With free agency dying down and considering team’s have addressed several holes in their roster by signing players on the open market, how is the 1st round of the NFL Draft likely going to shape out?
With 45 days until the NFL Draft, there’s still time for prospects to rise and fall, but we now have a much better idea of what positions’ teams will address early on.
Let’s get to mocking!
1) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
2) San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford
The 49ers are in a position where their pick shapes out the entire 1st round. If they draft a defensive player, the four projected first round quarterbacks all fall to later in the first, whereas if they select a QB, players like Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Allen, Leonard Fournette, and several defensive backs get pushed around and potentially out of the top 10 picks. It’s weird.
For example, if the 49ers selected Mitchell Trubisky, I would project the Jets to take Deshaun Watson, suddenly having two QBs in the top six picks.
In this situation, I have the 49ers selecting a defensive player, causing the QBs to fall.
If anyone’s draft stock has shot through the roof since the college football season ended, it’s Solomon Thomas’. The former Cardinal was used as a versatile defensive lineman at Stanford, playing mostly as a defensive tackle with some snaps outside as an EDGE defender.
Although I believe Thomas is a stronger defensive tackle on tape, his size, 6-2, 273 lbs, and combine results — 4.69 second 40 yard dash, 6.95 second 3 cone drill, and 4.28 20 yard shuttle — all scream “EDGE” translation in the NFL.
Thomas recorded 12 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in two seasons at Stanford. With newly signed Brian Hoyer set to be the starter in San Francisco in 2017 until they can target Kirk Cousins in 2018, the 49ers snag one of the best defensive talents in the draft.
3) Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Bears signed Mike Glennon to be their starting quarterback, eliminating them from drafting a QB in the first round. They also signed former Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara to a one year deal, and former Cardinals cornerback Marcus Cooper to a three year deal.
However, the Bears entered the offseason knowing their secondary needed upgrades. While Amukamara and Cooper have decent résumé’s, neither are long term CB1’s. Therefore, it’d be logical for them to draft the best coverage cornerback in this draft in Marshon Lattimore.
Lattimore is a freak in man coverage, who eliminates an entire side of the football field while covering receivers. With four interceptions and nine defended passes in 2016 with Ohio State, Lattimore is a perfect value pick for the Bears.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
After heavily addressing their defense in signing AJ Bouye, Calais Campbell, and Barry Church in free agency, and also meeting with Dontari Poe Sunday night, it seems as if they won’t target a defensive player with the 4th overall pick (even though they should draft an EDGE rusher). Defensive back is certainly out of the question after signing Bouye and Church.
With all of that, the pick is likely running back, with the dark horse being quarterback. If they draft a running back, I’d bet the pick is Leonard Fournette. Tom Coughlin has always utilized big running backs, such as James Stewart, Fred Taylor, Brandon Jacobs, and Andre Williams, and that helps Fournette’s case over Dalvin Cook’s for the fourth overall pick: Fournette stands at 6-1, 240 lbs, while Cook stands at 5-10, 210 lbs.
Fournette had a great 40 yard dash time, for his size, of 4.51 seconds. He left LSU with 3830 yards and 40 touchdowns.
5) Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
The Titans addressed their secondary in free agency in signing Logan Ryan at cornerback and Johnathan Cyprien (lol) at strong safety. While thy could use a free safety like Malik Hooker here, the Titans need a number one receiver...
...and a number two. And probably a number three. And prob— ok, you get it.
If the Titans want to take the next step, they need to give Marcus Mariota more tools on offense. While he has a great running game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and a great offensive line, he has nobody to throw the ball to. Considering they have the 18th overall pick in their arsenal to draft defensively, they can’t pass up a weapon like Davis here, who finished his college career as the FBS all time leader in receiving yards with 5285 yards. In his senior season, he totaled 1500 yards and 19 touchdowns.
6) New York Jets: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC
The Jets drafted Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd round last year, but he never got to play a down in 2016. The team expressed interest in Jay Cutler, so they clearly view QB as a need. NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright also alluded to the Jets having interest in Mitch Trubisky at the combine:
Take that small tweet for what it’s worth, but Allbright is well informed. The Jets wont advance as a team until they find their QB, and considering they are interested in Trubisky, the pick makes sense.
