As the draft order and the player pool begins to take shape, each mock draft comes with a bit more clarity to the possibilities on the table. For some teams, such as Cleveland and Tennessee, intriguing combinations of top 15 players await. This mock is based off the current draft order.
1. Cleveland Browns: Edge Def. Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
A report recently was aired that the Browns have an “astronomical” grade of Myles Garrett. They should. He’s a blue-chipper and the best available prospect in the player pool. A roster shaped like Cleveland’s can afford to simply collect the best available players.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Quarterback Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
Trubisky’s rise to prominence continues and he has a chance to end his year (and possibly career) on a high note when he faces off against Stanford. Trubisky is the best collection of traits available and it has become painfully obvious that the 49ers are in need of a new franchise signal caller.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive Lineman Jon Allen, Alabama
The Jaguars need pieces on both sides of the football. They have nice depth at the skill positions with the resurgence of Marqise Lee and they have a lot of high ceiling athletes in the back half of the defense. There aren’t many trench players worth a top five pick in this class, but Jon Allen is one of them. Would be a top starter on their unit immediately.
4. Chicago Bears: Quarterback Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame
Upside. The Bears are facing turnover (pun intended) at the quarterback position (despite being a big fan pre-draft, I’m not buying on Matt Barkley just yet). Kizer has the upside to be a high caliber starter on the NFL level in spite of issues with mechanics, accuracy and consistency with decision making. A roll of the dice that could be a steal when it’s all said and done.
5. New York Jets: Safety Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Death. Taxes. The Jets investing in defensive prospects. The certainties in life are few and far between, but this is one of them. Peppers would be a fascinating piece to mix in throughout coach Todd Bowles’ defense and be allowed to chase the ball freely much more often than other systems.
6. Tennessee Titans (via Los Angeles Rams): Wide Receiver Mike Williams, Clemson
The “Exotic Smashmouth” offense has come to fruition in spite of some lackluster names on the boundary. Marcus Mariota is playing MVP caliber football, the offensive line is moving bodies at the point of attack and now Mike Williams can be the vertical component to create headaches across the board and add a new layer to the passing game.
7. Carolina Panthers: Cornerback Quincy Wilson, Florida
The crop of corners is crowded this year, yet I still like Wilson a good deal more than many of the other names. He fits the physical profile of a Panthers corner and would be a huge upgrade over the mid-round prospects added to the roster in 2016.
8. New Orleans Saints: Linebacker Reuben Foster, Alabama
The Saints defense got a huge boost mid-season with the addition of Sheldon Rankins. With athletic, powerful players along the front, it won’t be much of a transition for Reuben Foster, who had the same luxury on the Alabama second level. Huge upgrade in the middle of the field for a unit that needs to continue infusing fresh faces.
9. Cleveland Browns (via Philadelphia Eagles): Free Safety Jamal Adams, Louisiana State
Any dreams the Browns had of a total coup of landing a franchise guy are up in smoke in this scenario after Deshone Kizer is snatched up. Sure, Deshaun Watson is on the board but again: this team needs good players. I think Adams is a particularly safer (and better choice) at his respective position when you consider the infrastructure of the offense in Cleveland vs. Watson’s strengths/weaknesses.
10. San Diego Chargers: Wide Receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, Southern California
The Chargers have gotten a good deal of production from low market value WRs after Keenan Allen’s latest injury. But Keenan Allen has been hurt a number of times now, so why not add another alpha prospect at the position and your worst case scenario is you now have two? Dominance with the ball in the air.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
The Cardinals are another team that would’ve loved to see a top QB fall. Humphrey would be a welcomed sight in a secondary that is particularly strong up the middle but could use some more juice and talent on the boundary.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Def. Carl Lawson, Auburn
he Bengals’ best pass rushing threat continues to be Geno Atkins. Imagine the pressure generated with these two side by side on third and long! Lawson has a great first step and has wrapped up a successful RS Junior season, staying healthy and productive between the lines.
13. Indianapolis Colts: Running Back Leonard Fournette, Louisiana State
The Colts have been living on borrowed time with Frank Gore for a while now: Father Time wins all battles. Behind Gore, the Colts are mighty thin, so the chance to add a “generational” RB in Fournette is a good way to solidify and supplement their passing attack with franchise QB Andrew Luck.
14. Buffalo Bills: Offensive Tackle Cam Robinson, Alabama
The Bills are in a tough spot. They’ve recently invested in pass rushers. They have a good amount of talent on the perimeter on both sides of the ball. QB Tyrod Taylor has struggled this year but there’s not an obvious replacement at this point in the draft. So fortifying the tackle position to bump Jordan Mills from the starting lineup makes sense after the suspension of Seantrel Henderson (who already has a checkered past in college).
15. Tennessee Titans: Cornerback Teez Tabor, Florida
The Titans can add to a strong foundation with perimeter talent on both sides of the ball and in this scenario land a more gifted Corner than any currently on the roster. Next step in a building from the inside-out approach.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Rush LB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
McKinley is a hot name (and rightfully so) after lighting up the Pac-12. His season is finished, as is my full film evaluation: He’s a top 25-30 caliber prospect. McKinley has some versatility as a rusher and would do well in a physical Ravens front as the change of pace speed player.
