Thursday, March 8, 2018

On The Clock Mock Draft 1.0 2018: The Madness Is Back

By: Alex Hale @TheCLESportsGuy

Well folks…here we go again, the Combine has come and gone in Indianapolis and it’s time for everyone’s favorite time of the year, Mock Draft Season. Let me start off by saying this, if you’re expecting your typical Mock Draft here, you’re sadly mistaken. To understand why one would put themselves to writing a mock draft, let me explain why I do this. Reality is, I enjoy doing it, the draft process has been fascinating to me for years now and the challenge of creating my own Mock Draft is a fun challenge, but I got my own rules. The number one rule of my Mock Drafts is they are FUN. I’m never going to get every pick right because something like the Bears trading up one spot to get Mitchell Trubisky last year was completely unexpected. I make these mocks entertaining to read and present a different possibility that could happen. The only other rule is to make the picks and trades within reason. I like throwing trades in to spice things up, but I want the Mock to in a way be a plausible scenario that could happen even though it’s a long shot. So if you’re expecting the Browns to somehow get the Top 4 picks, take Sam Darnold, Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb AND Minkah Fitzpatrick with the first 4 picks because of trades, you’re mistaken.

Now that the rules and explanation for my craziness are out of the way, I must say even though it’s kinda cliche, I’ve never been more fascinated than I am with this draft class. Compared to previous years, this might be the most confused I’ve ever been at the top of the draft. The reality is your Top 5 players in this draft aren’t Quarterbacks. My Top 5 Players on my board are as follows in order: Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Tremaine Edmunds. For the Browns, they have no choice it seems after passing on numerous top QBs in past years and are probably going to take a QB #1 overall. But what makes this draft so interesting is there’s no consensus Top Quarterback and yet teams are attempting to move up in this draft to get their Quarterback. All that can be said about this year’s draft is until we know for sure what Quarterback the Browns are taking at #1, anything and everything can happen. So with that said, here we go let’s dive into Mock Draft 1.0.

1. Cleveland Browns- QB Sam Darnold USC- After their 0-16 "Perfect" Season, the Browns are once again picking at #1. The problem is Hue Jackson is somehow still the Head Coach. The easy pick would be to take Josh Rosen and that's probably who Hue Jackson wants, but due to the Browns hiring of an amazing Front Office faction of Jon Dorsey, Alonzo Highsmith, Eliot Wolf and now Scot McCloughan, it’s obvious the Browns are all in on this group to identify the QB to lead this team for the future and finally be the team’s answer at QB. I would expect the Browns to humor Hue Jackson and sign QB AJ McCarron to be their veteran starter to let their rookie QB develop. The question is who is that QB? It sounds like early on it’s down to 2 QBs, USC’s Sam Darnold and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. I think the Browns Front Office are evaluating which QB can help now, but yet has the most upside. That would lead me to believe that the pick would be Sam Darnold. In my personal opinion, Darnold is my #4 QB behind Rosen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson, but I do see why people do have a fascination with Darnold. He has the prototypical size you want out of your QB and while he has good mobility out of the pocket, he is strong in the pocket and doesn’t rely on his mobility. When he throws he shows anticipation of the route and leading his receiver to the ball, there were times during his game against Ohio State where he threw passes that most QBs couldn’t throw and complete. He has fire, strong leadership, and the knowledge to know what he’s doing wrong and how to fix it. His biggest weakness are his turnovers and decision making. He turned it over way too much and made too many bad decisions in 2017. He also has a longer release, which he’s said he’s not changing which could be a problem against pass rushers who look to strip the ball during the pass. The truth is the talent to be an elite QB is there, but he’s nowhere close to ready for the NFL game. For the Browns, if they can get McCarron this would be ideal for Darnold to sit and learn while the Browns find out about Hue Jackson and AJ McCarron.

2. New York Giants- RB Saquon Barkley Penn State- The Giants have made it clear even after a dreadful 2-14 season, they’re still committed to Eli Manning and new Head Coach Pat Shurmur seems to be committed to building around Eli for right now. If that’s the case, the Giants could continue to take a look at Davis Webb and look to finally address the RB position, which has been a thorn in their side for years. Saquon Barkley proved at the combine he’s a freak of nature for the RB position. On film, he has an amazing ability to not just explode to the second level but to power through tacklers. He does have the tendency from time to time to get too fancy running, but it’s not the worst thing. The bottom line is Barkley might be the most physically gifted RB we’ve ever seen coming out. For a team like the Giants who haven’t had a running game since Tiki Barber, if you’re invested in Eli Manning, you can’t hesitate to take Barkley.

