By Parker Hurley
I want to start by letting you know that my Mock Drafts are different than most…
I am not going for accuracy in terms of guessing picks. I would rather look back in four years and realize that my decisions would have suited teams just as well, if not better, than what they eventually decide to do.
I do not have insider information, nor have I personally met with any of these prospects. Trying to guess who a team is going to take based on what an agent or team told a reporter, seems weird to me. Most of the time the players’ agents are looking to change perception of their clients to benefit them; other times the teams are just pumping a player up to have another team try to trade for them. Why buy into that? What I have done, is watched tape on over 100 of this year’s prospects using DraftBreakdown. Through my observations, the information that I do know on each team’s tendency, and the holes that each particular team may have, I will put on the GM hat for every team and draft the player that I would feel most comfortable taking if my job was on the line. With that being said, let’s get to it.
- St. Louis Rams- Jared Goff- QB- California
With all of that “I’m the GM” talk the Rams made this trade clearly intended for a quarterback. I probably would have sat back at 15 and waited to see what happens, but this is the NFL. The Rams trade, plus the Eagles following trade up to two, tells me two things: The Rams are taking Goff, and the Eagles are taking Carson Wentz. The Eagles had to know the Rams liked Goff, because they are currently in a perfect situation to groom a quarterback. The Rams, on the other hand, see their defense and already former core guys like Chris Long are leaving. With a guy on the roster like Todd Gurley you have to win now. Goff is probably the most accurate quarterback, and has the lowest floor in the class. That said, I’m still not sure how high his ceiling is. It will be interesting to see if this trade pays off, but at this time no one knows.
2. Philadelphia Eagles- Carson Wentz- QB- North Dakota State
With Goff having a low floor, the debate between these two quarterbacks was that Wentz has a higher ceiling. The Eagles signed Sam Bradford to a two year deal, and their hope is that they probably cut him in one – but they know for sure that they will not be extending him past year two. In steps Carson Wentz, and he will get the Rodgers-Rivers-Palmer treatment of learning from the bench. It is probably the best situation for him. The question will be if they can build enough, not lose enough, and manage that without excess draft picks due to this trade. Only time will tell.
3. San Diego Chargers- DeForest Buckner-DE-Oregon
The Chargers defensive line currently consists of Corey Liuget (a solid end), Brandon Mebane (signed from Seattle who is a run stuffer), and Darius Philon (a 6th round pick who played 55 snaps last year). With Buckner, you are getting one of the more versatile lineman in a while and a guy who sures up the line. He can line up all the way out as an edge rusher and he can line up side by side with Mebane in the run defense. You could definitely argue that Jalen Ramsey is worth a shot here, but with the recent signings of Dwight Lowery and Casey Hayward I look at Phillip Rivers and say we are winning now and have a secondary that can do it. Now in comes Buckner, who can start immediately and share time with Philon, and it becomes a much stronger front and one that can be built around for years.
4. Dallas Cowboys- Myles Jack- LB- UCLA
The Cowboys are a team that has to feel like they can use this draft to win now. Jack is a guy that has questions about how long his career may be health-wise, but on the field you can say he is the best prospect in football. He can step in and play with Sean Lee and Rolando McClain, and especially sub in for the oft-injured Lee. Jack is fast, can tackle, can cover, and is an overall major addition to the defense. If he can help steer them into a Super Bowl before Tony Romo retires, who cares if his career lasts only seven years?
5. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jalen Ramsey- CB- Florida State
Jalen Ramsey kind of compares to Charles Woodson in how athletically gifted they are, and would have to be considered the top player left on the board. The Jaguars also just so happen to need a cornerback. Aaron Colvin is suspended for four games, but the question really is why are you relying so heavily on Colvin? It is a clear weakness and sliding Colvin and Davon House down the line and next to Ramsey will only increase their play as time goes on.
