The Big Lead staff got together to do a mock draft, two weeks out from the real NFL draft starting. Rather than one mind, we combined nine different opinions, and had plenty of internal arguments when someone took a player that another was hoping would fall. Enjoy!
#1 CLEVELAND BROWNS SELECT MYLES GARRETT, DE Texas A&M [by Ty Duffy]
The Browns already have the No. 1 pick. So, they can’t trade three No. 1 picks to draft a quarterback No. 1 overall, find out the quarterback stinks, draft the linebacker they would have taken at a lower pick after finding a recommendation from the GM’s deceased father on a post-it-note, somehow fleece the panicking Jacksonville Jaguars for another Top 10 pick, then bluff a trade one slot down to get their No. 1 picks and get the running back the coach wanted. There is no No. 1 pick caliber quarterback. They have another pick at No. 12. No one made me a trade offer. Go with the hipster chic and hyper-athletic upside on the edge. Garrett it is.
We’ll celebrate at the Fancy Taco Bell, obviously.
#2 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS SELECT SOLOMON THOMAS, DL, Stanford [by Stephen Douglas]
The San Francisco 49ers should definitely swap the No. 2 Overall pick to the New England Patriots in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo. The Patriots could then turn the #2 pick into a player on a cheap contract and multiple 3rd and 4th round picks. Or they should take Solomon Thomas out of Stanford who is #2 in every current mock draft I’ve seen. None of this really matters though – this team is bad and its unlikely this one pick turns them around. Sorry, that’s life!
#3 CHICAGO BEARS SELECT JOHNATHAN ALLEN, DE, Alabama [by Kyle Koster]
The search for a “franchise quarterback” will have to continue, since Mike Glennon appears to be the current “answer.” Allen is the best player on the board, a human highlight film who abused even top-quality offensive lineman. The Bears’ problems are plentiful, so selecting a can’t-miss defensive disrupter feels like the best of all available options.
#4 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS SELECT JAMAL ADAMS, S, LSU [by Jason Lisk]
There is a school of thought that you can’t take a [insert position not a quarterback, offensive tackle, defensive lineman, or cornerback] this highly. The actual history of the draft shows that when teams do go for those less likely positions, it’s because it is usually an elite prospect who was worth it. Seven of the last eight safeties taken in the top 10, for example, made at least one Pro Bowl. It’s also a position that can age quickly, and is valuable to get on the cheaper rookie deal.
Add in that safety is the position that has had the highest number of Pro Bowlers on teams that reach the Super Bowl, and when you think about the top ones that have played for the best teams recently, and the Jaguars can make a big move to make the next step with a young defense by adding a back-end stopper with great athleticism.
#5 TENNESSEE TITANS SELECT MARSHON LATTIMORE, CB, Ohio State [by Bryan Kalbrosky]
The Titans are a shining example of why, if you don’t need a quarterback, it’s always a good idea to trade down. With Marcus Mariota running the ship in Tennesse, the team was able to generate even more value for him in the draft last season — and this one as well.
I’ve seen a mock draft where Lattimore was selected as high as No. 2 overall. So this year, they could be getting a top talent while still adding an elite offensive lineman in the first round with their 2016 selection.
Last season, quarterbacks had a 31.9 rating when targeting his coverage and he allowed just 18 receptions. And as Pro Football Focus noted, the average quarterback rating on just throwing the ball away is 39.6.
It’s safe to say that Lattimore (who committed just two penalties last season) will help a team that desperately needs to improve their secondary.
#6 NEW YORK JETS SELECT MALIK HOOKER, S, Ohio State [by Jason McIntyre]
Is he Ed Reed? Probably not, but he sure played like the Ravens great last year at Ohio State. He’s more of a natural ball hawk than Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor, who is more of a thumper. The Jets need help everywhere on both sides of the football. Also, they’d love to trade down.
