(No movie quote of the day since there will be two posts today)
Since we’re a little over halfway through the NFL regular season, it’s time to do a mock draft. The first 20 picks of the draft order are teams that are currently out of the playoffs, and picks 21-32 are teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Like every year, the draft order was determined by ranking each team by overall record – and tie breakers were determined by strength of schedule from worst to best. Enjoy!
1. Cleveland Browns – QB DeShone Kizer
6’4 230 pounds
Cleveland needs a franchise quarterback. The Browns haven’t had one arguably since Bernie Kosar from 1985-’93. Cleveland can’t afford to pass another quarterback after passing on Carson Wentz back in April – and now Wentz looks like a franchise quarterback for Philadelphia. Kizer is believed to be the top quarterback in this draft class. He has a cannon for an arm, good size, and he’s mobile. Plus, Kizer is from Ohio and plays for Notre Dame. He’s used to cold weather and the weather shouldn’t affect his arm strength at the next level.
2. San Francisco 49ers – EDGE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
6’4 268 pounds
This might surprise some people because San Francisco could use a quarterback. I don’t disagree with that, but I don’t think it’s a huge need right now. Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been horrible since taking over as the starter a few weeks ago. Right now, I think the 49ers just need to improve their roster. Garrett is by far the best player in this draft and is a prospect you can’t pass on. He’s tallied 28 sacks in three years at Texas A&M and is going to be a great edge rusher in the NFL.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
6’3 291 pounds
Jacksonville really needs help on the offensive line, but this class is very weak in the trenches on the offensive side of the ball. The Jaguars have some solid, young building blocks on their defense right now (Dante Fowler Jr., Jalen Ramsey, and Myles Jack), but they need to keep improving the defense. Allen is probably the next best defensive player in this class outside of Myles Garrett. He is a force on the defensive line and a great run stopper – 40 tackles and seven sacks this season. Allen and Malik Jackson would be one of the best interior defensive line duos in the NFL.
4. Chicago Bears – QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
6’3 220 pounds
I think it’s safe to say that the Jay Cutler era is about to come to an end in Chicago. His contract becomes a little bit more favorable for the front office next year and Chicago could very well cut him in the offseason. If the Bears choose to do so, they’ll be in the market for a new quarterback. Trubisky has been having a great season (70 percent, 3,004 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just four picks) and has probably been the quickest riser on the draft board this season – and could end up as the best quarterback in the class.
5. New York Jets – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
6’2 215 pounds
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been awful this season and Geno Smith is going to be a free agent. With uncertainty around Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, the Jets will likely spend an early draft pick on another quarterback. Watson has a great arm and is very mobile – he was also once considered the best quarterback in this class before falling behind Kizer and Trubisky. He’s the best quarterback on the board at this point and has potential to be a great player in the NFL.
6. Carolina Panthers – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
6’1 230 pounds
Carolina really needs help in the back end of its defense and offensive line. However, I think the bigger need is for the Panthers to get younger at running back. Jonathan Stewart will be 30 next year and he can’t stay healthy. Carolina needs someone to take some of the workload off Cam Newton. Fournette is considered the second-best player in this class and has been compared to great running backs like Herschel Walker and Adrian Peterson.
7. Cincinnati Bengals – LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
6’1 236 pounds
Outside of Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals lack playmakers at linebacker – which is why Cincinnati ranks No. 24 in rush defense. Foster has recorded 70 tackles so far this season and has been quickly rising up the draft board. He is great at stopping the run and he would give Cincinnati some much-needed help at linebacker.
8. San Diego Chargers – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
6’1 208 pounds
San Diego needs help on the offensive line the most, but I’ve already said this class isn’t very good on the offensive line and it would be too early to take one at this point. The Chargers have one of the league’s worst pass defenses despite having pretty good cornerbacks, which means the problem must be at safety. Peppers is the top safety in this class and is one of my favorite players in this draft because he’s a playmaker and is always around the ball.
9. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles) – WR Mike Williams, Clemson
6’4 225 pounds
I think the biggest need for Tennessee is to find a go-to target for Marcus Mariota. The Titans’ wide receivers are average at best. Williams is a big-body outside receiver that is coveted in this league. He’s been putting up a great season this year with 67 receptions for 956 yards and six touchdowns. Having Delanie Walker and Williams should help with Mariota’s development.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Jamal Adams, LSU
6’0 211 pounds
Tampa Bay could use another wide receiver to pair with Mike Evans, but with Mike Williams off the board and not many receivers to draft at this point, the Buccaneers really need to improve the back end of its defense. I think Vernon Hargreaves will be a pretty good player in the future, but the rest of the Buccaneers’ secondary is below average. A cornerback would certainly help, but Tampa Bay needs a good safety just as much.