6. Baltimore Ravens- Laremy Tunsil- LT-Ole Miss
In Baltimore Ravens fashion, they get arguably the best player available in the draft to fall to them at six. The Ravens will go with the best guy on the board and it helps because offensive line injuries, and offensive line depth, killed this team last year. Tunsil may give them the comfort to trade Eugene Monroe, who was once a prominent tackle but has faced injury. They can either salvage an extra pick, or ease Tunsil in this year and move Monroe the next. Either way it sets the Ravens offensive line up for years to come.
7. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Doctson- WR- TCU
With the top two quarterbacks already gone you can not force a QB with this pick. I would instead look to build my team up. In Josh Doctson, you have a guy that may give you the thought to hold on to Colin Kaepernick. Doctson is basically the accuracy eraser and makes going up and getting it simple, no matter where the ball is. He needs to refine some of his route running, and put on some weight, but he reminds you of a Dez Bryant type at times. The Niners do not have much on the roster outside of Torrey Smith, and the combination of the two would be very solid. It is just too hard to pass up.
- Cleveland Browns- Joey Bosa- LB- Ohio State
Two things make this pick easy for the Browns: One, is that Joey Bosa is probably the safest prospect in the entire draft; and two, in moving from Florida (in highschool) to Ohio, there is hope the he has friends that are Browns fans and he won’t want to leave them in four years. The Browns just cannot miss here, they have to get someone to build around. Bosa is a edge defender who can really play in a variety of spots and roles, and can fit around last years first round pick Danny Shelton. You now have two young pieces up front, with the potential to build around them moving forward.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Ronnie Stanley-LT- Notre Dame
Listen, I know the Buccaneer’s defense needs work, but a lot of this roster could use some work. The Bucs took Donovan Smith in round two last year, and while he made some strides as a starter, it is likely that Stanley is just as good or better already. You throw Smith to the right side making an adjustment even easier, then you are not reliant on a guy like Gosder Cherilus to start, but instead he can be a veteran swing tackle for a young set of bookends. You need to protect your franchise, and now Jameis Winston is the franchise guy so to settling him in with Smith and Stanley on the ends is tough to pass up.
- New York Giants- Michael Thomas-WR-Ohio State
The Giants could not pass up on such a strong compliment to Odell Beckham. Victor Cruz has talked about coming back, and you want to believe he does, but he suffered an injury that may never allow him to be the same again, and he really should not be looked at as more than a slot option right now. In this short passing game Thomas can thrive at quick routes and burn defenders after the catch with a dynamic size and speed ability. After spending a ton on the defense in free agency, I tell Eli to go to work with potentially one of the better receiving crews in the league.
- Chicago Bears- Ezekiel Elliott- RB- Ohio State
The Bears lost Matt Forte and everybody assumed that Jeremy Langford would just step in. Langford, however, was never too impressive and most saw him as a complimentary back just last year. Elliott is already a better player than Langford, and is more than likely the best player available. Most say that you should not take a running back this early, but Elliott is really a can’t-miss back due to the fact the he is a combination of blocking, burst, power, and elusiveness.
- New Orleans Saints- Shaq Lawson- DE- Clemson
The Saints have to upgrade and sort out their defense. It appears they are a team that continues to move back and forth between a 4-3 and a 3-4, and have players that have played in either, neither, or both schemes. The good thing about Lawson is whatever the scheme or alignment is, he can fit in it. Some have questioned his ability off of the line, as he is really big guy, and has played mostly with his hand on the ground. But, he did drop back into coverage at Clemson and it wasn’t bad. His versatility is big, and he can either line up against your biggest building block Cameron Jordan in the 4-3, or even beside him as an outside linebacker in a 3-4. The versatility that those two would bring, along with Hau’oli Kikaha, they could show more multiple looks and at worst be better in the area of play calling next year.
- Miami Dolphins- Vernon Hargreaves- CB-Florida
For a while it was tough to see Hargreaves leave the top ten. He is a great athlete, a ball hawk, and a strong tackler. He is a bit undersized, and bigger receivers have been able to body him, but his floor is basically a strong slot option. All that said, the Dolphins’ biggest need is probably cornerback. They traded for Byron Maxwell, but still have nobody to throw around him. If in Hargreaves’ rookie year he can only man the slot, it still fills a vacancy and causes an immediate upgrade. Now the secondary can be built with Hargreaves and safety Reshad Jones, rather than hoping Maxwell can play over his head.
