Round 1 of the NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 28th. As usual, I’ve spent many March and April hours studying this year’s draft class, analyzing team needs, and researching all kinds of draft-related rumors in order to determine possible first round fits. That said, it’s important to remember that the NFL draft is nearly impossible to forecast. Although I was fortunate enough to get 11 picks correct last year, this was a personal high and tops in the industry, and typically even the most accurate mock drafts only hit on about seven of the 32 first round picks (there are 31 picks this year because New England’s pick was forfeited). You can scroll to the bottom of the page to see my MOCK DRAFT SUCCESS HISTORY.
The MAIN GOAL of this mock is to provide readers with everything they need to know about each team, in terms of their situation, needs, philosophy and potential prospects, in order to MINIMIZE THE SURPRISES. In other words, the fewer the surprises that occur in the minds of those who have read this draft breakdown, the better I did my job.
NOTES: This page will be updated daily up until the draft, and detailed explanations of each pick will be added as the draft approaches. The positions listed by each prospect are the position they would play if drafted by that team, not necessarily the position they played in college. Targets are arranged in order of perceived interest.
- LA – Jared Goff (QB – Cal)
- NEEDS: QB, WR, FS
- TARGETS: QB Jared Goff
- PHI – Carson Wentz (QB – N.D. St)
- NEEDS: CB, DT, RB
- TARGETS: QB Carson Wentz
- SD – DeForest Buckner (DL – Oregon)
NEEDS: DL, S, OT
TARGETS: DL DeForest Buckner, OT Ronnie Stanley, FS Jalen Ramsey, OT Laremy Tunsil, DE Joey Bosa
WAR ROOM: The Chargers essentially open the draft in a similar spot to the Jaguars last year, when they were choosing between the best non-QB prospects in the draft class – Amari Cooper, Leonard Williams and Dante Fowler. Here, assuming San Diego keeps the pick, the Chargers will be deciding between two OTs Laremy Tunsil and Ronnie Stanley, FS Jalen Ramsey, DE DeForest Buckner, and DE Joey Bosa. A strong argument can be made for all picks, particularly Tunsil. Anyone who watched any Chargers game last year knows that they had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. A lot of that had to do with injuries, however. LT King Dunlap only played 4 games, and he’s the real wildcard with this pick. An above average left tackle when healthy, Dunlap is entering his age 31 season, having three years left on his pricy contract, but he has suffered three concussions recently, which puts his longterm outlook on thin ice. While Dunlap’s presence and the money invested in him is no major reason to pass on a potentially elite blindside protector for an aging QB Philip Rivers – especially in a division with pass rushers like Von Miller, Demarcus Ware, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, and Aldon Smith – the one possible drawback of taking Tunsil is that, theoretically if Dunlap were to return healthy and to his 2014 form, the Chargers’ have an unquestionably bigger need on their defensive line. It’s also worth noting that the Chargers do in fact have plenty of players on their roster who have played tackle at some point in their careers, including both guards Orlando Franklin and D.J. Fluker. It seems to me like center is a bigger need on their O-line than LT, and that most of their protection issues stemmed from injuries last season. However, you can’t blame San Diego for selecting Tunsil, the player who was widely considered the top-rated prospect when the Titans were selecting. The main reason I’m hesitant to mock the seemingly obvious selection of Tunsil here because based on reports, I’m not convinced the Chargers even have Tunsil as the #1 LT in the draft over Ronnie Stanley. Plus I think they could value a defender like DeForest Buckner more, based on their needs and Buckner’s extremely high character. The Chargers’ run defense was routinely gashed last season, giving up a 31st-ranked 4.8 yards per attempt on the ground. They currently have no DE opposite of Corey Liuget (who is also entering the final year of his contract), and Buckner would be a huge, literally huge, help for their D-line. I’ve been going 50/50 on Tunsil or Buckner for this pick, but it would be dumb to completely rule out FS Jalen Ramsey (who they can replace the departed Eric Weddle with) and Joey Bosa, who would be a versatile piece as a hybrid DE/LB, helping the run defense, and eventually replacing the team’s best pass rusher Melvin Ingram after he likely leaves in free agency next season. It’s also worth mentioning that the Chargers have tried shopping this pick to no end AND have said all along they’ve known who they were picking, both implying that they make like a player who is projected to go a few picks later. Because Tunsil and Ramsey had been projected to go ahead of them before the trades, perhaps this fact lends itself to the Chargers taking Ronnie Stanley, Joey Bosa, or DeForest Buckner. In sum, no one really has any idea what the Chargers are going to do. It’s beautiful. My best guess is Bucker or Stanley.
