Everyone’s favorite part of the year, the NFL draft. When you assess your team’s needs, and you watch college football highlights of the players you beg for your team to draft. While no NFL Mock Draft has ever been perfect, it is fun to connect the dots between the best college athletes, to NFL teams looking to draft them.
Browns– DeShaun Watson QB, Clemson
I originally pencilled in Myles Garrett here, but the more tape I watched of DeShaun Watson, the more I see a franchise quarterback. Not only does he have the NFL-caliber arm, but his leadership and toughness are off the charts, especially in the CFP National Championship win over the Crimson Tide. Alabama was clearly trying to throw Watson off the spot with physical play, but Watson delivered a magnificent performance, and the Browns finally get their quarterback of the future.
49ers– Myles Garrett EDGE, Texas A&M
While many are predicting the 49ers will select a quarterback, it would be wise to go with the ‘best player available’ method, as the historic franchise has a long way to go in their rebuild. Myles Garrett is a force off the edge, both as a pass rusher and a run defender. Improving the defense is a must, after ranking dead last in points allowed/game.
Bears– Jonathan Allen DI, Alabama
The Bears need a quarterback, but I do not think Tarheel quarterback Mitch Trubisky is good value here, especially with an athlete like Allen still on the board. The Bears front seven is not a need, but adding a talented player like Jonathan Allen, will propel this defense to a top 10 unit.
Jaguars– Cam Robinson OT, Alabama
According to some analysts, this may be a slight reach. I will refer to the old saying, “If he is the guy you want, there is no such thing as reaching” or something like that. The Jaguars have failed to protect Blake Bortles, and it is up to debate whether he should be the starting quarterback next season, there is no debate that a premier left tackle makes all the difference in the world, and that is what Robinson is.
Titans– Mike Williams WR, Clemson
The Titans pass on a cornerback here, due to the fact they have two top-20 picks and the insane depth at the position, and they select Mike Williams, who is an absolute stud at wide receiver. He gives Marcus Mariota a true no. 1 receiving option, and will be a star at the pro level.
Jets– Leonard Fournette RB, LSU
With Christian Hackenberg ‘redshirting’ his rookie year, it would be wise to give him some help in the backfield. Leonard Fournette is the guy that the Jets can hand off to 20+ times a game, and help Hackenberg out in the passing game, as well.
Chargers– Jamal Adams S, LSU
Jamal Adams reminds me a lot of Eric Berry, in the way that he can play both centerfield and near the line of scrimmage. He plays with a lot of passion, has tremendous instincts and is an amazing athlete. Adams will make an immediate difference for the Chargers defense.
Panthers– Malik Hooker S, Ohio State
From a Super Bowl appearance to a top-10 pick, it’s time to add more young talent to the Panthers defense. Ohio State safety Malik Hooker has the potential to become an Ed Reed-like safety, with tremendous range and a great sense of awareness. He can make an impact on what is a porous secondary for the Carolina Panthers.
Bengals– Reuben Foster LB, Alabama
When many college analysts are comparing your game to Carolina’s own, Luke Kuechly, you’re doing something very, very well. Foster’s combination of athleticism, outstanding football IQ and ferocity will make him one of the best linebackers in the NFL. After taking a step back on the defensive side of the ball, look for the Bengals to target this special athlete.
Bills– Mitch Trubisky QB, North Carolina
It looks like both the E.J. Manuel and Tyrod Taylor experiments are over, and Cardale Jones still looks miles away. While Trubisky lacks the experience in a pro-style offense, he has the tools and intangibles necessary to become the face of the Bills franchise.
Saints– Derek Barnett EDGE, Tennessee
Whether he lines up standing up in a 3-4 front, or in a three-point stance in a 4-3 defense, Barnett will make an impact off the edge. His consistency in both the passing game and running game is outstanding, and his fundamentals are strong. He is developing in terms of hand to hand combat, but the former Volunteer has the makings of a defensive core player.
Browns– Teez Tabor CB, Florida
The Browns found their franchise quarterback, now it is time to turn around this defense. The front seven has some pieces, but the secondary needs talent. Insert Teez Tabor, and this defense will be moving in the right direction.
Cardinals– DeShone Kizer QB, Notre Dame
Carson Palmer is 37 years old, and it is always better to be a step ahead, rather than a step behind. Kizer is a work in progress, so it would be smart to have him be the backup for the beginning part of the season. Kizer’s prototypical build and NFL arm will make the Cardinals, and Bruce Arians, very happy.
Colts– Tim Williams EDGE, Alabama
With Robert Mathis retiring, the pass rush will become an even bigger issue. Tim Williams can instantly provide a boost off the edge in that department. His run defense will need to improve for him to become an every down player, but his pass rushing ability will make him worth the pick.
Eagles– Marlon Humphrey CB, Alabama
The Eagles’ defense has the potential to become one of the scariest units in the NFL. Their front seven is talented and ferocious, but they need better play from the secondary. Sidney Jones has prototypical size and athleticism for an outside cornerback, expect him to make an impact from day 1.
