With the NFL Draft just 10 days away, Joe Malfa put together his fourth mock draft of the season. Stay tuned for his fifth and final mock the day before the draft.
1 — Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, EDGE, Texas A&M (Previous pick: No change)
Reports circulated early last week that the Browns were torn between Garrett and Mitchell Trubisky at No. 1. They shouldn’t be.
2 — San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas, EDGE, Stanford (Previous pick: No change)
General Manager John Lynch recently said the Niners were “open for business” and trading down from No. 2 makes some sense, but drafting Thomas is the best decision they can make. Thomas gives the Niners a formidable defensive front with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead already in place.
3 — Chicago Bears: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio St. (Previous pick: Jamal Adams)
The Bears will prioritize a cornerback ahead of a safety. Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller are the top two CBs on Chicago’s depth chart. Amukamara is coming off a successful season in Jacksonville but has not been a model of consistency (or health) throughout his career, and Fuller followed a strong rookie campaign with a rough sophomore season in 2015. He did not play in 2016 due to a knee injury.
4 — Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU (Previous pick: Jonathan Allen)
The Jaguars quietly had a strong offseason and may be primed for a run at the AFC South crown. Adding Fournette would take a lot of pressure off Blake Bortles and provide the boost that T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory could not.
5 — *TRADE* Cleveland Browns: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC (Previous pick: Mike Williams to Tennessee)
I usually avoid predicting trades in my mock drafts, but I have a good feeling about this one. It has already been made public that the Browns are torn between Garrett and Trubisky at No. 1. They have the ammo to move up in order to end up with both players, and the most logical trade partner is the Titans.
Why it makes sense for Tennessee:
Tennessee needs to draft a CB and a WR with their two first round picks (the other is No. 18). With this year’s player pool and the way this board seems like it is going to break, the Titans will still be able to satisfy both of those needs if they move back to No. 12. The icing on the cake will be the boatload of extra picks they pick up in the process.
Why it makes sense for Cleveland:
The Browns utilize some of the draft stock they have accumulated over the last couple of years to make sure they get the QB they want by sliding in front of the Jets.
6 — New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S, LSU (Previous pick: Malik Hooker)
Adams is a tremendous talent and great character who will make an immediate impact on the defense. Outside of Garrett, I believe Adams is the safest pick in the draft.
7 — Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio St. (Previous pick: Mike Williams)
In my last couple of mocks, I was adamant about the Chargers drafting either a CB or a WR. In each of those previous mocks, however, I did not have Hooker dropping past No. 6. He is the one exception to my “CB or WR” rule for the Chargers because he can fill the gaping hole left by the departure of Eric Weddle.
8 — Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford (Previous pick: Leonard Fournette)
McCaffrey has put together a strong spring. He was once projected by many (myself included) to fall out of the first round, but now it seems unlikely that he will fall past No. 14 (Philadelphia) if he even gets out of the top-10. The Panthers would be a great fit. Just thinking about McCaffrey’s speed and elusiveness in the same backfield as Cam Newton is scary.
9 — Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama (Previous pick: Reuben Foster)
The Bengals get lucky here as a top-5 talent, who also happens to be a perfect fit, slips to No. 9. Allen has the versatility to play inside and outside, and he is capable of getting to the quarterback from either position.
10 — Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson (Previous pick: Corey Davis)
The Bills have been linked to Deshaun Watson, but they would be better off going with his favorite target. Bills brass opted to bring back Tyrod Taylor, who is more than capable of leading Buffalo to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years, but he needs a new weapon with the departure of Robert Woods.
11 — New Orleans Saints: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama (Previous pick: Mitchell Trubisky)
The Saints have been searching for defensive quarterback since Jonathan Vilma last played in 2011. Foster has the potential to be a perennial Pro-Bowler in that role. I once had him going as high as No. 2, but concerns over his injury history and character stemming from his dismissal from the combine have pushed him down the board. No chance he makes it past the Saints.
12 — *TRADE* Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio St. (Previous pick: Deshaun Watson to Cleveland)
The Titans need to take a CB and a WR with their two first round picks. Conley will likely be the second CB off the board behind his Ohio St. teammate Lattimore. Tennessee gets its corner here and will shift its focus to WR at No. 18.
13 — Arizona Cardinals: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama (Previous pick: DeShone Kizer)
The Cardinals could opt for a QB here with life after Carson Palmer in mind, but they have the pieces to make a run while Palmer is still in place. Howard provides an immediate upgrade over current TE Jermaine Gresham and will be a nice target for whoever becomes Arizona’s QB of the future.
14 — Philadelphia Eagles: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama (Previous pick: Gareon Conley)
The Eagles need to address their current situation at cornerback. McCaffrey is the only player that would make it worthwhile for the Eagles to pass on a CB, but he’s off the board so they grab the next best CB available.
15 —Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple (Previous pick: Forrest Lamp)
Reddick is listed as a defensive end but I see him as an outside linebacker who can stop the run, get after the quarterback and drop back in coverage. He reminds me a lot of Ryan Shazier. The Colts could use a player like that on defense.
