There have been a lot of changes since my last mock draft. Teams have done their final looks at players, finishing up setting their boards. This could have changed a lot of teams' desires for who they want in the draft.
For this mock draft, I stayed in contact with multiple sources to try and get a read on who the picks might be. Of course, none of my sources would give away who the pick would be, or if they did, they did so without making it obvious. There are also trades in this draft and all trades I have either heard talk of, or rumors of. So, let us jump into the mock draft.
1. Los Angeles Rams select: Jared Goff, Quarterback, Cal
There is a lot of pressure on the staff, both front office and coaching, to start winning games, especially after moving back to LA. They can’t afford to sit and wait while they develop a quarterback — they need to start winning now. Despite issues with his ball placement and a lower ceiling than most quarterbacks in this draft, Goff is the most 'pro ready' QB in the draft. He gives the Rams the best chance to start winning sooner rather than later.
2. Philadelphia Eagles select: Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State
After moving up, the Eagles put themselves in position to land the quarterback with the highest upside in the draft. They have a quarterback on the roster who can help them win games, while they work to develop Wentz. Well, that is if they don’t unload Sam Bradford after his trade request. Wentz would be stepping into a pretty good situation in Philly, with help on offense to make his transition easier.
3. Baltimore Ravens select: Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Ole Miss
Trade details: Baltimore sends 2016 1st round pick (#6), 2016 3rd round pick (#70), 2016 5th round pick (#130 via Denver), and a 2017 2nd and 4th round pick to San Diego for 2016 first round pick (#3) and 2016 6th round pick (#179)
The Ravens really need to find a cemented option at left tackle. Eugene Monroe has been battling injuries and struggled when healthy. Many have Tunsil as the best player in the draft, and he fits with Baltimore perfectly. He gives them a stout left tackle to protect the blindside of their franchise quarterback
4. Dallas Cowboys select: Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State
The Cowboys have some talent at defensive end, but they can’t stay on the field and keep getting suspended. To start the season, the Cowboys don’t have anyone at defensive end and need help drastically. Even if Demarcus Lawrence wasn’t suspended, they still need someone opposite him, with Randy Gregory unable to stay out of trouble.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars select: Myles Jack, Linebacker, UCLA
There are many concerns about the longevity of Jack’s career, following his knee injury, that has many thinking he falls out of the top 10. With Jacksonville, as long as Jack clears their medicals and they are confident, he is a no-brainer pick. I love his fit with the Jaguars, and he would make for the perfect replacement in the middle of their linebacker corps.
6. San Diego Chargers select: Jalen Ramsey, Defensive Back, Florida State
Sitting at three, the Chargers had three players they could seriously look at, so trading down makes a lot of sense. They have a lot more holes than those on the outside may see, so those extra picks help. After trading down, one of the three got taken, which makes the selection a lot easier. Jalen Ramsey fills a big hole, and is the best player in the draft, in my opinion. This selection goes a long way to fixing the disastrous secondary of the Chargers.
7. San Francisco 49ers select: Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis
The 49ers are trying to trade Colin Kaepernick, which would leave Blaine Gabbert as their starter. Getting a quarterback is very much a need for San Francisco, and despite reports that they are willing to start Gabbert, I find it to be a smoke screen. I hear they like Lynch a lot, though they would prefer one of the top two quarterbacks. Lynch is a nice consolation prize who fits the system pretty well.
8. Miami Dolphins select: Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State
Trade details: Miami sends 2016 1st round pick (#13), 2016 3rd round pick (#70) and a 2017 2nd round pick for 2016 1st round pick (#8) and 2016 4th round pick (#100)
The Dolphins are in desperate need for a running back and it sounds like they will do whatever it takes to get the best running back in the draft. Elliott is easily the best running back in the class, and provides a much needed help to the Dolphins offense that missed out on C.J. Anderson and lost Lamar Miller. After trading away No. 8 to Philly, the Dolphins end up getting back to that point to take some heat off their quarterback.
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers select: Shaquille Lawson, Defensive End, Clemson
The Buccs are in need of pass rushing help, and Lawson brings quality ability. His upside is tremendous, and fits really well with that scheme. After signing Robert Ayers in free agency, Lawson gives them a really good player to pair up with him.
