The 2016 NFL season is over, the draft order is (almost) set, and football fans are already preparing for next season. Tons of things will change between now and the end of April, and even a mock draft done on the evening of April 27th would be mostly wrong. Fans love mock drafts, though, so let's give the people what they want.
1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
The Browns acquired a bunch of picks in last year’s draft, and now it’s time to start using them. Garrett is widely regarded as the best player in the draft (though I like Deshaun Watson), and he would fit perfectly in new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ aggressive 4-3 scheme.
2. San Francisco 49ers: Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina
The first order of business of the new regime of the 49ers should be to find a franchise quarterback. If GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan can’t trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or Kirk Cousins, they might look to this year’s draft. Trubisky would benefit from sitting at least a year, especially in Shanahan’s complex system, but San Francisco probably want to get their quarterback now, especially with next year’s draft class not looking strong.
3. Chicago Bears: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
Chicago might also be looking for a quarterback, but could choose to fill-in the rest of the roster and stick with Jay Cutler for another season. Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is an option here, but Solomon Thomas has game-wrecker potential. He’s been compared to J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama
Speaking of Allen, the Jaguars would probably be extremely excited to add the Alabama star to their young defense. If Jacksonville plays more odd fronts under a new coaching staff (though DC Todd Wash remains), pairing Allen with Malik Jackson could be a dangerous duo with all the other young talent on defense.
5. Tennessee Titans (from LAR): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker will not be able to participate in the NFL Combine after undergoing surgeries (core muscle, hip labrum), but he’s shown enough on tape to be a top-five pick and the first safety off the board. Tennessee’s defense was solid last season, but they could use a real difference-maker in the back-end.
6. New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
Whether or not Darrelle Revis regains his old form with the Jets, cornerback is a big area of need for New York. Lattimore projects as the best corner in the draft despite limited experience. The Jets seem like a team that could either trade up or down from this spot.
7. Los Angeles Chargers: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
A bit of a surprise here, but what a better way to make a splash and win over the Los Angeles market than to draft Watson? I think he’s ready to play now, but the former Clemson superstar would be in a great situation if he could sit behind Philip Rivers for a couple years. Watson could be gone by the 7th pick if another team loves him, though.
8. Carolina Panthers: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette is the first running back off the board in a loaded class. Jonathan Stewart can’t stay healthy and is getting up there in age, so the Panthers are almost certainly going to draft a back this year. Imagine Fournette and Cam Newton being options together at the goal line.
9. Cincinnati Bengals: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Cincinnati may need to fill two linebacker spots this offseason, with Karlos Dansby a free agent and Rey Maualuga’s future with the team in question, and Foster would immediately step in to form a scary tandem with Vontaze Burfict. Foster could play inside or outside in a 4-3.
10. Buffalo Bills: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
This time the Bills don’t even need to trade up for a star Clemson wideout. Mike Williams would be a great fit if Tyrod Taylor stays as quarterback for the Bills, as he loves throwing outside the numbers. Sammy Watkins and Williams would complement each other perfectly.
11. New Orleans Saints: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida
Teez Tabor is the higher-rated prospect for a lot of people, but his teammate Quincy Wilson has the makings of a really good professional football player. Wilson’s size, confidence, and tackling ability will be traits that teams fall in love with.
12. Cleveland Browns (from PHI): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Cleveland misses out on Deshaun Watson after picking Myles Garrett first overall, but I would want to see what 2016 third round pick Cody Kessler can do with a full year as the starter. Cam Robinson can step into the right tackle spot and eventually takeover for Joe Thomas at left tackle when he decides to retire. Cleveland’s “moneyball” front office seems like they want to built the trenches of their team.
13. Arizona Cardinals: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Howard did not have the production numbers-wise to be a pick in the top-half of the first round, but he was effective in his limited role at Alabama. Jimmy Graham seems like an apt comparison for Howard, who has tons of athletic ability but might need to get a little more physical.
14/15. Indianapolis Colts: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama
Another Alabama player, Williams is a pure pass rusher, and he’s darn good at it. Chris Ballard would obviously like to get off to a good start for the Colts, and selecting one of Nick Saban’s guys seems like a wise move to build the defense.
