Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On The Clock: Mock Draft 2.0 The Homestretch

By Alex Hale, @ThatCLESportGuy

For Football fans, we’re slowly starting to wind down the NFL Draft process. Pro Days have wrapped up and we’re coming down to the last of the Team Visits with NFL teams as everyone is finalizing their draft boards. This year’s process has been one of the more usual ones I can remember with the media now trying to find things wrong who might be in consideration at #1. It might be safe to say it’s because the Browns hold the #1 pick, but I’ve never seen a draft class where so many people are trying to question the top players. It’s made for a lot of fun for evaluators like myself, but caused headaches for multiple fanbases. But never fear, Mock 2.0 is here. There are some picks that have changed because of hypothetical trades, but also the Free Agency frenzy has slowed down and now we have a better idea about what teams will be looking for in the Draft. So let’s dive into Mock 2.0!

Mock Draft 2.0

1. Cleveland Browns- DE/OLB Myles Garrett, Texas A&M- This pick hasn’t changed and spoiler alert won’t change in Mock 3.0. Myles Garrett has only solidified his ranking over the past few weeks by showcasing his outstanding athletic ability. He has the explosiveness and power you want out of a pass rusher and on the film doesn’t really have much weakness. The only thing I’m starting to see is other people trying to throw stuff at a wall and see if it sticks. He’s extremely humble and loves the game. The intangibles are through the roof as well for a pass rusher. This would be an outstanding fit for Gregg Williams to work with and pair opposite side of rookie standout Emmanuel Ogbah. This would immediately make the Browns pass rush lightyears better than it has been compared to recent years.

2. San Francisco 49ers- DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford- Compared to Mock 1.0, different team, same result. It’s become clear throughout the process that the next best pass rusher in the draft is Solomon Thomas after Myles Garrett. For rookie GM John Lynch, he’s going to have to continue to rebuild what was once a dominant defense. While you could make a case for either of the Safeties in this year’s draft, it might be safer to target Solomon Thomas instead. Thomas has continued to show his passion and love for the game which has impressed teams. In ways I would look between Thomas and Derek Barnett and say that Thomas is Barnett with the athletic ability. Thomas is extremely effective and explosive that will create problems for offenses. With that said, I’m not ruling out the 49ers trading down for the right spot.

3. Chicago Bears- DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama- Jonathan Allen slipped to 18 overall in Mock 1.0, so the question probably is, what made him jump up here? Here’s the reality about Jonathan Allen, he could easily go either #2 or #3, but if he gets by #3 there’s a real good chance he could fall in the draft. The Bears would make a lot of sense who will run a defense that allows them to move Allen to different spots along the line. Allen is an explosive athlete who knows how to wreck havoc in the backfield and did it at a high level at Alabama. While he won’t blow you away with his speed, his size would make you think he’s not as fast as he is. I don’t think he’s has the same ceiling as Garrett/Thomas, but Allen is probably the most Pro ready out of all the pass rushers.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- RB Leonard Fournette, LSU- For the Jacksonville Jaguars it would be easy to go with the best defensive player in the draft, but it seems there is some momentum towards the Jaguars going after the highly talented Leonard Fournette to be the franchise back the team has lacked since Maurice Jones Drew. Fournette without question would become the feature back that the Jaguars have been lacking. He has the size/speed/power combination that scouts crave in a RB. In his Pro Day, he actually slimmed down from 240 to 228 and showed off his receiving ability that removed a major concern teams had with him. If the Jaguars are going to take the next step with Blake Bortles, they will need to get him a legitimate running game. Fournette is their best chance of providing him one.

5. Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)- CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State- The Titans failed to go out and get Brandin Cooks from New Orleans, so they still have a problem at the WR position. But at the same time CB Micah Hyde won’t be enough to help the anemic Titans pass defense that still needs help. With the Titans signing Jonathan Cyprien, taking a Safety here doesn’t make a lot of sense. Marshon Lattimore has only helped his draft stock the past few weeks and the sudden injury to Washington’s CB Sidney Jones only makes the gap between Lattimore and the other CBs in this year’s class wider. Lattimore is clearly the top CB in this year’s draft class and with the Titans team needs, they should think twice about this pick if Lattimore is still on the board. Putting Lattimore on the other side of Micah Hyde would give the Titans defense a big boost as they look towards contending for the playoffs in 2017.

6. New York Jets- QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina- Honestly, I give up on who the Jets are going to take. The franchise is such a mess they could use a little bit of everything. So when it comes to making a pick for them, there’s no way to predict this one. We all know the Jets are desperate need for a Franchise QB and it wouldn’t stun me to see them go after one if they have their choice of a QB. Out of all of the QBs, I would suspect Trubisky would be their guy. While Trubisky hasn’t done much to separate himself from the other QBs in this year’s class, he’s the most accurate passer and probably most Pro ready. Trubisky also has more upside than Watson that might intrigue the Jets to make the investment on him. Then again, we have no idea if the Jets are serious about rebuilding or if they’re tanking for 2018, so who knows with this pick.

7. Los Angeles Chargers- FS Malik Hooker, Ohio State- This pick doesn’t change. Malik Hooker has done nothing but prove he’s worthy of a potential Top 5 selection and in my opinion he’s the 2nd best defensive player in this draft. The Chargers haven’t filled the void left by Eric Weddle, so this pick would be almost too obvious. Unless the Chargers are in love with a QB to learn behind Phillip Rivers, they have to take Malik here. His ball hawk skills are unmatched by any DB in this draft and I think he’s going to become a constant All-Pro FS. He may need some work to be a better tackler and there are some people who have potential injury concerns, but honestly he’s too good of a talent to pass on.

8. Carolina Panthers- RB Christian McCaffery, Stanford- Here comes the big shocker of the night with Carolina taking the Stanford standout RB. There has been a lot of buzz with this pick happening and I’m actually going to buy into it. McCaffery has around your ideal size for a RB at 5’11’’ 205, but he might stand to gain some more muscle if he’s really going to be counted on as an every down RB. There no question that McCaffery has the speed and agility to make defenders miss and break away in the open field. On top of that he’s a smooth receiving RB who would provide a lot out of the backfield. It’s powering through defenders that concerns me. Although I would pick Dalvin Cook over McCaffery, it wouldn’t be a bad fit for Carolina to take McCaffery as their feature back.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- T Cam Robinson, Alabama- The Bengals took a major hit in Free Agency in their O-Line losing both Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth. The Bengals have made some minor signings to fill the void, but they don’t really have much of a plan in place. While they drafted Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher in 2015, they haven’t developed as hoped. Cam Robinson is probably the safe pick for the Bengals to at least fill the LT void left by Andrew Whitworth. Robinson has started to pull away over the past few weeks as the top OT prospect on the board. He has the size you look for in an OT, but also shows the quickness to handle speed off the edge. While it would be tempting for the Bengals to go after Reuben Foster, the losses Cincinnati has had on the line might force their hand to address this in the draft.

10. Buffalo Bills- TE OJ Howard, Alabama- In the last Mock we had, there was uncertainty of whether Tyrod Taylor was going to be a part of the Bills going forward, but now it seems for the time being, he will be the Quarterback. I would suspect the Bills would love Marshon Lattimore to fall here to replace Stephon Gilmore with, but he’s gone. I could also see the Bills targeting one of the WRs on the board, but pairing OJ Howard with Charles Clay would be big for the Bills offense. OJ Howard as we’ve come to know throughout the process is a beast as a TE and is considered by a lot of scouts as a safe pick in this year’s draft. With his size, athletic ability and smooth receiving skills he’s going to make an immediate impact for whoever he plays for. Giving Tyrod Taylor a target like that would be extremely beneficial, especially if Sammy Watkins can stay healthy for a whole year. As much as I think WR will be in play here, OJ Howard is a special talent and you can’t pass on him, especially if you can pair him with Charles Clay.