10. New York Giants select: Taylor Decker, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State
Being in desperate need for offensive line help is not a good thing. Thankfully for the Giants, they get a really good offensive tackle in Decker. He is my No. 2 offensive tackle, capable of playing right or left side. For the Giants, he should be put at left tackle to get 2015 first round choice Ereck Flowers to a better suited position. Decker may struggle, but he is an upgrade over Flowers at left tackle.
11. Chicago Bears select: DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon
Even though they have some really solid players on their defensive line, the Bears could use some special talent there. Head coach John Fox was on the staff when Denver drafted Malik Jackson and helped make him the player he is, so getting Buckner on that front gives them a high-ceiling player who can do multiple things. While not a need, Buckner is the best player on the board at this point.
12. New Orleans Saints select: Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Line, Louisville
Rankins is the best player on the board at this point, and the Saints can use some help on their defensive interior. Rankins is a tremendous talent and fills a need on that front. He can do multiple things on that front and gives them some options with how they can scheme.
13. Cleveland Browns select: Josh Doctson, Wide Receiver, TCU
Even though it is unclear who the Browns are gonna have starting at quarterback, they need to give their signal caller someone to throw to. Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins are their projected starters right now, with Terrelle Pryor getting a lot of talk. They lack a true No. 1 receiver, and Doctson can be that guy. Plenty of value here, and were able to pick up a lot of extra picks.
14. Detroit Lions select: Jack Conklin, Offensive Tackle, Michigan State Spartans
Trade details: Detroit sends 2016 1st round pick (#16) and 2016 4th round pick (#111) to Oakland for 2016 1st round pick (#14)
Detroit has some need on their offensive line, especially at right tackle. Jack Conklin looks like a right tackle or guard at the NFL level. Adding Conklin gives Detroit a really good starting offensive lineman that can maul defenses in the run game and provide protection in the passing game. Detroit just will have to be careful when facing teams who use speed rushers off the right tackle.
15. Tennessee Titans select: Ronnie Stanley, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame
There are some big holes all over for the Titans, and getting a left tackle is one. While I think Stanley would be better as a right tackle in the NFL, he is a better fit at left tackle than Taylor Lewan and Lewan is a much better right tackle than Stanley. They got their franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, so keeping him safe is a priority.
16. Indianapolis Colts select: Darron Lee, Linebacker, Ohio State
Trade details: Indianapolis sends a 2016 1st round pick (#18) and a 2016 3rd round pick (#82) to Oakland for 2016 1st round pick (#16) and 2016 4th round pick (#111 via Detroit)
Darron Lee is such a versatile player, which the Colts can really use in their linebacker corps. They had to jump a team to ensure they get him, but are very happy with doing so. Lee gives them a great player, with a high upside, who they can use in so many different ways.
17. Atlanta Falcons select: Cody Whitehair, Offensive Linemen, Kansas State
The Falcons have done a decent job and getting help on their offensive line, but their right side is still really weak. Whitehair can play any of the five offensive line positions, and immediately upgrade right guard and tackle for the Falcons. There are other needs the Falcons have, but Whitehair is the best fit, and best player on the board at this time.
18. New York Jets select: Connor Cook, Quarterback, Michigan State
Trade details: New York sends 2016 1st round pick (#20) and 2016 4th round pick (#118) to Oakland for 2016 1st round pick (#18)
With negotiations with Ryan Fitzpatrick at a standstill, the Jets jump up to get who many have as the 4th best quarterback in the draft. Cook fits their system pretty well, and provides a lot of competition with Geno Smith for the start job. This doesn’t mean they've moved on from Fitzpatrick, as they could look to sign him and let Cook sit for a year or two, but it gives them a legit option if Fitzpatrick never comes down from his asking price.
19. Buffalo Bills select: Christian Hackenberg, Quarterback, Penn State
Now, I am no fan of Hackenberg before late day three, but there has been a lot of talk lately of him getting into the first round. This would be similar to the 2011 run on quarterbacks. Hackenberg fits the system really well and would be a very Rex Ryan type of move. This would be betting on their coaching ability to fix all of Hackenberg’s issues. They also have issues with Tyrod Taylor, since he's in a contract year. Keeping Taylor gives the Bills a starter while working with Hackenberg to take over.
