There is a love/hate relationship with mock drafts. Nobody really likes them, but we click on every single mock draft that comes our way. This mock draft features a couple trades, a couple head-scratchers, a few no-brainers, and everything in between.
This mock is what I would think happens. At least, something along those lines. It’s more to give you an idea of where teams are looking position-wise. For the picks outside of the box, it’s to help you look at things from a different point of view. It is focused more on fit rather than need. So a team might take “Player A” because that player helps them more than reaching for a need.
The Dallas Cowboys trade the 28th and 60th overall picks to the Tennessee Titans for the 18th overall pick.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade the 19th, 84th and 125th overall picks to the Arizona Cardinals for the 13th overall pick.
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, Edge Defender, Texas A&M
Garrett has a lot more flaws than the media will lead you to believe. I don’t think he’s this can’t-miss prospect that he’s being made out to be. He’s a good player. He’s incredibly explosive and covers a lot of ground. His effort is questionable, and his moves leave something to be desired. But in a sport where potential matters, Garrett is the pick. If the Browns believe in their quarterback, they should take him here. Garrett will slide into a role opposite Jamie Collins, and that should instantly give the Browns one heck of an athletic pass rushing duo.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, Edge Defender, Stanford
Another pass rusher who isn’t quite there yet as a football player. Thomas has all the athleticism in the world to excel at the next level. It was a tough evaluation because, at Stanford, he played inside full-time and got absolutely wrecked there. If he didn’t win right away he was getting pushed off the ball. Against the pass, he was a terror, though. Guards had no match for his athletic ability. He was uninspiring as an edge rusher, but that’s where he will have to play in the NFL.
3. Chicago Bears – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Bears can go a number of ways here. From a financial standpoint, the No. 3 overall pick should eliminate safety and inside linebacker. Mike Glennon is getting $18.5 million this year, so at 3, it’s a bit early for QB. Without reaching for another position, Lattimore is the best choice here. Lattimore is one of the easiest projections in the draft. To me, he’s a Stephon Gilmore clone. He has an ability to recover after he is beat that few players possess. That, and his ability to finish when the ball is in the air make him special. The Bears signed Prince Amukamara, but he looked like he couldn’t run anymore last year in Jacksonville. Lattimore is an upgrade at a position of need while being the best player available.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
Blake Bortles stinks. His 2016 season set the team back, somehow. My guess is Jaguars executive Tom Coughlin goes the opposite direction with a “safer” QB who won’t make as many bonehead decisions. Watson showed that he knows when to give his receivers a chance, and that should really help Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns get back on track. The Jaguars held their opponents to 21 points or less five times last year and had opportunities to win in a few other close games. Watson is a gamer. The Jaguars don’t need to overthink this.
5. Tennessee Titans – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Reuben Foster would be the pick here if it was 10 picks later. Money matters in the NFL, and there’s no cornerback or defensive lineman that I can see the NFL taking in the top 5. Corey Davis is a bit of an unknown as far as testing goes. So the Titans are going to have to trust what they see. Luckily, Davis has shown that he has the skills that fit exactly what the Titans need, a receiver who can thrive before and after the catch. Davis is a surprisingly good route runner and has some serious burst when the ball is in his hands. There are a few areas where Davis can improve. For a guy his size, Davis isn’t overly physical, and he needs to be better at avoiding contact. Here, Davis is the best option for the Titans.
6. New York Jets – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Most people reading this weren’t alive the last time the Jets had a tight end they could count on. Whoever New York’s QB is next year will need a safety blanket. Howard has to improve his route-running skills. His receiving ability is somewhat of an unknown, as we didn’t get a chance to see him in many contested situations in college. But Howard has speed to burn, and if the Jets are implementing a West Coast offense, he should do well on quick-hitting routes. He’s also a very solid blocker and takes pride in it. He should help the Jets in both the passing and running game. Giving them a big-play threat at the tight end position that’s been sorely lacking for some time.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is on record saying that he doesn’t value the safety position, and even with Gus Bradley as the new defensive coordinator, I don’t believe that changes. The Chargers have two good corners, which alleviates the pressure on their safeties. What Telesco does do is tend to overreact to where the team was lacking the year before. The Chargers offense struggled to move the ball in the last half of the season. Their offense was painful and stagnant. The pick is ironic considering Mike Williams missed all of 2015 with a neck injury, but there’s been no reason for the team to count on Keenan Allen, as he’s had his season ended due to injury in four of the last five years. This is a bit of a reach, but Williams gives Philip Rivers a big target and is the best receiver in the draft with the ball in the air.
