This is not a mock draft trying to predict who is going where as that is pretty close to impossible, especially this year, but instead a mock draft as to who I would pick if I were in the given team’s shoes. I will not predict any trades, although I would not be shocked to see any, if not all, the picks from 3-5 move after one and two have already been dealt, and who knows what happens from there. So, with all that said, here is who I would select for each team.
1) Los Angeles Rams – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota State – Long term he will be the better quarterback than Goff and he fits what the Rams want to do better. The Rams will run their offense through Todd Gurley, and Wentz has experience turning his back to the defense to run play action and getting his eyes up the field quickly, something Goff does not have experience with.
2) Philadelphia Eagles – Jared Goff – QB – Cal – There is a part of me that really wants to put Ezekiel Elliot here, in fact I am going away from my intro paragraph as if I were the Eagles that is exactly who I would pick, but you give up what they traded for a running back. So the pick has to be the best available QB, which is Goff.
3) San Diego Chargers – Jalen Ramsey – CB/S – Florida State – In my initial version of this I had them selecting Laremy Tunsil, but they have solid tackles in King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale while their secondary needs more help. Ramsey is a difference maker and his positional questions could also make him position versatile, which is a huge plus in today’s NFL.
4) Dallas Cowboys – Joey Bosa – DE – Ohio State – Chances are they go Elliot here, and I will yell at my TV more than Torsten when the Rams take Goff, but the Cowboys need help on the defensive line, especially when it comes to getting at the QB. They must be passing the joint around in every D-line meeting as half the depth chart there is facing drug suspensions, so adding a difference maker is desperately needed.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars – Myles Jack – OLB – UCLA – I don’t have access to his medical records, obviously, so I don’t truly know what kind of risk this is, especially after their first round pick last year missed the whole season due to injury, but Jack could be a huge impact guy for them. Adding him and a healthy Fowler to the Jags defense to go with an offense that is already solid just might be enough to make them real playoff contenders.
6) Baltimore Ravens – DeForest Buckner – DE – Oregon – The Ravens would love to see Ramsey and/or Bosa get to them, but instead here they are left debating between Tunsil and Buckner. In the end, defensive line is a much bigger need and, despite the depth at the position in this draft, Buckner is a better fit. He is a physical specimen who will be able to really disrupt the passing lanes in a really competitive division, Cleveland not included.
7) San Francisco 49ers – Reggie Ragland – MLB – Alabama – This is a spot the draft could go a little nuts if they decide to reach for a QB like Paxton Lynch, but it is time the 49ers get back to what they were when they were successful recently, and that is a very good defensive team. They have been absolutely decimated at linebacker due to retirements, and Ragland can sit in the middle and command the D.
8) Cleveland Browns – Laremy Tunsil – OT – Ole Miss – One thing is certain, the Browns will not make this pick because it might actually turn out well. They have the makings of a decent offensive line, but they need someone to play right tackle this year and take the reigns from Joe Thomas when he finally gets the chance to get out of town. Tunsil is arguably the best player in the draft, and the Browns would have traded back and still got him in this scenario, which is a scenario we all know the Browns will find a way to screw up and redraft Manziel or take Noah Spence or Nkemdiche.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronnie Stanley – OT – Notre Dame – You have your franchise QB in Jameis Winston, you resigned Doug Martin, you have the biggest group of pass catchers in football, protect them. Some have said Stanley is a better prospect than Tunsil, so take him here and focus the rest of the draft on improving the defense.
10) New York Giants – Leonard Floyd – OLB – Georgia – Quick, name a Giants starting linebacker, yeah, I couldn’t do it either. I went back and forth between Darron Lee and Floyd here, but I am hearing a ton about Floyd being a great fit for the Giants, so I will put him here.
11) Chicago Bears – Darron Lee – OLB – Ohio State – I think the Bears really want Floyd to fall to them, but if he goes to the Giants at ten, just pick the guy I was debating there. He has more strength and a thicker body, which will allow him to play at the end of the line when needed, and is a solid linebacker, a win-win for the Bears.
12) New Orleans Saints – Sheldon Rankins – DT – Louisville – I could see the Saints taking a big WR here like Laquon Treadwell and then going all defense the rest of the draft, or they could just focus completely on fixing that terrible defense. Rankins is a big body that can also disrupt the passing game from the interior, which can help the defense as a whole.
13) Miami Dolphins – Ezekiel Elliot – RB – Ohio State – If the Dolphins are able to stay at 13 and still get the guy they want/need, they will be doing backflips in the war room, and I say they get him. They lost Lamar Miller, Jay Ajayi is a good RB but not an every down back, Elliot can be a game changer for them. This is one of the easiest picks I had in the whole first round.
14) Oakland Raiders – William Jackson III – CB – Houston – The Raiders actually have a decent offense but do need a running back. Elliot is off the board and there are not any other first round options at the position, so the focus will shift to the defense. Their secondary needs help and Jackson is the second best player in the secondary in this draft. He is the biggest first round corner and should be able to handle the best receivers in the division.
