I won’t deviate from that. I like Hooker’s range on defense, and he is definitely a play maker, something that LA needs badly in the secondary. The Chargers have hit on a lot of recent first round picks, and I think they do so again here.
- Carolina Panthers - Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama - If Allen falls this far, it would be a gift for the Panthers. I’ve seen some Mocks that have Carolina moving up to get him. But here, they stand pat and still get their guy. Allen can be a strong anchor to the interior of the Panthers line. Could they go with an edge rusher here? Yes. But I think the signing of Julius Peppers, right or wrong, will deter that in the first round.
- Cincinnati Bengals - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama - I feel like Foster could slide a bit because of his issues at the combine. I highly doubt he makes it past Cincinnati, though. The Bengals had a lot of shuffling on their roster this off-season and really need to rebuild a defense that was lackluster this past year. I think Foster is the best player on the board at #9, and fits the Bengals.
- Buffalo Bills - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee - I actually had to stop and think about the Bills pick. Ultimately, I opted to have them go edge rush here to replace Mario Williams (yes I know they cut him the previous off-season). The Bills are another team that needs a defense to succeed, and taking the best edge rusher on the board could play a huge role in that. I’ve seen a lot of chatter about Deshaun Watson to the Bills, but I don’t see it. He’s a very similar player (albeit better, in my opinion) to Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manuel. As I said, I’m not a fan of the QBs in this draft, and since Buffalo has a good one in Taylor, I don’t think they need to snap one up here.
- New Orleans Saints - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson - The Saints traded Brandin Cooks to New England, so they will just replace him with Mike Williams. Let’s not pretend that Williams makes up for losing Cooks, but he still gives Drew Brees another viable receiving threat. The Saints defense always needs work, but their offense is what wins them games, so replacing a huge part of that production should be priority number one in the draft.
- Cleveland Browns - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson - Back to back Clemson players. This would be a gift for the Browns; they need a QB but not bad enough to take one first overall. Fortunately, Watson falls into their laps here. I think Watson is better than any QB on the Browns roster, so he should start from day 1.
- Arizona Cardinals - Tre-Davius White, CB, LSU - I could see the Cardinals going many different directions here since a lot of their playmakers are aging players. I ultimately opted for White as it has become clear the Cardinals can’t rely on the health of Tyrann Mathieu. Another starting caliber corner (from LSU no less) would give the Cardinals another much needed body in the secondary.
- Philadelphia Eagles - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU - After the season ended, I figured the Eagles would target a receiver in the draft. Turns out, they took care of that in free agency. I still kept the Eagles on the offensive side of the ball in taking Fournette. Right now, there really isn’t a player that scares you in the Eagles backfield. Give them Fournette and suddenly you have a strong second year QB, a (hopefully) legitimate running back, and a new strong receiving corps. Suddenly the offense looks good.
- Indianapolis Colts - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple - Assuming no top players go into free fall, I would love the Colts to take Reddick. A versatile linebacker that can play in the middle and rush the passer. It’s no secret that the Colts badly need linebacker help. Drafting Reddick could help the Colts in two big areas of need in that front seven. I think he’s both the best player available here, and fits a need for the Colts as well.
- Baltimore Ravens - Carl Lawson, LB, Auburn - It should be no surprise that the Ravens target defense in the first round. After two down years, the Ravens need to start retooling the roster. For Baltimore the strength of the defense always seems to start and end with the linebackers. Getting a strong edge rusher in the first round would be huge for Baltimore.
- Washington Redskins - John Ross, WR, Washington - After losing Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson in free agency, the Redskins need to add a receiving threat on the outside. Ross brings a threat that the Redskins have come to rely on, especially with Jackson, and need to replace.
- Tennessee Titans - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin - After a shrewd trade at the top of the draft last year, the Titans are back late in the first round at 18. Here, the Titans pull the top offensive lineman off the board. You can never have enough tackles, and Wisconsin always produces quality linemen. Considering the Titans like to run the ball, taking a pro-style tackle from a run heavy offense makes too much sense.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama - After adding Desean Jackson in free agency, the Bucs finally gave Jameis Winston a legitimate receiving threat. Howard is one of my favorite players in this draft, and taking him gives Tampa a huge weapon in the middle of the field. I think the Bucs would rather have Ramczyk, but since he’s gone they’ll settle for the next best thing.