3. New York Jets (from Indianapolis)- QB Josh Rosen UCLA- TRADE: New York trades #6, 2018 2nd and 6th Round picks and 2019 1st Round pick in exchange for the #3 overall pick-  The Colts have numerous problems on both sides of the ball that I think they would love to trade down if possible. The Jets desperately need a QB and with the Kirk Cousins option look more bleak every day, they will have to move up to get a QB. This would be a dream scenario for Josh Rosen, who has subtly said he would love to go to a bigger market. Rosen would be the Franchise’s most talented young passer since Joe Namath and would be an instant jolt of energy the Jets need for next year. Rosen is clearly the best passer in the draft, but the question is if there’s something off with his character. Rosen seems cocky, but he does back it up when he’s needed to. I think Todd Bowles would be a great HC for him as he won’t put up with any nonsense for Rosen. It would be extremely wise of the Jets to bring back Josh McCown to mentor Rosen as well.

4. Miami Dolphins (from Cleveland via Houston)- QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma- TRADE: Miami trades #11, a 2018 3rd Round pick and WR Jarvis Landry to Cleveland in exchange for the #4 overall pick- The Dolphins make a bold statement and find a creative way to get Adam Gase his QB. The Dolphins have depth at the WR position and Jarvis Landry is looking to get paid top dollar and move him to the Browns who pair him with Josh Gordon. The Dolphins have Ryan Tannehill coming off an ACL injury and his track record doesn’t necessarily warrant the Dolphins giving him full confidence. Recent reports have the Dolphins very interested in Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and quite honestly, it’s not a bad fit for him. The Dolphins could really use a vocal leader in their offensive huddle and that’s exactly what Baker Mayfield brings. He demands excellence out of himself and his teammates and at Oklahoma, he got everything he could out of everyone. His accuracy as a passer is uncanny, while his arm strength isn’t elite, it’s good enough to translate at the next level. For the Dolphins in their climate it would give Baker a chance at times to be able to use his scrambling ability more often than maybe some other teams later in the year. He will need to learn how to play more in the pocket, but the talent and the intangibles to be a great NFL QB are there.

5. Denver Broncos- OG Quenton Nelson Notre Dame- Whatever the Broncos and John Elway are doing, one thing is certain, their QB in 2018 will be a proven veteran. Whether that be Kirk Cousins, Case Keenum, or even a trade for a veteran QB like Nick Foles, they won’t be relying on a young QB as they want to win now. That means the Broncos will be free to take the best player available. I truly believe you can make a case for Quenton Nelson being the best prospect in this draft. Yes, he’s an OG but he’s got the agility to move around the line, but he’s a monster at the point of attack. It doesn’t matter where he goes, he’s going to be a star. For the Broncos, with a need on the O-Line, this shouldn’t be a tough decision.  No matter who the Quarterback is for Denver next year, they're doomed to fail without having protection.

6. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets)- DE Bradley Chubb NC State- After trading down from 3, the Colts luck out and get the guy they're targeting all along.  The Colts defense outside of the flashes of brilliance by rookie Malik Hooker haven’t had a difference maker. Heck, the Colts haven't had a legitimate pass rush since the days of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. Last year they finished near the bottom of the league in sacks so pass rush must be addressed. With Bradley Chubb on the board this is an absolute no brainer. Chubb is a Top 5 talent and while not on the same level as Joey Bosa or Myles Garrett coming out, Chubb is close. He has the size, athletic ability and natural talent as a pass rusher that will make him an immediate impact player for the Colts.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- FS Minkah Fitzpatrick Alabama- The Buccaneers entered the 2017 season with extremely high expectations after making a lot of additions, but disappointed. It’s back to the drawing board for this Franchise and surprisingly they’re doing with Dirk Koetter still the Head Coach. The Bucs could use O-Line help, but I think the Bucs would only take Quenton Nelson over defense if he slides. Nelson is off the board, but the Bucs can still draft a major need in Free Safety and the best DB is available in Minkah Fitzpatrick. While Fitzpatrick is best served at FS, he can move around and play CB. His ball skills are elite whether it be being able to break up or pick a pass or just getting to the ball on a running play, everything he did at Alabama, he dominated. But it’s not just the fact that Minkah has been a dominant force at CB for Nick Saban’s Alabama Defense that makes him such a great prospect, it’s the demand he puts on himself. His intangibles are through the roof, Fitzpatrick expects excellence out of himself and is always working on improving himself. He’s the kind of guy like Jalen Ramsey did for Jacksonville that will walk into a defensive meeting from Day One and own it and bring his team up.