- DAL – Ezekiel Elliot (RB – Ohio St)
- NEEDS: CB, D-Line, LB, RB
- TARGETS: CB Jalen Ramsey, RB Ezekiel Elliot
- WAR ROOM: There are a number of reasons why Dallas could opt for the lone first round running back in this draft class. First, their winning formula two seasons ago when the team went 12-4 involved riding DeMarco Murray behind a dominant offensive line. The Cowboys want to run the ball more with Tony Romo becoming older and more fragile in recent years. In many senses, Elliot would help protect Romo, both keeping the ball out of his hands and because he’s the best blocking RB to come out in years. Darren McFadden is 30+ years old and only has one more year left on his contract, and I don’t think Alfred Morris provides much more than depth at this stage in his career. The hope is that the combination of Elliot, that offensive line, Romo, and Dez Bryant would allow the Cowboys to have a trio of stars (Jerry Jones may be thinking of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin) who will be able to control the clock and keep their defense off the field … There’s an obvious need at DE with both starting ends – Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory – suspended for the first four games of the season. Bosa would be a nice fit because he could start over Gregory in base sets, and Gregory could come on for him as a situational pass rusher on third downs. I’m a little hesitant to mock Bosa to Dallas because of some reported, albeit minor, character concerns of his own… Jalen Ramsey will definitely receive strong consideration if the Chargers do not take him. Ramsey would play cornerback for the Cowboys, seeing as they have Byron Jones at FS and Mo Claibourne has struggled for years. I’d imagine Dallas will be selecting between Elliot and Ramsey, and if Ramsey is taken at pick 3, they’ll consider Bosa too.
- JAX – Joey Bosa (OLB – Ohio St)
- NEEDS: SS, G/C, MLB
- TARGETS: FS Jalen Ramsey, DE Joey Bosa, OLB Myles Jack, OLB Leonard Floyd
- WAR ROOM: Myles Jack is one of the biggest wild cards in this draft because of his knee injury. To keep it short, doctors are concerned about the longevity of Jack’s career because they are unsure if his knee will recover fully and hold up. This could mean some teams have medical red flags on Jack, and they’ll refuse to select the talented LB because of the health concern. Other teams, however, will have Jack in their top-10, possibly even top-5, as long as their doctors have cleared him. I’d expect the league to be pretty split on Jack, but the Jaguars have shown a lot of interest in Jack, even flying out to his home gym to put him through an extensive workout on the knee. They were reportedly impressed, but it’s possible Jack isn’t their top prospect and that they were just doing their due diligence as an insurance policy. In other words, the Jaguars easily could have FS Jalen Ramsey or DE Joey Bosa higher than Jack on their boards despite the heavy interest shown to Jack. Regardless, I expect one of those three players to pick the pick here if they stand pat. My best guess is that the Jaguars will be choosing between Bosa and Ramsey, and Jack will be a consolation prize if both are taken before… It’s worth noting however that they arguably are in the best spot of the draft, and they should be receiving a TON of phone calls for trade offers for this pick. Don’t be surprised if they move down to the teens and take a guy like Leonard Floyd, who they like a lot.
- BAL – Jalen Ramsey (CB – FSU)
- NEEDS: OT, OLB, CB, ILB
- TARGETS: CB Jalen Ramsey, OT Laremy Tunsil, OT Ronnie Stanley, OLB Joey Bosa, DE DeForest Buckner, IF TRADE DOWN: OLB Noah Spence, DT Robert Nkemdiche, WR Josh Doctson
- WAR ROOM: The Ravens would just love it if Laremy Tunsil or Jalen Ramsey, widely considered the best prospects in this class, fell to them at pick 6, but great talent always seems to have a way of falling to Baltimore. As of now, the Ravens’ offensive tackle situation is shaky at best, as LT Eugene Monroe is unreliable and RT Ricky Wagner is coming off a down year. They could be interested in both Ronnie Stanley and Laremy Tunsil if they fell… It’s arguable that CB is the biggest need on this roster, making Ramsey a gold mine in the unlikely event he falls in their lap… Another direction they could go is pass rusher. OLBs Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are both on the wrong side of 30, and the former is coming off a serious injury. The Ravens couldn’t get to the QB last season after Suggs got hurt early… DeForest Buckner is a dark horse for this pick. DL is not a huge area of need, but Buckner can help any defense. This is a nice spot for Baltimore, and it presents a great opportunity to take the winner of the aforementioned tackles and Bosa, but the decision will be a tough one for them for them… I’m listing OLB/DE Noah Spence, DT Robert Nkemdiche, and WR Josh Doctson here because the Ravens have shown a ton of recent interest in them throughout the draft process, and they have also inquired with other teams about trading down, so I’m just trying to cover the bases here. A trade down is possible, particularly if Tunsil is off the board.