14/15. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Eagles fans seem set on either Mike Williams or Corey Davis here, so many of them would be happy to see Carson Wentz get a new weapon. I wouldn’t give up on Nelson Agholor, but he’s a trade candidate this offseason. Cornerback is also a big need for Philly after they traded Eric Rowe to the now Super Bowl champion Patriots last year.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan
Peppers is a favorite of many fans across the country, and he gets to stay close to home (New Jersey) with this pick. Also, John Harbaugh would have some unparalleled insight into Peppers after Jim Harbaugh coached him at Michigan.
17. Washington Redskins: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
In a talented safety class, Adams would be a steal here as a potential top-five pick. The Redskins need a lot of players on both sides of the ball despite their success over the past two seasons. Jay Gruden should have the offense taken care of, but the defense needs a re-tool around Josh Norman.
18. Tennessee Titans: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
If this mock is correct (it won’t even be close), Alabama would make up 33% of the top-18 picks. Marlon Humphrey would be a solid value pick for the Titans, and if they got he and Malik Hooker like I predict, the secondary would be able to match up with Andrew Luck in the AFC South for years to come.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU
Cook has some off-the-field concerns because of his past, but teams are often willing to overlook that. Plus, he seems to have honestly changed for the better. Cook’s exciting breakaway speed and good vision could make him a nice replacement for Doug Martin if the Bucs decide to move on.
20. Denver Broncos: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Like Malik Hooker, Ramczyk is going to miss the NFL Combine after undergoing hip labrum surgery. He shouldn’t last too long, however, after playing in a pro-style system at Wisconsin. Ramczyk should step in immediately to protect whoever is under center for Denver.
21. Detroit Lions: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
From former walk-on at Temple to first round pick? Reddick is shooting up draft boards, and would be a tremendous get for the Lions here. He and another Temple product in Tahir Whitehead would be a really good—and young—tandem.
22. Miami Dolphins: David Njoku, TE, Miami
Njoku has the potential to be an elite weapon for whoever drafts him. Adam Gase and the Dolphins seem like a perfect spot, as Njoku will be able to play where he played in college, and Gase will get the most out of his talents.
23. New York Giants: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Charlton could end up going a lot higher than this, but the Giants would likely not let him fall past their pick. At 6’6”, Charlton could present problems for the great group of offensive tackles in the NFC East.
24. Oakland Raiders: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
I really like Latavius Murray, and he wants to stay in Oakland, but no one knows what will happen when free agency hits. Christian McCaffrey might be the best all-around running back in the draft, and could remain an option even if Murray re-signs.
25. Houston Texans: Desmond King, DB, Iowa
King has a great name and a great game. It’s unclear whether he fits better at corner or safety (he played corner at Iowa), but the Texans wouldn’t hurt their great defense by adding a versatile competitor to the secondary.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson
Tankersley and Seattle might be the best fit in the entire draft. He could start his career opposite Richard Sherman in their cover-3 scheme before taking over as the #1 when Sherman retires or if his play falls off.
27. Kansas City Chiefs: Malik McDowell, DL, Michigan State
I like McDowell as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme, and Andy Reid has been able to get the most out of players with questionable work ethic in the past. The former Spartan has a lot of potential with his athletic ability in that huge frame.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Dallas could look for someone in any level of their defense, but they might view Barnett as too good to pass up here. Barnett was extremely productive for Tennessee as a junior.
29. Green Bay Packers: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan
The Packers secondary was absolutely decimated to end the season, so it wouldn’t hurt to add another cornerback to the team. Lewis’ size will be made up for by his competitiveness.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Would Big Ben’s retirement talks force the Steelers to look for his successor? If they think DeShone Kizer could develop into a really good starting quarterback in the league, they might pull the trigger at the end of round one.
31. Atlanta Falcons: Caleb Brantley, DL, Florida
Brantley would be a home-run addition to Dan Quinn’s defense. Though he didn’t play a lot of snaps at Floriday, Brantley would help against the pass and run for Atlanta’s fast defense.
32. New England Patriots: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt
The Patriots get an overlooked and intelligent prospect with the last pick of day one. What else is new?