Okay so I know it's waaaay too early, especially with the Combine moved back this year but we are now well and truly in Mock Draft season. I know Bandit likes to do just one right before the draft. I will generally have 3 goes.... 1 pre-FA, 1 post-FA and one in draft week. So here is version 1.
I also normally like to try and mock a couple of trades in but as discussed in Astro's thread I am struggling this year to find ones that make sense. So this is a status quo mock. As ever, I always welcome comments.
1 Browns - Myles Garrett Defensive End Texas A&M
Much is made of the Browns' decision to move down last year. What it tells me is they are not going to reach on a Quarterback they don't absolutely believe in. What they didn't do last year was add elite talent. Garrett is potentially elite and if they are not going Quarterback then the Browns should stand pat and pick him.
2 49ers - Mitch Trubisky Quarterback University of North Carolina
Kyle Shanahan may well yet swing a trade for a Quarterback he knows or maybe wait and see what becomes of Jay Cutler who his dad drafted in Denver. If he doesn't, however, then he will pick a guy at this spot who he believes can run his play action and screen heavy version of the west coast offense. Trubisky may not quite have the arm you would hope for but he is otherwise a good fit.
3 Bears - DeShaun Watson Quarterback Clemson
Of the three Quarterback needy teams sitting at the top of this draft the Bears are the ones probably under the most pressure to "win now." It is year 3 for John Fox and he needs to demonstrate this team is headed the right way. Most people expect Jay Cutler to be released and I can't see him letting his future ride on Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley. They might prefer DeShone Kizer's upside but I can see the Bears going with Watson's superior production at the college level.
4 Jaguars - Rueben Foster Linebacker Alabama
As night follows day the Jaguars draft in the top 5 of the NFL draft year on year. This is the prime candidate for a trade back, especially if a team wants to jump up above the Titans who might be interested in one of the top two receivers. The Jags biggest obvious need is on the offensive line but there is no solution there worth a top 10, let alone top 5, pick and therefore they could look to upgrade at linebacker after Myles Jack's hugely disappointing rookie campaign compounded fears that injury may have robbed him of the playmaking ability he demonstrated in college.
5 Titans - Mike Williams Wide Receiver Clemson
The Tennesse Titans are slowly building a very fine football team. They have spent a number of recent high picks fixing up their offensive line and finding a Quarterback. They have been successful finding pieces in free agency and later rounds to improve their defense.... now they need to give Marcus Mariota a bona fide #1 receiver. Clemson's Mike Williams is not the best receiver on my board and I do have some legitimate questions about his hands but his contested catch ability and his clutch performance in the National Championship Game may well make him a top 5 pick.
6 Jets - Marshon Lattimore Cornerback Ohio State
If Trubisky is still on the board when the Jets pick then this is where his "slide" will end. If he is not the Jets could reach for Kizer given their desperation at the position, or they could do something to address a secondary that has big holes and an ageing star. Safety is in play but with Revis willing to move inside corner becomes a bigger need. Lattimore is the best fit in a man system like the one the Jets run.
7 Chargers - Malik Hooker Safety Ohio State
This is another team with multiple holes. They could go with a #1 receiver for Philip Rivers, they could add Jonathan Allen to defensive rookie of the year Joey Bosa on the defensive line or they could add a playmaker to their secondary. Malik Hooker would immediately become their best defensive back.
8 Panthers - Derek Barnett Defensive End Tennessee
Carolina struggled last year because it couldn't establish a consistent run game putting more on Cam Newton's plate. Leonard Fournette is in play as a result at this spot but the Panthers need to upgrade their pass rush more urgently. I think Barnett is the 2nd best natural pass rusher in the draft and would be an interesting top 10 selection.
9 Bengals - Corey Davis Wide Receiver Western Michigan
Cincinnati has spent a lot of first rounders on defensive backs in recent years and their offense without AJ Green for half of the 2016 seasons suddenly looked light on playmakers. Corey Davis is the smoothest all round receiver in this class and would give the Bengals an outstanding 1-2 punch.