- Oakland Raiders- Sheldon Rankins- DT- Louisville
This just feels like a perfect fit for the Raiders. The Raiders are collecting a group of versatile lineman, and Rankins can be a big enforcer on the interrior. They can line up Rankins as a defensive end next to Dan Williams and Mario Edwards, with Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith or Bruce Irvin as outside linebackers in the 3-4. They could also line Mack, Edwards, Rankins, and Smith, and keep Irvin as a strong side linebacker; and they can rotate Williams with Edwards, as well as slide Edwards outside. With such a young addition to the front of their interrior, there is no telling how much it will affect a guy like Mack.
- Tennessee Titans- Andrew Billings- NT- Baylor
Dick Lebeau typically runs a base 3-4 for the majority of his games. With that, you need a pure nose tackle who can clog the center and has the strength to hold the line and take up blockers. He is getting just that in Billings. The Titans currently have little on the defensive side of the ball, except Jurrell Casey who will play on the line next to Billings. It means that they need to add everywhere, and Billings is the best player available. But what is more important, is that they get to start building their line up front. To have two pieces in place in the interior, and to have rushers like Brian Orakpo, and Derrick Morgan off of the edge, it actually gives you a chance in the trenches this year.
- Detroit Lions-Vernon Butler- DT- Louisiana Tech
The Lions are in desperate need to build up their front seven. Butler definitely has the potential to be the best player left at this point, but is a bit raw in his technique. In steps Haloti Ngata, one of the great interior defensive lineman in recent memory. Ngata is 33 years old, his contract will be up in 2017, and it will be a big question whether he even gets another offer. What he can do in these next two years is play beside Butler, give Detroit an upgraded front, and teach this kid the nuances of sustaining a career until you are 35. It is too good of a fit to pass on.
- Atlanta Falcons- Leonard Floyd- LB- Georgia
There is a lot of talk about moving Vic Beasley off of the line at some times to help the next level of the defense. Floyd is here to say you don’t have to do that. Floyd is a guy with great athleticism and length, but probably is not strong enough to be a pure pass rusher as an edge defender. However, he can use his length, range, and speed to move side to side and make plays that really Beasley cannot do. He can rotate on the line opposite Beasley and with Derrick Shelby and Tyson Jackson, and can rotate with Sean Weatherspoon on the weak side, and gives the Falcons defense a big boost in multiple areas.
- Indianapolis Colts- Ryan Kelly-C- Alabama
The Colts really have not found a center since Jeff Saturday left. What I am hearing, seeing, and reading on Kelly is that he is the best center available, and could be one of those generational, plug him in and not worry about it guys at that position. You see Andrew Luck take beating after beating, and while tackles are nice, a center to pair with a franchise quarterback would be a major help. It is also one of the most glaring holes on the entire team and has been something the Colts have spoke about upgrading, but have yet to do so. This could be because that they know Kelly will be sitting here waiting to head to Indy.
- Buffalo Bills- Laquon Treadwell-WR- Ole Miss
The Bills are in a position where no need is so glaring that it should take away from the best player available. A few teams ahead of them did not have the luxury of Treadwell, but the Bills can afford to pin him across Sammy Watkins, next to Robert Woods, and know that they can go to work. Treadwell is mainly a possession receiver without being able to take the top off, but with Watkins and Woods already excelling in that aspect, Treadwell may rip teams to shreds in the middle of the field.
20. New York Jets-Noah Spence- DE- Eastern Kentucky
The Jets are probably hoping the board breaks down this way, because they really have no pure speed off of the edge. Muhammed Wilkerson can play on the edge, but besides him they have a crowd on interior lineman and that is it. Spence has not played off of the ball much, but he can beside these interior players and being able to push Sheldon Richardson inside full-time will boosting the pass rush on the outside is a major addition.
