NFL Mock Draft (what I expect – no trades)

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  1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett: DE – Texas A&M

Cleveland, don’t overthink this. With the number one pick, you have to select the top player in the draft. I know you need a quarterback, but there isn’t one worthy of the top pick in the draft. Myles Garrett is a generational pass rusher. This should be the easiest decision of the draft.

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  1. San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas: DE – Stanford

Although I’m not as high on Solomon Thomas as many others in the draft community, I think the 49ers will take him with the second pick in the draft. They’ll try to trade this pick, but I don’t think anyone will want to move into this spot. I’ve heard rumors that they might look at Jamal Adams, but I think the 49ers will try and build their defense by improving their defensive line. They drafted Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner with their first round picks in the last two drafts, but I think Thomas is better than both and is more versatile. If John Lynch wants a safety, then Adams would be a logical choice (even though I’d take Hooker to play a centerfielder role in their cover 3 defense). Safeties don’t usually get drafted this high, especially over pass rushers. Thomas would be an immediate impact starter for the 49ers.

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  1. Chicago Bears: Jamal Adams: S – LSU

The Chicago Bears need help throughout their defense. Although I would take both Ohio State defensive backs before Adams (Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore), I think the Bears will like Adams as a better fit for their defense. Cornerbacks are a more premium position, but Adams is a much safer and less injury-prone prospect than Lattimore. I also like Jonathan Allen in this spot, but he also has injury concerns. Adams is a very versatile safety that can play both free safety and strong safety. He’s best as an in-the-box safety, but he has the ability to cover in both man and zone coverage. According to football coaches at LSU, he’s the best leader that they’ve had come through their program in twenty years. His football character, athleticism, and intelligence are off the charts. Adams would be a day one starter at safety for the Chicago Bears.

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  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette: RB – LSU

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to get help for Blake Bortles to see if he’s their quarterback of the future. This is Bortles’ last shot to prove he’s a starting caliber quarterback, and giving him a workhorse running back could help Bortles regain his confidence. Fournette is the second ranked player on my big board, so I think this is a good value pick that fills a need. Tom Coughlin wants to have a bell cow runner like Fournette, who I have as the highest rated running back since Adrian Peterson. The running back position has been devalued over the last few years and this is a really deep running back class, so I could see the Jaguars going in another direction and drafting a running back in a later round. O.J. Howard would make sense as a player that could help Bortles and Jacksonville’s pedestrian running game, but it’s hard to pass on a generational talent like Fournette. He’d be an immediate upgrade over T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory.

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  1. Tennessee Titans: Marshon Lattimore: CB – Ohio State

With two first round picks, the Titans have the ability to address their needs at cornerback and wide receiver. Although this is a deep cornerback class, it will be hard for them to pass on the top cornerback in this draft class. They need a number one cornerback, and Lattimore is the only prospect that could fulfill that need day one. The Titans lost Jason McCourty and signed Logan Ryan, but Ryan will be a number two corner. Lattimore was a one year starter at Ohio State and had some injury concerns, but he’s extremely talented and can play in any scheme. The Titans want to trade this pick, but Lattimore would be a great selection if they keep the pick.

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  1. New York Jets: Mitchell Trubisky: QB – North Carolina

Although the Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round of last year’s draft, they might go back to the well and select Mitchell Trubisky with their first round pick. Hackenberg hasn’t started an NFL game, but he doesn’t seem to have the talent to be a successful NFL quarterback. Bryce Petty and Josh McCown are the other quarterbacks on the Jets roster, but they aren’t their quarterback of the future. Trubisky is the second ranked quarterback on my big board behind Deshaun Watson, but he’ll likely be the first quarterback picked in the draft. The Jets could use a cornerback, but Lattimore is the only one worthy of a top ten pick (and he was already picked). I think they’ll want to trade back in the draft, but Trubisky would be a logical choice if they keep their pick.

