With 32 teams in the NFL, trying to stay on top of all the latest news, rumors and information, is an enormous undertaking. To meet the demands of this extraordinary challenge, cover32 has a collection of more than 23 editors and a myriad of writers following each team from around the league, producing credible, authentic and high-quality content on a continual basis.
Given this distinct organizational structure, with a staff of editors and writers dedicated to covering each of the NFL’s 32 teams, cover32 has been provided a unique opportunity to create one of the most definitive mock drafts possible. When constructing this mock, the goal was to generate an accurate representation reflective of the upcoming NFL Draft in April.
Regardless of preparation, there is no such thing as a perfect mock draft. Even the most successful mocks are not without their discrepancies and miscalculations. Much like the actual NFL draft, unforeseen maneuvers and strategies come into play. It is impossible to predict the future motives and intentions of any team with complete accuracy.
In order to achieve an approximate facsimile of the draft, considerable attention was given to the draft order, team needs, best fit, current player projections and evaluations, combine results and pro-day workouts. It was our endeavor to deliver a mock draft that attempted to genuinely replicate the NFL Draft in a way that would deliver the closest potential results.
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1. Cleveland Browns: DE, Myles Garrett – Texas A&M
There’s just so many holes to fill on this Browns’ roster that it gives them a lot of freedom in the draft to go after talent rather than specific needs (because let’s face it, they need everything). The Browns need improvement all over their defense and a talented pass rusher could do wonders for their defensive performance moving forward.
2. San Francisco 49ers: DE, Solomon Thomas – Stanford
The 49ers’ free agency moves have decreased the pressure to select a quarterback or wide receiver with their high pick, leaving specific needs for an edge rusher, along with adding depth at the offensive line, quarterback and linebacker positions. At the combine Thomas silenced concerns about his size and showed that he has the potential to be one of the most explosive edge rushers in the draft. Thomas comes with extreme versatility for a 4-3 scheme which will be implemented by the 49ers’ defense in 2017 and wouldn’t even need to move if he joins this NFL team.
3. Chicago Bears: S, Jamal Adams – LSU
The Bears have been active in free agency, but haven’t found a long-term solution at any position yet this offseason. A quarterback is a possibility here, but it would be hard to pass on a player who many believe to be the best safety to enter the draft since Eric Berry. Adams is a physical, instinctive safety who can dish out hits just as well as he can drop back in coverage. He’s a natural leader who would step in from Day 1 and make an impact for the Bears on the field and off of it.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: RB, Leonard Fournette – LSU
5. Tennessee Titans: DE, Jonathan Allen – Alabama
6. New York Jets: S, Malik Hooker – Ohio State
7. Los Angeles Chargers: CB, Marshon Lattimore – Ohio State
Despite having two talented players currently manning the cornerback position, the Chargers are in need of additional depth across nearly their entire roster. A potential playoff contender that was ultimately ravaged by injuries last season, Los Angeles is in the unique position to take the best player available, while hoping everyone remains healthy in 2017. At this point, that individual looks to be Lattimore. He may be inexperienced but has all the tools necessary to be an annual Pro Bowl caliber player.
8. Carolina Panthers: DE, Derek Barnett – Tennessee
9. Cincinnati Bengals: LB, Reuben Foster – Alabama
Adding Foster opposite of linebacker, Vontaze Burfict, has the potential to make a tremendous impact. Foster is a vicious hitter whose playmaking capabilities could benefit the Bengals, especially in nickel packages. The Alabama product has the ability to cover in the passing game, stop opposing rushing attacks, or get to the quarterback if called upon. His addition could immediately give Cincinnati one of the top-linebacking groups in all the NFL.
10. Buffalo Bills: WR, Corey Davis – Western Michigan
11. New Orleans Saints: WR, John Ross – Washington
12. Cleveland Browns: WR, Mike Williams – Clemson
13. Arizona Cardinals: QB, Deshaun Watson – Clemson
14. Philadelphia Eagles: CB, Marlon Humphrey – Alabama
15. Indianapolis Colts: DE/OLB, Takkarist McKinley – UCLA
16. Baltimore Ravens: WR, Ryan Switzer – North Carolina
17. Washington Redskins: WR, JuJu Smith-Schuster – USC
18. Tennessee Titans: LB/DB, Jabrill Peppers – Michigan
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE, OJ Howard – Alabama
The Buccaneers arguably have one of the best tight ends in the NFL in Cameron Brate. He led the league in touchdowns in 2017 with eight, however, he is a below average blocker. Howard has the ability to immediately step in and bolster the pass protection and could be lethal in two-tight end sets. Considered by many the best tight end in the draft and a day-one contributor, the Buccaneers could select this dynamic player that would immediately vault their offense into a deadly attack, featuring multiple weapons. Head coach, Dirk Koetter, is known to feed his tight ends and Howard could be a prime target for one of the NFL’s best young quarterbacks in Jameis Winston.
20. Denver Broncos: RB, Christian McCaffrey – Stanford
21. Detroit Lions: LB, Haason Reddick – Temple
22. Miami Dolphins: OLB, T.J. Watt – Wisconsin
23. New York Giants: TE, David Njoku – Miami
While the addition of Brandon Marshall should be a major help to Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants still need a tight end that can actually play. Njoku’s 6’4″ 246-pound frame, is chiseled from granite. He can catch, break tackles and block at a high level already and with experience, he will only get better. Yes, the team needs to add young and cheap options along their defensive front, but this squad is built to contend in the postseason right now and adding a difference maker on offense should be the priority over financial issues in the future.
24. Oakland Raiders: DL, Malik McDowell – Michigan State
Despite employing the league’s most versatile and explosive pass rusher in Khalil Mack, the Raiders struggled to generate a consistent pass rush. Netting just 25 sacks is inexcusable. McDowell could be the missing piece the Raiders need. The fascinating aspect of drafting McDowell would be how he fits into the scheme that new assistant head coach, John Pagano, implements. Pagano, a pupil of Wade Phillips, could utilize McDowell’s length, pursuit and swim move to effectively bolster the Raiders’ pass rush.
25. Houston Texans: QB, DeShone Kizer – Notre Dame
26. Seattle Seahawks: S, Budda Baker – Washington
27. Kansas City Chiefs: RB, Alvin Kamara – Tennessee
28. Dallas Cowboys: DE, Taco Charlton – Michigan
29. Green Bay Packers: S, Obi Melifonwu – Connecticut
Green Bay’s aging secondary was shredded for a good half of the season last year. Melifonwu could give the Packers’ defensive backfield both the young talent and depth that it sorely needs.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: OLB, Tim Williams – Alabama
31. Atlanta Falcons: DT, Nazair Jones – North Carolina
32. New Orleans Saints: CB, Kevin King – Washington
King was part of one the best secondaries across the nation in all of college football last season. The Saints need a lot of help defensively and could desperately use King’s cover skills to upgrade one of the most forgiving secondaries in the NFL.