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The surprises mock draft that attempts to do what other mocks don’t

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What happens when we try to buck conventional wisdom and think outside the mocks?

NFL: APR 26 2018 NFL Draft Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Woof, this took a long time. And I still plan to do round two, after all the Las Vegas Raiders have two early picks in round two. What? You didn’t hear? Yes, it all happened! You didn’t miss it, it just hasn’t been reported yet cause it’s all right here in my “all-surprises mock draft” that’s about to start as you continue reading.

But before you do here’s what you should know:

- Mock drafts are really useful tools, great for getting to know players and to fantasize about all the possibilities. They’re great and I’ve been in love with the draft and mock drafts since I was a young ass kid. However ...

- Mock drafts also tend to lack originality. This is not to say I’m some special person who is going to be original for the sake of being original, but well ... Okay, I guess I’m saying that. My intent here is that because mock drafts lack originality, they become boring and then do start to lose that value of creating original thoughts and fantasizing about potential possibilities.

At the end of the day (one), mock drafts are drastically bad at being predictive. They get so many picks wrong and were clearly uninformed in what teams would do and how they valued certain players. Which is fine! I’m also going to be wrong in this mock draft.

But I think it does create some new thoughts about what could happen Thursday.

I used some rumors to connect these teams and these players. I ignored some other rumors. I especially ignored long-held beliefs that people have been repeating about certain teams and players since January.

This is not an attempt at accuracy. For the sake of all the mock drafters out there: I hope you are not attempting accuracy, cause you’re bad at that. This is an attempt to use rumors and logic to connect new dots.

I did the first round and the Raiders only made one pick, but I think it was the best pick they could make. They will also pick twice in round two, but only once in round three. Find out how right now.

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Burrow, QB

2. Washington - Tua Tagovailoa, QB

I would rather not go with Tua, but I’m trying to think in the mind of the team rather than for myself. They’ve met with Burrow, Tagovailoa, and Chase Young, and that seems to be it as far as top prospects go. I honestly think there would be nothing wrong with moving on from Dwayne Haskins after one season, or doubling-down on franchise quarterbacks. Actually, it makes more sense to me to draft overkill the QB position than it does to overload at defensive line, as Washington will presumably be doing with Young after taking a DL in the first round in each of the last three years.

3. Detroit Lions - Chase Young, DE

There’s no trading down for the Lions if Young isn’t pick number two. Anyone but Young going second overall could have huge implications on how the rest of the draft goes. If Young isn’t available, I think Detroit is trading down. If instead of Tua going second, Young goes second, then the “surprise” to me would be the Lions trading down with the Dolphins, as rumored. Then the pick at three will be Tua Tagovailoa.

4. New York Giants - TRADE

The Giants want to trade down. Who is the player on the board who seems like a “rush to the podium” pick? A tackle? They can move down for that.

4. Atlanta Falcons - Tristan Wirfs, OT/G

This is the rumor, so I’ll go with it. Falcons trade pick 16, 47, and a 2021 first rounder to the Giants. The Falcons currently have 11 first round picks on offense and this will be their 12th. After drafting two offensive linemen in the first round, Atlanta strikes again and plugs Wirfs alongside Jake Matthews next season. The long-term plan being for Wirfs to be a left or right tackle after Matthews is gone. His versatility is what the Falcons are looking for and they know this is their only option. To trade up.

5. Miami Dolphins - Andrew Thomas, OT

Brian Flores tags the more polished tackle to be his starter next season.

(Oh yeah, if the Dolphins do the reported move up to three, then I assume he traded 18, 26, 56, and 141 for three and Mr. Irrelevant at 255. keeping pick five, which would still be Thomas.)

6. Los Angeles Chargers - Jeffrey Okudah, CB

The surprise here is that Okudah goes to a team that has only been linked to quarterbacks and tackles when there are still quarterbacks and tackles on the board. Cornerback wouldn’t be an immediate need for the Chargers, but this is a sensible move for the future.

7. Carolina Panthers - TRADE!

While not lacking picks this year, I think the Panthers could reasonably move down and come away with a player they like as much as the one they’d get at seven. This is not a team that I think can compete next season and if they’re aware of that, good opportunity to add future value by trading down.