16 — Baltimore Ravens: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan (Previous pick: O.J. Howard)
Joe Flacco is not an elite quarterback (sorry Ravens fans), but he can produce at a high level with the right weapons in place. Davis is a strong route-runner with a big frame. He is capable of being a consistent starter and a major red-zone threat.
17 — Washington Redskins: Jabrill Peppers, S/OLB, Michigan (Previous pick: No change)
The Redskins need a dynamic playmaker in the secondary that can get to the line and defend the run. Jabrill Peppers, who should be a lock for the first round, fits that description perfectly. Teams are overthinking the fact that he didn’t have a “true position” in college. He will thrive in a Tony Jefferson-type role as a safety who spends a lot of time in the box.
18 — Tennessee Titans: John Ross, WR, Washington (Previous pick: No change)
Remember when I said the Titans would grab the receiver they needed later in the first round? Here it is. Ross and his 4.22 speed will help take this offense to the next level.
19 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku, TE, Miami (Previous pick: No change)
Njoku is an athletic freak with the tools to be a top-tier tight end in the NFL. He could have a lot of success in Dirk Koetter’s system with Jameis Winston throwing him the ball.
20 — Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin (Previous pick: Garett Bolles)
Ramczyk is not my favorite offensive lineman in this draft class, but he has the most potential to develop into the consistent left tackle the Broncos desperately need.
21 — Detroit Lions: Derek Barnett, EDGE, Tennessee (Previous Pick: No change)
Barnett may be the best pure pass rusher in this draft after Myles Garrett. His floor is that of an average starter and his ceiling is that of an All-Pro. The Lions find a dangerous pass rusher to terrorize opposing quarterbacks alongside Ziggy Ansah.
22 — Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky (Previous pick: Haason Reddick)
Ryan Tannehill has proven he can be an above average starting QB when he has protection, and Jay Ajayi has showcased his ability to be a bell-cow back. Drafting Lamp helps solidify the offensive line, allowing both Tannehill and Ajayi to play to the fullest of their potential.
23 — New York Giants: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida St. (Previous pick: Ryan Ramczyk)
The window for the Giants to win another Super Bowl with Eli Manning at the helm is closing. The upcoming season could be their best chance help Manning auction off some “game worn” Super Bowl memorabilia. They have a championship-caliber defense to go along with a dangerous passing-game. The running-game is the lone weak spot for the G-Men, but drafting Cook would solve that issue. His speed and quickness would be the perfect complement to the power of Paul Perkins.
24 — Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida (Previous pick: Quincy Wilson)
The Raiders are strong up front and have a few solid pieces in the secondary, but the linebackers are suspect. Davis reminds me a lot of Deion Jones. He may be valued as a second rounder, but he belongs in the first round and will immediately produce as a first rounder.
25 — Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson (Previous pick: Cam Robinson)
No chance the Texans pass on Watson if he falls this far. I actually think Houston may trade up into the teens if Watson slips past No. 13, but there is certainly a chance he makes it to No. 25. In the same way Russell Wilson was the last piece of the puzzle for the Seahawks, Watson has the ability to get the Texans over the hump.
26 — Seattle Seahawks: Garett Bolles, OL, Utah (Previous pick: Tre’Davious White)
The ‘Legion of Boom’ is on life support with Richard Sherman potentially on the way out. The Seahawks have two options: draft a CB or focus on protecting Wilson. They will opt for the latter being that Wilson has proven his ability to carry the franchise.
27 — Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech (Previous pick: Caleb Brantley)
The Chiefs have expressed interest in both moving on from Alex Smith and drafting Mahomes, so they will move on from Smith with Mahomes.
28 — Dallas Cowboys: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU (Previous pick: Taco Charlton)
Nolan Carroll, Anthony Brown and Orlando Scandrick are the cornerbacks currently sitting at the top of the depth chart for the Cowboys. Not ideal.
29 — Green Bay Packers: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida (Previous pick: Dalvin Cook)
Damarious Randall and Davon House are the cornerbacks currently sitting at the top of the depth chart for the Packers. Also not ideal.
30 — Pittsburgh Steelers: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame (Previous pick: Takkarist McKinley)
No one actually believed Ben Roethlisberger was going to retire this offseason after he announced he was considering it, but the end may only be a couple of years away. Landry Jones is a serviceable backup, but he is not the future for the Steelers. Kizer is in the same mold as Roethlisberger given his size, arm strength and mobility. Sitting behind Big Ben for a couple of seasons would be perfect for Kizer’s development and could provide the Steelers with their QB of the future.
31 — Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, EDGE, UCLA (Previous pick: Charles Harris)
The Falcons had two holes on the defensive line heading into the offseason: a nose tackle and a pass rusher opposite Vic Beasley. The first need was addressed with the signing of Dontari Poe and the second will be addressed with the selection of McKinley.
32 — New Orleans Saints: Kevin King, CB, Washington (Previous pick: Marlon Humphrey)
The Saints get the secondary help they need with the addition of the versatile, 6-foot-3 CB capable of lining up outside, inside or at safety.
Photo Credit: LSU.com