It’s been a while since the last NFL Draft Club Mock Draft, but we’re back with another one. The 2017 NFL Combine is now a thing of the past, the big hitters in free agency are almost all off the market, and with some outstanding performances boosting the stock of many prospects, it’s time to see just how much has changed at the top.
1. Cleveland Browns (1-15)
Myles Garrett – EDGE – Texas A&M
The only way this team keeps on being the Browns of old is by passing up on the talented edge rusher Garrett. The former Aggie looks like a physical freak on game tape, and his combine performance only compounds the fact he’s the best the draft has to offer this year. Cleveland would be well on their way to building a solid defence with this selection.
2. San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Mitchell Trubisky – QB – North Carolina
The 49ers new head coach and GM partnering of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch bashed heads this week in free agency, but only came up with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. Both are average stop-plugs, but for Shanahan’s offence to work they need a good starting QB. Trubisky only started one year for the Tar Heels, but he developed a great feel for the pocket and showed he can read the field. He isn’t the finished article, but he has definite NFL starting ability.
3. Chicago Bears (3-13)
Malik Hooker – S – Ohio State
The Bears were active in free agency, but mostly at the quarterback spot. They brought in Mike Glennon as their new starting quarterback, allowing their draft attention to focus elsewhere. The secondary is thin, but the addition of former Buckeye Malik Hooker would bring them a safety with top-of-the-range ball skills, coverage abilities and play against the run.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
O.J. Howard – TE – Alabama
Of all the teams in free agency, yet again the Jaguars came out on top. The additions of Calais Campbell and AJ Bouye sure up the defence, meaning David Caldwell can give Blake Bortles some help at quarterback. They dealt away Julius Thomas to the Dolphins this past week, and could look to ‘Bama prospect O.J. Howard. One of the best blocking tight ends in college last year, Howard also has the size, speed and hands to create match-up nightmares allover the field.
5. Tennessee Titans via Los Angeles Rams (9-7)
Reuben Foster – ILB – Alabama
Foster suffered from an indifferent NFL Combine after being sent home following a “heated argument” with a hospital worker. That doesn’t change the fact that Foster is a well-built, explosive and fast inside linebacker, capable of being a perennial Pro Bowler.
6. New York Jets (5-11)
Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio State
The Jets cut Darrelle Revis prior to free agency and, even before that move, they needed help at the position. Lattimore’s combine performance was overshadowed by that of his Buckeye counterpart Gareon Conley. Switch on the tape, though, you’ll watch a prospect with a strong, competitive edge that has all the necessary to develop into a number one corner on an NFL defence.
7. Los Angeles Chargers (5-11)
Jonathan Allen – DL – Alabama
After a topsy-turvy final season in San Deigo that saw 2016 first-round pick Joey Bosa have a rookie-season for the ages, the Chargers decided to join the Rams in LA. Don’t expect to see them make a splash at the quarterback position quite like they did, though. If Allen is there at #7, they plug a big hole in their defensive line and add another young, versatile and powerful pass rusher.
8. Carolina Panthers (6-10)
Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford
The Panthers were surprisingly active during free agency, bringing in Matt Kalil and veteran Julius Peppers. Kalil fills a huge need on the offensive line, meaning GM Dave Gettleman can focus on bulking up new defensive coordinator Steve Wilks ranks. Thomas is slightly lean for a 4-3 end, but could very easily bulk up. He would give the Panthers someone with the ability to constantly get after the quarterback.
9. Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
Forrest Lamp – OG – Western Kentucky
After the Bengals saw long-time starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Lietler walk away in free agency, their early draft attention should look at the offensive line. Western Kentucky’s Forrest Lamp played at tackle during college, but experts believe he would be best suited for guard at the pro level. Lamp should be the first offensive lineman off the board in a weak prospect pool.
10. Buffalo Bills (7-9)
Mike Williams – WR – Clemson
One of my favourite moves this off-season was the Bills locking up Tyrod Taylor. They now need to give him some more weapons to throw to. New head coach Sean McDermott might want to add some depth on defence, but that could be saved for later rounds. Williams gives Taylor a big body that he can throw the ball up to.
11. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
Jamal Adams – S – LSU
Adams falling out of the top ten might be a shock, but the Saints would be quick to snap him up should he be available. New Orleans tried to trade for Patriots corner Malcolm Butler and that move could still happen, but bringing in a strong safety capable of adding Pro Bowl talent to a thin secondary would be a real bonus.
