This is my first mock draft of the NFL season and many more will be released over time. In this mock draft the draft positions are slotted by record and are tiebreakers with the remaining opponent strength of their schedule. My reach in this mock is at number nine with the Cincinnati Bengals and the biggest steal is at number twelve with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selecting.
1. Cleveland Browns – DeShone Kizer – QB – Notre Dame
Kizer is the clear favorite to land with the Browns. Team sources have come out and said that he is the favorite quarterback in the draft for them out of Kaaya and Watson. I am optimistic that this will be the quarterback who ends the carousel in Cleveland.
2. Carolina Panthers – Myles Garrett – DE – Texas A&M
The Panthers could draft Leonard Fournette here to fix their issues in the backfield, as Stewart is always hurt and has a high salary, but the Panthers rely on a great pass rush that has disappeared, which they need to go and get the best pass rusher in the draft.
3. Chicago Bears – Brad Kaaya – QB – Miami
Now, some NFL scouts have not been impressed with Kaaya after questionable performances against Florida State and North Carolina, but other than that, he is most pro-style quarterback in the draft due to the offense he is playing in. The Bears need to end the Cutler era and give Hoyer the keys for next season with Kaaya developing under him.
4. San Francisco 49ers – Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson
I personally think Watson is the best quarterback out of Kaaya and Kizer. Now, Watson’s 2016 season started off south, but as the season progresses, he has played well. He is going to like the offense that Chip Kelly is running in San Fran. The Niners offense needs to retool and it starts at the quarterback position. Kaepernick and Gabbert are most likely done starting in a Niners’ uniform.
5. New York Jets – Jabril Peppers – S/LB – Michigan
Bowles needs a versatile playmaker in Peppers. Peppers makes all the plays. He tackles and covers well. The Jets need him and Bowles can use him like he did with Deone Bucannon in Arizona. Jets also get a player that can cover anyone on the field.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU
The best running back in the draft goes to a team that is missing a running game. Andrew Luck has never had a franchise running back next to him like Peyton Manning, which he had Marshall Faulk and Edgerrin James. Fournette is a three down back that can run all over the league. They call him the next Adrian Peterson.
7. Miami Dolphins – Jonathan Allen – DE/DT – Alabama
The Dolphins take the best available player at pick number seven. Allen is a most in the trenches. He is versatile big man with a high motor that can play inside and outside on the line, but expect him to play next to Suh, which will allow Suh to focus on pass rushing, as Allen would eat the blocks and run up, but Allen is a do it all guy, which makes him a pass rusher too. He is a mauler, but on the defensive side.
8. San Diego Chargers – Cam Robinson – OT – Alabama
King Dunlap is not getting younger and the Chargers might just get his replacement in Robinson. He is the best rated offensive tackle in the draft. Dunlap is carrying a nice salary that could end his days in San Diego. The Chargers cannot go wrong with this pick.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Zach Cunningham – OLB – Vanderbilt
The Bengals linebacker corps is old and they get one of the next best 4-3 outside linebacker to join the NFL. Cunningham is all over the field and especially around the ball carrier. Now, this could be a reach, but it will pay off. The Bengals are known for having a solid defense and that has not been true this season. They could use a corner here, but the linebacker group needs a makeover.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars – Malik McDowell – DT – Michigan State
McDowell is a stud in the middle of the trench. The Jaguars place him next to Malik Jackson and let him rotate in and out with others. This could become a great defensive tackle group with Jackson, Day, Marks, Miller, and now McDowell. Interestingly, he can be a top three pick if he outshines the quarterbacks and Myles Garrett.
11. New Orleans Saints – Derek Barnett – DE/OLB – Tennessee
The Saints defense is the only problem with the team. They can match any team in the scoring department, but cannot stop anyone. Barnett is right up there with Garrett in the SEC and nation. He has 25 career sacks, but an impressive 44.5 tackles for a loss.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jamal Adams – SS – LSU
The Buccaneers are almost ready to become a top defense and do so by adding the best player available. Landing Adams at pick number twelve is a steal. They just need the defensive line to add one more monster and fix the safety problems, which will start with Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald, but their past two outings have been fine. Conte will be the one replaced, as he is on a one-year deal. Adams is a leader on and off the field, as who was the first player of the Les Miles era to ever be named a team captain for a game (LSU) as a true freshman. Good in coverage and makes all of the tackles. Plays bigger than listed. He will start as a rookie. Rob Rang calls him the next Tyrann Mathieu with his style of play and at the high level he plays.
13. Detroit Lions – Marlon Humphrey – CB – Alabama
This kid is the real deal. Best corner in the draft. The Lions need to pair Slay with Humphrey and start to build a good defense alongside with Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy.
14. Arizona Cardinals – Mike Williams – WR – Clemson
Between Williams and Smith-Schuster, Williams seems like the more rounded receiver. He catches any pass whether it is low or high. Most tall receivers have trouble catching low catches, but this kid does not. His neck injury will be considered, even though this year he seems to have put those concerns in the past. Long and powerful receiver that displays great hands and speed off the line. Makes back-shoulder fades look easy to catch. Michael Floyd is a free agent and Fitzgerald needs a new partner with John Brown manning the third spot. Williams would eventually replace Fitzgerald.
15. Baltimore Ravens – Tim Williams – OLB – Alabama
Williams is a different monster than these other prospects when he steps onto the gridiron. The Ravens need to start finding young pass rushers to develop. Suggs and Dumervil are older and continue to show signs of injury, especially T-Sizzle. He is a perfect fit with the Ravens and at pick number 15. Will need to improve on stopping the run to play on all downs.