7) Los Angeles Chargers: Jamal Adams, SS, LSU
The Chargers re-signed Jahleel Addae at safety, but that doesn’t fix their secondary issues at all. He really isn’t that good. They could definitely use an upgrade in the secondary.
Enter Jamal Adams.
Adams has an incredibly high floor for a safety prospect, and offers prototypical size — 6-1, 211 lbs — and ideal traits in coverage and against the run to thrive in the NFL. With five INTs and fourteen defended passes at LSU, the Chargers would significantly upgrade their secondary in drafting Adams.
8) Carolina Panthers: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
After trading Kony Ealy to the Patriots, the Panthers could use another young, big pass rushing defensive end. Jonathan Allen scared some teams and analysts off with his rough combine, but I’m not as worried about his combine as I am impressed with fellow EDGE rusher Solomon Thomas’ combine. Allen would likely play base end opposite of Charles Johnson, and move inside on 3rd downs with Julius Peppers playing 3rd down pass rushing end.
9) Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
The Bengals lost two starters on their offensive line in free agency, but the 9th pick is too high to take an offensive lineman in this year’s mediocre offensive line class.
Andy Dalton and AJ Green struggle to lead the Bengals defense all by themselves in the passing game, and could use a second all-around threat at wide receiver. Williams, the 6-4 receiver fresh off of Clemson’s National Championship, can be just that. He missed most of 2015 due to a neck injury, but fully recovered and went on to grab 98 catches for 1361 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016.
Williams can give the Bengals a huge threat opposite of AJ Green and take Cincinnati’s passing offense to the next level. They can draft a left tackle or guard on Day 2.
10) Buffalo Bills: Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
The Bills need all the secondary help they can get. With this draft being filled with talent at cornerback, they can grab Stephon Gilmore’s replacement in the second or third round, and with the 10th pick, they can pair newly-signed strong safety Micah Hyde with a rangy, ball-hawking free safety in Malik Hooker.
Collecting seven INTs in 2016, Hooker is a ball hawk with ideal size: 6-2, 205 lbs. Drafting Hooker in addition to signing Hyde suddenly makes the Bills’ secondary a little more intimidating to target deep.
11) New Orleans Saints: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
A sleeper pick if you’ve ever seen one.
Drew Brees is one of the best QBs ever, but at 38 he isn’t getting any younger and New Orleans should look into drafting his heir.
That’s where Mahomes comes in. Mahomes has the raw talent to be the best QB in the class with his insane arm strength and accuracy, plus mobility. However, he has some funky mechanical issues with his feet that will take time in adapting in the NFL. He needs to be drafted somewhere that gives him a good enough QB to let him sit for a year or two and learn from, and Drew Brees provides just that.
Fun fact: Brees and Mahomes were the only QBs to throw for 5000+ yards last year in the NFL and NCAA, respectively.
12) Cleveland Browns: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Browns get their QB. After continuing to build their offensive line in extending Joel Bitonio and signing Kevin Zeitler, the Browns need to land their franchise QB, as Cody Kessler isn’t the guy, and they’re likely going to trade or release Brock Osweiller after trading for him to get a 2nd round pick.
Watson is the most pro-ready QB in this draft, and fits Hue Jackson’s mold for a QB standing at 6-2. The narrative that he is careless with the ball is false: Of his 17 interceptions last year, only eight of them were truly his fault on my count (you can watch a Deshaun Watson interception breakdown by Mark Schofield of Inside The Pylon here).
13) Arizona Cardinals: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Cardinals need to add a cornerback opposite of Patrick Peterson, as they don’t seem to have a player who can lock down the second half of the field. Adding a player like Humphrey to a secondary with Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu would give the Cardinals a secondary that QBs would be afraid to throw into.
Humphrey is a physical, speedy cornerback with great size — 6-1, 196 lbs. In my opinion, he’s the best all-around cornerback in this class, and is my “CB1”, but I have Lattimore drafted above him due to Lattimore’s insane coverage skills.
14) Philadelphia Eagles: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
McCaffrey had a stellar combine compared to other running backs, and is definitely being considered a 1st round talent. With Dalvin Cook’s combine killing his stock, I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell to being the third running back drafted.
