The NFL season is half over, and college football has less than a month left in the regular season, so it’s time for an NFL mock draft. Our last mock draft was in May, after the 2016 NFL Draft was complete. The team order is based on where they’ll finish the season.
1 Cleveland – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: Feels like a bigger (6-4, 230), faster Russell Wilson, but without the experience. Big arm, former 3-sport athlete in high school, and just scratching the surface as a QB.
2 San Francisco – DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson: Chip Kelly finally gets a mobile QB in the pros. His stats are way, way down this year, but he was historically good last year and seems to be focusing really hard on becoming more of a pocket QB.
3 Chicago – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Very quiet season (4 sacks, 9.5 tackles for loss) but the 6-foot-5, 265-pound edge rusher is a menace who could have an immediate Joey Bosa-like impact. Will probably be the top-rated player on many draft boards.
4 Jacksonville – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Chris Ivory has been injured and a non-factor, and TJ Yeldon feels like a backup/3rd down back. Fournette is a thumper. I wouldn’t take him this high, but offensively-challenged Jacksonville might. Bortles has receivers, and if he can’t win with a superstar running back …
5 NY Jets – Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. Off-the-radar coming into the season, the 6-foot-3 junior is completing 70% of his passes (3rd in the country), has tossed 19 TDS/2 INTs. Was a 3-star recruit out of Ohio who picked UNC over Alabama and Ohio State. Only threw 47 passes as a sophomore, so he’s something of an unknown, but NFL interest is surging, especially given the Brad Kaaya struggles in Miami and the dire need for QBs in the NFL. Is he the 5th best player in the draft? Not even close. But the Jets don’t have the luxury of starting Petty/Hackenberg next year, and drafting a QB in the 4th round, the way the Cowboys snagged Dak Prescott.
6 Cleveland (via Philadelphia) – Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama. Brutal schedule the rest of the way for the Eagles is great news for the Browns, who would love to get their hands on Allen, a plug-and-play stud who would fit nicely next to Danny Shelton, and give the Browns a pretty impressive tandem inside.
7 New Orleans – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee. Tied for 3rd in the country in sacks with nine and he’s having a more productive season than Garrett. But at 6-3, 265, he’s a bit smaller. A little heavier than Khalil Mack, but has bent the edge like the Raiders star all season. Look at this speed against All-American Cam Robinson of Alabama.
8 Miami – Jabrill Peppers, DB, Michigan. He might be the most versatile player in the country, and he feels like a future star in an NFL secondary. Teams will debate whether he plays corner or a roaming safety/linebacker the way Honey Badger does.
9 Tampa Bay – Malik Hooker, DB, Ohio State. Initially a big-time basketball recruit, he transitioned to football, and at 6-2, has great size for a corner/safety. In a strong defensive back class, he’s been terrific so far in 2016.
10 NY Giants – Dalvin Cook, RB, FSU. The Giants offensive line stinks, but Cook should be used to that; the situation in Tallahassee is similar.
11 Tennessee (via LA Rams) – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan. The best receiver in the country you’re not watching. With two games left (plus a bowl game), he’ll break all his previous records (already has 14 TDs). Marcus Mariota desperately needs pass-catchers.
12 Tennessee – Jamal Adams, S, LSU. He’s not quite Honey Badger 2.0, but he’s a big safety (6-1, 215) who can play in the box. He might be the best Titans safety the day he’s drafted.
13 San Diego – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama. Foster lost 15 pounds in the offseason and is an absolute machine. He’s in the class of former Tide 1st round picks CJ Mosley and Dont'a Hightower. The Chargers hit a homer with Joey Bosa in the 2016 draft.
14 Cincinnati – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford. He’s actually outshone Stanford’s star running back this year as the team’s best player. At 6-foot-3, 273-pounds, his stock began soaring with a 12 tackle, 1.5 sack game against Notre Dame in which he forced a fumble on the last play of the game. The Bengals have OL needs, but the pass rush has been weak so far this season.