11. Indianapolis Colts – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
5’11 206 pounds
Where to begin with Indianapolis? The Colts have so many needs and it might be best to just take the best player available. Dalvin Cook is the best one at this spot and it just so happens the Colts need a running back. Frank Gore will be 34 next year and Indianapolis needs to give Andrew Luck a consistent ground game. During his time at Florida State, Cook has rushed for 3,941 yards, 40 touchdowns, and averaged 6.4 yards per carry.
12. Green Bay Packers – EDGE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
6’3 265 pounds
Similar to Indianapolis, I don’t know where to begin with Green Bay. The Packers could use a running back, but it’s too early to take one with Dalvin Cook off the board. Julius Peppers is likely playing his last season for Green Bay and the Packers need to add another pass rusher opposite of Clay Matthews. Barnett has recorded 30 sacks and 183 total tackles during his three years at Tennessee. He’d be a great addition to Green Bay’s defense.
13. Buffalo Bills – CB Quincy Wilson, Florida
6’1 213 pounds
Buffalo needs to get better in the secondary. Especially since Stephon Gilmore is about to be a free agent and the Bills might have to prepare for his departure. Wilson has three interceptions and pass deflections this season. He’s proven to be one of the best cover corners in this draft and has been rising up the draft board.
14. New Orleans Saints – EDGE Dawuane Smoot, Illinois
6’3 255 pounds
New Orleans has to look to the future at quarterback since Drew Brees is nearing the end of his career. However, Brees still has some good years left and the Saints have to get better on defense to help Brees win another championship. Cameron Jordan is a solid pass rusher, but the Saints don’t have a good edge presence outside of him. In a division with Matt Ryan, Jameis Winston, and Cam Newton you can never have too many pass rushers.
15. Pittsburgh Steelers – DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State
6’5 282 pounds
Pittsburgh ranks in the bottom of half of the league in rushing yards per attempt. If the Steelers are going to compete for Super Bowls, they have to get better in that category. It’s a little early to draft an inside linebacker at this spot, so, the next best thing is a defensive lineman. McDowell is considered the best defensive lineman after Jonathan Allen. He has 74 tackles and five sacks the last two years and is a great fit for Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense
16. Arizona Cardinals – QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (Fla.)
6’4 210 pounds
Carson Palmer will turn 37 next month and his play has really declined this season. Arizona needs to prepare for the future at quarterback. This is the perfect situation for Kaaya because he’s going to need time to prepare and Palmer still has two years left on his contract. Kaaya could sit out and learn from Palmer, and get coached by Bruce Arians – who is arguably the best quarterbacks coach in the NFL.
17. Tennessee Titans – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
6’0 195 pounds
For Tennessee’s second pick, I think the Titans need to improve their secondary – particularly at cornerback. Jason McCourty is a solid cornerback but Tennessee needs someone just as good on the other side because Perrish Cox isn’t getting it done. Conley has emerged as the second-best cornerback in this class, and has put up really good numbers this season including two interceptions and seven pass deflections.
18. Miami Dolphins – EDGE Tim Williams, Alabama
6’3 252 pounds
Even though Miami’s secondary has struggled this season, I still think the top need for the Dolphins is to get younger at edge rusher. Cam Wake and Mario Williams are a combined 65 years old and have eight sacks between them this season. A great pass rush can make any secondary look good. Tim Williams is a great edge rusher that has recorded 18.5 sacks the last two seasons.
19. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) – CB Teez Tabor, Florida
6’0 201 pounds
Drafting another wide receiver to pair with Corey Coleman would be ideal for Cleveland, especially after drafting DeShone Kizer, but it’s still a little early to take one. The next need for the Browns would be to draft a cornerback. Cleveland plays in a division with Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco and needs to get another cornerback opposite of Joe Haden to counter the good quarterbacks in the AFC North.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota) – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
6’0 202 pounds
Philadelphia really needs a cornerback, but with Teez Tabor off the board, it’s too early to take the next highest-ranked cornerback. McCaffrey is the best player available at this spot. The Eagles have serviceable running backs right now, but they don’t have a true starter. Plus, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles will both be over 30 years old next year. Philadelphia needs to get younger at the position. McCaffrey is probably the most complete back in this class, he can run between the tackles and catch the ball in space. I think he’d be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
21. Baltimore Ravens – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
6’2 205 pounds
It’s still too early to take a wide receiver, which is why I think Baltimore should take a safety in the first round. The secondary is the weak link in Baltimore’s defense. Matt Elam hasn’t panned out for the Ravens and Eric Weddle will turn 32 next year. Hooker is the best safety available – and one of the best cover safeties in this class. He has five interceptions, two of them for touchdowns, and four pass deflections this season. Hooker is a ballhawk – which is something Baltimore has been missing since Ed Reed left the Ravens.