11. New Orleans Saints- LB Reuben Foster, Alabama- When it comes to the Saints, it would be easy if they continued to build up their secondary, but at this point Reuben Foster is too good of a value pick here. Reuben Foster is in my opinion still a Top 5 player on the board with his high motor and uncanny ability to find the ball. On top of that he’s a guy who can thrive in whatever defense you put him in. Although there might be a question mark regarding what happened during his medical examination at the combine, I’m not thinking much of it because of the circumstances that led to it. The Saints have Craig Robertson as their leading LB coming back so they could use a guy like Foster to boost the defense back to where it needs to be to help out Drew Brees and the offense.

12. Cleveland Browns- SS Jamal Adams, LSU- The Browns would be in an amazing situation here with 2 top defensive talents on the board and outside of Trubisky their choice of Quarterback. The Browns could easily go after the QB, but the fact that Jamal Adams slipped to 12 is too good to pass on. Adams would provide the impact Safety the Browns clearly lacked in 2016 who can make an immediate impact upon his arrival in Berea. Adams projects as a SS, who some coverage ability, but is instinctive, athletic and has a nose for the ball. On top of that was a leader at LSU. The Browns adding Myles Garrett and Jamal Adams would immediately boost their defense with a lot of other young talent they’ve stocked together. Gregg Williams might be the happiest man in the world after this draft.

13. Arizona Cardinals- QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame- The Cardinals after a down year could go in multiple directions here, but it seems to be pointing towards the Cardinals finding Carson Palmer’s successor. The big question for the Cardinals would be if they want the big time project in Patrick Mahomes or a more polished project in DeShone Kizer. With the potential injury concerns in Palmer and not knowing how much longer his career will last, they might lean towards Kizer. Kizer has the prototypical size you look for in your QB. He also has great arm strength that Bruce Arians covets in going vertical in his offense. Compared to Mahomes, Kizer might be ready sooner and there’s no guarantee how much longer Carson Palmer can be counted on as a starter. Having Kizer sit for a year and learn the system and then give him the reigns in 2018 would be the quickest post-Palmer transition for the Cardinals. With Carson Palmer and Head Coach Bruce Arians, this is an ideal situation for Kizer to come in and develop in.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan- The Eagles with Carson Wentz entrenched as their Franchise QB need to continue to start to surround him with weapons that can put points up on the board in a hurry. At 14, Corey Davis is a major steal as I have him as my #1 WR and worthy of being a Top 10 pick. Davis’ physicality as a WR and route running ability make him stand out from the rest. He does have good hands and while I probably would give the edge in hands to Clemon’s Mike Williams, the upside on Davis is too much for Philly to pass on with this pick. This would give the Eages Jordan Matthews, Corey Davis, and Zach Ertz as the primary targets for Carson Wentz. Now that’s building around your Franchise QB.

15. Indianapolis Colts- DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley, UCLA- The Colts are a team with really Andrew Luck and that’s it. It’s true they have a few talented players, but nothing that really scares a team, especially defensively. The Colts have finally started investing in getting better defensively in Free Agency by adding Jonathan Hankins. Now it’s time to improve their pass rush that has lacked a big time difference maker. Takkarist McKinley has been a Top 20 talent that I’ve personally dismissed after knowing so little about him. The more I watched him, the more impressed I became with his motor and ability to get by the O-Line whether it be by power or pure speed. He might need to bulk up a bit, but any guy who has a good motor is a guy who at least has a chance and with his athletic talents he’s got a good head start over most. This is a guy Chuck Pagano would love to get, especially now on the Hot Seat.

