We are already more than a quarter of the way through the 2017 season… That’s a crazy thought in itself. But with that being said, team needs are starting to become visible and we can start to assess who needs what. The draft order is far from being locked in, as I severely doubt the Jets won’t pick until the late teens, or the Cowboys having a top ten pick. With that being said, this mock is based off of the current standings via tankathon.com. So yell at them, not me. Now then, let’s dive into what you all are waiting for.
With the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft… the New York Giants select…
1. New York Giants: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
It doesn’t matter if you get a franchise quarterback or running back if you can’t keep them upright. Ereck Flowers is undoubtedly one of the biggest busts at offensive tackle in the last decade. The Giants need to correct that mistake immediately and can do that with a true blue-chip left tackle prospect in Connor Williams. Williams’ technique is near flawless and could become a Pro Bowl caliber tackle from day one. Williams will be monitored heavily after tearing his meniscus, but if he’s healthy he’s on the same level as Jake Matthews was as a prospect.
2. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Browns have been bad at quarterback for an eternity. Deshone Kizer looks awful through five games and as an organization you can’t afford to pass up an elite level talent at quarterback when the opportunity presents itself. That is precisely what Josh Rosen is. Rosen would come in and be the Browns savior they’ve been looking for since 1999. Rosen’s mechanics are a work of art and appears to be one of the cleanest passers to enter the draft since Andrew Luck. If the team signs off on his attitude and demeanor, he is easily worth the number one overall pick.
3. San Francisco 49ers: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
This is a scenario where the 49ers enter the draft without a quarterback. Everyone and their mother is under the assumption that Kirk Cousins will find his way to the Bay area this offseason, but until that happens, the 49ers have a large need at quarterback. Sam Darnold has a clutch gene that can’t be taught and has the toughness and grit, as well as quiet leadership skills, to come in and lead the team from day one. Fitting him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense would give the 49ers the spark they need to re-energize that offense.
4. Los Angeles Chargers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Is Minkah Fitzpatrick a cornerback or a safety? It doesn’t matter. Fitzpatrick might be the most versatile defensive player in this draft and provides fantastic instincts and size to the secondary. The Chargers need an upgrade in the secondary entirely, whether that be a new number one cornerback or a safety who scares quarterbacks away from going deep. Fitzpatrick can come in and be both of those. A similar prospect to Jalen Ramsey, Fitzpatrick is the kind of versatility the Chargers need on their defense.
5. Chicago Bears: Derwin James, S, FSU
The Bears desperately need someone on the back-end to put fear into opposing teams. There currently isn’t a defensive back, let alone a safety, who puts fear into offenses. Insert Derwin James. James is a ridiculously talented safety with some of the biggest upside at the position we’ve seen since Eric Berry. James would add nastiness to the Bears secondary and complete a defense that has what looks to be a young and talented defensive front seven.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Under a new regime with Chris Ballard, the Colts are going to see a culture change for the better and experience a team rebuild that will put the Colts right back into Super Bowl contention. And it all starts with the Colts new bell-cow running back, Saquon Barkley. Barkley is being talked about as perhaps the greatest running back prospect of the last ten years. Adding him to an offense with Andrew Luck would split defenses entirely and allow the Colts offense to be off-the-charts good.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Eventually the Cardinals need to make a move for a quarterback of the future. Carson Palmer can’t play forever, and even if he comes back for the 2018 season he isn’t going to be better than he is now. And as it stands now, Palmer is an average quarterback in this league. Insert Josh Allen. Allen would be a perfect fit for this offense with his strong arm and mobility to escape the pocket and make plays. Based off pure intangibles, Allen might be the best quarterback prospect in this draft. If he cuts down on the turnovers, Allen could be a steal.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: Tarvarus McFadden, CB, FSU
Eventually the Bengals have to hit on a cornerback, right? Tarvarus McFadden is simply a ball hawk, nabbing eight interceptions a year ago and possesses tremendous size at 6’2″. With the recent success of Florida State cornerbacks in the NFL such as Xavier Rhodes and Jalen Ramsey, teams could be enamored by that aspect alone. Regardless, McFadden’s skill set is extremely attractive and valuable for a Bengals secondary that continues to disappoint, despite heavy investment at the position.