7. Las Vegas Raiders - Isaiah Simmons, LB/S

Wow. This will make the place go nuts. The “place” being millions of individuals homes. But what’s the flaw in the logic? If an elite defensive player like Simmons, a legitimately top-three prospect, gets down to seven, then I think Mike Mayock wants to make that move. He’d love to make that move. He’s been practicing 30 years for that move. And if Okudah, Simmons get to six, then all bets are off. What’s the cost?

Mayock can give up 12, 81, and 91. It might feel like a lot to move up five spots, two third round picks, but Mayock keeps the higher of his three picks (80) and gets the player of his and Jon Gruden’s dreams. Do the Raiders need three third round picks or do they need a defensive player who can screw up the opposition’s gameplan all week like Simmons? (Plus still one third rounder left over.) Carolina needs to build. Las Vegas needs to strike. And he has another first rounder coming ...

8. Arizona Cardinals - Justin Herbert, QB

Just kidding.

8. Arizona Cardinals - Javon Kinlaw, DT

The biggest rumor hit here is that Kinlaw is going to go above Derrick Brown. Few mocks are actually taking the initiative to go through with it, so let’s put him in a really sensible spot with the Cardinals.

9. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jordan Love, QB

Not everyone believes Justin Herbert is better than Love.

10. Cleveland Browns - TRADE!

They don’t have a stockpile of picks this year and this plays into a rumor that they want to trade down, but they could also add a veteran player to help them right now.

10. New England Patriots - Derrick Brown, DT

The Patriots do move up, but not for a QB. Bill Belichick snags his DTOTF and everyone smashes their computer monitors after he gets a potential top-3 prospect for his defense. In this scenario, New England trades Joe Thuney, pick 100, pick 139 to Cleveland for pick nine. The Browns have no left tackle still? In this scenario, they’ve added the top two offensive linemen in free agency now.

11. New York Jets - Henry Ruggs III, WR

The “surprise” here is that Ruggs is the first receiver off the board, but it plays into the rumor that the Jets love Ruggs. If they love Ruggs and this is the board, then I imagine they could call the Broncos at 15 and offer the pick up in return for one of their third round picks. In my mock, the Raiders have already traded up, so that eliminates one threat to take a receiver after New York. I’ll keep it as is.

12. Carolina Panthers - Jerry Jeudy, WR

This is BPA territory for the Panthers and they met with Jeudy at the combine. It doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t select CeeDee Lamb or anyone they didn’t interview, but this is a surprise mock draft. Surprise: CeeDee is on the board still.

13. San Francisco 49ers - TRADE!

There’s a very good chance that the Niners will trade down from 31 because they are right on that fifth-year option cusp for rookies. But without a pick in rounds two, three, and four, look for John Lynch to trade down multiple times in the first round. So who is on the board and who wants him? We know that the Broncos could be FREAKING OUT about CeeDee Lamb right now. Denver also has SF’s third rounder because of Emmanuel Sanders.

Teams behind the Broncos (in my mock with trades) who could want CeeDee: Giants at 16, Dolphins at 18, Raiders at 19, Eagles at 21, Vikings at 22, Saints at 24. But that’s not all. There are also still two of the big tackles on the board. If this was the board, the 49ers might be able to drive up a pretty good sale, supposing everyone’s WiFi is on point.

13. Denver Broncos - CeeDee Lamb, WR

It’s a dream situation for the Broncos, they only have to move up two spots for Lamb. But they do have to make a sacrifice: two third round picks just to move up two spots. The only teams that could make a comparable offer were the Raiders and Dolphins, and they both already shot a big shot.

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mekhi Becton, OT

I’ve long thought that the top four offensive tackles could all go in the top 10, but what if they don’t? As impressive as they all are, this class itself is quite impressive. I don’t personally think receivers are more valuable than tackles but drafts don’t really work like that. Fit, team, current and future needs, cap, trades, blah blah blah. So much goes into it and Becton going this late may be shocking to you now, but a lot of things that happen during the draft are shocking. Hence draft news instead of just a draft press release.

15. San Francisco 49ers - Cesar Ruiz, iOL

I went into this wanting surprises and “guy goes way earlier than anyone expected” is worth a shot. It’s going to happen. Some people might be shocked to see the 49ers trade down only to then select a player many expect to go in the late first or second round, but the center position is undervalued by the media and good offensive linemen are highly valued by Kyle Shanahan.

