This mock is based off what we would do, not what we think teams might do. We will provide more in-depth analysis based on the league-wide thought process when we have a better grasp of what is happening around the NFL.
It’s also important to note that this is meant to be fun. It’s still very early in the process, so if there’s an underclassman not mentioned, we don’t think he will declare.
Have fun. And comments are encouraged below.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
This is the obvious first overall pick. Mariota is by far the most polished quarterback in this class, and his skills complement Tampa Bay’s weapons extremely well.
2. Tennessee Titans: Leonard Williams, DT, USC
Jameis will not be a Titan – they feel comfortable with Zach Mettenberger. And even if they decide to go in another direction, I think Jay Cutler would be a more likely addition given his comfort level in the area and Ken Whisenhunt’s propensities. Quietly, Sammie Lee Hill was pretty awful this year and got in trouble off the field. Leonard Williams complements Jurrell Casey extremely effectively and is probably the second-best player in the class. The Titans were at their best years ago with a pair of dynamic defensive tackles.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dante Fowler, EDGE, Florida
Many have Nebraska’s Randy Gregory as the top edge player in this class. While he is very good, I personally like Fowler more as he gives better effort, has better burst off the snap, and utilizes his hands effectively. Fowler has great strength at the point of attack and is an absolute menace off the edge. He also shows the ability to stunt inside and wins in a plethora of ways. Ideally, the Jaguars would find a way to get a defensive line prospect early and then trade back into the first to pick up Maxx Williams, who is by far the best tight end prospect, in order to have an great draft.
4. Oakland Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
Quietly, Oakland’s defense was really good this year. it needs some help in the secondary, but that can come via free agency. While Cooper and Michigan’s Devin Funchess are equal in terms of my wide receiver rankings, Cooper serves as a better complement to the weapons already in Oakland. Therefore, he is the pick here.
Cooper, Andre Holmes, James Jones, Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, and Mychal Rivera make up a very reasonable corps for Derek Carr to utilize.
There will still need to be improvement here for the Raiders, but they have quietly drafted fairly well recently. If Mark Davis stops being a bonehead, picks the right coach, and exercises patience, perhaps there is potential here for Oakland to be competitive in a AFC West division that has a fair bit of parity within it.
5. Washington Redskins: Shaq Thompson, OFF BALL LB, Washington
And NOW we get to the reaches. To be frank, I have a mid-first round grade on Thompson, but he makes the most sense given what the Redskins need. He can play off the ball, makes interceptions, and gets downhill against the run. He basically does what Landon Collins can do, except he’s bigger and played at the correct position. Washington can wait to get a safety and offensive line help in future rounds. I would particularly like to see them take a chance on Thompson’s conference rival, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, in Round 3 or so.
6. New York Jets: Gerod Holliman, S, Louisville
This pick is also a bit of a reach. And I know that the Jets fans are going to be clamoring for Jameis at this spot, but imagine having an actual safety with range in the back of your defense! Pryor can just do what he did at Louisville and clean up for him. I still have some major issues with Holliman in terms of his tackling ability, but he fits into that defense like a hand into a glove, and his presence could make it tops in the NFL. It helps make the cornerback more press-oriented. And, as we’ve seen in the past, teams can contend with game-managing quarterbacks if their defenses are elite.
Jameis and the New York City media seems like a toxic combination to me, so I would be reticent slotting him to the Jets at all in this draft. The Jets need a more stable presence at the position. I actually think Sam Bradford could be an interesting option for them…if the Rams cut him.
7. Chicago Bears: Landon Collins, S, Alabama
Landon Collins is the presence that the Bears have needed in their secondary for a long, long time. He is a versatile player who may be better coming downhill than in deep coverage, but his brain is what impresses me the most. Collins is the kind of player who can get the rest of the team organized and improve everyone just by his mere presence. Given the coverage abilities of Chicago’s cornerbacks, they do not need a single-high safety with supreme range. They can deal with his limitations in coverage by deploying him more as a strong safety. They still need to find a deeper coverage option, but Brock Vereen might develop into that guy eventually.