The Eagles simply need playmakers to take pressure off of Carson Wentz in order for him to progress. McCaffrey is both great at running between the tackles for a smaller, shifty back, and a great receiving back as well. Wentz could use a weapon like McCaffrey to advance as a QB.
15) Indianapolis Colts: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
As I said before, Cook hurt his stock in the Combine. However, tape don’t lie: Cook is an electric running back.
Frank Gore, although playing impressively for his age, isn’t getting any younger at 33, and the Colts could use a speedier, all-around running back like Cook to take pressure off of Andrew Luck, who seemingly is the only hope for the Colts to produce anything on offense as of right now.
Cook, the FSU all-time leader in rushing yards with 4464, and touchdowns with 46, is my favorite RB in this class, and can add much needed balance to the Colts’ offense.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Tim Williams, EDGE, Alabama
After releasing Elvis Dumervil, the Ravens need to add an EDGE rusher opposite of Terrell Suggs, who is past his prime as well.
Tim WIlliams had a very “meh” combine, but is a top-10 talent as an EDGE rusher and is an ideal replacement for Dumervil as a 3-4 OLB. He recorded 20 sacks and 30 tackles for loss in his career at Alabama.
17) Washington: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
McDowell is a disruptor all around on the defensive line. Whether you plug him inside at 3T or as a 5T end, he can create a ton of pressure on the quarterback and fill holes in the run game.
Washington needs an all-around force on their defensive line, and the lean 6-6, 295 lb McDowell can be that guy that Washington can line up everywhere.
18) Tennessee Titans: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
The Titans need to add a middle linebacker as a leader of their defense, and Foster, potentially the best defensive player in this draft behind Myles Garrett, falling to the 18th pick is a steal pick for the Titans.
The 6-1, 229 lb linebacker is the best linebacker prospect to come out since Luke Kuechly. He can drop into coverage and impact the run game from both the MIKE and outside linebacker positions. He totaled 211 tackles, including 23 for loss, in his three year career at Alabama.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
I wanted to give the Bucs John Ross here before free agency to complement Mike Evans, but after signing DeSean Jackson in free agency, I decided to give them another offensive weapon at a bigger position of need, in tight end OJ Howard.
Howard is a dual threat tight end as both a receiver and a blocker, but was mainly used as a blocker at Alabama. He did, however, flash his receiving skills in his four year career, recording 114 catches for 1726 yards and seven touchdowns. Giving Jameis Winston a tight end like Howard to go with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and a Day 2 draft pick at running back suddenly makes the Buccaneers’ offense one that defenses will be scared of.
20) Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos are in desperate need of upgrades across their entire offensive line, and Ramzyck can be the guy for them at left tackle. Standing at 6-6, 314 lbs, Ramczyk is a very technical blocker who’s both physical and athletic, and possesses a very high football IQ and awareness.
21) Detroit Lions: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Lions need to upgrade at several spots on defense, and their pass rush could certainly use a premier guy. Charlton offers that.
Standing at 6-6, 273 lbs, Charlton is a big defensive end who is incredibly quick and powerful off the line of scrimmage. In his career at Michigan, he totaled 19 sacks and 28 tackles for loss.
22) Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
After putting on a show at the Combine, Lamp looks to be a clear cut first round guard. The four year starter at both tackle and guard has drawn comparisons to Zack Martin of the Dallas Cowboys, and considering the Dolphins will move Laremy Tunsil to left tackle from left guard after trading Branden Albert to the Jaguars, he fills the opening at left guard perfectly for Miami.
23) New York Giants: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Giants spent a ton of money in adding to their defense in the 2016 free agency period, but didn’t address their linebackers then and refused to do so during the 2017 free agency as well. They need a play maker in the back half of their front seven with all of the talent they have up front.
Cunningham is an athletic LB who caplay every position and makes plays: In three seasons, he’s recorded 256 tackles, 36 tackles for loss, six sacks, six forced fumbles, and six defended passes.
24) Oakland Raiders: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee
With Latavius Murray on the free agent market, the Raiders need to add a starting running back. While cornerback is also a need, the Raiders current RB1 is Jalen Richard, and while he flashed as a rookie, they need to add a better back.
