This is my first mock draft this year and usually I start around week seven or eight, but due to the amount of studying involved in this year’s crop of talent, I personally decided to hold off for a decent amount of time, but today I release my first NFL mock draft of this season entering week fifteen of the long 2017 campaign.
Warning! there will be some iffy picks here, but I will give you an analysis and unbiased opinion on each selection I make for each team selecting in the first round.
Lastly, the draft order I am using is before the outcome of the Broncos versus Colts on December 14th (Thursday night) via DraftWire of USA Today.
1. Cleveland Browns – Josh Rosen – QB – UCLA
Rosen has shown that he is pro-ready (mechanics and pocket passer) and he has an edge over any other quarterback in the draft, plus a new regime (again) in Cleveland leaves them in drafting their own quarterback.
2. New York Giants – Sam Darnold – QB – USC
Darnold struggled this year, but I do think he can become a solid quarterback in the NFL, but he will need at least two years to groom into an NFL QB. I do think he has better accuracy than Rosen.
3. San Francisco 49ers – Minkah Fitzpatrick – DB – Alabama
Versatile defender that can play in the nickel and free safety spot. Miners have built up the d-line and now they hit the secondary. Just an overall great player and a steal for John Lynch. They got their quarterback and expect the team to attack the offense on day two.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Derwin James – S – FSU
Colts land one of the best talents in the draft here in James. Malik Hooker gets his safety partner. Hooker will cover deep and James will stop the underneath plays, as he is a great tackler with the ability to cover tight ends on single coverage. Will start immediately and become a threat for the opposition.
5. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley – RB – Penn State
Barkley is the best running back in the draft and the Browns could use Barkley as Crowell is set to become a free agent, but mostly because the Penn State talent cannot be passed up here. Rosen or whatever QB they draft will need a steady running game to help them out. The kid is a three-down back that is a game-changer.
6. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen – QB – Wyoming
Well, Paxton Lynch was a wasted pick and Trevor Siemian is just not the answer. I do think the Broncos trade for Eli Manning and find a way to keep their first-round pick this year to land Josh Allen from Wyoming. Allen is a raw prospect, but he has some traits like Broncos’ GM John Elway with a never give up mentality and big arm, plus the ability to move out of the pocket if needed.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bradley Chubb – DE – North Carolina State
Bradley Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft class. He has NFL size, great production, good toughness and has the ability to come in an immediately contribute, which the Bucs need. Ayers could become a cap casualty, which will give Chubb the keys to the starting lineup. Bucs land another top five prospect outside the top five in a second year in a row (took O.J. Howard at #19 last year).
8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley – WR – Alabama
This is an easy one for the Bears. Ridley is the best receiver in the draft from many experts and Mitch Trubisky is in need of a number one receiver. The Alabama receiver is explosive and has smooth route-running ability that draws comparisons to Antonio Brown.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Quenton Nelson – OG – Notre Dame
Bengals could use help on that offensive line. Nelson is the best guard product and he is a deadly road-grader and I think Joe Mixon would love to have him leading the way. Also, Nelson is a step up most guard prospects in the pass blocking department.
10. New York Jets – Lamar Jackson – QB – Louisville
Jets screwed up last year by not taking Watson, but Adams has been an excellent selection. They get their quarterback in this year;s draft in the former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. This kid is an amazing passer that can run for days. His athleticism and explosiveness sets him apart from any other quarterback in the draft. Also, Petty and Hackenberg are not the answer, which is the reason Lamar is heading to the Big Apple.
11. Washington Redskins – Maurice Hurst – DL – Michigan
I personally think Hurst is the best all-round defensive tackle in the draft and putting him next to last year’s first-round pick Jonathan Allen would create a scary one-two punch in Washington. The Wolverine product has superb first-step quickness, which leads to him being in the backfield all the time and interestingly, he gets back there before the offensive linemen are out of their stances.
12. Oakland Raiders – Denzel Ward – CB – Ohio State
Raiders need secondary help and they take back-to-back Ohio State corners in a row (Gareon Conley last year). Ward is a very tough, athletic corner that has a nice break to the ball and his instincts are just mind blowing.
13. Arizona Cardinals – Baker Mayfield – QB – Oklahoma
Cardinals finally take their future QB in Mayfield. Palmer is done in my opinion and with the Cardinals talking about a small extension with Blaine Gabbert, I would expect to see Gabbert get a chance to win the job and let Mayfield at least sit on year. Now, Baker is a winner and is clutch. He throws darts all over the field, plus the Sooner does not get fazed by pressure. Tough kid that loves challenges. He fits Ariens offensive scheme and I like how Mayfield can extend plays.
14. Miami Dolphins – Arden Key – DE – LSU
Key was overhyped entering the year, but as the season progressed, you can see why people rated him as one of the best talents entering the draft. I like Key and think he will be special at the NFL level. Dolphins can ease him in with Cameron Wake still there (not for too long) and Charles Harris, who they selected in the first-round last year.
15. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne – DT – Alabama
Cowboys get stronger and become better with the selection of Payne. Payne has shown that he is a true force and flashing his freakish athleticism this year that is helping his stock go up. He can collapse the pocket and put pressure on the quarterback too.
16. Los Angeles Chargers – Donte Jackson – CB – LSU
Donte Jackson? You mean Kevin Toliver II? Nope, actually Donte Jackson was the better corner out of the two at LSU. He had a really good year that put him over his fellow collegiate teammate. Jackson does not have ideal height, but he is extremely fast and the Chargers could use another corner in that secondary. Lets just say, he could become the next Janoris Jenkins.