9. Tennessee Titans: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
The Titans have pieces on the defensive side of the ball to be a well above average group, but they consistently underachieve. Part of that is due to the fact that they are missing an enforcer at the linebacker position. That’s where Malik Jefferson comes into play. Jefferson is a super athletic linebacker who has a tremendously high ceiling. Jefferson is only just now starting to tap into his incredible potential and could take this Titans defense to new heights. He is exactly the presence the Titans need on their defense.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Cowboys are starting to get some production out of former second round pick Demarcus Lawrence, but how often do you get a chance to land two elite edge rushers? Harold Landry is easily the top senior prospect in the draft and is an extremely safe option for teams. Landry is a ferocious pass rusher with a large toolbox at his disposal. Landry is also a run stuffing machine, registering 44.5 TFLs as of writing this. Landry would complete what is becoming a young and feisty defensive front seven in Dallas.
11. Oakland Raiders: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU
Based off pure talent alone, Key should be a top five pick and could even generate hype as a potential number one overall selection. Instead, he finds his way to Oakland to join the black and silver. Short of Khalil Mack, the Raiders defense under-achieves to rather shocking level. The Raiders simply need as much help as they can get defensively if they want to be serious contenders in the AFC. Similar to the Cowboys pick, matching Mack and Key would be thunder and lightning for the Raiders defensive line.
12. Cleveland Browns (via Houston): Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Another player who could garner top five conversation, Christian Wilkins completes what would be a fearsome front four for the Browns. Matching Wilkins with Myles Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Danny Shelton is nightmare material. Wilkins is a massive man at 6’4″ 300-lbs., but still rushes the passer with ease. He would also make the lives of guys like Christian Kirksey so much easier. The Browns are in a great position to add top tier talent, and they find two Pro Bowl talents with their first two selections.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
If Doug Martin stays out of trouble, the Buccaneers can use this pick to continue to improve their secondary or offensive line. But since Martin isn’t trustworthy to stay healthy, and perhaps even stay clean off the field, it is very tempting to get a potential superstar running back to pair with Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Derrius Guice’s angry running style would compliment the Buccaneers offense perfectly and could make their offense a top five unit in the league.
14. Miami Dolphins: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
The Dolphins need help in the secondary in the worst way. The Dolphins could grab themselves an enforcer in the secondary who will captain the team and compliment Reshad Jones to perfection. Ronnie Harrison’s presence as a box safety will put fear into opposing defenses, but he is also rangy enough to make plays as a deep safety. Harrison and Jones would become one of the league’s most versatile safety duos in the league, with the upside to both be Pro Bowlers.
15. New Orleans Saints: Austin Bryant, EDGE, Clemson
The Saints desperately need a legitimate edge rusher opposite Cameron Jordan. Austin Bryant looks like this year’s Kevin Dodd, and that is meant as a compliment. Bryant emerged on to the draft scene after nabbing four sacks this season vs the Auburn Tigers. Bryant has exceptional size at 6’5″ 265-lbs. and has only just begun to tap into his potential. Bryant could turn into a big time riser in throughout the draft process and could very well find himself on a team with a top 15 selection.
16. Washington Redskins: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
In this scenario, Washington holds on to Kirk Cousins. As I’ve already said, these predictions are based off of current team needs, not future needs. Jaire Alexander is a great press corner with good size at 5’11”, excellent ball skills (five interceptions in 2016), and has shut-down corner upside. Alexander and would be a strong compliment to Josh Norman from day one and give Washington a dynamic one-two punch at corner.
