Two-round NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Patriots grab dynamic back in 2nd round
Two-round NFL Mock Draft 4.0
This enough juice for you?
Until recently, many considered this to be one of the duller lead-ups to the NFL Draft. Now, with two blockbuster deals in the last two weeks involving the top two picks, there's a steady buzz around the NFL's annual game of college prospect roulette.
The immediate impact of these deals on the Patriots is slim, but it exists. Not necessarily because it will drastically affect who the Patriots are able to take at picks No. 60 and 61 (if that's where they stay), but because a handful of their 2016 opponents will suddenly have a very different look about them.
The Rams, New England's matchup in Week 13, will in all likelihood have the No. 1 overall pick behind center when they visit Gillette Stadium.
The 49ers, slotted in for the No. 7 pick, may have been hoping to land one of the top two signal-callers this year, but that looks highly unlikely at the moment. Coach Chip Kelly may be forced to trot out Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert when the Patriots visit the Bay Area in Week 11.
The Browns, who traded out of the No. 2 spot and lost their shot at either Carson Wentz or Jared Goff, will now almost certainly rely on Robert Griffin III at quarterback when they host Bill Belichick and his defense.
In terms of how things went for the Patriots, here's how the 4.0 version of this mock broke down: At pick no. 60, the Patriots found a well-rounded back who could help spell either Dion Lewis or LeGarrette Blount. With their next selection, they scooped up a talented defensive lineman and reunited him with one of his former college teammates.
1. Rams: Jared Goff, QB, California
In my opinion, Carson Wentz has the higher ceiling of the two quarterbacks who will be taken at the top of this year's draft. But because the consensus seems to be that Goff is Jeff Fisher's choice, we'll roll with that here.
2. Eagles: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Say what you will about the level of competition he faced in college, but Wentz is more of a physical prototype for the position, and he's more experienced than Goff in terms of making adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
3. Chargers: DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
Arguably the best (and safest) player in this year's draft, the 6-foot-7, 271-pounder is a quick and easy upgrade on the San Diego defensive line. He can play in a variety of schemes and projects as a three-down player. The Chargers could've gone with a tackle here, or a defensive back, but Buckner has the potential to be a disruptive force from Day 1.
4. Cowboys: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Dallas might be better served by going with Jalen Ramsey, but they like what they have in last year's first-round defensive back Byron Jones. If Jack's medicals don't scare them off, the Cowboys just got the ultimate Swiss Army knife 'backer who can both rush and cover.
5. Jaguars: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Is he a safety? Is he a corner? Can he be both in the NFL? That's still up for debate, but he has the athleticism to be an immediate contributor in Gus Bradley's defense and the potential to blossom into a game-changer.
6. Ravens: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
No one was more pleased by the moving and shaking at the top of the draft over the last few weeks than Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. Because two quarterbacks went off the board early, he had the draft's top tackle fall into his lap at No. 6.
7. 49ers: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Once thought to be in the mix to be taken with one of the top four or five picks in the draft, Chip Kelly and Trent Baalke get a bit of a steal here in this high-energy edge defender.
8. Browns: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Cleveland needs a lot of help in a lot of areas, but in Elliott they'll have the most pro-ready offensive player in this year's draft class. That he'll make Robert Griffin III's life easier is no small benefit.
9. Buccaneers: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Brent Grimes still has something left to give Tampa Bay, but he can't be the only solution at corner for Dirk Koetter's squad. Hargreaves is perhaps the most technically sound corner in the draft.
10. Giants: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
No many how many permutations of this mock draft we slap together, Stanley ends up with the Giants. The fit makes too much sense for the Giants to go elsewhere, particularly if Tunsil, Elliott are off the board.
11. Bears: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
John Fox would love to add an athletic pass-rusher to his front seven and Floyd appears to have the highest ceiling among those remaining. He may be too thin to dominate at the line of scrimmage, but his traits are such that if used in the right way, he should be able to impact games in a variety of ways.
12. Saints: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
The Saints need help on the defensive side of the football and lots of it. Rankins would provide them with an effective interior pass-rusher who can play on all three downs.
13. Dolphins: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
As soon as Elliott landed with the Browns, Miami's plans to grab the potential Offensive Rookie of the Year were dashed. Instead they focus on the cornerback spot and get a fluid athlete with excellent ball skills.
14. Raiders: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Need someone to play on the second level of your defense and terrorize opposing running backs? Need someone who can get after the passer? Ragland can do both if asked and will be a steady presence in the middle of the Raiders defense.