8. Carolina Panthers – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
Even with the addition of Matt Kalil, the team can’t have much confidence in their tackles. For whatever reason, age gets brought up with Bolles. Yes, he’s 25, but he’s fully developed. I don’t see it as an issue with him. He gives the Panthers a finisher on the line and a player who can move effortlessly when pulling. Bolles is also the best finisher in the draft. I believe he’s going top 10 and next to left guard Andrew Norwell, the Panthers would be able to get their offense back on track. In a deep class of running backs, they can afford to wait on more pressing needs in the trenches. Carolina was a bottom 10 offense last year and when you have a star quarterback, that should never happen. They were 21st in adjusted sack rate. Bolles should help that as well as help pave holes for Cam Newton and company.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – John Ross, WR, Washington
The Bengals offense took a hit without Marvin Jones. There was nobody across from A.J. Green to stretch the field, so defenses just rolled the safeties over and took him away. Ross helps both Andy Dalton and Green. If you leave Ross one-on-one, he’s going to make you pay. If you leave Green one-on-one, he’s going to make you pay. With Ross, he’s much more than a deep threat. Ross excels at the line of scrimmage. He also excels on out routes and comebacks, a couple of timing routes that the Bengals run quite a bit. The fit makes too much sense for the Bengals to pass up here.
10. Buffalo Bills – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
The run on receivers makes this an easy selection for the Bills. They could go corner here, but Hooker allows them to be more versatile on defense. He’s not Ed Reed. That’s okay. Hooker has to improve on his tackling. He also gets manipulated and second guesses himself in zone coverage. In man coverage, he has a tendency to get grabby. His range is unmatched, and he plays his butt off. His ball skills rival those of anybody in the class and even though he wasn’t at the combine, it’s a safe bet to assume he’s a high-end athlete. I expect Hooker to be very good in the NFL, along the lines of Reggie Nelson. I’m not sure how much better he’ll get in the run game, though he still does make plenty of plays. I do think that with more experience, he’ll become a star in the passing game.
11. New Orleans Saints – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Imagine a player like this in the Saints offense. McCaffrey would flourish in New Orleans. He’s the most patient runner in the draft. He will be able to split out wide or work on linebackers out of the backfield and just rack up yards in this offense. The Saints could go defense here, obviously. They have two good starting corners, and they were just injured. Last year was the first time in three years that Mark Ingram didn’t miss a game. McCaffrey is dependable and his fit is obvious here. He will improve the offense more than any defender would at this spot.
12. Cleveland Browns – Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
The Browns can’t afford to wait until the second round if the board shakes out like this. To me, Mahomes is the best QB in the draft. Don’t believe pundits when they say he’s not ready to play because of the offense he played in. If anything, Kliff Kingsbury got him ready for the NFL more than a pro-style offense did. Mahomes showed that he was in complete control of his offense. He has a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder but is a lot more accurate than you’d expect as well. There are boneheaded throws, but to me, Mahomes knew that if he didn’t make a play, his team wasn’t going to win. Watch him in a two-minute drill. He’s outstanding.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (trade with Cardinals) – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Our first trade of the day comes from Tampa Bay. With the Doug Martin situation up in the air, Tampa Bay is aggressive and moves up. I mean, they picked a kicker in the second round, so I’m not sure anything they do in this draft will catch us off guard. Tampa Bay boasted one of the five worst rushing attacks in the league last year. With the addition of Desean Jackson, defenses can’t roll coverage toward Mike Evans or stack the box. Fournette won’t have to run against eight-man boxes like he did in college, and when he sees a crease, look out. He has game-changing speed, and once he gets to the second level, he will punish you. Tampa Bay gets a much-needed playmaker here, which should pay off immediately.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Some think Conley was the better corner at Ohio State. He is polished, patient, and versatile. In the Eagles scheme, Conley should excel. They run quite a bit of press coverage but also run some coverages where the corner will sit in the flat. Conley showed a great feel in this regard and baited quarterbacks into some poor throws. By and large, he’s good at finding the ball downfield. This is a safe pick for the Eagles who have a big need at corner. By the end of the season, Conley could be the best corner on the team.
