December is here! That means Christmas time, championship games, and the time where the real teams show up to play for real! The draft order didn’t change all that much over the weeks, but the prospects in the first round have moved up and down. Check out who your favorite NFL team should take and where the players will go in the latest NFL Mock Draft.
1. Cleveland Browns- DE/DT Jonathan Allen/Alabama
Allen is the perfect example of what you want as a three tech or five technique in today’s NFL. He’s particularly in a 3-4 defense which Cleveland has the personnel for Shelton as the NT. It also helps that Allen can create some pass rush in the interior also always an bonus from the interior. Guys like JJ Watt, Joey Bosa, and Aaron Donald have merited high draft selections because they can create penetration as a down lineman.
Cleveland can still pick Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett or even Michigan defensive ace Jabril Peppers, but Allen fits a need and a skill set that defense desperately needs. Edge rushers will be there later in the draft. None of the QBs in this draft deserve to be mentioned as top-15 draft picks, so beware!
2. San Francisco 49ers- DE/OLB Myles Garrett/Texas A&M
Garrett might be the most explosive defense of a player that has come out of Texas A&M since Von Miller, and that’s not a lie. I’m not sure if he’s a 3-4 edge or a 4-3 DE with his hand in the dirt. But Garrett could be that type of talent that can bring the 49ers defense to where they were with Patrick Willis, Justin Smith, and Aldon Smith, but he’s just the start of that apparently.
The 49ers can pass on QB. Honestly, Watson, Trubisky, Kaaya, or Kizer are just not good enough. I mock based on talent and value, not based on desperation and blindfolded attempts to sell tickets, most teams (Rams as a fine example) reach at QB to sell tickets. Garrett will help you win football games on day one. That’s what 1st round picks are supposed to do.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars- S/LB Jabril Peppers/Michigan
Peppers is the definition of a “Defensive Weapon,” with that being said the Michigan Wolverines are very fortunate to have him at their disposal. There’s not a position where Peppers can’t play, but he doesn’t have a lot of experience in covering WRs. But with Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Colvin, and Prince Amukamara at CB and Jonathan Cyprien alongside him at S, he can play a role similar to Su’a Cravens in Washington or Deone Bucannon does as a hybrid LB in Arizona.
The Jaguars could utilize the versatility of Peppers, but they do desperately need OT help cause Joeckel hasn’t worked out. Cam Robinson and the other OL are just not worth this pick. They could trade down for a QB hungry team, but that depends on what happens with Jimmy G, Mike Glennon, Tony Romo, and Jay Cutler.
4. Chicago Bears- QB Mitch Trubisky/North Carolina
The Bears have other needs on offense, particularly on the OL and at WR if Alshon Jeffrey walks this offseason. But they’ve left no choice but to draft a QB here if they can’t land Allen, Peppers, or Garrett in the top 3. Unfortunately, this is how it goes in today’s QB-driven NFL. It’s a pathetic excuse of a marketing technique especially when you consider Wilson, Prescott, Brady, Dalton, and Carr were not first rounders and have been very successful.
Trubisky has been efficient in his only season starting after backing up Marquise Williams for two seasons. I just don’t like the idea of a one-year starting QB heading to the NFL, then again it’s not my call. Jimmy Garropolo could be the best case for Chicago at this point.
5. New York Jets- CB Jalen “Teez” Tabor/Florida
The decline of Darrelle Revis this season is prevalent and for the Jets drafting Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner hasn’t worked out because it appears that they’re on their way to being back in the top 5 of the draft. The decline of Ryan Fitzpatrick was almost predictable considering it also happened to him in Buffalo. They should look to land a veteran QB and forget about Bryce Petty, who was injury-prone in college and Hackenberg has yet to see action this season.
Teez, as they call him, played opposite of Vernon Hargreaves and had merited the same praise I gave Hargreaves just one year ago. This is a CB class that is super deep, but this guy is something else, in a division with the Dolphins and Patriots Air-Raid attacks, you need cover guys.
6. Cincinnati Bengals- DT Malik McDowell/Michigan State
The Bengals need a face-lift and starting on defense isn’t a bad way to go. They need a pass rusher and LB, but I don’t think this is a spot for that currently. Malik Hooker is likely returning to school, so I’ll side with the DT Malik McDowell. McDowell would be paired with Geno Atkins and could help that run defense.
McDowell’s injury questions will have to be questioned, but otherwise, he checks out to be what DeForest Buckner was viewed last year. His motor and pass rush ability could be a big boost for the defense.
7. Tennessee Titans (via LA Rams)- CB Sidney Jones/Washington
In my last mock, I had Jones going 13th to the Lions but some things have changed. This Rams pick is a blessing for the average Titans who are truly a playmaker in the secondary and a true #1WR away from contention. Jones has been lights out this season.
