We are just one week away from Draft Weekend! A reminder to people reading Mock Drafts: It is not all about what I personally think will happen on draft night; the goal is to connect the dots from teams to prospects. It is all about connecting a team’s interest, needs, and personal fits to specific prospects on the Draft Board. Let’s Dive In!
1. Cleveland Browns – Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M
All this noise you are hearing about Trubisky possibly being the #1 pick over Garrett I think is posturing by the Browns. This idea that they really like Trubisky means other teams will likely pull the trigger on him early not wanting the Browns to get him. Remember last year when we heard that they preferred Jared Goff over Carson Wentz, then ended up trading down? Passing on Goff and Wentz last year to go ahead and get Trubisky this year (who is not as good as either one from last year) doesn’t make much logical sense. I think they have other ideas for their quarterback situation at #12 overall or will be ready to pull the trigger on a trade up. You have to take the best player on the board who can be the face of a defense and Garrett is that guy. He is an absolute stud off the edge and can be the cornerstone to help turn the corner for this Browns’ franchise.
2. San Francisco 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
I really think this pick comes down to a few players: Solomon Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, Jonathan Allen, Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker. They have drafted two straight interior defensive linemen in the first round, so you can’t take Jonathan Allen who is similar to Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner. It’s hard to think a cornerback at No. 2 overall, especially since they have top picks in the second and third rounds to grab one in a deep secondary class. Eric Reid is good enough to pass on Malik Hooker. That leaves Jamal Adams and Solomon Thomas for general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan. I think it ends up being Solomon Thomas as they transition to the 4-3 and the connection that Lynch has with Stanford.
3. Chicago Bears – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
I’ve wrestled between Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams for a few weeks here in this spot but I always seem to land on Jamal Adams as the pick here for the Bears. He is a leader in the secondary and can play either safety position. They have brought in plenty of veteran cornerbacks to have options at starting cornerback without taking one at No. 3 overall. Pairing him with fellow versatile safety Quintin Demps will give the Bears opportunities to do more on defense with two capable safeties in coverage.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
I’d be really surprised to see Tom Coughlin go with a running back when his past says he likes to build in the trenches. I think the organization is thinking how to truly evaluate Blake Bortles with a punishing run game. Fournette can provide that in this offense and possibly take the workload and pressure off Blake Bortles.
5. Tennessee Titans – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
I think the Titans will have a tough decision here at No. 5 overall. I think they will get some calls from teams wanting to trade up here to their spot. Their general manager, Jon Robinson, has shown he will make the deal, so I’m not sure how confident I feel about this pick at No. 5 on draft night. I know they have shown a ton of interest in Mike Williams and need a target on the outside for Marcus Mariota but I think they trade down with somebody (like the Browns or Bills) and take Mike Williams at that later spot.
6. New York Jets – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
Personally, I hate this idea for the Jets. The Jets have spent a ton of time with Trubisky and seem to be serious about getting a quarterback in the draft. This seems shocking with Josh McCown signing for $6 million for a season as well as Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg who are recent mid-round picks. This would mean two things: they realize Hackenberg was a big mistake last year and they are ready to move on and Petty didn’t show them enough last season. There are rumors about the quarterback coach and Patrick Mahomes possibly having ties, something to keep an eye on over the next week.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State
Out of the “top tier” prospects left, that the Chargers would have to choose between, Jonathan Allen, O.J. Howard and Malik Hooker are what remain. They just drafted Hunter Henry, who looks like one of the best young tight ends in the league moving forward, though it would be interesting to see a two tight end set of Howard and Henry. This leaves Malik Hooker, who is also a need for the Chargers. They need a ball-hawk in the secondary who can make big plays for their defense. Pairing Hooker with fellow Ohio State alum Joey Bosa would be a deadly combination on defense.
8. Carolina Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
This seems like the best case scenario for the Panthers. They need someone to take the load off of Cam Newton and be more reliable than Jonathan Stewart and they could really transform their offense into an explosive team by adding McCaffrey to the offense. Then they would likely look to add a speed receiver later in the draft to make a more explosive offense for Newton.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Evaluating the Bengals moving into next season, they need talent in the trenches on the offensive side and defensive side. I may have reached for offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk in the last mock draft, but for good reason. This leaves me with the defensive line as their main area of need. Ironically, Jonathan Allen is still on the board and would be a great versatile addition to this defense.
10. Buffalo Bills – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
They need offensive weapons for Tyrod Taylor and the passing attack. Instead of a wide receiver here, they can take the best tight end in the class who can make the offense more complete. I have to think that adding Howard would help keep their running game a top priority, but have a weapon in play-action and in the open field. A dual tight end set of Charles Clay and O.J. Howard could open up the offense more for Sammy Watkins than just adding another wide receiver. There will also be options in the second round for wide receivers to pair with Watkins so there won’t be a need to try and grab one early here.