8. Chicago Bears- OT Connor Williams Texas- The Bears seem to have some promise in Mitch Trubisky after his rookie year, but the question remains what position should the Bears address to help continue the development of their young QB. The question would be to get either the best WR in the draft to give Trubisky a target or to draft the best LT to protect Trubisky? I think without question you take the LT. Connor Williams still needs work as a LT, but the potential is there for him to be an anchor on the blind side for years. He has great athletic ability that will allow him to keep up with more athletic pass rushers. With a veteran presence like Kyle Long in the same locker room to help bring him up, I can see Williams protecting Trubisky's blindside for the next decade as the Bears try to reclaim the NFC North in the future.

9. San Francisco 49ers- LB Tremaine Edmunds Virginia Tech- The 49ers are in a really good spot, with Jimmy Garoppolo as their Franchise QB locked up for the foreseeable future. The 49ers now sit looking at building the rest of the team around him. While it would be easy to pick Calvin Ridley, I don’t expect the 49ers to reach on him here. Knowing what the 49ers did last year, unless there’s a guy they can’t pass on, they could trade down with a team that might need a QB. Fortunately for the 49ers, Tremaine Edmunds is on the board and they really could use help with their LBs now. Tremaine Edmunds is a freak of nature for a LB. Standing in at 6'5'' 250lbs. he has an extremely rare blend of freakish athletic ability and the size that aren't normal for a player at his position. You would think at that size he's best off the edge, but he's best off as a 4-3 LB and can play any of the LB positions there. He can cover TEs, run from sideline to sideline and stop the run. The only thing he probably could improve in is his pass rush, which might be a bit of a concern for the 49ers as they are lacking in pass rushers. With the right coaching though, with his talents it’s very possible that Edmunds could become a disruptive force rushing the passer.

10. Oakland Raiders- ILB Roquan Smith Georgia- Well things are very interesting in Oakland as they prepare for their eventual move to Las Vegas. After a disappointing year that was filled with high expectations, the Raiders fired Jack Del Rio and brought back Jon Gruden to the NFL. With an Offense that is pretty much set, it looks like the Raiders first priority will be to add defensive playmakers to this defense. The Raiders have no good coverage LB who can help Khalil Mack and would be wise to find one that can do it all. If Roquon Smith was a couple inches taller, he would be a Top 5 lock, but teams will pick apart his lack of size, but the film shows it doesn't matter. He's a missile attacking the ball carrier and packs a punch when he gets to you. He's also athletic enough to cover opposing TEs if needed which was something the Raiders struggled big time in last year. If the Raiders can utilize him right, Roquon Smith and Khalil Mack will be giving Offenses nightmares the next few years.

11. Cleveland Browns (from Miami)- CB Denzel Ward Ohio State- After getting Sam Darnold, the Browns trade down from #4 to get a top slot receiver with some of the most reliable hands in football in Jarvis Landry to pair with Josh Gordon, giving their young QB weapons to work with. Now the Browns need to address the problems in their secondary and luck out by landing the #1 CB in the draft. Browns fans can finally rejoice, THE BROWNS HAVE TAKEN A BUCKEYE! The Browns outside of Jamar Taylor have a reliable CB as Brien Boddy-Calhoun is best suited as a slot CB. They still don’t have a shut down CB after the Browns release of Joe Haden. Denzel Ward is the next CB in a line of Ohio State CBs who are poised to take the league by storm. Last season it was Marcus Lattimore of New Orleans and while Ward isn't as big of a CB, he's faster and just as physical. When you watch him on film you're left amazed with how polished he is as a corner and you know he's going to go wherever and make an immediate impact. As a Browns fan walking out with Sam Darnold, Jarvis Landry and Denzel Ward, you got to be feeling really good about where the Browns are going, especially if they could get a 3 down back.