- SF – Laremy Tunsil (OT – Ole Miss)
- NEEDS: QB, WR, ILB, OLB
- TARGETS: DE DeForest Buckner, OT Laremy Tunsil, OT Ronnie Stanley, OLB Shaq Lawson, QB Paxton Lynch
- WAR ROOM: No one is sure of what to make of RT Anthony Davis’ reinstatement situation. He could be a on the trade block. The 49ers need athletic offensive linemen to play in Chip Kelly’s system. The team loves OG Joshua Garnett, but he’s more if a round 2 prospect. This makes Ronnie Stanley and Laremy Tunsil strong possibilities for this pick if they are available… GM Trent Baalke is obsessed with size, and the team could covet a massive player like DE DeForest Buckner to pair with fellow former Oregon Duck, Arik Amstead… I’m listing Paxton Lynch here simply because San Francisco needs a QB, not because they have shown any interest in him whatsoever.
- CLE – Ronnie Stanley (OT – Notre Dame)
- NEEDS: QB, OT, WR, LB, DL
- TARGETS: DE Joey Bosa, DL DeForest Buckner, QB Paxton Lynch, OT Ronnie Stanley, OT Jack Conklin, Laquon Treadwell
- WAR ROOM: There are a ridiculous amount of ways the Browns can go with this pick. To complicate matters, many insiders expect Cleveland to trade down (again), and that makes sense. They aren’t one player way from competing, and they need to stockpile picks to give the new regime more darts to throw. Furthermore, teams really want the Browns’ pick. It’s likely that high profile prospects like Zeke Elliot, DeForest Buckner, Joey Bosa, Paxton Lynch, or Myles Jack (or a couple of them), will be available here, and all of those players have suitors picking later in the draft. This pick could easily be dealt. But first Cleveland will consider those options. Believe it or not, there are a few teams that have Paxton Lynch as the #1 QB on their boards, and the Browns could be one of them (evidenced by the fact they had no issues trading out of a chance to draft Wentz or Goff. Pick 8 may seem early, but the Browns could take Lynch here, or they could move down a few spots with a team like Chicago or Miami (in attempt to acquire Elliot) and take Paxton Lynch there… Cleveland lost RT Mitchell Schwartz in free agency and may lose premier LT Joe Thomas in a draft day trade, so we could see them go with an offensive tackle like Ronnie Stanley or Jack Conklin here. They could move down and get the latter… Adding talent to the porous front-7 may be another smart route, particularly if DeForest Buckner or Joey Bosa falls here, perhaps even Myles Jack if the team’s doctors give it the OK. the Browns are especially weak at ILB, losing Karlos Dansby… Basically, Cleveland is in a great spot after the trade, and there are a handful of quality picks that can address any one of their many needs. If they don’t absolutely LOVE one of the front-7 defenders listed, or a team blows them away with another good trade offer, like for CLE to move back a few spots and take Lynch or Conklin or even a dark horse like Laquon Treadwell (they desperately need a WR). They are really in a prime spot to take advantage of teams like the Dolphins or Bears wanting Ezekiel Elliot (assuming Dallas passes him, which the Browns have to be rooting for). Or, Cleveland could take Elliot themselves to give them somewhat of an offensive identity like Gurley did to the Rams near this spot last year, though I think that’s the most unlikely of the scenarios listed.