16. New York Giants - Jedrick Wills, OT

Even a Dave Gettleman can somehow be right twice a decade. Giants trade down 12 spots and get a top-rated tackle anyway.

Yes, I know he went after Ruiz!

Yes, I know you’re mad!

17. Dallas Cowboys - Kristian Fulton, CB

I want the Cowboys to draft not C.J. Henderson or A.J. Terrell, but surprise that Fulton is the second corner off the board. Dallas has met with Fulton twice during the draft process. They’ve also done that with Kenneth Murray, another potential “surprise” that I’d like for them here. Trading down is sensible too.

18. Miami Dolphins - Grant Delpit, S

If you ignore the noise about the Dolphins “definitely” drafting a quarterback this year — which they definitely might do — you see a team that is actually building a ... team. With three first round picks, Miami has a decent shot to add three good players. When you draft a QB, there’s always going to be that “useful” or “useless” factor. There’s often no gray area. The gray area is Ryan Tannehill and his time with the Dolphins when they weren’t doing a good job of doing what they should do now, which is build a good roster around the quarterback.

The Dolphins need a safety but they’ve really hidden any desire to draft one. They’ve met with a lot of corners and a lot of running backs and a lot of offensive linemen, but safeties not so much. Delpit makes sense to me though. By the way, they met with Andrew Thomas twice through the draft process.

19. Las Vegas Raiders - TRADE!

You’re upset that they didn’t get a receiver, but know how awesome it is that they did get Simmons. They could still try to trade up for 19, but after moving up at 12, I think Mayock wants some picks to come back his way. He favors the 20-60 range and right now they don’t pick again until sometime after 79.

The other option might be to stay and take K’Lavon Chaisson, who is rumored to be moving up draft boards, but maybe they’ll let another team to their K’Lavon Chances.

19. Indianapolis Colts - K’Lavon Chaisson, DE

WOW! The Colts traded picks 34 and 44 to the Raiders for picks 19, 121. This is a massive stunner and I could not have predicted it! It’s not like I made it up!

I think Mayock would jump all over this. He slides back 15 spots and will get the opportunity to take two players he probably likes as much as if he had gotten them at 19. Indianapolis, in “Philip Rivers is our QB for maybe one year” mode, gets a player who may be able to help Justin Houston, Kemoko Turay, and Ben Banogu on the edges immediately. Or whenever the season starts.

I know, bummer that you have to wait until Thursday for another pick unless Mayock trades up, but this makes the beginning of Friday way less boring.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars - Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

Maybe I just wanna shock the shit out of you, I don’t know. Break out of the paradigm a little bit today, the draft is almost here. The Jags select another LSU back then trade Leonard Fournette to the Bills for a sixth round pick and a 2021 fourth. Some like Edwards-Helaire the most and he’s drawn first round buzz as of Wednesday.

Yes, imagine Jacksonville going into the draft with two first round picks, then coming out of it with Jordan Love and Clyde Edwards-Helaire and then trading Fournette for barely anything. Someone has to get an “F” on your immediate and unfair draft grades articles, don’t they?

21. Philadelphia Eagles - Patrick Queen, LB

Yeah, the Eagles do need a nice young receiver to develop. Nothing to deny there. But do you honestly believe that Howie Roseman will do something simply because everyone expects them to? Just because the Eagles were ridiculed for what happened to their receiving corps last year? Well, Roseman did draft Nelson Agholor in the first and JJ Arcega-Whiteside in the second, so maybe given his track record, he should play it a little safer and get a player at another position of need. Someone they’ve interviewed and who will get them a very nice review if the Eagles select him. Nobody’s going to go “WAIT WHAT?” if they take a great linebacker prospect but they will all be expecting a receiver. Why? They’ve got a second and third rounder too and they’ve talked to a lot of those guys.

22. Minnesota Vikings - Isaiah Wilson, OT

The Vikings also have a need at receiver but they’ve spoken to Mekhi Becton and Tristan Wirfs in the pre-draft process. Why? They’re stacked UP on draft picks this year and I won’t be surprised to see them ask “What’s up?” if these tackles do become available in the teens. How about instead I connect them to a tackle with fringe first round prospects at the moment? I know all these guys are freaks, but Wilson’s frame is unreal for a big guy — he really seems like a fat guy with no fat.