15. Indianapolis Colts – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The Colts could go a number of ways to shore up a bottom five defense, but Allen is their guy here. He’s likely to fall in the draft with questions about his shoulder and on the field, he leaves a lot to be desired as well. As far as fit and need, though, Allen is a good pick for the Colts. He should be able to play all along the defensive line and be the technician that they’re missing up front. The Colts keeping him off the edge should limit his athletic deficiencies and highlight his ability to win with his hands. Not a high upside pick, but Allen is an immediate contributor.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Derek Barnett, Edge Defender, Tennessee
Baltimore was 25th in adjusted sack rate last year largely because it’s Terrell Suggs and nobody else. Barnett can start opposite of him and be an immediate upgrade. He gets great jumps off the line of scrimmage and is one of the few pass rushers in the draft who has a signature move. Barnett has a deadly dip and rip move that led to a ton sacks in college. He is also much better against the run than given credit for. He’s stronger than you think. He’s not an explosive athlete but rather an all-around good football player who should help the Ravens right away.
17. Washington Redskins – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Washington goes for their quarterback of the future here with Trubisky falling to them. This gives them an opportunity to let him sit for a year and pick the brain of Kirk Cousins. Trubisky has a big arm but from a mechanical standpoint, he has a ways to go. If he’s thrown into the fire, it could be bad early on in his career. Getting a chance to sit is likely the best bet for him. Though he does miss some gimme throws, the West Coast offense would be a good fit for Trubisky.
18. Dallas Cowboys (trade with Titans) – Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
Jerry Jones gets what he wants. Seeing Jamal Adams fall in the draft because he doesn’t play a premium position was too much for the Cowboys owner to stomach. So we see him facilitate a move up to grab Adams. The safety out of LSU is one of the more (if not the most) aware players in the draft. He has great instincts and recognition that allow him to play faster than his 4.56-second 40-yard dash time at the combine. He sniffs plays out in a hurry. I think it’s fair to ask if he is truly versatile and if he’s always as willing to fill the alley. He’s just a good football player. Adams has all the intangibles in the world and will add much-needed leadership to the Cowboys’ secondary. Even as a rookie.
19. Arizona Cardinals (trade with Buccaneers) – Jabrill Peppers, SS, Michigan
I have my reservations about Peppers. However, I could certainly understand why he will go high. He’s an explosive athlete that, when he is able to get there, will put a big hit on you. I like his fit with Arizona. This might be a little high for Peppers but for a team that likes to get as many defensive backs on the field and is in need of a player in the box, Peppers is the pick. Peppers should add value in the return game as well.
20. Denver Broncos – Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky
The Broncos strike gold here by landing one of the top 10 players in the draft. Whether he plays tackle or guard on the left side, Lamp would be an upgrade over Donald Stephenson or Max Garcia. You’ll hear people rave about what Lamp did against Alabama last year, and everything they’re saying is true. He blocked three good football players all game. I believe he was only beaten once all game. From a technique standpoint, Lamp is so under control and patient that it’s hard to imagine him not being a stud at the next level. It’s a shame he fell this far.
21. Detroit Lions – Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
With more premium positions going ahead of him, Foster gets pushed down in the draft. Lucky for Detroit, they land a top 10 player in the draft. The Lions were the worst defense based on DVOA, so let’s be honest, they could go anywhere. They were still minus-8 in big-play differential, despite their explosive offense. That’s how lousy they were on the other side of the ball. Foster not only helps them against the run but also against the pass. He’s outstanding in coverage.
22. Miami Dolphins – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
This move will give the Dolphins three athletic linebackers. Miami would probably move Lawrence Timmons to the strong-side, Kiko Alonso inside, and Reddick would play on the weak side, where he could just run and chase all day. A sideline-to-sideline type linebacker, Reddick came to college as a defensive back, and it shows in his movement patterns. He played a little bit of everywhere in college. Personally, I think he’s a bit overrated, as I’m not sure he had as much of an impact as his numbers suggest. It’s easy to fall in love with his athleticism and effort, and that’s why he’s the pick for Miami.
23. New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Giants have weapons on the outside, and now, they just need to figure out how to create running lanes. The Ereck Flowers experiment has not been a good one. In an open competition, I’m taking Robinson to beat Flowers 10 out of 10 times. Robinson has his punching issues, but he’s so close to being great. Robinson has the mentality that coaches love in a lineman. He wants to finish and play through the whistle. If the Giants let Robinson be aggressive, he has star potential. With more vertical sets, Robinson will have a bit of a learning curve.