- TB – Sheldon Rankins (DT – Louisville)
- NEEDS: Secondary, DE, OT, DT
- TARGETS: DT Sheldon Rankins, DE Leonard Floyd, DE Shaq Lawson, DE Noah Spence, CB Vernon Hargreaves, CB Eli Apple
- WAR ROOM: Tampa Bay needs to improve their pass rush and their secondary, but reading between the lines of the press conferences from GM Jason Licht, I think considerable weight should be given to DT for this pick. Basically, Licht believes pressure can from inside with DTs just as much as it comes from outside DEs. If DLs Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner drop to this pick, which is possible but unlikely, they would be obvious choices here. If not, I’m thinking Tampa will address DT or CB… I know Tampa loves Sheldon Rankins and Andrew Billings, but it’s a little high for Billings to go, as Rankins likely offers more of a pass rush than Billings at this stage. The most commonly mocked pick (perhaps for any team) is Vernon Hargreaves at 9, and while it makes sense on paper, I’ve never got the feeling that the Bucs were high on him throughout the draft process. In fact, I’ve heard that they are just as high on CB Eli Apple. They could love both, however… As far as pass rushers go, Saints fans need to watch out for this pick, because Tampa Bay could easily steal a key target for New Orleans; the teams have nearly identical needs. DE Shaq Lawson makes perfect sense here, as arguably the best DE in the draft, at least in terms of upside. This is a dark horse team for Noah Spence to come off the board early. Tampa has shown interest in Spence, and this is about where he would go if not for off-field issues. They also have shown a recent interest in Leonard Floyd. While Floyd would help the defense and fit in Tampa (I could easily see them taking Floyd, Spence or Rankins), I think Floyd is the most likely to a smoke screen.
- NYG – Leonard Floyd (OLB – UGA)
- NEEDS: LB, S, OT, WR
- TARGETS: OLB Leonard Floyd, OLB Darron Lee, OT Jack Conklin, CB Vernon Hargreaves, RB Ezekiel Elliot
- WAR ROOM: Giants beat writers are particularly some of the more reliable ones in terms of projecting the Giants’ draft needs and players of interest, so I typically defer to them. This year, the buzz surrounds OLB Leonard Floyd. The reasoning is based on the Giants’ total lack of athleticism at the LB position since Mathias Kiwanuka retired, and the G-Men envision Floyd as their next Kiwanuka, as a versatile, hybrid LB / DE who is an excellent blitzer. They’ll have a tough decision to make if OLB Myles Jack falls. There are conflicting reports on whether the Giants believe his knee is OK. From an OLB standpoint, Darron Lee is another very athletic LB they should consider from a needs standpoint.. Some other obvious team needs include offensive line and wide receiver, but beat writers don’t expect the Giants to go that route at 10. In fact, the consensus among people I trust is that New York is almost certainly going defense with this pick, EVEN if Zeke Elliot falls. That said, I hear the Giants like OT Jack Conklin a lot… CB Vernon Hargreaves makes a ton of sense here too, and I’d bet the decision will come down to Hargreaves vs. Floyd, with Myles Jack throwing a wrench in things if he is available.
- CHI – Vernon Hargreaves (CB – Florida)
- NEEDS: 3-4 DE, OT, RB, CB
- TARGETS: DL DeForest Buckner, RB Ezekiel Elliot, OT Ronnie Stanley, OLB Shaq Lawson, OLB Leonard Floyd, CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Jarran Reed
- WAR ROOM: If Chicago can’t get their hands on RB Ezekiel Elliot, and trust me, they want to, I fully expect this pick to be a defender. Granted, there are issues along the offensive line, particularly a massive hole at left tackle, which makes Ronnie Stanley or Jack Conklin viable options. That said, Chicago’s biggest need is at cornerback, which makes Vernon Hargreaves an attractive selection here even though he’s not commonly mocked to the Bears for some reason. They were torched by opposing wide outs last season. I believe the Bears are strongly considering Hargreaves. I also think they are entertaining DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Jarran Reed and OLB Shaq Lawson for this pick. The Bears switched to a 3-4 base defense last season under Vic Fangio and are still working to acquire the pieces to run it.