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  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker: FS – Ohio State

Hooker has been mocked to the Chargers by many draft experts, and I think it would be an ideal fit. With Gus Bradley as their new defensive coordinator, he will want a free safety that can be a centerfielder in the Earl Thomas mold. Hooker is bigger than Thomas and isn’t quite as talented, but he has a similar skill set. He has elite speed and instincts, and is able to create turnovers at a high rate. Hooker was only a one year starter at Ohio State and had some injury concerns, but he’s an elite talent that will be hard to pass on.

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  1. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey: RB – Stanford

Although I’m not as high on McCaffrey as most people in the draft community, I think he’d be a nice fit in Carolina. Cam Newton needs some help, and McCaffrey is a versatile prospect that can help as a runner and receiver. A lot of experts have mocked Fournette to Carolina, but I don’t think he runs as well out of the shotgun as he does when a quarterback is under center (and I have him gone in this mock draft). McCaffrey can run out of the shotgun, but I think he’s a better slot receiver than runner. I don’t think he’s a between the tackles runner, but he can be a threat if he goes to a creative team that will manufacture touches for him. I think this is a bit of a reach, but I’m hearing that McCaffrey will be a top ten pick. Although I think there are better players available, I like the fit of McCaffrey on the Panthers.

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  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Derek Barnett: DE – Tennessee

Derek Barnett doesn’t have the elite athleticism that many teams look for in an elite pass rushing prospect, but it’s hard to ignore the production of Barnett at Tennessee. He broke Reggie White’s record for most sack in the history of Tennessee. He didn’t test well at the combine, but is a much better football player than athlete. I think he’s strictly a 4-3 defensive end, which will make him an ideal fit in Cincinnati. They need help at the defensive end position, and Barnett is talented enough to rush the passer and help in the run game. I don’t think Barnett is a top ten pick for most teams, but he’s a perfect fit for the Bengals.

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  1. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams: WR – Clemson

I could see the Bills picking their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson, but I think they’d rather have his college teammate in Mike Williams. Williams is the prototypical number one receiver that can play opposite of oft-injured Sammy Watkins. If Watkins stays healthy, he could be a top ten receiver in the league. Williams isn’t a field-stretcher like Watkins, but he’s a physical receiver that makes contested catches look routine. I think Williams would be a great fit for the Buffalo Bills.

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  1. New Orleans Saints: Jonathan Allen: DT – Alabama

I have Allen as a top five player in this draft, but he’ll slide because of injury concerns. If the Saints are comfortable with his shoulders, they will be getting a steal with this pick. The Saints have an elite offense, and need to upgrade their defense on all three levels if they want to compete for a championship before Drew Brees retires. Allen is not only the best player available at this pick, but he fills a big need for the Saints. They need cornerback help, but they can draft one later because of the corner depth in this draft class. Allen would be a starter right away for the Saints.

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  1. Cleveland Browns: O.J. Howard: TE – Alabama

If the Browns don’t trade into the top ten to get Mitchell Trubisky, I think O.J. Howard would be a great pick for Cleveland. Howard is my top ranked tight end prospect, and is in the top ten of my big board. This is not only a great value pick, but it fills a need for the Browns. The Browns have a plethora of holes throughout their roster, so they should take the best player available with all of their picks (and not reach to fill needs). Howard is a classic inline tight end, but has the athleticism to be lined up outside. The Browns have added offensive lineman during free agency, which makes me think that they want to be a run-first team. Howard is a great blocker in the running game, so he’ll be a great fit as a versatile tight end in this offense. The Browns want their quarterback of the future, but Howard is just too talented to pass on with the twelfth pick.

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  1. Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Mahomes: QB – Texas Tech

I have Patrick Mahomes ranked as my fourth quarterback behind Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, and DeShone Kizer, but the Cardinals seem to like Mahomes. He needs a lot of work to become an NFL starter, but he has all the tools. He has an elite arm and can make every throw, but has issues with his footwork, pocket presence, and offensive scheme that he played in college. I’m not a fan of reaching for Mahomes at this point, but he has the upside that could make him an elite quarterback in the NFL. I have a second round grade on him and think it will take at least one year (probably two or three) for him to be ready to start, but he can sit behind Carson Palmer and learn the NFL game before getting thrown into the fire. I don’t like this pick, but Mahomes fits the type of quarterback that Bruce Arians wants leading his team.