8. Atlanta Falcons: Randy Gregory, EDGE, Nebraska
While I am not the biggest Randy Gregory fan in the world, this pick makes way too much sense for the Falcons. Gregory has great burst, awesome physical gifts, and would function best as a rotational defensive end. He is flexible and extremely good in terms of his movement skills. Gregory does take plays off and has a knack of coasting through games rather than being fully apparent in all of them. However, in a rotation, that problem could probably be mitigated to a degree. Overall, the Falcons need an edge rusher, and Gregory is in the mold of former beloved dirty bird John Abraham.
9. New York Giants: Vic Beasley, EDGE, Clemson
The Giants always seem to go best player available, position be damned, especially when they pick so highly in the draft. Beasley is the best edge rusher available, and given the questionable situations of Jason Pierre-Paul’s return and Mathias Kiwanuka’s relevance, Beasley makes a ton of sense as a developmental player at this pick.
I would also not be stunned if rookie sleeper Devon Kennard moves into a more hand-down role next year and Beasley moves into a linebacker role. While I have a late first-round grade on Beasley, his athletic ability and underrated run-stopping acumen makes him an awesome weapon for this defense. He’d fit in well here.
10. St. Louis Rams: Devin Funchess, WR, Michigan
Remember last year when people were upset that Mike Evans did not have short area quickness? Funchess is Evans, but he has the quick feet to separate in tight spaces that Evans did not possess. Essentially, he combines the best of Vincent Jackson and the now-incarcerated Aaron Hernandez. Funchess can be a friend to the many game managers who sling the pigskin for the Rams, as his ability to win in multiple ways could make him a deadly weapon. Funchess is an underrated player who was limited by his awful quarterback in college. His potential is sky high.
11. Minnesota Vikings: La’el Collins, OT, LSU
Something has to be done at the offensive tackle position for the Vikings. And while Collins occasionally is apt to trip over his own feet, he has the frame, the punch, and the technique to instantly contribute and help protect burgeoning star Teddy Bridgewater.
Matt Kalil was atrocious this year, and it may be time to pull the plug on his starting spot – or, at least, give him competition at the position. Collins could play four of the five offensive line positions. And while I am not normally an advocate of taking offensive linemen so early in the draft, his versatility guarantees that, in some small way, his presence will help to ease Bridgewater’s transition from intriguing rookie into top-10 NFL quarterback.
12. Cleveland Browns: DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville
This is another pick that makes too much sense. Parker has inconsistent hands, but EVERYTHING else is there for him to be a legitimate, dynamic weapon at the next level. He has awesome footwork, can release well off the line of scrimmage, and is already a deadly potential weapon on slants. My comparison for Parker is a former Brown himself, Braylon Edwards.
If Josh Gordon returns, Parker instantly makes this offense into a top-10 passing game given all of their dynamic weapons. If Gordon does not, Parker can be groomed into a future No. 1 guy.
13. New Orleans Saints: Senquez Golson, CB, Ole Miss
I am much higher on Golson than many others seem to be. He also fits New Orleans very well. This defense was pretty awful at times this year, and Patrick Robinson is not the answer at the nickel cornerback position. Senquez Golson led the nation in interceptions this year, and he is a ball-hawk who instantly gives the team another playmaker in their defensive backfield. Golson, Keenan Lewis, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, and Brian Dixon/Terrance Frederick would give the Saints a great corps of players and help to lock down their secondary for years to come.
14. Miami Dolphins: Brandon Scherff, OG, Iowa
I HATE this pick from a Patriots fan’s perspective. Scherff is an absolute beast, an animal who may not have the length or footspeed to stick at offensive tackle, but could be an ideal fit at guard. An offensive line of Ja’Wuan James, Scherff, Mike Pouncey, Billy Turner, and right tackle to be named would be a deadly run-blocking force, hopefully helping Lamar Miller to continue producing at a high level (because who doesn’t want Lamar Miller to succeed?). This choice is not sexy, but it is the right move to help this team continue its ascent under Dennis Hickey and Joe Philbin.
15. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin White, WR, West Virginia
The one thing Colin Kaepernick has never had in San Francisco is an explosive deep-threat wider receiver who can go up for jump balls and win them at the catch point. Both Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree are more YAC guys, and Vernon Davis has regressed in recent years.
While Kaepernick is one of the few quarterbacks in the NFL who puts more balls on the body of his receivers than up high for them, adding a guy like White couldn’t hurt. White has hops for days and extremely strong hands. While others are higher on him than myself, he could be a perfect fit to help Kaepernick’s development as a quarterback.
