So the NFL draft is almost here and it is time to look at how the draft might play out. This is not what I think will happen, but more what I would do. I have two quarterbacks coming at the end of the round, but think even that is a stretch.
- Cleveland Brown
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Garrett is one of the most elite athletes to ever go through the combine. Injuries and play against the run are the knocks against him but his skillset is too elite to pass on, especially the value edge rusher brings to the modern NFL. If the Browns could trade back to four or five and pick up a hefty return and pick up a player like Fournette, that would be my move. Garrett is most likely Mario Williams, a great player, but not a legend like Reggie White.
- San Francisco 49ers
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
A good amount of mock drafts have Solomon Thomas here, but I see too much redundancy with Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. This will give them three players on the offenses line with no true positions and none of the three guaranteed to be a star. Lattimore gives the 49ers a top prospect at a position they have been weak at for years. Lattimore is an elite athlete with the size to cover top receivers.
- Chicago Bears
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
This draft has two elite safety prospects in Adams and Hooker and whoever comes off the board first will be dependent of preference. Hooker will likely finish his NFL career with more interceptions, but Adams’ leadership and all-around skillset make him the more valuable pick.
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette is by far and away the best player in this draft in my opinion. Garrett is skilled enough at a position of value to get drafted ahead of Fournette and the 49ers and Bears don’t have need at running back. If Fournette can stay injury free, he can be an Adrian Peterson-like talent. I would not be surprised to see a team trade up to take Fournette. It is a shame for Fournette that running back has been devalued because he would be the number one pick in a draft before 2005.
- Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Corey Davis is a beast. He would have shot up draft boards if he could have competed in the predraft process. Davis will have to show he can compete against top-end competition but he reminds me of Terrell Owens. They both look like they could play linebacker, yet have the speed, strength and hands to run any route. He is the number one receiver Mariota needs and he can knock every receiver down a spot on the depth chart. The Titans can likely trade down a few slots and still pick up Davis but they should not risk it. Davis will be one of the best players to come out of this draft. The Titans also need secondary help but this is a deep corner draft and they can pick up one later in the first with their number 18 pick.
- New York Jets
Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
Another Ohio State starter with only one year of experience. Hooker plays safety like a centerfielder and he gets the nod over Jamal Adams due to his skills in the passing game. Hooker, after missing most of the predraft process with injuries, may not look great his rookie year but could be a less physical Earl Thomas in 2-3 years. Even though Calvin Pryor hasn’t lived up to his first round status, having Hooker playing behind him could allow Pryor to play more to his strengths in the box.
- Los Angeles Chargers
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Alabama has a history of players maxing out their potential in college but linebackers have been the exception. Foster will likely not be as good as C.J. Mosley, but should be able to lead a defense and stay on the field for three downs. He is better at shooting a gap and getting to a back than coverage, but is also not a liability. Between the issue at the combine and who Foster associates himself with, there have been questions about his character, but I cannot speak on those. If he can stay out of legal trouble, I actually like the blow up at the combine. I want my middle linebacker right on the edge of angry and ferocious.
- Carolina Panthers
Haason Reddick, DE, Temple
Reddick is probably the biggest riser in the past year. Going to the Panthers will allow Reddick to develop behind Julius Peppers, Mario Addison and Charles Johnson. He will be able to use his athleticism in sub-packages and develop the strength and instincts to play in a NFL defense. If this is how the draft unfolds, I expect the Panthers to try to trade back. I think someone would try to move up to trade for Solomon Thomas.
- Cincinnati Bengals
Jonathon Allen, DE/DT, Alabama
Going to the Bengals would allow Allen to play behind Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins so he should have the freedom to move around and not draw any extra blocker. Allen will never be an elite pass rusher or pure run stuffer, but can do a little bit of everything. He should become a Sheldon Richardson/Leonard Williams type player who just is an all-around stud on the line, but will not be a stat sheet stuffer.
