The start of free agency has come and gone. With four weeks to go until the NFL Draft in Philadelphia, team needs have been established and the season of due diligence has begun. Here is my second take on how the draft might shake out:
1) Cleveland Browns - Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Does this pick even need an explanation at this point?
2) San Francisco 49ers - Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Top-level safeties are a rarity in the NFL, which is why John Lynch is willing to spend such a high pick to get one.
3) Chicago Bears - Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
After picking talented edge-rusher Leonard Floyd last year, Ryan Pace can continue to improve the Bears’ defensive front with this pick.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
The Jags follow the Cowboys’ successful blueprint from a year ago and take a dynamic running back with the 4th pick.
5) Tennessee Titans - Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Titans desperately need a WR1 for Marcus Mariota, but they can go after one later in the round. Armed with two 1st-round picks, they have the luxury of first choosing Hooker, who could wind up being the draft’s best safety.
6) New York Jets - Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
The Jets’ QB carousel gets its newest member. Shockingly, this one might actually work out. Watson brings a championship pedigree to the Meadowlands.
7) Los Angeles Chargers - Soloman Thomas, DE, Stanford
Thomas teams up with Joey Bosa to make the Chargers’ defensive front frightening for opposing quarterbacks.
8) Carolina Panthers - Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
I Had McDowell going to the Raiders all the way at 24th in my first mock, but further research has led me to believe he might be a good fit in Carolina. If the Panthers move him to DE and let him shadow Julius Peppers, he could eventually be an All-Pro.
9) Cincinnati Bengals - Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
Offensive lineman are no longer the “sure thing” picks of the 1st-round, but the Bengals are in desperate need of a day-one starter after their mass exodus in free agency.
10) Buffalo Bills - Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Sticking with Mike Williams here because it just makes sense. Pair Williams with fellow Clemson alumni Sammy Watkins and give Tyrod Taylor a real chance to succeed.
11) New Orleans Saints - Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster is the anchor that the Saints’ defense has needed for years.
12) Houston Texans (via trade w/ Cleveland) - Mitch Trubinsky, QB, North Carolina
The Browns and Texans pull off their second blockbuster of the offseason. Houston gives up their 1st, 2nd and 5th-round picks to move up 13 spots and select their hopeful franchise quarterback.
13) Arizona Cardinals - Garrett Boles, OT, Utah
This could be the last NFL season for Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer. The duo persuades Steve Keim to bolster the offensive line and give the team the best chance to succeed right now rather than looking towards the future.
14) Philadelphia Eagles - Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
The Eagles are shocked that the top cornerback on their draft board is still around and run the card to the table.
15) Indianapolis Colts - Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
Chris Ballard immediately sets to work on something that Ryan Grigson never did—protecting Andrew Luck.
16) Baltimore Ravens - Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
With Elvis Dumervil becoming a cap casualty and Terrell Suggs nearing the end of his career, Ozzie Newsome looks for younger reinforcements who can get to the quarterback.
17) Washington Redskins - Jabrill Peppers , S, Michigan
The Redskins desperately need an injection of youth and speed at the safety position; Peppers provides both.
18) Tennessee Titans - John Ross, WR, Washington
The combination of Corey Davis’ injuries and Ross’ stellar combine performance results in the Titans choosing the latter.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Buccaneers can’t resist pairing Cook with college teammate Jameis Winston. Hopefully it works out better than that formula did with Roberto Aguayo last year.
20) Denver Broncos - Forrest Lamp, OG, Western Kentucky
The Broncos already have a dominant defense, star receivers and a passable running back. Now they need to work on protecting Paxton Lynch so he has a chance to develop.
21) Detroit Lions - Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
Barnett across from Ezekiel Ansah? Aaron Rodgers better watch out.
22) Miami Dolphins - Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
Someone on the ‘Fins is going to have to cover Brandin Cooks and Sammy Watkins twice a year. At 29-years-old, Byron Maxwell isn’t the man for the job.
23) New York Giants - O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Howard breathes new life into the career of Eli Manning whose arm strength is dwindling.
24) Oakland Raiders - Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
Reggie McKenzie was planning on going defense here, but in one of the deepest drafts on that side of the ball in recent memory, he can’t resist taking the top player left on his draft board.
25) Cleveland Browns (via trade w/ Houston) - DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Maybe there’s something to this moneyball thing. Sashi Brown gets the most physically gifted QB in the draft all the way at 25th-overall.
26) Green Bay Packers (via trade w/ Seattle) - Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
Laughing at convention, Ted Thompson swaps 1st-rounders with Seattle and throws in a 5th-rounder to leapfrog the Chiefs for Reddick.
27) Kansas City Chiefs - Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
In a division loaded with talented WR’s, the Chiefs find a dynamic young talent to line up opposite Marcus Peters.
28) Dallas Cowboys - Obi Melifonwu, S, UConn
For the second year in a row the Cowboys select the star of the NFL combine.
29) Seattle Seahawks (via trade w/ Green Bay) - Kevin King, CB, Washington
If you believe the noise, the ‘Hawks might be planning for a future without Richard Sherman. I don’t—but that doesn’t mean they won’t add a young, talented, in-state corner like King.
30) Cleveland Browns (via trade w/ Pittsburgh) - Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
Davis’ slide finally ends as Cleveland gives up a 2nd and 3rd-rounder to move up a few spots and select the potential steal of the draft with their third 1st-rounder.
31) Atlanta Falcons - Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC
The Falcons need a new return man after Eric Weems left in free agency. They also need high-upside cornerbacks in the high-flying NFC South. Jackson is the definition of a boom or bust corner, but worst case scenario he will be an ace on special teams.
32) New Orleans Saints - Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech
Drew Brees is still playing at an elite-level, but things in the NFL can change in a heartbeat. Sean Payton is ecstatic with this pick.