24. Oakland Raiders – Kevin King, CB, Washington
Corner isn’t only a need, it’s a necessity. Sean Smith was a disappointment and David Amerson was worse last year. Based on what they do on defense, Oakland has a clear “type” at the position. King fits that press corner style with his length and athleticism. Last year, King actually played in the slot quite a bit, and he played well there. He has to improve his technique at the line of scrimmage, but King has great skills when the ball is in the air.
25. Houston Texans – Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
For whatever reason, the Texans will pass on a quarterback here for an all-world athlete. With Melifonwu, he is much more than just an athlete. He’s a good football player who can play all over the field. He is strong enough to hold the point, fast enough to play the deep center-field role, and big enough to play in the box. For my money, he’s the best run defender at his position. Melifonwu needs to learn how to react better and not be so reliant on his physical gifts. In man coverage, you’ll notice Melifonwu is a little stiff when it comes to changing directions. There’s some play-making ability here, and Melifonwu gives the Texans a presence in the secondary that they don’t have.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Seattle’s offensive line is bad. There’s no need to sugar-coat this. Ramczyk would be the best player on the Seahawks offensive line the minute he signs his contract. This pick is so obvious that I doubt it happens. From a technical standpoint, Ramczyk is about as clean as it gets. If Seattle is comfortable with his medicals, he is the obvious pick. For my money, Ramczyk is the best pass protecting lineman in the draft. He’s no slouch in the run game, either. This should be an easy decision for Seattle.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
Here, the Chiefs take the best player on the board, one who could very well be the best player in the draft. Last year, the Chiefs took a chance on Chris Jones and that was a home-run. With McDowell, it could be a grand slam pick. Getting some youth and athleticism up front should help a defense that was awful against the run a year ago. McDowell makes life easier on the guys around him. This pick helps every other position on defense, so it wasn’t a hard one to make.
28. Tennessee Titans (trade with Cowboys) – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Even with Logan Ryan, the Titans need help at corner immediately. Jason McCourty has played 18 games over the last two years, and the younger cornerbacks on the roster have flashed, but they cannot be relied on. Enter Marlon Humphrey. He gives the Titans a mentality that they don’t currently have. He’s aggressive, physical and loves to come up and attack. Humphrey is a high-end athlete who has top-notch recovery ability. He is a mess at the line of scrimmage and struggles to find the ball in the air. Both traits are tough to get corrected at corner. Still, Humphrey is an upgrade. Trading down and getting Humphrey is solid work by the Titans.
29. Green Bay Packers – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
The Packers lost Micah Hyde in free agency and replace the versatile defender with a similar player who is a better athlete. Awuzie played through a turf toe toward the latter part of the year in 2016. In my opinion, Awuzie is the best slot corner in the draft. This pick makes sense for the Packers. Green Bay struggled mightily against all types of receivers last year. Awuzie’s ability to line up all over should let him have an immediate impact.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – David Njoku, TE, Miami
The Steelers got next to nothing from their tight ends last year. Jesse James is just a guy, and Ladarius Green can’t stay healthy. At this point, Njoku is the best player on the board at a position of need. He will truly open up an already dangerous offense and give Ben Roethlisberger an underneath target over the middle that he didn’t have last year. He is a matchup nightmare who could easily have 10 touchdowns as a rookie. He’s that good in the red zone. The Steelers do a lot of quick hitting passes, which perfectly suits Njoku and his ability to get yards after the catch. This is a dream scenario for both parties.
31. Atlanta Falcons – Jordan Willis, Edge rusher, Kansas State
The Falcons need to find a way to get after the passer at a better rate than they currently do. Willis gives them a strong, athletic edge presence. Most people will disagree, but Willis is worth a first-round pick. Brooks Reed isn’t scaring anybody and Vic Beasley, for as well as he finished, can stand to improve. Willis will help the Falcons in every phase, and he should be the pick if the board shakes out this way.
32. New Orleans Saints – Taco Charlton, Edge rusher, Michigan
The NFL is a lot higher on Charlton than I am. I have a hard time imagining that a below-average athlete with minimal burst will translate to the next level. I get it, he was productive in 2016. He occasionally flashes first-round ability. He completely disappears and against the best prospects, he disappeared. The Saints will take Taco here and hope they’re able to maximize his traits and fill a big need off the edge. I don’t see that physicality like I see in Willis, so it’s hard for me to go to bat for Charlton. I hope I’m wrong.