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  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Corey Davis: WR – Western Michigan

The Philadelphia Eagles need help at the cornerback position, but they can wait on corners because of the depth at the position in this draft class. After trading up to get their franchise quarterback in last year’s draft, it’s time that the Eagles get him some weapons. Carson Wentz looked like an emerging quarterback during his rookie season, but isn’t talented enough to win games without receiver help. The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason, but both are on one year deals. Corey Davis hasn’t been able to test throughout the draft process because of his ankle injury, but he has shown that he’s a good athlete on tape. He can run any route from any position on the field, and has the ability to make spectacular catches. He had some concentration drops at times, but I think he’ll be able to clean that up at the next level. This is not only a great value pick, but it’s a pick that fills a need. Davis would be a great fit in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz.

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  1. Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick: LB – Temple

Nobody has owned the draft season like Haason Reddick. He was seen as a mid-round pick when the season ended, but dominated at the Senior Bowl and combine. Reddick was an undersized defensive end at Temple, but will likely be an off-ball linebacker at the next level. I think he can play all linebacker positions in both a 4-3 and 3-4 defense, and can slide down to defensive end in nickel packages. He showed the ability to rush the passer at an elite level in college, and should be able to do so at times in the NFL. His versatility will make him an attractive prospect for the Colts, who need help throughout their defense. I think Reddick would be a great fit in Indianapolis.

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  1. Baltimore Ravens: John Ross: WR – Washington

John Ross is a complete wildcard in this draft. With his elite speed (record breaking 4.22 40 yard dash at the combine), he could be the first wide receiver off the board. But with his injury concerns and small stature, Ross could fall out of the first round completely. I think that his elite speed will make him hard to pass on in the first round, especially for the Ravens. I have him as my third wide receiver in this draft class behind Mike Williams and Corey Davis, but think he’d be the top receiver on the Ravens’ draft board. Joe Flacco has an extremely strong arm, so they’d covet fast receivers that can stretch the field. I’m not as high on Ross as most people in the draft community, but I think he’d be a player that the Ravens would love to draft.

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  1. Washington Redskins: Reuben Foster: LB – Alabama

The slide of Reuben Foster will end when the Redskins draft him with the seventeenth pick. I have Foster as the fourth ranked player on my big board, so this would be the biggest steal of the first round. Foster failed the drug test at the combine and was sent home after getting into an altercation, which will cause him to slide down draft boards. His character may be questioned, but he has elite football character. He was the leader of an elite Alabama defense, and is the best linebacker prospect I’ve seen in years. This isn’t a dire need for the Redskins, but it would be hard for the Redskins to pass on an elite talent like Foster.

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  1. Tennessee Titans: David Njoku: TE – Miami

David Njoku is my second rated tight end prospect in this year’s draft, but I’m not as high on him as many other people are in the draft community. I like his upside and intelligence, but he’s still a bit raw as a prospect. He’s a great athlete that will be a mismatch in the passing game, but he isn’t there yet as a blocker. He has the necessary frame to potentially develop into a solid blocker, but it’s a projection and not a certainty that he’ll become an adequate blocker. The Titans need to get help for their young quarterback, and Njoku would be a nice weapon that Marcus Mariota can grow with. I think this is a bit of a reach, but I like the fit of Njoku in Tennessee.

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  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook: RB – Florida State

Dalvin Cook would be an excellent fit in Tampa Bay. Although he has off-field concerns and could use a change of scenery (Tampa Bay is close to Tallahassee), I think Cook’s talent is too hard to pass on with this pick. He has some durability concerns, but is the most complete running back prospect in this draft. I have him ranked behind Fournette, but think he could be a bigger threat on all three downs. The Buccaneers cannot rely on Doug Martin, so getting Jameis Winston a running back threat would do wonders for his development. Cook would be a great value pick for the Buccaneers and would fill a major need.

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  1. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles: OT – Utah

Garett Bolles is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this year’s draft. He had major character issues when he was younger, but I think that has helped him mature into someone a team can depend on. I’m more concerned about his age. He’ll be a 25 year old rookie, which may be part of the reason why he was dominant in college. He was a one year starter at Utah, and was much more physically developed than his competition. Although I have my concerns, there’s no denying that Bolles is an elite athlete and could become a starting left tackle for many years. The Broncos have major holes throughout their offensive line, and drafting Bolles could be a move that pays off handsomely in the long run.