16. Baltimore Ravens- CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama- This pick won’t change as well here in Mock 2.0. Ozzie Newsome loves to go through the Alabama route, and will do so again to fill a need for the Ravens by taking Marlon Humphrey. Humphrey is a big physical corner who impressed me a bit at the combine. He has the ability to keep up with receivers, but does much better as a physical corner. He’s a good tackler and a big time competitor. Those are things that are going to be music to Baltimore’s ears. Put him on the other side of Jimmy Smith and the Ravens will have a strong CB duo for years to come. While I’m not really sold on him as a player, I think at least he can be a solid contributor.

17. Washington Redskins- LB Haason Reddick, Temple- Washington in my personal opinion might be one of the most balanced teams in the NFL. They have a good offense that has weapons for Kirk Cousins and a solid line, plus their Defense has the ability to be one of the best in the league. At this point, this pick becomes finding the best talent on the board and that clearly is Haason Reddick. I had my eye on him as a potential Combine Warrior and he didn’t disappoint and through the draft process has flown up draft boards. His athletic ability, pass rushing and nose for the football have some comparing him to Steelers LB Ryan Shazier. For Washington, adding him to their defense would make it extremely scary to go up against. Washington is only a few pieces away from making a real run at the NFC Championship crown, adding Reddick would definitely continue them on the right path.

18. Tennessee Titans- WR Mike Williams, Clemson- The Titans if this could happen would easily be the big winners of Round 1. After landing the best CB in this year’s draft in Marshon Lattimore, they get arguably the top WR in this year’s draft in Mike Williams, filling major needs for the team. Mike Williams improved his stock a bit by running his 40 time in the 4.5s in his Pro Day. Getting Williams to become the #1 WR that Marcus Mariota needs would be a major step forward. With already a strong running game and one of the top TEs in the game in Delanie Walker, adding Williams would potentially make the Titans one of the most lethal offenses in the league.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee- The Buccaneers took another step forward in 2016, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get them back into the playoffs. The Bucs look to have a talented young offense that could really use a RB, but at this point with what is on the board, there really is only one pick. Derek Barnett was one of the most productive pass rushers in Tennessee history and the Bucs should add him to their pass rush. Barnett won’t blow anyone away athletically, but he does everything well. In a lot of ways I see a lot of Jabaal Sheard in him and for the Bucs adding someone like that would really improve their defense that was towards the bottom in the NFL. With as deep as this RB class looks to be, the Bucs can afford to pass on the more pressing need for the best player available to improve a weakness on this team.

20. Denver Broncos- OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin- This pick doesn’t change from Mock 1.0 as well. Ramczyk is my personal Top OT on the board and the Broncos are going to be looking for a Franchise LT to help solidify the line for whoever their future QB is going forward. Ramczyk does everything well and even without being able to participate at the combine due to injury. He has the size and athletic ability to handle the position. He’s also handled some of the best pass rushers in the nation coming from the Big 10. Plus Wisconsin has a good reputation of churning out successful OT in the NFL. For the Broncos, I would entertain the trade down if the trade presented itself.

21. Detroit Lions- RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State- If you’re a Lions fan, his is a dream come true. Dalvin Cook could easily go in the Top 15 and because of the way the board played out the Lions finally answer the RB position giving themselves an immediate 3 down starting RB. Cook would clearly be the most talented RB they’ve had since Barry Sanders. Cook has 2 downsides to him, legal issues and fumbling. That’s never a good combination but he has everything you are look for in a franchise RB. He has the receiving ability, he has the quickness and agility, he even has the power. With Cook in Detroit’s offense, it could be one of the most explosive and unpredictable offenses in the league.

22. Miami Dolphins- DE Taco Charlton, Michigan- The Dolphins have been relying on Cameron Wake and others for years and it’s time to find an eventual successor and more importantly an immediate impact guy at the position. Taco Charlton has solidified his stock with a good Combine and a good Pro Day that really has him all over the place in different Mock Drafts. The big concern is consistency as it took him until his Senior year at Michigan to finally become consistent as a pass rusher. He has the size/speed combination you love in a DL and I think could play anywhere in a 4-3 system, although he’s best suited off the edge. For the Dolphins who recently cut 1st Round bust Dion Jordan, Charlton has the upside Jordan had, but unlike Jordan is a great fit into Miami’s defense.

