It’s NFL Combine week! And thus, Mock Draft 4.0. Remember Mock Draft 1.0, right after the 2015 Draft? Fun one to look back on. Mock Draft 2.0 was in October 2015. Mock Draft 3.0 was in January 2016. Our next one will be after free agency.
1. Tennessee Titans – Joey Bosa, Ohio State, DE. No change. Still think the Titans will dangle the pick in a trade. Will anyone bite? It feels like an OT, Bosa or a trade, and while you want to protect your QB, that front seven is toothless.
2. Cleveland Browns – Jared Goff, QB, Cal. Still have the Bear Raid QB here because the Browns are so desperate at the position. Goff should fare well at the combine. The big question for me, a guy who is lukewarm on the QBs everyone loves in this draft: If you trade down and acquire more picks, is Lynch or hell, even Wentz, that much worse than Goff as a prospect? They all seem about the same to me upside-wise.
3. San Diego Chargers – Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss. Still like the idea of his teammate, Treadwell, going here to bolster the offense. The real question is what happens in free agency at tackle. The impressive Broncos/Raiders pass rush amplifies the need to protect Rivers. There are needs on the DL and in the secondary (Ramsey?) too.
4. Dallas Cowboys – Jalen Ramsey, DB, FSU. Just don’t see how drafting a QB here helps them. Perhaps the Cowboys are smart and put the word out they are drafting a QB so they can trade down and acquire more players. As for Ramsey … it’s a passing league. Landing Jones last year in the 1st round and then Ramsey sets up the Cowboys secondary for a decade.
5. Jacksonville Jaguars – DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon. Freakishly athletic, he could come out of the Combine as the big winner. Yes, the Jags took Dante Fowler last year and he hasn’t played a down (ACL). Gus Bradley is a former defensive line coach. I think Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley will be in play here (Bortles absorbed an NFL-high 51 sacks).
6. Baltimore Ravens – Myles Jack, LB, UCLA. If only one QB goes in the Top 5, then the Ravens may face a difficult decision, unless they want Stanley (ND). This could be too high for Jack, especially coming off the meniscus injury. He’d slay the Combine if he competed. Could backup veteran Daryl Smith at the start of next season, but it’ll be tough to keep him off the field.
7. San Francisco 49ers – Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. Had slotted the 49ers a QB, but then Chip Kelly happened, and for the time being, I’ll project they keep Kaepernick. The 49ers have one of the best LT’s in the NFL in Joe Staley, who turns 32 in August. Stanley can start at RT for a year or two before transitioning over.
8. Miami Dolphins – Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson. Phenomenal season (12.5 sacks, 25.5 TFL; 5th and 1st nationally) and should step in nicely to replace Olivier Vernon, who Miami probably won’t be able to afford in free agency. Is Lawson the best pass rusher in the draft? A legit question heading into the Combine.
9. Tampa Bay Bucs – Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida. I still have him as the best cornerback in the draft (Ramsey is the most talented DB), though many seem to love Mackensie Alexander of Clemson. Tampa couldn’t make Talib or Revis work; each left and won Super Bowls. Now, the Bucs starters are Johnthan Banks and Alterraun Verner (who was terrible last year). Hargreaves probably unseats one of them by Week 1.
10. NY Giants – Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville. One of the worst rushing defenses in the league last year adds a space eater inside who will be disruptive from the first snap of the season. The Giants have many needs on the OL and all over the defense.
11. Chicago Bears – Laquan Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss. If the Bears let Alshon Jeffery walk in free agency – which seems like a mistake, but hey, this is the franchise that just gave away Brandon Marshall for a 5th round pick – they’ll have to give the best WR in the draft a long look.
12. New Orleans Saints – Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama. A historically bad defense needs all the help it can get. It’s not ideal for the Saints if seven of the top 11 picks are defensive players, but Reed should help put a plug in the middle of that porous run defense (league-worst 4.9 yards per cary allowed).
13. Philadelphia Eagles – Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State. The Eagles are in a weird situation, given the secondary needs, the new coach, the new GM, the questions about QB, the dearth of WRs … did I miss anything? For now, OT seems like a safe play.
14. Oakland Raiders – Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson. Interesting offseason ahead for the Raiders, who were in the Wild Card mix in December, but have offensive line issues and need to replace Hall of Fame safety Charles Woodson. The linebackers are average, at best. I like Alexander, but don’t love him this early. On the short list of defensive players likely to blow up at the Combine, he’s one.