- NO – Shaq Lawson (DE – Clemson)
- NEEDS: DE, coverage LB, DT, WR, OG
- TARGETS: DE Shaq Lawson, DE Noah Spence, DT Sheldon Rankins, OLB Darron Lee, CB Vernon Hargreaves, OG Jack Conklin, QB Paxton Lynch, WR Laquon Treadwell
- WAR ROOM: After consecutive 7-9 seasons, the cap-strapped Saints find themselves in a unique win-now mode, knowing that the team’s window of opportunity for winning a second Super Bowl closes in about four seasons when QB Drew Brees retires. Brees is still playing at an extremely high level, but recently the Saints have not been able to surround him with enough talent to compete in an improving NFC South division.TEAM NEED #1: Pass RusherSean Payton has rightfully acknowledged in press conferences that improving the pass rush is a big need. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of quality pass rushers in this draft class. Payton has mentioned he wants a player who can get to the quarterback in “3 Mississippis.” This quality describes Noah Spence more than any other prospect. Spence has the fastest first step and the best ability to bend around the edge in this draft class. Spence would be a top-10 talent in this draft class if not for character concerns that involve previously failed drug tests. Spence has gone to rehab and has reportedly been clean for over a year, but that didn’t stop the Saints from inquiring. The team has visited him twice throughout the draft process, and although he is expected to come off the board later in Round 1, he remains a sleeper for this pick. Shaq Lawson is another personal favorite of mine for this pick. He’s a well-rounded, high character guy, who projects to be a better run defender than he is pass rusher early in his career, but he has the athletic upside to a be force playing opposite of Cam Jordan. As far as Kevin Dodd goes, he carries a lot of risk (and admitted upside), being the “cleanup man” on a bunch of sacks and a beneficiary of 1-on-1 matchups thanks to offenses focusing on his teammate, Lawson. Dodd is not nearly as polished and could be a little overrated by the media right now. Still, despite his “one year wonder” label, he remains in play for this pick and has shown the ability to be disruptive in the run game.Ultimately, Noah Spence and Shaq Lawson are two of my favorite first round fits for the Saints.TEAM NEED #2: Coverage LinebackerLast season, the troubles with the linebacking corp weren’t necessarily due to lack of talent or potential ability, but rather a lack of experience. This should be obvious when you consider that THREE of the Saints’ FOUR primarily used LBs (Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha, and Michael Mauti) had never started an NFL game. These youngsters were asked to play different positions at different times due to WLB Dannell Ellerbe‘s health issues. They had to play under two defensive coordinators (Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen). And they had to play in a hybrid 4-3 / 3-4 scheme.On film, there were too many miscommunications and late diagnoses of plays, so it’s easy to see why James Laurinaitis was recently signed. Although Laurinaitis’s play has dropped off in the last few years, he’s a durable veteran who at least will serve as a much-needed leader and guiding light to the team’s young, but talented group of linebackers. A lot of fans are considering the idea of drafting Alabama ILB Reggie Ragland in round 1, but the Saints remain high on Stephone Anthony, who has a lot of unchartered potential. And unfortunately, Ragland doesn’t cure the two woes the team has at linebacker: the aforementioned inexperience and coverage ability/range. The Saints have been torched by RBs receiving out of the backfield and have not been able to cover tight ends over the middle. New Orleans allowed a combined 133 receiving yards to opposing TEs/RBs, the highest mark in the NFL. This makes someone like Darron Lee (Ohio St) attractive. While Lee is an exceptional athlete and has showed range and natural ability in coverage, he could be considered somewhat of a high-risk but high-ceiling reach at 12 overall.Ideally, New Orleans could look to converted hybrid safeties/LBs later in the draft – Su’a Cravens (USC) would fit the bill in Round 2.TEAM NEED #3: Defensive TackleThere’s no denying that a 3-technique defensive tackle is an area of need. However, I think drafting one of these DTs in Round 1 would grossly fail to maximize the value and potential impact of this pick.In today’s pass-first league, it’s becoming more apparent that only DTs who can penetrate and affect QBs (read: Aaron Donald, Gerald McCoy, Ndamukong Suh) in the passing game are the only ones worth first round selections.This draft class is absolutely loaded DTs who excel against the run, clogging gaps, and inviting double teams to free up others to make tackles. Commonly Saints-mocked prospects like Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) and A’Shawn Robinson (Bama) come to mind. Stopping the run is undoubtedly a need for the Saints, but none of these first round DTs offer much of anything in the pass rush department. Granted, Rankins has more pass rushing promise than Robinson does, but he’d need some development in that respect.Perhaps more significantly, this is the deepest defensive tackle class in the last decade, and plenty of quality DTs will be available in rounds 2-3, where I expect the Saints to select one or two bodies, knowing that Nick Fairley and John Jenkins are both entering the last year on their respective contracts. In sum, picking a DT at 12 would provide a little more than a one-dimensional run stuffer in a pass-heavy league.I would highly support the Saints pouncing on any fringe late 1st / early 2nd round defensive tackle that happens to falls to pick 47. Vernon Butler (La Tech), Chris Jones (Miss St), Jon Bullard (Florida) or A’Shawn Robinson (Bama) … in that order … are all very strong second round picks.TEAM NEED #4: Wide ReceiverTo me, outside of pass rushers Noah Spence and Shaq Lawson, the best players available at pick 12 are most likely going to be two wide receivers: Josh Doctson (WR – TCU) (Ole Miss) and Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss). Doctson and Treadwell are my 5th and 9th rated overall prospects, respectively, and I have absolutely no problem with spending our first round pick on either.