15) Tennessee Titans – Jack Conklin – OT – Michigan State – While Tunsil and Stanley have the higher upside, many say Conklin is the offensive lineman most ready to step in day one and make a difference. The Titans collected a boat load of draft picks and still get their biggest need by sticking at 15, this is a win for them and now can take their plethora of second round picks to get back into the back end of the first round if a corner they really like slips.
16) Detroit Lions – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson – This is the toughest pick for me thus far as the Lions could go in several different directions. I was tempted to put Taylor Decker here, I was also debating between A’Shawn Robinson and Jarron Reed to line up next to Haloti Ngata and be his eventual replacement, but I like Lawson to line up opposite one of the most underrated pass rusher in the NFL, Ziggy Ansah. There will likely be a solid DT when they come up in the second round but there won’t be many pass rushers left, and that ultimately was the tie breaker for me.
17) Atlanta Falcons – Kamalei Correa – OLB/DE – Boise State – The industry seems to like Darron Lee here, but I have Lee going much earlier. This might be the pick I end up being furthest from true draft position on, but I really like Correa. I was tempted to put Kevin Dodd here, but I see a ton of bust potential there and I think the floor for Correa is higher. He can serve a pair of needs as the Falcons need help at linebacker and also need someone that can get to the QB no team had fewer sacks than them last year, Correa does both.
18) Indianapolis Colts – Taylor Decker – OT – Ohio State – Few teams allow hits on their quarterback with more frequency than the Colts. Few teams have a better young quarterback than the Colts. Therefore the Colts need upgrades at offensive line. Seriously, it is that straight forward.
19) Buffalo Bills – Kevin Dodd – DE – Clemson – The Bills defense was terrible, especially for a Rex Ryan team, and they released Mario Williams while signing nobody of note to replace him. I just recently said Dodd has bust potential, which he does, but he also has big sack number potential. He can start from day one and could make an impact, or he could be like the Bills defense from last year and be MIA, time will tell.
20) New York Jets – Corey Coleman – WR – Baylor – Here is a surprise pick that I unfortunately like for the Jets (I am still a Patriots fan after all). They have Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside, but the NFL is a three or more receiver set league, so an elite speed/slot guy is important. They signed Matt Forte in the offseason, so this would make the Jets one of the more feared offenses on the game, if they have a QB. Many people have Paxton Lynch here, and if he were more ready to produce I might as well, but I still believe they sign Ryan Fitzpatrick and Coleman would help give the Jets one of the most feared group of pass catchers in the league.
21) Washington Redskins – Jarran Reed – DT – Alabama – The Redskins could use a guy to handle the nose and Reed is arguably the best run stuffer in the draft. Karl Joseph would be an interesting pick, and he would be the best safety the team has had since Sean Taylor, and going at #21 would be a cool coincidence, but defensive tackle is the bigger need.
22) Houston Texans – Laquon Treadwell – WR – Ole Miss – The Texans would be thrilled to see this play out. Possibly the best receiver in the draft falling to them all the way at 22 to line up opposite DeAndre Hopkins and be another target for new QB Brock Osweiler. If Treadwell isn’t here in the draft, expect them to go best available WR, Josh Doctson would be a nice consolation prize, but here I have Treadwell falling to them.
23) Minnesota Vikings – Josh Doctson – WR – TCU – Another team in desperate need of a number two wide receiver, and Doctson just might be the guy best suited to have the best rookie year. He can win one-on-one matchups, even making Trevone Boykin look like a good passer at times in college. Stefon Diggs was an absolute steal of a find last year, but Jarius Wright is slated to be their number two receiver right now, and that is no way to help Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings open up a new building.
24) Cincinnati Bengals – Will Fuller – WR – Notre Dame – Say hello to your Wide Receiver run. The Bengals would probably be disappointed if Fuller was the best receiver left when it is their turn to pick and would work the phones to see if anyone wants to come up for a QB so they can move back and get Fuller later, but there are no trades in this mock draft. Fuller is one of the fastest receivers in the draft and the number two and three receivers are guys who couldn’t succeed with Tom Brady as their QB (Brandon LaFell and Brandon Tate). See everything I said about the need opposite Hopkins and Diggs in the previous two picks, and just substitute A.J. Green’s name.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers – Karl Joseph – S – West Virginia – The biggest hitter from the secondary, if not in the draft all together, is Karl Joseph, and doesn’t that just fit the Steelers perfectly? They could really use help at corner and safety, and taking a guy like Vernon Hargreaves or Eli Apple could easily be the decision, but it is hart to pass up a guy like Joseph to a team like the Steelers.
26) Seattle Seahawks – Germain Ifedi – OT – Texas A&M – When it comes to guys that just fit a team’s persona, Robert Nkemdiche is a really tempting pick here, but in the end need comes before juiciness. Much like the Colts, the Seahawks have had trouble protecting their star QB, and they don’t have a stud at any spot on the line. Luckily Ifedi can play multiple positions, and is probably best suited for right tackle or guard, spots that need upgrading.