17. Los Angeles Rams: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
With uncertainty surrounding the Rams wide receiving core beyond 2017, wide receiver is definite need for the Rams. Calvin Ridley reminds me of Percy Harvin without all the drama and injury concerns. Ridley is a smart route runner with strong hands and breakaway speed. Getting Ridley and Todd Gurley on the same offense would give Jared Goff two great, young talents to support him and take this offense to new heights.
18. Baltimore Ravens: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Ravens have injuries everywhere, which gives the team plenty of needs. But none more so than upgrading the offensive line, particularly on the interior. Short of Marshal Yanda (who coincidentally is injured), the Ravens have no stability on the interior of their offensive line. Quenton Nelson is a nasty guard with a throw back to the 70s-80s style blocking. There is a lot of David DeCastro to his game, a man Ravens fans know all too well of, which is hard to pass up in the middle of the first round.
19. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Breaking news: The Jets are in need of a franchise quarterback. There’s no way the Jets are picking this late in round one, but as of now they are. As it turns out, Lamar Jackson is an intriguing prospect at the position and would be an instant spark plug for a Jets offense in need of excitement. Jackson would also top jersey sales immediately and bring in tons of attention to the Jets. If the Jets can find some young talent to surround Jackson with, he is a game-changing talent reminiscent of a young Michael Vick.
20. Minnesota Vikings: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Surprisingly, the Vikings have gotten some solid play from their tackles in 2017. Even with that in mind, an upgrade is certainly needed, as neither Mike Remmers nor Riley Reiff are franchise level tackles. Mike McGlinchey may not become a franchise left tackle, but he’d make a damn good right tackle at an absolute worst. McGlinchey is a sound blocker with patience and has tremendous size at 6’8″ 315-lbs. McGlinchey would provide a clean pocket for Sam Bradford (or Teddy Bridgewater) from day one.
21. Pittsburgh Steelers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
For the fourth time in the last five years, an Ohio State cornerback goes in the first round. This time, it is in the former of future star slot corner Denzel Ward. At 5’10” 191-lbs., Ward was hand made to play in the slot and be a feisty corner off the snap. Ward isn’t afraid to hit and has tremendous speed for the position. Corner is, and has been, a need for the Steelers for quite some time. With positive signs showing from 2016 first round pick Artie Burns, adding Ward to the secondary would be another step in the right direction for the Steelers secondary.
22. Seattle Seahawks: Trey Adams, OT, Washington
The Seahawks need an offensive lineman more than the Browns need a quarterback… okay, maybe not that much but you get the idea! At this point in the draft, the offensive line class is based off preference, so feel free to copy/paste your favorite guy here. There are some who believe Trey Adams is the top left tackle in this draft class. After all, Adams does have a high ceiling and a massive frame at 6’8″ 327-lbs. Adams protects the blind side for one of the best offenses in all of college football and could be taken much higher come draft time.
23. Detroit Lions: Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
Similarly to the Saints, the Lions have a need at edge rusher opposite Ziggy Ansah. Clelin Ferrell is now the third Clemson defensive lineman to be selected in the top 25 picks, and he is more than worth the selection. Ferrell is part of a defensive line that is filled with first round talent and still finds a way to be productive. He has a similar build to his partner in crime, Austin Bryant, at 6’5″ 260-lbs. and could be a double-digit sack machine from day one on a defense that loves to get after the quarterback.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
No, this isn’t where the Jaguars take a quarterback. Do they need one? Absolutely. But why reach on a second tier quarterback when you can have a potential superstar wide receiver? Christian Kirk has some DeSean Jackson to his game as a threat as a receiver as well as a return man. To date, Kirk has 27 career touchdowns, six of those coming from special teams (one KR, five PR) and caught at least 80 passes in his first two seasons as an Aggie. Kirk is perhaps the most explosive player in this draft class, and a talent the Jaguars would love to have.