There’s always a place in the NFL for ball-hawks like Jones. Bucky Brooks has rated him the top ball-hawk in this class, and with a veteran like Jason McCourty on the other side, that’s a perfect balance.
8. Carolina Panthers- RB Leonard Fournette/LSU
I know they need CB help, but this class is loaded at CB. Although you can make the same case for RB, but there just isn’t a guy like Leonard Fournette out there every year. Fournette is one of the most physically gifted RBs I’ve ever seen. I think considering what Ezekiel Elliot has done this year, it could change the landscape of the RB position and how teams draft that position.
Carolina needs to look in the mirror and realize that Jonathan Stewart can’t stay healthy and save the cap space. Use that space to bring in a veteran DB and draft a CB in round 2, they could OL help, but they have a young OL so maybe they try to groom them.
9. Arizona Cardinals- LB Zach Cunningham/Vanderbilt
Zach Cunningham was a late-1st/early 2nd round guy when the season started along with Jerrad Davis of Florida, both have surpassed Raekwon McMillan and are in the same league as Reuben Foster. I slotted Cunningham here because Arizona tends to go with athletes with upside and their history proves that notion. Cunningham is a beast, reminds of Dont’a Hightower but he’s so much quicker.
Arizona might lose Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald to retirement. If that’s the case, they get huge cap relief but a problem at QB. Expect them to look long and hard at Mason Rudolph, DeShaun Watson, or Patrick Mahomes. Those guys have the Bruce Arians checklist at QB regarding skill set. Maybe they keep them both around, but it’s not looking good right now if they retire.
10. Indianapolis Colts- DE/OLB Derek Barnett/Tennessee
The Colts need an edge rusher, and Barnett could be a high riser when the combine comes around. The Colts OL has youth all over, so we’ll allow those guys to develop. Robert Mathis and Erik Walden are not what they were, but Barnett’s athleticism would be a great asset.
They could go Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey, but I do believe that this pick is the best for them. Barnett can move around the defense and give them an X factor they’ve lacked on defense since the departure of Dwight Freeney. Barnett is one of the most athletic pass-rushers in this draft. He’s been the one consistent performer in their defense this year with Cameron Sutton missing time this year. Barnett does benefit from matchups created on the scheme, but Keith Butler may see that as the perfect match.
11. Green Bay Packers- RB Dalvin Cook/Florida State
They’ve had a ton of injuries, like the Bengals, but the one position they’re a complete joke at is RB. This Packers team makes the 2010 Patriots look like a smashmouth team. Dalvin Cook would alleviate the pressure from Aaron Rodgers and create the big plays they’ve been missing in the offense.
Green Bay could go LB if Nick Perry leaves for free agency or trade back and take a TE like Jake Butt or OJ Howard. Green Bay is in trouble, they need to reevaluate their offense, they look like the Colts. Cook’s playmaking ability can change the gameplan for Aaron Rodgers and that offense.
12. New Orleans Saints- CB Desmond King/Iowa
Desmond King and the Iowa Hawkeyes may not be having the season they were expected to have, but King is their perennial lockdown guy. The Saints may have Delvin Breaux and PJ Williams (injured) but Sterling Moore as you’re third CB is horrible. King can step in and be a playmaker for the Saints lacking a consistent playmaker in the secondary.
Depending on what they do with Vaccaro and Byrd could change this pick to S, but King can provide help on special teams also. Something they’ve lacked since Reggie Bush left a couple of years ago.
13. Cleveland Browns- OT Cam Robinson/Alabama
All the rumors about Joe Thomas being moved could be a reality this offseason, and in perfect transition, they land the best OT in the draft, Cam Robinson. The Browns have been rebuilding steadily despite their 0-12 record. The Browns O-line will be better next year with Bitonio back from injury. Other options could be widespread, but I wouldn’t draft a QB this year if I’m Cleveland, but I’ve already been adamant about that.
Robinson has to address his off-field concerns during the draft process, but I assure you he’s the best OL player in this draft, miles better than Ronnie Stanley who was selected sixth overall last season by the Baltimore Ravens.
14. San Diego Chargers- WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster/USC
Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster is still my number one receiver in this draft class. The two differences between him and Clemson WR Mike Williams is consistency and injuries. The USC WR is part of their resurgence since their tough start to the season. He’s going to reap the rewards of that. He’s the most well-rounded WR in this class.
The Chargers simply can’t have Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams as their two WRs after an injury prone Keenan Allen. You put Smith-Schuster with those TEs and that running game and Rivers could be lethal.
15. Tennessee Titans- WR John Ross/Washington
Kendall Wright never lived up to what they expected. Tajee Sharpe isn’t a true #1, and Rishard Matthews is a veteran who’s bounced around the league. Having a big play WR would be a perfect formula to an offense that has a QB capable of big-play ability. The Titans could go the size-speed guy in Mike Williams, but Ross is simply a better scheme fit at this point.