20. Oakland Raiders select: Karl Joseph, Safety, West Virginia
After moving down multiple times, the Raiders still get a great player in Joseph. I am a big fan of Joseph and what he brings to the table, and the Raiders don’t have obvious needs on their roster. Their biggest hole, if you want to call it that, is finding safety help and depth. If not for his injury, Joseph would be getting top-10 talk, but his injury saw him fall. Lately, he has risen back up boards.
21. Washington Redskins select: Jarran Reed, Defensive Linemen, Alabama
After losing Terrance Knighton in free agency, there is a need for someone stout in the middle of their defensive line. While Reed doesn’t have typical size for the position, he has more than enough ability to handle the position. He has a natural strength that can see him be really successful in the middle, and with work he can provide solid push up the middle when rushing the quarterback.
22. Houston Texans select: Ryan Kelly, Center, Alabama
Houston signed a quarterback to a big contract, but don’t have anyone to snap the ball to him. Ryan Kelly is my top center, and an outstanding talent. He is more than worth a first round pick, especially towards the late first. Kelly also fills a big need for the Texans and can grow with their new quarterback.
23. Minnesota Vikings select: Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
Teddy Bridgewater is a good, young quarterback, but the Vikings have struggled to put weapons around him to really make the offense roll. They have Stefon Diggs, who pairs with Treadwell really well. This drastically improves their receiving corps.
24. Cincinnati Bengals select: Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Many are sleeping on Shepard because of his size, but he is an excellent football player. He is dynamic, and can do multiple things on offense and special teams. Shepard is really high on my board, and he brings so much to an offense that needs someone to compliment A.J. Green.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers select: Andrew Billings, Defensive Linemen, Baylor
The Steelers love Billings so much, they sent everyone to Baylor’s pro day to scout the kid. If he is there at 25, no way they pass on him. He is a textbook Steelers defensive linemen.
26. Seattle Seahawks select: Noah Spence, Edge, Eastern Kentucky
There are so many holes on the Seahawks roster, and they really don’t have a starting offensive line. However, the Seahawks really look for the best player available and there are no offensive linemen who are the best available here. Noah Spence is the best available and fills a hole for the them. They lost Bruce Irvin and could really use some additional help getting after the quarterback. Spence can stand up, or put his hand in the dirt. Some character concerns, but Seattle has proven they don’t care about that after selecting Frank Clark a year ago.
27. Carolina Panthers select: William Jackson III, Cornerback, Houston
Trade details: Carolina sends 2016 first round pick (#30) and 2016 4th round pick (#129) to Green Bay for 2016 first round pick (#27)
After rescinding the franchise tag on Josh Norman and letting him walk there is a need for a top corner. Jackson fits their scheme, and can be used in more ways than one. He is the only corner I have who can fit in any scheme/role. Panthers moved up to get their guy.
28. Kansas City Chiefs select: Mackensie Alexander, Corner, Clemson
The Chiefs got Marcus Peters last year and he had a really good rookie season. They could use an upgrade opposite him, and Alexander is the best fit and best on the board. There are some other ways they could look, but getting more help in that secondary is needed.
29. Arizona Cardinals select: Chris Jones, Defensive End, Mississippi State
On the defensive line for the Cardinals there is a lot of age, and they could use some youth. They also could use improved depth. The Cardinals traded for Chandler Jones to give them a top end pass rusher, but he needs help. Chris Jones can provide that help, learn from Calais Campbell, and be coached by some great defensive line coaches in Arizona. Really good fit that helps now and in the future.
30. Green Bay Packers select: Reggie Ragland, Linebacker, Alabama
The Packers need a force in the middle of their linebacker corps, which is missing. Ragland, despite some concerns with him in coverage, is a force against the run. This Packers defense was stout against the run a year ago, and Ragland should make it even better.
31. Denver Broncos select: Vernon Butler, Defensive Line, Louisiana Tech
Vernon Butler is a big guy, but he moves like his is 270 pounds, despite being 310+. He is stout against the run, and can surprise blockers when getting after the quarterback. He can line up all over on the Broncos defensive front, and should really excel in the 1-gap attacking scheme of Wade Phillips. Working with defensive line coach Bill Kollar should make Butler a very scary player to face off against.
*The New England Patriots decided to deflate some footballs, and in doing so lost their first round pick this year.
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