10 Bills - Jamal Adams Safety LSU
I can't imagine this is the ideal board for the Bills at #10 and a trade back shouldn't be ruled out. But Buffalo does have a major need at safety with Corey Graham ageing, Aaron Williams considering an injury related retirement and a totally bare cupboard behind those two.
11 Saints - Sidney Jones Cornerback - Washington
Another top 12 pick for the Saints following another non-playoff season. They have finally worked a lot of bad contracts off their salary cap though and might want to load up for one last run with Drew Brees at Quarterback. If that is their plan they need better play out of their secondary. Sidney Jones is a day 1 starter at corner and a massive upgrade.
12 Browns - DeShone Kizer Quarterback Notre Dame
So here is where things could get interesting. The Browns are back on the clock and with a desperate need to find a Quarterback. They could yet swing a trade for one but if they don't then a reach for DeShone Kizer who showed little progression in 2016 for Notre Dame just feels very Brownsy.
13 Cardinals - Jonathan Allen Defensive Tackle Alabama
Finally Allen is off the board. The Cardinals have greater needs in multiple spots than defensive line but this is a clear best player available situation and in a division where you have to get past Seattle loading up at defensive line to go against the weakness of their team on the offensive line is a sound strategy.
14 Colts - Soloman Thomas Defensive End Stanford
The Colts could go anywhere but Quarterback, so poor was the roster building attempt by now former GM Ryan Grigson. Thomas is the best player on the board and a versatile piece who would be an upgrade right across this defensive line.
15 Eagles - Marlon Humphrey Cornerback Alabama
Ledois McKelvin was a starting corner for this team last year and he had been released. Jim Schwartz's scheme focuses on pressure up front that makes things easier for corners. Humphrey is better playing zone than man but he has a good NFL skill set.
16 Ravens - Tim Williams Outside Linebacker Alabama
I think the Ravens simply have to find an edge rusher. They finished 7th in total defense and 9th in points per game in 2016 but only 26th in sacks. Terrell Suggs was their sack leader with 8 but he can't go on for much longer. Williams had 19.5 sacks over the last two years for the Crimson Tide and is a good fit as a pass rushing OLB for Baltimore given his experience in Nick Saban's 3-4 scheme.
17 Redskins - Budda Baker Safety Washington
Will Blackmon, Donte Whitner and DeAngelo Hall have all had their moments as starting safeties in the NFL. But they are all now the wrong side of 30 and the Redskins may well decide to take advantage of the strongest safety draft in years to address the position.
18 Titans - Zach Cunningham Linebacker Vanderbilt
Having gone offense with their first 1st round pick the Titans come back to snag an athletic "do it all" linebacker. This is exactly the kind of player that Dick Lebeau loves to get creative with.
19 Buccaneers - David Njoku Tight End Miami
A shock at pick 19 as the first Tight End comes off the board and it is not OJ Howard. Njoku isn't as rounded a prospect as Howard but he is a more dynamic pass catcher and runner after the catch and Tampa needs to keep giving Jameis Winston weapons.
20 Broncos - Dalvin Cook Running Back Florida State
No sooner as the first Tight End goes the first running back follows. A lot of people have Cook and Leonard Fournette going sooner than this but I think every team ahead has bigger needs. The Broncos are going to roll with Siemian and/or Lynch at Quarterback so they are going to need to be able to pound the rock and stay ahead of the sticks. Cook's ability as a receiver out of the backfield jumps him ahead of Fournette as a scheme fit for Mike McCoy's offense.
21 Lions - Malick McDowell Defensive Tackle Michigan State
The Lions stay local to take Detroit native and Michigan State prospect McDowell off the board. Detroit has lacked interior penetration since Suh followed the money to Miami and McDowell can give them some of what they miss. He may end up as an end against the run but he will play inside on obvious passing downs and the centres and guards he faces will know about it.
