The time for hemming and hawing is over. With NFL Draft Eve upon us, it’s time to finalize mock drafts.
I went back and forth on this so many times. If you asked me tomorrow, probably every other pick would be different. It’s just an insane year.
A couple of notes before we dive in:
1] I did my best to research the draft tendencies of all teams and front offices.
2] I tried to do a mock draft with trades; it was impossible. This mock draft features no trades.
3] 21 players will attend the draft on Thursday, down from 22 after Gareon Conley’s sexual assault allegations. On average, roughly 80% of those invited by the NFL are picked in the first round. So operating off of the original 22 accepted invites, I worked intentionally worked to find 18 selections among the group.
Let’s dive in!
1] Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, Edge, Texas A&M
There are some whispers about this pick being a quarterback, but I just don’t buy it. Garrett is the guy. It’s 2-32 that I’m concerned with.
2] San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
If San Francisco fails to trade out of this spot, I feel like this could realistically be about six different players. I asked a couple of 49ers reporters for their thoughts on the pick, and the majority believed this was Thomas if Garrett went #1.
3] Chicago Bears – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I don’t feel totally confident in this pick, but Trubisky to Chicago has steadily been building buzz for about two weeks now.
4] Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Again, this is a selection where even if the picks above all played out perfectly, I still don’t really know who Jacksonville would take. Fournette’s name seems to be picking up steam, not just with Jacksonville, but in general.
5] Tennessee Titans – Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
I thought this could be a wide receiver like Mike Williams, or a tight end like OJ Howard, but I had two Titans reporters say if the board falls the way that it looks above that Hooker would be their guy.
6] New York Jets – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Todd Bowles is a secondary guy at heart. Lattimore is arguably the second-best player in the draft, so I think they look past any injury concerns and jump all over him.
7] Los Angeles Chargers – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
I feel like this is either a safety or an edge rusher. Almost mocked Derek Barnett here, but I think Adams ultimately proves too tempting to pass up.
8] Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
This is one of those picks that has steadily been building buzz in recent weeks. That could mean that someone is selling an excellent smokescreen, but teams across the league seem genuinely impressed with McCaffrey and his skill set.
9] Cincinnati Bengals – Derek Barnett, Edge, Tennessee
Edge rusher is the biggest need for the Bengals, and this pick could be one of about four. I ultimately went with Barnett as he was a visitor of Cincinnati’s and feels “safe.”
10] Buffalo Bills – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
Buffalo is not dissimilar to Dallas in that they frequently select players in the first round from their visitors list. Much like Tennessee, this could be a pass-catcher, but I was told a defensive back with positional flex would be coveted as well. Humphrey was a visitor to Buffalo and many believe he could double as a safety.
11] New Orleans Saints – Charles Harris, Edge, Missouri
The Saints have two first round picks to address their biggest needs in edge rusher and corner. Edge rushers typically get snatched up ahead of where they should, just as quarterbacks do on offense, and the corner class is really deep. With Takk McKinley’s shoulder concerns, Taco Charlton’s similar skill set to Cameron Jordan, and Charles Harris’ apparent rise among teams, Harris seems like the best fit at 11.
12] Cleveland Browns – OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
This could be the second quarterback taken in the draft, but I think Howard’s talent is too tempting to pass up for the Browns.
13] Arizona Cardinals – Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
I know this pick will shock people, but it wasn’t without research. Carson Palmer was dangerously close to retirement this offseason, so the Cardinals will need to get a replacement plan going ASAP. Of the available quarterbacks, Kizer most fits the physical prototype that Bruce Arians has coached for years (Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, and Carson Palmer). Kizer is also the quarterback that the Cardinals have worked out most frequently during the pre-draft process.
14] Philadelphia Eagles – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
A receiver finally goes! I think the Eagles really like Dalvin Cook, and I think Chidobe Awuzie is a guy they are really high on. But with Carson Wentz in need of a true #1 receiver, Davis presents too tempting an option for the Eagles.
15] Indianapolis Colts – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Linebacker seems to be a pretty unanimous need for the Colts, and Reddick is definitely the best one, save for the red flag-adorned Reuben Foster.