23. New York Giants- TE David Njoku, Miami FL- For the Giants, the dream scenario would be if OJ Howard is sitting on the board, but he won’t be. At this point the Giants could go a few different routes, but David Njoku has been considered by some as the best offensive playmaking TE in this draft. He’s explosive and can make a big play at any time. He definitely impressed at the combine and some have compared him now to fellow Miami (FL) alumnus Jimmy Graham. If he’s anything like Graham, the Giants are going to be an offensive juggernaut passing the ball. Eli Manning has had good weapons to throw to in the past, but now he has explosive playmakers that can score TDs at almost any time.

24. Cleveland Browns (from Oakland Raiders)- QB Patrick Mahomes II, Texas Tech- TRADE: Cleveland trades the 33rd overall pick, a 2018 2nd and 3rd round pick to Oakland in exchange for the 24th overall pick- The Browns finally move up and grab their Quarterback after passing on a QB twice. Mahomes is a project, but possesses more talent and upside than anyone in this year’s QB class. It’s not the fact he has a rocket arm, it’s the fact he can make all the throws and has to ability to drop the ball on a dime. Hue Jackson made a big deal about having a QB with, “arm talent” and Mahomes clearly has the most arm talent out of all the QBs. The Browns will need to be patient with Mahomes as he will be a bit of a project. But the kid has the passion for the game coaches love and in time probably will be the best QB out of this class. The Browns walk out of Round 1 with Myles Garrett, Jamal Adams, and Pat Mahomes…the future sure looks bright on the shores of Lake Erie.

25. Houston Texans- QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson- The Texans desperately need a QB and here luck out by getting Deshaun Watson, a QB who some feel is the most NFL ready of all the QBs in this year’s class. Watson would provide immediate leadership to the position where it has been lacking recently. There are legit question marks with his arm strength and ability to consistently make all the throws, but the intangibles would outweigh those concerns because of his attitude and work ethic. Houston would be an outstanding fit for Watson because he will have targets to throw to immediately and a running attack he can rely on. While I don’t expect him to take the league by storm immediately, under the guidance of Bill O’Brien I can see Watson being the long term answer that Houston has been searching for.

26. Seattle Seahawks- OT Garett Bolles, Utah- The Seahawks need help desperately on the O-Line and they get probably one of the most athletic O-Lineman in the draft. Bolles biggest question mark is he’s one of the oldest players in the draft, turning 25 later this fall. What Bolles excels at is being able to move around and even to get out into the open field to make the extra block. His footwork is sound and he even plays with a mean streak. I’ve seen Bolles go as high as the Top 10 is some mocks. For a team like the Seahawks with Russell Wilson’s ability to move around, Bolles would be a great fit to protect him for years to come.

27. Kansas City Chiefs- QB Davis Webb, California- In a draft where there seems to be so much uncertainty with the QBs, 5 go in the first round. The Chiefs need to find a QB that can replace Alex Smith in the future. A few months ago nobody thought Davis Webb would go in the Top 3 rounds, now he’s a potential late 1st Round pick. The reality with Webb is he’s a project who played at 2 different colleges who played their own Air Raid style offense, which normally won’t translate in the NFL. Webb has the physical build and a strong, accurate arm you look for in a QB. He on top of that has the work ethic coaches love to have out of their QB and something Andy Reid would love to have in the building to learn from Alex Smith. For the Chiefs it would be easy to build back up the defense, but after Davis Webb there is a drastic drop from the 2nd Tier of QBs to the 3rd. It would be wise for the Chiefs to invest in finding Alex Smith’s successor while they can.

