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Round 1 (team, position, player, school, change from last/last mock pick)
Cleveland Browns: 7T Myles Garrett (Texas A&M) 1
Top needs: QB, 7T, FS
Garrett is the pick. There’s not much to nitpick other than positional value. He’s young, he’s athletic, he’s productive.
San Francisco 49ers: FS Malik Hooker (Ohio State) (+) 7
Top needs: QB, CB, 9T
Reminder: SF’s GM played safety. SF has given consideration to moving Jimmie Ward to FS, but he is not locked into the position. Hooker draws many Earl Thomas comparisons; he’s the best scheme fit. CB (Lattimore) would fill a need if SF thinks he’s worth picking this high. SF wants Cousins at QB, not anyone from this draft. A team lacking talent probably shouldn’t go for a RB here (Fournette). Solomon Thomas is a media creation who makes no sense this early nor for this team, and he proves that mock drafters copy each other with no real insight.
Chicago Bears: 5T Jonathan Allen (Alabama) 3
Top needs: 5T, RT, WR
There’s no doubt that Allen is an optimal fit here. CHI signed a QB and DBs in FA but ignored the opening on the d-line. Perhaps CHI has already penciled in Allen as their guy. Athleticism doesn’t matter that much for d-linemen. If he fell for any reason, it would be medical.
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Leonard Fournette (Louisiana State) 4
Top needs: RB, G, TE
Fournette is the obvious pick here, unless JAX receives a tempting trade-down offer. JAX could trade down for an o-lineman and pick up a different RB later. But, here JAX may be in the same position as DAL last year. JAX’s philosophy should be to run the ball and play defense, rather than let Bortles throw.
Tennessee Titans (via LAR): CB Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State) (-) 2
Top needs: WR, FS, CB
TEN has become NE-lite. TEN might want to move out of this pick. Perhaps Robinson will do business with CLE again. Someone may want to move ahead of NYJ for Trubisky. Assuming TEN doesn’t move down too far, Lattimore replaces Jason McCourty, whom TEN could cut and save $7M. A lot of people feel like he could be a bust or at least overrated. I don’t get it. I don’t object to the idea that he’s the best CB in the draft.
New York Jets: SS Jamal Adams (Louisiana State) (-) 5
Top needs: CB, 9T, SS
NYJ will take the best player. SS is one of the team’s many weaknesses, though. Calvin Pryor’s performance is sad. The only position NYJ doesn’t need is 5-tech. Even if Lattimore is available, Adams might have the higher grade. There’s a lot of talk about Trubisky but I either don’t believe it or I think someone will jump ahead of NYJ to swipe him.
Los Angeles Chargers: LT Cam Robinson (Alabama) (+) 8
Top needs: FS, G, 9T
Face it LA: o-linemen always go higher than projected, and LAC’s o-line is a disaster. LAC is set at LT and C, but the play at G and RT is awful, and Robinson can take one of those spots. Maybe LAC trades back a little and still gets him. Mockers put Hooker here because it’s too difficult to think about any other possibility. I don’t think Hooker will get here.
Carolina Panthers: WR John Ross (Washington) (+) 18
Top needs: WR, RB, RT
WRs who can run in the 4.2s go early. Darrius Heyward-Bey #7. Tavon Austin #8. Ted Ginn #9. Signing 3 DEs is probably an indication that CAR isn’t planning to draft one here. CAR would love Fournette but would have to move up to 4 to get him.
Cincinnati Bengals: LT Garett Bolles (Utah) 9
Top needs: LT, 7T, RB
Does CIN want to gamble everything on Ogbuehi at LT? He couldn’t play RT. He should be the direct backup at LT. Again, OTs go early, especially athletic ones (like Lane Johnson). CIN could also use another 7-tech, replacement for Jeremy Hill, or youthful WR.
Buffalo Bills: WR Mike Williams (Clemson) 10
Top needs: WR, CB, SS
BUF has the always-injured Watkins and no other legit player at WR. BUF loves drafting ACC players, especially from Clemson and Florida State. BUF has openings at CB, SS, LB, and RT as well but those positions seem a little less urgent. I don’t believe OJ Howard here when Charles Clay is one of the NFL’s highest-paid TEs. TEs rarely go early.
New Orleans Saints: 7T Taco Charlton (Michigan) 11
Top needs: CB, 7T, CB
Another edge rusher to go with Cameron Jordan is the top priority, considering the draft’s depth of CBs. I’m not a big fan of Taco, but teams like his ideal 7-tech body. NO will probably acquire Malcolm Butler. NO also kept Sterling Moore. NO still needs another CB at pick #32 if one doesn’t go at this pick.
