Here is my final shot at guessing this year’s draft. By the end of the night, I’ll either look like a genius or a complete idiot (bet on the latter). And the hilarious thing is that the bar for a quality mock draft is so very low, with correctly matching the right player to team just 25 percent of the time being considered great.
I’ll give some explanations as to why I went with the picks because I want to explain my madness.
1. Cleveland Browns – DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
This shouldn’t need a lot of explanation. Garrett is the best talent in this draft. Pull the trigger Browns, and don’t think twice about it.
2. San Francisco 49ers – S Jamal Adams, LSU
No one still has a clue as to what the 49ers will do with this pick, but Adams works because it makes the rest of the top five work better. With Jimmie Ward expected to take over the “Earl Thomas” role at free safety and incumbent Eric Reid being in a contract year, Adams fits the bill as their “Kam Chancellor/Keanu Neal.”
3. Chicago Bears – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is all about getting those difference makers up front, even though the Bears desperately need secondary help.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – OT Cam Robinson, Alabama
The Jaguars’ biggest needs are along their offensive line. I envision this being a possible trade down scenario, potentially swapping picks with the Browns to move up for Trubisky. But I’ll go ahead and slot Robinson in here where he can potentially start as a rookie at left tackle.
5. Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams) – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
The Titans get the best corner on the board and he should replace Jason McCourty nicely opposite Logan Ryan.
6. New York Jets – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
The Jets need a quarterback, but they’ll punt and take a ball-hawking free safety like Hooker to upgrade over disappointing former first-rounder Calvin Pryor on the back end.
7. Los Angeles Chargers – WR Mike Williams, Clemson
The Chargers get another weapon on the outside to team with oft-injured Keenan Allen. Williams offers a comparable skill set to former long-time Chargers receiver Malcom Floyd.
8. Carolina Panthers – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
While I think it’s somewhat laughable that Fournette is considered a consensus top 10 selection, there has been a lot of talk that the Panthers love him and will pull the trigger on him no questions asked if he’s available.
9. Cincinnati Bengals – DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Allen fits what the Bengals tend to like in their defensive line: size, pedigree, length. He can play outside on run downs and kick inside beside Geno Atkins on passing downs.
10. Buffalo Bills – ILB Haason Reddick, Temple
The Bills probably have the least athletic linebacker corps in the league and Reddick gives them an athletic playmaker that can help out the pass rush, run defense and in coverage.
11. New Orleans Saints – DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
The Saints get the pass-rusher they covet to plug in immediately in at right defensive end and wreak havoc in the NFC South.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Trubisky probably goes off the board in the top 10, but the rumors that the Browns are trying to move back up for him makes me think they try to swap picks with the Jaguars to nab the “hometown hero.”
13. Arizona Cardinals – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
While I doubt head coach Bruce Arians wants to use a pick on a quarterback, Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has to think about the long-term future of the team. Not to mention that three of their last four top picks have basically had “redshirt” years as rookies, this move makes perfect sense.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota) – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
The Eagles get another dynamic runner that can be to Doug Pederson’s offense in Philly what Jamaal Charles was to his and Andy Reid’s offense in Kansas City.
15. Indianapolis Colts – CB Kevin King, Washington
The Colts are looking for a physical cornerback to play opposite the oft-injured Vontae Davis, and King has all the size, length and athletic tools you could hope for.
16. Baltimore Ravens – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
It’s tough to see Howard slip this far, but Ozzie Newsome would jump at the chance to take the top tight end from his former alma mater.
17. Washington Redskins – OLB T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
Outside linebacker Preston Smith is coming off a down year, but the Redskins could tinker with plugging the athletic Watt at inside linebacker should he bounce back this year.
18. Tennessee Titans – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Amazing that the Titans manage to snag the best corner and wide receiver in this year’s draft, two critical needs for them.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – S Budda Baker, Washington
Baker helps solidify the safety position after seemingly a decade of subpar play from this spot in Tampa.
20.Denver Broncos – OT Garett Bolles, Utah
The scrappy Bolles should be able slide immediately into left tackle position and provide stability.
21. Detroit Lions – DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
Charlton can line up opposite Ziggy Ansah and give the Lions a much-needed playmaker off the edge.
22. Miami Dolphins – OG Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The Dolphins get much-needed help at guard where they can’t afford another disastrous year from Jermon Bushrod.
23. New York Giants – ILB Jarrad Davis, Florida
The Giants have avoided and neglected this position for years in the draft. I think it finally comes to an end.
24. Oakland Raiders – ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama
His recent positive drug test will cause him to slide and the Raiders will be more than happy to snatch him up.
25. Houston Texans – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
Duane Brown is getting up in age and Derek Newton is likely to miss the entire season with knee injuries, making Ramczyk an immediate impact player at right tackle and long-term answer at left tackle.
26. Seattle Seahawks – CB/S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Despite his time at safety, the Seahawks will try and convert him to a lanky, athletic cornerback to line up opposite Richard Sherman today and replace him tomorrow.
27. Kansas City Chiefs – WR John Ross, Washington
Andy Reid loves fast receivers. They are actually none faster than Ross.
28. Dallas Cowboys – DE Charles Harris, Missouri
The Cowboys should get a much more reliable edge-rusher in Harris than either Randy Gregory or Demarcus Lawrence have proven to be in recent years.
29. Green Bay Packers – CB Tre’Davious White, LSU
Their inability to cover proved their ultimate downfall last year. White should help fix that problem.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers – TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)
The Steelers give Ben Roethlisberger the coveted athlete at tight end that he desperately wants.
31. Atlanta Falcons – OG Dan Feeney, Indiana
While others might look at this as a reach, I think the Falcons will just quietly mumble “Keanu Neal” under their breath and take a guy that can start right away at right guard and continue for the better part of the next decade.
32. New Orleans Saints – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
I think Watson will slide out of the top 20, so don’t be surprised if the Saints look to leap frog a team like the Texans to get him. But he’ll be pegged as Drew Brees’ heir apparent and the only question will be when will Brees decide to pass the torch.