It’s been a while since I’ve done this but I’ve been keenly watching college football this year and of course I think it’s time to do a mock draft. This might serve as a barometer for where players stand and where teams could look forward to this offseason.
There have been a lot of surprises this NFL season, as well as the college season. There are a few QBs that are well deserving of high praise; this includes Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Mason Rudolph. The RBs and WRs in this class are interesting as well, seeming that the groups aren’t as deep as past years.
We could also see three OTs drafted in the top 15, Trey Adams, Micah Hyatt, and Connor Williams. It’s particular to notice there is teams with major OL needs, but they could also start over of at QB too!
Defensively, there’s a lot of talent! But not as deep of a defensive draft as last season. There are great talents like Minkah Fitzpatrick, Travarus McFadden, Arden Key, Derwin James, Christian Wilkins, and Harold Landry to name a few.
With all that being said, lets get started!
1. Cleveland Browns- QB Josh Rosen/UCLA
The Cleveland Browns are in a very unique situation; they had three 1st round draft picks last year, the Browns also drafted Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer in the second round. Kizer made some serious strides in the preseason but that hasn’t translated in long-term confidence in the young QB.
As noted by Walter Football and others, Kizer would fall to the same fate in this scenario as fellow Golden Domer Jimmy Clausen. Rosen was anointed “The Chosen Rosen” as a HS senior and throughout his time at UCLA. Rosen would be the best QB prospect CLE has had a chance to draft. But they also passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson by trading down. What the direction of the Browns is? There are quite a few guesses towards that.
2. San Francisco 49ers- QB Sam Darnold/USC
Kyle Shanahan hasn’t secured a victory yet as a HC, but he seems to want to change the culture and has done that with the release of Navarro Bowman. This could leave to the departure of other players like Carlos Hyde, Eric Reid, and Joe Staley. The 49ers don’t have a lot of talent, so they should be looking for top-level talent.
As for Darnold, I’m not sure he’s lived up to what he was expected, but I felt this way about Watson after some struggles last season until the playoffs. If USC and Darnold can bounce back, Darnold may just be the perfect top pick.
3. New York Giants- OT Connor Williams/Texas
The New York Giants are freaking disaster, that OL is a train-wreck and it flat out sucks. The Giants also have to figure out what to do with Eli Manning, DRC, and some of the other veterans on the team. I’m also going to go on a limb and say that Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo won’t be in the building when this occurs.
The issue the Giants have at QB is that unless Eli Manning gets traded, they have to absorb a good amount of cap penalties to just cut him. So in this situation, trading down and taking an OT would be the ideal option. But in this mock, I can’t project a trade down, so I’ll give them Connor Williams a top OT.
I wouldn’t put it past the Giants to take Mike McGlinchey though; NY has adoration for Notre Dame.
4. Indianapolis Colts- OLB/DE Arden Key/LSU
The Colts are actually in a good spot despite the lack of talent, they made a shrewd deal for Jacoby Brissett as a backup QB and gave themselves another asset; they also have Andrew Luck as well. They could still trade one of them and build on that. The Colts also could have a coaching search determine their direction.
But if the Colts want to make progress, they need to garner talent, and Arden Key definitely depicts the idea of high-end talent. They used to employ a daunting pass rush of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and this would be a great step to rebuilding that.
5. Oakland Raiders- DT Christian Wilkins/Clemson
The Raiders won’t remain this bad, they’re just having woes because of the new OC. People, including myself, loved the Raiders coming into the season, with 4 straight losses, they need to recoup and stopping the run has been their biggest issue. The Raiders added Bowman and still have to develop Karl Joseph, Gareon Conley, and Eddie Vanderdoos.
Wilkins could be a pass rushing force up the middle that the Raiders could definitely welcome aboard a defense that looks like tissue paper up the middle. If Bowman can return anything like his old form, the Raiders won’t regret passing on Jarad Davis.
6. Los Angeles Chargers- S Derwin James/Florida State
The Chargers have lost some close games just like the Giants, but they’ve made the mistake of fielding a crap team around Phillip Rivers for so long. Despite having some talented guys on both sides of the ball, they can’t seem to put it together.