12. Cincinnati Bengals- OT Mike McGlichney Notre Dame- Bengals fans may sense it's almost time to rebuild, but honestly in a lot of ways they're the 2nd best team in the AFC North and if a few things fall their way, they could win the division in 2018. But the reality is they need to build up their O-Line after losing Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth last year and their loss was shown on the field. If you're the Bengals, take the best OLineman available. The question is Conor Williams might be the best 5 years from now, but McGlinchey is more NFL ready and probably a safer pick, after the failures of Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi they might target the safer pick. Mike McGlinchey would've been a Top 10 pick had he come out last year, but he stayed at Notre Dame. In that year he's faced scrutiny for not being athletic enough to stay at LT and that's somewhat hurt his draft stock. By the tape he's the best OT in this draft but doesn't have the same upside of a Connor Williams. If McGlinchey made teams forget their athletic concerns at the combine, he could go higher as teams might come around to projecting him as a LT. He's sound with his footwork and can be a bulldozer at the line, no question to me he's one of the best OT in this class if not the best. The biggest winner of this pick would be Joe Mixon, who with an improved O-Line I would expect have a breakout sophomore year.

13. Washington Redskins- S Derwin James Florida State- Washington is heading in a new direction with a new Quarterback in Alex Smith and the challenge to return to the playoffs is going to be a big burden for Jay Gruden, facing quite possibly the toughest division in the league. One of the biggest problems with Washington is at their Safety position. They are relying on young players who weren’t drafted high or veterans moving to safety to fill the void. With Derwin James still on the board, this is a no brainer pick. Derwin James is this year's version of Jabrill Peppers but even better. Athletically gifted, can play both Safety positions, but is best served as an attacking safety. He started off slow this season at Florida State when he was projected as one of the top 5 talents in the draft in the preseason that hurt him, but he finished strong. He has ability in coverage unlike Jabrill did, but he can lay down a big hit or attack the line of scrimmage effectively which is something the Redskins really could use with his athletic ability.

14. Green Bay Packers- CB Joshua Jackson Iowa- The Packers are heading towards a crossroads probably entering the final years they have to win one more Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers in order to do that, they must improve a secondary that has lacked a true shutdown corner they can rely on. The Packers already have a solid pass rush and really don't need to add on offense outside of maybe RB. At this point Joshua Jackson would be a steal for them. Joshua Jackson comes into the NFL with the prototypical size (6'1'') you want to handle big, physical WRs. The main thing with Jackson is he's a ballhawk. He has that uncanny ability to get to the ball and either break up the pass or get the interception. He has good, not great athletic ability and will need to work on handling the crafty WRs he will face. The Packers have been spending the past few years rebuilding their secondary, but haven’t found a real ballhawk CB. Jackson fits perfectly to what they need to pair with the other pieces they’ve gotten over the years.

15. Arizona Cardinals- QB Lamar Jackson Louisville- The Cardinals are a team that’s in one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen. They’re talented defensively, have a solid WR core led by a future HOFer and one of the best RBs in the NFL. They should be a playoff team, but there’s something off about them. They don’t have a Franchise QB. Carson Palmer did an admirable job at the end of his career making Arizona competitive, but now that he’s retired, it leaves Blaine Gabbert or a potential FA QB signing as their QB going into this year, but is their a young Franchise QB they can develop in this draft? One would think with Josh Allen on the board, this might be an easy choice, but Cardinals HC Steve Walks saw the damage a dual-threat QB who can beat you with his arm and his speed at Carolina, which makes me believe Arizona could very well be in play for Lamar Jackson. Lamar Jackson quite possibly has the highest upside out of all the QBs in this draft. Don’t call him a WR, he’s a true dual threat QB. Lamar vastly improved his passing ability from the pocket and showed the ability to go through progressions and make the throw instead of running with it. From his Heisman season to this past year, I would call the progress as a passer night and day. Jackson seems more comfortable as a passer and I truly believe with the right coaching staff and a veteran QB to learn from, he’s going to silence all the critics in the NFL.  

