- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee Titans): Mitchell Trubisky: QB – North Carolina
The worst kept secret of this draft is the Browns want both Myles Garrett and Mitchell Trubisky. There are rumors that they might want Trubisky enough to draft him first overall ahead of Garrett. That would be an extremely stupid decision, but I wouldn’t put it past the Browns because nothing they do surprises me anymore. Trubisky is my second rated quarterback in this draft behind Deshaun Watson, but I think he’s the guy Cleveland wants. I think he’ll be a solid NFL starter and seems to be a good fit in Hue Jackson’s offense. The Tennessee Titans have this pick because of the Rams’ (reckless) decision to trade up in last year’s draft to select Jared Goff. The Titans have a few holes they need to fill, but are an up-and-coming team with a young franchise quarterback. They would like to trade back so they can accumulate draft picks. Although I think this is a bit of a reach, I understand why the Browns would take a chance on Trubisky. They need a quarterback, so I can understand taking a chance on a guy that has shown NFL starter potential in his one year starting at North Carolina.
- New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore: CB – Ohio State
The Jets need a quarterback, but probably won’t draft one with Trubisky off the board. I think Watson would be a good fit, but they seem to want Trubisky more. The Jets need to improve their pass defense, and Lattimore would be an ideal fit. He only started one year at Ohio State and had some injury concerns, but he’s talented enough to be a number one corner from day one. He can play in any scheme and is a premiere athlete. The Jets will likely want to trade this pick, but I don’t see anyone wanting to move up now that Trubisky is off the board. The Jets will likely pick Lattimore if the board falls this way in the draft.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland Browns): O.J. Howard: TE – Alabama
The Titans need help at both the cornerback and wide receiver position, but O.J. Howard is too talented to pass on with this pick. The Titans need to find weapons for Marcus Mariota, and Howard is a talented receiving tight end that can stretch the field. The Titans want to be a smash mouth running team with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry leading the way, and Howard is an excellent blocker that can help in the running game.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Oakland Raiders (from Tennessee Titans): Dalvin Cook: RB – Florida State
(Note: This mock draft was completed before the Raiders traded for Marshawn Lynch, but I could still see them going after a long-term running back) The Oakland Raiders could use a long-term running back to help out emerging quarterback Derek Carr. Although there have been injury concerns and off-field concerns with Dalvin Cook, I think his talent is too hard to pass on. There is depth at the running back position, but I think there are only four difference makers in this year’s draft. If the Raiders don’t like Joe Mixon (because of off-field concerns), then Cook is the last difference making runner available with Fournette and McCaffrey off the board. The Buccaneers would likely draft Cook with the next pick, so the Raiders would need to trade up to get him. Dalvin Cook is an electric playmaker that can dominate on all three downs. He isn’t as elite in the passing game as McCaffrey, but he has reliable hands and knows how to get open. Cook would be a great fit with the Raiders.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Budda Baker: S/CB – Washington
With Dalvin Cook off the board, I think the Buccaneers will look to improve their defense. Budda Baker is one of my favorite defensive players in the draft. He’s a bit undersized, but he doesn’t play like it. He can play either free safety or nickel corner, and seems to always be around the ball. He does have injury concerns, which is a problem due to his small stature. But he’s a chess piece on defense that can do so many different things at an elite level. If the Buccaneers aren’t concerned with his injury history, I think he’d be a great fit on their defense.
- Kansas City Chiefs (from Denver Broncos): Deshaun Watson: QB – Clemson
The Chiefs trade up to get their guy. 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. Reid wanted Russell Wilson in the past, but didn’t trade up to get him. He won’t make that mistake again with Watson still on the board. Watson needs a year on the bench, so he can sit behind Smith and learn the Chief’s system. I think Deshaun Watson would be a great long-term quarterback in Kansas City.
- 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.
- Dallas Cowboys (from Miami Dolphins): 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 Cowboys could use an elite tight end prospect to learn from Jason Witten. Njoku is a different type of tight end than Witten, and could eventually develop into an elite playermaker for Dallas. The Cowboys would likely need to trade ahead of the Giants if they want to get Njoku. He would become a player that can grow with emerging star quarterback Dak Prescott. With the Cowboys being a Super Bowl contender, they might take a shot on the upside of Njoku.
- New York Giants: Garett Bolles: OT – Utah
Garett Bolles is one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in this year’s draft. He had major off-field 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 Giants need to replace starting left tackle Ereck Flowers (who would make a better right tackle). If the Giants draft Bolles, it could pay off handsomely for years to come.
- Tennessee Titans (from 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 Titans need a number one cornerback, and King has the potential to possibly develop into a lockdown corner. The Titans lost Jason McCourty and signed Logan Ryan, but Ryan will be their number two corner. It might take King some time to become a starter, but this could be a pick that pays off handsomely if King reaches his potential.
- Houston Texans: Jarrad Davis: LB – Miami
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 Texans could use an athletic middle linebacker to help improve their elite defense. Davis would be a great value pick for the Texans, and should be a day one starter at middle linebacker.
- 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.
- Denver Broncos (from Kansas City Chiefs): 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 Denver Broncos need help on their offensive line, and would be thrilled if they were able to trade back in the draft and still select Ramczyk. I think Ramczyk would be a nice value pick for the Broncos, and he fills a major hole on their offensive line.
- Miami Dolphins (from Dallas Cowboys): 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.
- 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.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley: DE/OLB – UCLA
The Steelers need to get help on their defense if they want to compete for a championship. Although I think they have bigger needs than a pass rusher, I think the value will be too hard to pass on. 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 Pittsburgh.
- 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.
- San Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans Saints): DeShone Kizer: QB – Notre Dame
I think the Saints will trade the last pick in the first round to a team that wants to draft a quarterback. Trading back into the first round for Kizer would be a better decision than waiting until the second round. Not only does this allow the 49ers to jump over the Browns (who may have taken Kizer with the first pick in the second round), but it also allows them to have a fifth year of control over Kizer before he gets his second contract. Kizer is a very polarizing quarterback prospect. He’s a classic boom-or-bust prospect that has flashes of brilliance. He doesn’t seem to be mentally tough, which is a huge concern that I have for him going forward. But he has the size and arm talent of an elite quarterback, so someone will take a chance on him. I think the 49ers will trade back into the first round and select Kizer in hopes that he’ll become their quarterback of the future.