This mock draft will change. Frequently.
The process is still young. Free agency is weeks away. The Combine has not kicked off. So as of now, I’m focusing more on current team needs and possible changes in the coming months. Prospect positioning becomes more clear as the process moves along. Future iterations will be more fleshed out.
Picks 14 and 15 will be decided by a coin toss at the NFL Combine.
1. Cleveland Browns - EDGE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M - Likely viewed as the draft’s top prospect. Reportedly dealt with a high ankle injury this season. NFL teams have to rush the passer, and drafting players like Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib don’t prevent you from adding Garrett.
2. San Francisco 49ers - EDGE/DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford - Thomas is a really, really, really good football player. It is impossible to predict what the 49ers will do, since they will have a totally new group of decision makers and coaches. Thomas can rush from the edge or possible work inside. In this scenario the 49ers end up with Jimmy Garoppolo, perhaps for a 2018 first round pick.
3 .Chicago Bears - QB Mitch Trubisky, UNC - If you think previous years included conflicting quarterback opinions, just wait on this year. Trubisky was a starter for one season. It is vital to evaluate his play when pressured and forced outside of structure, since so much of UNC’s offense is about rhythm.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars - DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama - This would be a great selection, and many teams might view Allen as the No. 1 player in the draft. The Jaguars invested cash and picks into the defensive line, but a team can never have enough disruptors.
5. Tennessee Titans (via LA) - FS Malik Hooker, Ohio State - Some might render football down to turnovers and big plays. Hooker can create big plays and turnovers thanks to his extreme range from his safety spot.
6. New York Jets - LB Reuben Foster, Alabama - Yes, back to back linebackers in the first round for the Jets. But this allows the Jets to have both types of backers as Foster is an aggressive missile.
7. San Diego Chargers - S Jamal Adams, LSU - I could see the Chargers going with an offensive lineman, but instead I’ll choose a safety who many view as a top 10 talent in this class.
8. Carolina Panthers - EDGE Taco Charlton, Michigan - For better or worse, Dave Gettleman has a size fetish at multiple positions. Despite producing a high number of sacks the Panthers defense needs plenty of edge rushing help so they can get to the quarterback with four men on a consistent basis.
10. Buffalo Bills - QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson - If Doug Whaley identifies a target, he goes out and gets them (see E.J. Manuel (assistant GM) and Sammy Watkins). All signs point to the Bills moving on from Tyrod, which I view as a mistake.
11. New Orleans Saints - CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State - In full disclosure, I am terrible at projecting where corners are drafted. We saw Eli Apple and Artie Burns selected early, which was a total surprise for me. The Saints ended the season with corners like B.W. Webb, Sterling Moore, De’Vante Harris and Taveze Calhoun out on the field with a number of others on I.R.
12. Cleveland Browns (via PHI) - RB Leonard Fournette, LSU - The Browns lack an identity on offense. That happens when you rotate quarterbacks. Fournette would allow this team to have an identity on offense, and remember how the Browns featured the run early in 2016. Is it a stretch to suggest an analytics focused front office could select a running back in the first round? Possibly.
13. Arizona Cardinals - QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame - I’m not done with evaluations, but I like Kizer the most of these quarterbacks. There are inconsistencies, but there are also stretches of quarterback play that are exactly what you want to see, even when pressured. The Cardinals need to look ahead at the quarterback position.
t14. Indianapolis Colts - EDGE Tim Williams, Alabama - Talent wise, Williams could go much earlier and might be the second best edge rusher in this class. Some will classify him as just a just a pass rusher, and some would be wrong. Williams can stay on the field in any scheme.
t14. Philadelphia Eagles (via MIN) - RB Dalvin Cook, FSU - I love Dalvin Cook’s game. The Eagles offense can shift with any “type” of running back. They showed that in 2016. Cook is a big play threat who also wins after contact.
16. Baltimore Ravens - EDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA - The Ravens need to inject youth at their edge spots. Kamalei Correa likely fits the opening at inside linebacker, and with Elvis Dumervil’s contract in flux, an edge rusher should be a priority.
17. Washington Redskins - DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State - Scot McCloughan had a target in last year’s draft. Many believe it was Ryan Kelly. I doubt the NFL views a center in this class worthy of the No. 17 overall pick. McDowell would really help Washington’s defensive front.
18. Tennessee Titans - WR Mike Williams, Clemson - The Titans could go a few ways at receiver. Add a true yards after catch threat in Corey Davis or JuJu Smith-Schuster, a vertical player in John Ross or maybe a contested catch receiver like Mike Williams. If Williams gains a positional advantage and the ball is thrown on target, it will be caught.
19. Tampa Bay Bucs - TE David Njoku, Miami - I know the Bucs have Cameron Brate. He is absolutely a starting caliber talent. But inject some unreal upside and athleticism in Njoku, and the Bucs passing offense gets a lot scarier.
20. Denver Broncos - OL Antonio Garcia, Troy - Few tackles each year project as seamlessly to the left side as Garcia. His footwork, athleticism and nastiness to finish off plays makes him one of my favorite prospect in this class.
21. Detroit Lions - TE O.J. Howard, Alabama - I know this will surprise many of you, but I think the Lions make tight end a priority this offseason. Not necessarily to replace Eric Ebron, but rather one to compliment him. Plus Howard is far more talented than Ebron.
22. Miami Dolphins - EDGE Derek Barnett, Tenn - Mario Williams won’t be back. Cam Wake is 35 years old. Opinions on Barnett might be split regarding if his style translates into being a consistent pass rusher.
23. New York Giants - LB Haason Reddick, Temple - It was widely known that the Giants hoped to draft Leonard Floyd last year as an outside linebacker who also offered some pass rushing upside. Reddick offers a totally different frame but potentially could fill the same role.
24. Oakland Raiders - CB Quincy Wilson, Florida - The guarantees on the contracts of Sean Smith and David Amerson are coming to an end. While Teez Tabor received the bulk of the attention, I know many prefer Wilson as a prospect. Tre’Davius White is also a possibility here.
25. Houston Texans - T Cam Robinson, Alabama - Right tackle will likely be a priority for the Texans with Derek Newton’s injury.
26. Seattle Seahawks - T Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin - We will hear closer to Combine season how much Ramczyk’s hip surgery will impact his evaluation. The Seahawks need to continue to invest high picks in the worst position on the roster.
27. Kansas City Chiefs - LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State - The Chiefs depth and talent at inside linebacker has been lackluster for years, and whenever Derrick Johnson goes down with an injury it is even more apparent.
28. Dallas Cowboys - EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri - Charles Harris could be drafted much, much higher. He is a pass rusher with an amazing get off and a successful counter move. That is the skill set to create pressure and sacks in the NFL.
29. Green Bay Packers - CB Sidney Jones, Washington - The Packers care about size, so possible targets at corner will be more clear after the Combine. Jones has ball skills, which this team has coveted in the past.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers - EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn - Look at Lawson and you see what many consider the Steelers’ prototype along the edge. Injuries continued to slow down his collegiate career, but Lawson is one of the best edge players in the class. He has burst and strength.
31. Atlanta Falcons - DL Jaleel Johnson, Iowa - I was expecting more from Johnson during Senior Bowl week, but that says more about my expectations than his evaluation. Few defensive linemen exit college with his hand use and understand of balance and counter moves.
32. New England Patriots - LB Zach Cunningham, Cunningham is going to be a draft favorite in the coming months. The Patriots linebackers could look quite different next year, depending on how contracts play out.