16. Baltimore Ravens- WR Calvin Ridley Alabama- The Ravens are heading towards a crossroads right now. The Ravens missed the playoffs last year and Joe Flacco looks nothing like the QB that won them a Super Bowl only a few years ago. One could easily say it's been the lack of offensive weapons to throw to. It would be easy for Ozzie Newsome to take Derrius Guice here and get a star RB to take the pressure off Joe Flacco, but Calvin Ridley is way too good of a value for the Crimson Tide alumnus to pass on. Calvin Ridley is one of the most pro-ready WR prospects we've seen in some time. It's not the fact he has good speed and hands, it's the fact he's so smooth with his route running he should be able to pick up any role in any offense and be able to contribute right away. With an experienced play-caller in Flacco, Ridley should immediately become Flacco's favorite and most reliable target and if Flacco might be time to move on from the former Super Bowl QB.

17. Los Angeles Chargers- QB Josh Allen Wyoming- The Chargers have a great opening to win the AFC West in 2018. The Raiders might’ve brought back Jon Gruden, but they have problems. Kirk Cousins may not be the solution to all the problems in Denver and there’s no guarantee that Patrick Mahomes is going to immediately become a star in Kansas City. The Chargers seem the most well-rounded team in the AFC West and could afford to take their future QB. Josh Allen is going to need time to develop and San Diego offers some of the best opportunity to sit and learn from one of the best in Phillip Rivers. Allen has the pure arm strength that teams will love to go with the prototypical size you want in your QB. The question is does he have the accuracy? He threw under 60% during his time at Wyoming which raises concerns as very rarely an inaccurate QB in college translates to the NFL. If Allen can be patient and learn from Rivers, the Chargers could have an extremely smooth transition of QBs when the time comes.

18. Cleveland Browns (from Seattle)- RB Derrius Guice LSU- TRADE: Browns trade #33 and #64 overall picks, 2018 3rd Round pick (from Miami) and a 2019 4th Round pick to Seattle in exchange for #18 overall pick- John Dorsey lays down the law and gets a top RB leaving no more excuses for Hue Jackson. Imagine this if you’re a Browns fan. You have all these assets and after years of accruing them, you strike on the opportunity to land a Pro Bowl slot WR to compliment Josh Gordon, a potential young shutdown corner, a 3 down RB with superstar potential, and finally a Top Rookie QB to build around, folks the Browns could be back. Also…you still have the #35 pick to draft Joe Thomas’ successor (Tyrell Crosby please). Derrius Guice should be given more consideration as the Top RB in the draft but the problem is Barkley is such a freak of nature physically and so gifted as a runner, it’s hard to not have Barkley as the best. The difference between Guice and Barkley is Barkley is more explosive and has some power, Guice is power with some explosion. For the Browns, Guice would be the perfect compliment to Duke Johnson, who is more of a shifty big play back. Guice can be someone you rely on for 20 carries a game and has receiving ability. If this was any other draft, Guice would be the Top RB and probably a Top 10 pick. Browns get a value here and a reliable running threat for their offense.

19. Dallas Cowboys- WR Christian Kirk Texas A&M- Dallas is in an interesting spot this year as they host the NFL Draft this year. The Cowboys have numerous defensive issues and while they Franchised DeMarcus Lawrence, his future in Dallas is in doubt. At this point, there really isn’t anyone worthy of selecting at the D-Line position. Recent reports have circulated that the Cowboys might not just look to upgrade at the WR position, but move on from Dez Bryant. The reality is, Dez Bryant always did well with a bonafide #2 WR option, which outside of Cole Beasley in the slot, they haven’t had and I would expect the Cowboys to address it. Christian Kirk entered the process as my #3 WR, but after the Combine, he’s made a strong case to be my #2 WR behind Courtland Sutton. What he does best is running over the middle, making the catch and getting away from defenders. His lack of production at Texas A&M was probably more a reflection of the system and players he was surrounded with because he's much better than what his numbers show. He won't be a burner at the next level but he's going to be a solid slot WR that opposite Dez Bryant, Dak Prescott is going to have plenty of options to get the Cowboys back into the playoffs.

