Having the NFL Season in full swing is one of the best things every year. It’s very hard to see football leave come early February, but since football never stops for me, a new part of the NFL Season begins….mock draft season! All the predictions of where top college prospects will land continues to excite me more and more. If you have been around me the past few years, I have consistently gotten more enveloped in the NFL Draft process, from watching the senior bowl and every part of the combine to giving much more draft analysis. This year, it will be bumped up a notch. So, without further ado, let’s begin my first mock draft of the season!!!!
(Note: These draft positions are as of Week 10)
Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M
Cleveland will have to ultimately decide how they want to rebuild this franchise. They were smart to trade back and acquire picks in last year’s draft, no matter what people are saying about them and the possibility of having Carson Wentz. Now, they have Jamie Collins to build around should they keep him in free agency. So, where do they go? I don’t fully believe in this quarterback class, so Cleveland would be better adding a cornerstone somewhere else. Myles Garrett is that cornerstone. He is extremely talented off the edge and has the moves to be dominant for a long time.
San Francisco 49ers: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Like I just said, I don’t believe in any quarterback as a surefire starter just yet, but I am not calling the shots. The Niners need a quarterback to get back to competing in the tough NFC West. Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick are not getting the job done. Kizer has the arm and pocket presence to bring the Niners back into contention.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
There are three defensive players at the top of my board that are as solid as I’ve seen in my few years diving deep into the NFL Draft. Jonathan Allen is one of those players. On a defense loaded with NFL talent, Allen still finds a way to stand out. He has an extremely high motor, and he combines that with his strength. But don’t think that’s all he has in his repertoire. He does have the quickness to get around defenders as well. Jacksonville was very hopeful in their defensive line this coming season with Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson, and Yannick Ngakoue. They haven’t generated the kind of pressure they have wanted to, and adding a guy with that kind of interior presence could kick start that line.
Chicago Bears: DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Bears, like the Niners, are stuck with a quarterback with a giant salary just waiting for the contract to expire. Jay Cutler has not delivered on expectations (that’s putting it lightly), and it is time for the Bears to move on. There’s a lot of question surrounding Watson these days, and some people believe he could fall out of the first round. For now, the Bears pounce on a quarterback who can win games with his arm in the pocket and is not afraid to run.
New York Jets: Jabrill Peppers, Everything, Michigan
The Jets can turn a few different ways. We know Matt Forte cannot be their running back forever, and Bilal Powell has shown he can only be a change of pace back. With a lot of depth at running back in this year’s draft, why reach and pass on a guy who could be the best player in the draft. The Jets did this in 2015, taking Leonard Williams when he fell to their spot. Jabrill Peppers, on the other hand, would also fill a need. The Jets secondary has been mediocre at best this season, and Revis has evidently passed his prime. Jabrill Peppers can play multiple spots. If the Jets want him to play safety, he can do that. Want him to lock up a team’s number one receiver? Done. Want him to get snaps at linebacker to cover good tight ends? He can do that too. He also has played snaps at running back for Michigan. He can do it all.
Carolina Panthers: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Throughout the season, we have seen two major weaknesses in Carolina: the tackles and the secondary. Carolina has given up a lot more big plays this season, mostly due to the departure of Josh Norman. Now, Carolina did draft a few corners in the 2016 NFL Draft, and it makes sense to let them develop to see what you have, but why not throw another in the mix to make it competitive? Quincy Wilson has been an excellent cover corner for Florida this season, and could be an instant starter at the next level.
Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
We’ve seen Cincinnati get exposed at the linebacker spot a bunch this season, whether it be playing the run or covering slot receivers and tight ends. Vontaze Burfict is only one guy, and talented as he may be, he’s also been a head case at times. Now, Cincinnati can shore up the middle linebacker spot with Reuben Foster. If you watched the national title game last year, or if you have caught any Alabama football games, you know Foster is a sideline-to-sideline player with very good instincts. He is excellent diagnosing the run and underrated in coverage. He is five times the prospect Ragland was last year.
San Diego Chargers: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
The Chargers don’t have a major issue at offensive tackle, but Joe Barksdale hasn’t been great on the right side and there’s plenty of injury history here. Rivers is still playing at a high level, so why not keep him upright until he’s ready to hang it up? The defense is still solid, and while adding a receiver would make sense, Robinson is the smarter pick. He can play guard like Tunsil is doing this season, and eventually transition to the tackle spot.
Tennessee Titans (from Rams): Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
There aren’t many number one receivers in this draft that I would spend a first rounder on, but if you’re Tennessee and you have two first rounders, it’s a smart idea. The Titans have been mediocre at receiver for a long time, and the collection of twos, threes, and fours they have now won’t be enough for Mariota, no matter how good the running game is. Tajae Sharpe can be a fine number two, and Rishard Matthews is fine in the slot, but it’s time to add a true number one for Mariota. Mike Williams has the makings of a true, physical number one guy.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
It’s hard to see a ton of holes on Tampa Bay, especially with so much young talent developing at nearly every spot. But, there is one hole that is prevalent: the safety spot. The Bucs could use a physical, hard-hitting safety that can patrol the secondary. Enter Jamal Adams, a hard-hitting guy who also tackles very well. With plenty of talent elsewhere, Adams could be the final piece to a finishing puzzle in Tampa.
