2018 NFL Draft Grades: Round 1

What a wild 1st Round that was last night. We knew it was going to be unpredictable, but I don’t think anybody realized exactly what that would result in.

Personally, I expected a few trades to occur very early on. However, the first trade didn’t happen until the Bills moved up to #7. After that, all hell broke loose.

Some highly rated prospects fell. Some lower rated prospects were reached for. For the first time in modern era Draft history, four QBs were taken in the Top-10. For the first time since 2011, no wide receivers were taken in the Top-20. And I have no official stat, but it sure seemed like one of the largest numbers of offensive linemen drafted in the 1st Round.

It was a very fascinating start to the 2018 NFL Draft, and I have no shame in admitting that I was very wrong in my predictions. With that, here are my grades for each team in the 1st Round of this year’s Draft.


Cleveland Browns

Pick 1.1 – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Pick 1.4 – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Grade: B

The Browns got their quarterback and an impact defender. That’s what they needed to have with these picks. But they get a B from me because I don’t think either is the player they should have taken. Mayfield could be a star, but he could also be a complete bust. That’s not a #1 overall pick. And Ward is the best corner in this class, but Bradley Chubb should be more an impact player. The Browns have a chance to do really well in this Draft with three 2nd Round picks tonight.


New York Giants

Pick 1.2 – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Grade: A-

Saquon Barkley is my top player in this class, so I have no issue with the Giants taking a running back this high. They likely won’t pick this high again for a while, so they missed out on a chance to grab their QB for the future, but I think GM Dave Gettleman thinks this team can compete for a playoff berth as currently constructed, so adding Barkley to an offense with Odell Beckham Jr. is a great move.


New York Jets

Pick 1.3 – QB Sam Darnold, USC

Grade: B+

The Jets traded three 2nd Round picks to move up here and get their quarterback. I don’t know if they realized that Darnold would be available here, but they pounced, and they were smart to do it. I prefer Rosen as a prospect, which is why they only get a B+ from me. But I do think Darnold over Allen was the right move. Darnold probably has the safest floor of the QBs in this class, but his ceiling also isn’t quite as high as some of the others. He enters a good situation in New York.


Denver Broncos

Pick 1.5 – EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State

Grade: C

This is not a knock on Chubb as a prospect, as I believe he is the top defensive player in this class. This grade is more based on team needs. The Broncos had an awful year, and have needs all over the field, including in the secondary, offensive line, and quarterback. There were great players to be had at all of those positions. Chubb and Von Miller will form a fantastic pass rushing duo, but the Broncos had a real chance to fill a need and get a great player at the same time, which teams rarely have a chance to do, and they whiffed.


Indianapolis Colts

Pick 1.6 – OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Grade: A

The Colts have needs at every position that’s not quarterback (assuming Andrew Luck is healthy), and they got my 2nd best player in this entire class. Priority number one should be to protect Luck, and Nelson is a potential Hall of Famer at guard. The Colts have three 2nd Round picks tonight, so they can address needs on defense with at least two of those picks. So far, so great for the Colts.


Buffalo Bills

TRADE – BUF receives Picks 1.7, 7.255; TB receives Picks 1.12, 2.53, 2.56

Pick 1.7 – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

TRADE – BUF receives Picks 1.16, 5.154; BAL receives Picks 1.22, 3.65

Pick 1.16 – LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Grade: C+

Everybody knew the Bills were looking to move up to get a quarterback. However, to give up two 2nd Round picks to go up just five spots is a hefty price, and I’m not sure if Allen is going to be a successful NFL QB. They then moved up again to grab the slipping Edmunds, and while he will help them, they gave up another premium pick, this time a 3rd Rounder. They now have just one pick tonight, near the end of the 3rd Round, and they have a lot of holes on their roster. They get a QB and a good linebacker, but gave up too much in my opinion.


Chicago Bears

Pick 1.8 – LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Grade: A-

I think the Bears were hoping that Quenton Nelson would fall to them, but they got a great consolation prize in Smith. Whether he plays inside or outside, he could be the next in a long lineage of star linebackers to play for the Bears. Linebacker might not have been the most glaring need for the Bears, but this value was too good to pass up.


San Francisco 49ers

Pick 1.9 – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

Grade: B

It’s clear with this pick that John Lynch’s #1 priority is to protect Jimmy Garoppolo, and he got the best tackle prospect in this class to help do that. McGlinchey will start at right tackle from the get-go, and could eventually move to left tackle. That’s exactly what the 49ers need. The value wasn’t great, as this is a weak offensive tackle class, so that’s why it gets a B grade from me.


Arizona Cardinals

TRADE – ARZ receives Pick 1.10; OAK receives Picks 1.15, 3.79, 5.152

Pick 1.10 – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Grade: A

This was a fantastic move by the Cardinals. They needed a QB of the future, and they got my top QB prospect in this class. And do do it, all they had to give up was a 3rd and a 5th. They hand onto their 2nd Rounder and get a potential star quarterback. That’s an A grade if I’ve ever seen one. I think Rosen’s “off-field issues” won’t be a problem down in Arizona.


Miami Dolphins

Pick 1.11 – S/CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Grade: A-

Fitzpatrick was a Top-5 prospect in this class for many evaluators, so the Dolphins got tremendous value snagging him at #11. With the Top-4 quarterbacks off the board, the Fins were smart to not reach for Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph, and rather draft a much needed impact player for the back end of their defense.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

TRADE – TB receives Picks 1.12, 2.53, 2.56; BUF receives Picks 1.7, 7.255

Pick 1.12 – DT Vita Vea, Washington

Grade: B+

I think the Bucs did really great in trading down with the Bills, picking up two 2nd Round picks to go back just five spots. I also think that Vea will be a very good pro player. However, I think the Bucs have much more pressing needs, and there were better players available (Tremaine Edmunds and Derwin James to name a couple). That is why they get a B+ and not an A or A- from me.


Washington Redskins

Pick 1.13 – DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

Grade: B-

As far as filling needs goes, this is a great pick for Washington. Payne is a five-technique that can play inside or on the edge, and he’s arguably the best run-stopper in this draft class. However, I think this was a slight reach, which is why it gets the lower grade. I saw some mocks that had Payne falling to the 2nd Round. He’s sort of one-dimensional as a tackle, not showing much of an ability to rush the passer.


New Orleans Saints

TRADE – NO receives Pick 1.14; GB receives Picks 1.27, 5.147; 2019 1st Rd

Pick 1.14 – EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

Grade: F

I debated whether or not I wanted to be this harsh, but this trade/pick combination makes no sense to me. If they would have made this exact trade and taken Lamar Jackson, as everybody expected when they made the move, they would have gotten an A from me. Davenport could be a great pass rusher in this league, but the key words there are “could be.” He’s a project, and to trade a future 1st Round pick to move up and take a project, for a team that is a Super Bowl contender, just seems ass backwards to me.


Oakland Raiders

TRADE – OAK receives Picks 1.15, 3.79, 5.152; ARZ receives Pick 1.10

Pick 1.15 – OT Kolton Miller, UCLA

TRADE – OAK receives WR Martavis Bryant; PIT receives Pick 3.79

Grade: B-

I decided to include the trade for Martavis Bryant when grading the Raiders because they used the 3rd Round pick they got in the trade with Arizona to acquire him. I love the trade for Bryant. He gives the Raiders one of the most fearsome WR corps in the league. I don’t love the Miller pick. He was a reach at this point, and there were a lot of impact defensive players available that they could have had. It’s clear with these moves that Jon Gruden is running the show.


Los Angeles Chargers

Pick 1.17 – S Derwin James, Florida State

Grade: A

This is who the Raiders should have taken. If you told the Chargers that they’d have the opportunity to draft Derwin James without moving up, they probably would have called you crazy. But here we are. James has been compared to Kam Chancellor, but faster. That is the exact type of player the Chargers’ defense needs. As a Raiders fan, it sucks to say it, but the Chargers were probably my biggest winner of the 1st Round.


Green Bay Packers

TRADE – GB receives Picks 1.27, 5.147, 2019 1st Rd; NO receives Pick 1.14

TRADE – GB receives Picks 1.18, 7.248; SEA receives Picks 1.27, 3.76, 6.186

Pick 1.18 – CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Grade: B+

The Packers were one of the most active teams on Thursday night, first moving back from 14 to 27, then moving back up from 27 to 18 to get one of the top cornerbacks in this class in Alexander, who had been flying up draft boards due to his speed and ball skills. Through two trades, the Packers basically gave up a 3rd and a 6th and moved back four spots in the 1st Round to get a 5th this year, a 1st next year (which is huge) and still got the player they probably would have taken at 14. I still think it’s a slight reach for Alexander at 18, so that is why they only get a B+. Despite that, it was still a fantastic first night for Green Bay.


Dallas Cowboys

Pick 1.19 – LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Grade: B-

The Cowboys had a chance to get the wide receiver of their choosing with this pick, which they need badly, but they instead chose to take the eventual successor to Sean Lee in Vander Esch. Some teams were scared by some neck issues, and the fact that he only really had one productive season at Boise, but he can play inside or outside and is a fierce competitor. I like the pick, just think they should have gone receiver instead.


Detroit Lions

Pick 1.20 – C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

Grade: B-

I expected the Lions to take an offensive lineman here, I just didn’t think it would be Ragnow. He is a good player, but he was expected to last until the 2nd Round, so it was a reach. It does fill a need though, so I won’t downgrade this move too much. He’ll help their run game immensely.


Cincinnati Bengals

Pick 1.21 – C Billy Price, Ohio State

Grade: B

Back to back centers in the 1st Round, that may be a Draft first. The Bengals have needs across their offensive line, so this pick makes a lot of sense. Price tore his bicep at the Combine, and many expected that to affect his draft stock, but he actually went just as high as he might have prior to the injury.


Tennessee Titans

TRADE – TEN receives Picks 1.22, 6.215; BAL receives Picks 1.25, 4.125

Pick 1.22 – LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Grade: B+

The Titans move back from the 4th Round to the 6th Round in order to move up three spots and get one of the top linebackers in this class. The label of “Alabama Linebacker” is enough to scare anyone given their recent track record, but Evans is a clean prospect, and he’s probably the best pure inside linebacker in this class. He’s a thumper, and he adds a necessary punch to the middle of the Tennessee defense.


New England Patriots

Pick 1.23 – OG/OT Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

Pick 1.31 – RB Sony Michel, Georgia

Grade: B+

I hate giving the Patriots credit, but they did a really good job with their two 1st Round picks, landing the pair of roommates from Georgia. Wynn projects best as a guard, but the Pats have taken guys with similar measurables and skill sets and turned them into good tackles. Meanwhile, they lost Dion Lewis to the Titans, so they replace him with a better version of the same player in Michel. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be one of the most electrifying players from this class.


Carolina Panthers

Pick 1.24 – WR D.J. Moore, Maryland

Grade: C-

The Panthers have a lot of needs for a team picking this high. They could use some depth at pass rusher, or they could have taken a linebacker as insurance for the oft-injured Luke Kuechly. I expected them to solidify their back end with a corner or safety. Wide receiver was a need as well, but to take Moore over Calvin Ridley is a mistake in my mind. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Ridley would have been much better opposite Devin Funchess.


Baltimore Ravens

TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.22, 3.65; BUF receives Picks 1.16, 5.154

TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.25, 4.125; TEN receives Picks 1.22, 6.215

Pick 1.25 – TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

TRADE – BAL receives Picks 1.32, 4.132; PHI receives Picks 2.52, 4.125, 2019 2nd Rd

Pick 1.32 – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Grade: A

What a start to this draft for the Ravens, and I don’t think anybody saw it coming. They traded back twice, going from 16 to 25, picking up 3rd and 4th Round picks in the process. They then took one of the most talented tight ends in this draft class. After that, they had an opportunity to move back into the 1st Round and land one of the most polarizing QB prospects in recent memory. Joe Flacco has no more guaranteed money after this season, so they can groom Lamar Jackson and turn the reins over to him in 2019. A fantastic 1st Round for Baltimore.


Atlanta Falcons

Pick 1.26 – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Grade: A

I can’t give out an A+, because to me, that means perfect, and I don’t think anybody had the perfect day on Thursday. The Falcons might have been the closest to an A+ though. For Calvin Ridley to fall into their laps is bonkers to me. I expected the Falcons to consider going WR with this pick, but I didn’t think there’d be any way Ridley would be available. They now have a tremendous 1-2 punch at the receiver position with Julio Jones and Ridley.


Seattle Seahawks

TRADE – SEA receives Picks 1.27, 3.76, 6.186; GB receives Picks 1.18, 7.248

Pick 1.27 – RB Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

Grade: D+

This is nothing against the player whatsoever. I like Penny and I think he can be a very productive running back in the NFL. I think he’ll help on special teams a bunch from the get-go as well. This gets such a low grade because they probably could have had him in the 3rd Round. I have no problem with taking a potentially transcendent running back in the 1st Round, like Saquon Barkley. Penny is not Barkley, and the Seahawks could have done so much else with this pick.


Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick 1.28 – S Terrell Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Grade: C

I don’t want to knock this too much because seeing Ryan Shazier walk out on stage to announce this pick was just awesome. I hope he can fully recover one day and possibly even play football again. But when you look at the actual pick, it’s a mistake to me. They need a safety badly, and they filled that need, but there were about five or six other safeties available that are better prospects than Edmunds. Trumaine and Terrell are the first pair of brothers to be taken in the same 1st Round of the Draft, so that’s pretty cool I guess.


Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick 1.29 – DT Taven Bryan, Florida

Grade: B-

I really thought the Jags would take Lamar Jackson and develop him for a year behind Blake Bortles. That would have gotten a much higher grade from me. I like Bryan a lot. He’s raw and he’s still learning the position, but he’s got all the measurables and potential. I just don’t think defensive tackle was a major need for this team. They would have been better off taking one of the many offensive linemen that are still available.


Minnesota Vikings

Pick 1.30 – CB Mike Hughes, UCF

Grade: B

This is another team that I thought should have addressed the offensive line with this pick, especially with guys like Will Hernandez, Tyrell Crosby, James Daniels and Connor Williams still on the board. But instead they looked at their secondary, saw the aging Terence Newman, and decided to take his replacement in Hughes. Like Newman, Hughes is a little undersized, but he should be effective in the slot from day one and eventually join Xavier Rhodes on the outside with some development.


Philadelphia Eagles

TRADE – PHI receives Picks 2.52, 4.125, 2019 2nd Rd; BAL receives Picks 1.32, 4.132

Grade: A-

The rich get richer. Dropping 20 spots seems like a lot, but I tend to think that most of the prospects that will go in the 2nd Round are rated very close together, so they’ll still get a very good player with the 52nd overall pick. To pick up a 2nd Rounder next year to make that move is huge.


Teams Without a Pick Yesterday:

Kansas City Chiefs (traded to Buffalo)

Houston Texans (traded to Cleveland)

Los Angeles Rams (traded to New England)


2018 NFL Mock Draft – Version 2.0

It’s Thursday April 26th, and that means it’s time for the 2018 NFL Draft! This may be the most unpredictable draft in recent memory.

Usually by this point, we have a pretty good idea how the Top-5, or at the very least, the Top-3, is going to shake down. However, this year, nothing is set in stone. Most reports coming out of Cleveland over the last week have said that they were deciding between Sam Darnold and Josh Allen for the #1 pick. But waking up this morning, the news is that many in the league believe that Baker Mayfield will be the 1st pick.

Lots of teams want to trade down, and lots of teams are exploring a trade up. That should make for a very exciting 1st Round.

Yesterday I gave you my personal mock draft, and now today, leading into the Draft tonight at 8:00, I give you Version 2.0 of We Love Sportz’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft.

For this mock, my good friend Jeff Greco and I went back and forth, putting ourselves in the shoes of these teams’ GMs, saying what we would do with the picks if we were them. Sidebar: Follow Jeff on Twitter @Uncle_Pony for some good sports takes and some better memes.

Jeff took the odds, I took the evens. We also negotiated a couple trades. With the trades, Jeff picked for odd teams that ended up with an even-numbered pick by way of trade, and vice-versa.

And with that, here is Jeff and Jay’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft!


1 – Cleveland Browns

Pick: RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Jeff – The Browns have a chance to get a legitimate workhorse running back AND a potential franchise quarterback with their first two picks. There’s no way I’m not taking Barkley, who in the minds of some is a better prospect than Ezekiel Elliott. Plus he doesn’t wear that awful belly jersey.


2 – New York Giants

Pick: QB Sam Darnold, USC

Jay – I don’t think there’s any way the Browns don’t take a QB at #1, even though I agree with Jeff that they should take Barkley. This scenario would play out the same if the Browns take Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield. I don’t see the Giants passing on Darnold if he’s available. He’d be a great heir apparent to Eli Manning.


3 – New York Jets (from Indianapolis)

Pick: QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

Jeff – I think Allen has the second best skill set of this year’s rookie class. He can have some time to learn and develop behind Teddy Bridgewater and hopefully the Jets can come out on the other side with their best QB since Pennington. Plus this website exists.


4 – Cleveland Browns (from Houston)

Pick: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

Jayson – After landing Barkley at #1, I have my choice between Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield. While I think Rosen is the better prospect, I’m not sure that his style will play well in Cleveland. Enter Baker Mayfield, who has the swagger necessary to succeed in the NFL, but he could wind up being Johnny Manziel 2.0.


5 – Denver Broncos

Pick: OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

Jeff – Nelson is the next best available prospect and it just so happens that he fits right into what the Broncos need to bolster their offensive line. They allowed 52 sacks last year (3.25/game, 31st in the NFL) and really need to protect their quarterback, whoever it may end up being this year.


6 – Indianapolis Colts (from NY Jets)

Pick: EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State

Jayson – It’s pretty simple for the Colts here. They’ll try to move back, but their consolation prize is the best defensive player in this draft class. He’s not rated as highly as Myles Garrett was last year, but if it wasn’t for the number of top QBs in this class, he’d be a surefire Top-3 pick.


7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: S Derwin James, Florida State

Jeff – If Nelson doesn’t drop this far, Tampa Bay needs help in their secondary. They allowed 260 passing yards per game (32nd) in 2017 and could really use a boost to at least 31st. James is a talented playmaker who should be able to cap off longer routes.


8 – Chicago Bears

Pick: CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

Jayson – The Bears would love to see Quenton Nelson fall here, but they have needs on defense that they can address as well. Ward is a tad undersized, but he makes up for it with great speed and ball skills. He will match up well with a lot of #1 receivers.


9 – San Francisco 49ers

Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

Jeff – Please for the love of anything that is good in the world get Reuben Foster off this team. He is flat out a bad person (domestic violence) and doesn’t deserve to have his job anymore. EVEN IF Foster isn’t cut/suspended they could use the help.



New England receives Pick 1.10

Oakland receives Picks 1.23, 1.31, 3.120, 2019 4th Rd Pick

With the fall of Josh Rosen, the Pats see their chance to move up and get the eventual successor to Tom Brady’s throne. They give up a lot to get him, but the Raiders refused to give this pick to their arch rivals without getting a King’s ransom in return.


10 – New England Patriots (from Oakland)

Pick: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

Jeff – Rumors are the Patriots love Rosen and they would need to trade ahead of Miami/Buffalo to get him. After all the Brady turmoil, they will be wanting to look for a successor. Besides, the value they lose in the picks they traded away will be made up by some white car salesman they sign off the street to play as their slot receiver.


11 – Miami Dolphins

Pick: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

Jeff – Miami needs a lot of things, but with the top-4 quarterbacks gone, I think Smith is one of the better players left on the board. Miami could use some help at the strong side getting pressure to the QB (30 sacks 2017, 26th NFL).


12 – Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati)

Pick: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Jay – It’s probably a little early value-wise to take Jackson, but he has the potential to change the way we view the quarterback position in the NFL. He’s a better version of the QB that took the Bills to the playoffs last season. I think come tonight, they will have to move up to get him, as I expect five QBs to go in the Top-10.


13 – Washington Redskins

Pick: CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

Jeff – Washington has filled most of their needs offensively, so I think they go DB here. I think Fitzpatrick is a steal at this point in the draft. He can help their 21st ranked pass defense from the get-go. His playmaking ability, along with the addition of Alex Smith, can help this team be one of the best in the league in turnover differential.


14 – Green Bay Packers

Pick: EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

Jay – Green Bay is picking higher than usual, and that gives them the chance to get an impact player. Davenport is raw as a prospect, but he has all the potential in the world. The Packers could use a better pass rush, and Davenport should help early while he develops the rest of his game.


15 – Arizona Cardinals

Pick: CB Josh Jackson. Iowa

Jeff – Arizona is filled with needs at this point, but with Top-5 QBs gone, they will have to wait another year to find their future signal caller. Enter Josh Jackson, a standout DB from the Big Ten who can pair well with Patrick Peterson after Mathieu’s release.


16 – Baltimore Ravens

Pick: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Jay – Ozzie Newsome loves his Alabama players (he took Marlon Humphrey in the 1st Round last year), and his team has a need for a #1 receiver. Ridley is the safest WR in this draft, and he’ll instantly become the #1 target for Joe Flacco.


17 – Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: OT Mike McGlinchey

Jeff – Phil Rivers got sacked 43 times in 2017 and still threw for 4500+ yards. Imagine if they had a capable right tackle to help protect him and make room for Gordon, whose YPC numbers have been pretty awful since he’s been drafted.


18 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: OT/OG Connor Williams, Texas

Jay – It’s time for the Seahawks to stop ignoring their offensive line early on in drafts. They acquired Duane Brown last season to man the left tackle position, and here they can get Williams who can play right tackle, or if he struggles due to his height and arm length, can easily slide inside to center or guard. I’m tired of watching Russell Wilson run for his life, I want to see what he can do with time in the pocket.


19 – Dallas Cowboys

Pick: WR Courtland Sutton, SMU

Jeff – After cutting their only decent wideout in the last 10 years, the Cowboys signed Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. Neither of them projects to have many targets and they need a legitimate number one to take some pressure off Ezekiel Elliott and the ancient Jason Witten.


20 – Detroit Lions

Pick: OG Will Hernandez, UTEP

Jay – The defense made huge strides last season, so I think they should focus on improving their offensive line. They need to keep Stafford upright and open some holes for their running backs. Hernandez is a mean, nasty MF’er, and he will improve their offense from the get-go.


21 – Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo)

Pick: C/OG Billy Price, OSU

Jeff – Cincy needs an O-line to protect their new workhorse back, Joe Mixon. Their line is pretty abysmal, with backs only averaging 3.6 YPC last season. Anyone else who fits a need for this team seems like a reach to me, and Price is as good a center prospect as they come.


22 – Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City)

Pick: C/OG James Daniels, Iowa

Jay – Jeff just said anyone else at a need position for Cincy would be a reach, but as bad as the Bills’ offensive line is, the reach is worth it. I’d also be slightly worried about the torn bicep that Price suffered at the Combine. Daniels will surely be ready to go from day one, and will protect Lamar Jackson or AJ McCarron very well. I’m sure LeSean McCoy would be a fan as well.


23 – Oakland Raiders (from LA Rams via New England)

Pick: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

Jay – Every year, I hope that the Raiders go linebacker in the 1st or 2nd Round, and every year, they don’t, and it’s frustrating. The defense has good players, they just need somebody who can control the middle of the field and lay the lumber when needed. That is Vander Esch. He can play inside on running downs and outside on passing downs. I think he’ll be a great three-down linebacker in this league.


24 – Carolina Panthers

Pick: CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Jay – Another team that tends to ignore a position of need early on in drafts. Alexander is flying up boards due to his impressive Combine numbers, and I think the Panthers would be very lucky if he was available at #24. He’s fast, he has great ball skills, and he’ll help on special teams as well. This would be a great pick.


25 – Tennessee Titans

Pick: EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College

Jeff – Kevin Dodd doesn’t look like he will pan out, and Brian Orakpo is already declining and over 30. If I’m the Titans I bolster the defense here with the best player available that best fits their needs. Landry has to tools to disrupt the quarterback and give nightmares to offensive linemen.


26 – Atlanta Falcons

Pick: WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

Jay – This might be a slight reach, especially considering D.J. Moore is still on the board, but the Falcons’ offense is at its best with a dynamic slot receiver. Taylor Gabriel is gone, so they replace him with the best slot receiver in this draft class. If teams want to double Julio Jones, Matt Ryan and Christian Kirk will make them pay.


27 – New Orleans Saints

Pick: OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

Jeff – Now this guy definitely won’t help you tackle Stefon Diggs, but he’s a physical guy who can block with the best of them. I am not too concerned about his height (6’2 is short for an O-Lineman), as long as he can stay strong and agile and protect Brees in his later years.


28 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

Jay – Unfortunately, Ryan Shazier will not play this year. I hope that is not the case down the line, but the Steelers must replace his production. Evans is the closest thing they’ll get to Shazier at this point. He’s a physical inside linebacker, and he’s smart enough to take on the team leader role that Shazier held. He’s not like other recent Alabama linebackers (I hope I don’t regret saying that down the line).



Washington receives Picks 1.29, 4.129

Jacksonville receives Picks 2.44, 4.142, 2019 2nd Rd Pick

The Skins trade multiple 2nd Round picks to move up and get a guy that I admittedly had completely forgotten about.


29 – Washington Redskins (from Jacksonville)

Pick: DT Vita Vea, Washington

Jeff – So I think most of us forgot that Vea existed until I got my final pick. I decided that Washington may as well give up a little to get a player that is ranked well higher by many experts. Vea is a huge, physical presence who will stuff any runner that comes within arms reach.

Jay – I am human, so I make mistakes. I completely forgot about Vea. If I could have a do-over, I believe either the Chargers at 17, Seahawks at 18 or Lions at 20 would take him if given the chance. There’s no way he’ll get past the Lions.


30 – Minnesota Vikings

Pick: CB Mike Hughes, UCF

Jay – They have more pressing needs on offense, but Hughes could take over for the aging Terrance Newman and give the defense a whole lot more. He has some character concerns, but that shouldn’t be an issue with Mike Zimmer. He runs a pretty tight ship, and should be able to get the most out of Hughes. He’s a little undersized, and he’s still developing as a corner, but he could be a shutdown guy in a couple years time.


31 – Oakland Raiders (from New England)

Pick: DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan

Jay – Hurst was red flagged at the Combine by many teams for heart irregularities. That is a major concern. However, if he tested okay for the Raiders, he is exactly the kind of player they need. He has the most pass rushing potential of the defensive tackles in this class, and he would make life a whole lot easier for Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.


32 – Philadelphia Eagles

Pick: RB Sony Michel, Georgia

Jay – The Eagles have the luxury, given their deep roster, to take the best player available. Michel is electric with the ball in his hands, and while knee issues are a concern, that kind of thing has never stopped the Eagles from taking a risk on a player. If healthy, Michel is the ideal complement to Jay Ajayi, and would be a fantastic pick to conclude Round 1.

2018 NFL Mock Draft – Version 1.0

Did this year’s NFL Draft sneak up on anybody else? If just seeing this post shocked you, I have news, the Draft starts TOMORROW! Taking place in Dallas this year, the 1st Round is tomorrow night, with Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, and Rounds 4 through 7 on Saturday afternoon.

This is as intriguing a 1st Round of a Draft that I can ever remember. There are five major quarterback prospects… Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson (in no particular order). There are teams with picks in the Top-5 who are almost definitely going to take one of those guys. There are also plenty of teams outside the Top-5 who may look to trade up to grab them.

It’s a bit of a top heavy 1st Round, with about 12-14 guys who are considered blue chip prospects, and then a lot of guys that could make a big impact, but could just as easily be a bust.

For this mock draft, it’s a mix of what I think will happen and what I would do if I were picking for these teams. I have decided to predict some trades that may happen, I think I wind up with four trades in the 1st Round. I’ve also mocked the 2nd Round here as well.

Tomorrow afternoon, just a few hours prior to the Draft, I will have Version 2.0 of my NFL Mock Draft, where myself and my good friend Jeff Greco went back and forth picking for the teams in the 1st Round, so stay tuned for that.

Without any more discussion, here is Version 1.0 of We Love Sportz’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft!

1st Round

1 – Cleveland Browns

Team Needs: QB, OL, DB

Pick – QB Sam Darnold, USC

If you ask me, they should take the best player in the draft (Saquon Barkley) and see what QB is there when they pick again at #4. But they have the chance to get the QB they love the most, and they will. You can miss me with all the smokescreens too. Darnold probably has the highest floor of the QB prospects in this class, especially given he has no off-field concerns. He’ll benefit from sitting for a season behind Tyrod Taylor.


2 – New York Giants

Team Needs: DL, OL, RB

Pick – RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State

Taking Eli Manning’s eventual successor makes a lot of sense here. So does replacing Jason Pierre-Paul with the best D-Line prospect (Chubb). However, the Giants know they need to nail this pick, and Barkley is a superstar. The G-Men haven’t had a superstar at running back since Tiki Barber. Barkley will add a dynamic threat to an offense that struggled mightily at times last season.


3 – New York Jets (from Indianapolis)

Team Needs: QB, DL, OL

Pick – QB Josh Allen, Wyoming

This is going to be a quarterback. There’s no ifs, ands or buts. The Jets traded three 2nd Round picks (two this year, one in 2019) to move up three spots, ensuring them one of the top three QBs in the class. It’s hard to predict which one they’ll take, but Allen is your prototypical NFL quarterback as far as size and measurables go. He has the highest ceiling in this class, but also the most bust potential.


4 – Cleveland Browns (from Houston)

Team Needs: OL, DB, RB

Pick – EDGE Bradley Chubb, NC State

The Browns got this pick by trading back in last year’s 1st Round, with the Texans moving up to grab Deshaun Watson. After securing their quarterback of the future at #1, Cleveland finds themselves in a spot where they can give their team one of the most fearsome defensive lines in the league. Myles Garrett on one side, Bradley Chubb on the other. Roethlisberger, Flacco and Dalton could be in for a world of hurt if this comes to fruition.


5 – Denver Broncos

Team Needs: DB, OL, WR

Pick – QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma

The Broncos could replace Aqib Talib by taking the top cornerback in the class, or they could snag Quenton Nelson and add an impact player to a putrid offensive line. However, despite signing Case Keenum to a 2-year deal this offseason, taking a QB is still very much in the cards. Baker Mayfield could be a superstar in the NFL. He could also be a massive bust if he doesn’t change off the field. I think John Elway will be willing to take the risk.



We now have our first trade of the mock draft. The Colts are reportedly looking to move down again, in order to stockpile picks and go through a massive roster overhaul. That makes a ton of sense. Meanwhile, with three QBs off the board already, there should be teams looking to move up. The Bills have a ton of ammo and a major need at the position, so I believe they would be the team to make the move.

Trade Details:
Buffalo receives Picks 1.6 and 2.37
Indianapolis receives Picks 1.12 (via CIN), 1.22 (via KC) and 2.56

The Colts pick up another 1st Rounder, giving them two 1st’s and three 2nd’s in this draft. In order to get both of the Bills’ 1st Round picks, they move back 19 spots with one of their 2nd Round picks. This trade makes a lot of sense for both teams.


6 – Buffalo Bills (from NY Jets via Indianapolis)

Team Needs: QB, OL, WR

Pick – QB Josh Rosen, UCLA

In a perfect world, I think the Bills would move up to #2 and take whichever of Darnold or Allen are available after the Browns pick. I just don’t think the Giants trade down unless they get a king’s ransom. Instead, the Bills move up to #6 and grab who I believe is the best pure quarterback prospect in this class. There are off-field concerns around Rosen, as well as durability issues, but as far as playing football goes, there isn’t a better QB coming out in 2018. The Bills could comfortably start him right away, or let him sit behind AJ McCarron for a season.


7 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Team Needs: DB, RB, OL

Pick – S Derwin James, Florida State

It was a disappointing 2017 season for the Bucs, but I still do not think they are very far off from contending in the NFC. Running back is the biggest hole on their roster, but there are good prospects to be had there later on. Derwin James is a popular name right now, moving past Minkah Fitzpatrick on most boards. He’s a big, physical safety who will add a necessary punch to the back end of the Bucs’ defense.


8 – Chicago Bears

Team Needs: OL, DL, DB

Pick – OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame

I would like to go on record as saying that there is absolutely zero chance Quenton Nelson gets past the Bears at #8. It’s just the perfect draft pick. A future Hall of Fame offensive guard going to a team with a massive need on the offensive line and just happened to have signed the previously mentioned player’s offensive line coach from college. Nelson might be the best “football player” in this draft class. It would be a fabulous pick for the Bears if he lasts this long.


9 – San Francisco 49ers

Team Needs: DB, DL, OL

Pick – LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

After trading for Jimmy Garoppolo last season, the Niners were one of the best teams in football. Expectations are super high for them this upcoming season. In order to reach those expectations, they must improve on defense. While not one of their top needs, linebacker could become a hole on their roster, with the legal troubles of last year’s 1st Round pick Reuben Foster. Smith is a sideline-to-sideline thumper who can play inside or outside for the Niners.



I believe that another trade would occur here. I get the feeling that the Raiders love a few prospects that they don’t want to take this high. Meanwhile, there’s one more QB on the board that some teams may fall in love with, and the Dolphins at #11 have a need at the QB position. Rather than sit back and risk Miami making the plunge, I believe the Patriots would move up and get a player that they are reportedly very intrigued by, to eventually take over for Tom Brady.

Trade Details:
New England receives 1.10
Oakland receives 1.23, 2.43 (via SF), 3.95, 2019 5th Round Pick

In this scenario, rather than demand both of New England’s 1st Round picks, the Raiders are happy to pick up a second pick in both Rounds 2 and 3. They have a lot of holes on their roster to fill, and these days, any pick in the first three rounds is an expected starter. The future 5th Rounder is a throw-in to seal the deal. The Raiders won’t make a deal with their dreaded rivals for the appropriate value, they will have to overpay. The Patriots get to move up and get their guy while still holding on to their other 1st Rounder. A great trade for them.


10 – New England Patriots (from Oakland)

Team Needs: OL, DB, LB

Pick – QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Is this a little high for Jackson? Yeah, probably. But #10 was considered too high for Patrick Mahomes last year, but the Chiefs like him so much that they let Alex Smith walk. #12 was considered too high for Deshaun Watson last year, but I bet the Texans don’t regret that pick. Lamar Jackson could very easily be the next Michael Vick. The Pats can afford to groom him and let him learn some tricks from arguably the greatest QB to ever play the game. As a Patriots hater, I do not want them to get Lamar Jackson. I like him too much. But I do think it’s a very real possibility.


11 – Miami Dolphins

Team Needs: DL, LB, QB

Pick – DT Vita Vea, Washington

It would be mildly disappointing for the Dolphins to miss out on the top quarterbacks in this class, but they do still have Ryan Tannehill. He’s coming off an injury and he has yet to come close to his potential, but who knows what could happen this year. Rather than reach for a QB, the replace the departed Ndamukong Suh with another monster in Vea. The things that he can do at his size are extraordinary, and he won’t be a character issue like Suh was.


12 – Indianapolis Colts (from Cincinnati via Buffalo)

Team Needs: OL, DL, LB

Pick – LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech

I only listed three needs here, but outside of quarterback (assuming Andrew Luck is at least somewhat healthy), the Colts need to upgrade every position on the roster. They start with the uber-athletic Edmunds. He is one of, if not the, best pure athletes in this draft class. He played a lot of inside linebacker at VT, but NFL people think he projects best as an outside guy. The Colts need help inside and out, so Edmunds fits the bill.


13 – Washington Redskins

Team Needs: DL, LB, DB

Pick – CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State

The Skins think they are fairly set on offense, especially with Alex Smith replacing Kirk Cousins. They never appreciated Cousins like they should have. Anyway, their defense needs a lot of work. Luckily for them, with the way the board fell here, the top corner in the class falls right into their lap. Ward is a tad undersized at 5-10, but he has great ball skills and the speed necessary to keep up with NFL receivers. He’ll fit in nicely opposite Josh Norman.


14 – Green Bay Packers

Team Needs: DB, OL, LB

Pick – CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

It’s rare to see the Packers drafting this high, but it affords them a chance to add one of the top prospects in this class to a loaded roster. They could upgrade their protection for Aaron Rodgers, but the way the board has fallen, a player that many consider a Top-5 prospect is available, and I’d expect them to jump. The Packers have one great defensive back from Alabama, why not add another? Fitzpatrick can play all over the field, and Green Bay will do a great job maximizing his talents.


15 – Arizona Cardinals

Team Needs: QB, DB, OL

Pick – CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville

Cardinals’ fans cannot feel comfortable heading into this season with Sam Bradford as their starting QB, and I expect they’ll be involved in talks to move into the Top-10 to get one of the big QBs. I feel they’ll be outbid, so they’ll stay put and improve their defense instead. Their defensive backfield was very leaky last season, and Jaire Alexander would be a massive improvement at the cornerback position. He is undersized like Denzel Ward, but he is extremely quick and reactive. He ran a 4.38 40 at the combine.


16 – Baltimore Ravens

Team Needs: WR, LB, OL

Pick – WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

Ozzie Newsome loves Alabama players. John Harbaugh could use a #1 receiver. A match made in heaven. Despite the additions of John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead, the Ravens’ offense lacks a true star at the receiver position for Joe Flacco. Ridley has the potential to be that star. He is a lot like another Alabama receiver, Amari Cooper. Not super tall, not super quick, but a great route runner and very talented after the catch.


17 – Los Angeles Chargers

Team Needs: OL, DT, DB

Pick – OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame

The Chargers would love to see one of the class’s top safeties, Fitzpatrick or James, fall to them at #17, but I don’t see that happening. They’ll improve in the trenches with this pick instead. A pass-rushing defensive tackle would help out Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the edges, but they are still committed to Philip Rivers for at least one more season, so they should look to improve their poor offensive line. McGlinchey may not be good enough to move to left tackle, but he’ll be an above average right tackle for a long time in this league.


18 – Seattle Seahawks

Team Needs: DL, OL, TE

Pick – EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA

It seems kind of weird, but the Seahawks are going to be in a bit of a rebuilding mode this season. They are making a ton of changes on the defensive side of the ball, and could use some pass rushing help after losing Sheldon Richardson and trading Michael Bennett. Davenport is raw, but he has all the athletic traits necessary to be a premier pass rusher in the NFL.


19 – Dallas Cowboys

Team Needs: LB, WR, DB

Pick – WR D.J. Moore, Maryland

You can argue whether it was the right decision or not, but the Cowboys have moved on from the volatile Dez Bryant. That leaves them in desperate need for a #1 receiver for Dak Prescott. The defense has some needs, but they can be addressed later on. With Ridley off the board, I think there’s only one other potential #1 WR in this class, and that’s the rising Moore out of Maryland. Like his fellow Terrapin Stefon Diggs, Moore is a big body with great speed and above average hands. Diggs was a 5th Round pick, but would be a 1st Rounder in hindsight.


20 – Detroit Lions

Team Needs: DL, OL, RB

Pick – OG Will Hernandez, UTEP

The Lions’ defense was much improved last season, and they don’t have a lot of areas of need on that side of the ball. A defensive tackle or edge rushing depth could be the move here, but I think they should try to improve their run game early and often in this draft. It’s a deep running back class, so in the 1st Round, they can improve the middle of their offensive line. Hernandez is probably the nastiest offensive lineman in this class. He will help open up some holes for whoever is in the backfield with Matthew Stafford next season.


21 – Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo)

Team Needs: OL, WR, DB

Pick – OG/C James Daniels, Iowa

The Bengals traded back to this spot during the offseason, acquiring offensive tackle Cordy Glenn from the Bills along with this pick for the #12 pick in this year’s draft. The defense will go through some changes with DC Paul Guenther leaving to take the same position on Jon Gruden’s staff in Oakland. However, there are more pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball. Acquiring Glenn should not stop the Bengals from adding to their line, and Daniels is the best center in this class.


22 – Indianapolis Colts (from Kansas City via Buffalo)

Team Needs: OL, DL, LB

Pick – LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

In the scenario created here, the Colts move back to #12 and #22, and they double dip in the linebacker position. They have three 2nd Round picks, so they have the luxury to be able to do that. Their first pick, Tremaine Edmunds, projects as an outside linebacker, so the Colts scoop up Evans to man the inside. Many teams may have hesitation with Evans due to the recent history of Alabama linebackers, but Evans is as clean off the field as they get. And he’s really good on it.


23 – Oakland Raiders (from LA Rams via New England)

Team Needs: DT, LB, DB

Pick – OT Kolton Miller, UCLA

Yes, I just listed three defensive positions as the Raiders’ three biggest needs but have them taking an offensive tackle. Hear me out. Trading back gives them a few extra picks, so they can address the defense often in this draft. They are paying Derek Carr too much money not to protect him, they’ve been weak at right tackle for a while, and left tackle Donald Penn probably doesn’t have many years left. Miller is likely to be the best left tackle in this class, so Jon Gruden jumps all over him here.


24 – Carolina Panthers

Team Needs: DB, OL, WR

Pick – S Justin Reid, Stanford

I like the idea of the Panthers getting a top receiver or tight end to help out Cam Newton, but I don’t think there are any worth taking here. Instead, they plug a hole on their defense with the rising Reid out of Stanford. He projects as a better player than his brother Eric, who was also a late 1st Round pick. Justin has great size, speed and ball skills. He’s exactly what the back end of the Panthers’ defense needs.


25 – Tennessee Titans

Team Needs: DL, LB, WR

Pick – EDGE Harold Landry, Boston College

It was a fantastic season for the Tennessee Titans, and I believe that they are just a few pieces away from becoming real contenders in the AFC. They have some weaknesses in the front seven, and I expect them to use multiple picks early to address it. Landry was looking like a Top-10 pick before injuries derailed him last season. But if you look at him pre-injury, he shows the ability to be a double-digit sack guy on a regular basis in the NFL.


26 – Atlanta Falcons

Team Needs: DL, WR, TE

Pick – DT Taven Bryan, Florida

The Falcons, as long as they have Dan Quinn at the helm and Matt Ryan at quarterback, will be contenders in the NFC. I believe that affords them the opportunity to shoot for the moon with this pick. Defensive tackle is a major position of need for this team, and while there are players who will give better production from the get-go, there might not be a DT with a higher ceiling in this class than Bryan. He is still learning the position, but with Dan Quinn able to coach him up, he could end up being the best defensive player from this draft.


27 – New Orleans Saints

Team Needs: TE, QB, OL

Pick – TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

I guess part of me could see the Saints making a move up to take a QB-in-waiting behind Drew Brees. A lot of people would love to see Lamar Jackson end up in New Orleans. I think that could be a lot of fun as well. But I don’t see the Saints moving up as far as it would take to get him. Since trading Jimmy Graham, Brees has not had a reliable option at tight end. The Saints get him one here in Goedert, the small school tight end who can line up in the slot as a big wide receiver. He can be exactly what Jimmy Graham was to the Saints.


28 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Team Needs: LB, DB, WR

Pick – LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State

As long as Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are wearing the black and gold, the Steelers will be Super Bowl contenders. They have some holes on defense that they are likely to fill early in this draft. Vander Esch is somebody that experts believe could wind up as the best linebacker from this draft class. He can play inside or outside, and that versatility will be very attractive to Mike Tomlin and company.


29 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Team Needs: WR, OL, TE

Pick – OT/OG Connor Williams, Texas

The Jaguars were just a couple plays away from a trip to the Super Bowl last season. They re-signed Blake Bortles because they think they can win with him at QB. I think they’ll draft a developmental quarterback in this draft, but not this early. They can either get Bortles a weapon or help keep him upright. Connor Williams played left tackle at Texas, but he could start his NFL career inside at guard. The Jags will find a spot for him along their line.


30 – Minnesota Vikings

Team Needs: OL, DB, TE

Pick – OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia

The Vikings were just a win away from a trip to the Super Bowl last year, and they just replaced Case Keenum with Kirk Cousins. Most people will pick the Eagles to repeat as NFC champs, but I believe that the Vikings should be the favorites. Dalvin Cook will return healthy, and to help him out, the Vikings grab Wynn, who can slot in all across the line. He’s a little short for tackle, but he’s a super-athletic guard. He’ll open up plenty of running lanes for Cook.



Trade #3 of the 1st Round happens right here, with the Cardinals moving up to the back end of the 1st Round to grab a QB after missing out on one of the Top-5 passers.

Trade Details:
Arizona receives 1.31
New England receives 2.47, 3.79

The Pats gave up a 2nd and a 3rd to move from 23 to 10 in the 1st Round, so they recoup those picks by giving up their other 1st Rounder. The Cardinals give up their picks in those rounds in an effort to get two impact players in the 1st Round. A fair trade-off.


31 – Arizona Cardinals (from New England)

Team Needs: QB, DB, OL

Pick – QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

After the first five quarterbacks, number six is a gunslinger out of Stillwater named Mason Rudolph. He did not play in a pro-style offense at Oklahoma State, but that has not always been a negative. He’s a big kid with a big arm, and he can learn some things from Sam Bradford. The hope here is that Bradford stays healthy enough to give Rudolph the developmental year that he needs.



A lot of years we see some late trades in the 1st Round, most often so teams can go grab a slipping prospect or a quarterback that they don’t want to wait for. I believe we get one more trade here, but this time, it’s for a player with some medical red flags that could be one of the biggest steals of this draft if the health stays in check.

Trade Details:
Oakland receives 1.32
Philadelphia receives 2.41, 3.95 (via NE)

The Eagles do not have picks in the 2nd or 3rd Rounds this year, but with a lot of solid prospects to be available in those rounds, they’ll happily trade this pick at the end of the 1st. Meanwhile, the Raiders give up their own 2nd Rounder and the 3rd they picked up in the earlier trade with New England.


32 – Oakland Raiders (from Philadelphia)

Team Needs: DT, LB, DB

Pick – DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan

At the NFL Combine, Hurst was red flagged by a lot of teams for some irregularities with his heart. That will surely scare some teams off. However, the Raiders have such a need for a pass rushing defensive tackle that they should be willing to move up to grab this guy. A risk, certainly, but one worth taking. Hurst has incredible get-off at the snap, and while he is a little undersized, he has the most pass rushing potential among the defensive tackles in this draft class.


2nd Round

*Picks in Bold are based on trades that occurred in my mock draft*

  1. Cleveland Browns – RB Derrius Guice, LSU
  2. New York Giants – OT Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh
  3. Cleveland Browns (from Houston) – CB Mike Hughes, UCF
  4. Indianapolis Colts (from NY Jets) – C/OG Billy Price, Ohio State
  5. Buffalo Bills (from Indianapolis) – S Ronnie Harrison, Alabama
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – RB Sony Michel, Georgia
  7. Chicago Bears – EDGE Lorenzo Carter, Georgia
  8. Denver Broncos – CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (from Oakland) – DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
  10. Miami Dolphins – TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
  11. Oakland Raiders (from San Francisco via New England) – RB Ronald Jones II, USC
  12. Washington Redskins – RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn
  13. Green Bay Packers – EDGE Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
  14. Cincinnati Bengals – CB Donte Jackson, LSU
  15. New England Patriots (from Arizona) – CB/S M.J. Stewart, North Carolina
  16. Los Angeles Chargers – S Jessie Bates III, Wake Forest
  17. Indianapolis Colts (from Seattle) – WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
  18. Dallas Cowboys – TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State
  19. Detroit Lions – DT Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
  20. Baltimore Ravens – C/OG Frank Ragnow, Arkansas
  21. Buffalo Bills – WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
  22. Kansas City Chiefs – CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
  23. Carolina Panthers – CB Anthony Averett, Alabama
  24. Indianapolis Colts (from LA Rams via Buffalo) – OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma
  25. Tennessee Titans – DT Poona Ford, Texas
  26. Atlanta Falcons – WR D.J. Chark, LSU
  27. San Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans) – TE Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
  28. Pittsburgh Steelers – WR Daesean Hamilton, Penn State
  29. Jacksonville Jaguars – QB Luke Falk, Washington State
  30. Minnesota Vikings – CB Carlton Davis, Auburn
  31. New England Patriots – EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma
  32. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia) – OT Geron Christian, Louisville

NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0: 4/27/17

It’s here! Months of anticipation, and the 2017 NFL Draft will finally take place from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, made famous in the Rocky movies. The Draft will kickoff in just under three hours, and I am here with your 1st Round primer just in the nick of time!

This is less a mock draft, and more a look at what I believe teams will do tonight. I have it broken into three sections. First, what the team is most likely to do. Second, an alternative option that is probably also very likely. Third and finally, a sleeper option that a lot of people may not expect, but options that make a lot of sense for the teams involved.

Keep this pulled up as you watch the Draft tonight, see how many I hit on and ridicule me when I’m dead wrong! We’ll start with the Cleveland Browns and the #1 overall pick. The Browns are on the clock!


1 – Cleveland Browns

Most Likely: I cannot stress this enough Cleveland, please take Myles Garrett with this pick and STOP THINKING ABOUT IT! This is as slam dunk a pick at #1 overall as there has been in recent memory, probably since Andrew Luck to the Colts. This would be the Brownsiest thing the Browns have ever done if they take anyone other than Garrett.

Alternative Option: While I know I said they have to take Garrett or else face the mightiest of ridicule from just about everybody in football, it’s no secret that this league is driven by the quarterback position, so if the Browns convince themselves that Mitchell Trubisky or Deshaun Watson are going to be the QB that can turn this franchise around, then I guess it’s possible that they go quarterback with this pick.

Sleeper: There’s no way this pick is anything other than Garrett or Trubisky, but I think the Browns will stay open to a possible trade up until they make their selection. If some team makes them an offer they can’t refuse, I could see them making that move.


2 – San Francisco 49ers

Most Likely: This will be the first pick of the John Lynch era, and being a defensive player himself, I think it’s likely that the Niners will address the defense. Solomon Thomas is the player getting the most buzz for this pick, and Jamal Adams, who a lot of people believe is the second best player in this class behind Garrett, is also a possibility.

Alternative Option: Based on what I’ve read, it is looking like the 49ers will keep this pick, but they have been very much open to trading down, and I still believe that getting out of the #2 spot is their ideal scenario. If a team is in love with somebody not named Myles Garrett, I think the talent-starved Niners would be wise to accumulate some extra picks.

Sleeper: Leonard Fournette has been mocked to the Niners by some people, but I’m not sure if there are many in the know who believe this is a real possibility. Carlos Hyde is a talented back, but he has dealt with a ton of injuries during his time in San Francisco. If Lynch wants to make a splash with his first draft pick, Fournette could be that pick.


3 – Chicago Bears

Most Likely: Like the Niners, most expect the Bears to go defense with this pick, and there are a number of ways they could go. Whoever they would take here defensively would be an upgrade over what they have on their roster going into the Draft. I think the secondary is the area they are most likely to address with this pick, with safeties Adams and Malik Hooker or cornerback Marshon Lattimore the guys most likely to go off the board here.

Alternative Option: If they don’t go with a defensive back, improving along the D-Line is the next best option. If Thomas would slip past San Fran, I could see the Bears scooping him up. If he’s not available, Alabama DT Jonathan Allen would probably be next on their board. He’s versatile, and can really get after the quarterback. He’d be a fine pick.

Sleeper: You’re going to see me discuss a lot of trade scenarios here, and while the Bears have not been discussed heavily as a team likely to trade back, there could be a team looking to move up ahead of Jacksonville to grab Fournette or a quarterback.


4 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Most Likely: The Jags spent a lot of money this offseason to improve their defense, so the overwhelming belief is that they will go offense with this first pick, but I believe that’s only true if Leonard Fournette is available. If the Niners don’t take Fournette, the Jags will just have to hope a team doesn’t move ahead of them, and they’ll add Fournette to take some pressure off of Blake Bortles.

Alternative Option: Despite a free agency spending spree that focused on defense, they could certainly stand to add some more talent on that side of the ball. Jonathan Allen would be a great addition to the D-Line, while they are also rumored to really like Solomon Thomas if he would be available here.

Sleeper: I mentioned Blake Bortles before, and the jury is still out on whether he can be the QB to lead the next successful Jaguar team. The team has yet to pick up the 5th year option on his contract, meaning that they could be prepared to move on from him after this year. If that’s where they stand, I could see them shocking a lot of people and taking Trubisky or Watson with this pick.


5 – Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams)

Most Likely: I truly believe that the most likely option here for the Titans, who acquired this pick for the #1 overall pick last season, is to trade back with a team looking to jump ahead of the Jets to take either Trubisky or Watson (I’m looking at you Cleveland). They have two 1st Round picks, and have made it well known that they’d love to trade down and get back into the 2nd Round, after giving up their 2nd Rounder this year during the 2016 Draft.

Alternative Option: If they stay put at #5, they will probably look to go defense, as it’s possible that at least two of Allen, Lattimore, Adams and Hooker will be available to them. They could really use an upgrade at the cornerback position after cutting Jason McCourty, so I think Lattimore is the guy that would make the most sense.

Sleeper: With Marcus Mariota at the helm, the Titans’ offense is ready to join the ranks of the elite offenses in this league. For that reason, they could look to add another weapon with this pick. Early on in the pre-draft process, it was looking like Mike Williams or Corey Davis would be the ones the Titans could take here, but don’t be surprised if Alabama TE O.J. Howard comes off the board at #5 to Tennessee.


6 – New York Jets

Most Likely: The Jets are a team very far away from playoff contention in my opinion, and I think they are actually in a good spot to go with the best player available, regardless of position. In the middle of the Top-10, it’s looking like that’s likely to be a defensive player, with Jamal Adams, Marshon Lattimore, and Malik Hooker the players that have a chance to be available here. That would be fine with the Jets, as their secondary needs a ton of improvement.

Alternative Option: This could be a spot for a team to move up to get the player they covet, and the Jets have made it no secret that they are willing to field offers for this pick. If they aren’t in love with any of the players available, they’d be wise to trade back and accumulate some extra picks.

Sleeper: The Jets obviously think Bryce Petty could be their starting quarterback, and they took Christian Hackenberg in the 2nd Round last year, so they could be looking to give him a shot, but I think there’s a chance they could take a quarterback with this pick. I think Trubisky could be off the board by this point, but they could look at Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes as well.


7 – Los Angeles Chargers

Most Likely: The Chargers are another team that should be looking to improve their defense with this pick, and the secondary is the weakest unit on that side of the ball. I think the Chargers would sprint to the podium if Jamal Adams falls this far, but they’d be okay with Malik Hooker as well. They really missed Eric Weddle last year, so the best case scenario would be to get one of the two top safeties in this class.

Alternative Option: The defensive line had its struggles last season as well, outside of last year’s #3 overall pick Joey Bosa. There’s a chance Jonathan Allen could fall here, and I’d expect the Chargers to heavily consider him if that happens. Solomon Thomas is more of a pipe dream, but I’d fully expect him to be the pick if he’s available at #7.

Sleeper: Philip Rivers isn’t getting any younger, so this is another potential landing spot for a QB. If they really love the potential of a Mahomes, Watson or Kizer, they could use this pick to grab them and have them learn the system for a season or two behind Rivers.


8 – Carolina Panthers

Most Likely: If you would have asked me about what I thought the Panthers would do here as recent as a couple weeks ago, I would have told you something way different than what I’m about to. Christian McCaffrey to the Panthers is the popular pick as we inch closer and closer to the Draft, and I think it has gotten to the point where I’ll be shocked if anything else happens here.

Alternative Option: Panthers’ GM Dave Gettleman loves his linemen, so making an addition to their depth on the defensive line is certainly another way they could go. If Allen or Thomas would fall to here, I’d expect the Panthers to heavily consider either of those guys. Derek Barnett is another potential D-Lineman that they could go with here.

Sleeper: It is unlikely that Leonard Fournette will be available at #8, but if he is, I believe they would choose him over McCaffrey or a defensive player. I could also see them making the move to go up and get Fournette in the Top-5, because he fits their offense perfectly.


9 – Cincinnati Bengals

Most Likely: It’s looking more and more like this is the spot where we’re going to see our first linebacker come off the board. Haason Reddick is gaining a lot of steam in draft circles, and he would fill a need perfectly for the Bengals. Reuben Foster is another option, as long as they are okay with his medicals and his attitude.

Alternative Option: If not a linebacker, defensive end would be the spot I’d expect them to look, with Derek Barnett being the most likely option. I doubt Solomon Thomas gets here, but I believe they’d take him if he did. Taco Charlton could be another option, but they would probably look to trade down if they coveted him.

Sleeper: The Bengals spent a 2nd Round pick on Tyler Boyd last season, but when A.J. Green was hurt, wide receiver became a weak position for them. They are likely to have their pick of the litter if they go receiver here, with Mike Williams and Corey Davis being the probable targets.


10 – Buffalo Bills

Most Likely: Speaking of pass catchers, I get the feeling that the Bills are most likely to address that part of their offense with this selection. Williams and Davis are again likely choices, but I think tight end O.J. Howard would bring the most to this Bills offense, and I think he’s the guy they will probably choose if they keep this pick.

Alternative Option: I could see the Bills trading up or down from this pick, but they’ve made it known that they would like to move down and get an extra pick or two later in the draft. I’m not sure what team would move up to here, but the Bills will be motivated to trade this pick if possible.

Sleeper: They brought back Tyrod Taylor, but I could see this as another landing spot for one of the top quarterbacks. Bills’ brass is rumored to love Deshaun Watson, so if that’s true, I could easily see them going that route.


11 – New Orleans Saints

Most Likely: With Drew Brees still under center, the Saints are again going to have a terrific offense. That is why they are most likely to go defense with this pick, and I think they will go front seven with this pick. Derek Barnett, Haason Reddick and Reuben Foster are the guys I would expect them to be choosing from if available

Alternative Option: They have needs all over their defense though, so secondary is certainly an option as well, more specifically at cornerback. If Lattimore would fall, the Saints could scoop him up. I believe they’ll also consider guys like Tre’Davious White, Marlon Humphrey and Gareon Conley (as long as they are comfortable with his potential off-field issues) are possibilities.

Sleeper: There are a lot of teams who could take a quarterback in the 1st Round this year either due to struggles or aging. The Saints fall under the latter category. They could very easily draft a developmental quarterback to learn under a sure-fire Hall of Famer like Drew Brees.


12 – Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Most Likely: The Browns got this pick as part of the package for the #2 overall pick last year. That pick was Carson Wentz, and I think the Browns will try to use this pick to go back up into the Top-10 and get Mitchell Trubisky. It is rumored that they’ve had discussions with at least four teams in the Top-10 about potentially trading up, and it makes all the sense in the world.

Alternative Option: If they keep this pick, I am to assume that they would have taken Myles Garrett #1 overall, which would lead me to believe they go offense here. Mike Williams, Corey Davis or O.J. Howard would be the most likely choices, with John Ross or a falling Christian McCaffrey also possibilities.

Sleeper: Joe Haden really struggled last season, and opposing offenses had a field day throwing against the Browns’ secondary. They could double down on 1st Round defenders and go with a Lattimore, Adams or Hooker if they fell. I don’t think they’d do it unless one of those three were available though.


13 – Arizona Cardinals

Most Likely: The early teens seems like the linebacker sweet spot, as everything I’m seeing leads me to believe the Cardinals are most likely to go linebacker in this spot. Reddick or Foster are the usual suspects, with Jarrad Davis being a reach, but a possibility. They could also look for an edge rusher like Charlton or Takkarist McKinley.

Alternative Option: If they want to make one last run at a title with Carson Palmer at QB, getting him a receiver to play opposite Larry Fitzgerald would be a smart move. Williams, Davis or John Ross would all be solid picks at this spot.

Sleeper: Another team with an aging quarterback, I’ve felt all along that DeShone Kizer and Bruce Arians are a match made in heaven, and if the Cards go quarterback here, I still, despite evidence to the contrary, believe Kizer is the one they’d go for.


14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Most Likely: There are a number of ways the Eagles could go with this pick, but I think addressing the cornerback position appears to be the best bet. If they are comfortable with Gareon Conley’s off-field issues, it has been said that they really like him as far as on-field goes, so I could see them taking him. Marlon Humphrey is another likely choice.

Alternative Option: Their pipe dream would be for Christian McCaffrey to fall here, and I could see them entertaining the idea of moving up to get him, but I think they stay put, and getting an offensive playmaker is an option. They are known to like John Ross and Dalvin Cook, while Corey Davis and Mike Williams are also certainly potential picks for the Eagles.

Sleeper: Connor Barwin struggled at times last year, so I could see the Eagles trying to improve their pass rush with this pick. Derek Barnett is the most likely choice, but I could see them taking a guy like Taco Charlton as well if available. I won’t rule out Haason Reddick either if he falls to them.


15 – Indianapolis Colts

Most Likely: It’s a very weak offensive line class, but the Colts need to do a better job protecting their franchise quarterback, so being able to potentially grab one of the top offensive linemen in this class should be too good to pass up. Some think it’s Cam Robinson, others Ryan Ramczyk. Some like Garret Bolles, while Forrest Lamp has gotten some buzz as well. Regardless, I think it’s most likely one of those guys ends up in Indianapolis.

Alternative Option: If they don’t go offensive line, I would expect them to move to the other side of the ball and make an addition to their front seven. Haason Reddick is again a possibility, as are pass rushers Derek Barnett and Takkarist McKinley.

Sleeper: There is word today that the Colts are talking to teams in an attempt to move up into the Top-10, and their reported target if they do that would be Christian McCaffrey. Frank Gore won’t play much longer, so it makes sense that they would covet a player like McCaffrey.


16 – Baltimore Ravens

Most Likely: I had trouble trying to figure out what this team is most likely to look for with the 16th pick in the 1st Round, but I settled on getting Joe Flacco some help offensively with a playmaker. I think Mike Williams would be their ideal pick, but John Ross would be another good option.

Alternative Option: They have plenty of needs on the defensive side of the ball too, so I could easily see them going that route. Infusing some youth on the edge is where I think they’d go, with Barnett and McKinley, as well as Taco Charlton and Charles Harris being potential targets there.

Sleeper: While I mentioned that it is a weak offensive line class, Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome loves to draft linemen, and they lost Ricky Wagner and Jeremy Zuttah this offseason. Cam Robinson to the Ravens has been mocked by a few experts, so don’t be surprised if that happens on Thursday night.


17 – Washington Redskins

Most Likely: The Redskins are mostly set on offense, so I expect them to focus on defense early in this draft. Linebacker is their weakest position on defense, so I think that would be their main focus with this pick. I doubt Haason Reddick would get past them here, and Reuben Foster is another option if he is falling. If those two are taken, Jarrad Davis could be the pick. There’s another rumor floating around that they are enamored with the potential that Jabrill Peppers has. That could be an option as well.

Alternative Option: There’s been a lot of talk about the Skins looking to trade back in the 1st Round, and that makes sense for a team very talent starved on the defensive side. If a QB is falling, maybe a team jumps up into this range to grab them.

Sleeper: I said they are mostly set on offense, but they could use an upgrade in the backfield to take some pressure off of Kirk Cousins. If Christian McCaffrey slips to them, I believe they would think long and hard about him. Dalvin Cook is another possibility, and he is likely to be available.


18 – Tennessee Titans

Most Likely: The Titans are a good team that could move into great team territory with two 1st Round picks this year. I mentioned that their most likely option at #5 is to trade back into the early teens, so if that happens, it all depends what they do with that pick in order to determine what they do here. I think this ends up being the offensive pick for them, with players like Mike Williams, John Ross, Corey Davis and tight end David Njoku likely being the selection.

Alternative Option: If they would go offense with their first pick, I’d expect them to address the secondary with this pick. Marlon Humphrey and Tre’Davious White are a couple corners that I believe they’d be interested in here, and it wouldn’t shock me to see them take a versatile weapon like Jabrill Peppers.

Sleeper: There’s a good chance the Titans move back from #5, and they moved back from the #1 overall pick last year, so why not move back again? They could go from no 2nd Round picks to two or three 2nd Rounders with another trade back.


19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Most Likely: Dalvin Cook. It’s as simple as that. Some teams are concerned about Cook off the field, specifically the people that he surrounds himself with, but his college coach Jimbo Fisher says that Cook is one of the hardest working players he’s ever coached. The talent is evident as well. The Bucs’ running back situation is very cloudy, so Cook makes a whole lot of sense. It might be concerning to keep him in Florida, but for a team ready to fight for a playoff spot, it’s worth the risk.

Alternative Option: If they don’t go running back, I think their next best option is to get Jameis Winston another talented pass catcher. David Njoku would be who I believe best fits what they need, as he would immediately be an upgrade over Cameron Brate. If Mike Williams is still available though, I could definitely see them taking him to line up on the opposite side of Mike Evans. That would be a heck of a 1-2 punch at wide receiver. Who do you double-team?

Sleeper: Most experts believe the Bucs will go offense in the 1st Round, but they could use some upgrades on the other side of the ball as well. Grabbing a linebacker like Reddick or Foster is a possibility, and Derek Barnett would be a great pick if he fell to #19.


20 – Denver Broncos

Most Likely: Denver really needs to upgrade their offensive line, and they are in a good spot to do that here at #20, as they can take an offensive lineman and not be reaching for it. They’ve had a few of the top prospects in for visits, including Garret Bolles and Ryan Ramczyk. Cam Robinson could be enticing as well. I don’t think they take Forrest Lamp, only because he projects as a guard, and they really need the help at left and right tackle.

Alternative Option: With DeMarcus Ware’s retirement, the Broncos need to address the pass rush opposite Von Miller at some point in this draft. There are a number of talented pass rushers, including Charles Harris, Taco Charlton, Derek Barnett and Takkarist McKinley that could be potential choices at #20.

Sleeper: There have been reports today leading up to the start of the Draft that the Broncos are a team looking to trade up. Their likely target is unknown, but the speculation is that they love Christian McCaffrey, and besides the fact that he’s an extremely talented player, the family connection is right there, as his dad Ed won a couple Super Bowls with the Broncos.


21 – Detroit Lions

Most Likely: This 1st Round could be one of the most unpredictable in recent memory, but one team that appears to be taking one of a few specific players, rather than a position, is the Lions. I believe they are most likely to take Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with this pick. The Lions struggled at linebacker last season, and they released their best one, DeAndre Levy, this offseason. Davis makes sense for the Lions for a whole lot of reason.

Alternative Option: Those that don’t have the Lions taking Jarrad Davis have them going offense and taking Miami tight end David Njoku. The Lions drafted Eric Ebron #10 overall a few years back with the idea that he would become one of the top pass catching tight ends in the league. It’s safe to say that Ebron has been a bust thus far, so adding a tight end who plays a similar style to Ebron coming out of college would be the Lions hitting the reset button and trying again. And if you’ve watched Ebron play, you certainly wouldn’t blame them.

Sleeper: It’s not a pressing need, but I could definitely see the Lions adding to their depth at the cornerback position. Their top two played extremely well last season, but if they get hurt, there is next-to-nothing behind them. Quincy Wilson makes a lot of sense, as he has the ability to play inside or outside. This would probably be a slight reach if they took him, but he fits what they’re looking for.


22 – Miami Dolphins

Most Likely: I fully expect the Dolphins to upgrade their offensive line with this pick, and Forrest Lamp is the guy that I believe they would target. They’re most pressing need on the line is inside at guard, and that is where Lamp, who many experts believe is the most talented offensive lineman in this class, projects best in the pros. If the Dolphins prefer a tackle prospect, Cam Robinson or Garret Bolles make sense.

Alternative Option: The weakest position on the defensive side of the ball for the Fins last year was linebacker, so it’s certainly possible that they’d look for an upgrade there with this pick. Jarrad Davis makes sense, as does Zach Cunningham from Vanderbilt.

Sleeper: I haven’t seen many mocks with the Dolphins taking a cornerback or safety, but I believe they could stand to improve at both of those positions. Marlon Humphrey is like a better Byron Maxwell, so that appears to be a fit. I think they could consider UConn safety Obi Melifonwu or Jabrill Peppers in this spot as well.


23 – New York Giants

Most Likely: This is another team that is likely to address their poor offensive line. The Giants would love to see one of Garret Bolles, Cam Robinson and Ryan Ramczyk available with this pick. I truly believe they would take any of those three guys if available.

Alternative Option: Another popular pick among mock drafts for the Giants is David Njoku. Will Tye is not a starting tight end in this league, and a threat at tight end is exactly what this offense needs to become nearly unstoppable after adding Brandon Marshall in free agency. Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram has been gaining some 1st Round buzz, and I think this is a spot where he could go.

Sleeper: Eli Manning is not only getting older, but he’s dealing with some off-field issues as well right now (alleged to be part of a fake memorabilia scheme). Don’t be surprised if the Giants snatch a QB like Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson if they see a Draft Day slide.


24 – Oakland Raiders

Most Likely: The Raiders got their man in Marshawn Lynch, so they can really focus on defense early and often in this draft. Linebacker is the weakest position on the roster, and even though GM Reggie McKenzie has not drafted a linebacker before the 4th Round during his tenure with the Raiders, now is the time to get a potential star at that position. I believe this is the floor for Reuben Foster if he slides, while Jarrad Davis and Zach Cunningham are the other two guys I would expect the Raiders to take if available.

Alternative Option: There are lots of holes in the Raiders’ defense, so if they choose not to go linebacker, getting a cornerback or defensive tackle are options as well. Kevin King or Gareon Conley (if they are okay with his off-field issues) would be good picks at corner, and Malik McDowell, while a risk, could turn out to be a great defensive tackle in this league.

Sleeper: If any of the top quarterbacks fall in the 1st Round, the Raiders could be sitting in the sweet spot for a trade back. The Texans are expected to take a QB early, and they pick next. There are no shortage of teams picking late in the 1st (Kansas City, Pittsburgh, New Orleans) or early in the 2nd (San Francisco, Chicago, NY Jets, Jacksonville) who could look to move ahead of the Texans to grab a Mahomes or Watson.


25 – Houston Texans

Most Likely: The most likely scenario for the Texans is to take a quarterback. This team is ready to compete for a Super Bowl, and the only thing they are missing is a QB. They will probably pray that Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson is available here, but I could see them taking DeShone Kizer as well.

Alternative Option: If the top QB’s are all off the board, the Texans could look to improve their offensive line while drafting a developmental quarterback in one of the next couple rounds. Forrest Lamp or Garret Bolles would be great picks here late in the 1st Round.

Sleeper: The Texans lost A.J. Bouye to Jacksonville in free agency, so I could see them using their 1st Round pick to replace him. I think they would target a guy like Quincy Wilson or Kevin King if they go that route.


26 – Seattle Seahawks

Most Likely: There’s a common theme among teams picking in the 20’s, and that is their need to upgrade along the offensive line. Unfortunately, there are only four offensive linemen in this class that are worthy of being 1st Round picks. I believe the Seahawks would pounce if Cam Robinson lasts this long, but Garret Bolles and Ryan Ramczyk would be good picks for them as well.

Alternative Option: Seattle would love to trade out of this spot, and there are already rumors that they are planning a swap with the Atlanta Falcons that would give Seattle an additional 4th Round pick. So look for the Seahawks to trade out of this pick.

Sleeper: The Seahawks have been shopping Richard Sherman this offseason, so they could look to add his potential replacement at corner with this pick. Kevin King is a hometown guy, and he fits their defense perfectly.


27 – Kansas City Chiefs

Most Likely: Derrick Johnson suffered an achilles injury near the end of last season, and their defense suffered mightily without him. He could never be the same guy, and he’s getting up there in age anyway, so I expect the Chiefs to go linebacker with this pick. I think they’d love if Jarrad Davis fell this far, but Zach Cunningham is the more likely selection.

Alternative Option: Can Alex Smith be a Super Bowl winning quarterback? I don’t think so, and I think there are people within the Chiefs’ organization who feel the same way. If Patrick Mahomes is available here, I think the Chiefs take him.

Sleeper: Marcus Peters is one of the top cornerbacks in the league, but they could use an upgrade on the other side of the field. Kevin King, Marlon Humphrey and Tre’Davious White are all potential picks for KC.


28 – Dallas Cowboys

Most Likely: The Cowboys always seem to be tough to predict, and that is even more difficult this year given the uncertainty all across the 1st Round. I think Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett will look to upgrade the secondary, and it might be a reach, but USC corner Adoree’ Jackson just seems like the type of prospect the Cowboys would take here.

Alternative Option: If they don’t address the secondary, I think they’ll look to upgrade the pass rush, and Taco Charlton would be a slam dunk pick if he lasts this long.

Sleeper: I said that Dallas was most likely to upgrade their secondary, and a player that hasn’t been mocked to them by many, but that I believe they would love to have, is Jabrill Peppers. I think Garrett and D-Coordinator Rod Marinelli would figure out exactly how to use him.


29 – Green Bay Packers

Most Likely: T.J. Watt. This is another player-team combo that I feel really good about happening. The Packers need to improve on the edge, and Watt played at Wisconsin, just like brother J.J. It almost seems to perfect to actually happen, but I think it does.

Alternative Option: I like the idea of the Packers improving in the secondary, especially after losing Micah Hyde in free agency. Tre’Davious White and Adoree’ Jackson make a lot of sense for Green Bay if they are available.

Sleeper: They can’t really go into the season with Ty Montgomery as their starting running back, can they? If Dalvin Cook slides, I could see the Packers being a nice landing spot for him. Joe Mixon and Alvin Kamara are getting some 1st Round buzz, so they could be options as well.


30 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Most Likely: For a second consecutive season, I expect the Steelers to use their 1st Round pick to upgrade their secondary. I think safety makes the most sense, with Jabrill Peppers being a fantastic pick if he’s available. Obi Melifonwu and Budda Baker are options as well.

Alternative Option: The Steelers would like to upgrade their pass rush as well, as James Harrison can’t possibly play very much longer, and Jarvis Jones left in free agency this past offseason. Taco or Takkarist could be options, as could T.J. Watt if he gets past the Packers.

Sleeper: Ben Roethlisberger contemplated retirement this offseason, so it’s definitely possible that they could look to draft his eventual successor. DeShone Kizer has drawn comparisons to Roethlisberger, so I like that pick a lot.


31 – Atlanta Falcons

Most Likely: I mentioned that the Falcons have had discussions with the Seahawks already about moving up in the draft, so I think it’s very likely that they make that move. They’ve made it known that they want to improve their pass rush, and it’s believed that Missouri outside linebacker Charles Harris is their target.

Alternative Option: I believe they could stay put and still have a chance to get Harris. Another pick that has been popular in mock drafts is Jordan Willis from Kansas State. Most scouts have him as a 2nd-3rd Round talent, but he has been gaining steam as a potential 1st Rounder.

Sleeper: I could see the Falcons adding an offensive lineman here as well if any of the top four guys (Bolles, Ramczyk, Robinson or Lamp) falls to them here.


32 – New Orleans Saints (from New England)

Rather than tell you what the Saints might do with their second pick in the 1st Round in the fashion I have with the other picks, I’ll tell you what I think they’ll do based on what they might do with their first pick.

D-Line at #11: If the Saints go with an edge player at #11, I think they’ll look to upgrade their secondary here, with a number of talented safeties likely to be available here. Tre’Davious White or Quincy Wilson at corner are options as well. They could also go wide receiver here if John Ross or Corey Davis would fall.

Linebacker at #11: Same as above, but throw in edge rushers like Takkarist McKinley, Taco Charlton and Jordan Willis as possibilities.

Secondary at #11: They will likely go edge rusher or wide receiver here if they grab a corner or safety with their first pick.

NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0: 4/25/17

As I type this, we are less than 48 hours away from the start of the 2017 NFL Draft! The schedule for next season was released last week, and now all attention will be focused on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, for this year’s highly anticipated draft!

Last week I revealed the first version of my mock draft, which was a look at who I believe the teams should take in the 1st Round on Thursday. For this, Version 2.0, I have THREE rounds of picks, looking at what I think will transpire come Thursday and Friday. First, some specifics:

  • Picks are listed in a “Round.Overall Pick” fashion. For example, when you see “1.14” that means it is the 1st Round, overall pick #14.
  • I have decided to include trades in this mock. Trying to predict trades is nearly impossible, but trades will happen, they always do, so I gave it a shot to see which teams could look to move up or down, and what they’ll be doing with their new picks if/when the trades occur.
  • This mock was done over the course of a few days, so some picks were made prior to some news being released about some players. I have provided additional insight where those players fell in my mock.

I will have one more version of my mock draft that will be posted Thursday morning in advance of the start of the draft, and that edition will be less like a mock draft, and more like a draft primer, looking at each team in the first round, what they are most likely to do, as well as some alternative options.

Without any further delay, here is Version 2.0 of We Love Sportz’s 2017 NFL Mock Draft!

Round 1 


1.1 – Cleveland Browns

Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Do the smart thing Cleveland, please, do the smart thing for once and just take Garrett here. Quit messing around with the idea of taking Trubisky here, and don’t be stupid just this one time. You might still have a chance to get your quarterback, so stick to your board and take the top player. That player is Garrett.


1.2 – San Francisco 49ers

Pick: Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

It is well known that the Niners would love to trade back from this spot, but I struggle to see them getting an offer that they feel is worth the #2 overall pick. Because of that, I think they will stay put and draft a defensive lineman in the 1st Round for the third straight season (2015-Arik Armstead 1.17, 2016-DeForest Buckner 1.7). If a team would trade up here, I see Carolina, Arizona or Buffalo as the teams interested.


1.3 – Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)

Trade Details: Carolina gets 1.3; Chicago gets 1.8, 2.40, 2.64, Future 6th Rd Pick

Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

There are two players that the Jaguars, picking next, covet most according to rumors, and they are Thomas and Fournette. I believe that these two players are likely at the top of the Panthers’ board as well. This is a big price to pay, as the Panthers will now be without another pick until the end of the 3rd Round, but I think it’s worth it to get the best running back in the class, one that fits what the Panthers want to do perfectly. An alternative trade package would be 1.8, 2.40 and next year’s 2nd Round pick, but the Panthers are already without a 4th next year, so I don’t see them wanting to already be down to five picks in next year’s draft.


1.4 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama

The Jags get stuck here, as their top two options go off the board. They’ll listen to trade offers, but won’t get one to their liking, so they’ll stay put and grab another versatile defensive lineman to go with Malik Jackson and Calais Campbell. I feel you can never have too many talented players in the trenches. Allen would give the Jags one of, if not the, best defensive lines in the NFL.


1.5 – Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee via LA Rams)

Trade Details: Cleveland gets 1.5, 3.100, 2018 4th Rd Pick; Tennessee gets 1.12, 2.52, 3.65, 2018 6th Rd Pick

Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Remember earlier when I said the Browns might be able to still get their quarterback? I’m not convinced that the Jets will go quarterback at 1.6, but I think most teams will operate under that assumption. The Browns have a bevy of picks with which to make the Titans an offer they can’t refuse. Tennessee is able to get back into the 2nd Round and move up to the top of the 3rd Round with this trade, while still having two 1st Round picks. Everybody wins here.


1.6 – New York Jets

Pick: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State

This may come as a surprise to people who have been following the draft process, but word on the street is that Conley’s stock is skyrocketing. A guy who early in the process was expected to be a 2nd or 3rd Round pick now has the potential to be the first defensive back drafted. The injury concerns with his former teammate Marshon Lattimore and a clearer need at corner than safety are the reasons I think the Jets go with Conley.

*Update: Conley has been accused of sexual assault, news that came to light on Tuesday 4/25, just two days before the draft. The alleged crime took place a few weeks ago, but it is still terrible timing. That likely means there’s no way he goes this high, and he will likely slide at least to late in the 1st Round. Conley has yet to talk to police, and likely will not do so until after the draft. That makes him a major risk.


1.7 – Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Chargers’ war room would be absolutely ecstatic if the board fell this way. They have a huge need at safety, and they’d get their pick of the litter. Most mocks have them landing Hooker because Jamal Adams would be off the board, but I think Hooker is a better fit for what they want to do anyway.


1.8 – Chicago Bears (from Carolina)

Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Yes, I do realize this would make three straight members of Ohio State’s secondary going in the Top-10, but these guys are that good. A lot of people believe the Bears would go with Lattimore at 1.3, so to acquire a couple 2nd Round picks and still get their guy, a brilliant move by the Bears.


1.9 – Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Is this the biggest need for the Bengals? No, and I’d argue that it’s not a need at all. But the Bengals have made it known that they would like to improve at the running back position, and many experts believe that McCaffrey could go in the Top-10. The likely landing spot would be Carolina if they stay at 1.8, but after going up to get Fournette, McCaffrey drops right into the Bengals’ laps.


1.10 – Buffalo Bills

Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

As far as value goes, this is a clear reach. The O-Line class this year is not very strong, but it is a consensus among scouts that Robinson has the highest ceiling, and there are rumblings that some teams will be comfortable reaching for OL help in the 1st Round. Enter the Bills, who could use an upgrade at tackle. They had Robinson in for a visit, so the interest is there.


1.11 – New Orleans Saints

Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

The Saints’ linebacking corps was among the weakest in the league last season. They signed Manti Te’o, but he is not the answer. With Foster falling out of the Top-10, I’d expect the Saints to pounce, as he will be a difference-maker in their defense from day one. They are wasting some great seasons from Drew Brees due to a lackluster defense. The improvement of said defense would continue with this pick.

*Update: I was at this point in the mock prior to the news of Foster’s diluted drug test at the Combine. I do believe this could cause him to slide, but I still expect him to go in the 1st Round.


1.12 – Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland via Philadelphia)

Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

The Bears moved down and still got their guy, and the Titans do the same thing here. I think they might prefer to get one of the top corners, but almost every mock I’ve seen has Adams going in the Top-10, so for him to be available at 1.12, I think the Titans would sprint to the podium with this pick. ESPN’s Scouts Inc. has Adams rated as the #2 overall prospect in this year’s class. Incredible value for the Titans.


1.13 – Arizona Cardinals

Pick: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

You can call this a hunch, but I’ve felt all along that Kizer is the quarterback that Bruce Arians wants, and I don’t think he’ll be able to wait until the 2nd Round to get him. It makes the most sense for the Cards to get Carson Palmer’s eventual replacement, and Kizer will benefit greatly from getting to watch from the sidelines for at least one season.


1.14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Do I think the Eagles should go wide receiver with this pick? No, but I get the feeling that if Williams falls to them and Reuben Foster doesn’t, then Williams will be the pick. I would also expect them to shop Jordan Matthews if they take Williams. I think their biggest weakness is in the secondary, but it’s a deep class there, so they can address it later on.


1.15 – Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

As with Cam Robinson earlier, this is probably much too early for Ramczyk, but teams are going to reach for help along the offensive line, and the Colts need that more than maybe any team outside of Seattle. They need to do a better job protecting Andrew Luck, and Ramczyk can start at RT from the get-go.


1.16 – Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

After trading Timmy Jernigan to Philadelphia, the Ravens have a gaping hole in their roster on the defensive line. They can choose to go with an edge rusher to eventually replace Terrell Suggs, but Barnett, who is more a power rusher that can play on the edge or inside, is a much better fit. Position versatility is the key here, but in addition, the analytics crowd LOVES Barnett. If he can produce like they believe he will, he’s an absolute steal at 1.16.


1.17 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from Washington)

Trade Details: Tampa Bay gets 1.17; Washington gets 1.19, 4.125, 2018 4th Rd Pick

Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

There are rumblings that O.J. Howard could be a Top-5 pick, but I think that’s the media overblowing his stock. I think it’s certainly possible that he goes earlier than this, but if he falls, I think the Bucs would love to add him to their offense. They give up a couple 4th Round picks to jump ahead of Tennessee and give Jameis Winston another huge weapon.


1.18 – Tennessee Titans

Pick: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Double down on 1st Round defensive backs? Only because the Bucs jumped them to grab Howard. The Titans major weakness last year was their secondary, and they did sign Logan Ryan in free agency, but he is best suited playing in the slot. For that reason, they get Humphrey here, a guy who has the skill set necessary for a #1 cornerback. The secondary is well on its way to becoming a strength for this team.


1.19 – Washington Redskins (from Tampa Bay)

Pick: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

The Redskins are able to move back, acquire a couple 4th Round picks, and still get a player they’d have been happy taking at 1.17. Reddick has been a workout warrior in the pre-draft process, boosting his stock big time at the Senior Bowl and the Combine. He played defensive end at Temple, but he projects as a three-down linebacker in the league. The Redskins certainly could use one of those.


1.20 – Denver Broncos

Pick: Garret Bolles, OT, Utah

The Broncos had Bolles in for a visit, and as long as they are comfortable with his attitude, this pick makes too much sense for it not to happen. Regardless who’s playing quarterback, they need to do a better job protecting him. Bolles has the potential to be one of the best left tackles in the league.


1.21 – Detroit Lions

Pick: Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

There are some durability concerns with Davis, but after cutting DeAndre Levy, the Lions need to look to improve their linebacking corps early in this draft. I think Haason Reddick would be a dream scenario for them, but he went two picks earlier, so they go with Davis, who has the ability to play inside or outside, but he is one of the best run stoppers in this linebacker class.


1.22 – Miami Dolphins

Pick: Forrest Lamp, OG/OT, Western Kentucky

This is another team that I would think would be all over Reddick if he got to this point, but with both Reddick and Davis now off the board, I think the Dolphins would move to another position and improve their interior offensive line. Some scouts think Lamp is the most talented offensive lineman in this class, but they also think he is best suited at the guard position. Miami got their left tackle last year in Laremy Tunsil, and they might get their left guard this year.


1.23 – New York Giants

Pick: Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

There are no shortage of places for the Giants to go here if the draft would fall this way. Many expect them to go linebacker, but they haven’t taken one in the 1st Round since the mid-80’s. With Davis and Reddick off the board, it’s even less likely than usual. They could also draft their quarterback of the future, but I think they are built to win now, and I think they’ll lean towards getting Eli Manning another weapon. Engram’ stock is gaining a lot of momentum, and many think he’ll go in the 1st Round. Add him to the Giants’ pass catchers and that offense becomes that much scarier.


1.24 – New York Jets (from Oakland)

Trade Details: NY Jets get 1.24; Oakland gets 2.39, 3.70

Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Call this a hunch, but I get the feeling that the Raiders really would love to trade out of this spot to acquire another pick in a deep draft class. With only two quarterbacks off the board so far, the Jets make a move to go get Watson, knowing there’s no way he lasts to 2.39. I think they personally favor Watson to Mahomes, and decide to jump the Texans to get him. Watson isn’t ready to start right away, but he’s a winner, and the Jets haven’t been doing much winning lately.


1.25 – Houston Texans

Pick: Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech

Even though the Jets jumped them to get Watson, Bill O’Brien happily takes Patrick Mahomes here. Mahomes said that he feels the Texans really like him, and I have a hard time seeing him fall past this pick come Thursday night. Mahomes has the strongest arm in this class, but he’ll have a lot of adjustments coming from an Air Raid offense at Texas Tech. I would think they’ll give him a shot to win the starting job, but he’ll ultimately sit out this year, which will benefit himself and the Texans in the long run.


1.26 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: Kevin King, CB, Washington

This pick just screams Seahawks. They are actively shopping Richard Sherman, so they obviously are looking to switch it up in the secondary. King is tall (6-3), big (200 lbs) and extremely physical. He will fit in perfectly in Seattle.


1.27 – Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

There are lots of varying opinions in the draft community on Cunningham, but he has the potential to become a standout inside linebacker for whichever team takes him. He’s extremely rangy and shows terrific instincts. He’s an inconsistent tackler, but with Derrick Johnson coming off an injury and not getting any younger, the Chiefs would be wise to draft his eventual successor here.


1.28 – Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Jabrill Peppers, S/LB, Michigan

Another prospect with a lot of question marks, but also an extremely high upside, I just feel like Jabrill Peppers is meant to be drafted by Jerry Jones. Peppers is too small to play linebacker, but he doesn’t have the coverage or ball skills to be a top safety (or so some scouts believe). He is a true tweener, but the other thing his is, is a football player. Peppers will be a special teams dynamo, and Jason Garrett will find a way to utilize him on defense. I think Peppers will be a difference maker in the mold of Tyrann Mathieu, and what team wouldn’t want that?

*Update: Peppers, like Reuben Foster, had a diluted drug test at the NFL Combine. There are varying opinions as to what “diluted” necessarily means, but it’s certainly possible this could cause him to fall out of the 1st Round, which was a possibility before this news anyway.


1.29 – Jacksonville Jaguars (from Green Bay Packers)

Trade Details: Jacksonville gets 1.29; Green Bay gets 2.35, 4.110, 2018 6th Rd Pick

Pick: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

I could easily see Green Bay making this pick, but I see them more likely to shop the pick to a team wanting to come up to grab either Cook, Corey Davis or John Ross, all falling skill players in my projection. The Jaguars are looking to contend right now, and they could use an improvement in the backfield. Cook is not without his concerns (off-field, inconsistent workouts), but his pure talent makes him a steal at the end of the 1st Round.


1.30 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington

There is belief that John Ross could drop due to concerns over his durability at the next level. He missed the entire 2015 season due to injury, and there’s a rumor that at least six teams have taken him completely off their boards. I’m not sure if Pittsburgh is one of those teams, and wide receiver is not necessarily a need for the Steelers, but I think the idea of having Ross and Antonio Brown on opposite sides of Big Ben might be too great to pass up.


1.31 – Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Vic Beasley is a star on one side of the defense for the Falcons. Here they have their pick of a few edge rushers to pair with him. I think Harris is the perfect blend of size and speed for a rush linebacker. Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston better be ready to see a couple physical freaks coming at them when they play Atlanta next season.


1.32 – New Orleans Saints (from New England)

Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

This would be a fabulous 1st Round for the Saints. Get a potential All-Pro middle linebacker at 1.11, then jump all over Taco Charlton at the end of the round. This would be one of those inexplicable draft slides that occur just about every season. Charlton might be the best pure pass rusher in this class not named Myles Garrett. Put Charlton opposite Cameron Jordan, and with Reuben Foster at middle linebacker, this defense will be transformed.


Round 2


2.33 – Cleveland Browns

Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

I think Davis is the best wideout in this class, but there are concerns about his ability to stay healthy and his level of competition playing in the MAC. Bologna, I say. Is it possible for the Browns to have this good a draft? It’s possible, but they’ll find a way to screw things up like always.


2.34 – Los Angeles Rams (from San Francisco)

Trade Details: LA Rams get 2.34; San Francisco gets 2.37, 5.149

Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL)

Not a great spot for the Niners, so they move back three spots and pick up an extra 5th Round pick. Njoku is a 1st Round talent who falls here, and the Rams take the opportunity to go up and get Jared Goff a potential big time target at tight end.


2.35 – Green Bay Packers (from Jacksonville)

Pick: T.J. Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

The brother of J.J. isn’t quite at the level of his older brother, but he’s a talented rusher off the edge in his own right for sure. He’s getting some 1st Round buzz, especially to Green Bay. If the Packers could trade back, pick up a couple more picks and still get Watt, I think they’d be doing pretty good for themselves.


2.36 – Chicago Bears

Pick: Jordan Willis, OLB/DE, Kansas State

After trading back and nabbing a shutdown corner in the 1st Round, the Bears grab a talented edge rusher whose stock is rising in a big way as we get closer and closer to the draft. You can never have too many pass rushers. I think I might have said that earlier. Oh well, it’s still true.


2.37 – San Francisco 49ers (from LA Rams)

Pick: Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

I hate the fact that this person is going to be drafted at all, especially this high, but he will, and the 49ers make a lot of sense. The Niners are bad, and when you are bad, you need to take some risks in an effort to get better. This would be a huge risk, but the potential rewards are astronomical.


2.38 – Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA

The Chargers take a player here that could go as high as the middle of the 1st Round. Joey Bosa needs a partner on the other side of the line, and McKinley is a great pass rusher in a class full of them.


2.39 – Oakland Raiders (from NY Jets)

Pick: Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

This is someone that I see the Raiders taking in the 1st Round, so to drop back into the 2nd Round and still get him would be fantastic on their part. There are motivation concerns with McDowell, but if anybody can get the most out of him, it’s probably Oakland.


2.40 – Chicago Bears (from Carolina)

Pick: Obi Melifonwu, S/CB, Connecticut

The Bears picked up this selection by moving back in the 1st Round, and they use this pick to grab another defensive back. Melifonwu boosted his stock with an impressive performance at the Combine. He’s likely a safety to start his career, but could shift to corner if he progresses like some believe he will.


2.41 – Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Josh Jones, S, NC State

Reggie Nelson left last season in free agency, and the Bengals subsequently struggled on the back end last season. Jones is great against the run already, and has the potential to become great in coverage as well. He is an extremely physical player, and that will allow him to fit seamlessly into the Bengals’ defense.


2.42 – New Orleans Saints

Pick: Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

One of the best playmakers in this draft, Samuel is flying under the radar a little bit. The Saints had pretty good success with a 2nd Round wideout from Ohio State last season, so they hope lightning strikes twice here. Drew Brees will love having a versatile weapon like Samuel.


2.43 – Philadelphia Eagles

Pick: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

In Version 1.0 of my Mock Draft, I had the Eagles taking Wilson in the 1st Round. If they can get Mike Williams AND Quincy Wilson in this draft, boy oh boy, what a coup that would be. Wilson is a ball hawk in the mold of former Eagle corner Asante Samuel.


2.44 – Buffalo Bills

Pick: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

There are some draft experts who believe Awuzie is one of the most underrated players in this entire draft class. After losing Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency, the Bills need to address the secondary with an early pick.


2.45 – Arizona Cardinals

Pick: DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

Calais Campbell signed with the Jaguars in free agency, so the Cardinals look for his replacement here in Walker. Like Campbell, Walker is an end that has the ability to slide inside in certain sub packages.


2.46 – Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

Frank Gore’s career will end at any moment, so the Colts need to infuse some youth into that position. Kamara has a similar running style to Gore, but he is a much more talented pass catcher out of the backfield. Andrew Luck’s new best friend!


2.47 – Baltimore Ravens

Pick: Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Jones is one of my favorite players in this class, and I believe he has the potential to wind up as the best receiver from the 2017 draft class. With Steve Smith’s retirement, the Ravens need to try and replace that production. Jones is a great talent.


2.48 – Minnesota Vikings

Pick: Dion Dawkins, OG, Temple

The Vikings finally get a pick, and they immediately address their putrid offensive line. They definitely need help at tackle, but Dawkins is the best O-Lineman on the board here. He played tackle at Temple, but projects as a guard at the next level. Regardless, he’s an improvement over what they have right now.


2.49 – Washington Redskins

Pick: Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

It’s clear that the Skins don’t see Kirk Cousins as their QB for the long haul. This is a slight reach, but Dobbs is probably the smartest quarterback in this class, and he will benefit from sitting behind Cousins for a season.


2.50 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

As an athlete, there’s nobody better in this class than Jackson. He needs to improve his skills, but the athleticism is there. Jackson will struggle covering the bigger wideouts in the NFC South, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for with his instincts and ball skills.


2.51 – Denver Broncos

Pick: Adam Shaheen, TE, Ashland

A virtual unknown prior to the draft process, the small school product is drawing comparisons to Gronk. At 6-6, 278 pounds, Shaheen is a physical freak at the tight end position. This is a popular prediction in mock drafts, but it makes total sense for the Broncos.


2.52 – Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland via Tennessee)

Pick: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

The Titans get this pick back from the Browns in the trade for the 5th overall pick, and after doubling up in the secondary in the 1st Round, the Titans get Marcus Mariota a talented pass catcher with the potential to be a #1 receiver down the line.


2.53 – Detroit Lions

Pick: Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida

The Lions double up on Florida defensive players, as they have struggled to replace Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Brantley takes some plays off, but when he decides to turn it on, he is dominating on the inside. The Lions will have to make sure Brantley stays motivated.

*Update: Brantley was arrested a few weeks ago for allegedly knocking a female unconscious outside a bar in Gainesville. I can’t remember a time when this many prospects were getting into trouble with drug tests and the law this close to the draft. I think it is very likely that this event causes Brantley to slide, possibly out of the first three rounds.


2.54 – Miami Dolphins

Pick: Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan

Speaking of Ndamukong Suh, he needs some help on the interior of the Dolphins’ defensive line, and Wormley is talented enough to be a very good partner for Suh. Wormley is a little smaller than Brantley, but he is also a little quicker. The Dolphins struggled against the run down the stretch, and this pick would help them improve in that department.


2.55 – New York Giants

Pick: Antonio Garcia, OT, Troy

The Giants need a left tackle, and while I’m not sure if Garcia is that guy, at this stage of the draft, he’s the best O-Lineman available. He may be best suited at guard, but I think the Giants would be wise to start him at RT, and if he progresses well, possible move him to LT down the line.


2.56 – Oakland Raiders

Pick: Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

I’ve seen White go as high as 1.11 to New Orleans, but I think teams will be concerned about his size (5-11, 192) and his poor ball skills. I don’t see those things bothering the Raiders, as they need the most help at slot corner, where White can start from the get-go.


2.57 – Kansas City Chiefs (from Houston)

Trade Details: Kansas City gets 2.57; Houston gets 2.59, 5.170

Pick: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

The Chiefs give up a 5th Round pick here to shoot for the moon. Prior to getting hurt during the pre-draft process, Jones was considered one of the top defensive backs in this class. He thinks he’ll be ready for the start of the season, but that’s a huge question mark. If he gets healthy and comes even close to his potential, he’ll be the steal of the draft here late in the 2nd Round.


2.58 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana

The Seahawks’ offensive line is downright awful, and while their biggest need is at tackle, they could use upgrades all across the line. Some scouts believe Feeney is the best pure guard in this class, so the Hawks would be wise to grab him here.


2.59 – Houston Texans (from Kansas City)

Pick: Budda Baker, S, Washington

For a playoff team, the Texans have a ton of needs. After getting their quarterback in the 1st, they grab an undersized, but very talented safety here with the potential to become a pro bowler in the future. Baker has drawn Tyrann Mathieu comparisons.


2.60 – Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama

The Cowboys have never been ones to shy away from taking a troubled prospect, and Williams had his fair share of off-field issues during his time in Tuscaloosa. If he can straighten out his act though, he has the ability to be one of the best edge rushers in this class.


2.61 – Green Bay Packers

Pick: D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

It’s pretty simple, the Packers just cannot go into the season with Ty Montgomery as the starting running back. He is great as a change-of-pace back or a 3rd down back, but he’s not a bell cow. Foreman has some fumbling concerns, but he is a violent runner, and has the potential to be a stud.


2.62 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Tyus Bowser, OLB, Houston

There’s a real possibility that Bowser could go a lot higher than this, as ESPN has him rated as a Top-30 prospect. The Steelers need an infusion of youth on the edge, as James Harrison can’t possibly play too many more seasons.


2.63 – San Francisco 49ers (from Atlanta)

Trade Details: San Francisco gets 2.63; Atlanta gets 3.66, 6.198, 2018 6th Rd Pick

Pick: Davis Webb, QB, California

Matt Barkley is not the long-term answer for the Niners. Neither is Brian Hoyer. Two 6th Round picks is a small price to pay to go up and get the guy that they think can develop into the long-term answer at quarterback. Webb has the prototypical size and arm strength of an NFL quarterback, and Kyle Shanahan is the perfect coach for him to develop under.


2.64 – Chicago Bears (from Carolina)

Pick: Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington

After going defense with their first three picks in this projection, the Bears address the hole in their roster left by Alshon Jeffery departure in free agency. Kupp has the size and the production (broke 15 FCS records), but he did not test well in the pre-draft process.


Round 3


3.65 – Tennessee Titans (from Cleveland)

Pick: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

They addressed their three biggest needs with their first three picks, so with this pick that they acquired from trading down in the 1st, they address another need by grabbing a versatile defensive end.


3.66 – Atlanta Falcons (from San Francisco)

Pick: Derek Rivers, OLB/DE, Youngstown State

Deciding that good pass rushers are a premium in this league, the Falcons decide to use a second straight pick on an edge rusher. Picking up an extra 6th Round pick allows them the ability to do this.


3.67 – Baltimore Ravens (from Chicago)

Trade Details: Baltimore gets 3.67; Chicago gets 3.78, 4.122

Pick: Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

Having already made four picks, the Bears are afforded the luxury of moving back 11 spots and grabbing an additional 4th Round pick. Meanwhile, John takes the advice of his brother Jim and moves up to grab a 1st Round talent that Jim coached at Michigan who has slipped here due to some off-field issues (domestic violence accusations).


3.68 – Jacksonville Jaguars

Pick: Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

The Jaguars’ offensive line was mediocre at best last year, so any improvement has to be considered a good idea. Some think Moton is better suited at guard, but the Jags can put him anywhere on the line and he’ll make that position better.


3.69 – Los Angeles Rams

Pick: Desmond King, S/CB, Iowa

After playing mostly cornerback at Iowa, most believe he is best suited at safety in the pros due to his height. That’s fine for the Rams though, as they need to improve on the back end.


3.70 – Oakland Raiders (from NY Jets)

Pick: Jake Butt, TE, Michigan

This pick becomes a luxury for the Raiders, as they are able to add a guy that had a chance to be a 1st Round pick prior to a knee injury and the end of last season. With Jared Cook on the roster, along with a hopefully improved Clive Walford, Oakland can afford to let Butt heal properly (that’s hilarious), and reap the benefits when he gets healthy.


3.71 – Los Angeles Chargers

Pick: Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh

The Chargers signed Russell Okung in free agency to shore up the left tackle position, but they could use an upgrade just about everywhere else on the line. Johnson has the potential to be one of the best guards in the league.


3.72 – New England Patriots (from Carolina)

Pick: Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio

The Patriots finally get to make a pick in this draft. They got this pick along with Kony Ealy from the Panthers, and they decide to make it an end-heavy trade by grabbing Basham here. The Pats don’t have many weaknesses, but the pass rush is something that they are likely to address in this draft.


3.73 – Cincinnati Bengals

Pick: Chris Godwin, WR, Penn State

When A.J. Green was injured last season, the passing game disappeared for the Bengals. For that reason, they are likely to add a wideout early in the draft, and Godwin has prototypical size for a receiver, and he tested well in the lead-up to the draft.


3.74 – Baltimore Ravens (from Philadelphia)

Pick: Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State

After trading away Jeremy Zuttah, the Ravens get the #1 center prospect in this draft in the 3rd Round to replace him. That has to be considered a big victory for Baltimore.


3.75 – Buffalo Bills

Pick: Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

After moving to wide receiver last year for the Hokies, Hodges projects as a freakishly athletic tight end in the pros. He struggles with blocking, but he has the size necessary to develop into a good blocker. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and will be a nice addition to the Bills’ passing attack.


3.76 – New Orleans Saints

Pick: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami (FL)

Coming into last season, Kaaya was right up there with the top prospects in this class, but he had an inconsistent season for the Hurricanes. He’s a project, but he’s got great size and a strong arm, and he’ll benefit greatly learning from a guy like Drew Brees.


3.77 – Arizona Cardinals

Pick: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor was a likely 1st Round pick entering the draft process, but off-field concerns coupled with alarmingly low 40-yard dash times have caused his stock to plummet. The Cardinals need somebody opposite Patrick Peterson, and Tabor has the skills to be a top corner in this league.


3.78 – Chicago Bears (from Baltimore)

Pick: Nathan Peterman, QB, Pittsburgh

The Bears gave Mike Glennon $15 million a year this offseason (mind-blowing, honestly), but that does not mean they should ignore the quarterback position in the draft. Peterman could be the sleeper at QB in this class, and the Bears would have a steal if he reaches his full potential.


3.79 – Minnesota Vikings

Pick: Julie’n Davenport, OT, Bucknell

The Vikings double up on offensive lineman with their first two picks in this draft? I know Sam Bradford is on board with that! Their offensive line was putrid last season, it needs to be improved, and they will do so in this draft.


3.80 – Indianapolis Colts

Pick: Marcus Maye, S, Florida

It is inevitable with a class this deep that some really good defensive backs are going to fall into the 3rd Round and possibly even further. Maye has a 2nd Round grade from most scouts, and the Colts need a safety after Mike Adams left in free agency.


3.81 – Washington Redskins

Pick: Kareem Hunt, RB, Toledo

While the Redskins have never been ones to invest heavy in the running back position, I just don’t think Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley will be able to get it done. Kareem Hunt is a thumper, and is an immediate improvement over what they have now.


3.82 – Denver Broncos

Pick: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama

The Broncos lost Malik Jackson in free agency before last season, and they never really replaced him. It showed, as they became one of the worst defenses against the run. Tomlinson is a massive interior presence, and will certainly help against the run and the pass.


3.83 – Tennessee Titans

Pick: Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson

Delanie Walker is on the downswing of his career, so the Titans grab Leggett hoping that he can be Walker’s eventual replacement, but in the meantime, they can run some two TE sets and wreak havoc on opposing defenses.


3.84 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pick: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

It’s a very unclear situation at running back for the Bucs. Doug Martin will be suspended for three games, Charles Sims can’t stay healthy, and Jacquizz Rodgers certainly is not a feature back. Perine, though, has the potential to be a very productive back at the next level.


3.85 – Detroit Lions

Pick: Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Ziggy Ansah is a star on one side of the defensive line for the Lions, but he could use some help coming off the other side. Lawson has a ton of durability concerns, but if he can stay healthy at the next level, the Lions will have a steal at this point in the draft.


3.86 – Minnesota Vikings (from Miami)

Pick: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

The Vikings address the trenches once again, just on the opposite side of the ball. Shariff Floyd played through injury last season and just wasn’t very effective. Watkins helps give the Vikings depth on the defensive line in case Floyd can’t regain his form again this season.


3.87 – New York Giants

Pick: Alex Anzalone, ILB, Florida

The only real weakness left at this point for the Giants is at the inside linebacker position, and there are a fair amount of mid-round prospects in this class that could turn out to be quality starters. Anzalone drops due to durability concerns, but he has the skills to be a three-down middle linebacker for the Giants.


3.88 – Oakland Raiders

Pick: Marcus Williams, S, Utah

Safety isn’t a need for the Raiders necessarily, but they could use some depth at the position after losing Nate Allen in free agency. Williams could also potentially replace the aging Reggie Nelson, whose contract is up after this season.


3.89 – Houston Texans

Pick: Dawaune Smoot, DE, Illinois

J.J. Watt spent most of last season on the sidelines due to injury, so I think the Texans will address the defensive end position early in this year’s draft just in case Watt’s issues linger this season. Smoot was a top prospect before a mediocre 2016 season.


3.90 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: Zach Banner, OT, USC

The Seahawks have to fix this offensive line eventually, so they use two early round picks on lineman in this year’s draft. Banner is a project, but he is a massive human being, and definitely somebody that O-Line coach Tom Cable can work with.


3.91 – Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: Larry Ogunjobi, DT, Charlotte

With Dontari Poe in Atlanta via free agency and the release of Jaye Howard, the Chiefs have a massive hole at the defensive tackle position. They added Bennie Logan, but depth is necessary, and Ogunjobi provides that at the very least.


3.92 – Dallas Cowboys

Pick: Jonnu Smith, TE, Florida International

Jason Witten’s career has to be coming to a close sooner rather than later, so it’s time to start seeking out his eventual successor. Smith, at this point, is the blend of blocker and receiver that most closely resembles what Witten gives to this Cowboys’ offense.


3.93 – Green Bay Packers

Pick: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

I’m not sure if Moreau will actually fall this far, but a torn pectoral muscle suffered during a pre-draft workout has caused his stock to tumble. If he properly recovers, the Packers will have a steal near the end of the 3rd Round.


3.94 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State

I think the Steelers would much prefer to go safety here if they don’t address that position with their first two picks, but they settle for an undersized, but very talented corner to add some depth at that position.


3.95 – Atlanta Falcons

Pick: Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

The Falcons continue to address their defense, which is no surprise considering they blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl (I’m sure they’re tired of hearing it, but it’s not going to stop). Scouts aren’t sure if McMillan can be a three-down linebacker in the pros, but he is improving in coverage and has that potential.


3.96 – New England Patriots

Pick: ArDarius Stewart, WR, Alabama

The Patriots have already addressed the pass rush, so they don’t really have any true needs left. That affords them the luxury of being able to take a versatile offensive weapon like Stewart at this point in the draft. The rich get richer.


Round 3 Compensatory Picks


3.97 – Miami Dolphins

Pick: Kendell Beckwith, ILB, LSU

Kiko Alonso played okay last season, but the Fins could really stand to improve the middle of their defense. Beckwith is better suited as an inside linebacker in the pros than his LSU teammate Duke Riley, who is arguably more talented.


3.98 – Carolina Panthers

Pick: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State

The Panthers finally get their second pick after making the move up to get Leonard Fournette, and they use it to continue to try and shore up their protection for Cam Newton.


3.99 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Baltimore)

Pick: Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama

Connor Barwin really struggled at times last year, so the Eagles should look to improve on the edge. Anderson is much more talented than players typically chosen at the end of the 3rd Round.


3.100 – Cleveland Browns (from Tennessee via LA Rams)

Pick: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama

The Browns attempt to add another weapon to help out Mitchell Trubisky down the line, and Everett is one of the best pure pass catchers in this tight end class. He falls due to his mediocre blocking ability.


3.101 – Denver Broncos

Pick: Marlon Mack, RB, South Florida

C.J. Anderson has been a very good back for Denver, but he’s been banged up at times, and they could stand to add some depth at the position.


3.102 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M

Myles Garrett got all the attention at Texas A&M, but Hall did a lot of good things on the opposite side. Some are concerned that Garrett made Hall better, but the Seahawks’ defensive scheme should make Hall better too.


3.103 – New Orleans Saints (from New England via Cleveland)

Pick: Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

Another very talented cornerback has slid down the board, and the Saints pounce, potentially adding a Day 1 starter at the end of the 3rd Round. The Saints are having a great draft here.


3.104 – Kansas City Chiefs

Pick: Anthony Walker, ILB, Northwestern

There’s a chance 1st Round pick Zach Cunningham will be better suited at outside linebacker, so the Chiefs grab Walker here just in case that happens. Walker is a little undersized for an inside backer, but what he lacks in size he makes up for in talent.


3.105 – Pittsburgh Steelers

Pick: Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State

Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best running back in the league, but the Steelers do not have a whole lot of depth at the position, so they would be well inclined to add a back fairly early in this draft, just in case anything would happen to Bell.


3.106 – Seattle Seahawks

Pick: John Johnson, S, Boston College

There’s a chance that Earl Thomas will leave in free agency after this season, so the Seahawks use an early pick on his potential replacement.


3.107 – New York Jets

Pick: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

Sheldon Richardson’s time in New York is coming to an end, so the Jets get his potential replacement with the last pick in the 3rd Round. Adams is not as versatile as Richardson, but he’s a disruptor in the middle, just like Richardson.

NFL Mock Draft 1.0: 4/18/17

You may not realize it, given that the NBA and NHL Playoffs are currently in full swing, but the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia is just over one week away! With that in mind, now seems like a good time for the first of two NFL Mock Drafts you will see here on We Love Sportz!

For the first edition, I will go through the 1st Round of the upcoming Draft and tell you who I think the teams should take, as if I were their general manager. With that being said, a fair amount of this will include my personal opinion, so you have been warned.

I will not be projecting any trades in this mock, but I will note some places where I could see some trades happening. Version 2.0 will come at some point prior to the Draft, and there I will mock some trades and give you a better idea what I think actually will happen. Read this mock as what I think should happen, not what will happen.

Let’s not waste any more time, here is Version 1.0 of We Love Sportz’s NFL Mock Draft!

1 – Cleveland Browns


Pick: Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

There is no quarterback in this class worthy of the #1 overall pick, so despite Cleveland’s gaping hole at that position, they need to get the best player available, considering they have needs just about all over the field. Garrett has been compared to some of the best defensive ends in the league, and ESPN’s Todd McShay has him graded one point below where he had Khalil Mack graded coming out of college in 2014. You know, Khalil Mack, who in three seasons has been an All-Pro three times (at two different positions) and is the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Garrett is a game-changer on the defensive side of the ball, and he is the slam dunk #1 pick in this year’s draft. There are rumors that Leonard Fournette is still in play for the Browns at this pick, but if they are smart, they’ll take Garrett. Hang on, the Browns rarely do the smart thing. Seriously, I can’t stress enough how hard this will be to mess up. But if anyone can do it, it’s the Browns! *Update: They are trying to screw it up…*

2 – San Francisco 49ers


Pick: Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford

The 49ers are in a very similar situation to the Browns, in they have a big need at quarterback, but can take the best player available given all of the other holes on their roster. I could very easily see the Niners trade out of this spot to acquire more picks, but if they stay put, Thomas should be the pick. He put on a show in the Sun Bowl against Mitchell Trubisky and North Carolina, sending his draft stock toward the moon. He is a very good pass rusher, something the 49ers sorely lacked last season. He is also scheme-versatile, with the size to slide inside in a 4-3 alignment. There are a number of players that would make sense for San Francisco here, but Thomas fits the bill best.

3 – Chicago Bears


Pick: Jamal Adams, S, LSU The Bears addressed their quarterback issue by moving on from Jay Cutler and signing former Buccaneer Mike Glennon to a contract that will pay him $15 million a season. Yeah, you read that correctly. I don’t believe that Glennon is even close to the answer under center for this team, but you don’t spend that kind of money on a quarterback if you don’t think you can win with him. With that in mind, I believe that Jamal Adams is the best defensive back in this class, and he could end up being the centerpiece of the next great Chicago defense. He is the smartest, most versatile safety in this class. He can play centerfield, or he can play in the box. He even has skills that allow him to slide into the nickel if absolutely necessary. Scouts also say that his team leadership skills are second-to-none. The Bears addressed the cornerback position in free agency by adding Prince Amukamara, B.W. Webb and Marcus Cooper for depth, so I think they can wait there given the deep class at corner. Jamal Adams would be a great pick for the Bears.

4 – Jacksonville Jaguars


Pick: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

I think Blake Bortles is an extremely mediocre NFL quarterback, but the Jaguars are giving him yet another season to prove that he can lead them to the promised land. With that in mind, they need to give him some help. The Jags spent a boatload of money on the defensive side of the ball in free agency, signing DL Calais Campbell, CB A.J. Bouye and S Barry Church. That leads me to believe that they will lean offense early in the draft, and if you want to take some pressure off of a struggling quarterback, give him a really good running back. The top back in this class is Leonard Fournette. He was considered a slam dunk Top-5 pick at one point, but now there are weight and durability concerns. That being said, he has Adrian Peterson-level talent, and if he reaches his ceiling, he’ll be one of the best backs in the league in no time.


5 – Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 31 CFP Semifinal - Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Pick: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State The Titans traded the 1st overall pick last season to the Rams, and it was a brilliant move. They have already begun to reap the benefits, and that will continue in this year’s draft, as a team on the brink AFC title contention gets a Top-5 pick in a great draft. They have a few needs on offense, but having the top corner in this class fall to them at 5 is something that I would expect them to jump all over. Lattimore is extremely athletic, and has great coverage and ball skills. The weakness of this defense was the secondary last season, and after adding Johnathan Cyprien and Logan Ryan in free agency, getting a #1 corner in Lattimore has them on the way towards turning it from a weakness to a strength.


6 – New York Jets


Pick: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama

I had a tough time with this one, as the Jets have a whole lot of needs, number one on that list of needs being quarterback. If they fall in love with one of the top quarterbacks in this class (Trubisky, Kizer, Watson, even Mahomes), I could easily see them going that route, and I wouldn’t see an issue with it. I do not particularly like any of the top QB prospects this year for a variety of reasons, and I do not think the Jets would be best served going that route with this pick. Therefore, they go with the best player on the board, which I believe is Allen. He is versatile and he is great against the run and rushing the passer. Sheldon Richardson’s days in New York are numbered, and Allen is a great talent to add to this front seven. There are concerns about his shoulder, and his workout results weren’t fantastic, but watch the game film, and you could argue that he’s the most talented player in this class.


7 – Los Angeles Chargers

hooker Pick: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State This would be best case scenario for the Chargers. A very talented team that was riddled with injuries and bad luck, they have a chance to compete in the best division in football if things swing back their way in their first season in Los Angeles. They lost Eric Weddle to free agency last season, and it was clear that he was missed. Hooker has some of the same qualities as Weddle, as he has better ball skills and instincts than any defensive back in this class. The Chargers have a very good run defense, so they can live with Hooker’s limitations against the run. Hooker is a ball hawk, and he will completely change the Chargers’ defense. This pick would be a home run.


8 – Carolina Panthers


Pick: Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

I really struggled making a pick here for Carolina. I think if Fournette were available, he’d be the pick no question, but I don’t see them going with McCaffery or Cook here. Cornerback is a huge need, but they have shown in past years that they do not value that position enough to take one in the Top-10. They are also very old at the defensive end position, and could use an infusion of youth, but I don’t think any of the pass rushers available at this point are deserving of a Top-10 pick. That leaves one true need position, and that’s the offensive line. I also do not believe there is an offensive lineman in this class that should go in the Top-10, but the Panthers need to do something about Cam Newton’s protection, and Robinson has the highest ceiling of any O-lineman in the class. He will go through some growing pains, and the Panthers will need to be patient, but he has the size and the potential to be their left tackle of the future. There have been rumors that teams could reach for offensive line help this season. There might not be a team that needs the help more than Carolina.


9 – Cincinnati Bengals

foster Pick: Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama Linebacker is not an obvious need for the Bengals, but they cut Rey Maualuga, replaced him with Kevin Minter, who is not a long-term solution, and it seems like Vontaze Burfict’s Bengal career could end at any moment, since that guy appears to have rocks in his head. For those reasons, I think Reuben Foster will be very attractive to Cincinnati here at #9. He is not without his issues, as he had an incident at the Combine which resulted in him being sent home, and some scouts have said there are concerns with the company he keeps. Seems like he’ll fit right in with the rest of the Cincinnati defense! All jokes aside, Foster is an every-down linebacker, and if he can keep his head straight and stay healthy, he’ll be a fixture in the middle of this defense for a very long time.


10 – Buffalo Bills


Pick: O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Word on the street is that there are people in the Bills’ organization who love Deshaun Watson. I think this is too early for him, and after re-signing Tyrod Taylor, the Bills do not necessarily have a need at the quarterback position. If they want to make it work with Taylor, it would be best to give him another weapon, and I believe Howard is the biggest offensive weapon in this draft class. He was criminally underutilized at Alabama, and many scouts are excited for Howard’s potential in the NFL. Charles Clay is a good, not great tight end, so Howard is a clear upgrade. He has the size, athletic ability and skills to be one of the top tight ends in the league, and along with LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, Howard could help turn the Bills’ offense into one of the best units in the AFC.


11 – New Orleans Saints

NCAA FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Music City Bowl - Nebraska v Tennessee Pick: Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee I have to believe that Drew Brees’s days in this league are numbered, but for right now, he is still one of the top QB’s, and as long as he’s under center, the Saints have one of the top offenses in the NFL. They traded Brandin Cooks to New England this offseason, so they may look to add an offensive weapon here, but I think they’d be much better served adding more talent to one of the weakest defenses in the league. Cameron Jordan is fantastic, and the middle of the line is set with Nick Fairley and last year’s 1st Round pick Sheldon Rankins, but they do not get much production on the other side of that line. This is where Derek Barnett fits in. Some scouts believe Barnett is the best pure pass rusher in this draft class, and the best way to take pressure off of a struggling secondary is to get after the quarterback. Drafting Barnett gives the Saints one of the scariest D-line’s in football.


12 – Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)

NCAA FOOTBALL: NOV 01 Western Michigan at Ball State

Pick: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

After taking Myles Garrett with their first pick (Seriously, Browns, don’t be stupid. Take Myles Garrett), I would expect them to switch over and look to add a weapon on offense, and with Leonard Fournette and O.J. Howard off the board, two players that I would definitely expect them to take here if available, the Browns could have their choice of wide receiver. There have been rumblings that they like Corey Davis a lot, and it just so happens that I too believe he is the top receiver in this class. Level of competition is a concern, as is durability, as he missed the Combine due to injury, but look at the tape, and you can see why this guy is a no-brainer 1st Round pick. He’s a great route-runner, has strong hands, and he can win the jump ball, making him a nice red zone target. Terrelle Pryor is in Washington and nobody knows what the situation will be with Josh Gordon, so getting a #1 target here in Davis makes a whole lot of sense. But then again, when have the Browns ever done the sensible thing?


13 – Arizona Cardinals

kizer Pick: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger, folks. With that in mind, I really believe it would best serve the Cardinals to draft his eventual successor, and while this is a weak quarterback class, Kizer has loads of upside. His ceiling is higher than any of the quarterbacks in this draft, and he seems like a Bruce Arians-type of quarterback. There is a lot of work that will need to be done for Kizer to reach that ceiling, but the Cards are a team that can afford to be patient with Kizer, given that they’ll have at least one more season of Carson Palmer. There are other positions they could address here that would help keep the team competitive in the short-term, but I think it’s time to start thinking about the future, specifically post-Carson Palmer.


14 – Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)


Pick: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

If you know me, you know I despise everything Eagles. That makes it very difficult to give them credit where it’s due, but they made a couple fantastic trades before last season’s draft. Moving up to #2 to take Carson Wentz appears to be a great decision, as does getting back into the 1st Round this year by moving Sam Bradford to Minnesota. There are a number of different ways the Eagles could go with this pick, including running back or wide receiver to give Wentz another weapon, but I think they’d be best served addressing the secondary with this pick. Quincy Wilson has terrific ball skills, and if you were to design the perfect cornerback based on size and speed, he’s it, measuring over 6-1 and 211 pounds, running a sub-4.50 40-yard dash. His cover skills are not up to par with some of the other top corners in this class, but he has the tools to become a shutdown corner, and the Eagles could definitely use one of those.


15 – Indianapolis Colts

ramczyk Pick: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin For a team picking in the middle of the 1st Round, the Colts have a crazy amount of needs to address. With 14 players off the board, you could argue that anything other than a quarterback makes at least some kind of sense for this team. The most glaring weakness on defense is at the linebacker position, and that makes Haason Reddick really hard to pass on here, but priority #1 for the Colts has to be protecting their franchise QB Andrew Luck, something that they have not been able to do, despite addressing the O-line early in the last few drafts. They need to keep doing it until they figure it out, and while there are some big concerns with Ramczyk, he is believed to be the best pure pass protector at the tackle position in this draft class. He will slot in immediately at right tackle and hopefully help keep Luck upright and healthy.


16 – Baltimore Ravens

NCAA Football: UCLA vs BYU

Pick: Takkarist McKinley, OLB/DE, UCLA

In my opinion, the Ravens have two major needs, one on each side of the ball. With Steve Smith’s retirement, one need is at wide receiver, and specifically, finding Joe Flacco a true #1 target. Mike Williams could turn into a #1 receiver, but when the Ravens have been successful, it has started with defense, and unfortunately, Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil aren’t getting any younger. An infusion of youth on the edge is the other big need, and that is where McKinley comes in. The pass rush skills need some work, but there might not be a better guy for him to learn under than Suggs. When Suggs decides to retire, McKinley will seamlessly slide right into that spot in the Ravens’ defense.


17 – Washington Redskins

peppers Pick: Jabrill Peppers, OLB/S, Michigan Could the Skins draft the eventual successor to Kirk Cousins here? Sure. Could they improve the offense by adding an every-down running back or another talented receiver? They could. Do I think they should do either of those things here? No, I do not. They need a difference maker on defense, and there might not be a bigger potential difference maker in this draft class than Jabrill Peppers. He doesn’t really have a position, as he’s not good enough in coverage to play safety on every down, but he’s not big or strong enough to be an every-down linebacker. However, we have started to see these tweener prospects have a fair amount of success in the NFL (Deone Bucannon and Mark Barron come to mind), and when it comes to athleticism and football IQ, Peppers tests off the charts. It’s an added bonus that he is a dangerous weapon in the return game, and if he doesn’t become a Pro Bowl defender, he should surely be a Pro Bowl special teamer.


18 – Tennessee Titans


Pick: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

If it hasn’t already happened, I would be fully expecting teams to be calling the Titans to move up to take either Trubisky or Watson (if the Cardinals would truly take Kizer over these two). However, I am not mocking trades here (as that is a futile exercise), so the Titans, having made a huge addition to the secondary with their first pick, get Marcus Mariota another weapon as they look to become a threat to win the AFC. John Ross could be in play here as well, but I believe Williams is the more well-rounded receiver, and he probably has the highest ceiling of any receiver in this draft class. The Titans love Tajae Sharpe, but I have my doubts whether he can become a #1 wideout in the NFL. Williams can, and he will certainly take some pressure off of Mariota entering his third season in the league.


19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

mccaffrey Pick: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford Jameis Winston, to my surprise, looks the part of a quarterback that can lead a championship team. He has a solid offensive line and a huge threat on the outside in Mike Evans. The one thing that Winston could use is an every-down running back, and in this draft class, that guy is McCaffrey. He is an absolute gamer, with a work ethic that is off the charts, and on top of that, he will instantly be one of the best receiving backs in the NFL. The Doug Martin situation is a huge question mark, but take McCaffrey, and the Bucs can just cut ties with Martin and line McCaffrey up behind Winston for many, many years. I am a big believer in McCaffrey, and I think he has the potential to be a Pro Bowl running back. The Bucs are really close, and I think this pick would get them even closer.


20 – Denver Broncos

NCAA Football: Washington at Utah

Pick: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

For a team just one year removed from a Super Bowl victory, the Broncos have a ton of holes to fill. New head man Vance Joseph does not have an easy task ahead of him. I’m sure John Elway and Joseph would love to add another offensive playmaker here, or get some help for the middle of the front seven (which was awful last season), but the biggest issue for this team in quarterback protection, and that is why they should go offensive line here, and Bolles is the best prospect at this juncture. Forrest Lamp may project as the better player, but he is better suited inside at guard. Bolles has the tools to be a future LT, and that is exactly what Denver is looking for. Whether it’s Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch under center, the Broncos need to do a better job protecting them. Bolles has some character concerns, and he only played one season of Division I football, but he has lots of potential, and it’s worth the risk for this team.


21 – Detroit Lions

reddick Pick: Haason Reddick, LB, Temple This is a match made in heaven, and I would be very shocked if this did not happen. DeAndre Levy was the only linebacker worth anything for Detroit last season, and they cut him. They also let Josh Bynes walk in free agency. They signed a couple new linebackers, but the guys they signed aren’t really going to improve the unit very much. Reddick will, though. He very much flew under the radar this past season, but put on stellar performances at the Senior Bowl and the Combine, skyrocketing up draft boards in the process. He is a former walk-on defensive back who transitioned to defensive end at Temple, but projects as an every-down linebacker at the next level. He had 22 tackles for loss and 10 ½ sacks last season at Temple playing on the edge, but he played some inside linebacker at the Senior Bowl and excelled. He has the athletic ability to play inside on 1st and 2nd down, and then slide outside to either drop in coverage or rush the passer on 3rd down. That makes him a 1st Round talent, and it makes him a perfect fit in a Lions’ defense that needs to improve.


22 – Miami Dolphins


Pick: Forrest Lamp, OL, Western Kentucky

The Dolphins definitely outperformed expectations last season, especially down the stretch, nearly sneaking into the playoffs. They still have a very glaring weakness, and that is the offensive line. They struggle with health along the front, but even when healthy, the line could use some work. Some scouts believe Forrest Lamp is the top O-Line prospect in this class. He was a four year starter at left tackle for the Hilltoppers, but he projects as a guard at the next level, though one that will start from day one and be productive. Tackle prospects will always go higher, but Lamp is probably the most talented lineman that will be drafted this year, and he makes a ton of sense for the Dolphins. Linebacker is also a distinct possibility with this pick, but they signed Lawrence Timmons in free agency, so I think they can afford to address that spot later on in the draft.


23 – New York Giants

njoku Pick: David Njoku, TE, Miami (FL) No contending team needs offensive line help more than the Giants. That is why this scenario might be the worst case for the G-Men, with the clear top four O-Line prospects off the board already. If the Giants want to look towards the future, jumping on a quarterback would be the move. However, I believe that the Giants are built to contend for a title right now, and getting Eli another weapon could give them the most explosive offense in the league. Njoku is a 6-4, 246 pound athletic freak, and we have seen in recent years how much a talented pass catching tight end can transform an offense. Njoku ran a 4.59 40-yard dash, which is absolutely unreal for a man his size. After adding Brandon Marshall in free agency, getting Njoku as well to go with Sterling Shepard and OBJ gives Eli no shortage of options in the passing game. NFC East secondaries should probably be concerned at this scenario.


24 – Oakland Raiders

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Vanderbilt

Pick: Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

The Raiders are ready to be Super Bowl contenders, but outside of making sure Derek Carr stays on the field, the biggest thing keeping them from becoming a legit title team is an extremely poor linebacking corps. Head Coach Jack Del Rio has said that improving the interior pass rush is a must, but there are no defensive tackle prospects worth taking at this point in the draft. A true three-down middle linebacker is what this defense desperately needs, and beyond Reuben Foster, Cunningham is the prospect best served for that role. He misses a fair share of tackles, and that is something that will need to get better in the pros, but he has incredible range, and is probably better in coverage than any inside linebacker in this draft class. The Raiders have been downright awful covering tight ends the last few seasons, and Cunningham can certainly help them in that department.


25 – Houston Texans

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 17 James Madison at North Carolina Pick: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina Talk about best case scenario. I have a hard time believing that the Texans won’t take a quarterback in the 1st Round one way or another, whether it’s by trading up or waiting to see who’s available at this pick. I have a hard time thinking that Trubisky will actually still be on the board here come Draft day, but he is in this projection, and the Texans should certainly jump all over him. Most experts believe Trubisky is the best quarterback in this class, and he is certainly the most pro ready. The tools are there for him to succeed, but he didn’t show a whole lot in his time at UNC. The Texans could certainly do worse at this point in the draft. Trubisky would start immediately for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.


26 – Seattle Seahawks

NCAA Football: Washington State at Washington

Pick: Kevin King, CB, Washington

I think this is a pick that Seahawks fans could get behind. The cornerback isn’t necessarily a need position for Seattle, but will they trade Richard Sherman before or during the Draft? It certainly seems like both parties are interested in making that happen, and that would give the Seahawks a big hole in their defense. King is similar to Sherman, just more athletic, but probably a little less talented. King might be the most athletic cornerback in this draft class, and his stock has been rising rapidly of late. Many expect him to go in the 1st Round, and I think staying in Seattle would probably be the best possible landing spot for King.


27 – Kansas City Chiefs

watson Pick: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson I mostly believe the Chiefs should do this because I have never been a believer in Alex Smith. I think the Chiefs could be so much more with a better QB, and no signal caller in this draft class has a higher ceiling than the National Title winner from Clemson. Watson has his deficiencies, specifically his accuracy, but he has great arm strength, he is extremely mobile in the pocket, and he is a winner. That last thing might be the most important thing. It will benefit Watson immensely to be able to stay on the sidelines for his first season to learn everything that comes with being an NFL quarterback, and when he is ready to step in, he will be doing it for a very talented team in Kansas City. Another best case scenario situation for a prospect and a team.


28 – Dallas Cowboys


Pick: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Dak Prescott was a complete revelation last season as a 4th Round rookie QB, so much so that Tony Romo will be calling games for CBS this season. The emergence of Dak and fellow rookie Zeke Elliott have the Cowboys looking like perennial NFC champs. They still need a lot of work on the defensive side of the ball though, and finding a pass rusher should be the top priority. In this scenario, they have a few edge players that they can choose from, and I see them favoring Taco here. Outside of Myles Garrett, there might not be an edge player with better game film in this class than Taco. He is extremely physical as a rusher, and he uses his size and length to absolutely bully offensive tackles. I think lining him up opposite DeMarcus Lawrence would give NFC East quarterbacks a lot of nightmares.


29 – Green Bay Packers

conley Pick: Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State As long as Aaron Rodgers is under center, the Packers will be Super Bowl contenders. That is why they should look to fill the biggest hole on their roster here, and that is in the secondary. I think I might’ve been able to throw for 300-plus yards against the Packers last season. That’s obviously an exaggeration, but it gives you an idea how poor their secondary was last year. I think they would be thrilled to see Conley fall here. There are rumors that some teams have Conley as the top cornerback on their boards, and that is in one of the best cornerback classes we’ve ever seen. The athleticism is there, and he has all the skills in the world, but there is concern with him matching up with the big, physical wideouts that are all the rage in the league right now. That might not be too big an issue in the NFC North now that Calvin Johnson is retired and Alshon Jeffery is in Philadelphia, and he is clearly the most talented corner available at this juncture. I think Green Bay would be thrilled to take Conley here.


30 – Pittsburgh Steelers


Pick: Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech

Hear me out on this one. The Steelers, as they sit right now, have to be considered one of the favorites to take the Super Bowl next year. They have some areas on their roster that they’d love to address with this pick, including at safety, cornerback, edge rusher and wide receiver, but Ben Roethlisberger surprisingly entertained the idea of retiring this offseason, which makes me believe that he may have one foot out the door. He has also dealt with a rash of injuries over the course of his career, and when he’s been out, they have struggled mightily. Landry Jones is one of the worst backups in the league, and he’s most certainly not the guy who should be Big Ben’s eventual successor. For those reasons, I think Patrick Mahomes to the Steelers makes almost too much sense. Mahomes has the best arm strength in this quarterback class, and he is a fearsome competitor. He’s a little smaller and quicker than Roethlisberger, but other than that, they have a lot of similarities. Mahomes will have some growing pains in the league having played in an Air Raid system at Texas Tech, but that is why being able to sit behind and learn from Roethlisberger could be so beneficial. The Steelers have other picks to address their current needs, so with Mahomes falling to this point, they absolutely should take him and start grooming him to become the eventual replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. This makes too much sense for it to actually happen.


31 – Atlanta Falcons

harris Pick: Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri We should absolutely be talking about how the Falcons built a 28-3 lead on the Patriots, and were able to withstand an epic comeback attempt to knock off Tom Brady and win Super Bowl 51 in Houston last season. Instead, the Falcons enter this offseason with major question marks after squandering a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, suffering one of the worst losses in NFL history. There aren’t a whole lot of holes on offense, so I expect the Falcons to address their defense early and often in this draft, and it starts with giving Vic Beasley some help on the edge. Charles Harris is very much built in the mold of Beasley, and putting him on the other side would give opposing quarterbacks a lot to worry about. An ESPN scouting report describes Harris as a “Tasmanian devil type” pass rusher. I think adding a guy like that should be at the top of the Falcons’ wish list.


32 – New Orleans Saints (from New England Patriots)


Pick: John Ross, WR, Washington

The Saints acquired this pick when they traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Pats this offseason. After taking a pass rusher in Derek Barnett with their first pick, why not grab a potential Cooks replacement here in John Ross. I believe some teams will have Ross as their top wide receiver, so getting him with the last pick in the 1st Round could be a huge steal. He is just 5-10 and 188 pounds, but he has elite speed and acceleration, with the ability to make defenders miss after the catch or take the top off on a vertical route. Despite his size, he lined up in the slot a fair amount and Washington and was fearless going across the middle. It might be best to limit that in the pros to keep him healthy, as he does have some durability concerns, but he is a gamer and a big play just waiting to happen. Sounds a lot like the guy the Saints gave up to acquire this pick. I love John Ross a lot, and pairing him with Michael Thomas would keep the Saints’ offense among the best in the league.


Best Players Available:

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State

Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Adoree’ Jackson, CB/WR, USC

TJ Watt, OLB, Wisconsin

Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

Budda Baker, S, Washington

Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut

Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

Josh Jones, S, NC State

Dion Dawkins, OL, Temple

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma

Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Note – I have 15 players listed there that would go in the 2nd Round in this scenario, and I have seen all of those players on at least one mock draft leading up to the Draft, which goes to show how deep this draft class really is.

NFL Week 10 / UFC 205 Predictions

We are now officially beyond the halfway point of the NFL season. Where is the time going? I have no idea, but I do know that we learned some things last week.

We learned that the Raiders are for real following a 30-20 domination of the defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos on Sunday night. We learned that the Lions might be the luckiest team in a long time, after defeating the Vikings in overtime to go to 5-4, despite trailing in the 4th Quarter of ALL NINE of their games. We learned that something is seriously wrong with the Packers, to the point where even Aaron Rodgers is (kinda) throwing his teammates under the bus.

We learned a lot, and we’ll probably learn even more this week. I’ll have my new Power Rankings, followed by a ranking of each of the eight divisions, and of course a Fantasy Start/Sit. I’ll also have a little something special for any UFC fans, as at the end of the post I’ll give a short preview and prediction for the biggest fights at the UFC’s first card in New York City taking place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Power Rankings

  1. New England Patriots
  2. Dallas Cowboys
  3. Oakland Raiders
  4. Atlanta Falcons
  5. Seattle Seahawks
  6. Kansas City Chiefs
  7. Denver Broncos
  8. New York Giants
  9. Minnesota Vikings
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers
  11. Washington Redskins
  12. San Diego Chargers
  13. Philadelphia Eagles
  14. Green Bay Packers
  15. Houston Texans
  16. Detroit Lions
  17. New Orleans Saints
  18. Arizona Cardinals
  19. Indianapolis Colts
  20. Baltimore Ravens
  21. Cincinnati Bengals
  22. Carolina Panthers
  23. Buffalo Bills
  24. Miami Dolphins
  25. Chicago Bears
  26. Tennessee Titans
  27. New York Jets
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  29. Los Angeles Rams
  30. Jacksonville Jaguars
  31. Cleveland Browns
  32. San Francisco 49ers


NFL Division Rankings

Each season, we hear divisions referred to as the “best” or the “weakest.” Well, I’m here to try and settle the argument of which division is the best in the league this year, and also which is the worse, with the other six in between. From one to eight, here are how I think the divisions stack up at this point in the season.

1 – AFC West

There is no debate here, the AFC West is the best division in football. Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper have led a young Raiders team to a 7-2 start, and they head into their bye week in 1st Place. Right on their tails is the 6-2 Chiefs, who have a road victory over the Raiders already this season. The defending Super Bowl Champion Broncos are in 3rd Place at 6-3. That alone is reason enough for this division to be at the top. Sitting in last place in the 4-5 Chargers, who are without question the best team in the league that’s below .500.

2 – NFC East

There were a ton of questions about the teams in this division entering the season, but they have surpassed all expectations to this point. The 7-1 Cowboys are the biggest surprise of the season, led by rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. It was a slow start for the Giants, but they’re starting to round into form following a win over the last place Eagles, who are at 4-4 after starting the season 3-0 behind rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. The Redskins have been quietly putting together a good season, as they sit at 4-3-1 coming off their bye week.

3 – NFC North

The top two teams in the NFC North are starting to struggle a little bit, but I think both of those teams are still good enough to compete with any team in the league. The Vikings are in 1st Place, but they have lost three straight after winning their first five games. There is something very wrong with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense, but at 4-4, they still have time to figure it out and make it to the playoffs. The Lions have trailed in the 4th Quarter in all nine of their games. Remarkably they are 5-4, and they just got a huge OT road victory over the division-leading Vikings. The Bears are just 2-6, but Jay Cutler is back and they are coming off of a victory over the Vikings. They could be dangerous during the home stretch.

4 – NFC South

This was one of the weakest divisions in the league last year, despite the 15-1 Panthers, but this year it has gotten much better, despite the 3-5 Panthers. The Falcons have proven to be one of the top teams in football with road wins over the Raiders and Broncos, and the Saints’ offense is leading it to some nice wins, as they sit at 4-4 and right in the playoff mix. The Buccaneers have been really struggling lately, but they still have a shot to make some noise as well at 3-5.

5 – AFC East

The 7-1 Patriots are easily the best team in football, that cannot be disputed at this moment. The rest of this division, though, is pretty mediocre. The Bills have shown flashes, but they had a bad start and are in a bad rut right now. The Dolphins may have found something with running back Jay Ajayi, but they are just 4-4 and don’t seem like a legitimate playoff threat yet. The Jets had high hopes coming into the season, but a terrible secondary and mediocre quarterback play have doomed them thus far.

6 – AFC North

I do believe that the Steelers, when completely healthy, are probably one of the best teams in the league. But they are dealing with all sorts of injury issues right now, and they cannot win on the road. That could be a problem. The Ravens are in 1st Place, but are just 4-4 on the season, and look unlikely to hold onto that spot. I said before the season that I thought the Bengals could struggle this season, and I’ve been right so far. They are just 3-4-1, so if they can figure out their issues, they could still reach the playoffs. The Browns are the only winless team in the league, but they play hard each and every week. You heard it here first, the Browns will defeat the Ravens tonight to get their first victory of the season.

7 – NFC West

The Seahawks and Cardinals were supposed to be two of the top Super Bowl contenders in the NFC this season. The Seahawks are 5-2-1, and while they have looked anemic on offense at times, they are still one of the best teams in the league and a threat. The Cardinals on the other hand, for reasons that I cannot figure out, have struggled mightily so far this season. They are just 3-4-1, and I’m not sure that I see it getting better for them. The Rams are a complete disaster right now despite being a respectable 3-5, and the Chip Kelly experiment in San Francisco is off to a rough start, as they have lost seven consecutive games following their season-opening win over the 49ers.

8 – AFC South

In my opinion, and I think in many other people’s opinion, the AFC South is the weakest division in football this season. The 5-3 Texans are in 1st Place, but their offense has not clicked, and the Brock Osweiler signing looks like a huge mistake at this juncture. The Colts are gaining steam, but after a very poor start, they are just 4-5 on the season. Also at 4-5 is the Titans, who have wins over the Lions, Browns, Dolphins and the 2-6 Jaguars. Not a very good resume. And speaking of the Jaguars, many people had high hopes for them entering the season. They have probably been the biggest disappointment in the NFL, and their status as the worst team in the worst division is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Fantasy Start/Sit



Cam Newton
It’s been a frustrating year for Newton owners (I sympathize with you), but I think he’ll start to turn it around this week. A home game against a Chiefs’ team that has given up a fair share of passing touchdowns, and are struggling with their pass rush. Feel good about starting him this week.

Eli Manning
Another QB that has been frustrating to own this year, Manning started the turnaround last week with four touchdowns against the Eagles. Now he gets a struggling Bengals’ defense at home on Monday Night Football. When the lights shine bright, so does Eli.

Marcus Mariota
Remember about a month or so ago when I told you to pick up or trade for Mariota? I look pretty smart so far. Now he gets to face the Packers, who have not been good against the pass. Look for a big week from Marcus.


Brock Osweiler/Blake Bortles
Two of the top pass defenses in the league going up against two quarterbacks who can’t seem to get out of their own way. This game is going to be won on the ground, so I wouldn’t start either of these guys this week.

Kirk Cousins
The Vikings’ defense has started to struggle a little bit, but they are still one of the best in the league, and I don’t think Cousins is quite there yet to be able to thrive against any defense. Try and find a better option this week.

Running Backs


David Johnson/Melvin Gordon
You are obviously starting both of these guys every week now at this point, I just wanted to put them here for those that play daily fantasy. These are the two guys you’ll want to build your lineups around this week (not both in the same, but one of them should be in each of your lineups).

Jordan Howard
In his breakout game two weeks ago, Howard proved that he should be the bell cow of the Bears’ offense, and he gets a fantastic matchup this week against the Bucs. Look for him to build on that great game and go for big numbers once again this week.

Tim Hightower/Mark Ingram
The Raiders gave the entire NFL the blueprint for how to beat the Broncos: run the ball down their throats. That makes Mark Ingram a great play this week, and I think Hightower is also worth a start, as he’ll get carries and targets in the passing game.


DeMarco Murray/Jay Ajayi
As with Johnson/Gordon, you are obviously starting both of these guys, but just beware that they could be in for some tough sledding. Murray faces the Packers and Ajayi goes up against the Chargers, two teams that have been great against the run this season. I would not put either of these guys in any daily fantasy lineups.

Todd Gurley
I own Gurley in two leagues, so I know what Gurley owners are going through. In fact, I pretty much have to start him in both leagues this week, but I don’t feel good about it. He hasn’t done anything this year, and he faces the stout Jets’ run defense this week. Jeff Fisher said Gurley needs to get the ball more, but I don’t know that it will help his fantasy prospects this week.

Carlos Hyde
It looks like Hyde might play this week, but odds are the Niners will be down early and will need to throw the ball a ton. That should limit Hyde’s opportunities, especially if they keep him on some sort of snap count, which is also possible.

Wide Receivers


Alshon Jeffery
Jay Cutler is back, and that can only be good news for Jeffery and his owners. Add that to the matchup with Tampa Bay, and Jeffery is a slam dunk this week. He is too big and physical for Tampa’s corners, and he should have a huge game.

Stefon Diggs
Diggs is quietly putting together a really good season, and he’s been the focal point of the Vikings’ offense the last couple games. He has been targeted 27 times over the last two games, and I expect those big target numbers to continue against Washington this week.

Michael Thomas
Aqib Talib is unlikely to play this week, and when Derek Carr threw the ball last week, he had his most success going at Talib’s replacement Bradley Roby. The Saints will focus on the run game, but they’re still going to throw the ball, and Thomas is the most likely player to see a lot of Roby. I expect Brees to take advantage of that matchup like Carr did last week.


DeAndre Hopkins/Allen Robinson
Both guys that you might have to start, but I wouldn’t feel good about doing so. They’ve both been frustrating to own this year, mostly due to their quarterbacks, and this week their QBs have to go up against two of the top secondaries in the league. I’d honestly consider sitting both of these guys.

Jeremy Maclin
Not only is Maclin in danger to miss the game against Carolina with a groin injury, but when he’s been healthy, he just doesn’t seem to be a focus in Kansas City’s offense. It’s a favorable matchup if he plays, but I can’t be confident that he’ll get enough targets to be worth starting.

Tight Ends


Tyler Eifert
Eifert is finally healthy, and he had a big game over in London two weeks ago, showing everyone that he was exactly what Andy Dalton and the Bengals needed on offense. He’s a must start every week as long as he’s healthy.

Zach Miller
I’m obviously big on the Bears this week, but this one is for good reason. The Bucs have been AWFUL against tight ends this season, so Miller could be in for a big performance this week. It could depend on if Jay Cutler actually throws him the ball, but I think he will.


Coby Fleener
He has been very hit or miss this year (more miss than hit), and I don’t like him against the Broncos this week. It’s simple as that. There will be better options this week.

Jason Witten
He’s been Mr. Reliable his entire career, and he’s been a great piece for Dak Prescott, but he’s got a tough matchup with the Steelers this week. They have some of the best cover linebackers in the league, and I think Prescott will try to attack their corners instead.


UFC 205 Predictions

Mixed Martial Arts are finally legal in New York, and for the UFC’s first show in the state, they are going all out. UFC 205 is the biggest card in the company’s history, headlined by Featherweight (145 lbs) Champion Conor McGregor moving up to Lightweight (155 lbs) to challenge Philly’s own Eddie Alvarez for his Lightweight Championship. The card will see two other belts defended, as well as a slew of popular fighters like Chris Weidman, Miesha Tate, Donald Cerrone and New York’s own Frankie Edgar. Here is a short preview of the biggest fights that will take place on Saturday night, and my predictions for them.

FS1 Prelims

Lightweight Bout (155 lbs)
#2 Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) vs #6 Michael Johnson (18-10)
Some believe that the winner of this fight could be in line for a title shot, but a lot of that could also depend on who leaves UFC 205 with the belt, Conor or Eddie. Regardless, this should be a really good fight, and you’ll get it for free on FOX Sports 1. Nurmagomedov has for a long time now been considered one of the top young prospects in the UFC. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his flight towards stardom. He is one of the best pure wrestlers in the UFC, and for him to win this fight, he’ll have to take it to the ground, which he almost always does. Johnson is a much more skilled striker, and he’ll want to stay upright and strike with Nurmagomedov. If he can make that happen, he may be able to catch him and pull the upset.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov, Unanimous Decision

Featherweight Bout (145 lbs)
#2 Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) vs #7 Jeremy Stephens (25-12)
Frankie Edgar is probably just thrilled to be a part of this, the UFC’s first card in his home state of New York. He has been a championship-level fighter for a while now, but the former Lightweight Champion has had two chances at the Featherweight belt, and has come up short both times, most recently falling to Jose Aldo at UFC 200. Despite the loss, Edgar is still one of the best 145-lb fighters in the company, and he comes into this fight the favorite over the powerful Jeremy Stephens. Stephens claims to have the most powerful fist in the division (Conor McGregor had a nice laugh at that one), but whether that’s true or not, it is true that Edgar needs to be careful. If Stephens lands one right hand, that could be the end for Edgar.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar, Unanimous Decision

PPV Main Card

Women’s Bantamweight Bout (135 lbs)
#1 Miesha Tate (18-6) vs #8 Raquel Pennington (8-6)
Miesha Tate finally reached the pinnacle at UFC 196 when she defeated Holly Holm by submission in the 5th round to win her first UFC Championship. Unfortunately, her time at the top wouldn’t last long, as she was defeated by 1st round submission at UFC 200 by new champion Amanda Nunes. Tate has long been one of the top female fighters in the world, and she’ll look to stake her claim for another title opportunity on Saturday when she takes on #8 ranked Raquel Pennington. Pennington and Tate go way back, as Tate was Pennington’s coach on The Ultimate Fighter, so she may know more about Pennington than anyone. Pennington is riding a three-fight winning streak into this one, and with a win, she could launch herself into the upper-echelon of female fighters. She is very well-rounded, but her best bet will be to keep the fight on the feet, as Tate is one of the most impressive female wrestlers in the UFC.
Prediction: Miesha Tate, Rd. 2 Submission

Welterweight Bout (170 lbs)
#5 Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) vs #6 Donald Cerrone (31-7, 1 NC)
This fight is being a little overlooked due to the three title fights on the card, but Gastelum versus Cerrone has a chance to steal the show. Gastelum was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter 17 fighting at Middleweight (185 lbs), defeating Uriah Hall in the finals. He is an excellent striker, and is coming off a victory over former Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 200. Saturday he’ll take on one of the most popular fighters in the UFC in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. After losing to Rafael Dos Anjos in a fight for the Lightweight title, Cerrone moved up to Welterweight and has won three consecutive fights, including three Performance of the Night bonuses. Cerrone has won 11 of his last 12 fights, so he is clearly a man on a mission. Cerrone is also a very talented striker, but his jiu jitsu is also top-class. This will be an exciting fight.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone, Split Decision

Middleweight Bout (185 lbs)
#2 Chris Weidman (13-1) vs #4 Yoel Romero (11-1)
Another exciting fight on a stacked card, the winner of this fight could be next in line for a shot at Michael Bisping’s Middleweight title. Weidman is a former Middleweight champ, and this will be his first time in the Octagon since losing the title to Luke Rockhold in December of last year. Weidman is a former All-American wrestler, and also a U.S. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion. His takedowns are some of the best in the UFC, and I suspect that taking this fight to the ground will be the best way for him to get the win, because his opponent is one of the most dangerous strikers in the game. Romero was a silver medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2000 Summer Olympics, and has transitioned into being a very successful mixed martial artist. His technique has been questioned by a lot of experts, but there’s no denying that his right hand packs a ton of power. All it could take is one shot to end Weidman’s night.
Prediction: Yoel Romero, Rd. 3 KO/TKO

Women’s Strawweight Championship (115 lbs)
C Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) vs #2 Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0)
One of these ladies is going to suffer the first defeat of their professional fighting careers. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is one of the most dominant champions in the history of the company. She has pretty much wiped out the Strawweight division, save for her fellow Polish fighter Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Karolina earned this opportunity with a split-decision win over Rose Namajunas at UFC 201 in Atlanta. Beyond this being the “Battle for Poland,” one of the most exciting things about this fight is that both of these women want to stand up and just throw fists. Neither of them try to hide the fact that they are glorified boxers, but that just means that the better striker will win this fight. Joanna has some of the quickest movements I’ve ever seen, and I think it will be tough for Karolina to keep up. But the best part of fighting is that anything can happen.
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Unanimous Decision

Welterweight Championship (170 lbs)
C Tyron Woodley (16-3) vs #2 Stephen Thompson (13-1)
Championship fight #2 of the night will pit the new Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Woodley is one of the best strikers in the UFC, and he proved that when he knocked out former champ Robbie Lawler in the 1st round at UFC 201. Lawler had become known for his iron chin, and Woodley caught him with one punch and then laid it on to take the title. This fight will be a wonderful clash of styles, as Thompson boasts a repertoire based on karate, which has become a lost art in MMA. Thompson has won seven fights in a row, so he comes in with some momentum. He will attack Woodley in a variety of ways, and he is very hard to read, which could cause some trouble for the underdog champion. Thompson’s style is also very well-suited to go deep into fights, so he won’t be afraid to weather the storm and take this fight to a decision. This should be a fun co-main event.
Prediction: Stephen Thompson, Unanimous Decision

Lightweight Championship (155 lbs)
C Eddie Alvarez (28-4) vs C-FTW Conor McGregor (20-3)
Oh man, I am excited for this fight. Conor McGregor is a once-in-a-lifetime figure. He is polarizing, he is entertaining and above all else, he is a damn good fighter. McGregor does whatever he wants, says whatever he wants, and Dana White and the UFC are powerless to him because he is the biggest star they’ve ever had. It makes for wonderful viewing, and this Saturday, he looks to become the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two different weight divisions. He’ll have a tough task in taking down the “Underground King” Eddie Alvarez. It’s been a whirlwind career for Alvarez. He’s been a champion in every organization he’s fought in, and it took three years, but he is finally the UFC Lightweight Champion following a 1st round TKO of Rafael Dos Anjos. Alvarez has an exceptional ground game, but he also likes to stand up and strike with his opponents. That might not be his gameplan Saturday though, as McGregor has the best left hand in the business. “Precision beats power and timing beats speed,” McGregor said following his 13 second knockout of Jose Aldo. He doesn’t think there’s a Featherweight in the world that can take his left hand, but when he moved up to Welterweight, Nate Diaz seemed to take them okay. Diaz beat him once, but lost the second time due to eating too many of those precision punches from McGregor. If Alvarez stands and tries to out-punch McGregor, he’s likely to come up short, but if he can get the fight to the ground and extend the fight, his chances will improve. This will be the perfect finish to what is sure to be a tremendous night of fights.
Prediction: Conor McGregor, Rd. 2 KO/TKO