#7 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS SELECT MIKE WILLIAMS, WR Clemson [by Ryan Phillips]
Of course I get stuck picking for the Chargers, the franchise that ripped my heart out three months ago. Anyway, the Bolts were looking to add a safety, but with Adams and Hooker off the board, they turn their attention to adding another weapon for Philip Rivers. Keenan Allen is a legit No. 1 receiver when healthy, but he can’t seem to stay on the field. Tyrell Williams looks like an undrafted gem, but adding Mike Williams would give the Chargers insurance if Travis Benjamin and Allen can’t stay healthy. He’s big, fast and has fantastic hands.
#8 CAROLINA PANTHERS SELECT COREY DAVIS, WR, Western Michigan [by Ryan Glasspiegel]
Panthers select Corey Davis, a WR out of Western Michigan — Carolina was led in receiving by tight end Greg Olsen last season. Kelvin Benjamin and Ted Ginn were decent [update: Ginn signed with the Saints this offseason], but Cam Newton could have a bounce-back year with a solid number 1 receiver.
#9 CINCINNATI BENGALS SELECT DEREK BARNETT, DE, Tennessee [by Kyle Koster]
Overshadowed a bit in conference, Barnett will help the Bengals address one of the more confounding problems from last year: the lack of sacks created by the defensive line. He’ll bookend Carlos Dunlap and line up next to Geno Atkins to create, what looks like on paper, to be a formidable unit. Most importantly, he’ll benefit from Atkins and Dunlap getting double-teams, something Michael Johnson was not able to do a year ago.
#10 BUFFALO BILLS SELECT LEONARD FOURNETTE, RB, LSU [by Stephen Douglas]
Hey, the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in nearly two decades so it makes sense that they would draft a big name rookie who plays the same position as their best player.
#11 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS SELECT HAASON REDDICK, LB/DE, Temple [by Michael Shamburger]
The Saints would have probably taken Leonard Fournette because that’s what they do and as a fan of both the Saints and LSU, I would like to see that. They also would have taken Derek Barnett, but since the Bengals already picked him the Saints will take Haason Reddick.
#12 CLEVELAND BROWNS SELECT MITCH TRUBISKY, QB, North Carolina [by Ty Duffy]
Cleveland needs a quarterback. Quarterback is a valuable play here with the potential cost savings for a viable starter under a rookie deal. Trubisky has the height. Trubisky has the arm talent. Trubisky needs the least seasoning. The Browns have a brutal history with starting quarterbacks, but they have to keep trying.
#13 ARIZONA CARDINALS SELECT DeSHAUN WATSON, QB, Clemson [by Ryan Phillips]
Carson Palmer doesn’t have many years left, so it’s time for Arizona to look to its future. Watson doesn’t have the biggest arm and is inconsistent with his accuracy at times, but the guy wins. Sitting for a year behind Palmer and learning the ropes could help him immensely. Given time to develop he could wind up being the best signal-caller in a weak class at the position.
#14 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES SELECT DALVIN COOK, RB, Florida State [by Jason McIntyre]
Tempting to take McCaffrey, but either way, there’s a glaring need at RB. They were only 19th in big play percentage last year, and Darren Sproles is 34 in June. Ryan Mathews is always hurt. Nice offseason haul for Carson Wentz: Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith & Dalvin Cook.
#15 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS SELECT CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY, RB, Stanford [by Jason Lisk]
The Colts should go with defense, it’s a clear need, as is offensive line, though I don’t think it’s worth reaching here. But, this is also a team built around Andrew Luck. Frank Gore is ancient and plugging along at less than 4 yards a carry. and McCaffrey is a dynamic playmaker who can be used as both a runner in a platoon early with Gore in year one, while also being utilized as a receiver and third down back. We’ve seen the impact that having a versatile back who can create matchup nightmares has. The rest of the draft can be for defense.
#16 BALTIMORE RAVENS SELECT REUBEN FOSTER, LB, Alabama [by Ryan Glasspiegel]
The Ravens have a bunch of needs, coming off two consecutive seasons where they didn’t make the playoffs. Foster is a linebacker who can be menacing in the middle, and help reignite the defense.