12. Cleveland Browns via Philadelphia Eagles (1-15)
Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU
Two of Cleveland’s biggest moves this off-season were locking up guard Joel Bitonio and adding Kevin Zietler through free agency. That gives the Browns real strength on the interior of their offensive line to create holes for their running backs. Fournette is a physical, dominant and strong runner that would give them an instant upgrade at the spot.
13. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
Gareon Conley – CB – Ohio State
The Cardinals lost two big-time defensive players in free agency with the loss of defensive lineman Calais Campbell and safety Tony Jefferson. The second corner spot behind Patrick Peterson was a problem spot despite last season’s #2 overall ranking for total defence. Conley excelled at the combine, and showed during college he has the ability to contribute on an NFL defence straight away.
14. Philadelphia Eagles via Minnesota Vikings (7-9)
Dalvin Cook – RB – Florida State
Carson Wentz was granted more weapons by the Eagles in free agency with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Adding Cook gives them an isntant upgrade over Ryan Matthews and adds another valuable piece to their offence. The former FSU back has great patience in waiting for holes to appear, before accelerating quickly into the second and third levels.
15. Indianapolis Colts (8-8)
Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee
Indianapolis again overlooked the defensive line during free agency although, in fairness, there wasn’t much on the market. The draft, though, holds the value this off-season. Barnett was a powerful pass rusher with a high-motor lacking elite speed or agility, but more than capable of making his play at Tennessee translate into the NFL.
16. Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
Corey Davis – WR – Western Michigan
For the Ravens to become legitimate contenders for championships again they need to give Joe Flacco some help. The Ravens missed out on a couple of free agent targets, forcing them to look to the draft. Davis has ideal size, a polished route running ability and a receiver capable of making plays inside or outside of formations.
17. Washington Redskins (8-7-1)
Christian McCaffrey – RB/WR – Stanford
Despite the turmoil in D.C., the Redskins are trying to keep franchise-tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins in town by giving him some help. Terrelle Pryor could be a big impact on their offence, while last year’s first-round pick Josh Doctson should also see some playing time next season. Christian McCaffrey could be a Swiss-army-knife type of NFL player, capable of lining up anywhere on offence.
18. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
Tre’Davious White – CB – LSU
The Titans added ex-Patriots corner Logan Ryan in free agency, but they still have a need in the secondary. Their second pick of the first round could see them add some more depth in that position. White is a corner from LSU’s secondary production line; he excels in zone coverage, is a big hitter and can make plays on the ball.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
Charles Harris – DE – Missouri
Tampa Bay made some sneaky good moves during the first few days of free agency, finally adding a deep threat to their offence in Desean Jackson, and re-signing defensive end Will Gholston. The problem with this team is depth, specifically on the defensive line. Charles Harris is built like a 4-3 end, possesses ready-made NFL rush moves and should get after NFL quarterbacks from day one.
20. Denver Broncos (9-7)
Garett Bolles – OT – Utah
Denver addressed their problems on the o-line by adding Raiders right tackle Menelik Watson to their ranks. Bolles, a one year starter at tackle for the Utah Utes, could be a day one starter at right tackle. That would mean Watson competing with Donald Stephenson for the starting left tackle job. If Denver want to add a young tackle with the ability to start on the left side with a bit of coaching, Bolles is the guy to do so.
21. Detroit Lions (9-7)
Takkarist McKinley – DE – UCLA
Jim Caldwell worked wonders with his Lions team last season, riding the offensive wave of confidence instilled in his team by Matt Stafford. If they are to truly challenge deep into the playoffs and finally make their way to a Super Bowl, they have to get better on defence. McKinley is slightly undersized, but could easily add 10-15 pounds onto his frame. He has an elite burst, elite speed and is capable of becoming a a double-digit sack guy opposite Ziggy Ansah.
22. Miami Dolphins (10-6)
Quincy Wilson – CB – Florida
Like the Lions, Miami made great strides last season when many weren’t expecting them to do so. There are still improvements to be made if they want to contend for the playoffs every year, though. Rookie Xavien Howard performed well after his second-round selection, and adding Wilson would allow Byron Maxwell a move back to his favoured nickel corner role. The former Gator is built like a safety, has good speed, and outstanding ball skills that make him more than capable making big plays at the pro level.