22. Detroit Lions – LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt
6’3 230 pounds
This was one of the tougher picks to make. Detroit needs help at cornerback, running back, and defensive line. However, it’s too early to draft any of those positions at this spot. The Lions need to add some depth at linebacker after trading away Kyle Van Noy. Cunningham is the front-runner to win SEC Defensive Player of the Year this season, and I think he’s going to be a stud at the next level.
23. Atlanta Falcons – EDGE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
6’2 253 pounds
Vic Beasley is having an outstanding year, but this draft class is deep with great pass rushers. There’s always room for improvement and Atlanta needs to add another pass rusher to keep the attention away from Beasley in the future. Thomas has seven sacks this season and is quickly rising up the draft board.
24. Washington Redskins – TE O. J. Howard, Alabama
6’6 251 pounds
This might be a head scratcher to some people, but Kirk Cousins and Jordan Reed will be free agents this offseason and Washington will likely give its attention to re-sign Cousins before Reed. Therefore, the Redskins might have to draft Reed’s replacement and Howard is the best tight end in this draft class. He has the ability to be a vertical threat and spread the field – which is a tremendous asset to have in today’s NFL.
25. Houston Texans – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
6’6 310 pounds
With O. J. Howard off the board, Houston needs to look to improving its offensive line. Duane Brown is getting up there in age and the Texans don’t have any good tackles outside of him. Robinson was considered a top-10 pick before the season started, but some off-the-field issues have caused him to fall down the draft board. Even though he’s had his problems, Robinson is still a great left tackle. Houston can’t afford to pass on him if he falls to this point in the draft.
26. New York Giants – EDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
6’2 258 pounds
I think everyone can agree that the Giants’ top need is an edge rusher. They have just 13 sacks this season – tied for third worst in the NFL. Plus, Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be a free agent after this season and he’s had a ton of health issues the last two years. I doubt the Giants are going to want to keep him after this season. McKinley has 10 sacks this season – and six in his last three games. He’s looking more and more like he’s going to be a playmaker at the next level.
27. Denver Broncos – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
6’5 314 pounds
Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch have both been sacked this season a total of 26 times – including six times Sunday against New Orleans. Denver needs to start improving its offensive line this offseason starting with the left tackle position. With Cam Robinson off the board, the next best offensive tackle is Ramczyk.
28. Seattle Seahawks – OG Dan Feeney, Indina
6’4 305 pounds
Seattle really needs help on the offensive line – particularly in pass protection. Russell Wilson has been sacked 19 times this season and is always running for life when he drops back. However, it’s too early to take an offensive tackle at this spot, but Feeney is the top interior offensive lineman in this class. He’s a great run blocker and is just as effective in pass protection – just what Seattle needs.
29. Kansas City Chiefs – LB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State
6’2 243 pounds
Kansas City needs to get younger at inside linebacker. Derrick Johnson has been a fantastic player, but he’s going to turn 34 in just a few days. The Chiefs need to be thinking about drafting his replacement. McMillan is the best option on the board. He’s a great run stopper that has tallied 64 total tackles this season for the Buckeyes.
30. New England Patriots – EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri
6’3 255 pounds
New England’s defense lacks a fierce edge rusher after trading away Chandler Jones in the offseason. Right now, the Patriots have a “pass rusher by committee” with guys who are good players, but not great players. Harris hasn’t put up great numbers – mainly because Missouri has been an edge rusher factory in recent years – but the NFL scouts love his ability. He’d be a great fit for Bill Belichick’s defense.
31. Oakland Raiders – CB Sidney Jones, Washington
6’0 181 pounds
Oakland has a very bright future but it really needs help in the secondary – especially at cornerback. Sean Smith is a good corner, but he’s going to turn 30 next year. Outside of Smith, the Raiders don’t really have a playmaker at corner. Since the Raiders are in the same division with wide receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Jeremy Maclin, and Keenan Allen, they need to start investing in a good corner. Jones’ draft stock is rising, and he has the ability to be a shutdown, ballhawk corner in the NFL.
32. Dallas Cowboys – EDGE Carl Lawson, Auburn
6’2 253 pounds
If you need a good pass rusher, this is the draft to get one because there’s a lot of players who can come off the edge. Dallas struggles to rush the quarterback – ranking No. 28 in sack defense this season. In a division wth a bunch of good quarterbacks, Dallas can’t afford to not draft a dynamic edge rusher. Lawson has battled some injuries during his times in Auburn, but he’s on pace to have over 10 sacks this season.
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