- Buffalo Bills
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
For all the athletic talent Howard has, he did not live up to expectations outside of the 2016 National Championship Game. Alabama was not much of a passing offense but someone with Howard’s talent should have forced Lane Kiffin to incorporate him into the game plan. If the Bills can harness the talent Howard has, he should become one of the best tight ends in the game and should allow the Bills to move on from Charles Clay.
- New Orleans Saints
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennesse
Barnett could easily slip to the second round due to his underwhelming combine numbers. His numbers and gametape show a slow change-of-direction and burst, but he still produces. His technique and natural instincts are just too good to overlook. He is a hard worker and doesn’t give up on plays and can even drop into coverage if he has too. The Saints will value his immediate production over potential. Barnett is a high floor, low ceiling prospect.
- Cleveland Browns
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Njoku has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. He has elite measurable and an elite combine performance and will not turn 21 until July. For all the potential that is there, Njoku does not have much experience or tape that most first round draft picks do. He also is not much of a blocker. The Browns have the time to wait for Njoku to develop, with the thought they will not be competitive for a few years anyway. He can also learn behind Gary Barnidge, someone who has maximized his potential despite not have nearly the natural talent that Njoku has. They can both be on the field together and give whoever is at quarterback two safety blankets.
- Arizona Cardinals
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
The slide finally ends for a prospect most mock drafts have going number two. I just do not like the tape on Thomas. He is lazy and gives up on a lot of plays, never produced much in the way of stats, and doesn’t have a natural position. He is not an elite edge rusher but does not have the build to play inside. The Cardinals need a way to help fill the void left by Calais Campbell and Thomas has the most potential to do so. It would be better to go to a team that he could be a situational player at first but perhaps throwing him into the fire is the best way, even though year one and two might be rough. Thomas and Robert Nkemdiche give the cardinals two players they can move around the defensive line. Thomas will most likely go higher, but he shouldn’t.
- Philadelphia Eagles
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
This is a luxury pick for the Eagles. After picking up Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver is not a pressing need immediately. But Jeffery is on a one-year deal and he might play himself out of the Eagles’ price range. Smith is not a top receiver and would not be able to take Jeffery’s targets come 2018 if he leaves. Williams would get a year to adjust to the NFL before he needed to step in as a number one. The Eagles are all about putting weapons around Carson Wentz. Williams was a big reason why Clemson won the National Championship by going up and getting every jump ball. Every quarterback loves having a jump ball receiver like Williams and Wentz would be no different.
- Indianapolis Colts
Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
The Colts need help all over the place. Outside of Andrew Luck, there are very few places that are elite on their roster. In this scenario, the Colts can go best player available, which will also happen to keep their best player on his feet. 15th might be a little high for a guard, but the top tackle prospects all have their flaws and Lamp can jump in immediately and be a top guard. With Ryan Kelly taking a step forward next year and Lamp coming in, the offensive line for the Colts can go from a weakness to a strength.
- Baltimore Ravens
Takkarist McKinnley, DE, UCLA
Terrell Suggs is getting up there in age and with Elvis Dumervil a free agent, and also old, this team needs an infusion of youth wit their pass rushers. McKinnley does not have the ceiling as a lot of the pass rushers ahead of him, but a strong work ethic gives him a higher floor as well.
- Washington Redskins
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Matt Jones and Fat Rob are not bad running backs by any means, but neither is a home run hitter. McCaffrey would bring a new dynamic to this offense that it does not currently have. McCaffrey would be able to take 10 carries and game, but probably get more like 15-18 touches by including him as a receiver as well. He would be able to offset the losses of Garcon and Jackson. McCaffrey is the definition of an offensive weapon. He would probably fair better in a more creative offense but a quarterback like Kirk Cousins will find him ways to get the ball. He should also immediately become their kick and punt returner.