21. Washington- Jonathan Bullard- DE- Florida
Everyone asking the same questions about Bullard: where can he play? Where does he fit? The more important thing is that this guy can flat-out play. He is a beast off the ball, and seems to have good instincts as to where the ball is going. I am seeing edge players like Junior Gallette, Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and Preston Smith, and with very little upfront, you just line Bullard up all over the defensive line with an assortment of theses guys. Kerrigan and Smith can easily rush with their hands down, and Bullard can play end in 3-4 looks, so this can be a versatile front with a lot of rotations.
- Houston Texans- Corey Coleman-WR- Baylor
We might look back and see Coleman as a steal this late. He has a few knocks, but most of it is his system at Baylor and only running four routes in it. Either way, the kid was open all the time, and seemed to always be taking it 50 plus yards. You tell Coleman to take the top off, which in return frees up Hopkins. Hopkins, the stud route runner he is, can teach Coleman a thing or two, and help the duo become one of the more feared pairs around.
- Minnesota Vikings- Cody Whitehair-G- Kansas State
The Vikings essentially should view this pick as taking a lineman or a wide receiver no matter what. With Whitehair being the best interior lineman, and four receivers off of the board, it kind of makes my decision easier. Whitehair fits because he can start right away, and on a run first team is a mauler who loves to help in the run.
24. Cincinnati Bengals- Kenny Clark- DT- UCLA
Thinking from the Bengals point of view, their first round pick probably will not start as a rookie. It has seemed to be a trend with a few of their recent picks, as they have drafted players to fill a need in the future rather than pay extra money for free agents. They see Domata Peko, age 30, with one year left on his deal. Clark is the best option to replace him. Clark has big lower body strength and was really productive. He has to work on being a pass rusher, but he took on double teams, and usually was able to beat his first man. The Bengals can refine him to play next to Geno Atkins in the coming year, and he can rotate behind Peko and give energy snaps as a rookie in the meantime to tie up the depth of the line. The Bengals get what they want, and get an underrated gem in the draft.
- Pittsburgh Steelers- Jarran Reed- DT-Alabama
The Steelers lost Steve Mclendon this off-season, who was a major part of why they were an improved run defense last season. They now see themselves with no real viable option at the nose, and Reed fits in perfectly. He is a good fit in that he can take up space, and take up extra blockers in the interior. He can clog the front and let the other lineman, like Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, work in space around him. That obviously frees up space for the linebackers and gives the Steelers, who are competing for a Super Bowl, an immediate impact on the line.
- Seattle Seahawks- Taylor Decker- OT- Ohio State
Seattle has got to address the offensive line at some point right? The Seahawks are feeling they do not need to, with an elusive quarterback like Russell Wilson. Decker is nice because while he is an offensive tackle, he is probably stronger in the run game. Whether Wilson needs it or not, the run game clearly does, and to replace Russell Okung and to help the most obvious need has to be done.
27. Green Bay Packers- Reggie Ragland- LB- Alabama
The Packers have been using Clay Matthews sporadically on the inside for a couple of years, but now it is time to move him back for good. He was mainly used to help the run defense in the middle, but now comes the addition of a stud run defender. The Packers found a potential long term solution in the fourth round last year in Jake Ryan, and with Ragland they can really tie up the linebacker position for the future. Ragland is really safe, especially at this point in the draft. He has a knack for finding running backs and punishing them. While some are questioning if he is fast enough, or if he can defend the pass strong enough, he has shown in spurts that he can do it. He obviously is not a finished product yet, but he can start now in place of Sam Barrington, and can grow as the season goes as a guy who can be a more complete player.