17. Green Bay Packers – Mike McGlinchey – OT – Notre Dame
I had a hard time finding a spot for Big Mike. I think Green Bay is a nice spot for him, as Bulaga is consistently hurt and Spriggs could serve as the swing tackle or move into the guard spot. You have to do whatever it takes to keep Aaron Rodgers on his feet. Mike is a solid run and pass blocker that is experienced, polished, and can play both tackle spots. Overall, a safe pick here.
18. Detroit Lions – Clelin Ferrell – DE – Clemson
The Lions need to lock up Ziggy and they give him help with Ferrell opposite him on the d-line. Lions finally replace Cliff Avril, which they still have not done after he bolted to Seattle. Ferrell has all the tools to become a force in the league.
19. Baltimore Ravens – Courtland Sutton – WR – SMU
My favorite receiver in the draft. Sutton is a big, physical kid that can make big splash plays down the field and run after the catch. Perfect option for Joe Flacco, which he needs.
20. Seattle Seahawks – Joshua Jackson – CB – Iowa
Seahawks need another corner and especially questioning if Sherman will be the same after that injury, plus Sherman could be dealt too, as this past off-season those talks where being thrown out there. Double J has been a force in the Big Ten and he finally has been getting recognition. Big corner that would excel in Pete Carroll’s defensive scheme. The kid is a game-changer and playmaker as shown this year in his team’s victory over Ohio State.
21. Buffalo Bills – Mason Rudolph – QB – Oklahoma State
Shocking to see Buffalo take another young quarterback (Peterman last year), but it would not be a bad idea as Tyrod will most likely be in a different uniform next year. Now, Rudolph is a prolific passer that already knows how to distribute the ball to multiple receivers and scans the field well. He makes every throw in the book look effortless. Picking up Rudolph will expand the offense and we will actually see what Zay Jones can do with a pocket passer throwing him the ball.
22. Atlanta Falcons – Christian Wilkins – DT – Clemson
With or without Dontari Poe signing a long-term deal, Wilkins will be a Falcon. Wilkins is arguably the most impressive athlete in the entire draft, with rare explosiveness for his size and it would be devastating for the opposition to go up against Christian Wilkins and Grady Jarrett. Solid player against both the run and pass.
23. Tennessee Titans – Taven Bryan – DE – Florida
Smart move by Bryan to declare for the draft, as he is cashing in on his successful season and that the Gators are about to go through a rebuild mode with Dan Mullen. Taven is versatile and can play all over the line. He is explosive off the ball and has a great point of attack that is helped by his hands. A steal at this part of the draft for the Titans.
24. Carolina Panthers – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – DE – Oklahoma
Panthers need to find defensive end help with Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson ending the near of their careers. Double O is a strong edge rusher that has the ability to set the edge on running plays. That skill often takes young pass rushers years to master. He does have a small stature, but his raw strength shows that he can play in any scheme.
25. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs) – Vita Vea – DT – Washington
Trading Dareus leaves a big hole, plus Kyle Williams is not getting any younger, which means this is the year to take someone like Vea to plug in and let him get to work. He has been dominate this year and has shown first-round talent. Vita is good at eating space and breaking through double teams. Remember when Danny Shelton coming out of Washington, well Vea is double the talent.
26. New Orleans Saints – Harold Landry – DE – Boston College
The Saints find another dominant pass rusher that can play opposite of Cameron Jordan. This is a home run selection. This kid knows how to get around the edge and apply pressure. You can either stand him up or tell him to put his hand in the dirt. Up to the team. Maybe they use him like the Chargers are using Melvin Ingram this year. Landry does have to improve against the run though.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars – Roquan Smith – LB – Georgia
Jaguars land another fast linebacker that can cover and rack up tackles. Smith has drawn comparisons to Lavonte David (Bucs) and Deion Jones (Falcons). Paul Posluszny is not getting younger and drafting Smith could push Posliszny out of town and maybe the talks of Myles Jack moving into the middle reappear.
28. Los Angeles Rams – Orlando Brown – OT – Oklahoma
The Rams need a number one corner, but I think they take Orlando Brown here, as he is a promising left tackle that is really strong in the pass blocking area with an underrated run blocking game. Remember, Andrew Whitworth is old and Brown could take over the left tackle spot entering the 2019 campaign. Brown can become a future All-Pro left tackle.
29. New England Patriots – Carlton Davis – CB – Auburn
Patriots need another corner and especially with the whole saga with Malcolm Butler. Davis is a steal for the Patriots here. He is an athletic corner with nice sizing, speed, and length. He is very good at jamming receivers.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Billy Price – OL – Ohio State
Vikings need offensive line help and Billy Price will deliver the help they need. Price can line up as either a center or both guard spots. Projected to become a center. Price is a better pass blocker than run blocker, but he will learn when he enters the league. Also, pairing him up with former college teammate Pat Elflein.
31. Philadelphia Eagles – Malik Jefferson – LB – Texas
Eagles do need another linebacker and I think they land a stud here. Jefferson has sideline-to-sideline speed and he is a really good at blitzing. Nice athleticism to go with his game. Draft that left tackle in the second round.
32. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison – S – Alabama
Harrison is a steal at the end of the first round. He can cover tons of ground, deliver big hits and create turnovers. This gives the Steelers that next Troy Polamalu that they miss.