16] Baltimore Ravens – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Joe Flacco is in desperate need of help. Many believe Mike Williams is the best receiver in the draft, and the Ravens have shown interest during the pre-draft process.
17] Washington Redskins – Taco Charlton, Edge, Michigan
The couple of folks I talked to said Washington was likely going defensive line or inside linebacker in the first round. Reuben Foster is the only ILB that makes much sense at this pick, and he doesn’t actually make that much sense given his red flags. Charlton is a 30 visitor for Washington and ready to play tomorrow.
18] Tennessee Titans – Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Awuzie has been rising in recent weeks and the Titans are one of the teams that has shown the most interest.
19] Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Marcus Maye, S, Florida
Obi Melifonwu is the popular pick here it seems. Marcus Maye is a dark-horse name that people need to be on the lookout for. Maye was extended an invite to the draft and declined, so the NFL clearly believes there is first round interest.
20] Denver Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
There is not a bigger need for the Broncos than offensive line, specifically tackle. Ramczyk is the only tackle I feel is worthy to be mentioned in the second half of the first round.
21] Detroit Lions – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
The slide stops for Jonathan Allen. The Lions are in desperate need of any sort of talent they can plug-in their front 7. Allen being the best player left in the front 7 (and possibly in the draft in general) seems to fit here.
22] Miami Dolphins – Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
This could be another spot for an edge rusher. TJ Watt might be a name discussed here. In the end, I’ve heard too much about the need for interior offensive lineman, and many consider Lamp to be the best offensive lineman in the draft.
23] New York Giants – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
This could be David Njoku, Pat Mahomes, Deshaun Watson…who knows. Cam Robinson has been tied to the Giants and has a number of fans in the NFL. The Giants could also stand to bolster an offensive line that features the exceedingly disappointing Ereck Flowers.
24] Oakland Raiders – Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
Best player left on the board, a pre-draft visitor, and guy who seems to fit the Raider persona.
25] Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The latest rumor is that the Texans adore Deshaun Watson, and quarterback is a glaring need. This could also be Pat Mahomes, especially if Watson goes earlier than 25.
26] Seattle Seahawks – Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
I feel like this could definitely be a corner with rumors swirling around Richard Sherman’s departure, but the Seahawks have to do something more to protect Russell Wilson.
27] Kansas City Chiefs – Pat Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Kansas City’s most immediate need is a good inside linebacker. Raekwon McMillan, Reuben Foster, and Jarrad Davis could all be possibilities. McMillan specifically was brought in for a visit by the Chiefs. But in the end I think a potential quarterback of the future will be too much to pass up.
28] Dallas Cowboys – TJ Watt, Edge, Wisconsin
Dallas gets their guy. Outside of a tremendous slide by one of the top players, I feel like Watt is Dallas’ #1 realistic target. Tyus Bowser, Kevin King, Takk McKinley, and Adoree’ Jackson might all get kicked around in the war room, but I think they ultimately pull the trigger on Watt.
29] Green Bay Packers – Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
Green Bay has done their due diligence on Mixon, and their running back situation became so desperate at one point last season that they had to give carries to receiver Ty Montgomery. Mixon is a slam dunk first round talent, and Green Bay might be just the environment to keep him out of trouble.
30] Pittsburgh Steelers – Takk McKinley, Edge, UCLA
I think Pittsburgh would have liked Watt here, and might consider Derek Rivers, but McKinley is one they have vetted a number of times leading up to the draft, and there is no denying his talent.
31] Atlanta Falcons – Tarell Basham, Edge, Ohio
Atlanta might trade up from 31 to avoid risking a run that leaves them empty-handed in the pass rush department, which they would like to bolster. But if they stand pat at 31, Basham would be on their radar as a guy they’ve brought in for a pre-draft visit and held a private workout with.
32] New Orleans Saints – Kevin King, CB, Washington
Having addressed edge at 11, New Orleans needs to take care of the corner position, especially with a Malcolm Butler trade nowhere in sight. King is the name with the most buzz surrounding his stock, but Tre’Davious White or Adoree’ Jackson could be in play as well.