22 Dolphins - Forrest Lamp Guard Western Kentucky
Finally an offensive lineman is selected and Lamp will be expected to replace Brandon Albert. That might mean staying at Tackle where he shone for Western Kentucky or, more likely, allowing last year's 1st round pick Laremy Tunsil to slide outside with Lamp slotting in at left guard. The Dolphins identity last year was the hard running of Jay Ajayi and this pick is intended to accentuate that strength.
23 Giants - Leonard Fournette Running Back LSU
The Giants have a veteran Franchise Quarterback, they have playmaking receivers (even if they are adverse to wearing shirts), they have a resurgent defense.... their offensive line and running game are the missing pieces. When the o-line choices are not great Fournette might just be too good to pass up because he is the kind of back who can make yards even when plays are not blocked well. He has a bit of Marshawn Lynch in him.
24 Raiders - OJ Howard Tight End Alabama
The conventional wisdom is that the Raiders need to address their defense but they don't have a legitimate #1 Tight End either. Howard is not a desperate need but he is the best player available at this point and you can never have too many weapons with an ascendant young Quarterback like Derek Carr.
25 Texans - Pat Mahomes Quarterback Tennessee Tech
Brock Osweiler was the worst free agency mistake any team has made since Albert Haynesworth. Whoever watched his Denver tape and thought he was an $18m a year Quarterback should be fired. But his contract restricts Houston from going the free agency route again to fix the mistake. Therefore they could take a shot on Mahomes who has great physical gifts but some pretty obvious flaws. It's a reach but you have to get a Quarterback when you don't have one... and Houston definitely does not have one.
26 Seahawks - Cam Robinson Offensive Tackle Alabama
I am not high on this offensive line class and Robinson does not absolutely convince me as a bookend tackle. However, Seattle's line is such a mess at every position other than whichever one Justin Britt lines up at that even if Robinson ends up a good right tackle or guard it will be seen as a successful pick.
27 Chiefs - John Ross Wide Receiver - Washington
The Chiefs need more playmakers and John Ross is the kind of YAC receiver that they love to utilise in this offense. He is pretty much BPA at this stage and fits their need pretty well.
28 Cowboys Taco Charlton Defensive End Michigan
One thing Dallas has become pretty good at is sticking to its board. They have failed to unearth a real number 1 pass rusher and in this mock Taco Charlton (9.5 sacks in 2016) is still sitting there. They could also have some interest in his Michigan Wolverine teammate Jabrill Peppers but positional need makes me think Charlton is a more likely pick.
29 Packers - Takkarist McKinley Outside Linebacker - UCLA
The Packers desperately need help on the defensive side of the ball. With Julius Peppers on his last legs Clay Matthews is the only semblance of pass rush they have. If any of the top pass rushers make it this far Green Bay will pounce and in this scenario McKinley is the obvious pick as a 3-4 OLB.
30 Steelers - Hassan Reddick - Linebacker - Temple
The Steelers have a desperate need for playmakers at their linebacking spots. They have 3 free agents at those spots in James Harrison, Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons. I am not sure yet whether Reddick ends up inside or outside at the next level but I don't think it matters for Pittsburgh - they need help in both spots.
31 Falcons - Caleb Brantley - Defensive Tackle Florida
Thomas Dimitroff's clever re-stocking of his offensive line and receiver corps in free agency will allow Dan Quinn to keep using the draft to build this defense in the image of Seattle. In 2015 he got his pass rusher, last year he found his play making safety and speedy linebacker but what he is still missing is an interior force to push the pocket. Brantley fits the bill and becomes Atlanta's Michael Bennett.
32 Patriots - Ryan Ramczyk - Tackle Wisconsin
As ever New England are a candidate to trade back out of this pick (and if Pat Mahomes or DeShone Kizer is still on the board I feel there will be takers) but in this scenario they make a pick and with right tackle Sebastien Vollmer a free agent this offseason and starting left tackle Nate Solder an impending free agent next season Wisconsin tackle Ramczyk makes sense as an immediate starter on the right side (where I believe he projects better in the NFL) who they could consider flipping over to the left at some stage.
Edited by GunnerBill, 27 April 2017 - 12:20 PM.