Merely assuming that upgrading the defense will automatically put the Saints in contention ignores the fact that the offense can’t carry the team like it used to.
Drafting one of these two wide outs would be the final piece to the offensive puzzle the Saints have been lacking for the last two seasons. Treadwell and Doctson are big, physical, ball-hawking, accuracy erasers who can beat press coverage and be a force in the red zone. Further, they would serve as an ideal complement to the smaller speedster Brandin Cooks, while also pushing Willie Snead into the slot, an area that better suits his Lance Moore-like skillset. With a balanced running game and multi-faceted offense that can attack any part of the field with a variety of weapons and different skillsets, I’d be willing to go far enough to say that it would remind me of the offense during the Saints’ Super Bowl season.
Perhaps New Orleans will address WR after Round 1 with their grave defensive needs. If so, Michael Thomas (Ohio St) and Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) would be sweet second round selections. WRs Rashard Higgins (Col St – 3rd round projection) and Malcom Mitchell (UGA – 4th round) would be mid-round steals.
TEAM NEED #5: Secondary Depth
Coming from the CFL and Arena League, it took CB1 Chip Breaux took a few games to adjust to the soft, touchy, offensive nature of the NFL’s flag football stance on contact with wide receivers. But once he refined his technique, he was one of the best coverage corners in the NFL. Keenan Lewis, a quality CB2 in his own right, dealt with injuries all season, missing 10 games. Lewis’s injuries led to heightened playing time for everyone’s favorite defender, Brandon Browner. Furthermore, rookie corner Damian Swann, who looked like a draft day steal at times, was only able to play in 5 games because he sustained three concussions over the course of the season. His loss could have been overshadowed if P.J. Williams, the cornerback the Saints selected in the third round of last year’s draft (before Swann), had not landed on injured reserve before the season even began. So while it’s never safe to assume full health in the NFL, positive injury regression will likely yield better health, thus better performances, from the secondary this season. At full strength, the Saints’ secondary is, believe it or not, an ABOVE AVERAGE unit in the NFL. FS Jairus Byrd and SS Kenny Vaccaro (who quietly had a nice bounce-back season) form a decent safety duo, boundary corners Chip Breaux and Keenan Lewis, and nickel back Damian Swann make up a solid CB trio. Not only that, but “red shirt” CB P.J. Williams and veteran Kyle Wilson provide adequate depth at the position.
There is no real consensus about the best cornerback in this draft. Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) possesses a lot of positive traits for the position. He excels in zone coverage, but he is inconsistent, coming off a poor season, and is undersized. I believe he’ll be drafted later than most mocks have him projected (in the top 10). Mackensie Alexander (Clemson) is probably the best cover corner in this draft, at least on tape, particularly in press man coverage. But he’ll likely slip in the draft because he’s also smallish (5’10, 190) and there are character concerns floating in league circles. William Jackson (Houston) is also a very good man-to-man CB who has the measurables desired at the position, but there are mixed reviews by teams on whether he’s ready to transition and compete in the NFL immediately. Finally, Eli Apple (Ohio St) has a sweet size and speed combination, but he’s raw in zone coverage and has other flaws on tape.
Regardless, while the Saints need to address cornerback in the draft at some point if they feel Lewis’s or Swann’s health is a bigger concern than let on (I believe Swann’s is on far thinner ice), I do not think the Saints would be wise to draft a cornerback with the 12th overall pick, regardless of who available.
TEAM NEED #6: Offensive Guard
This becomes a bigger need if the Saints don’t slide the loser of the right tackle battle – either Andrus Peat or Zach Strief – inside to guard, but I expect they will. Regardless, Tim Lelito could use some competition for the other spot. New Orleans has always placed a premium on offensive guards because the push they get allows the shorter Brees see more passing lanes and to step up into the pocket. Seeing as there are no OGs who are first round locks, look for the team to address guard with a mid-round selection.