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  1. Detroit Lions: T.J. Watt: DE/OLB – Wisconsin

I’m not as high on T.J. Watt as most people in the draft community, but I think he’ll be drafted in the second half of the first round. I wonder if Watt would be a first round pick if he wasn’t related to All-Pro J.J. Watt. Watt has the same motor of his older brother, but he’s a much different player. T.J. is an edge defender with some upside as a pass rusher. He’s not a complete player yet, so teams will have to bet on him improving at the next level. I think teams are more willing to bet on his upside because of his last name, which I think is a mistake. Watt does fill a need for the Lions as a hybrid edge defender, so I could see this being a player they’d covet with their first round pick.

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  1. Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp: T/G – Western Kentucky

I love Lamp! Forrest Lamp is the highest rated offensive lineman on my big board. Although he’ll probably play inside at guard in the NFL, I think he has the versatility to play all five offensive line positions at the next level. He played left tackle at Western Kentucky, and was dominant against the elite pass rushers at Alabama. He doesn’t have the length that teams covet in tackles, but he’s an elite athlete and technician for his position. I think he’s similar to Zack Martin, Joel Bitonio, and Brandon Scherff. All three of these players moved inside to guard and became Pro Bowl caliber players. I think Lamp could do the same thing, but I’d try him at tackle and make him prove that he has to be moved inside. Laremy Tunsil will likely be moved to left tackle this season, so Lamp would be an ideal replacement at guard. I think that this pick not only fills a need, but Lamp’s also the best player available at this point in the draft.

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  1. New York Giants: Jarrad Davis: LB – Florida

Jarrad Davis is one of my favorite players in the draft. I became a fan last draft season while watching Florida tape of their 2016 draft eligible prospects. I wasn’t trying to watch Davis, but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. He was the most talented player on an elite defense. Davis didn’t play as well last season, but he was dealing with injuries. Davis is the classic run-and-chase middle linebacker that can play against the run and pass. He’s a downhill thumper, but also has enough athleticism to cover tight ends and running backs in man and zone coverage. The Giants don’t often draft linebackers in the first round, but Davis would fill a major hole on their defense. Davis would be a great value pick for the Giants, and should be a day one starter at middle linebacker.

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  1. Oakland Raiders: Kevin King: CB – Washington

I’m not as high on Kevin King as most draft experts, but I think he’ll be selected in the first round. He has the size and athleticism that teams covet in their cornerbacks. He needs to refine his technique, but he’s young and coachable enough to become a shutdown corner if he maximizes his potential. The Raiders have one of the best offenses in the NFL, but need to add talent to their defense if they want to compete for a championship. I think King will take a few years to reach his potential, but the Raiders have a longer championship window than most teams thanks to their young franchise quarterback Derek Carr. King would be an ideal fit for the Raiders.

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  1. Houston Texans: Ryan Ramczyk: OT – Wisconsin

Ryan Ramczyk was a one year starter at left tackle for the Wisconsin Badgers. Although he only started for one season, I think he’s a relatively safe prospect if he’s past his medical issues. The Houston Texans could use a franchise quarterback, but no quarterback can thrive behind their putrid offensive line. Duane Brown will be their left tackle this season, but Ramczyk can start at right tackle and eventually become their left tackle of the future. I think Ramczyk would be a nice value pick for the Texans, and he fills a major hole on their offensive line.

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  1. Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson: OT – Alabama

It’s no secret that the Seahawks need help on their offensive line, and Cam Robinson would be a plug-and-play starter for this Super Bowl contending team. Robinson has been inconsistent at times on tape, but he flashes elite potential. The Seahawks like drafting athletes on their offensive line, and Robinson would pass any athletic threshold that they look for in lineman prospects. He could play either tackle position or inside if they need him to, but I think he should be played at left tackle right away. Tom Cable is a great offensive line coach, and will be able to coach the mistakes out of Robinson. I think Cam Robinson would be a great fit in Seattle.