As far as the draft goes, they could go with Minkah Fitzpatrick but I view him as a CB, and I don’t see them needing CBs with Verrett, King, and Heyward there. James is multi-dimensional and provides a center-fielder type; which could help create turnovers for a LAC defense. The Chargers have needed safety and passed on Malik Hooker why?
7. Chicago Bears- OT Micah Hyatt/Clemson
The Chicago Bears have a young QB in Mitch Trubisky and two RBs in Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard, they need to protect the QB and set the tone in that division of daunted pass rushers. They do need to figure out WR but I think a free agent could be a better solution to this.
Micah Hyatt is a great run blocker, and protected Deshaun Watson at Clemson; he should prove to be a day one starter at either OT spot. The physical style they play with quickly suit the Clemson junior.
8. Cincinnati Bengals- CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick/Alabama
The Bengals started the season out like crap, but the more I see John Ross, Joe Mixon, Carl Lawson, and Jordan Willis sprinkled in, the more I think this team look like faster. The Bengals OL is still young at the OTs and they need to allow some growth there.
With Adam Jones aging and Darqueeze Dennard not performing his draft expectation, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Travarus McFadden are the debate to be had here, and I’ll take Fitzpatrick, he’s better at causing turnovers and in zone coverage.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- OT Mike McGlinchey/Notre Dame
The Buccaneers should be better than they have played, the way they lost the Patriots is the problem they have, and that’s not getting off to a fast start. The Bucs have weapons for Jameis, the defense has talent and despite Lavonte David, they’ve performed admirably.
Tampa Bay needs to protect Jameis Winston, his recent injury is proof that this OL is just not as good as it needs to be for the future. It’s nice to have Marpet and Smith at G and C, but they need a LT and this is the chance to get it. McGlinchey is a guy who returned to school and will be battle tested having already played Harold Landry and will play Bradley Chubb.
10. Dallas Cowboys- LB Malik Jefferson/Texas
The Dallas Cowboys have to deal with the Ezekiel Elliot suspension for the near future and they’ll be able to cope with that. I also think they’re in great position in the future with the draft picks they’ve made in the secondary and the options they have on the DL.
With Anthony Hitchens as a free agent and Sean Lee often injury prone, Jaylon Smith (who has had his struggles) as the lone starter as someone to rely on. Malik Jefferson may seem like a reach here, but then again who saw Hasaan Reddick as top 15 pick last year? Jefferson is a stud, a guy who is ready physically to play in the NFL right now.
11. Baltimore Ravens- QB Mason Rudolph/Oklahoma State
The Ravens have a lot of guys on IR, and the Ravens offense hasn’t posed a single threat all season long. The Ravens are at a crossroads, just like the Giants, Chargers, and the Steelers (considering Roethlisberger might flirt with retirement again). The Ravens don’t need to hire another OC, they don’t need another WR, they need a QB change!
Joe Flacco hasn’t lived up to either contract extension he has signed with the Baltimore Ravens, that 11TD/0 INT playoff run in 2012 is distant memory at this point and is clouding the judgment of Ravens fans who may not want to see the writing on the wall.
Mason Rudolph is a proven leader, and I believe he can be the man in waiting to take over the offense. If anything, this can do what Mahomes did in KC; it provides a blanket for the coaching staff to have in case of struggles or injury.
12. Arizona Cardinals- DT DeRon Payne/Alabama
The Arizona Cardinals have needed a young QB to back up Carson Palmer for an eternity but Mason Rudolph would be the perfect fit, I just don’t think they reach for Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals have a good defense despite losing Calais Campbell to upstart Jacksonville, and I believe they’ll continue to add bodies to that group.
DeRon Payne makes a play every week for Saban’s Crimson Tide defense. It’s an ultra talented group, but he plays in the middle and controls the gap, a useful asset to stop Gurley and the other NFC RBs. Payne’s stock is all over the place but when you have feet like him, NFL teams notice and the value is always there.
13. New York Jets- RB Sequon Barkley/Penn State
THE NEW YORK JETS!!!!! I got to give them a lot of respect, they play with heart, they have some outcasts that are motivated to wreck havoc and they have a team that appears like they won’t completely suck. The Jets do need a long term solution at QB but they might be able to try free agency perhaps or moving back up for one.
