Let me preface this article by saying that I have no inside connections or super-secret sources from within “the team” or “close to the situation”. I am just a guy who really likes sports. So obviously I am just as qualified (if not more so) than the plethora of obnoxious talking heads on television touting their “expert knowledge”.
Now let me be clear, I am not going to be writing and re-writing 30-billion different mock drafts. I am writing this one only. But I am also including in my mock draft projected trades. So you are getting a bit of extra sauce on your sandwich from me.
So without further ado let’s dive in:
1) Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil OT, Ole Miss
This is the obvious pick. The Titans have made it clear that they are willing to trade this pick, but I am doubtful that they will be offered enough compensation. Jalen Ramsey is another possibility here, but in the end the Titans have invested heavily in Marcus Mariota and traded for DeMarco Murray, so all evidence points to a need to revamp the offensive line.
2) Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff QB, California
Everyone and their mother are expecting the Browns to take a quarterback. Personally I think they should take either Jalen Ramsey or DeForest Buckner with this pick, but I digress. Jared Goff played against stiffer competition at Cal than did his counterparts Paxton Lynch and Carsen Wentz, which makes him very appealing. Goff played almost exclusively from the shotgun, but since the Browns signed RGIII and retained Josh McCown it is obvious that they are hoping to groom Goff over a couple seasons.
3) San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey DB, Florida State
Ramsey may be the best pure talent in this year’s draft and the Chargers have a gaping hole in their secondary. Quite frankly, if Ramsey is there at #3 and GM Tom Telesco passes on him, then that should be grounds for instant termination.
4) Dallas Cowboys – Ezekiel Elliott RB, Ohio State
Last year the Cowboys discovered how important a sustained run game is to their team. I am a Tony Romo fan and supporter, however; he cannot shoulder the load on his own. The Cowboys need an all-purpose back that can break big plays and handle a heavy load, and in this draft Elliott is the only back that can fill that role.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack LB, UCLA
The Jaguars have a ton of young talent on offense that seems to be meshing and getting better every single week. On defense they have a whole lot less. But by drafting Myles Jack and getting last year’s first round Dexter Fowler back from injury, the Jaguars will have a young core on which they can build a dominant defense around.
6) Baltimore Raven – DeForest Buckner DL, Oregon
Buckner is a very large (6’7”) athletic freak. The Ravens have been hurting on defense the past couple of seasons, because of their refusal to give out contracts to their players who go to free agency. While they have weathered the storm of losing practically every linebacker they have ever had, the Ravens were crushed by the departure of Haloti Ngata. Buckner will fill that void and give the Ravens an anchor on the defensive line for the next 10 years.
7) San Francisco 49ers (Traded to the New York Jets) – Carsen Wentz QB, North Dakota State
We see our first trade of the draft here at #7. The Jets are desperate for a quarterback. Geno Smith was a disaster and they are not close to a financial agreement with Ryan Fitzpatrick. As of this writing, D’Brickashaw Ferguson has announced his retirement, which will free up a lot of money. But even if the Jets do come to an agreement with Fitzpatrick, they need to build for the future and the future does not rest on the arm of a 30 year old journeyman. Personally I think Wentz is the best quarterback in the draft and with the weapons in New York he could pay off immediately. And if by some chance the Jets do sign Fitzpatrick, then Wentz can sit for a year and learn behind a veteran Harvard graduate.
8) Philadelphia Eagles – Vernon Hargreaves CB, Florida
The Eagles would probably love it if Ezekiel Elliott would fall to #8, but alas I do not foresee it in my crystal ball. That being said, the Eagles also have a desperate need at the cornerback position. Even though the departed Byron Maxwell never lived up to his contract, his absence leaves a huge whole in an Eagles’ secondary that was not that good to begin with.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Stanley OT, Notre Dame
The Bucs have a similar need as the Titans. They have a young quarterback and a work-horse running back, but they need help up front. A few seasons ago they attempted to get that help by trading for Logan Mankins, but due to age and injury he never competed at the level he did with the Patriots and has since retired. The offensive line rebuild begins by protecting Jameis Winston’s blind side.