NFL: FEB 26 Scouting Combine Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

23. New England Patriots - TRADE!

They don’t have a second round pick, I expect them to see what they can gather by moving down. The Wilson pick makes some teams freak out about offensive line availability moving down the first and into the second round.

23. Baltimore Ravens - Robert Hunt, OL

The Ravens, ever concerned about the quality of the o-line and always ready to make trades, move up five picks for another guy getting recent first round buzz. Hunt can open his career as one of Baltimore’s guards and then go from there. The Ravens have a lot of picks, and in this deal they send 28, 92 to the Patriots for 23.

Note about some other franchise tagged players who could dealt this week: Yannick Ngakoue, Matt Judon, Chris Jones are the likeliest. Vikings safety Anthony Harris maybe as a surprise. Trent Williams, Alshon Jeffery are among those who could traded and aren’t on a franchise tag. I would think of the franchise tagged player as potentially getting back a first round pick, Williams seems more like day two, and Jeffery is if Howie Roseman does a personal Cameo message for your godson.

24. New Orleans Saints - Jeff Gladney, CB

It’s at this point that Mel Kiper is really confused as to why C.J. Henderson is still on the board and rumors/reports start coming in about some sort of issue that was never reported on or disclosed before and is now readily available. The Saints wanted to move up but their only big resource would be to trade from the 2021 draft. They’re willing to do that usually, but who is the trade for? Justin Herbert? I mean, hell, that guy’s still on the board! He’d be the big “green room” (aka his bedroom, which is painted in Ducks colors) story for Thursday.

25. Minnesota Vikings - Justin Jefferson, WR

I don’t know, just seems like a good spot for Justin Jefferson.

26. Miami Dolphins - D’Andre Swift, RB

I think two running backs in the first round is going to be a surprise to a lot of people. But I also think that running backs are going to go earlier than people expect for one reason in particular: it feels like the “safer” pick and in a year where you had less pre-draft information, and are unsure when the season will ever start, and how much time you have with rookies, doesn’t a plug-and-play running back feel “safer” than a quarterback? Or a tackle? Or a cornerback? I mean, this whole thing is a gamble and I think the risk averse move will be to take slightly “safer” picks early and then hope that day two is really as plentiful as it seems it’s going to be.

Here the Dolphins first round haul in 2018 is Andrew Thomas, Grant Delpit, and D’Andre Swift. Is that better than say, Justin Herbert, Josh Jones, and Swift or one of the other running backs? Or Tua Tagovailoa, Ezra Cleveland, and C.J. Henderson? I don’t know! Maybe! I’m not trying to do what’s better, I’m trying to create a mock draft that doesn’t look like every other mock draft.

27. Seattle Seahawks - TRADE!

The only surprise for Seattle would be if they didn’t trade down. The more surprising move might just be to stay at 27 and pick Jonathan Taylor but

27. New York Giants - Justin Herbert, QB

Holy shit, it wasn’t a smoke screen! I am stunned by this real development. Gettleman trades picks 36, 99 for pick 27 and the Giants will be co-mentoring Daniel Jones and Herbert and seeing who does best. Former Patriots coaches always seem to do the thing that Belichick didn’t do (for some reason, I have no idea why) and in this case, Joe Judge takes the QB that Belichick passed on twice.

Seattle does want it wants, moving back and adding a late third. But here’s another shocker that could come: Seahawks trading pick 27 for either Ngakoue, Judon, or Jones.

28. New England Patriots - C.J. Henderson, CB

Can you imagine a world where Belichick gets Brown at 10 and Henderson at 28? Of course you can.

29. Tennessee Titans - TRADE!

The Titans lack picks in rounds four and six and I think I can see a really great player who has slipped to this draft position. Who wants him? And who has the ammo?

29. Miami Dolphins - Kenneth Murray, LB

Bang Bang. The Dolphins ship pick 39, 70, 153 and 251 to the Titans for picks 29, 174. Miami becomes the first team since the 2000 Jets to draft four players in the first round. Add Murray, the perfect young defensive player to take a leadership role on your team, to Thomas, Delpit, and Swift. I’m sorry, but I’d like that for them. They would still have pick 56 in round two, though they’d be without a pick again until 141.

30. Green Bay Packers - K.J. Hamler, WR

A team and player rarely feels like more of a connection than the Packers and Zack Baun, but I know how far that is from what they’re likely looking at.