Barkley may go in the top 5 or top 10 but in this scenario, the other positions overshadow the RB, as always. Barkley is the most special RB prospect in this draft. He’ll likely have a Leonard Fournette/Ezekiel Elliot type impact as a rookie, the Jets can use that because Bilal Powell can still spell him, Matt Forte is not what he used to be, and Elijah McGuire just hasn’t looked good.
14. Tennessee Titans- DE/OLB Harold Landry/Boston College
The Titans NEED to have Mariota on the field because Matt Cassel is simply pathetic. There’s no plausible reason Matt Cassel should be on an NFL team at this point. With that being said, the Titans offense could use some OL help, but I believe they can add that in the second/third round. With the immortal Dick LeBeau as the DC, he’s been known for his pressure options.
The fact that Harold Landry of Boston College is still on the board is crazy, because outside of Arden Key, I don’t see how Landry isn’t the best edge rusher in the draft. With Key, it’s athleticism and ceiling, with Landry, it’s the first step and his motor. That’s the kind of player LeBeau has had on the edge, whether it’s Orakpo, Vrabel, Porter, Harrison, or Woodley.
15. Cleveland Browns (HOU from Watson Trade)- OT Trey Adams/Washington
The Browns now have a second first round pick another season. Last year, they had three 1st round picks (as previously mentioned), and all three are playing a role on the team currently. In this scenario, I envision the Browns trading LT Joe Thomas in the offseason. This opens up an OT spot in the starting lineup. A Pac 12 OL protecting a Pac 12 QB.
Trey Adams is a guy with a lot of playing experience on the college level. He’s been the anchor for UW’s OL for a couple of years as well. With Zeitler, Bitonio, and now Adams, they’ll have a younger group and perhaps that could give them the ammo to do what Tennessee did with Conklin and Lewan.
16. Detroit Lions– RB Darrius Guice/LSU
The Detroit Lions have a window of opportunity this season with Aaron Rodgers going down and the Vikings having uncertainty under center. The Lions OL has improved a good bit. Wagner and Lang were welcome additions to protect the unpredictable Stafford.
The one thing they’ve lacked in recent years is a run game to help manage a four-minute offense. Theo Reddick and Ameer Abdullah are pass catchers and explosive options. Now they need a guy who can carry the load on the ground.
Guice just busted onto the scene last season in wake of Leonard Fournette’s injuries at LSU, despite the down season, Guice has been good despite the lack of the great OL play LSU had the previous years.
17. Denver Broncos- OT Orlando Brown/Oklahoma
Denver fans have to be happy about Garrett Bolles and the fact the defense has maintained its consistency. They do need stop sipping the Trevor Siemien kool-aid but then again, perhaps any chance an Andrew Luck happens, Denver can do it.
Elway wanted Luck all along until Tim Tebow’s pointless playoff run destroyed that. Even with that, Denver managed to have Siemien and Manning in that stretch.
Denver fans have been angry with the OL and with Manelik Watson at RT, why not draft Orlando Brown? He’s a big dude, the guy has protected Baker Mayfield for three years, and the experience and skills speak for itself.
18. Seattle Seahawks- OT Martinas Rankin/Mississippi State
The Seattle Seahawks defense is still one of the best in the NFL; they’ve stayed consistent with that billing. The problem with Seattle is the lack of good of a good, reliable run game, and protecting QB Russell Wilson. Seattle could look for a veteran solution to solidify that spot left behind by Russell Okung.
But I’m not counting on Seattle to have cap flexibility to make a move for a veteran OL, so enter Martinas Rankin, a OT for Dan Mullen and Bulldogs plays in a spread offense that integrates the run lucratively. He’s also a senior with experience playing in a couple of a different spots on the OL. But with Mullen moving him back to LT, he looks more comfortable there.
19. Washington Redskins- WR Christian Kirk/Texas A&M
The Redskins are going to lose Kirk Cousins; maybe San Fran isn’t the destination… Ok, I’ll admit that I thought about it but Cousins will get maxed out no matter where he ends up, QBs get NBA contracts in the NFL. It’s evident that Terrelle Pryor hasn’t been a great fit for the offense yet, but the Redskins haven’t had the great production at WR at all.