20. Detroit Lions- DE Marcus Davenport UTSA- The Lions are a team that has the talent to really make a run in the NFC North and potentially the NFC Crown. They have a great secondary and an offense that can put up a lot of points. The biggest problems are with their running game and their pass rush. If Derrius Guice slips here, I wouldn’t hesitate to take him, but he’s gone. There are other RBs they probably could get in the 2nd Round if they have the patience to wait. Ziggy Ansah was Franchise Tagged and there’s no guarantee that he has a long term future in Detroit, fortunately the board falls their way and they get the 2nd best pass rusher in the draft. Marcus Davenport is this year's high riser as he's a freak at 6'7'' 255 who has amazing explosiveness off the snap and his potential is off the charts. He was one of the main standouts of the Senior Bowl only solidifying his status as a 1st Round pick and potentially putting him into Top 10 consideration. The question is will he have the coaching staff that can develop his talent and make him into a better pass rusher, if that’s the case Detroit might have a potential dynamic duo of Ziggy Ansah and Marcus Davenport that will send chills into opposing offenses.

21. Buffalo Bills- DT Vita Vea- I would expect the Bills to attempt to move up to get one of the young QBs at the top of the draft. There is a good chance that much like the Browns of 2015, they could fail miserably in trying to get that pick, forcing them to focus on other needs. The recent news of the Bills not rushing to move Tyrod Taylor might signal that the Bills right now don’t think a deal will get done. At this point I would think the Bills would like to improve the middle of their D-Line after watching Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars run game tear them up in the Wild Card Game. Vea is a massive human being at 6’4’’ 340 who actually can move at the line and disrupt the running game. The question is is he too big to succeed? A lot of comparisons have been made to Browns DT Danny Shelton and outside of a few flashy plays, he hasn’t done much. There will be concerns that Vea might turn into that, but with a guy as big as he is and the fact as an athlete he can get around like he does, he’s worth taking the chance on.

22. Buffalo Bills- OT Brian O’Neill Pittsburgh- The Bills finally made the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and their fans are looking for more. After getting Vita Via to shore up the middle of their D-Line, the Bills might look to continue to build their O-Line. The Bills have been looking to move on from Cordy Glenn and his contract, so finding a young replacement could be something they could look to do early in this draft. Brian O’Neill is an athletic prototypical zone blocking OT that can play on either side. He’s a converted TE and at the combine wowed scouts with his ability to move around and ran well. Buffalo doesn’t need to rush him and take time to develop him for a year or so, and when he’s ready, the Bills could have their own version of Nate Solder, who was a rock for their rival Patriots for years.

23. Carolina Panthers- CB Isaiah Oliver Colorado- The Panthers returned to the playoffs and there still is a lot of talent on this team offensively, but defensively they’re a mess, especially in the secondary. They’ve yet to replace Josh Norman since he left for Washington. I would expect them to find a way to finally address that early in this draft. Isaiah Oliver might be one of the most intriguing CBs in this draft simply because of his size/athletic combination that is just rare to find in CBs. On top of that he has long arms that will allow him to get physical with WRs, which again is rare. His biggest problems are in his footwork and his tackling. Overall, Oliver might have as big of an upside as any of the CBs in this draft and for the Panthers, they could finally have a new shutdown corner they can build their defense back up to when they were in the Super Bowl.

24. San Francisco 49ers (from Los Angeles Rams)- WR Courtland Sutton SMU- TRADE: San Francisco trades their 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2018 and 2nd Round pick in 2019 in exchange for #24 overall pick- The Rams were slotted to take OSU C Billy Price here, but due to his pectoral injury, the Rams move back as the 49ers move back up to get a potential #1 WR. The 49ers already have Carlos Hyde as their RB and surprisingly Marquise Goodwin became Jimmy Garoppolo’s favorite and most reliable target. The reality is though that Goodwin isn’t a #1 WR, but potentially a strong #2/Slot WR. That means the 49ers need a big, physical WR to have to Garoppolo to target. Courtland Sutton is that prototype physical WR, where the only knock on him is his speed. He’s got good ball skills and on tape he has the ability to make plays after the catch. His biggest strength is in the 50/50 balls, he just knows how to get position on a defender and get the ball. In a lot of ways, he’s my #1 WR on the board because of his size and ability to actually break free, almost similar to Josh Gordon. The reality is he’s more Alshon Jeffery and for the 49ers, getting an Alshon Jeffery type to pair with Marquise Goodwin and Carlos Hyde for Jimmy Garoppolo might make the 49ers one of the next young teams to emerge next year.