The Titans could draft TE if they lose Delanie Walker or double dose on defense. But John Ross can be a Randall Cobb type of WR for the Titans, and that could help Sharpe out. They did cut Justin Hunter and traded Dorial Green-Beckham, so a big WR hasn’t fit their scheme in the past.
16. Buffalo Bills- S Jamal Adams/LSU
The Bills get lucky in this mock to land an instinctive safety like Jamal Adams. Adams are being compared to Tyrann Mathieu, the Honey Badger, who also attended LSU. Adams is a little bigger and a lot smoother in technique than many in his position at his age.
For the Bills, replacing Corey Graham and James Inhegibo should be a priority. Rex Ryan has always had solid safeties and could use that in Buffalo for the defense to take the next step. Adams is a player without a true distinct weakness, so this is a player who can wind up in the top 10 as I project.
17. Philadelphia Eagles- CB Marlon Humphrey/Alabama
The Eli Apple of the 2017 NFL Draft, has all the size/speed qualities, has the elite athleticism, but I question his ability with penalties. Apple had the same concerns, and he went 10th overall last year. Humphrey is much tougher than Apple; I’ll give him that. I do believe he can be a safety if CB doesn’t work out.
The Eagles gave up on Eric Rowe, and I’m not certain if Jalen Mills is a CB or a safety, but Humphrey’s ball skills could be the one thing he certainly needs to improve on.
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- WR Mike Williams/Clemson
I’m not big on Mike Williams; I’m not sold that he’s this playmaker that Clemson fan hypes him up to be. But Tampa is losing Vincent Jackson, so they’ll need another threat opposite of Top 10 WR Mike Evans. Williams has the size/speed that you want in a modern day WR, but he’s injury prone.
Williams has shown up in times of need for the Tigers who haven’t played their expectation. I think as a #2 option he can flourish, especially with Jameis Winston running the show with HC Dirk Koetter.
19. Pittsburgh Steelers- LB Reuben Foster/Alabama
This is simply a case of how the draft falls; the Steelers need an ILB with Lawrence Timmons and Jarvis Jones possibly departing. Foster is a pure LB and would be a big help for a Steeler defense looking very mediocre. Dupree hasn’t been the pass rusher they expected when they drafted him.
Foster had led the Bama defense this season, continuing the lineage that started when Saban arrived. I expect Foster to be a first round pick, not for him to fall like Reggie Ragland did a year ago.
20. Denver Broncos- OG Ethan Pocic/LSU
Denver’s OL has been a problem and particularly at RT but there just isn’t an RT worthy of this class. The interior line could also use a boost, so this Pocic selection is more for Denver needing to be reinvigorated after some of the departures they’ve had via trade or free agency.
Pocic has been the anchor for LSU’s interior line for his time at LSU, especially with how LSU’s run game has been as prolific as any in the country. Pocic can play any interior line spot and start as a rookie with effectiveness.
21. Washington Redskins- DT Lowell Lotulelei/Utah
Lowell Lotulelei has a brother that plays for the Carolina Panthers, and this Utah Ute continues to carry the family name very proud. Like his brother he hones true physical skills that’ll easily transfer to the next level. The only thing that hurt his brother Star was the health concerns that were brought to the limelight during the NFL Combine, if that’s not the case, Lowell is easily a 1st round pick!
The ability to stuff the control the line of scrimmage to keep up with the Dallas Cowboys and the emerging Philadelphia Eagles. Lowell, in my opinion, can play 3-tech or 5-tech.
22. Miami Dolphins- DE Carl Lawson/Auburn
The Miami Dolphins have had quite a run, granted it’s against crappy competition. This team will have to deal with the cap issues that Albert and Williams can free up. They’ll need a pass-rusher to replace Vernon and possibly Williams.
Lawson had a lot of injuries last season, but he has bounced back admirably this year and has himself in perfect position to be back in the first round. He could be a perfect fit in Miami’s defense.
23. New York Giants- RB Christian McCaffrey/Stanford
The Giants defense spent good money for them to step up the way they’ve had. The offense hasn’t been what I thought they would be and they’re 8-3. The lack of a run game may be due them in when they play Seattle or Dallas, but the Giants fans could be pumped for Shane Vereen’s return.
The Giants defense will figure it out at LB. McCaffrey can be the X factor they missed at RB with David Wilson’s injury. McCaffrey may just be a full-time back; I’m just not sure about it honestly. But at the 23rd pick with an aging QB, you take risks to get a playmaker, like they did with Odell Beckham Jr.
24. Kansas City Chiefs- WR Corey Davis/Western Michigan
The Chiefs have other needs, but Corey Davis is the kind of WR they’re looking for. Outside of the bursts that Tyreek Hill has given them and Jeremy Maclin, they have nothing of substance at WR. Alex Smith isn’t going to let it fly, but they lack another intermediate passing threat.