15. Los Angeles Rams – Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis. What’s going to happen with nick foles? If he leaves for Philly – hell, even if he stays – there’s a need for an upgrade here, especially moving to a new city and a new stadium. I love the knock on Lynch was that he struggled against Auburn. Anyone want to fire up the Derek Carr bowl game tape against USC? For now, I’m going to avoid the Carson Wentz hype train.
16. Detroit Lions – Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Can you tell I’m wedded to this pick? Given the money they’ll free up if Calvin Johnson retires, the potential for smart moves in free agency and adding a beast like Elliott, keep an eye on the Lions as a sleeper in the NFC.
17. Atlanta Falcons – Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida. The Falcons were 30th in the NFL in sacks in 2014 (22) and then in 2015 improved the pass rush … and finished last with 19 sacks. Former Seahawks DC Dan Quinn has to get another pass rusher, right? Especially when facing Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston 2x a year.
18. Indianapolis Colts – Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame. The fears that he could miss most of the season (or all of it) will certainly scare off some teams contending for a Super Bowl, but Smith is undeniably a 1st round talent. I had him Top 10 pre-injury.
19. Buffalo Bills – Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama. Linebacker was the weak link on the Buffalo defense. The Bills defense was in the bottom half of the NFL in just about every category, which is pretty embarrassing for Rex Ryan. In Year 2, the pressure is on.
20. NY Jets – Leonard Floyd, Edge, Georgia. Had Reggie Ragland here last time, as ILB is a major need for the Jets with Davis a free agent and Harris not what he was five years ago. But from a pass-rushing perspective, the Jets don’t have a guy coming off the edge wreaking havoc. Can Floyd be that guy at 6-3, 230?
21. Washington Redskins – A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama. Had him 14th in the last mock draft, and it feels like the burly Tide interior lineman with a great beard falls somewhere in the middle of the 1st round. Washington’s two nose tackles are free agents.
22. Houston Texans – Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State. The critics have been brutal for months. He’s got a lot to prove in Indy. The scary thought is what happens if Bill O”Brien doesn’t draft him? Will the consensus be that if the coach who had him during his one good year doesn’t want him, why should anyone? PFF has him as a talent worthy of not getting drafted.
23. Minnesota Vikings – Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State. Right now, it feels like it has to be OT, right? Free agency could change things, of course, but Kalil seems to be on notice. The Vikings have done very well in the draft the last three years.
24. Cincinnati Bengals – William Jackson, CB, Houston. Mini-debate going on with the scouts I spoke with about who the 4th best DB in the draft is. Ramsey, Hargreves and Alexander are the consensus top three, but there’s a lot of disagreement about Jackson vs Eli Apple of Ohio State. I’m not sure it’ll be determined at the Combine.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers – Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor. Could set a bench press record this week. Immovable monster. He can power clean 400 pounds. In high school, broke a 22-year old record with an 805-pound squat, 500-pound bench, and 705-pound deadlift). Pittsburgh would love to draft their next Casey Hampton.
26. Seattle Seahawks – Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi St. Mini-sleeper who makes his TBL Mock Draft debut. Was the #2 prospect in the country coming out of high school, had a rough sophomore year, but had a strong 2015 (7.5 tackles for loss). At 6-6, 300 pounds, he’s versatile enough to play inside or out. The Seahawks miss the depth they had on the interior during the Super Bowl-winning year.
27. Green Bay Packers – Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona. The Packers have other needs, but he just feels like a Packers or Patriots player. Injuries ruined his 2015 season, but man this kid is talented.
28. KC Chiefs – Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Oklahoma State. One of the best pure pass rushers in the draft, he doesn’t do anything else well. Had one scout tell me he’s got LaVar Arrington pass-rush potential. But that was followed up by, ‘if he’s on the field, teams will run right at him.’
29. Arizona Cardinals – Noah Spence, Edge, Eastern Kentucky. Monster for Ohio State in 2013 (eight sacks, 14.5 TFL). But ecstasy/molly issues got him booted from the Big Ten. He resurfaced at EKU, dominated the competition, and then was perhaps the best player at the Senior Bowl in January.
30. Carolina Panthers – Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame. Free agency could certainly change things for Carolina, but so might Fuller if he crushes the Combine. Other pundits have Fuller in the 2nd round and beat writers think he’ll be around on Day 2.
31. Denver Broncos – Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas. Brock Osweiler – or RGIII? – is going to need a security blanket. Henry was one of the best tight ends in college football, though you probably only remember this incredible play. Built through free agency, the Broncos may have more questions than any other team. Look at all these starters who are free agents.
32. New England Patriots – Forfeited due to Deflategate, even though Tom Brady’s punishment was overturned. Go figure.