16. Houston Texans: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Although it will never happen because Texans general manager Rick Smith loves high-character guys, this pick makes a ton of sense. Winston has all of the talent in the world, but he just makes dumb decisions and needs to be behind a top-notch offensive line and have weapons that can get open and give him easy throws.
Winston forces too many balls. He also needs time to develop, but who better to help him with that than Bill O’Brien? The Texans already have a dominant defense and almost made the playoffs in O’Brien’s debut season. Perhaps playing in Houston with DeAndre Hopkins, Arian Foster, Ryan Griffin and Andre Johnson will be the wake-up call Jameis needs to focus. All I know is that the two J-Dubs (Winston and Watt) could be terrifying to the rest of the AFC South for years to come.
17. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Erving, C/G, Florida State
This pick makes a ton of sense to me as a contingency. Cameron Erving is probably not a first-round offensive tackle, but as an interior lineman, he has shown to be extremely adept. Erving has a bit of Carl Nicks in him, and his presence on the Charger offensive line could help to continue elevating it to the next level.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: Eric Kendricks, OFF BALL LB, UCLA
The Chiefs should have taken Teddy Bridgewater last year, but that’s neither here nor there. They now need a middle linebacker if Derrick Johnson does not come back healthy from his injury. Kendricks is a bit underrated by some due to his size, but he is a rangy, smart linebacker who excels at covering the middle of the field. His presence combined with the team’s dynamic pass-rush and a stout defensive tackle in Dontari Poe could make their defense absolutely impenetrable.
Later in the draft, it would be smart for the Chiefs to take a versatile wide receiver such as Auburn’s Sammie Coates or San Diego State’s Ezell Ruffin to give Alex Smith some more potential targets to hurl the ball at.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Buffalo): Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma
With a wide receiver in tow, the Browns can now look to solidify their defensive front by picking up one of my favorite sleeper defensive line prospects in this class – the big man from Oklahoma. Phillips is a player who jumped out to me when I was watching Oklahoma prospects. He just declared for the draft and has the dynamic ability to be a top prospect without the off-field baggage of my other favorite defensive tackle in this class, Terry Williams of East Carolina. Phillips would make a ton of sense as a stabilizing force in the middle of the Browns defense, especially since Athyba Rubin’s performance has been spotty at best this year.
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Paul Dawson, OFF BALL LB, TCU
While the Eagles need a cornerback, it’s highly likely they’ll use the free agent route to fill that need. They also have a major need for an inside linebacker, and Dawson is a very good fit. He can defend the pass extremely well and also shows a knack for run fits. Dawson is a former college wide receiver who draws some comparisons to Jerod Mayo. His talent certainly warrants his inclusion at this point in the draft. Eric Rowe from Utah is a possibility here too.
21. Carolina Panthers: Ereck Flowers, OT, Miami (FL)
Flowers is a bit of an underrated player in this class. And while I have an second-round grade on him at this point, the Panthers would be justified in pulling the trigger on him late in Round 1. Cam Newton is a top-10 quarterback in the game today, and the Panthers need to keep him off of his back.
Flowers impressed me whenever I watched him in college, and he has the footwork and hand usage to be the missing piece on the Panthers’ offensive line. Since Ronnie Stanley is not declaring in this mock, Flowers makes sense here. One of the edge players could also be up for grabs at this point.
22. Baltimore Ravens: Shane Ray, EDGE, Missouri
This is a quintessential Ravens pick. Ray has amazing burst off the edge and bend. While many have Ray as a top-10 prospect in this class, I am not sold on that. Ray is worse than any of the other players in this group against the run. And if he does not win off the snap, he is extremely limited in other facets of a given play. I compare Ray to Bruce Irvin because of these relative limits compared to other edge rushers in the class. However, the upside and potential are evident. Ray can combine with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil to give the Ravens a fearsome rotation
23. Cincinnati Bengals: Bud Dupree, EDGE, Kentucky
While Dupree is not going to be the crazy sack artist many assume, he does have some upside and could be an eight-sack a year guy. In the late first round, he would make a ton of sense as a complement to Carlos Dunlap. Margus Hunt has not worked. And while Wallace Gilberry is decent, the Bengals could stand to improve at this position. Dupree is a really nice developmental talent who should grow into a good rush end at the next level.
