It’s never too early to look ahead to the NFL draft, and with the season already halfway over (sucks, I know) that’s a perfect time to put together a mock draft. The draft order isn’t what I project, just what it would be if the season ended today. Enjoy!
1.) Detroit Lions: DT, Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
The Lions have a lot of choices here with the first pick, but ultimately they decide to go with Robert Nkemdiche – who is now #1 on my big board. The defense fell apart when Suh and Fairley left, so ultimately they decided to restore that interior pass rush with the freakishly athletic Nkemdiche.
2.) Tennessee Titans: DE, Joey Bosa, Ohio State
I think the Titans are overjoyed with Bosa at #2. Picking in this slot yet again, they get another difference maker, but this time on the defensive side of the ball. Bosa can be an elite pass rusher in the NFL and serves as a great fit in Tennessee’s flexible defense.
3.) San Francisco 49ers: OT, Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
The 49ers snag a franchise left tackle after their first season in rebuilding mode, which isn’t a bad way to start building the offense. Tunsil is a brick wall at left tackle and will surely provide much needed protection for Kaepernick, or whoever the QB is. Joe Staley is still there, but trade rumors have surfaced. Worst case scenario, Tunsil starts off at right tackle and makes the transition in a year or two. The last player the 49ers took out of Ole Miss in the first round? Patrick Willis.
4.) San Diego Chargers: CB, Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
The defense for San Diego has fallen apart at times this season, particularly late in games. While they have some pretty talented corners, they jump at the chance of snagging a playmaker like VHIII. Hargreaves has the most upside of anyone in the draft, and is very comparable to a Patrick Peterson. A potential shutdown corner with tremendous playmaking ability.
5.) Baltimore Ravens: WR, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
It may be a reach in the top 5, but let’s face it, the Ravens are desperate for weapons on offense. Steve Smith has played his last down in the NFL, and after him, Baltimore is very thin in the WR corps. Last year’s first round pick, Breshad Perriman, has made a minimal impact. The Ravens need to help out Joe Flacco and provide him a respectable supporting cast. Treadwell is very comparable to Smith due to his tremendous blocking ability and of course receiving talent.
6.) Cleveland Browns: QB, Connor Cook, Michigan State
Josh McCown isn’t the QB of the future, and neither is Johnny Manziel. I like Connor Cook as the top QB in the draft and Mike Pettine goes for the QB across from up north a bit. Cook has the confidence, maturity and skillset to succeed in the NFL – a true gamer.
7.) Chicago Bears: CB/S, Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
The Bears have a lot of holes to fill, but it wouldn’t hurt to start in the secondary. Jalen Ramsey can be the next Charles Tillman on that defense – a guy who gets all over the field and makes plays. They neglect to go for a QB but will address that in the next round or two.
8.) Jacksonville Jaguars: OT, Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
The Jaguars have a lot going for them now on offense with a bright future, and adding a franchise left tackle could be the final ingredient. Luke Joeckel hasn’t exactly panned out, so they could use a replacement there, and who better than Stanley? A guy who can protect Bortles and make an impact in the running game as well.
9.) Dallas Cowboys: RB, Ezekiel Elliot, Ohio State
Wouldn’t that be scary? You can welcome a new set of triplets to Dallas. Romo-Elliot-Bryant would be very reminiscent of Aikman-Smith-Irvin back in the day for those dynasty Cowboys teams. Elliot would add a playmaker in the backfield and much more consistency from the running back position.
10.) Houston Texans: QB, Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
There’s no stopping Bill O’Brien, he’s gonna go for his guy. Hackenberg would serve as the perfect fit playing for his old college coach. His upside is through the roof, although he has struggled at the college level. Still a bit raw, but he has all the physical tools to be a good NFL QB. Brian Hoyer has been solid, but he’s not the QB of the future, nor O’Brien’s guy.
11.) Kansas City Chiefs: OT, Taylor Decker, Ohio State
This is a typical Andy Reid pick. Eric Fisher has shifted over to right tackle due to struggles at the blindside. Taylor Decker looks like your average Andy Reid offensive linemen who will have him drooling on draft day. Decker has great size along with huge potential.
12.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB, Tre’Davious White, LSU
The Buccaneers could go a variety of ways here, but I think they would address the secondary in a division with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton. White often flies under the radar due to the bigger names like Hagreaves and Ramey, but he’s just as talented and perhaps the safest pic of the trio. After seeing how Kwon Alexander has worked out, they wouldn’t hesitate to snag another LSU Tiger.
13.) Miami Dolphins: LB, Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame
The Dolphins get a steal here at 13 in Jaylon Smith – one of my favorite prospects in the draft. Smith is a leader in the LB corps, something the Dolphins could use. He offers tremendous versatility and is as solid as they come.
14.) Philadelphia Eagles: QB, Jared Goff, California
This would kill me as an Eagles fan, I’m one of Goff’s biggest critics and don’t think he’ll be a successful NFL QB. I went inside Chip Kelly’s mind for a second, and this is something I could definitely see him pulling the trigger on. Sam Bradford has been ineffective and I don’t see him being re-signed which draws a need under center. I think Kelly would like Goff as a fit in his offense and you know how he loves his Pac-12 guys.
15.) Washington Redskins: DE, DeForest Buckner, Oregon
This is a tough spot for Jay Gruden and the ‘Skins – they could go a variety of ways here. I do like Buckner here based on value and fit. He isn’t a flashy pass rusher, but he is a tremendous run stopper with great length who could be a very good 3-4 DE in the NFL, especially in Washington’s system.