None of the non-Davante Adams options on the Packers seem particularly exciting to me and so I’m gonna do the intent of this article and choose a receiver who few expect to go this high. Hamler goes with Brandon Aiyuk, Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor, Michael Pittman, and so on still on the board. Why? I think he’s fun to watch. That’s probably my most honest answer. Can anyone guarantee Hamler isn’t going to have a really good NFL career? And when you’re put in a situation like getting the Packers and Aaron Rodgers to start things off, that’s a really good deal for whichever receiver they could choose.

31. San Francisco 49ers - TRADE!

The Niners added picks 83 and 95 from Denver already but John Lynch wants more and he likes a lot of the players on the board. That’s one of the luxuries of trading down: if you like a lot of players equally, you can let fate decide and then add picks in the process.

San Francisco could hear from teams for any number of reasons, there’s a lot of interesting players and positions left on the board.

31. New York Jets - A.J. Terrell, CB

The Jets make a big jump, giving up picks 48, 68 (from the Giants, so they still have their own) and snag a corner to go with their receiver. The Jets have talked to a lot of corners this year and as much as I’d like to improve their pass rush, this could help that too.

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Antoine Winfield, Jr, S

“Needs” may focus on interior o-line, running back, cornerback, or potentially a replacement for Chris Jones. But having a good coverage safety could do a lot for the Chiefs defense and this is not a bad spot for him or a bad pick for Kansas City. They didn’t entertain trade down offers, they don’t feel too pressured to add picks.

Here’s the mock draft without commentary:

1. Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Burrow, QB

2. Washington - Tua Tagovailoa, QB

3. Detroit Lions - Chase Young, DE

4. Atlanta Falcons - Tristan Wirfs, OL (TRADE)

5. Miami Dolphins - Andrew Thomas, OT

6. LA Chargers - Jeffrey Okudah, CB

7. Las Vegas Raiders - Isaiah Simmons, LB (TRADE)

8. Arizona Cardinals - Javon Kinlaw, DT

9. Jacksonville Jaguars - Jordan Love, QB

10. New England Patriots - Derrick Brown, DT (TRADE)

11. New York Jets - Henry Ruggs III, WR

12. Carolina Panthers - Jerry Jeudy, WR (trade)

13. Denver Broncos - CeeDee Lamb, WR (TRADE)

14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mekhi Becton, OT

15. San Francisco 49ers - Cesar Ruiz, iOL (trade)

16. New York Giants - Jedrick Wills, OT (trade)

17. Dallas Cowboys - Kristian Fulton, CB

18. Miami Dolphins - Grant Delpit, S

19. Indianapolis Colts - K’Lavon Chaisson, DE (TRADE)

20. Jacksonville Jaguars - Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

21. Philadelphia Eagles - Patrick Queen, LB

22. Minnesota Vikings - Isaiah Wilson, OT

23. Baltimore Ravens - Robert Hunt, iOL (TRADE)

24. New Orleans Saints - Jeff Gladney, CB

25. Minnesota Vikings - Justin Jefferson, WR

26. Miami Dolphins - D’Andre Swift, RB

27. New York Giants - Justin Herbert, QB (TRADE)

28. New England Patriots - C.J. Henderson, CB (trade)

29. Miami Dolphins - Kenneth Murray, LB (TRADE)

30. Green Bay Packers - K.J. Hamler, WR

31. New York Jets - A.J. Terrell, CB (TRADE)

32. Kansas City Chiefs - Antoine Winfield, S

What about round two??

So that’s it for the really long first round. I know that the Raiders only made one pick, but it was an awesome pick and they have two early picks on day two with another coming later in round three. Look at the board and see what you’d like for Mayock to address on Friday if this is how it played out. Which it will. This is the real draft!

I’m gonna see what happens for Vegas in round two next time...

Here’s the draft order to open things up in round two:

33. Cincinnati Bengals

34. Las Vegas Raiders (trade)

35. Detroit Lions

36. Seattle Seahawks (trade)

37. LA Chargers

38. Carolina Panthers

39. Tennessee Titans (trade)

40. Houston Texans

41. Cleveland Browns

42. Jacksonville Jaguars

43. Chicago Bears

44. Las Vegas Raiders (trade)

45. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Which players would you like to see Mayock target if this were the case? I’ll get to the second round of this next.