- Tennessee Titans
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The third Ohio State DB taken in the first round is the only one out of the them who has more than one year of starting experience. He also has a chance to be the best. Lattimore and Hooker both have higher ceilings, but Conley has the highest floor and will likely have the best rookie season of the three. His combination of size and athleticism made completing a pass against him close to impossible. He excels in press coverage, which is important in the modern NFL. Allowing Conley to just play on the outside with Logan Ryan and Jason McCourty taking the slot and top receiver will let Conley succeed as a rookie. Expect him to miss a good amount of tackles.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
Cunningham makes plays. He may be a little undersized and not quite an athletic specimen but he will be the leading tackler for rookies wherever he ends up. He can also cover backs and tight ends and even some slot receivers. He will be a better defensive play than McKinnley and Thomas but they as pass rushers with potential make them higher picks but I expect Cunningham to have a better career. Teams that are scared away from Foster may also just feel safer going with Cunningham, who makes just as many plays but with a significantly smaller frame.
- Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, T, Wisconsin
I think on actual draft day, the three top tackle prospects will not all make it to Denver here and I could see Elway trading up a few spots to secure one. Ramczyk is the best left tackle prospect, even with just his one year of college. Teams should feel more comfortable because Wisconsin has such a history of churning out lineman. Ramczyk has the footwork and quickness to work on the left side. With Boles being older and having a iffy background and Robinson having some character concerns and more suited to the right side, Ramczyk is the best choice.
- Detroit Lions
John Ross, WR, Washington
The Lions have been in a position like this year after year. They aren’t good enough to make a legitimate run at a Super Bowl, have weaknesses across the board, never hit on more than one pick in a draft, and are in the pick 15-22 range where all the superstar players have been picked off. A receiving trio of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate, and Ross would give Stafford his deepest group of receivers ever. Ross’ record breaking 40 will instill fear in defense’s from day 1, but he will have to prove he can stay healthy at his small stature.
- Miami Dolphins
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
When you play Tom Brady twice a year you should just be focused on knocking him down. Being able to come in as a situational pass rusher is how he should start his career as he is best just getting after the QB and not having to worry about being a three-down player from the start. Whether he actually hit the QB or not, Charlton always seemed to be a disruptive force when he knew all he had to worry about was getting to the quarterback.
- New York Giants
Garrett Bolles, T, Utah
Bolles has a unique history and although it seems like he has gotten his life together, teams could still be a little worried. Bolles sis also one of the older prospects in the draft class and when looking at a 25 year old prospect in the first round, you want to have close to a sure thing. Bolles would allow the Giants to move Flowers over to the right. Bolles is athletic and mean and that is what you want in a left tackle, but a prospect this old should be more refined coming in. If Boles had the same skillset and was 20, we would be talking about a top five pick.
- Oakland Raiders
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Running back seems to be one of the few spots of weakness on this roster. There are rumors of Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement to play in Oakland but he would most likely be on a carries restriction, at least until the playoffs. Cook is not only a good long-term prospect, but would fit as a good complimentary back to Lynch. Cook may slip in the draft due to his underwhelming numbers and off the field issues but his game film is amazing and that matters more for running backs where vision is such a key part of the equation. A backfield of Cook and Lynch could take the Raiders’ running back situation from worst to first in a matter of a few days.
- Houston Texans
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
I do not want to like Trubisky. I would not want to wager my job on picking any of the quarterbacks in this class, especially one who only started one year. I want to like Watson, as his resume speaks for itself. But when watching tape, Trubisky looks like the only QB with an NFL future. Even though Trubisky has played primarily out of the shotgun and he didn’t know how to call a play on two with a hard count of Gruden’s camp, he skillset should translate the best. Even though year one will probably be ugly, the Texans are a Super Bowl ready team minus the QB play, and Trubisky is there best bet moving forward. Kaepernick or Cutler in 2017 followed by 10 years of Trubisky is a decent outlook for Bill O’Brien. Trubisky looks a lot like Carson Wentz on film, with the lack of a pro style offense experience.