16.) Buffalo Bills: WR, Corey Coleman, Baylor
Does Rex Ryan go with a QB? Or does he continue to ride the arm of Tyrod Taylor? I think Ryan is content with Taylor, for now. Therefore, he goes with one of the hottest trending names in the NFL Draft landscape. The Bills have dealt with inconsistencies and injuries from their receivers all season long. Coleman is the best vertical threat in the class and he can even make plays underneath. The Bills add a solid playmaker with the defense pretty much set.
17.) New Orleans Saints: DE, Shawn Oakman, Baylor
I can’t remember the last time Sean Payton and the Saints made a risky pick like this, but he may not even be the head coach come April. Shawn Oakman is a guy with an incredibly high ceiling, a typical workout warrior. He has the potential to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, but there is a lot of risk involved. The Saints go high risk/high reward due to their need of defensive playmakers – could be a great pair with Cameron Jordan.
18.) New York Jets: OL, Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M
Todd Bowles knows games are won in the trenches; and Nick Mangold and D’Brickishaw Ferguson aren’t getting any younger. Bowles goes with an extremely versatile offensive linemen who could come in and start from day one.
19.) Seattle Seahawks: OT, Tyler Johnstone, Oregon
It’s pretty evident that the offensive line for Seattle has been their Achilles heel this season, especially with the departure of Max Unger. With Russell Okung set to test the free agent market and lack of funds, Seattle will find themselves with a huge hole at left tackle. Johnstone is a guy who will go earlier than his stock due to demand at the position, but he’s still talented nonetheless.
20.) St. Louis Rams: QB, Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Give the Rams a QB, and that offense could do wonders. Nick Foles clearly isn’t a starting caliber QB, and addressing this position could put them over the top and into the playoffs in 2016. Jeff Fisher has a handful of vertical threats, so why not take a huge QB with a huge arm in Paxton Lynch? Pair him with Gurley, and you could have the second coming of the greatest show on turf.
21.) Indianapolis Colts: G, Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
The Colts limp into the postseason, literally. Andrew Luck has taken a beating this season, and the team is in dire need of help up front. Whitehair isn’t a sexy pick by any means, but the Colts can’t really afford to do that right now. Whitehair is a sturdy, versatile linemen who can help protect the team’s franchise QB.
22.) Pittsburgh Steelers: CB, Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
The Steelers are set on offense and have great youth and talent up front on defense, but they need some help on the back unit. Fuller has been out most of the season, but he is one of the best pure cover corners in the draft and would surely provide a boost to the secondary.
23.) New York Giants: LB, Myles Jack, UCLA
A linebacker in the 1st round for the Giants? That’s unheard of. Not this year. The Giants are in dire need of help on defense – Myles Jack is among the best defensive playmakers in the draft and would be a great fit on New York’s defense. He’s been out most of the year with a knee injury, but is well worth the risk.
24.) Minnesota Vikings: DE, Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
Mike Zimmer drools at thought of Emmanuel Ogbah in his offense. Ogbah has so much strength and power and would be the next good pass rusher for the Vikings along with Everson Griffen and Brian Robison. Great value towards the end of the 1st round.
25.) Oakland Raiders: DT, A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama
The Raiders could go a variety of ways here, but ultimately they decide to tighten up the defense – and what better way to do that than with a linemen. A’Shawn Robinson has been the anchor of Alabama’s defensive line for the past few seasons and could greatly benefit Oakland’s run defense. A mammoth in the middle of the defense who will clog all running lanes.
26.) Atlanta Falcons: S, Jayron Kearse, Clemson
With a secondary already loaded with young talent, the Falcons decide to complete that unit with a safety to pair with the veteran, William Moore. Kearse is a big, lengthy safety with good ball skills who gets all over the field.
27.) Arizona Cardinals: LB, Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Even though the Cardinals defense has feasted from free agent signings, they jump at the chance of snagging Leonard Floyd late in the 1st round. Floyd has established himself as one of the most feared edge rushers in the SEC and would provide an instant boost to Arizona’s defense.
28.) Cincinnati Bengals: WR, Michael Thomas, Ohio State
With no glaring needs here, the Bengals go with a luxury pick and take a receiver to pair with A.J. Green. Michael Thomas stays instate to play for the Bengals. He has a tremendous combination of size, body control and toughness and has drawn comparisons to his uncle, Keyshawn Johnson.
29.) Green Bay Packers: LB, Scooby Wright, Arizona
Definitely a reach here, but I think the Packers would fall in love with Scooby Wright – and with a glaring need at LB, they pull the trigger. While he has been out most of the season and hasn’t look all that great, he’s the type of player Ted Thompson and the Packers want on that defense. A guy that plays with his heart and is as tough as they come. More of a 2nd-3rd round pick, but he slips into the end of the 1st.
30.) Denver Broncos: RB, Derrick Henry, Alabama
While he’s not the prototypical Gary Kubiak runner, there’s no denying Derrick Henry’s talent. The Broncos have been dealing with RB inconsistencies all season long, until now. He’s a hard-running, workhorse RB who the offense can rely on – which is something they need with Peyton Manning’s likely retirement.
31.) Carolina Panthers: WR, Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh
Finally, the Panthers get some help in the WR corps for Cam Newton. Boyd is as talented as they come at the position and would form a tremendous tandem with Kelvin Benjamin – assuming he returns at full strength.
32.) New England Patriots: Forfeit