Here’s my latest mock, as we get ready for the real thing on April 26. Full disclosure: this is based on team needs, my gut, and a combination of what the experts say these teams will do.
I’m convinced who the the pick SHOULD be here (a certain QB from Southern California). But all signs are starting to point towards another guy. New GM John Dorsey has a type of player he likes — he had the gunslinger Brett Favre in Green Bay, he drafted the big-armed Patrick Mahomes last year in KC, and he chose the more raw LT Eric Fisher over the more polished Luke Joeckel in 2013 with the Chiefs. He likes players with higher upside and a bit of unharnessed talent. This could change before the 26th. But for now…..
The PICK: Josh Allen, Wyoming, QB
There will be growing rumors as the draft approaches that the Giants have interests in a variety of players and are open to trading down. Unless they don’t like the QB left at 2, I cannot see them passing on a signal-caller, who could be under center for the next 15 seasons in New York.
The PICK: Sam Darnold, USC, QB
I’ve been clear that I don’t like the Jets moving up to only 3. If you want your guy, go all the way and make certain you’ll get him. Now, in reality, the Jets are forced to accept the leftovers from the Browns and Giants.
The PICK: Josh Rosen, UCLA, QB
4. **TRADE** Denver (from Browns)
This pick is where the draft has the potential of getting messy. The Browns could very well take a great prospect here, who’d be ready to step in and impact the team on the field immediately. But the offers from QB-hungry teams might be too intoxicating to pass up. And, similarly, the allure of getting a top QB in this draft class might not be something John Elway can let go by.
The PICK: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB
5. **TRADE** Browns (from Broncos)
Trading down one spot to allow John Elway to get his quarterback still lets the Browns get their guy at 5. The question becomes do they want a pass rusher or a once-in-a-generation running back?
The PICK: Saquon Barkley, Penn State, RB
I think Indianapolis GM Chris Ballard would love to trade this pick to acquire more draft capital. But will anyone be interested in coming up to grab Bradley Chubb or Quentin Nelson? At the moment, I don’t see any takers.
The PICK: Bradley Chubb, NC State, DE
Tampa Bay would love to get Barkley and add that type of weapon to Jameis Winston’s disposal. They could be a team willing to move up a spot or two. But right now, I’ve got them staying and upgrading their pass defense.
The PICK: Derwin James, Florida St., S
If the board falls this way on April 26, the Bears will have a decision: offensive line or secondary. GM Ryan Pace understands his job is and forever will be tied to the success of his quarterback. He’s got to protect him.
The PICK: Quentin Nelson, Notre Dame, G
San Francisco is in the position of really taking the best player on their board. They can use help and add depth at almost any spot on their roster. A versatile linebacker or a secondary piece might be where they look.
The PICK: Roquan Smith, Georgia, LB
Everything the 49ers are looking for at 9 could be said here for the Raiders at 10. Cornerbacks Denzel Ward, Josh Jackson, and Mike Hughes will be in the conversation for both Bay Area teams. So could linebackers and pass rushers.
The PICK: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech, DE/OLB
11. **TRADE** Packers (from Dolphins)
Green Bay wanted Chicago’s Kyle Fuller so badly they signed him to an offer sheet, which the Bears matched. Hard to see the Pack not going CB in the first round. The opportunity to move up might be enticing if there’s a guy there they like.
The PICK: Denzel Ward, Ohio St., CB
Everything tells me there’s no way the Bills can reach for their QB here if none of the top 4 are left, especially when they can take him at 22. Here, they’d like to add a weapon for whomever the signal-caller will be. Or get the best available player who may be tumbling down the board.
The PICK: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama, S
By all accounts (including current Redskins players), the team shipped its best corner to KC as part of the Alex Smith trade. Washington should be able to find a replacement here. But Dan Snyder has a way of surprising us.