- Seattle Seahawks
Cam Robinson, T, Alabama
Cam Robinson was a top recruit and three year starter at left tackle fro Alabama. This pedigree usually warrants a top pick but Robinson is not a surefire left tackle prospect. The Seahawks have been no resources into their line and Robinson is the best remaining prospect. I would prefer Pat Elflein as a prospect but with Justin Britt entrenched at center, the flexibility of Robinson has more of a draw. Robinson has always relied on just being larger than everyone he goes against and will struggle against someone like J.J. Watt or anyone with elite technique. The Seahawks just need all the talent they can find at o-line and this is there best bet.
- Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
With no other immediate impact players left, the Chiefs should start planning for the future. In very few other drafts do you get the chance to draft the second best QB prospect at 27. Mahomes is not ready for the NFL. He comes from an Air Raid system that did not ask him to make many reads or take the ball under center. For what Mahomes lacks in NFL experience, he can make up for in arm strength. He is on par with Kizer in arm strength, yet is much more accurate and consistent than Kizer. He can make all the NFL throws and has escapablity when pressured in the pocket and can run when needed. If Mahomes can pick up the mental aspect of a NFL offense, he will be the best quarterback from this class, but it will be a huge transition. He could be an 10-year Prow Bowler or not even make it out of his rookie contract. That is the type of boom or bust prospect he is. With the most important position in sports, Mahomes is worth the risk. Mahomes was definitely the most exciting of the top prospects to watch on tape.
- Dallas Cowboys
T.J. Watt, LB/DE, Wisconsin
Jerry Jones will pounce on the opportunity to bring another Watt to the other Texas team. It also just so happens that Dallas needs help rushing the passer. Watt has not been playing defense too long and should only get better. His family pedigree definitely plays into the fact he is being projected in the first round, and as a smart player, teams are confident that if a little of his brother rubs off on him, he can be a consistent starter in the NFL. Dallas getting Watt and a healthy Jaylon Smith should really bolster their front seven.
- Green Bay Packers
Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
The first thing anyone thinks of with Joe Mixon is the assault video. The Packers would need to be okay with bringing him in, which I have no idea if they are. If they are, he is such a talent it is not worth waiting until a later round. If you are going to take him, take him in the first. The Packers are a solid organization that has a locker room that can bring in a troubled player. Mixon will be the best running back Aaron Rodgers has ever played with and is a true three down back. Mixon and Ty Montgomery will give a duo that can be on the field together. 3rd and 3 with both Mixon and Montgomery in the backfield, with Martellus Bennett line up inside at tight end and some combo of Cobb, Nelson and Adams outside is a scary thought for opposing defensive coordinators.
- Pittsburg Steelers
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
I do not think Quincy Wilson will ever be a superstar in the NFL and you usually expect more than a starter in the first round. But Wilson can step in and just be a consistent NFL player from day one anywhere in the secondary. He has the size and speed to play anywhere in the secondary. Artie Burns and Wilson give the Steelers two different types of players that should each hold a spot down in the secondary for the near future.
- Atlanta Falcons
Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan
Having no apparent weaknesses on the roster, the Falcons can afford to take a shot with the athlete that is Peppers. The fact that Peppers will not have to fill a starting role right away, he can work of the nuances of wherever the Falcons decide to play him. Peppers will be able to jump right into special teams immediately. He can work in on sub packages on defense and in a year or two, take over a starting spot in Deone Bucannon type role.
- New Orleans Saints
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
The Saints should trade this pick. Whether they trade back a few spots to a team that wants to move into the first to draft a quarterback to have his fifth year option, or if this pick goes to the Patriots for Malcolm Butler, both options make more sense than taking a player. Jones tore his Achilles in his pro day workout, which is always a shame to see so close to the draft. I like the idea of a team picking him up late in the first anyway. I think he has much more upside than Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, and Tre’Davious White, as long as he returns to full strength. Although he might play towards the end of the season, the year off could give Jones some time to add size to his frame and hopefully get back his athleticism. He is a press corner and a knack for knocking the ball away.
Players to Avoid:
Players I Like But Not First Round Worthy:
All stats from: http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/