Ravens– Takkarist McKinley EDGE, UCLA
Terrell Suggs is 34 years old, and head coach John Harbaugh has semi-alluded towards Elvis Dumervil becoming a cap casualty. Takkarist McKinley would fill in seamlessly in the Ravens’ attacking 3-4 front. With terrific run defenders like Timmy Jernigan and Michael Pierce manning the middle, McKinley will be able to help right away off the edge.
Redskins– Sidney Jones CB, Washington
The Redskins’ secondary was exposed week in and week out by opposing quarterbacks. Aside from Josh Norman, no one was playing well in the back end. Coupling Sidney Jones with Josh Norman will tremendously help this oft-exposed Redskins secondary.
Titans– Jabrill Peppers S, Michigan
After going offense with their first pick, the Titans select one of the most versatile players in recent memory. Use Peppers as a safety on early downs, and in passing situations, stick him in the slot and allow him to make plays. Long-time defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau will have a lot of fun using Peppers in different situations.
Buccaneers– Corey Davis WR, Western Michigan
Time to get star wideout Mike Evans some help on the outside. Corey Davis is a big body and a smooth route runner, who can take advantage of the extra attention paid to Evans. Winston will be really happy to see two big receiving options, who can grab the ball at their highest point.
Broncos– Malik McDowell DI, Michigan State
The Broncos won a championship by playing above-elite defense. This year, the losses of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan have made the run defense exposable. McDowell would be an instant impact inside alongside Derek Wolfe, and vault this defense back to the top.
Lions– Dalvin Cook RB, Florida State
The Detroit Lions have not ranked in the top half of the league in rushing yards/gm since 1998. That needs to change. Dalvin Cook is not a finished product, as his ball security and pass protection need work, but between the tackles, Cook will punish defenders, and that will help Matt Stafford and co.
Dolphins– Solomon Thomas DE, Stanford
Injuries really handicapped the Dolphins defense, but this group is on the rise. Free agent acquisition Mario Williams looks to be a cap casualty, and Cameron Wake will be 35 years old when next season begins. Solomon Thomas has tremendous upside, and couple that with his motor, and Dolphin fans will be very pleased to see him wrecking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Giants– Ryan Ramczyk OT, Wisconsin
The Giants should be looking to move Ereck Flowers inside, as he has been dreadful protecting Eli Manning’s blindside. Although Ramczyk is not very experienced, he is a very smooth athlete for a big tackle, and he can be the franchise left tackle the Giants have been looking for.
Raiders– Marshon Lattimore CB, Ohio State
The Raiders have a bright future on offense. Other than Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin though, the defensive talent is lacking. Insert Buckeye cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and he has the potential to become a shutdown cornerback. Lattimore is a fluid athlete, who can stay with his man step for step, and that will help the Raiders defense tremendously.
Texans– Dan Feeney OG, Indiana
The Texans need to beef up their interior on both sides of the ball. The guard play on the offensive line was not good, and it led to Lamar Miller to struggle running the ball inside. Dan Feeney can shore up some pass protection issues, but he is a dominant run blocker. Lamar Miller will surely be glad to see him in front of him.
Seahawks– Garrett Bolles OT, Utah
The Seahawks offensive line, save for center Justin Britt, is a mess. While Bolles is not a ‘difference maker’, he is a solid offensive tackle who can be a building block for the future. The Seahawks will need a lot more than Bolles, but this is a start.
Chiefs– Christian McCaffrey RB, Stanford
Jamaal Charles’ future is in doubt, and Spencer Ware is not the complete back that Andy Reid covets. Christian McCaffrey is a complete, and versatile back who can carry a running game, and be the main focus of Reid’s offense.
Cowboys– Cordrea Tankersly CB, Clemson
The Cowboys have two very good starting safeties, and cornerback Morris Claiborne finally showed that he may not be a bust. The secondary could use more talent though, and Tankersly excels in man to man coverage. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves to mix it up with his front seven, and having a dominant secondary allows you to do a lot with your front seven.
Packers– Taco Charlton EDGE, Michigan
With Julius Peppers turning 37 before the 2017 NFL season begins, and Nick Perry set to hit the open market, Taco Charlton can produce from Day 1. Charlton is a solid all-around edge defender, who can both rush the passer and defend the run well.
Steelers– Zach Cunningham LB, Vanderbilt
Lawrence Timmons has not played well this year, and it may be time to look for a new running mate for Ryan Shazier. Although Cunningham may not be as big as many teams would like, he plays great in space and is a very solid tackler.
Falcons– Chris Wormley DI, Michigan
The Falcons are starting to build a defense, with young players like Vic Beasley and Deion Jones headlining it. The Falcons main struggle on defense though, is against the run. Wormley is a big, versatile defender who can rush the passer and defend the run, something the Falcons will really like from the big guy.
Patriots– Carl Lawson EDGE, Auburn
The Patriots defense is not loaded with talent, but Bill Belichick is a master at working the system. Pair Carl Lawson with emerging defensive end Trey Flowers, and the pass rush will help out the inconsistent secondary.