17. Philadelphia Eagles (via Minnesota Vikings): Wide Receiver Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Ask any Eagles fan what they need the most. Guaranteed they’ll tell you wide receivers. The front office knows it, too, as the Eagles’ current crop of receivers lack any names that can consistently win on the boundary. (Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor are best in the same spot, by the way.) Corey Davis can win with route precision, athletic ability and size. Seems like an obvious fit.
18. Green Bay Packers: Offensive Guard Dan Feeney, Indiana
This is much more of a Ted Thompson selection that my previous mock, which had the Packers hauling a RB. This feels like a perfect value for G Dan Feeney, who is a mean, nasty drive blocker with good mirror ability in pass protection.
19. Washington Redskins: Offball Linebacker Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
Cunningham is a chess piece that can play the run, rush the passer or drop into zones. Pair him with S’ua Cravens and suddenly Washington has a pair of ILBs to be proud of for the next eight-10 years, provided the salary cap allows it.
20. Miami Dolphins: Defensive End Derek Barnett, Tennessee
The Dolphins have the unenviable task of preparing for life without Cameron Wake, who is the only acceptable answer for Comeback Player of the Year. Wake, while still a monster, is on the wrong side of 30 and wins with twitch. At this point, Derek Barnett is a better value than the LBs on the board, so the Dolphins can add a premiere position to the depth at DE.
21. Houston Texans: Quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson
Match made in heaven. Watson is given the benefit of a WR like DeAndre Hopkins, who has the catch radius to haul in some of Watson’s more erratic targets. The question of Will Fuller needs to be answered, as Fuller has had an excellent rookie campaign as a vertical receiver but Watson’s deep targets are not consistent. Great value and a good way for the Texans to swallow that nasty pill of a contract they gave Brock Osweiler.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive End Taco Charlton, Michigan
Yes, his name is Taco. Don’t laugh, though. Birth name Vidauntae, Taco is a whopping 6-foot-6, 272 pounds and has length that will make defensive coordinators drool. Go watch his tape against Ohio State and tell me he isn’t worthy of a first round selection. Charlton pairs with rookie Noah Spence to give the Bucs two high end boundary pass rushers for the first time in a long time.
23. Denver Broncos: Offball Linebacker Jarrad Davis, Florida
A personal favorite of mine over the summer, Davis has been dogged by injuries throughout his senior season. He’s a twitched up, explosive hitter with good range and versatility as a player. Sounds like he’d fit right in with the Broncos’ front seven, no?
24. Atlanta Falcons: Wide Receiver John Ross, Washington
Think of this as the equivalent of the Houston/Will Fuller pick last year. An alpha receiver needs someone to help take pressure off in the secondary. John Ross is that addition for another team that likes to sling the ball around, except Ross is more agile in short areas and has better hands.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Lineman Malik McDowell, Michigan State
The Steelers have proven over the past several years that they’ll take strong film over size profiles in their front seven (Shazier at ILB, Hargrave at NT). McDowell is a reload for their defensive line, which already features Hargrave, Tuitt and Cam Heyward when healthy.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Interior Offensive Lineman Pat Elflein, Ohio State
The Seahawks have made a living on investing elsewhere and attacking the OL with athletic profile players. Elflein would make two positions better, as it could bump 2016’s first round selection Germain Ifedi back to his natural position at Right Tackle.
27. New York Giants: Defensive End Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
This pick is predicated on the Giants moving on from defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Smoot has similar length and is plenty pliable to bend and apply boundary pressure as a rusher. High ceiling selection who had lukewarm film this past season.
28. Detroit Lions: Cornerback Sidney Jones, Washington
en you play in the same division as the Green Bay Packers, there’s no such thing as too many good corners. The Lions have a budding star in Darius Slay; Sidney Jones gives them an excellent duo on the boundary to counter a league that continues to trend towards passing the football.
29. Oakland Raiders: Running Back Dalvin Cook, Florida State
The Raiders have one of the most entertaining passing arsenals in football. Insert the most electric open field runner in a draft class loaded with them. Cook should be the beneficiary of the Raiders’ ability to pass the ball, as the Raiders should be the beneficiary of a new stud in the backfield to keep the box full.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Rush Linebacker Ryan Anderson, Alabama
The Chiefs’ defense has been dominant for stretches of the season thanks to the arrival of Dee Ford as a pass rusher. Alabama’s Ryan Anderson blends powerful rushing skills with a very strong foundation as a run defender to be Tamba Hali’s heir apparent and keep the Chiefs loaded at the rush position.
31. Dallas Cowboys: Rush Linebacker Tim Williams, AIf there was ever a team willing to overlook the warts of Williams (both on and off the field), it has to be the Dallas Cowboys, no? The Cowboys have seen the investment in Randy Gregory go up in flames after his latest suspension. Williams is not quite as long but is more twitched and can be the pressure player the Cowboys need to pair with Demarcus Lawrence.
32. New England Patriots: Running Back Christian McCaffrey
Here’s the thing about Christian McCaffrey. He’s actually a very good running back. I was surprised at how much nuance I found when I took a deep dive into his film last week. McCaffrey has every down ability but would have extra life added to his legs and be a perfect weapon for the Patriots, who love to spread the ball to TEs and RBs in the passing game.