10) New York Giants (trade to New Orleans Saints) – Joey Bosa OLB/DE, Ohio State
The Saints over the past few seasons have set records for defensive ineptitude. The Giants just spent their free agency stocking up on defensive talent. But if the Saints want Bosa then they will almost certainly have to get in front of the Bears to get him and a team like the Giants would rather get an extra pick and move down two spots, then pick someone at their current position.
11) Chicago Bears – Shaq Lawson DE, Clemson
Make no mistake, the Bears would love to have Joey Bosa. More than anything the Bears need a pure athlete that can consistently rush the passer, but with the Saints jumping in front of them to grab Bosa the Bears will either have to settle for the next best pash-rusher in Lawson or get creative with their #10 draft pick.
12) New Orleans Saints (traded to New York Giants – Laquon Treadwell WR, Ole Miss
As previously stated, the Giants have spent a treasure trove on defensive free agents, so now it is time to address the offense. They would love to get an offensive lineman, but with the #12 they would be reaching. But they also need a counterpart to O’Dell Beckem Junior and Treadwell is the consensus #1 receiver in the draft. This pick give Eli Manning the one-two punch he needs to keep the chains consistently moving.
13) Miami Dolphins – Eli Apple CB, Ohio State
In an ill-advised trade made between the Dolphins and Eagles during free agency, the Dolphins made a deal that added a lot of money to their salary and decreased their draft stock. So now a team that is desperate for help in the secondary will have to settle for the third best cornerback in the draft with the #13 pick. The Dolphins should try and trade down from this pick to collect more draft selections, but I find that possibility unlikely given Miami’s history in the draft.
14) Oakland Raiders – Robert Nkemdiche DT, Ole Miss
Nkemdiche is a top 10 talent that will almost assuredly fall due to character concerns. Nkemdiche’s off-field reputation will more than ever make teams question his worth, but the Raiders have always done things a bit differently. And with budding superstar Khalil Mack dominating at the linebacker position, Oakland will jump at the chance to add a player of Nkemdiche’s caliber to fortify their front line.
15) Los Angeles Rams – Paxton Lynch QB, Memphis
It is going to take a while to get used to calling them the L.A. Rams. Anywho…they need a quarterback in the worst way. Right now they do not have a quarterback on the roster that they can win with. It is as simple as that. And while Lynch is the type of quarterback that would benefit from a year on the bench with a clip board, I have a feeling he will see the field sooner rather than later.
16) Detroit Lions – Jack Conklin OT, Michigan State
Now I would not be surprised if the Giants took Conklin at #12, but I still think they are going with a receiver and since Treadwell is gone the Lions will go with the best available offensive lineman, which is Conklin. Conklin has a great blend of size and aggressiveness and would a Godsend for Matthew Stafford who has taken a beating over the past several seasons.
17) Atlanta Falcons – Leonard Floyd OLB, Georgia
The Falcons need talent at virtually every position, but especially on defense. The Falcons were able to scrape a few wins solely off the prodigious play of Julio Jones, but that defense is in a bad way and Floyd would be the best available player at this point.
18) Indianapolis Colts – Kevin Dodd DE, Clemson
This is a prediction based off of the Colts’ glaring need for a pass-rusher and defensive lineman. But this is also the team that had the same problem last year and drafted a wide receiver instead. The Colts are fairly unpredictable, but my money is on them taking Shaq Lawson’s counterpart at Clemson.
19) Buffalo Bills – Darron Lee OLB, Ohio State
Rex Ryan teams like their defensive players. The Bills also lost Mario Williams in free agency to the Dolphins and they never replaced Kiko Alonso from their trade with the Eagles several seasons ago. The Bills already have a hefty defensive line, now they need an athletic playmaker behind them to go sideline to sideline.
20) New York Jets (traded to San Francisco 49ers) – Josh Doctson WR, TCU
I am working under the assumption that San Francisco will retain Colin Kaepernick. There is a lot of talk, but I think the 49ers would rather try to rehabilitate Kaepernick than give him away for peanuts. So if they are keeping him, Chip Kelly will need to get someone for Kaepernick to throw to. At 6’4” Doctson is a tall target with deceptive speed who would be able to compensate for inaccurate throws. Sounds like a perfect fit for Kaepernick.