15. Titans: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Well this really couldn't have worked out any better for Titans GM Jon Robinson. By trading out of No. 1, he missed his chance to draft Laremy Tunsil, but he still ended up with one of the best three tackles in the class and a boatload of picks.
16. Lions: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
The Buckeyes tackle gives Detroit length and toughness to help protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. That he's played in a three-point stance gives him a bit of a leg up on the spread system tackles who have not.
17. Falcons: Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State
For the second time in this mock, Buckeyes go back-to-back. If two more go in the first round, they'll tie Miami's record from 2004 when the Hurricanes had six first-rounders taken. Lee gives coach Dan Quinn the modern-day hybrid outside linebacker who can cover ground like a safety but still lay the lumber near the line of scrimmage when asked.
18. Colts: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Indy being Indy, they may just decide to go with the fastest receiver in the draft to give Andrew Luck another option deep down the field. (Will Fuller from Notre Dame fits that profile.) But here they get a heavy-handed edge-setter who can rattle opposing quarterbacks.
19. Bills: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
If Spence is as set on becoming a solid pro as he says he is, Rex Ryan and Co. may be willing to overlook his off-the-field red flags and stick him on the edge as their Mario Williams replacement.
20. Jets: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Because Ryan Fitzpatrick doesn't commit to the Jets before they're on the clock, they've opted to lock up this 6-foot-7 slinger. He won't be ready to start right away, but if he can get a year in behind an experienced veteran -- Brian Hoyer, perhaps? -- he could be good to go by 2017.
21. Redskins: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Washington gets the beef it needs in the middle of its defense with the Crimson Tide's middle-of-the-line run-stuffer. Reed's teammate A'Shawn Robinson was an option here, but Reed's consistency on tape makes him the pick here.
22. Texans: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Drawing comparisons to Ravens wideout (and former Panther) Steve Smith for his explosive skill set, Coleman could be the perfect complement to the outside threat the team already possesses in DeAndre Hopkins.
23: Vikings: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
He'll have a chip on his shoulder because he wasn't the first wideout taken. Even though he wasn't the fastest receiver in this class, his steady hands and body control will make him one of Teddy Bridgewater's favorite targets immediately.
24. Bengals: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
After losing Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu to free agency, the Bengals have given Andy Dalton a pair of replacements in Brandon LaFell and Doctson. With an affinity for acrobatic catches, Doctson could end up being the most productive receiver in the class.
25. Steelers: Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
With the feet to shadow receivers in man coverage and the confidence to come in and contribute immediately, Alexander makes perfect sense for a cornerback-needy club like the Steelers. Once fans get over the fact he never made an interception in college, they'll embrace his I'm-better-than-you attitude.
26. Seahawks: Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss
There are plenty of talented players left on the board, but perhaps none as physically gifted as Nkemdiche. His production in college and his character concerns should be enough to force him into the second round, but Seattle is willing to take a gamble late in the first.
27. Packers: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
He won't eat up space in the middle the way that BJ Raji (on a one-year hiatus) did when he was at his best, but Robinson moves his massive frame with ease and could become a devastating interior pass-rusher at the next level with the right coaching.
28. Chiefs: Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Though he doesn't have the extensive amount of top-end production that his teammate Lawson put together for the Tigers, Dodd stepped up in a big way when the bright lights came on at the end of Clemson's run at a National Championship. Should he continue that progress as a pro, he'll be a nice injection of youth on the edge for a team that is dealing with an aging Tamba Hali and an injured Justin Houston.
29. Cardinals: Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
Arizona rushes this selection to the podium on draft night, filling on of their few team needs with the best center in the draft. The matchup between the Patriots and Cardinals in Week 1 this season is shaping up to be one between a pair of rosters without many obvious weaknesses.
30: Panthers: Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
The Buckeyes won't get the first-rounder record this year, but they will send their long, rangy corner to Carolina as their fifth No. 1 pick of the year. No pressure on Apple in Year 1, right? Sure... Now that Josh Norman has moved on, Apple could be counted on to shoulder a daunting workload as a rookie.
31. Denver Broncos: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Since it looks like Colin Kaepernick isn't going to be playing anywhere other than San Francisco, John Elway decides he needs to do something to bolster his quarterback group. Cook can get the football down the field and he'll challenge Mark Sanchez for starter's snaps sooner rather than later.