Cleveland Browns (via PHI): QB Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina) 12
Top needs: QB, FS, SS
CLE has to come away with a QB at some point. Maybe CLE gives a 2nd rounder to TEN to move up. If someone else snipes Trubisky, maybe they take Kizer in round 2 instead. CLE can get a safety in round 2 as well.
Arizona Cardinals: QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) (+) NR
Top needs: CB, FS, G
Mahomes has the strongest arm of the QBs, and this offense requires a strong arm. I think that teams are trying to keep him under the radar, but when draft week arrives, everyone will be hot for him. Teams like QBs with “the look,” like Carson Wentz last year. I was intentionally insulting Keim when I projected Deshaun Watson to AZ, but he wouldn’t really do it, would he? Watson isn’t going in the 1st round unless a team is highly incompetent.
Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN): CB Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) (-) 6
Top needs: CB, CB, RB
PHI is taking a CB; the question is which one. Humphrey is usually graded as the best one after Lattimore. Conley would be another good option. Stop projecting a RB here.
Indianapolis Colts: ILB Haason Reddick (Temple) (+) 24
Top needs: CB, SS, ILB
Reddick would fill a major need at ILB. Sean Spence, Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison… you don’t want an upgrade on that group? The LB position can change a whole defense and this defense has nothing going for it. Reddick could also move outside and pass rush. It’s not like IND has elite pass rushers.
Baltimore Ravens: TE OJ Howard (Alabama) 16
Top needs: RT, C, 9T
Draftniks are eager to slot Howard higher, but he’s not as fast as Vernon Davis nor as nepotistically blessed as Kellen Winslow II. Every year, TEs go lower than projected. No one in the top half really needs a TE, anyway. But, Howard won’t fall through Ozzie Newsome’s hands. He would also qualify as BPA if we ignored Newsome’s biases.
Washington Redskins: ILB Reuben Foster (Alabama) 17
Top needs: 5T, SS, ILB
WAS has a severe need along the d-line, but anyone here would be a reach. 5-techs will be there in round 2. Foster takes Compton’s spot. WAS has ignored the ILB position for a long time. WAS has to improve the run defense.
Tennessee Titans: WR Corey Davis (Western Michigan) (+) NR
Top needs: WR, FS, ILB
The final puzzle piece for TEN after fixing the secondary is getting a productive young WR. I think people have the values of John Ross and Corey Davis reversed; Ross is going early as long as his health checks out ok.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE David Njoku (Miami) (+) NR
Top needs: RB, TE, CB
I’m confused by the scouts who don’t like him. No one disputes the athleticism. But calling him unproductive? He has the best age-adjusted production of any TE. It’s nice to see the rest of the scouting community is finally getting on board with the idea that Dalvin Cook doesn’t belong in round one.
Denver Broncos: RB Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) 20
Top needs: LT, RB, TE
As I have been projecting—and now the mainstream draft media is picking up—John Elway will draft McCaffrey because of their personal relationship. I’m not opposed to the pick, though. McCaffrey fills the need for a more dynamic RB. DEN really could use a LT, though.
Detroit Lions: 7T Solomon Thomas (Stanford) 21
Top needs: 7T, ILB, SS
Yeah, I’m not putting this guy at #2 like every mainstream mock drafter is. What position does he play? He has the size of a 7-tech, yet everyone is trying to say he’s an interior player because he did it in college. Good luck against the run. He’s a late 1st-rounder who can’t play for 3-4 teams. That rules out a lot of teams. He’s not “undersized like Aaron Donald.” Donald is just short; otherwise Donald has the right body type to play inside. Solomon Thomas is the biggest media creation since Sharrif Floyd.
Miami Dolphins: G Forrest Lamp (Western Kentucky) (+) NR
Top needs: FS, G, CB
A lot of teams need help at G, but MIA needs at legitimate starter at both LG and RG. This year, no one who still needs an o-lineman can afford to wait. By any metric, Lamp is the best G. MIA will need a FS later, and I highly recommend Marcus Williams if he’s still there in round 2.
New York Giants: LT Ryan Ramczyk (Wisconsin) 23
Top needs: LT, 3T, TE
NYG would love to move Ereck Flowers to RT. If all 3 LTs are gone, the backup plan is probably a TE like Njoku or Engram. If NYG resigns Hankins, then a workhorse RB will be the next biggest need. But not here; certainly not Dalvin Cook.
Oakland Raiders: ILB Zach Cunningham (Vanderbilt) (+) 30
Top needs: ILB, 3T, RB
Vegas really needs some LBs. There really is no other position to consider. Reggie McKenzie was a Tennessee LB, and I think he favors players from that region.