25. Tennessee Titans- OLB/DE Sam Hubbard Ohio State- The Titans now have a new leader in Mike Vrabel and after last year trying to find weapons for Marcus Mariota in drafting Corey Davis, the focus this year will be to develop their defense that really lacks an effective pass rusher. Although I think their selection of Adoree Jackson hasn't lived up to expectations and they should look to CB, there's a pass rusher that fits perfectly. Sam Hubbard doesn't wow you athletically like Chubb or Davenport, but Hubbard is probably the most polished pass rusher in the draft. He's powerful and explosive as a defender and was always a handful for opposing lineman at OSU and his presence made his partner in crime Nick Bosa even better. All Hubbard did was produce at OSU and the film shows he can easily translate that into the NFL. You can bet Mike Vrabel the former Buckeye knows very well what Hubbard is capable of and how he will plan to use him.

26. Atlanta Falcons- DT De’Ron Payne Alabama- Let’s be honest…if Julio Jones makes that catch against the Eagles, we very well could be talking about the Falcons as the Super Bowl Champions. Unfortunately they ran out of luck at the end. So now it’s about improving their defense that continues to be a weakness for the Falcons, especially in the Front 7. While they’ve made some improvements on the Edge rushers, the middle of their D-Line has left a lot to be desired. Fortunately they’re left with two great options at this pick. I like Mo Hurst, but his recent red flag at the Combine with potential heart problems will hurt his stock. De’Ron Payne was one of the key reasons why Alabama once again won the National Championship, especially with his dominating performance against Georgia. After the failed pick of Rashede Hageman the Falcons could use a true run stuffing DT that while he might not stand out with his pass rusher, he’s a proven factor in stopping the run game that could take this Falcons Front 7 to the next level.

27. Pittsburgh Steelers- ILB Rashaan Evans Alabama- If you’re the Pittsburgh Steelers, you gotta win now or else. Big Ben is approaching the end of the road and it seems like the Steelers are prepared to go all in to give the QB every chance for one more run. The Steelers definitely need some help in the secondary, but a biggest question looms…who is the MLB going forward? As great as Ryan Shazier is, his tragic injury leaves a dark cloud over the Steelers as there’s no guarantee that he will ever return to the field and if he does that he will ever be the same player again. The Steelers should plan as if Shazier won’t come back the same. Rashaan Evans fits the mold of what we’re seeing out of linebackers coming out, he’s long, rangy and athletic. His instincts improved as a ILB last year and coming from the Alabama defense, he should be ready to make an impact immediately, which for the Steelers will be great.

28. New Orleans Saints- OLB/DE Harold Landry Boston College- After one of the best team drafts in recent history, the Saints are back on track to making one more Super Bowl run with Drew Brees. The question really is where do the Saints look to improve? The top QBs are gone, they don’t necessarily need immediate help on the O-Line, and their secondary is pretty set. So in this scenario, you go with the saying, “You can never have enough pass rushers”. At this point Harold Landry is without question the best pass rusher available and fits what the Saints are looking for in their EDGE rushers. Landry doesn’t have the ideal size you want out of an EDGE rusher as he’s a bit short, but he’s quick off the snap and knows how to move around to get to the QB. With the Saints other players up front, they might be able to hide that right now Landry is still working on his pass rush moves instead of just relying on his outstanding athletic ability.

29. Minnesota Vikings- OG Will Hernandez UTEP- The Vikings seemed to have all the momentum to finally be the team that would play in a Super Bowl that was in their own home stadium, but the Eagles dynamic offense and more importantly their overwhelming pass rush on defense had the Vikings number. The Vikings could very well look to improve their O-Line that showed some improvement last year, but still lacks in talent. Pat Elfein was a solid start in revamping their O-Line, but they need help on the inside desperately. If it wasn’t for as great of a prospect that Quenton Nelson is, Will Hernandez would be the best OG in this draft. He has more size than Nelson, but not as athletic, but is possibly a bigger bully at the line of scrimmage than Nelson. Hernandez has that mean streak that coaches love in the trenches and putting him next to the young Elfein, it’s going to make the Minnesota QB position potentially very interesting…you like that Kirk Cousins?

30. Jacksonville Jaguars- TE Dallas Goedert South Dakota State- The Jaguars came out of nowhere and finally ascended from the cellar in the NFL from being one half away from being in the Super Bowl. While some may say that the Jaguars need to move on from Blake Bortles, Bortles was the guy that really put the Jaguars in that position to win the AFC Championship from New England. Unless you’re getting a guarantee from Kirk Cousins who would be a dramatic upgrade from Bortles, there’s nobody worth replacing Bortles with. So for the Jaguars, this pick must be about continuing to surround Blake Bortles with as much talent as possible. Goedert is a fascinating TE prospect who some have said is going to be an immediate impact starter. Don’t let his level of play fool you, the guy is a monster in the open field whether he has to ball or is going to get the ball. He’s an absolute monster with how physical he is as a player. He isn’t a great blocker, but his ability to get physical with defenders make him a solid blocker and could translate to the NFL. The Jaguars have had Mercedes Lewis for years and while he’s on his final years, he should be an excellent mentor for Goedert and provide the Jaguars a deadly TE goal line duo.

31. New England Patriots- DE/OLB Lorenzo Carter Georgia- The Patriots put up a valiant fight in the Super Bowl, but it was the defense that failed them and it really wasn’t much of a surprise. Ever since the Patriots traded LB Jamie Collins to the Browns, their LB core hasn’t been the same. They’ve tried to find a replacement, but to no avail and now they absolutely need to replace that role if they’re seriously going to have the defense to challenge for a Super Bowl next year. While this would be a reach with Lorenzo Carter, the Patriots haven’t shied away from reaching on guys that fit their system. Carter looks to fit right in. He played numerous roles at Georgia on the defense and was one of its leaders in their runner-up finish in the College Football Playoff. He’s extremely athletic and would provide a solid pass rush, but more importantly I think with the right coaching could handle covering TEs in the NFL.

32. Philadelphia Eagles- CB Mike Hughes UCF- The Eagles are soaring now after finally winning the Super Bowl and now look to defend their Championship. The question is where do they look to address with this pick? While Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby are a solid duo of CBs, they have pretty much their choice of any CB in the 2nd Tier of this talented group, so upgrading there might not be the worst idea. Mike Hughes was the lockdown corner for the Undefeated Central Florida Golden Knights (and National Champions in our hearts). Hughes might be the most physical corner in this class and loves to get up on the receiver in press coverage and knows how to disrupt the route. Hughes doesn’t have elite athletic ability, but he’s got good athletic ability that is going to help him stay with quicker receivers. He’s extremely raw as he’s played 2 years at CB and 1 year as a starter, which makes his play as a shutdown corner last year that much more remarkable. The best part for Hughes is he can be eased in here in Philly as he continues to develop and becomes a lockdown corner in NFL.

Well…that was quite the first round wasn’t it? The Browns would come out as major winners walking out with a QB, a stud RB, a stud CB and a Pro Bowl WR. The Chargers would be huge winners as Josh Allen would be in a perfect situation to sit and learn behind Phillip Rivers for a year or two. I’d also put the 49ers in the winners column after getting a great LB in Tremaine Edmunds and going up and getting a Top WR in Courtland Sutton. I’d consider the Bills the biggest losers by not being able to move up and get a young QB, but they get back a solid haul that they can continue building their team with, but with the reports of Buffalo wanting to move on from Tyrod Taylor, to not even have Lamar Jackson fall to 21 would be a major disappointment.

A lot is going to change with Pro Days and private workouts in the next month. Mock 2.0 will be released sometime in early April after Free Agency has slowed down and teams will have a better understanding of what needs they will be targeting in the draft. Mock 3.0 will be unveiled Draft Week.

Be sure to plan on joining TripleThreatCLE and from The Basement in Sagamore Hills on Draft Night April 26th for NewClevelandRadio’s Draft Party Show. We will be broadcasting TripleThreatCLE and After Further Review LIVE before and during the Draft. We will also have former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl Champion TE and Cleveland native John Jones joining us and more will be announced in the coming weeks!

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