32. Browns: Mike Thomas, WR, Ohio State
Receivers Will Fuller and Sterling Shepard are still on the board at this point, but when considered alongside those two, Thomas has the best chance to develop into a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
33. Titans: Shilique Calhoun, OLB, Michigan State
As the Titans rebuild, they know they have to fill their cornerstone positions. Now with young potential stars-in-the-making at quarterback, tackle and -- with Calhoun -- pass-rusher, they're on their way.
34. Cowboys: Artie Burns, CB, Miami
If Burns can clean up his technique, he has all the physical traits -- the speed, the length, the hands -- to become a successful ball-hawking corner.
35. Chargers: Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
Just two picks in, and San Diego general manager Tom Telesco's weekend has already been made. In Buckner he has arguably the best defensive lineman in the draft. With Joseph -- who is coming off a knee injury and therefore available in the second round -- he got the best safety.
36. Ravens: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
What NFL Network's Mike Mayock said last week seems to be coming to fruition: There's so many talented defensive tackles in this year's draft, everyone's waiting to draft theirs. The Ravens are the beneficiaries of that strategy here as they come away with one of the most explosive players at that position in this class.
37. 49ers: Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame
With an ability to run by slower corners and occupy opposing deep safeties, Fuller's value to an offense is not limited to when he has the ball in his hands.
38. Jaguars: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Gus Bradley got a future Pro Bowl defensive back in Round One. In Round Two he gets an edge rusher to complement last year's top draft pick Dante Fowler Jr.
39. Buccaneers: Keanu Neal, S, Florida
A heat-seeking missile in the running game, and an intimidator in the middle of the field while defending the pass, the Bucs got a big-time presence for their defensive backfield in Neal.
40. Giants: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Eli Manning could use a No. 2 to play alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Shepard would be a perfect fit. He runs clean routes, catches just about everything he gets his hands on, and he has the vision to create after the catch. He'll be devastating in the slot.
41. Bears: Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Billings will provide Chicago some size on the interior of its defensive front, using his strength to hold his ground at the point of attack. If he can push the pocket, it will make Leonard Floyd's life much easier coming off of the edge.
42. Dolphins: Devontae Booker, RB, Utah
Though Ezekiel Elliott slipped through their grasp in the first round, the Dolphins get the ball-carrier who may be the next best thing. Booker has dependable hands and a smooth yet unrelenting running style that has earned him comparisons to Arian Foster.
43. Titans: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
As a big-bodied but versatile defensive lineman, there are some who believe Butler will be a first-round pick. If he ever slips into the 40s, Tennessee will have no qualms about scooping him up.
44. Raiders: Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida
With Khalil Mack consistently bearing down on opposing passers on one side of the field, the other was in need of a boost. Bullard can set an edge and has the skill set to disrupt quarterbacks whether on the outside or bumped down inside.
45. Titans: Cody Whitehair, OL, Kansas State
General manager Jon Robinson finds another solid value play in drafting one of the best guards in the class with fourth pick of the weekend. Though a tackle in college, Whitehair's size and mental toughness make him a candidate to play guard.
46. Lions: TJ Green, DB, Clemson
In search of the next big thing at corner, Lions general manager Bob Quinn gets a tad creative and projects this Tigers safety as a corner at the next level. He has the height, weight and speed to thrive, but he'll have a lot of learning to do as a pro.
47. Saints: Germain Ifedi, OL, Texas A&M
With long arms and good quickness for a player his size, Ifedi could play either guard or tackle as a pro. If he can play up to his potential, he could fill in as the immediate replacement for Jahri Evans.
48. Colts: Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana
If Indianapolis is going to hand Andrew Luck the massive contract that its owner has been hinting at, it would make sense for the team to do all it can to keep Luck healthy. After missing on one of the draft's top tackles in the first round, they get a player with significant upside in the second.
49. Bills: Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
With Kyle Williams going into his 11th professional season, the Bills need to plan for the future of their interior defensive line. Johnson is a high-motor player whose strength and energy level should make him a contributor as soon as he arrives in Rex Ryan's locker room.
50. Falcons: Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Neither Jacob Tamme nor Levine Toilolo have been able to replace what the Falcons lost with Tony Gonzalez retired. In Henry, quarterback Matt Ryan will finally have another dynamic and reliable pass-catcher at the tight end spot.