Houston Texans: SS Jabrill Peppers (Michigan) (-) 15
Top needs: QB, SS, RT
HOU will probably end up with Romo. If not, Savage is still preferable to the QB slop available here. Demps is gone; this team does not have a starting SS. There is not a RT worth taking here, but it is a clear need. A few people are really high on Peppers but I think he’s going late-1st.
Seattle Seahawks: CB/SS Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut) 26
Top needs: CB, RT, G
The Force is with Obi. Converting him to CB isn’t just an armchair scout’s fantasy. NFL teams agree that it makes sense. CB is the more valuable position; don’t waste him at SS. SEA is very likely one of those teams that would move him to CB. I love the physical freaks, but honestly Obi wasn’t all that great playing SS anyway. I think he was playing the wrong position. SEA also has a laughably disgraceful offensive line and might want to draft literally any warm body since it’s the main reason they don’t win the Super Bowl every year, but that probably won’t happen.
Kansas City Chiefs: ILB Jarrad Davis (Florida) (+) NR
Top needs: CB, ILB, 9T
I don’t get this dude. NFL evaluators are in love with him. I’ll give him the athleticism but he has multiple issues. He’s going round 1 though. I’d rather have McMillan as a better value in round 2; usually Ohio State guys are the ones getting the hype. Derrick Johnson is 35 and has now torn both of his Achilles, so a plan for the future would be nice to have.
Dallas Cowboys: CB Adoree’ Jackson (Southern California) 28
Top needs: CB, SS, RT
Unsolved mysteries: Why is there an apostrophe at the end of Adoree’s name? Or should that be Adoree”s name (double apostrophe possessive)? Why does he have a girl’s name? DAL let 2 starting CBs go and signed Nolan Carroll. In other words, DAL needs 2 starting CBs. The problem with Adoree’ is that he’s only 5’10. He’s similar to Jason Verett; some teams are going to pass because he’s too short. But the most threatening WR in the NFC East is Odell Beckham, who isn’t tall. Jackson has superhuman agility that can help him stick with Beckham. When you read the QB’s eyes but can’t handle size, THAT’S ADOREE’!
Green Bay Packers: CB Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado) 29
Top needs: CB, RB, G
Awoo! GB definitely needs a CB, and a pair of Pac-12 guys are available: Awoo and Kevin King. Both are athletic, but Awoo has been more productive. GB also has a documented history with CB/S hybrid types like Awoo. It doesn’t matter if he only plays SCB because GB usually has 5 DBs on the field.
Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Gareon Conley (Ohio State) (+) 32
Top needs: 9T, CB, WR
Some people really like Conley, maybe more than Lattimore. He could go top 15. Others criticize his tape and tackling. I have no problem with Conley. Check those arms: 33 inches. Exceptional athlete and exceptional player. The 2 Ohio State CBs are the best CBs in the draft, in my view. PIT needs an edge rusher more than CB, but they all might be a slight reach here, especially with Conley available. TJ Watt’s name and athleticism could get him into the 1st round. PIT learned its lesson about metrics. Terrible athlete Jarvis Jones (who is very similar to Charles Harris) proved to be a useless bust. Takkarist McKinley didn’t test as well as promised at the Combine. His 40 was ok but he was supposed to be elite. His 3-cone was terrible. It’s annoying when media scouts double-down on MUH TAPE after the Combine shows that they were wrong about a guy. The first stage of grief: denial. Suddenly Harris, McKinley, and Dalvin Cook are greater than ever for some of these weak scouts. When you’re wrong, you need to examine why and get it right next time.
Atlanta Falcons: 7T Derek Barnett (Tennessee) 31
Top needs: 3T, G, 7T
Barnett’s athleticism is below average but he’s a decent player. He has the size of a typical LEO. ATL needs to keep working on the defensive line. ATL could reach for a G though. All of the top Gs will go in round 2 and there won’t be anyone useful left. No 3T/5T is going here. Malik McDowell and Caleb Brantley have bad attitudes.
New Orleans Saints (via NE): CB Kevin King (Washington) (+) NR
Top needs: CB, CB, RB
NO is a metrics team. King is 6’3 with shocking agility. His entire athletic profile is ultra rare. Like with Obi, you have to hope that you can teach the guy to actually play football. But in NO’s division, someone has to cover 6’5 Mike Evans, 6’5 Kelvin Benjamin, and 6’3 Julio Jones.
QB Deshaun Watson (13)
CB Tre’Davious White (14)
RB Dalvin Cook (19)
FS Marcus Williams (22)
QB DeShone Kizer (25)
CB Quincy Wilson (27)