21) Washington Redskins – Keanu Neal S, Florida
The Redskins desperately need a running back, but there really is not another back in this draft worth taking in the first round. Washington also needs help in their defensive secondary and they would have first choice at the available safeties. Neal comes from a great program that has yielded a lot of great defensive backs and Neal would be an instant upgrade for a team that is looking to build on its own momentum.
22) Houston Texans – Will Fuller WR, Notre Dame
It seems that the Texans are all in with Brock Osweiller, so now they need to get him weapons not named DeAndre Hopkins. They need a running back, a tight end, and another receiver. Fuller will make a very good counterpart to Hopkins and is better than any of the available running backs or tightends.
23) Minnesota Vikings – Corey Coleman WR, Baylor
This is another receiver-needy team and Coleman is probably the only receiver left that could be justified with a first round pick. The fact of the matter is that Teddy Bridgewater is a game manager. He cannot win without talent around. And with Adrian Peterson still running like a bat out of hell, the time is now to get those playmakers in place.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – A’Shawn Robinson DT, Alabama
This is a best pick available pick. The Bengals need a cornerback, multiple wide receivers, and probably an extra linebacker, but at this point in the draft there are not that many worth taking. They may go for Mackensie Alexander out of Clemson or Kendall Fuller out of Virginia, but I feel like Robinson is the pick here. This is just a gut feeling on my part.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers – Kendall Fuller CB, Virginia
This fills a need. The Steelers are desperate for talent on defense. They are well-rounded on offense, but their defense is lacking especially given the history of this iconic franchise. That secondary is in rough shape and Fuller is the type of player that could be effective right away.
26) Seattle Seahawks – Reggie Ragland ILB, Alabama
The Seahawks need to fill some gaps on defense. With the departure of Bruce Irvin Seattle has an opening at linebacker and with the talent they already have on defense Ragland will not be asked to do much. This would be an ideal fit for both parties. Ragland will be entered into an established defense where he will not be asked to do too much and the Seahawks will get a solid starter that will not miss too many assignments.
27) Green Bay Packers – Jarran Reed DT, Alabama
The sudden departure of B.J. Raji has left a glaring hole in an already porous defense. Reed is a solid defensive lineman that can be placed at defensive end or nose tackle in the 3-4 defense and with Clay Matthews manning the middle, a lot of rookie mistakes will be covered up.
28) Kansas City Chiefs – Mackensie Alexander CB, Clemson
When you are drafting this late in the first round the prime pickings are usually taken. The Chiefs could go for the best of positions that have not been picked clean, such as guard, center, and tight end, but I do not see that happening. I think they want to fortify their defense and I think they will do so with Alexander.
29) Arizona Cardinals – William Jackson III CB, Houston
Obviously we have a run on cornerbacks on the back end of the draft here. With the NFL’s transition to a spread offense, pass-oriented style of game play teams are desperate for pass-rushers and cover-corners. So like the Chiefs and Steelers I think the Cardinals will add an extra defensive back to fortify their depth.
30) Carolina Panthers – Jordan Howard RB, Indiana
Personally I am not a huge fan of this pick at this point in the draft, but after reviewing Carolina’s needs and the talent available I think they are going to go running back. Jonathan Stewart is a solid back, but he is no game-breaker, plus he has more than a few miles on his tires. They need another back to at least rotate in with Stewart. Howard would provide a good counterpunch and I think would mesh better with the style of offense Carolina runs as opposed to a Derrick Henry from Alabama, who I do not believe is fluid enough to operate in that run game.
31) Denver Broncos – Conor Cook QB, Michigan State
Denver is not going anywhere with Mark Sanchez. Even if they pull off a deal for someone like Colin Kaepernick or reach an agreement with Ryan Fitzpatrick, neither of them would likely be the long term solution. Broncos will and should draft a quarterback in one of the first three rounds and I think it will be Conor Cook at #31.
32)***There is no #32 because the Patriots had it taken from them***
This just tickles me pink.
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