51. Jets: Kamalei Correa, OLB, Boise State
An explosive athlete on the edge, Correa plays like he's highly caffeinated. He pursues quarterbacks relentlessly and when the play is run to the opposite side of the line of scrimmage, he does all he can to track it down.
52. Texans: Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
What better way to ensure some continuity on the defensive line than to have a young, athletic defensive tackle come in and learn from Vince Wilfork as Wilfork's career winds down. Clark is only 20 years old and could be a staple on Houston's interior for years to come if he takes to the teachings of his tutor.
53. Redskins: Vonn Bell, S, Ohio State
Washington changed the face of its defense when it signed former Panthers corner Josh Norman. In drafting Bell, a rangy centerfielder, they only further strengthen their secondary.
54. Vikings: Kevin Byard, S, Middle Tennessee State
Vikings fans may find themselves disappointed to see a free safety go one pick before their team -- in need of a true free safety -- was on the clock. But the Vikings take Byard, who comes from a much smaller program but may actually be a better all-around player for teams looking for a single-high safety.
55. Bengals: Joshua Perry, LB, Ohio State
The Bengals obviously have an appreciation for aggressive, hard-hitting defenders. In that sense, Perry fits. But with that thumper's mentality, Perry also brings a reputation for leadership he developed in college that Cincinnati's defense sorely needs.
56. Seahawks: Christian Westerman, OL, Arizona State
Seattle's offensive line needs upgrades at just about every position. With Westerman they'll have a player who can play anywhere on the interior and do so effectively right away.
57. Packers: Deion Jones, LB, LSU
Green Bay needs to figure out a way to get Clay Matthews back to his more natural position at outside linebacker, and they've done that by taking Jones in the second round. The former Tigers playmaker is an NFL-ready athlete whose special teams ability will help him establish himself as a four-down player.
58. Steelers: Sean Davis, DB, Maryland
It's unclear whether Davis will be best suited to play safety or corner at the next level, but the Steelers need help at both spots so they'll be given the freedom to slot him in wherever he fits best. If Pittsburgh can get its secondary figured out with Alexander and Davis, they'll be well on their way to mending a broken defense.
59. Chiefs: Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor
Though Kansas City just took Marcus Peters in the first round of last year's draft, they're in need of another long and rangy corner to replace Sean Smith. Howard gives them all the measurables they could want on the outside.
60. Patriots: Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech
One of the most talented all-around backs in this draft class, Dixon could provide the Patriots with some much-needed depth in their backfield. He's gained weight leading up to the draft, putting him closer to 5-foot-10 and 220 pounds, meaning he may be able to handle the between-the-tackles load as New England's "big back." He's also a talented pass-catcher who has experience splitting out wide and has shown an ability to quickly change direction. His jukes don't quite rival those put on display by Dion Lewis in 2015, but he has more than enough suddenness to make defenders miss in space. Regardless of how he's used, Dixon's effort to fight through contact at the ends of runs will make him a fan favorite at Gillette Stadium. He has had trouble holding onto the football at times in college, but if he can get that problem solved he could be a dynamic multi-faceted weapon for Josh McDaniels to deploy in any situation.
61. Patriots: Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas
Ridgeway fought through a series of injuries as a junior that hurt his production and dinged his draft stock, but he's one of the many extremely talented interior defensive linemen in this year's draft. The scouting report on his willingness to work -- something the Patriots have been able to ask of Ridgeway's former college teammate Malcom Brown -- will go a long way in determining his draftability. If the concerns about the 6-foot-3, 303-pounder's conditioning are minimal, Ridgeway has the power, quickness and positional versatility along the line to become a three-down player for the Patriots. Notre Dame defensive tackle Sheldon Day may be an intriguing fit here, but at his size he seems to be more of an interior pass-rush specialist. Ridgeway, at his best, can be much more. He spent some time as a run-stuffing, double-team-occupying nose tackle for the Longhorns, but he also showed that he could be a disruptive rusher at the college level as well. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the fifth-best pass-rush productivity among interior defensive linemen in this class.
62. Panthers: Le'Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech
With Clark's length and above-average foot quickness, he cuts the image of a prototypical NFL tackle. The flaws in his technique may take some time to be corrected, but when they are, Carolina will have a Pro Bowl level player on its hands.
63. Broncos: Sheldon Day, DL, Notre Dame
With Malik Jackson now out of the picture, the Broncos make sure they grab a hard-working defensive lineman whose quickness off the snap will complement the skill set of Derek Wolfe. Together their effort on the interior will be a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen.