My second mock draft features trades, which are unpredictable and the primary reason why an accurate prediction of how the eventual NFL Draft will go is a pipe dream. But here’s my best attempt to predict some possible trades, using deals from recent drafts as a template as well as the unkillable draft trade value chart.
I should also note that I started working on this mock draft this past Friday. Many things occurred over the weekend that normally would have prompted me to change some of these selections (e.g. the positive drug test of Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster) but it was too time-consuming to redo some of the earliest picks, so I just stuck with what I originally had for the first round.
So instead of seeing this is an attempt at an accurate portrayal of how the first round might go down, view it simply as a fun exercise that has some trades that have some foundation of realism but are designed to get you thinking about the fanciful possibilities that could occur later this week.
An asterisk (*) denotes an underclassman. Trades are highlighted in green.
I tried to predict at least five trades in Round One. Although by my count over the past three years, there have been an average of just four first-round trades on draft day. That does not include pre-draft trades like we saw last year with the Rams and Eagles moving up to get their quarterbacks in the weeks ahead of the draft.
1. Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M*
Despite all the reports that the Browns are torn over this selection, I suspect it’s mainly to drum up trade interest. They ultimately settle for Garrett as the No. 1 selection and it’s the right call.
2. Washington Redskins (from San Francisco) – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina*
TRADE!: Redskins send QB Kirk Cousins, their first (17th overall), second (49th), and fourth-round (114th) picks in 2017, along with their second and third-round picks in 2018 in exchange for the 49ers’ first-round (second) pick.
Okay this trade is probably a tad unrealistic, but I wanted something that would grab your attention right away and the 49ers getting Cousins while the Redskins move up to take Trubisky should qualify. What is plausible about this trade is that the 49ers are at the beginning of a massive rebuild, so I suspect they will be looking to move out of their No. 2 spot to accumulate more picks. This also won’t be the last 49ers trade in this mock draft. The Redskins know that Cousins is not going to be on their team in 2018, so they might as well as move up to get Trubisky and start the process all over again in the hopes that he’s the stable, franchise signal-caller that their last No. 2 pick in Robert Griffin III was not.
3. Chicago Bears – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford*
Thomas can play some defensive end in their 3-4 front, but will primarily be tasked with providing pressure on the interior along with Pernell McPhee on nickel downs. They’ll continue to bulk him up and develop him.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama*
The Jags pull off what might be considered a mild shocker by taking Robinson this high. New team president Tom Coughlin knows that strengthening the roster in the trenches is the best plan for success. Newly acquired left tackle Branden Albert is age 32 and looking for a new deal and is likely only considered a one-year stopgap at best. Also right tackle Jermey Parnell will turn 31 before the season starts, giving them two older, middling tackles. Robinson is a shot of youth and adrenaline to this unit.
5. Tennessee Titans – WR Mike Williams, Clemson*
The Titans want to add a No. 1 receiver for quarterback Marcus Mariota, and they deem that Williams is the best candidate. Williams’ size and physicality should provide a solid boost to their fairly undersized receiver corps.
6. New York Jets – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State*
The Jets need a quarterback but with Trubisky already off the board, they take the next best thing in Lattimore, whose tremendous athleticism and upside could turn him into theshutdown No. 1 corner that is so desperately needed to make Todd Bowles’ defense work.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State*
The Chargers need an Eric Weddle replacement, and Hooker is the best option they’re going to find. ‘Nuff said.
8. Cleveland Browns (from Carolina) – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech*
TRADE!: Browns send their first (12th overall), second (33rd), and third-round (65th) picks in exchange for Panthers’ first (8th) and second-round (40th) picks.
With Trubisky coming off the board right after the selection of Garrett, the Browns need a quarterback. And not wanting to risk another team leapfrogging them at No. 12, they opt to use a few of the extra picks they’ve picked up since last year to move up to secure Mahomes.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee*
The Bengals pull the trigger on a pass-rusher in Barnett to help improve a defensive line that has slipped in recent years. Barnett will be a solid replacement at right defensive end for a now 30-year old Michael Johnson.
10. Buffalo Bills – ILB Haason Reddick, Temple
The Bills desperately need an inside linebacker that can cover. While Reddick specialized in rushing the passer off the edge throughout his time at Temple, he’s got the athleticism and tools to be an excellent cover linebacker.
11. New Orleans Saints – CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State*
The Saints desperately need to help out their secondary. Corners Delvin Breaux and P.J. Williams just aren’t going to cut it as starters in a division that includes Julio Jones and Mike Evans.
12. Carolina Panthers (from Cleveland) – S Jamal Adams, LSU*
Moving back four spots, the Panthers wind up selecting Adams, who is still on the board after being considered a top 3 selection in my previous incarnation. But the Panthers could use an infusion of youth at safety, where starters Kurt Coleman and Mike Adams will be 29 and 36, respectively, when the 2017 season begins.
13. Arizona Cardinals – DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama
The Cardinals might be tempted to take a quarterback here but with Mahomes already gone, they “settle” for Allen, who isn’t expected to be here. Allen slides into the vacated spot of Calais Campbell, solidifying a front that has solid rotational pieces but no true difference-makers as of yet.
14. Philadelphia Eagles – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU*
While it seems a foregone conclusion to many that Fournette is going to go high in this draft, I just have a hard time believing that NFL teams will covet a relatively one-dimensional power back in today’s pass-oriented NFL. So I see Fournette sliding on draft day and the Eagles are more than happy to benefit from it.
15. Indianapolis Colts – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
It’s possible that the hip surgery that Ramczyk underwent back in January could cause his stock to slide much further than this, but the need for decent offensive tackles I believe will ultimately push him and others up the board. New Colts GM Chris Ballard needs to avoid the mistakes of predecessor Ryan Grigson and solidify the offensive line to keep quarterback Andrew Luck upright.
16. Denver Broncos (from Baltimore) – OT Garett Bolles, Utah*
TRADE!: Broncos trade their first (20th overall), third (82nd) and fourth-round (126th) picks to the Ravens for their first (16th) and fourth-round (122nd) picks.
As I just mentioned, the tackles that can come in right away and compete are likely to go earlier than expected and the Broncos cannot afford to wait around to see if Bolles is still there at pick No. 20. Bolles can slide in potentially as a left tackle in Denver, where he could take over for an overmatched Donald Stephenson.
17. San Francisco 49ers (from Washington) – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford*
I’ll speculate that the player the 49ers want most after Garrett is McCaffrey. New head coach Kyle Shanahan could easily envision McCaffrey combining the strengths of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman in a single package.
18. Tennessee Titans – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
While the Titans have needs in their secondary, they can’t help but bolster their pass game again along with their running game thanks to his blocking. Howard will be groomed to replace an aging Delanie Walker.
19. Kansas City Chiefs (from Tampa Bay) – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
TRADE!: Chiefs trade their first (27th overall), third (91st) and fifth-round (170th) picks to the Buccaneers for their first-round (19th) pick.
The Chiefs know they need more offensive firepower and while a burner like John Ross meshes well with Andy Reid’s style of offense, a player like Davis should become even better given his size and athleticism.
20. Baltimore Ravens (from Denver) – TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)*
The Ravens have tried to solidify this position for the past few years, but they have either really old options (Ben Watson) or constantly injured ones (Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams, Crockett Gillmore). They hope that Njoku’s athleticism and upside winds up providing the stability they desperately need.
21. Detroit Lions – DE Charles Harris, Missouri*
The Lions need to enhance their pass rush with someone to play opposite Ziggy Ansah. Harris is a good fit to come in right away and give them quality snaps out of the nickel rush.
22. Miami Dolphins – S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
The Dolphins need some additional safety help with Reshad Jones coming off an injury and T.J. McDonald suspended for half the upcoming season. Melifonwu’s versatility and athleticism make him a great fit.
23. New York Giants – ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama
With his combine antics, injury concerns and now positive drug test at the Combine, Foster’s stock could be in freefall come draft night. But the Giants, a team that almost never prioritizes the linebacker position might finally see the error of their ways and pull the trigger on the talented, but troubled Alabama linebacker.
24. Oakland Raiders – WR John Ross, Washington*
Although the Raiders’ biggest needs rest mainly on the back end of their defense, they can’t pass up the opportunity to draft a dynamic threat like Ross at this point in the draft. Ross gives them another vertical threat and represents a massive upgrade to Derek Carr’s firepower.
25. New Orleans Saints (from Houston) – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson*
TRADE!: Saints trade their first (32nd), third (76th) and seventh-round (229th) picks to the Texans in exchange for their first (25th) and seventh-round (243rd) picks.
With the Texans str expected to look for a quarterback, they throw the curveball and opt to move back in favor of the Saints coming up to get their heir apparent to Drew Brees. With Brees expected to be a free agent next year, the Saints will have the flexibility of plugging and playing with Watson if Brees decides to pack it in.
26. Seattle Seahawks – DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State*
While most agree the Seahawks still desperately need help along their offensive line, they can’t pass up an interior disruptor like McDowell. McDowell’s off-field question marks probably won’t be seen as huge red flags in Seattle and they hope that the presence of their veterans and coaching staff can light a fire under the player that reportedly has motivational issues.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Kansas City) – S Budda Baker, Washington*
The Bucs were more than willing to move down in this draft because the player they covet in Baker was likely to be there later. Baker’s versatility to play centerfield as well as the slot makes him a good fit in Mike Smith’s defense at a position that has been problematic for much of the past decade in Tampa.
28. Dallas Cowboys – CB Quincy Wilson, Florida*
The loss of Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox leaves the Cowboys secondary fairly barren. They need to solidify the cornerback spot and the physicality of Wilson should help them out in a division that now has Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
29. Green Bay Packers – OLB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin*
The Packers know that the loss of Julius Peppers along with the durability concerns surrounding Clay Matthews puts them at a disadvantage at generating a pass rush. They hope Watt’s athleticism and toughness will provide them with a much younger version of Matthews on the edge, freeing them up to once again move the latter veteran to inside linebacker.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama*
The Steelers need help in their secondary and Humphrey should be a good fit opposite Artie Burns, solidifying a position that the team neglected for many years.
31. Atlanta Falcons – OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The Falcons can stand pat and hope their guy slides to them in Lamp, who instantly can be plugged into the right guard spot vacated by the retirement of Chris Chester. Lamp’s solid pass-protection and athleticism should make him right at home blocking the likes of Gerald McCoy, Sheldon Rankins and Kawann Short in the NFC South for years to come.
32. Houston Texans (from New Orleans) – S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan*
The Texans opt against taking a quarterback, instead looking at a versatile safety in Peppers who can be used as a chess piece by defensive coaches Mike Vrabel and Romeo Crennel on the back end. Peppers can be moved all around the defense as a dime specialist the unit much like they did years ago with safety Glover Quin under Wade Phillips.
I wanted to predict five more trades in Round Two, but it became harder to do, so I settled with just four. Based off my research, there has been an average of roughly seven trades involving second-round picks over the past three years. So my four pail in comparison, but the second round is generally where teams will be a bit more active in trying to fill needs, while the first round is going to be where teams tend to let things happen and fall as they may.
33. Carolina (from Cleveland) – DE Carl Lawson, Auburn*
The Panthers want to enhance their pass rush and adding a player like Lawson to replace and presumably upgrade the spot left by Kony Ealy is a smart move.
34. San Francisco – CB Kevin King, Washington
With the transition to the “Seahawks-style” Cover-3 defense under coordinator Robert Saleh, the 49ers need to add much-needed size and athleticism at this spot.
35. Jacksonville – OG Dan Feeney, Indiana
Jacksonville double dips into the offensive line well, hoping that Feeney can be plugged into the right guard spot that would otherwise be helmed by journeyman Patrick Omameh if the season started today.
36. Chicago – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
The Bears need help in the secondary and hope White can help them better deal with the quality receivers dotting the NFC.
37. L.A. Rams – CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
If I expanded this to a three-round mock, I’d have the Rams shipping cornerback Trumaine Johnson to the Browns in exchange for a third-round pick. But in the meantime the Rams get someone in Awuzie that can provide that tight man coverage that new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips desires.
38. N.Y. Giants (from L.A. Chargers) – OT Antonio Garcia, Troy
TRADE!: Giants trade their second (55th overall), third (87th) and fifth-round (167th) picks to the Chargers in exchange for their second-round (38th) pick.
The Giants know they need to improve their offensive line play. Garcia is an option to slide immediately into right tackle, but also be an insurance policy in case left tackle Ereck Flowers continues to struggle.
39. N.Y. Jets – OT Taylor Moton, Western Michigan
The Jets desperately need offensive line help and Moton can start immediately at right tackle and upgrade the spot currently manned by Brett Qvale. Don’t worry, I’ve never heard of him either.
40. Cleveland (from Carolina) – S Marcus Williams, Utah*
Cleveland still gets the help in the secondary they need, with a solid centerfielder and coverage guy that can solidify a spot that is problematic.
41. Cincinnati – RB Alvin Kamara, Tennessee*
The Bengals need to add a back to replace the disappointing Jeremy Hill. While Kamara has a skillset more akin to Gio Bernard than Hill, the fact that Bernard has struggled to stay healthy means that Kamara helps them out at both spots.
42. New Orleans – DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
The Saints complete their quartet of pass-rushers, getting a guy in Rivers that can terrorize off the edge alongside Cameron Jordan, Sheldon Rankins and Nick Fairley.
43. Philadelphia – CB Adoree’ Jackson, Southern California*
The Eagles need secondary help and Jackson’s athleticism makes him a good option to develop as their much-desired answer to Odell Beckham, Jr.
44. Houston (from Buffalo) – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame*
TRADE!: Texans trade their second (57th overall) and third-round (76th) picks to the Bills for their second-round (44th) pick.