28. Dallas Cowboys- CB Chidube Awuzie, Colorado- The Cowboys pass defense was okay last year, but not great and still could use some help, especially after the loss of Morris Claiborne. That would lead them to the fast rising Awuzie who really has gotten the biggest jump after the Sidney Jones injury. Awuzie has been on my radar since he was terrorizing Michigan in Colorado’s matchup last year. The guy can do it all and it’s been a mystery why he’s been rated so low. Awuzie did extremely well in all of the combine drills that helped boost his draft stock. Awuzie should be an immediate starter who can play any type of role given as a CB. If he gets to the Cowboys, I think they would be ecstatic.

29. Green Bay Packers- CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State- This is a dream come true for Packers fans who are desperately looking for an impact player in the secondary. Next to Awuzie, Conley has gained the next most from the Sidney Jones injury and honestly he should’ve been higher to begin with. Conley has quite possibly the most upside out of all the CBs in this year’s class. He’s best in press coverage and getting physical with WRs. What concerns me is he tends to grab onto his target which will lead to holding penalties. He struggles when he’s off his target, but he’s got soft hands and has great timing to get a pick. Conley could quickly become the best CB the Packers have had in quite some time.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan- As a Browns/Michigan fan, this is extremely painful for me to even watch. The Steelers who really have lacked an uber-talented SS since Troy Polamalu’s retirement get quite possibly one of the highest upside prospects in the draft. Peppers is definitely a, “boom or bust” pick as he played all over the field at Michigan, but seemed to thrive as a LB/S type. Peppers would fit in perfectly in Pittsburgh with their defense that loves to blitz. Peppers thrived at Michigan as the guy that comes up at the line and can quickly bring down the ball carrier. He needs work as a pass defender, but if the right coach can develop him, he could easily be the guy who everyone looks at and questions why they didn’t take him.

31. Atlanta Falcons- FS Budda Baker, Washington- The Falcons were so close to finally winning their first Super Bowl and then Tom Brady happened. The Falcons struggles against the pass have been very real and could use some help at FS. They drafted Keanu Neal to be the SS enforcer, but they need a ballhawk FS that can cover TE. Budda may be undersized at 5’10’’ and that might be a concern moving forward, but his ball skills are good, but more important knows how to finish a tackle which a lot of safeties don’t know how to do and instead just go for the big hit. He tends to play aggressive, which I think might fit the Falcons Defense perfectly. I could see Budda Baker and Keanu Neal developing into a great Safety duo moving forward.

32. New Orleans Saints- CB Sidney Jones, Washington- Yes I’m mocking a draft prospect who tore his achilles at his Pro Day in the 1st Round. Barring the scenario where the Patriots trade CB Malcolm Butler to the Saints, New Orleans has to be searching for a young CB to potentially have as their lockdown CB. I would bet the Saints would LOVE to get Gareon Conley or Chidobe Awuzie here, but they’re gone. At this point you’re looking at Tre’Davious White, Cordrea Tankersley, or Sidney Jones. Jones on tape is clearly a Top 15 talent, his ability to react to the ball and pick it off are clearly the best in this year’s class. The Saints got this pick in exchange for Brandin Cooks so in a way with it being the 32nd pick, either you trade the pick or take a flyer on one of the best talents in the draft. If Jones fully recovers he could transform New Orleans secondary into a good secondary and let’s be honest, New Orleans secondary hasn’t been good since their Super Bowl run. It’s a risky pick, but a pick the Saints can afford to take.

We’re only days away from the NFL Draft and there is a lot of buzz happening right now with players who may be slipping or even rising. My belief with all the rumors is simple, I’ll believe it when I see it. Mock 3.0 will be out in time for the NFL Draft and I would suggest to all my Clevelanders out there who are looking for a place to watch the NFL Draft to come join myself and the rest of the TripleThreatCLE crew along with NoStaticRadio.com at Tony K’s in Berea, OH on April 27th starting at 5pm for NoStaticRadio’s NFL Draft Party. It’s gonna be a lot of fun and I hope to see everyone there!

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