16. Tennessee Titans – Teez Tabor – CB – Florida
Considered by many to be the best corner in the draft. They say he is better than former teammate Vernon Hargreaves III. Tabor has off field issues, but he is just maturing. Needs to polish his press coverage game, but overall he is a solid coverage corner with good tackling techniques. The Titans add a playmaker on the defensive side, which it has lacked over time.
17. Tennessee Titans – JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR – USC
The Titans have Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews as their two starting receivers, which it would be a great idea to draft Smith-Schuster to potentially have him being Mariota’s number one receiver. Those three receivers would be nice in an up and coming offense. I have heard he is a potential bust, but I doubt it with the talented receiver displaying great skills in college. He will be fine. The song “JuJu on that beat” will be played loud and proud in Tennessee, as this kid will become a star.
18. New York Giants – Rueben Foster – MLB – Alabama
The Giants finally get the middle linebacker that they have been lacking for a while. The defense added big time players in Janoris Jenkins, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison this past off-season. Foster is a well-rounded player and especially over former Alabama starting middle linebacker Reggie Ragland. Foster is just as good as a tackler, but a better athlete that can move quicker to the sidelines and covers better.
19. Cleveland Browns – Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida State
The Browns pass on Fournette with the first overall pick, but they get Dalvin Cook, who is just as good in my book. I think he is more complete than Fournette. The Browns can ease Cook in, but he will impress the Browns coaching staff that would potentially help him landing the starting job, but Crowell will have the first crack on starting. Crowell is a restricted free agent after this season.
20. Kansas City Chiefs – Raekwon McMillian – ILB – Ohio State
Derrick Johnson is older and they invest in his future replacement in McMillian. Actually, the other inside linebackers are questionable after Johnson. Barrington has a chance to be good if he can stay healthy, which he has been so far. This kid will be a superstar in the NFL. Playmaker.
21. Green Bay Packers – O.J. Howard – TE – Alabama
Best tight end in the draft. The Packers lack a number one tight end. Howard is a brilliant player. He blocks extremely well and is actually a great receiving tight end. He does not get the ball thrown his way a lot, but when he does, he makes the best of his chances. Rodgers will get the best out of this kid. He is fast and big that could potentially move him out wide, but he is definitely a mismatch for defenses.
22. Denver Broncos – Budda Baker – FS – Washington
This Earl Thomas replica is has played lights out in a Husky uniform. The Broncos defense has taken a hit, but I do think they solidify their secondary by grabbing this special Budda. Tackles well for a smaller fellow and displays great ball hawking skills. One of the reasons alongside teammate Sidney Jones on why the Huskies have played so well defensively this year.
23. Pittsburgh Steelers – Desmond King – CB – Iowa
King is a classic corner. Physical dude that comes from a blue collar background, which seems like a trait the Steelers like. Ball hawk that has great coverage skills to force turnovers. Can return the football if needed and has excellent vision up field. Best tackling corner in the upcoming draft. My favorite corner in the draft.
24. Buffalo Bills – Roderick Johnson – OT – Florida State
The Bills offensive line is missing a key piece and that is the right tackle postion. Johnson can fight for the job on day one. Big guy that moves well and will most likely be a right tackle in his career, if it remains in Buffalo with Glenn holding down the left side.
25. Oakland Raiders – Sidney Jones – CB – Washington
The Raiders secondary has been a disaster all season and Sidney Jones is rated as one of the top pass defenders in college football. He plays the ball well and does not allow the receiver he is covering to reel in a catch. He likes interceptions, but he knows an incompletion is nice too, which most corners think it is all about interceptions. Sean Smith has looked like a questionable signing every time I tune into Raiders game.
26. Washington Redskins – Dan Feeney – OG – Indiana
The Redskins are weak at the left guard position. They plug and place Feeney in there to fix this problem. The offensive line will perform much better. Top guard in the draft. Redskins should have better scoring outings due to an improved offensive line.
27. Atlanta Falcons – Dawuane Smoot – DE – Illinois
Smoot is a guy who has been creeping up my boards. Smoot can rush the quarterback whether if it is him standing up or with his hand in the dirt. Has a great signature move and counter move, which is hard for some guys to have when entering the NFL. Also, he uses those moves with his speed and power. Atlanta and Head Coach Dan Quinn continue to get closer in completing their defense. This will be a defense that scares many in the future. They also need another corner opposite of Trufant, but pass rush help is the major key once again.
28. Houston Texans – Jake Butt – TE – Michigan
The Texans find their franchise tight end in Butt. He is a flexible tight end. He is willing to block, which will keep him on the field, but he is a sneaky and good security blanket. The Texans will love to add a player who loves physicality.
29. Seattle Seahawks – Lowell Lotulelei – DT – Utah
The Seahawks can have a nice future with Lotulelei and Reed in the middle of their defense. Lotulelei is a run stopping specialist with a chance to become a better pass rusher over his older brother Star, who is currently on the Panthers.
30. Dallas Cowboys – Carl Lawson – DE/OLB – Auburn
The Cowboys are still missing the one pass rusher on defense. Gregory has been a bust due to his off the field issues. Lawson is a special player that has played extremely well at Auburn. Jerry Jones will love it when this kid lands him a Lombardi due to his defensive talent that he possesses.
31. New England Patriots – Mike McGlinchey – OT – Notre Dame
Even with McCaffrey making most sense here, the Patriots need to add young depth and a potential starter in McGlinchey with the 31st overall pick. They need to replace Vollmer, who has been hurt and Cannon playing at a decent level.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Christian McCaffrey – RB – Stanford
Mathews is a good stop gap back, and Sproles is getting older. So they go and get the next Reggie Bush, but healthier. This Stanford product could become an all down back, but most definitely a solid third down back with a great ability to return kickoffs and punts to the house.