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  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Deshaun Watson: QB – Clemson

The Chiefs would sprint to the podium if the board fell this way. Alex Smith is a solid quarterback, but he’s not a long-term option. He doesn’t seem to be a player that can lead them to the Super Bowl, so it’s time to look for his replacement. Watson has some flaws, but he’s a winner and will make his teammates better. Andy Reid has had success with athletic quarterbacks in the past, so I think this could be a perfect marriage. Watson needs a year on the bench, so he’ll likely sit behind Smith and learn the Chief’s system. I think Deshaun Watson would be a great long-term quarterback in Kansas City.

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  1. Dallas Cowboys: Takkarist McKinley: DE/OLB – UCLA

The Cowboys need to get help on their defense if they want to compete for a championship. Although I think cornerback is a bigger need, they can wait on that position because of the depth in this year’s draft class. Takk McKinley is one of the best pass rushers in this year’s class. If he didn’t have injury concerns, he’d likely be drafted in the first half of the first round. McKinley has the best motor of any pass rusher in the draft. He’s relentless in his pursuit of the ball, which I think is an underappreciated skill in defensive players. Although McKinley is more of a straight line athlete than a bend-the-edge athlete, I think his technique and motor will make him a successful pass rusher. He needs to improve his speed-to-power move, but has the frame and strength to do so. I think McKinley would be an excellent fit in Dallas.

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  1. Green Bay Packers: Marlon Humphrey: CB – Alabama

I’m a lot higher on Marlon Humphrey than most people in the draft community, but I think his poor ball skills will push him down draft boards. He’s an elite athlete that does everything exceptionally well except defending the deep ball. He doesn’t turn his head around and play the ball, which is something I think will get coached out of him at the next level. He’s extremely young, and will be a lockdown number one corner if he improves his ball skills. The Packers need help in their secondary, and Humphrey could be an All-Pro corner if he reaches his ceiling.

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  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jabrill Peppers: S – Michigan

I’m a big fan of Jabrill Peppers. I think he can be a dominate defender if he’s used properly by a creative team. The Steelers are creative enough to maximize Peppers’ skill set if they coach him properly. I think Peppers will be an elite returner as a rookie, and could play some offense at times if the team that drafts him is creative. As a defender, Peppers could be a free safety, strong safety, nickel cornerback, or dime linebacker. I think pigeonholing him into one role could allow him to thrive in a role (unlike at Michigan where he was asked to do so many different things that he couldn’t refine his technique at one spot), or he could be used in different roles each week depending on his team’s opponent. I’m not going to move him down my board because he wasn’t asked to play a defined role in college. Instead, I move him up my board because I’m impressed with his versatility. I think Peppers’ elite athleticism will be on full display if he’s drafted by the Steelers.

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  1. Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris: DE/OLB – Missouri

I’m not as high on Charles Harris as most people in the draft community, but it’s hard to bet against Missouri pass rushers succeeding in the NFL. I think he could become an elite pass rusher if he reaches his potential, but this is a projection and not a certainty. The Falcons need pass rushing help opposite of Vic Beasley, and Harris could be a guy that develops into a quarterback assassin. There aren’t many holes on the Falcons roster, so they can afford to draft the best player available. Although I wouldn’t say Harris is the best player available, he is ranked in the top thirty on many draft boards. Harris would be a logical fit in Atlanta.

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  1. New Orleans Saints: Budda Baker: S/CB – Washington

If the Saints can improve their putrid defense, they could be a sneaky Super Bowl contender. I gave them Jonathan Allen with their first pick, and now it’s time to address the back end of this defense. Although I think they need an outside cornerback, they can address that need later in the draft. Budda Baker is just too talented to pass on. He’s a defensive back that can play free safety and nickel corner. He’s a bit undersized, but he plays like he’s a giant. That may be a big reason why he’s had injuries in the past, but I think you have to take a chance on his skill set. He can play a centerfielder role as a safety or cover man-to-man in the slot. The Saints need a lot of help on their defense, and getting a playmaker like Budda Baker would be a logical selection with their second first round pick.

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