#17 WASHINGTON REDSKINS SELECT CALEB BRANTLEY, NT, Florida [by Stephen Douglas]
Washington has a quarterback, but in the real draft they’ll probably take a quarterback because [shrugs]. If I were the GM I’d draft an offensive or defensive lineman because they’re actually pretty important in football. So here’s a nose tackle from a big school.
#18 TENNESSEE TITANS SELECT JOHN ROSS, WR, Washington [by Bryan Kalbrosky]
Not only did the Titans have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last season to protect Mariota, but they can add a potentially elite receiver this year.
They couldn’t land Brandin Cooks, though they were interested, so now they’ll look to the draft. So why not go with someone who may remind you of Cooks?
Ross ran the fastest 40-yard dash in the history of the NFL combine and has big-play potential on the field as well. He can also be a serious threat on special teams as a kick returner as well. When he visited the Oregon Ducks before his freshman season in 2012 for an official visit, his host was Mariota.
The star wideout said that Mariota reminded him of himself. According to NFL.com, he has already met with the team. He could play in the slot, on the outside as a vertical threat or even just as a general decoy.
#19 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS SELECT O.J. HOWARD, TE, Alabama [by Ryan Phillips]
Get. Jameis. Winston. More. Weapons. That should be the entire purpose of this draft for the Bucs. O.J. Howard is a human mismatch in pads, as the Bama tight end is 6’6″ and 251 pounds and also ran a 4.51 40. Big, fast, a solid blocker and possessing excellent hands, this guy is a Pro Bowler waiting to happen.
#20 DENVER BRONCOS SELECT GARRETT BOLLES, OT, Utah [by Jason Lisk]
Denver was going to take O.J. Howard here, to address tight end need and get an elite player, but maybe a trade-up will be in order to accomplish that in the real draft.
With Howard out, the clear need is to address the offensive line and add another tackle in the draft. There are several options here, including Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin, but I’ll go with Bolles as the player Denver is most likely to take.
#21 DETROIT LIONS SELECT MARLON HUMPHREY, CB, Alabama [by Kyle Koster]
The Lions front office is thrilled such a high-caliber secondary player is still available at this point. The defense needs an upgrade at many positions, but Humphrey can play opposite Darius Slay and be physical with teams’ larger wide receivers.
#22 MIAMI DOLPHINS SELECT TACO CHARLTON, DE, Michigan [by Michael Shamburger]
The Dolphins considered linebackers Jabrill Peppers from Michigan and Jarrad Davis from Florida, but just signed Lawrence Timmons and gave Kiko Alonso an extension.
#23 NEW YORK GIANTS SELECT KEVIN KING, CB, Washington [by Ryan Glasspiegel]
The Giants are set at receiver. You can never have enough talented defensive backs. The one thing to look out for in this spot is whether they view somebody like DeShone Kizer as a possible heir apparent to Eli Manning a year or two down the road. That said, the Brandon Marshall signing signals a desire to win now, so I think they get someone they plug in on defense right away.
#24 OAKLAND RAIDERS SELECT JOE MIXON, RB, Oklahoma [by Jason McIntyre]
Controversial player for a controversial franchise. The Raiders lost star RB Latavius Murray, and can’t just replace him with Marshawn Lynch, who turns 31 this month. They could ease Mixon into the lineup, and have his fresh legs for the postseason, when a Super Bowl run is possible.
#25 HOUSTON TEXANS SELECT CAM ROBINSON, OT, ALABAMA [by Ty Duffy]
Yes, it would be more interesting for Houston to go quarterback here. They need one. Not sure any of the available options here are that much better than who would be available in the second round. Bill O’Brien needs to win this season. Robinson is healthy can step in immediately on the line and improve Houston’s run blocking.