Indianapolis Colts: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee
Where to begin with the Colts? Well, defense would be a good place to start. It seems like they can’t stop a soul on the ground or through the air. Vontae Davis and D’Qwell Jackson are there only real impact players on that defense. Plus, with Robert Mathis aging, the pass rush needs desperate help. Derek Barnett has done a fine job off the edge for Tennessee. He has a high motor that generates constant pressure, and he’s doing so against excellent competition.
Green Bay Packers: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Packers have struggled this season, and the blame can be placed on every element of this team. The issue with the offense isn’t the passing game anymore, it’s that Green Bay needs a consistent running game. Eddie Lacy doesn’t seem like a priority in free agency, and I don’t think Ty Montgomery and Randall Cobb need a bunch of snaps in the backfield to wear them down. Leonard Fournette is a perfect fit for the Pack. He has power and speed, and can be a three down player from day one.
Buffalo Bills: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The Bills could go a few different places, but their best option might be to get deeper at the cornerback position. They play in a division with Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Jarvis Landry, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker. Ronald Darby is still growing, and Stephon Gilmore is there, but you can’t have enough corners in this passing league. Conley is perfect for playing on the outside.
New Orleans Saints: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Yes, Saints fans, I know. You guys need defensive help, but with the depth at cornerback this draft offers, it’s okay to pass on one at this spot and grab a running back of the future. Dalvin Cook is as good as Fournette, and is a bit better in the passing game, which can help Drew Brees out and add to the plethora of weapons he has on the outside. With Cook, the Saints are marching toward the offense they had five years ago (We all know how good they were).
Pittsburgh Steelers: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Pittsburgh’s front seven seemed like a strength coming into the season, but the pass rush, outside of Cam Hayward, hasn’t been great. Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones haven’t lived up to their potential. It’s time for the Steelers to get younger on the outside, and Tim Williams has the making of an elite pass rusher. He is a great fit in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense and can make instant impact.
Arizona Cardinals: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
It’s time for the Cardinals to start thinking about life after Carson Palmer. Palmer looked great in 2014 and 2015, but 2016 has shown that father time may be catching up to him. All the pieces are in place for the Cardinals to have an explosive offense for a long time. Now, they just need to find the heir apparent to Palmer. Mitch Trubisky has shown great poise, arm talent, and leadership for the Tar Heels this season, and his stock continues to climb. With a running back in David Johnson to lean on, Trubisky has the ability to progress well in Arizona.
Tennessee Titans: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
With two picks in the first round, Tennessee has a big opportunity to improve and continue their progression towards being a perennial contender. The offense looks great with the addition of Mike Williams, and now it’s time to add a top corner to lock down top receivers in the division. Though he is a little smaller than what teams are looking for, Jourdan Lewis makes up for his height with great cover skills and even better ball skills. I implore you to look up his one handed interception against the Badgers earlier this season if you don’t agree.
Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri
The Dolphins looked like their major need on defense was cornerback, but I like the way guys like Xavien Howard and Tony Lippett have played recently. Now, we shift to the defensive line. Cameron Wake and Mario Williams won’t be around forever, so it’s time to look for a young pass rusher who can take the pressure off of Ndamukong Suh. Charles Harris stands out as a defensive end that fits well in the Dolphins’ scheme.
Cleveland Browns (from Eagles): Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Browns do have Joe Haden, one of the premier corners in the league right now, but they have continued to search for another corner who can play opposite him. Now, with how good this cornerback class is, they have that chance. Marlon Humphrey probably sits higher on my board then other draft analysts, but I’m okay with predicting he will be a stud. He covers well, but his best attribute (an attribute that many teams look for now) is his tackling. I see his instinctual play and his great tackling ability and it screams first round talent.
Philadelphia Eagles (from Vikings): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
One of the prospects I have actually gotten to see live, Corey Davis has all the makings of a true number one receiver. He has the hands, the route running, and the ability to get behind defenders. The Eagles desperately need a number one receiver. Jordan Matthews is very good at the role he needs to be for this offense: a slot receiver. Zach Ertz provides enough at the tight end spot. The offensive line can protect rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who looks like he can be the face of the franchise. Now, throw Corey Davis into the mix, with that defense, and the Eagles can be a serious threat.
Washington Redskins: Desmond King, CB, Iowa
Josh Norman has been a great acquisition for the Redskins. Brashaud Breeland, on the other hand, has had serious regression this season. With Washington continuing to get gashed through the air, they need to find another physical corner outside opposite of Norman. Desmond King is the physical presence Iowa could use. He honestly could project as a safety, with the way he tackles and plays the ball. He could play the role that Micah Hyde does in Green Bay.