25. Buffalo Bills: Dorance Armstrong, EDGE, Kansas
The Bills could use another shiny, new pass rusher for head coach Sean McDermott, especially if Shaq Lawson continues to be unreliable. Dorance Armstrong lives up to his last name with his beastly pass rushing skills and huge frame. Standing at 6’4″, Armstrong plays at 245-lbs. but could easily add 10-15 more pounds to his frame. The Bills have been lacking a premier pass rusher since a healthy Mario Williams back in 2014. Armstrong can be the team’s future at edge rusher with Pro Bowl upside.
26. New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State
Is Sam Hubbard an off-edge rusher or a down lineman? It doesn’t matter, you’ll find a spot for a guy of his caliber on your defense. Hubbard is considered a tweener to NFL teams, but the man has 12 sacks to date along with 20.5 TFLs. Hubbard may not be the most athletic guy on the field, but the numbers back up the intensity that he brings to the field. With how bad the Patriots defense has looked this season, they need to simply take the best defensive player available, and Hubbard is exactly the kind of defender Bill Belichick loves to have on their versatile front seven.
27. Denver Broncos: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
The Broncos defensive line hasn’t been the same since Malik Jackson left for Jacksonville. As great as Derek Wolfe has been, he isn’t enough to carry the defensive line alone. Da’Ron Payne stepped into a starting role for the Crimson Tide in 2017 and has looked as dominant as his predecessors before him. Da’Ron brings the pain (pun intended) with his punishing and violent nature and could resupply the Broncos with the nastiness they lost when Jackson left town.
28. Atlanta Falcons: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson
Another year, another top tier Clemson wide receiver. Deon Cain is still a work in progress, but his deep speed is at a track star’s level. He has good height, too, at 6’1″.The Falcons don’t have too many needs, so adding a guy like Cain is the very definition of a luxury pick. Cain can sit behind Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel to develop, beofre eventually replacing both of them and becoming the Falcons deep threat across from Julio Jones.
29. Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin Toliver II, CB, LSU
The Eagles are giving up the fourth most passing yards per game through five games this season. The Eagles have had a need for secondary help for years and have two young, potential fixes in Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones (once he recovers from an Achilles tear). Even with the stellar play of Patrick Robinson, the Eagles still need help in the secondary. Kevin Toliver II is the next in line of great LSU DBs. Toliver has great size at 6’3″ 204-lbs. and would provide the Eagles with a big, physical presence on the outside.
30. Carolina Panthers: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma
Cam Newton still has gas left in the tank. Arguably the greatest mobile quarterback of all-time, the Panthers need to invest in a better offensive line for Newton to keep their Super Bowl window open. They can do that by drafting Orlando Brown Jr. The son of former NFL tackle Orlando Brown, his son stands at 6’8″ 340-lbs. The mammoth of a man would be impossible to bull rush, whether that be from the right or left side. The Panthers need to invest in the offensive line, and Brown is a great value this late.
31. Green Bay Packers: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
The Packers secondary still needs help, but getting younger and faster off the edge is a need, as well. Clay Matthews III and Nick Perry are great, but behind them the Packers lack depth. Bradley Chubb, a senior at NC State, is a veteran edge rusher with 44.5 TFLs and 21.5 sacks to his name thus far in his career with the Wolfpack. At 6’4″ 275-lbs., Chubb gives the Packers another “elephant” type edge rusher who can overpower offensive lineman and set the edge versus the run (Packers are 22nd in rush yard per game).
32. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City): Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Thanks to a trade up by the Kansas City Chiefs for Patrick Mahomes this past draft, the Bills are proud owners of two first round picks. With their second selection, the Bills opt to go younger at the running back position with Nick Chubb. LeSean McCoy has clearly lost a step and will be the dreaded age of 30 once the 2018 season rolls around. Chubb is a completely different beast than McCoy, as a balanced runner who loves to punish defenders. Chubb would bring nastiness to the offense and help set the tone for the new era of the Buffalo Bills.