This year, I’ve decided I have to jump on the NFL Mock Draft train. I can never recall a year in which every Mock Draft is almost completely different, showing how talented this draft class is and how no one really knows what’s going to happen on draft day.
Take a look at my predictions (without trades, which I believe there will be 2-3 of in the first round):
1. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, DE
This is the only no-brainer in this draft class. Garrett has unparalleled athleticism and can be considered more of a lock than DE Jadeveon Clowney was when he came into the league. By pairing Garrett on the D-Line with DT Danny Shelton, LB Jamie Collins at the next level, and CB Joe Haden in the secondary, the Browns would have the makings of a strong defensive unit.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Mitchell Trubisky, QB
There is only one quarterback in this draft that I deem worthy of a first round selection, and that is not Trubisky. However, new coach Kyle Shanahan will want to draft a signal caller he can develop and mold into the player he wants. Trubisky has very limited experience at the NCAA level, and would most likely sit for half the season behind veteran QB Brian Hoyer. And yes, I am assuming that QB Kirk Cousins stays in Washington.
3. Chicago Bears
Solomon Thomas, DE
Thomas is one of those players that I didn’t hear about too much during the season, but once the workouts and projections began, he flew up draft boards. Now, he’s a projected Top-5 pick. Bears’ coach John Fox loves to build a strong defense, and there is no better way than to start in the trenches.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette, RB
Yes, the Jaguars will make a splash and take the first running back off the board at the No. 4 spot. Jacksonville hasn’t had a consistent rushing attack since Fred Taylor donned the uniform, and QB Blake Bortles is just a year removed from a Pro Bowl caliber season. By adding Fournette, the Jaguars gain an immediate starter and power running game that will set Bortles up to succeed in the passing game. While Fournette is not the best option through the air, he is still the best running back in this class.
5. Tennessee Titans
Malik Hooker, S
Hooker is one of the top defensive back prospects in the draft. Coming from Ohio State, Hooker has the experience and playmaking ability NFL teams need in the secondary. The Titans boasted one of the league’s worse defensive backfields last season, and recently just cut CB Jason McCourty. The team needs reinforcements in the worst way.
6. New York Jets
DeShaun Watson, QB
At the No. 6 spot, the Jets could end up walking away with the draft’s best quarterback. Watson has the most experience and playmaking ability of any of this year’s signal callers, and would be a Day One starter for NY. Pairing Watson with WR Eric Decker could make for some highlights in what should be yet another tough season for the Jets.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Mike Williams, WR
QB Philip Rivers time is running short with the team, and he needs weapons on offense. Last year after WR Keenan Allen went down, Rivers was left with an aging TE Antonio Gates in an otherwise stagnant offense. Williams would provide the big target that Rivers has never had on the outside, and would open up the passing game with three legitimate threats down the field.
8. Carolina Panthers
Jonathan Allen, DL
If there’s one team that values the defensive line heavily, its the Carolina Panthers. At the No. 8 spot, the team can pick Allen, who was once projected to be one of the top two picks in the draft. Allen can immediately start at either a defensive tackle or defensive end, depending on where the team views him as the best fit.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Reuben Foster, LB
Foster is the best linebacker in the draft, and the Bengals love to add dominant linebackers. Plus, the team recently released LB Rey Maulaluga, a mainstay in the middle of the defense. By adding Foster, the team would pair him with LB Vontaze Burfict, to give them a solid duo in the middle of the field for the next few seasons.
10. Buffalo Bills
Cam Robinson, T
If there were a team that I believe would trade down in this draft, it would be the Buffalo Bills. This team has a lot of holes, and by adding some picks later in the draft, they can fill them with young players. However, if they were to stay at 10, Robinson is a great choice to plug in as a Day One starter on the offensive line, to help protect QB Tyrod Taylor.
11. New Orleans Saints
Corey Davis, WR
I believe Davis is the best all-around wide receiver in this draft. Despite playing at a smaller school, Davis’s all around package of size, speed, and playmaking ability makes him an ideal fit for the NFL. QB Drew Brees only has a few years left in the league, so bringing in Davis gives them an immediate weapon while also providing a target for the QB of the future.
12. Cleveland Browns
O.J. Howard, TE
Assuming that the Browns don’t trade this pick, they will need to provide their signal caller some weapons in the passing game. My predictions have the Browns missing out on their QB of the future in the first round, but adding a young stud like Howard provides pieces for down the road. Howard is the unquestioned top tight end of this draft, and can be a Day One starter in the NFL. His size and athletic ability give Howard the potential to be a perennial Pro Bowler.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Derek Barnett, DE
The Cardinals defense has been a nasty, tough unit over the past few seasons. The team has relied on its defensive front getting pressure on the quarterback and stuffing the running game to gain the advantage on defense. Barnett fits right into the nasty, tough mold, and gives the Cardinals a much needed edge rush presence.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
Gareon Conley, CB
The Eagles biggest need is cornerbacks, so it should be no surprise that the team will jump on the chance to select one with its first round pick. Conley has shown that he has everything necessary to be a solid starter in the NFL, and would be immediately thrown into the fire with this Philadelphia team.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Ryan Ramczyk, T
The Colts have struggled protecting QB Andrew Luck. In the past few seasons, Luck has been forced to miss time with injury. By adding Ramczyk to the O-Line, the team has the tackle positions covered, which should create some depth for the interior of the line.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Tre’Davious White, CB
The Ravens are lacking in the secondary. Outside of S Eric Weddle and CB Jimmy Smith, the Dirty Birds are rather pedestrian in the defensive backfield. White would immediately become a starter on the opposite side of Smith, and would form a formidable core for the future.