Not able to sit idly by and not get a signal-caller in this draft, the Texans opt to move up and snag Kizer. Of the big four, it seems that Kizer is the likeliest to slide fall into the second day of the draft. The Texans can somewhat afford to wait on Kizer, given the presence of Tom Savage, who is well-versed in the offense after spending three years on the bench.
45. Arizona – QB Davis Webb, California
Webb’s arm strength and vertical passing ability should make him a nice developmental option behind Carson Palmer in Bruce Arian’s offense.
46. Indianapolis – ILB Jarrad Davis, Florida
The Colts desperately need help at inside linebacker in their 3-4 defense, as their top three options as of today are Jon Bostic, Barkevious Mingo and Sean Spence, none of whom were good enough to earn more than a one-year “prove it” deal from the team in free agency.
47. Baltimore – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
John Harbaugh’s “inside man” at Michigan should help draw them towards Charlton, who can be the heir apparent to Terrell Suggs on the edge.
48. Minnesota – OC Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Elflein can be plugged in immediately at right guard, but also developed long-term as a center behind soon-to-be 35-year old starter Joe Berger.
49. Detroit (from Washington via San Francisco) – TE Evan Engram, Mississippi
TRADE!: Lions trade their second (53rd overall), fifth (165th) and sixth-round (215th) picks to the 49ers for their second-round (49th) pick, which they acquired in a previous trade from the Redskins.
See, I told you the 49ers would be making another deal! They ship the pick I proposed that they added from the Redskins and turning it into two late-round picks, that this talent-deprived roster could fully take advantage of. Meanwhile the Lions want to add another tight end to push and/or potentially replace Eric Ebron, who is entering a contract year.
50. Tampa Bay – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State*
Considered by some to be the top running back in this year’s class, Cook slides due to concerns about his off-field associations and a very poor showing at the Combine. But the Bucs land a really solid runner that can take over for Doug Martin in 2018 as their lead back.
51. Denver – DT Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte
The Broncos need to replace Sylvester Williams at nose tackle and Domata Peko isn’t going to cut it. Ogunjobi, as a penetrating one-technique, should fit in nicely at that spot.
52. Cleveland – DT Chris Wormley, Michigan
The Browns continue to solidify their pass rush by adding Wormley to be the disruptor beside Danny Shelton in their bid to transition to the 4-3 defense.
53. San Francisco (from Detroit) – DE Jordan Willis, Kansas State
The 49ers need to find a true edge-rusher and Willis is as good a candidate as you’re going to find at this point in the second round.
54. Dallas (from Miami) – DE Takk McKinley, UCLA
TRADE!: Cowboys trade their second (60th), sixth (211st) and seventh-round (246th) picks to the Dolphins for their second-round (54th) pick.
With Willis going off the board, the Cowboys are forced to move up to make sure they get their man in McKinley. Despite a shoulder injury that might cost him a good portion of training camp, the Cowboys need as much help as possible with their pass rush given the struggles of Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence.
55. L.A. Chargers (from N.Y. Giants) – WR Zay Jones, East Carolina
Given the injuries suffered at this position last year, the Chargers need to solidify this unit. Jones can provide a similar role/fit as to what they expected from Stevie Johnson in 2016.
56. Oakland – ILB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt*
The Raiders hope Cunningham can solidify interior linebacker beside Ben Heeney and be an upgrade over the likes of Malcolm Smith. He will be.
57. Buffalo (from Houston) – WR Curtis Samuel, Ohio State*
The Bills are able to move back and get a versatile weapon on offense in Samuel that can be a dynamic playmaker out of the slot and backfield in their offense.
58. Seattle – CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
Witherspoon has the size and athleticism to fit well in Seattle as the initial complement to and eventual replacement of Richard Sherman.
59. Kansas City – ILB Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State*
The Chiefs need to find a long-term replacement for the aging Derrick Johnson, who is coming off an Achilles injury.
60. Miami (from Dallas) – CB Fabian Moreau, UCLA
Moreau’s combination of speed and athleticism should be a big boost to a Dolphins secondary that needs it.
61. Green Bay – WR Chad Hansen, California*
The Packers love drafting second-round receivers and given the inconsistencies of Davante Adams and Randall Cobb in recent years, they need all the help they can get.
62. Pittsburgh – TE Adam Shaheen, Ashland*
The Steelers hope Shaheen’s uncommon size will provide Ben Roethlisberger with the big target over the middle that they had hoped Ladarius Green would be last season.
63. Atlanta – DE Tarell Basham, Ohio
Basham is a solid player that fits what the Falcons want in a tough, competitive player that can play both the run and provide pressure off the edge as a pass-rusher.
64. Carolina – WR Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech*
The speedy Henderson gives Cam Newton a more reliable vertical option than Ted Ginn.
Well there you have it. I’ll try and drop a final one-round mock draft on Thursday that has my best guess at how the opening round will go.