- Kansas City Chiefs- William Jackson III- CB- Houston
The Chiefs lost Sean Smith due to free agency this year, and really were not able to find any replacement. Although they went to the well in the first round last year and hit with Marcus Peters, there is still a need for another cornerback here. The Chiefs have a pretty solid defensive front, and now they can tie up the back end for the future. Jackson is a guy who is a bit raw but is long, fast, and has all the skills you want a cornerback to have. He has underrated ball skills, and if he can put on a little more weight there will be no receivers he can stand down from with his length and height combination. It is a plus that Peters can now take top receivers, so you can mix and match how you use the size and how raw Jackson is. It would seem like a no brainer to fill an immediate need and take potentially a player who was under-drafted if he can develop.
- Arizona Cardinals- Mackensie Alexander- CB- Clemson
It wouldn’t appear to be a need, as Patrick Peterson is on the roster, but the Cards need someone to line up across from him. Justin Bethel has been a liability, and Alexander is strong in man. Alexander is a bit undersized, but most of his last year or so has been able to shut down some of the best wide receivers in the nation. He did not record an interception last year, but most teams did not test him. While he could use some refining as a whole, he could easily be seen as a steal here; and at worst, he is mixing and matching over the top coverage and slot duty with Tyrann Mathieu.
- Carolina Panthers- Jack Conklin- OT- Michigan State
The Panthers true weakness was exposed in the Super Bowl by Von Miller and Demarcus Ware. Both of their tackles were poor, and Cam Newton had to use his Superman powers to survive and play around them last year. However, it will have to be addressed at some point. Conklin is a tough kid and fits into the Panthers grinding mentality. He was a team captain at MSU, and has played both sides of the line. He can start right away and probably give an immediate upgrade whichever side he plays on.
- Denver Broncos- Robert Nkemdiche- DE- Ole Miss
You can force a quarterback here, but I wouldn’t. The defense is what won you the past Super Bowl, and it was the defense that was picked apart in free agency. The loss of Malik Jackson is huge, and Nkemdiche plays a similar role. He honestly has similar power and potential to shine above a guy like Jackson, but he is still pretty raw in his abilities. You can call him a bit of a project, in that his off-field concerns are worrisome, but you have solid players to pair him with. Derrick Wolfe, Von Miller, and Demarcus Ware all can be valuable to him in different ways and it feels like The Broncos posses the right environment for a guy like him to win at. Since I have that veteran leadership on my roster, I take a stab on a guy who could turn out much better than where he was selected.
- Cleveland Browns- Will Fuller- WR- Notre Dame
Fuller can replace Travis Benjamin immediately in the passing game and can be a deep threat for Robert Griffin III.
- Tennessee Titans- Karl Joseph- S- West Virginia
Joseph may miss training camp due to an ACL injury, but this is a team looking as if they will not be worried about winning this year. Ease him in and potentially select the best safety in the class.
- Dallas Cowboys- Kevin Dodd- DE-Clemson
You need to continue to address the front seven if you are Dallas.
- San Diego- Darian Thompson- S- Boise State
Thompson is a guy who flies around the field and is strong in the box. He can replace Weddle, and play with a safety like Dwight Lowery immediately.
- Baltimore Ravens- Eli Apple- CB- Ohio State
Ravens still need to address the secondary, and with little corner depth this makes sense.
- San Francisco 49ers- Kendall Fuller- CB- Virginia Tech
The 49ers cornerback situation is one of the most bleak in the league.
- Jacksonville Jaguars- Su’a Cravens- LB- USC
A guy who can just find the ball and make a sure tackle, which is something the Jags do not have enough of.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Vonn Bell- S- Ohio State
The Bucs need immediate defensive help and he can fit Bell into their defense moving forward.
- New York Giants- Darron Lee- LB- Ohio State
Some mocks probably have Lee here to Giants in the first. It is an obvious need, and Lee can find the ball. I just see him as undersized, and wonder how he can play in run defense.
- Chicago Bears- A’Shawn Robinson- DE- Alabama
He fits in as a 3-4 next to Eddie Goldman. It helps the Bears as they transition WIll Sutton out of the rotation.
- Miami Dolphins- Derrick Henry- RB- Alabama
They’ve been looking for a running back all off-season. Henry can come in right away and handle the load.