24. Detroit Lions: Bernardrick McKinney, EDGE, Mississippi State
McKinney is a hybrid edge player who should be used like Vontaze Burfict in Cincinnati or Khalil Mack in Oakland. He fits perfectly in Detroit’s defense, where he can play jack opposite DeAndre Levy and move around a good bit. McKinney is a physical specimen, who has shown some ability to drop into coverage, although it is far from his forte. He will add some physicality and tenacity to the already biting Lions defense.
25. Indianapolos Colts: Derron Smith, S, Fresno State
A bit of an odd name for sure, but Smith looked awesome two years ago and pretty solid this year. He has the range to play deep and free up the middle of the field for Mike Adams and the pressing cornerbacks to do their magic. Smith reminds me a bit of Eric Weddle, and he has the flexible hips and speed to be a versatile weapon in this defense. He fills a need and is an athletic talent to boot. Another sleeper safety that the Colts should keep an eye on for Day 2 is Quinten Rollins of Miami (OH).
26. Green Bay Packers: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
Honestly, I did not know what would really be a need for the Packers next year, so I just upgraded their tight end position. Maxx Williams is a physical freak of nature who is by far best at his position in this class. He can block and catch, and is not dissimilar to Jason Witten with a touch more athleticism. He could elevate the Packer offense from really good to absolutely impossible to stop with his presence.
27. Arizona Cardinals: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
This is another team with a ton of talent in all facets of the game. However, the Cardinals could use a complementary runner to Andre Ellington. While there was no running back taken in the first round of the last two NFL drafts, this class is special. Gordon has amazing open-field ability and is great after he gets past the first line of blockers. Kept fresh with Ellington, the Cardinals could have a sensational rotation at the position to help ease the pressure on <insert QB here> and his cast of receivers.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh
Normally, Pittsburgh has its players wait a bit before seeing significant action, and Clemmings would be no exception with this selection. However, the upside is droolworthy. Clemmings is a former defensive player who moved to the offensive side of the ball this past season. He has major issues with technique, but he has great punch and moves extremely well.
He is already a fairly punishing run blocker and, with Mike Munchak as his coach, could become great in pass protection as well. The Steelers are built to win both now and in the future, and after re-watching Clemmings, I have to admit that the potential is extremely evident. He makes a ton of sense at the end of the first round.
29. Dallas Cowboys: Eli Harold, EDGE, Virginia
In my mind, Harold is every bit as good as the likes of Ray and Dupree – all should be in the same tier. Harold is a physical freak of nature who jumps off the line of scrimmage like a cat and has crazy athletic ability. He thrived at Virginia and will thrive in the NFL playing similarly. He still needs help against the run, but he should be able to make an immediate impact as a pass rush specialist and grow into a more three-down oriented rule. Harold is going to destroy the Combine when he gets a chance.
30. Denver Broncos: Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke
The dirty little secret in Denver is that as good as the offense has been this year, the defense has probably been a touch better. This is primarily due to inconsistent protection for Peyton Manning as well as his own regression as a quarterback. Orlando Franklin is not thought of highly as an offensive guard and might be better served kicking out to right tackle.
Tomlinson is one of the best run-blocking guards in football and also has the ability to be a really good puller and potential pass protector. He’s the top offensive guard in the class outside of Cameron Erving, and should help to bolster Denver’s offense in the future.
31. New England Patriots: Todd Gurley, RB/KR, Georgia
If Gurley is at 31, the Patriots jump on him. It’s that simple. He is a versatile weapon who brings value to both offense and special teams, and torn ACLs, while still damaging, can be recovered from. The Patriots have a ton of experience bringing players back from such injuries, and are not risk-averse when it comes to issues like this. Expect Gurley to be brought into Foxboro for a visit/physical, pass it, and then get mocked heavily at this pick. It makes a ton of sense.
32. Seattle Seahawks: Cedric Ogbuehi, OG, Texas A&M
While Ogbuehi is not as good as some thought earlier in the season, his physical ability cannot be denied. He is a mammoth of a man who can move and has the versatility to play all over the offensive line. The Seahawks need more depth on their interior, and they are a team that would be inclined to take a gamble on Cedric. We’ll see if it pays off.