Remember Mock Draft 1.0, right after the 2015 Draft? Then came Mock Draft 2.0 in October 2015. Mock Draft 3.0 was in January 2016, after players declared for the draft. Mock Draft 4.0 came before the Combine and Free Agency. The final Mock Draft will be the Wednesday before the draft.
1. Tennessee Titans – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss. For the first time in months, Joey Bosa dethroned as the top pick by the surest-thing OT in the draft. Still can’t imagine a trade partner emerges, as there’s no QB worth dealing for.
2. Cleveland Browns – Jalen Ramsey, DB, FSU. Pass on a QB. What are better odds – Ramsey is the next Ed Reed, or any of the QBs at the top of this draft have Hall of Fame careers? Give me Ramsey over a project QB in this spot. Hue Jackson won with a 2nd round QB (Dalton), and the guess here is he convinces the analytic-driven front office to do the same.
3. San Diego Chargers – Joey Bosa, Ohio State, DE. The Chargers were 24th in sacks in 2015, and 29th in 2014 and 23rd in 2013. It’s a gift that Joey Bosa, the best pass-rusher in the draft, could fall to them. If the Browns don’t take a QB, and somebody loves one of the projects, the Chargers could trade down.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA. A Sean Lee-Rolando McClain-Jack LB trio is formidable. There are still big holes on the DL, and a lack of a pass rush. A decision between Bosa, Jack and DeForest Buckner wouldn’t be an easy one. Jack’s medical re-check is coming up, and that will determine if he goes in the Top 5 or falls down a bit and becomes a potential steal for someone.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon. No change. Jags coach Gus Bradley left his Seahawks DC job a few years ago to become the Jacksonville boss, and in Seattle, he had a loaded DL. They’re almost there in Jacksonville: The addition of Malik Jackson, plus a healthy Dante Fowler, should help bolster their meek 20th ranking in sacks. But the Jags’ pick could be the 1st major surprise in the draft. Remember: Bortles was a stunner two years ago.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. Too early? Chip Kelly worked magic with Nick Foles in his 1st year and Sam Bradford in his 1st year. Colin Kapernick is more talented at this juncture than either of those guys were when Kelly got them. Why reach for a QB here that is going to be inactive most of the season? Given the way Philly ended, Kelly needs results immediately. OLBs Brooks and Lynch were studs; DEs Dorsey and Dial were closer to duds. Lawson will help take pressure off star NT Ian Williams.
8. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) –Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. Traded Byron Maxwell after his putrid 1st year in Philly, and the position was a need before they shipped him out. Doesn’t feel like 2015 2nd round pick Eric Rowe is ready for a starter’s role (plus he was a “Chip Kelly” pick, and we know how GM Howie Roseman feels about Chip’s guys.). I’m not buying the QB smoke at all, and Chase Daniel knows Pederson’s system, so why draft a QB to wear street clothes? This is a team with major holes. Ezekiel Elliott could be in play here with DeMarco Murray gone.
9. Tampa Bay Bucs – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. Put him next to Gerald McCoy and you have the start of something special on the frontline. Rankins was dominant at Louisville and figures to have an instant impact. The Bucs’ linebackers are strong, and if they can only figure out the secondary …
10. NY Giants – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Go for the glory. Spent lavishly on defense in free agency. Have offensive line problems, which could – and should – be fixed here. But Elliott? He’s not quite Todd Gurley, but I’ve got him considerably ahead of Melvin Gordon.
11. Chicago Bears – Jack Conklin, LT, Michigan State. Going back to Mock Draft 3.0, which had Conklin here. (Kicking myself for falling for the silly Alshon Jeffery rumors.) There’s some Jags in the Bears – Kevin White (WR) didn’t play a down last year; Chicago made a couple savvy defensive moves in free agency (LBs Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman).
12. New Orleans Saints – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson. CB? DL? LB? They need it all. Historically bad defense needs work (though Nick Fairley in FA was a good start). This feels high for Alexander with some thumpers on the market. But getting ahead of the CB run is crucial in a division with Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
13. Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia) – Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State. Potentially got a starting LB and CB (not a number one, obviously) to slide down five spots, which seems like a massive victory. My hunch is they’ll draft a QB in the middle rounds, maybe as early as the 2nd round. In year five, learning a new system, will Ryan Tannehill finally get his team to the playoffs? Apple feels like a reach here. Best on board?
14. Oakland Raiders – William Jackson, CB, Houston. Feel like they’re on the cusp of a big move in the West … but really need to nail this pick. And the problem? In this mock draft, that leaves Jackson, who is a terrific prospect. But Oakland drafted D. J. Hayden from Houston 12th in 2013. He allowed a passer rating of 104.1 to QBs last year. That’s not good.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff, QB, California. First QB off the board is the one most likely to contribute in the near term. I think Goff could beat out Case Keenum. High school in Marin Catholic, star at Berkeley, I’m not saying he’s going to sell tickets, but he’ll slide right in. As opposed to going to, say, Cleveland.