If Cousins resigns, no way they don’t want Calvin Ridley or Christian Kirk. I’m going to have faith in Josh Doctson because I believe in his talent; Crowder and Kirk could get the ball out of Cousins hands quicker. This could make it interesting!
20. Atlanta Falcons- CB Tarvarus McFadden/Florida State
The Atlanta Falcons have looked like the Super Bowl hangover has stricken another team, a team that had a lights out offense last season. The defense for the Falcons has a lot of speed and definitely could use some help in the secondary. Trufant was hurt last year and they managed to get the Super Bowl with Robert Alford and Brian Poole at CB.
Adding a talent like McFadden only helps a defense that needs to continue to add physicality and skill, at 6’2 and around 200lbs, he can cover those bigger WRs like say, Carolina’s Devin Funchess, Tampa’s Mike Evans, and possession WRs like Michael Thomas in New Orleans.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars- OG Quentin Nelson/Notre Dame
When it comes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, there aren’t a lot of pressing needs outside of QB and interior OL, and even interior OL you can argue that they can prolong the issue with the help of that running game. They may also move on from Hurns and Robinson this offseason also.
But with Quentin Nelson they have a day one starting OG who has been battle tested against top competition for three years. Leonard Fournette and whoever lines up under center (Philip River, Eli Manning, Blake Bortles, etc) will greatly appreciate it.
22. Miami Dolphins- OLB Jerome Baker/Ohio State
The Miami Dolphins have the talent on their team to compete. I have ZERO doubts about that! My concern with the Dolphins is consistently showing up week in and week out. The Dolphins defense has shown its strength this season at points, despite Lawrence Timmons magically took off.
Jerome Baker is another LB from Ohio State who plays like a mix of Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan, McMillan who plays at Miami. With McMillan and Kiko Alonso, Baker could be the third man and provide solid depth that the Dolphins haven’t truly had.
23. Buffalo Bills- WR Calvin Ridley/Alabama
I’m not sold Buffalo will maintain this pace because we’ve all seen this before, and they have a few glaring weaknesses all over the field. One of which exists at WR, having given up on Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, both of whom, are with the Rams (in a weird turn of events).
Calvin Ridley was a big time recruit coming into Tuscaloosa and he’s been a consistent target for Coker and Hurts during his time. Hurts obviously isn’t a very polished passer but he’s also halfway thru his sophomore season as well. It hasn’t hurt Ridley enough to not make plays. The Bills need a perimeter target for whoever the QB is that lines up under center, Tyrod Taylor or a rookie.
24. New Orleans Saints- DE Bradley Chubb/NC State
The New Orleans Saints traded Brandin Cooks and hasn’t seemed to lose a step despite losing a big play threat like Cooks. The OL with Warford and Ramczyk has improved their offense enough to protect Brees.
The defense has been much improved. They play with tenacity, toughness, and pure grit. Marshon Lattimore, Vonn Bell, and Marcus Williams are young bloods earning their time as well as Alex Anzalone.
The Saints pass rush is basically Cameron Jordan, and that’s great considering his 50+ sacks since 2012, but adding Bradley Chubb provides another option to chase Newton, Ryan, and Winston. In the NFC South pass rush is never a luxury. It’s purely necessity.
25. Los Angeles Rams- Tyquan Lewis/Ohio State
The Rams shouldn’t be a big surprise, the defense has been legit, Todd Gurley just needed the ball, and Jared Goff needed some confidence in him. All of that has contributed to his success. The Sammy Watkins trade was a gutsy, but rewarding trade. The team needed to open up the offense.
The Ethan Westbrooks arrest a couple of weeks ago opens up a spot along that daunted DL that features Robert Quinn and Aaron Donald. Tyquan Lewis would be an instant plug and play for the Rams, a team looking to take the next step as a franchise to make the playoffs, and end the drought.
One of the remaining pieces from the Ohio State national championship team, Lewis has seen major ups and downs in his time at Columbus, Ohio. Lewis is a veteran presence who has always found ways to get to the QB and stuff the gap.