- Tennessee Titans- Nick Martin – C- Notre Dame
With two defenders selected early, we now look to beef up the offensive line and hope to find a franchise center to put in front of Mariota.
- Oakland Raiders- Sterling Shepard- WR- Oklahoma
Sterling Shepard can help this team immediately. His rookie contract will be up when Michael Crabtree is a free agent again, and Cooper, Sheperd and Crabtree can be one heck of a combination.
- Tennessee Titans- Jason Spriggs- OT- Indiana
Titans need to continue beefing up their offensive line now. We finally get the Tackle everyone thought we were going to take first overall a few weeks ago.
- Detroit Lions-Shilique Calhoun- DE- Michigan State
The Michigan product stays home. Coming out of the draft with two additions on the line to add to Ziggy Ansah and Haloti Ngata brings some roar back to the Lions.
- New Orleans Saints-Chris Jones -DT- Mississippi State
The Saints have to continue to load up on their front seven. Jones has a high motor and production but has some off-field issues.
48. Indianapolis Colts- Joshua Garnett-G- Stanford
I saw Andrew Luck get hit way too many times last year and it is time to heavily invest in the offensive line.
- Buffalo Bills- Javon Hargrave- DT- South Carolina State
The injuries to Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus destroyed the Bills last year. Hagrave is a small school kid, and will need to rotate with those two to start, but eventually will take the aging Williams role.
50. Atlanta Falcons- Keanu Neal-S Florida
Keanu Neal should be thrusted in to start right away and is an upgrade for a poor group of safeties in Atlanta
51. New York Jets- Germain Ifedi- G/T Texas A&M
D’Brickshaw Ferguson retired and was replace by Ryan Clady who has barely played since 2013. Even if Ferguson cannot play, the Jets needed help at guard and right tackle, and Ifedi will see the field very soon.
52. Houston Texans- Hunter Henry- TE- Arkansas
The Texans need to continue to add playmakers for Brock Osweiler if they want to be successful. Henry can help in the run game as well.
- Washington Redskins- Jalen Mills- FS- LSU
Whether Mills is a corner or safety is not a problem because he is going to be a specialist in the nickel. Have him learn with a guy like Deangelo Hall and put him where he fits best because he can play.
- Minnesota Vikings- Tyler Boyd- WR- Pittsburgh
He would probably have to be their number one receiver immediately. With two possesion types between him and Stefon Diggs and an already boosted line I feel a lot better about where my offense is now.
55. Cincinnati Bengals- Leonte Carroo- WR- Rutgers
Solid route runner who could probably be an immediate replacement for Marvin Jones.
- Seattle Seahawks- Deion Jones- LB- LSU
Jones can fly around the field like a bat-out-of-hell and he can hit. What better team to draft him?
- Green Bay Packers- Jihan Ward- DE- Green Bay Packers
In their multiple defenses Ward can line up in almost any formation on the line.
- Pittsburgh Steelers-Jeremy Cash- S-Duke
Cash is a guy who may be relegated to staying in the box, but in replacing the Troy Polomalu role in Pittsburgh, that will be where they need him to be most effective.
- Kansas City Chiefs-Adolphus Washington- DE- Ohio State
I rotate him in the one and the three technique and just have him make tackles.
- New England Patriots- Sheldon Day- DT- Notre Dame
The Patriots know this game is won upfront, and while they replaced their loss of Dom Easily with Terrance Knighton, Knighton only has one, maybe two, years left in this league.
- New Engalnd Patriots- RB- Kenneth Dixon
The Pats cannot rely on Legarrette Blount past week eight of this year, and Dion Lewis will be eased in after his recent knee injury. It gives Dixon immediate and long term playing time.
- Carolina Panthers- TJ Green- DB-Clemson
Is he a corner? Or a safety? That doesn’t matter because the Panthers need both, and his size can fit into the zone scheme that they run
- Denver Broncos- Austin Johnson- DT- Penn State
Sylvester Williams is due a contract next year and I want to have some money free since I am not drafting a quarterback yet.