Corey Davis is setting records out there, and for him, he deserves being a first round pick. The Chiefs could use his skills to move the chains, which is what Andy Reid is trying to do. This is an offense that can’t convert 3rd and medium very well.
25. Houston Texans- OG Pat Elflein/Ohio State
Pat Elfein and his fellow OSU graduates this year have seen something special in Columbus. They were apart of a special National Championship team that came out of nowhere, they were apart of a team that broke a record of players drafted, and they have another chance to win… That’s a job well done for them, and Elfein was there to see it all. He’s an instant plug-in at OG for almost anybody.
For the Houston Texans, they are getting old on the line and their guard play can be improved, they could use help in the secondary at S, but there isn’t one that merits this pick available with this pick. Having the run game and protecting Brock Osweiler have to be the priority on offense considering the potential they have at WR.
26. Atlanta Falcons- DE/OLB Tim Williams/Alabama
All of the character concerns that I’ve heard about Tim Williams makes me think that NFL teams are trying to make up some more bull crap to have him fall in the draft. Most years the guy who ends up falling proves all the teams that passed on him wrong.
The Falcons did draft Vic Beasley, despite some big performances, hasn’t been a consistent threat as a pass rusher. Williams might be a DE who can be a consistent man off the edge, with Quinn’s time coaching Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, I’m sure he can utilize Williams to the best of his abilities.
27. Baltimore Ravens- CB/KR Adoree Jackson/USC
Adoree Jackson is a shorter and quicker Jabril Peppers. He can offer the same kind of explosiveness that Peppers brings to the table. Jackson is a true CB and has proven as he has this season with Pac-12 honors, which can continue to be a high impact cover man in the NFL.
Jimmy Smith is the only true cover man the Ravens currently have and would be better than 6-5 if they had someone else. Jackson can also return kicks and learn from the best to do it, Devin Hester. Jackson would be a perfect way to get the Ravens back on the draft for drafting after Ronnie Stanley and Breshad Perriman the last two years.
28. Detroit Lions- RB D’onta Foreman/Texas
Foreman declared for the draft in light of the news with Charlie Strong’s firing with the Longhorns. The man is quietly having a season for the ages with over 2,000 rushing yards.
The junior is a perfect power back that the Lions are lacking. Imagine a group of Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, and Foreman in the back field… After paying Matt Stafford all this money, they need to give him the best chance to win. Adding a power back would give them a play action game that they can utilize.
29. Seattle Seahawks- OT Ryan Ramczyk/Wisconsin
Ramczyk is another transfer to Wisconsin that panned out beautifully and crazy enough that he was offered to play Coach Chryst at Pitt. Ramczyk played admirably against LSU in the opening weekend and had held his own against the great competition.
Seattle needs OL help, and even their fans would admit that, especially with Russell Okung departing the last offseason. Ramczyk may not be an LT in the NFL in the perfect sense because he lacks D-1 experience. But at RT, I’m sure he can be a day-one starter.
30. Oakland Raiders- LB Raekwon McMillan/Ohio State
McMillan has been missing tackles at times all season, but its not like his talents can’t ever come to use for anybody. His specialty is in coverage. Just think of him in a way as the definition of a hybrid LB. McMillan has been the leader for Ohio State’s young defense despite being overshadowed by Malik Hooker, Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa, and Marshon Lattimore among others.
The Raiders could go RB, but they could use an LB in coverage to help cover up the holes in this defense. McMillan needs to improve on his tackling on a consistent level, but you can’t deny the fact that they need his skill set.
31. New England Patriots- CB Quincy Wilson/Florida
The New England Patriots made what appears to be a very stupid trade with Jamie Collins. That is unless Kyle Van Noy steps up because Elandon Roberts is kind of garbage. They also will be in a tough spot with Dont’a Hightower, Logan Ryan, Jabaal Sheard, Malcolm Butler, and Duron Harmon.
Wilson is not a name you hear about to often, but he’s getting some hype. Wilson can at the least replace Logan Ryan, placing Cyrus Jones at N.B.: Wilson is only a 1st-year starter after Vernon Hargreaves left for the NFL. I like him more than Humphrey, to be honest.
32. Dallas Cowboys- DE Charles Harris/Missouri
The Cowboys need a pass rusher; they whiffed on Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence has had his troubles also. The Cowboys have been amazing regarding what they’ve put out there, but Cowboy fans have openly admitted they’re not perfect.
Harris was high-praised heading into the season and fell a little bit. Harris is still a 1st-rounder in my book. His pass-rushing ability would be a great asset to Dallas’s young core of Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, and Dak Prescott. Missouri’s had some great history with pass rushers. Maybe Harris can come close to Aldon Smith.