26. Pittsburgh Steelers- QB Josh Allen/Wyoming
The Pittsburgh Steelers might be able to win the AFC North but they’re screwed long term. Ben Roethlisberger sounds like he’s done, Antonio Brown is acting out again, Le’Veon Bell is a FA, the defense has had its sour moments, and Mike Tomlin seems to be mismanaging certain key situations. Never mind the fact that Martavis Bryant asked for a trade.
All of this is more than a bump in the road. It’s the uprising before the rebellion. If Ben retires, they’ll need a signal caller. Josh Allen would seemingly fall right into their lap, like Big Ben did thirteen years ago. Allen is struggling this year but I can be sure he’ll impress at the Senior Bowl and combine workouts.
27. Green Bay Packers- DE/OLB Dorance Armstrong/Kansas
The Packers will be without QB Aaron Rodgers for the rest of the season, and like Marino in 93, the Dolphins refused to change from Don Shula’s stubborn ways… The Packers lack defensive talent, their defense CAN’T BE RELIED UPON TO WIN A FOOTBALL GAME. It can’t all be on the offense with Brett Hundley at the helm.
Dorrance Armstrong was much better last season, but Kansas is still not a competitive football program, but Armstrong isn’t the reason for their struggles. Clay Matthews can’t be the only pass rushing option with Nick Perry not in the fold.
28. Carolina Panthers- OT/OG Martez Ivey/Florida
The Carolina Panthers have a fun offense based on potential with Curtis Samuel (yet to make an impact) and RB Christian McCaffrey. They have the twin towers at WR with Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. They also have a great interior OL with a need at RT.
Ivey may play OG at Florida but can play OT. He’s a stellar athlete for his size and an instrument of Florida’s success in the run game. Ivey will be a fringe 1st with the uncertainty of whether he’s a OT or OG.
29. Minnesota Vikings- OG Billy Price/Ohio State
I LOVE what Mike Zimmer has done with that defense and all that talent, they’re fierce, tough, and most of all, athletic. That front seven is probably the best in all of football. Minnesota also has S Harrison Smith and CB Xavier Rhodes.
They may want to consider QB, but if they still love Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford, I see no reason for them to make any movement there. They have a good thing there.
The OL is a group of five new guys this season and its been improved, but they do need long term solutions. Enter Billy Price, who played next to Pat Elflein for three years in Columbus. Price can help bring some stability to the OL.
30. New England Patriots- LB Cameron Smith/USC
The New England Patriots fans went into August training camp with dreams of 19-0, repeat SB champs, another 3 out of 4, etc. But now even at 4-2, they seem like they’re not very good. This defense doesn’t have the depth at LB and DE they did last year or 2014. Losing Jamie Collins hurt them more than more than people want to admit.
If you watch USC’s defense you’ll notice DE Rasheem Green and LB Cameron Smith every game. Smith is a guy who can play the middle. I just believe Hightower is too valuable as a pass rusher and in pursuit.
31. Philadelphia Eagles- S Ronnie Harrison/Alabama
The Eagles are on a roll right now, and to think this secondary doesn’t even have Sidney Jones on the field yet! If you’re an Eagles fan, you have the brightest future in the NFL. Wentz/Barnett/Jones/Mills/Cox/Aghelor/Ertz and beyond. They are 5-1 and EDP has to be happy about the way they’re winning games.
Ronnie Harrison is the second member of the Crimson Tide secondary selected here. Harrison can provide the thump in the middle of the defense. Harrison also has two INTs this season, so he can provide turnovers in coverage.
32. Buffalo Bills (From KC via Patrick Mahomes trade)- DT/NT Vita Vea/Washington
The Buffalo Bills have this pick from the Patrick Mahomes trade. They already have Calvin Ridley to pair with Zay Jones and spell Jordan Matthews. If they do decide to hang on to LeSean McCoy, they won’t go for Ronald Jones, Damian Harris, or Royce Freeman later on.
Via Vea is a big man, they have Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus currently but Dareus hasn’t played well since the extension and Williams is aging. Vea can alleviate the blow of losing either one in the long term.