#26 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS SELECT ADOREE’ JACKSON, CB, USC [by Ryan Phillips]
Pete Carroll loves finding uber-talented reaches he can develop, Adoree’ Jackson is exactly that. Aside from instantly giving Seattle a Pro Bowl return man who could fill-in in special packages on offense, Jackson is arguably the most explosive athlete in this draft class.
Jackson is unpolished as a cornerback, but he’s never really been full-time at the position and he spent his offseasons as a world-class long jumper, not participating in spring football. The Seahawks have enough depth in the secondary to let him hone his skills in the slot and develop into a shutdown corner. It’s a perfect fit.
#27 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS SELECT DESHONE KIZER, QB, Notre Dame [by Jason Lisk]
Kansas City has gone longer than any other franchise without taking a first-round quarterback (1983, Todd Blackledge). That could change this year, with the way this draft is shaping up with both Kizer and Patrick Mahomes potentially being available.
While the Chiefs have a long history of not taking quarterbacks in the draft, they also, more recently, have a history of using early draft picks to plan ahead for needs a year or two down the road. The selection of Chris Jones at defensive tackle last year is the most recent example, as Dontari Poe left in free agency a year later. Well, Alex Smith’s contract is such that this might be his last year in Kansas City. Draft the 21-year-old Kizer, let him sit for a year and work with Reid, and be ready to transition in 2018.
#28 DALLAS COWBOYS SELECT JABRILL PEPPERS, DB, Michigan [by Bryan Kalbrosky]
He played linebacker and was an All-American last season for Michigan, but played out of position. He could play safety for the Cowboys, alongside Byron Jones.
They lost a starting safety as well as both starting cornerbacks. He has a unique skill set with obvious upside, which should excite Jerry Jones. Plus the Cowboys coaching staff values position flex and teams have reportedly even inquired about him playing offense in the NFL.
It feels very much like this team to not only draft the biggest name available but also the best player available as well. They can still get a cornerback or edge-rusher in the next round. Plus, he can blitz and attack the passer as well.
#29 GREEN BAY PACKERS SELECT CHARLES HARRIS, DE, Missouri [by Ryan Glasspiegel]
Harris had a total of 16 sacks the past two season. The Packers, like everyone else on the planet, are always in need of someone who can get to the quarterback.
#30 PITTSBURGH STEELERS SELECT CORDREA TANKERSLEY, CB, Clemson [by Jason McIntyre]
The Steelers are still having nightmares about the playoff loss in New England, when they couldn’t cover anyone. They’ve drafted four cornerbacks in the last two years, and maybe Artie Burns is a keeper. So is Tankersley.
#31 ATLANTA FALCONS SELECT MALIK McDOWELL, DT, Michigan State [by Kyle Koster]
With the wounds of Patriots’ pass-happy second half in the Super Bowl, the Falcons will look to bolster an already-strong defensive line with McDowell, who has all the talent in the world when his attitude is right. Hopefully a veteran-laden team and the likelihood of competing for a crown right away will accelerate the maturation process.
#32 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS TRADE THE PICK TO SEATTLE [by Michael Shamburger]
The Saints would like to trade the 32nd pick, plus a future conditional pick, to the Seattle Seahawks for Richard Sherman. Sherman would instantly improve the defense for a team that needs to win now as Drew Brees reaches the latter stages of his career. Sherman has been rumored to be on the block, and there’s a good chance — with several teams that could use his services — that fireworks happen at the actual draft.
#32 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS SELECT FORREST LAMP, OG, Western Kentucky[by Ryan Phillips]
The best offensive lineman in the draft is still on the board??? Well, not anymore. The Seahawks need to protect Russell Wilson, who isn’t moving like he did as a rookie. With guard Germaine Ifedi likely moving to right tackle and Luke Joeckel added to the mix, another guard seems like the perfect fit. Lamp is big (6’4″ and 310 pounds) and super athletic for his size. He excels in both run and pass blocking and loves punishing defenders at the second level. He’ll fit in perfectly with Seattle’s young, developing offensive line.