Denver Broncos: OJ Howard, TE, Alabama
Denver does not need to reach for an offensive lineman in a draft that lacks sufficient first round talent at that position. In this case, why not grab a tight end who can be efficient as a run blocker and as a pass catching threat. Whether Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch is the future at the moment (probably Lynch), having another young weapon alongside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders would open up more for the offense.
New York Giants: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
When you look at the Giants defense, you see excellent production up front on the defensive line, and a vastly improved secondary. Now, with a playmaker-lacking linebacking core, the Giants jump at the chance to acquire Zach Cunningham, a guy who has appeared on boards recently. He does real well as a downhill tackler who can shed blockers. He struggles a little in sideline-to-sideline movement, but can make up for it in instincts.
Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida
The Raiders are excelling this season. The offense has been stellar this season, but the defense, at times, has let up plenty of big plays. It starts with a linebacker being able to run the show and make plays against the run and the pass. Jarrad Davis has been outstanding at Florida the past two seasons. He has exceptional tackling ability and enough speed for today’s NFL. The Raiders need a leader like him on that defense.
Baltimore Ravens: Carl Lawson, EDGE, Auburn
The Ravens need to get younger on the defensive line. Trading Haloti Ngata a couple seasons ago proved they wanted to get younger, but now, it’s time to think about life after Terrell Suggs. It looks like late round pick Matt Judon can be an impact on the line, but adding another pass rusher is key to keep Baltimore’s defense elite. Carl Lawson provides good moves and a high motor to get to the quarterback. In a division with good offenses, reloading their defense can put Baltimore back on top.
Detroit Lions: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
Yes, Haloti Ngata is still playing very well, but he is getting up there in age. A’Shawn Robinson has played well when he’s gotten the chance, but his hybrid nature makes it hard for him to play the middle on Detroit’s defensive line. Malik McDowell can make a huge difference for the Lions. He has great size and strength to plug holes, and is athletic enough to play end as well. He does struggle at times to be low at the point of attack, but his talent is too much to overlook this late in the first round.
Atlanta Falcons: Duwuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
Atlanta has quite a high flying offense, but under Dan Quinn, there’s no reason the defense should be faltering this much. Desmond Trufant and Keanu Neal look like impact players in the secondary, and Deion Jones looks like he is ready to play moneybacker in this pass happy league. Now, it’s time to find some more pass rush to help out Vic Beasley. Duwuane Smoot is an impact player for Illinois both as a run defender and a pass rusher. He is racking up pressures and tackles for loss at Illinois in his senior season. He could be a headache for tackles one-on-one, and could take a lot of pressure off of Beasley.
Houston Texans: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
In line with a loaded secondary class this draft, the Texans are in big need of a safety to make plays on the back end of the defense. Malik Hooker could be exactly what Houston needs. He makes great reads on the ball and has excellent ball skills. He does have that aspect of a playmaking safety in him, but he isn’t afraid to come up and make plays near the line of scrimmage. Houston is one of the better tackling teams in the league, and Hooker would fit in perfectly.
Seattle Seahawks: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
This is an easy pick for Seattle here. Many combinations of offensive linemen this season have proven, for the most part, to be ineffective. Seattle does want to be able to run the ball, but the offensive shift to Russell Wilson as the focus shows how the line has been declining. Whether or not the offense shifts to a pass-first permanently or not, the offensive line needs to protect Russell Wilson. Ryan Ramczyk, coming from what many should call O-LineU, is another big tackle with the ability to play either side of the offensive line.
Kansas City Chiefs: Jalen “Teez” Tabor, CB, Florida
The Chiefs have on of the most complete defenses in the league. So, it seems puzzling that they would draft defense instead of trying to make their offense more explosive. But, Tabor’s talent is too much to pass up here. He was though to be a better prospect than Hargreaves, who was drafted by Tampa this past April, but now he’s fallen out of favor to Quincy Wilson. But, he still has great acceleration and tackling ability. He struggles in man coverage sometimes, but he is a great developmental prospect who can do well alongside Marcus Peters.
New England Patriots: Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida
Last Sunday night against Seattle proved something to us all: the Patriots defensive line is struggling this season. There are plenty of good prospects at this point in the draft to fill the need, and Caleb Brantley provides the Pats with versatility. He can rush the passer from the interior and play the run as a hole plugger and body mover. He could be an immediate impact player on a defensive line searching for answers.
Dallas Cowboys: Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
The Cowboys have done well in their bend-don’t-break defense this season, but eventually, teams are going to take what Dallas gives them and slowly move the ball at will. Dallas needs help up front to get to the quarterback, and Solomon Thomas fits the bill. He has been a force on the interior for Stanford. A true line pusher, Thomas can not only plug holes. He can get to the quarterback and provide serious interior pressure. Tyrone Crawford could use a partner on the inside to make plays and help the Cowboys not rely on the opposing offense to make mistakes.
What do you think of your team’s pick(s)? Comment here or @ me on Twitter (@JSchyvinck13) to talk about your team’s draft. We love discussion!