16. Detroit Lions – Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson. There’s an offensive line need, so Taylor Decker of Ohio State should be considered, and it may end up that way. But can you really pass up a relentless QB killer to bookend with Ziggy Ansah (14.5 sacks)? Dodd’s tape from the Alabama game is truly incredible: three sacks, five tackles for losses.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama. The Sanu addition means there’s no need for a WR here, though there are options aplenty. The defense must improve in year two for Dan Quinn, and the front seven is the top priority.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia. GM Ryan Grigson can’t miss on the 1st round pick here, and a pass rushing monster like Floyd should be a hit. (Then again, everyone thought Bjoern Werner would be, too.) With 2+ weeks to the draft, the Colts going defense is one of the few locks in the league.
19. Buffalo Bills – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama. Is there a more perfect Rex Ryan player in the draft?
20. NY Jets – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State. Yes, the Jets replaced retired D’Brickashaw Ferguson with Ryan Clady, but can he be considered reliable? The former 1st round pick has been hampered by injuries the last few years. If the Jets want to have any chance keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick healthy and having to avoid playing Geno Smith, Decker’s a smart play for now and the future.
21. Washington Redskins – Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State. Colossal mistake leaving Lee out of the last mock draft. I’ve apologized to his family. The Redskins need DB help and could use a DT, but their interior linebackers need an upgrade, too. Lee (4.43 40-yard dash) is a heat seeking missile.
22. Houston Texans – Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss. Six months ago, Treadwell was a Top 10 pick. Then, people picked apart his speed and he’s not worthy of being a top pick? Hmmm. (See, Jarvis Landry and Allen Robinson, among others plummeting due to perceived lack of speed via 40 time.) Treadwell would start a WR run late in the 1st. The Christian Hackenberg dream ended when Bill O’Brien signed Brock Osweiler without meeting him.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame. Losing Mike Wallace (2nd on the team in targets with 72) may be addition by subtraction, but he could stretch the field. Fuller would do the same and help Teddy Bridgewater improve on his 14 TDs in 16 games. Diggs and Rudolph are the possession guys. In a draft of slow receivers, Fuller’s the burner (4.32 40).
24. Cincinnati Bengals – Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor. Andy Dalton lost his #2 and #3 receivers, and not upgrading at the position would make life difficult for AJ Green. I’ve got Coleman here narrowly over Josh Doctson of TCU.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama. The Steelers could have won the Super Bowl last year if not to injuries to their best two offensive skill position players. And it never stops for this group – the team’s 2nd most-targeted WR, Martavis Bryant, is looking at a lengthy suspension and was recently in rehab. Heath Miller, who had the 3rd most targets, has retired. Do they go WR/TE here? There’s a major CB need, but none left.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi St. No change. Jason, why is everyone putting Robert Nkemdiche here? Maybe because Pete Carroll took a chance on Frank Clark last year?
27. Green Bay Packers – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor. The ‘hiatus’ of BJ Raji last month was a game-changer. There’s no depth there. It wasn’t addressed in FA. Raji was a freak athlete; so is Billings. In a late 1st round DT run, Billings is no consolation prize.
28. KC Chiefs – Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia. Rapidly-rising DB won’t be a sleeper much longer. Tore his ACL in October and has been off the national radar. Never put too much stock in visits, but at least two teams late in the 1st round have had him in, both with the idea that he’d be there in the 2nd round. He won’t be.
29. Arizona Cardinals – Carson Wentz QB, North Dakota State. I know, I know – every pundit has him Top 5, can’t miss prospect, blah, blah, blah. Teams? I keep hearing project, not ready to contribute for a year or two. Which makes him a perfect candidate to sit behind Carson Palmer for a year or two. Coaches and GMs are getting fired by year two if picks don’t pan out and wins don’t multiply. Homework assignment: Five years after the 2011 draft, where are the GMs and coaches that drafted Locker, Gabbert and Ponder?
30. Carolina Panthers – Josh Doctson, WR, TCU. Had Will Fuller to the Panthers in the last two mock drafts. But what does it mean that Cam Newton carried this team to the Super Bowl without his best WR? Speaking of Benjamin, who had some maturity concerns coming out of FSU, how much weight did he gain while injured? Keep an eye on DT, as young stars Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei are free agents next year.
31. Denver Broncos – Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State. Wrote about this pick in late March. Others have since followed. The Broncos still have time to retract some Kaepernick salary demands. Also, what happens if Paxton Lynch is around at this point? He’s tall, and John Elway likes tall QBs. I don’t have the concerns about Cook that PFF does.
32. New England Patriots – Forfeited due to Deflategate, even though Tom Brady’s punishment was overturned. Go figure.