Kamara is a physical running back who impressed at the Combine, and as NBC Rotoworld writer Josh Norris has noted, Kamara is liked by NFL teams more than he is by draftniks. In two seasons at Tennessee, Kamara had 210 carries for 1294 yards and 16 TDs, as well as catching 74 passes for 683 yards and seven touchdowns.
25) Houston Texans: Deshone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
The Texans shocked the world in trading away Brock Osweiller to the Browns, simply to get his salary off of the payroll. Although they’re considered one of the favorites in the race for Tony Romo, I’d think Romo will want to play somewhere were he has a chance to win a Super Bowl, and Denver offers that more than Houston does.
In that case, Houston takes Kizer, the two year starter out of Notre Dame. He has some mechanical inconsistencies with his release and had an up and down 2016 season, but brings a high ceiling into the NFL with his ability to throw the deep ball and move around in pinches. He threw for 47 touchdowns and 5805 yards with a 60.7% completion rate in his two starting seasons at Notre Dame.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Cam Robinson, T, Alabama
The sixth prospect from Alabama to be drafted in the first round, the 6-6, 322 lb Robinson would immediately solidify a side of the Seahawks horrendous offensive line, whether it be at left or right tackle.
Robinson was a three year starter at left tackle for the Crimson Tide.
27) Kansas City Chiefs: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Ohio State certainly seems to be “DBU”, with three former members of their secondary projected to go first round this year on top of Eli Apple being selected in the first round last year.
Conley, who played opposite of Marshon Lattimore, is a long corner who forces receivers to play outside well and is physical in press. He intercepted four passes in 2016 and defended another eight. Kansas City could use a lengthy cornerback opposite of Marcus Peters, and after a poor combine from Quincy Wilson and Teez Tabor, along with Sidney Jones’ Pro Day leg injury, Conley shoots past them into my CB3 spot.
28) Dallas Cowboys: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
I’m not sold on Barnett as a prospect at all, but it’s near impossible to argue that his production in college -- 32 sacks and 52 tackles for loss in three seasons -- isn’t impressive. The Cowboys are in need of a pass rusher as the Randy Gregory experiment isn’t working out due to his off the field issues. In drafting Barnett, the Cowboys get a pure power rusher to play at defensive end to play opposite of Benson Mayowa.
29) Green Bay Packers: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The Packers need help all around if they are to return to the playoffs next year. After releasing CB Sam Shields, losing guard TJ Lang to free agency, and Eddie Lacy still meeting with teams in free agency, the roster certainly has holes.
While I was tempted to give the Packers Dan Feeney to replace Lang, the hole at cornerback was simply too large to not give them a first round talent. White is a playmaker at CB, standing at 5-11, 191 lbs, he intercepted six passes and defended another 34 in his career at LSU. He’s a fluid man coverage corner with nice hip fluidity to make his turns, and one of my favorite CBs in this draft.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers: Hassan Reddick, DE/OLB, Temple
Reddick has shot up draft boards after his impressive combine, where he ran a 4.52 second 40 yard dash and a 7.01 second 3 cone drill. Reddick fits as a 3-4 WILL as a pass rusher rather than true EDGE, can rotate with the nearly 39 year old James Harrison outside.
Reddick recorded 14.5 sacks and 35.5 tackles for loss in his two years as a full time starter for the Owls.
31) Atlanta Falcons: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
Atlanta needs to add another piece or two to their young and growing pass rush in order to continue contending after last year’s Super Bowl loss. Lawson, who battled injuries throughout most of his college career, ended it on a high note with nine sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss in his 2016 season.
Lawson is a very athletic, hand in the dirt rusher that the Falcons can play opposite of wherever Vic Beasley lines up at linebacker, and ultimately thrive in their pass rush.
32) New Orleans Saints: Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut
One of the biggest risers in this draft fills a need for the Saints after they traded Brandin Cooks and a 4th round pick to the Patriots for their 32nd and 3rd round picks. Melifonwu ran a 4.4 second 40 yard dash, jumped 44 inches for his vertical and 141 inches for his broad, all while standing at 6-4, 224 lbs.
Melifonwu is a physical safety all around with incredible size, and fills New Orleans’ hole at safety after the team cut Jarius Byrd.