- Denver Broncos - Jordan Willis, LB, Kansas State - Since Demarcus Ware is gone, I think Denver goes to replace him with a young pass rusher. Willis is the best left on the board by the time this pick rolls around, and Denver snaps him up. The defense was incredibly good with Ware and Von Miller. To attempt to keep that momentum, Denver adds another electric pass rusher.
- Detroit Lions - Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State - Remember the days when the Lions had Ndamukong Suh? The interior of that defense was fierce with him inside. Since then, the defense has been good, but never great. The secondary was surprisingly solid last year, so the Lions take the next step in anchoring the line. McDowell went to Michigan State, so the Lions keep the only Spartan first rounder at home in Michigan.
- Miami Dolphins - Forrest Lamp, Guard, Western Kentucky - I could see the Dolphins jumping on a receiver here, but there’s no good options available at this stage in the draft. As I mentioned before, offensive line is rarely a bad pick, so the Dolphins pick up Lamp from Western Kentucky. He played tackle in college, but his size has slotted him as a guard in most projections.
- New York Giants - Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan - The Giants love their pass rush. After getting carved up by Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, the Giants look to add someone who can get to the QB. Charlton fits that mold. The Michigan product could end up being one of the top players in the draft after an excellent season at Michigan.
- Oakland Raiders - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State - I wanted so badly for John Ross to drop here, because his speed is such a Raiders pick. Or rather an Al Davis pick. This is a better option, though. If the Raiders offense lacked anything last year, it was a run game. Cook is a powerful runner who should see plenty of open running lanes as teams have to respect the pass.
- Houston Texans - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech - I’ll admit, this would be a gutsy pick for the Texans. After their QB debacle with Brock Osweiler, and the retirement of Tony Romo, the Texans need QB help. Mahomes definitely has the ability to succeed in the NFL. But how would he adjust to a non-spread offense? I don’t think you want Mahomes to start immediately, but if taken by Houston, he might have to.
- Seattle Seahawks - Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama - The Seahawks are built on strong secondary play. With the possibility of trading Richard Sherman looming, I wouldn’t be surprised for the Seahawks to go after a possible replacement. Or at least someone who can play that side of the field. Throw in that Humphrey is a big physical corner, and he fits right in with what Seattle wants.
- Kansas City Chiefs - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford - I think this would be a gift for the Chiefs. McCaffrey could finally be their replacement for Jamaal Charles, as he brings a lot of the same skills to the table. The Chiefs have a lot of quick versatile players on offense already. Throw McCaffrey into the mix and suddenly the Chiefs can create a ton of mismatches around the field.
- Dallas Cowboys - T.J. Watt, LB, Wisconsin - If there was a weak point on last year’s Cowboys squad, it was probably at the linebacker position. Adding Watt gives the Cowboys a reliable linebacker who can also rush the passer. If Watt is half the player his brother is, the Cowboys will have an excellent player here at 28.
- Green Bay Packers - David Njoku, TE, Miami - After letting a few offensive playmakers walk in the off-season, the Packers get one back here. I would argue that the Packers haven’t had a legitimate tight end since Jermichael Finley. Njoku is a similar type player and could give Aaron Rodgers another dimension in the middle of the field.
- Pittsburgh Steelers - Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt - This would be a great pick for the Steelers. Pittsburgh had the defensive reputation, but are a team ultimately carried by their offense right now. Cunningham might not have to play immediately, and could take some time to learn the Steelers defense. I feel like any time Pittsburgh drafts a player in the front seven it is a luxury pick.
- Atlanta Falcons - Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida - I doubt the Falcons adjust much with their offense (other than the play-calling). So defense in the way to go for them. I like Davis here due to his speed. He can match up with a lot of NFL running backs, which is something that the Falcons struggled with in the Super Bowl. An edge rusher could be a possibility here, but I’ll stick with the Falcons beefing up the middle of the defense.
- New Orleans Saints - Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan - After going offense earlier, I like the Saints to go defense here. The rest of the division is starting to build some offensive firepower, so the Saints take a corner to keep up. Lewis is the best available here, and the Saints snap him up before the top of the second round comes around.
Whew. So that’s the first round. Obviously there are still a few weeks until the draft, so depending on what teams do, this will probably change. But it’s what I have right now. As always, let me know how bad these picks are, and what you think will happen in the comments below.