27) Green Bay Packers – A’Shawn Robinson – DT – With B.J. Raji “retired”, the Packers need someone new to show Aaron Rogers what he’s got along the offensive line (insert annoying “show me what you got Raji” jingle here). Robinson has the potential to go in the top 15, and this is a real need for the Packers all the way at 27, so a steal of a pick for the Pack.
28) Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple – CB – Ohio State – I have the corners really falling in this draft, as there are several who would probably see Apple, Hargreaves, and even Mackensie Alexander already gone here, but I am not most people. Marcus Peters had a fantastic year for the Chiefs last year, adding Apple to the other side would give them a dynamic duo of very young and talented corners that will make Justin Houston and Tamba Hali blitzing off the edge even better, if that is even possible. Paxton Lynch is also a guy I could see them going with as the future replacement to Alex Smith, but the corners falling is too tempting to pass up.
29) Arizona Cardinals – Vernon Hargreaves – CB – Florida – I was really tempted put Noah Spence here to team with Calais Campbell and Chandler Jones giving the Cards a truly scary pass rush, but adding Hargreaves to the secondary can be equally as scary. I have seen Hargreaves ranked in some outlets top ten players in the draft, so adding him opposite Patrick Peterson and giving the Honey Badger even more freedom to do what he does is a scary thought for teams facing an already excellent defense.
30) Carolina Panthers – Artie Burns – CB – Miami – The Panthers were likely going to go corner even before they let Josh Norman go, now they pretty much have to. They might be a candidate to move up to ensure they get the one they want, but have a lot of needs given they were just in the Super Bowl. Burns is a recent riser and a solid corner, but he isn’t a lock down guy. Luckily the Panthers are not a team that plays a ton of one-on-one coverage, so the other corner and safety they draft with their next two picks will certainly help.
31) Denver Broncos – Robert Nkemdiche – DT – Ole Miss – I have been tempted to put Cody Whitehair here to solidify their interior offensive line, and there is an obvious need at QB, but Nkemdiche is the guy for me. The Broncos have an excellent defense, especially on the ends, but they don’t have the guy to hold down the middle of the line, and if there is a team that has the flexibility to take a shot on a guy on that side of the ball it is the Broncos. Nkemdiche is one of the most athletic guys in the entire draft and represents a potential steal for the Broncos.
I am never satisfied with just doing a single round of a mock draft, but I also don’t want to bog this down with round after round of me just projecting guys, so I decided I will highlight some interesting picks I see, starting with the quarterbacks.
Paxton Lynch – QB – Memphis – Cleveland Brown – 32nd overall, 1st pick of the second round.
Christian Hackenberg – QB – Penn State – Chicago Bears – 41st overall, 10th pick of the second round.
Connor Cook – QB – Michigan State – Kansas City Chiefs – 59th overall, 28th pick of the second round.
Dak Prescott – QB – Mississippi State – Denver Broncos – 63rd overall, 32nd pick of the second round.
Brandon Allen – QB – Arkansas – Dallas Cowboys – 67th overall, 4th pick of the third round.
Cardale Jones – QB – Ohio State – San Francisco 49ers – 68th overall, 5th pick of the third round.
Kevin Hogan – QB – Stanford – Buffalo Bills – 117th overall, 19th pick of the fourth round.
Jacoby Brissett – QB – NC State – New York Jets – 118th overall, 20th pick of the fourth round.
Brandon Doughty – QB – Western Kentucky – Arizona Cardinals, 128th overall, 30th pick of the fourth round.
Vernon Adams – QB – Oregon – Seattle Seahawks – 171st overall, 34th pick of the fifth round.
Other position guys I liked where they fell (or at least found interesting in my projections):
Noah Spence – DE – Eastern Kentucky – Tennessee Titans – 33rd overall, 2nd pick of the second round.
Derrick Henry – RB – Alabama – Dallas Cowboys – 34th overall, 3rd pick of the second round.
Ryan Kelly – C – Alabama – Jacksonville Jaguars – 38th overall, 7th pick of the second round.
Emmanuel Ogbah – DE – Oklahoma State – 47th overall, 16th pick of the second round.
Su’a Cravens – OLB – USC – Atlanta Falcons – 50th overall, 19th pick of the second round.
Nick Martin – C – Notre Dame – Washington Redskins – 53rd overall, 20th pick of the second round.
Javon Hargrave – DT – South Carolina State – Cincinnati Bengals – 55th overall, 24th pick of the second round.
Jaylon Smith – OLB – Notre Dame – New England Patriots – 60th overall, 29th pick of the second round.
Kenneth Dixon – RB – Louisiana Tech – New England Patriots – 61st overall, 30th pick of the second round.
Braxton Miller – WR – Ohio State – Philadelphia Eagles – 79th overall, 16th pick of the third round.
Robert Aguayo – PK – Florida State – Buffalo Bills – 80th overall, 17th pick of the third round.
Scooby Wright – MLB – Arizona – Green Bay Packers – 163rd overall, 26th pick of the sixth round.