17. Washington Redskins
John Ross, WR
After losing both WRs DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon to free agency, the Redskins brought in WR Terrelle Pryor as a replacement. However, with just one year of receiving experience under his belt, and with WR Josh Doctson basically redshirting his rookie season, QB Kirk Cousins will need some targets. Adding Ross gives the Redskins a deep threat and dangerous slot option as that group of receivers could grow together over the next few seasons.
18. Tennessee Titans
Marshon Lattimore, S
This is my big drop prediction for the draft. Teams have concerns about Lattimore’s ability to stay healthy, but no one doubts his potential to become a solid defensive back. In this draft, with so many players that seem to be safe picks, you want to nail your first rounder. It’s all about finding a team willing to take a bet on Lattimore. After all the problems the Titans have had in the secondary, I’m sure they would be thrilled to get Lattimore near the bottom of the first round.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dalvin Cook, RB
Cook is a no-brainer to the Bucs. To me, it’s amazing that he would fall this far, but this is what many are projecting to happen on Draft Day, and I don’t see it being out of the realm of possibility. Of course, the team already has concerns at the position with RB Doug Martin facing a PED suspension, and Cook would give the team an all-around back with fresh legs in the league. Plus, Cook could reunite with QB Jameis Winston to keep the Florida State connection going.
20. Denver Broncos
Forrest Lamp, G
Lamp is coming from a smaller school in Western Kentucky, but has shown scouts what they need to believe he is one of the best interior lineman of this class. The Broncos need to bulk up on the line to protect whoever they have start at QB.
21. Detroit Lions
Haason Reddick, LB
The Lions have a hole at LB that has been there since Stephen Tulloch left and grew now that the team released DeAndre Levy this off season. Reddick can step in to start in the middle of the defense, and is athletic enough to make plays all over the field. This is a good fit for both sides.
22. Miami Dolphins
David Njoku, TE
The Dolphins are in need of a tight end to be QB Ryan Tannehill’s safety blanket. This would help the Fins’ offense, creating room for WR Jarvis Landry on the outside while opening up space for the running game.
23. New York Giants
Garett Bolles, T
The Giants need to add an offensive lineman, and I have Bolles as the best available left in the first round. It will be interesting to see where the G-Men would slot Bolles and T Ereck Flowers, but Bolles gives them a strong option along the line.
24. Oakland Raiders
Kevin King, CB
The Raiders’ defense is almost complete, and adding to the secondary is the best way to get there. King would be able to step in and start on the outside or at the nickelback position.
25. Houston Texans
Taco Charlton, DE
The Texans need to bulk up on the defensive line as DEs Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt are injury prone. Adding Charlton to the group creates some depth and a potentially dominate pass rush for Houston.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Malik McDowell, DT
The Seahawks are at there best when the defensive line is the primary source of a solid pass rush. Adding McDowell to the middle of a defensive front with ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett frees them up to get pressure on the outside and to the quarterback.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Christian McCaffrey, RB
Many have McCaffrey higher on their draft boards, but not too long ago, he was slotted to go in the back of the first round. There are a few that compare McCaffrey to former Eagles’ RB Brian Westbrook, and Westbrook’s former coach leads the Chiefs. I’m one that believes McCaffrey is a part time back, but can still be a dynamic playmaker.
28. Dallas Cowboys
T.J. Watt, OLB
Another Watt to the state of Texas. The Cowboys need to add a pass rusher, and Watt would be able to play a little bit of end in 4-3 sets.
29. Green Bay Packers
Charles Harris, OLB
Harris has been flying up some draft boards, but I think he drops and fits in well with the Packers, who need to add pass rushers as well. With many concerns in the secondary, rushing the passer may be the best way to limit big plays for the Pack.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Jarrad Davis, LB
Another linebacker for the Steelers. Davis is a player could play well in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme, and should fit in well next to MLB Ryan Shazier.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Takkarist McKinley, DE
The Falcons, like so many teams, need to add pass rushers. McKinley should slot in at an end spot, and provide a well-rounded game for Atlanta.
32. New Orleans Saints
Patrick Mahomes, QB
The Saints get their quarterback of the future in Mahomes. While he may have tools to be an NFL quarterback, he definitely needs development. Now, he can learn from QB Drew Brees and sit for quite possibly the next two full seasons behind him. That would give Mahomes time to develop (think Aaron Rodgers) before getting the chance to start.
On the bubble: Marlon Humphrey – CB, Jabrill Peppers – S, Jordan Willis – OLB, Adoree’ Jackson – CB