23. New York Giants (11-5)
Ryan Ramczyk – OT – Wisconsin
Even with the free agency addition of Brandon Marshall, the Giants need to protect Eli Manning for their offence to reach it’s high-ceiling potential. Ramczyk only started for one season at Wisconsin, and might need to work on his run blocking ability, but should offer some solid pass protection early in his career for Eli.
24. Oakland Raiders (12-4)
Haason Reddick – ILB – Temple
When Derek Carr went down late in the regular season last year, the Raiders knew their hopes of a return to the Super Bowl were all but over. That was because their defence wasn’t strong enough, even with Khalil Mack, to carry them through the playoffs. Losing Malcolm Smith won’t hit them too hard as they needed to upgrade the linebacker spot anyway. Reddick is an intriguing prospect, capable of playing both linebacker spots as he can blitz, cover and play the run to tremendous effect.
25. Houston Texans (9-7)
Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson
Free agency was bubbling along as expected until the Texans sent Brock Osweiler and their second round pick to Cleveland in what was essentially a cap dump. Tony Romo is expected to fill the void left by Osweiler, but they still need a future starter at quarterback. Watson won a National Championship with Clemson last season, and the media hype would suggest he is a quarterback worth selecting in the top five. NFL scouts see it differently, with serious questions about his accuracy and decision-making emerging. Even so, his leadership qualities, ability to extend plays and arm strength are enough to warrant a late first-round selection.
26. Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
David Njoku – TE – Miami
The Seahawks brought in Jared Cook for a visit this week, so the signs suggest they are actively seeking a replacement for Luke Willson, or even Jimmy Graham. Njoku would be a cheaper option than the latter, and a much more natural fit for the Seahawks offensive scheme. He has a long, muscular frame and makes his money as a pass catcher. Work is needed for Njoku is the run blocking game, but Seattle don’t use their tight ends for that all too much.
27. Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
Jarrad Davis – ILB – Florida
Probably the best safety in the league, Eric Berry, was locked up to a long-term deal by the Chiefs so they can count free agency as a successful period. Their small amount of cap space, though, meant they couldn’t get all their deals done. The inside linebacker spot behind veteran Derrick Johnson could use an upgrade, as could Johnson himself. Jarrad Davis is a natural thumper at the position, and with a little work could be Johnson’s successor.
28. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
Taco Charlton – DE – Michigan
It’s no secret that the Cowboys biggest problem in the post-season was their inability to affect the opposition’s quarterbacks. They’ve taken a couple of gambles in the draft with the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Charles Tapper, but this year’s draft is the one to add some real talent. Former Michigan Wolverine Taco Charlton is a well-built, powerful pass rusher. He would instantly upgrade the Cowboys pass rushing frailties.
29. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Jabrill Peppers – S/LB – Michigan
Despite losing a couple of pieces and not diving into the free agency market all guns blazing, Packers GM Ted Thompson just about managed to keep his NFC Championship contending roster together. The pick, Peppers, is a unique player who might be a better athlete than football player. The former Wolverine took snaps at corner, linebacker, safety, running back, on kick return, and even at quarterback. Scouts differ on where he might best be suited, but find his position and he could be one heck of a football player.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
T.J. Watt – OLB – Wisconsin
For the Steelers to get back to the Super Bowl, they need to improve on defence. Many of the pieces to that puzzle are in place, but with aging veterans they need to get younger. T.J. Watt, the brother of J.J. and Derek, doesn’t have a huge sample size but possesses a natural ability to rush the passer. Developing behind James Harrison and Arthur Moats would give him, and the Steelers, a big boost.
31. Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
Teez Tabor – CB – Florida
While the Falcons already possess two capable NFL starters at corner in Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, both are hitting free agency in 2018 and its hard to envisage Atlanta holding onto both. Tabor is an unpolished diamond. He has good coverage skills and ball skills, but his run defence could use some work. The chance to learn from the Falcons two starting corners would benefit him greatly.
32. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
John Ross – WR – Washington
The Saints free agency trade with the Patriots for Brandin Cooks saw the team gain another first round pick. Much has been made of John Ross’ combine performance in breaking Chris Johnson’s 40 record, but there is a talented football player in there too. He is an outstanding kick returner, and, while lacking ideal size, he has the speed to stretch the field for Drew Brees.