The PICK: DJ Moore, Maryland, WR
14. **TRADE** Dolphins (from Packers)
With the culture change Miami is undergoing this offseason, there are a lot of ways they could choose to go. While DB may not be a glaring need, if one of the top corners is there, they should hop on it. They could also use some size on the D-line.
The PICK: Vita Vea, Washington, DT
Arizone will try everything in their power to move into position to draft a QB. If they can’t, the question becomes do they still take one at 15. Hmmmm…..
The PICK: Lamar Jackson, Louisville, QB
At some point you need to start spending early round draft picks on offense. In the last three drafts in the first three rounds, Ozzie Newsome has drafted 14 players — 11 of whom played defense. Get Joe Flacco some youth at the playmaking positions. Or at least on the O-line.
The PICK: Calvin Ridley, Alabama, WR
Linebacker is a critically important position in Gus Bradley’s defense. The team is also in need of some behemoths up front to stuff the run.
The PICK: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama, DT
The Legion of Boom was so successful because — yes, those DBs were athletic, long playmakers, but — the team also had a ferocious pass rush up front. Due to injuries and age, the Seahawks have been missing that lately.
The PICK: Marcus Davenport, UT-San Antonio, DE
I think Jerry Jones would love to get Dez’s replacement here, but I’m not sold on that player being here. But who knows what Jerry thinks. If he happens to agree with me, perhaps a run stuffer up front on defense could be a smart pick that fills a need or depth at linebacker.
The PICK: Rashaan Evans, Alabama, LB
Detroit has various needs — running back, cornerback, linebacker. They could also choose to replace the hole left by Haloti Ngata.
The PICK: Jaire Alexander, Louisville, CB
To be blunt, the Bengals could not block a soul in 2017. If this pick isn’t used to address the offensive line, Cincinnati should have to forfeit all it’s remaining picks.
The PICK: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame, OT
It’s shocking to think that Mason Rudolph might not be here, but in this mock he is. And the Bills race the card up.
The PICK: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma St., QB
Left tackle, versatile defender, or cornerback would all be routes that I’d expect Bill Belichick to explore at 23. If he can trade back a few spots (or up, even), I wouldn’t at all be shocked.
The PICK: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St., DE/OLB
Finding a number one receiver is an important need for the the Panthers. In addition, Carolina has to replace big man Star Lotulelei in the middle of their D-line.
The PICK: Taven Bryan, Florida, DT
New head coach Mike Vrabel would probably like to start making his impression on the defensive-look of the this team. But the offensive line, oddly enough because it’s been highly-invested in, needs some help due to injuries.
The PICK: Harold Landry, Boston College, LB
Interior offensive line could be fixed with this pick. I expected the Falcons to pursue Andrew Norwell this offseason before he signed with Jacksonville.
The PICK: Will Hernandez, UTEP , G
The Saints have been struggling to replace Jimmy Graham for years.
The PICK: Dallas Goedert, South Dakota St., TE
Pittsburgh could really use help in their defensive backfield or at linebacker.
The PICK: Mike Hughes, Central Fla., CB
Any weapons this team can give to Blake Bortles is a huge plus. The addition of a playmaker who might be able to score that extra touchdown might be the difference in going to the Super Bowl or not.
The PICK: Courtland Sutton, SMU, WR
Minnesota chose to invest heavily in Kirk Cousins. It’d behoove them to also invest in his protection. They may also choose to add strength on strength and build on their defense.
The PICK: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia, G/T
Whether Rob Gronkowski comes back or not, Bill Belichick loves using his tight ends. And what all this drama surrounding Gronk’s future has done is make clear that he won’t be there forever. This pick could also very easily be used on the best available player on their board.
The PICK: Conor Williams, Texas, OL
When you’re the Super Bowl Champions, you don’t have a ton of glaring needs. Offensive line depth is an area Philly would likely love to add to, especially with a QB coming back from a serious knee injury.
The PICK: Tyrell Crosby, Oregon, OT
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