15 Baltimore – Chris Wormley, DE, Michigan. From one Harbaugh to another? Wormley’s stats are slightly down from last year’s 6.5 sacks/14.5 TFL, but he’s one of the main reasons the Michigan defense is the nation’s best. The Ravens linebackers and defensive backs, when healthy, are very good. The line could use some work.
16 Detroit – Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan. Bet the Lions would love to get their hands on Dalvin Cook here, as Detroit has yet to have a 75-yard rusher this season. The secondary’s been a disaster all year, but did have a good game against the Vikings. Lewis … makes plays.
17 Carolina – Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson. In a draft with several very good defensive backs, the 6-foot-1 Tankersley is flying up the list. Overshadowed last year by Mackensie Alexander (Vikings), Tankersley has been one of the nation’s best – on the rare occasions teams throw at him.
18 Houston – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. In a down year for the Irish, Nelson has been a bright spot on the OL. Brock Osweiler has the weapons, but his offensive line has been below average this year.
19 Buffalo – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson. The Bills got screwed in Seattle, really hurting their playoff chances, which may mean Rex Ryan doesn’t return. If he does … they go Clemson again in the 1st round. Williams has rebounded nicely from missing almost all of 2015 injured. Sammy Watkins can’t stay healthy, and Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin are free agents.
20 Green Bay –JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC. Catching passes from Cody Kessler last year, he put up gigantic stats (1,454 yards, 10 TDs), and those are down this year playing for two QBs. The Packers must give Aaron Rodgers playmaking help.
21 Denver – Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Broncos run defense has been crippled by free agent losses. They’ve already permitted six 120-yard rushers this season after allowing just two last year. Vea and his Huskies line-mate, Elijah Qualls, both should be early-round draft picks.
22 Arizona – Roderick Johnson, OT, FSU. Carson Palmer was sacked 25 times last year; he’s already been sacked 24 times this year. They whiffed drafting Jonathan Cooper in 2013, and this year, the line’s a mess.
23 Philadelphia (via Minnesota) – Desmond King, CB, Iowa. Hasn’t been the 1st team All-American he was last year (eight interceptions), but don’t be fooled by the lack of stats. Stout against the run. The Eagles have a major need at WR, but Leodis McKelvin has been a bigger issue at CB.
24 Indianapolis – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama. In a down draft for tackles, Robinson’s been the best so far (though he hasn’t been as good as he was in 2015). Robinson would ideally start on the right side from Day 1; the Colts have the worst offensive line in the NFL, but still get to the playoffs thanks to Andrew Luck.
25 Pittsburgh – Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn. Steelers are tied for last in the NFL in sacks, and have an anemic pass rush. Lawson, finally healthy, has 8.5 sacks in eight games for rejuvenated Auburn.
26 Atlanta – Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State. Not having a monster year statistically, but a disrupter in the run defense and would pair very nicely with emerging Grady Jarrett. McDowell’s signature game was this monster effort against Maryland last year (4.5 TFL).
27 Kansas City – Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia. Perfect for the Andy Reid offense. Who knows what the future holds for injury-plagued Jamaal Charles. Once the Chiefs get Justin Houston back, the defense will carry the team in the 2016 playoffs.
28 Washington – Tim Williams, Edge Rusher, Alabama. Redskins have some OL needs, and at inside linebacker. So why an edge rusher? Kerrigan, Murphy and Smith are all young and talented, but in a division with Wentz, Dak and Eli, you have to chase the QB. Washington’s GM, Scot McCloughan, spent time in Seattle. Ask him about building a front seven.
29 Oakland – Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida. The all-SEC corner changed his name to Teez offseason, and that’s totally a bad-ass Raiders name. Tabor’s been up-and-down this year; perhaps he’ll use his Thorpe Award slight and take it out on opponents.
30 Dallas – Charles Harris, DE, Missouri. Boom/bust player who has had a quiet season (facing plenty of double teams) … except for a 3-sack explosion against Georgia. They call him the Hammer.
31 Seattle – Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA. Sturdy run-stopper went down in the 2015 season opener when he blew out his knee, or he would have been taken in the early rounds of the 2016 draft. Healthy again, he’s playing like an early-round pick.
32 New England – Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR, Stanford. Don’t try to fight it – this should happens. It needs to happen.