MY BEST GUESS:
The Saints are notorious for keeping their interests in-house, so nobody really knows what to expect here. In fact, I have a better idea of what almost every team’s intentions in Round 1 are than I do the Saints’, ironically. My WANTS for the Saints are much different than who is mocked here by other experts and who we are likely to pick. I WANT to hear the names of Josh Doctson, Shaq Lawson, Noah Spence, or Laquon Treadwell – listed in that order of my desire. But because the Saints are so secretive and I follow the team so closely, I typically mock just them the players I HOPE they pick based on my personal evaluation of the board and their needs. I’ve only hit only correctly picked two of the Saints’ picks in the last seven years (Malcom Jenkins and Cam Jordan), so we don’t usually always see eye-to-eye.
The most commonly mocked players to New Orleans are DTs Sheldon Rankins and A’Shawn Robinson, but I tend to believe (hope) they are not our top prospects. I could really see us being interested in the two Clemson DEs – Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson. My preference is clearly the latter. I’ve heard Jack Conklin and Paxton Lynch are dark horses for this pick, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
One interesting thing about our pick at 12 is that if QB Paxton Lynch falls to 12, we could use him as trade bait. There were rumors the Saints were interested in him, and it could have been merely a smoke screen designed to get QB-needy teams like Buffalo and New York (picks 19-20) to move up to our pick to grab him. Both the Bills and the Jets have shown interest in Lynch, and I’d be willing to bet the Saints would love to trade back a few spots while acquiring an extra draft pick or two… possibly even disgruntled Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (who is an excellent player but will cost a fortune when whatever team who gets the 26-year-old has to restructure his contract). If New Orleans is able to pull off a trade and move down to 19-20, I’d imagine our prospects would be Spence, OLBs Darron Lee and Kamalei Correa, or possibly a defensive tackle. Just keep an eye out for a trade with either of those teams. Even though most of WHODAT Nation would be nervous as hell that the Saints would take Paxton Lynch, we arguably want him on the board when we pick so we can entertain those trade options… Secondly, OLB Myles Jack is one of the biggest wild cards in this draft because of his knee injury. To keep it short, doctors are concerned about the longevity of Jack’s career because they are unsure if his knee will recover fully and hold up. This could mean some teams have medical red flags on Jack, and they’ll refuse to select the talented LB because of the health concern. Other teams, however, will have Jack in their top-10, as long as their doctors have cleared him. I’d expect the league to be pretty split on Jack, and there’s a solid chance he falls to pick 12, where the Saints will have to consider (I’m sure they already have discussed this possibility) whether taking Jack would be worth the risk. I believe the argument for Jack is made better by acknowledging that the Saints have a three or four year window of opportunity to win until Drew Brees retires, thus his longterm health value is minimized for a team in win-now mode.
Round-by-Round Prospects if I’m the New Orleans Saints GM for the NFL Draft:
ROUND 1 – Josh Doctson (WR – TCU), Shaq Lawson (DE – Clemson), Laquon Treadwell (WR – Ole Miss), Noah Spence (DE – Eastern Kent)
ROUND 2 – Su’a Cravens (LB – USC), Andrew Billings (NT – Baylor), Chris Jones (DT – Miss St), Michael Thomas (WR – OSU), Vernon Butler (DT – La Tech), Joshua Garnett (OG – Stanford), Sterling Shepard (WR – OK)
ROUND 3 – Christian Westerman (OG – AZ St), Emmanuel Ogbah (DE – OKST), Joshua Perry (LB – OSU), Rashard Higgins (WR – Col St), Javon Hargrave (DT – S.C. St)
ROUND 4-5 – Malcom Mitchell (WR – UGA), Kenyan Drake (RB – Bama)
ROUND 6-7 – Vadal Alexander (OG – LSU), Brandon Allen (QB – Ark), Vernon Adams (QB – Oregon)
- MIA – Myles Jack (OLB – UCLA)
- NEEDS: CB, O-Line, DE, RB
- TARGETS: RB Ezekiel Elliot, OLB Myles Jack, OT Jack Conklin, CB Vernon Hargreaves, CB William Jackson, CB Eli Apple, DE Shaq Lawson, DE Kevin Dodd
- WAR ROOM: After losing Lamar Miller in free agency, the Dolphins barely missed out on acquiring C.J. Anderson from Denver, offering him a pretty nice contract before Denver matched. Their interest in acquiring a RB has been clear. The ‘Fins are naturally interested in Zeke Elliot, but they know they have would have to move up to acquire him. Unfortunately for Miami, they do not have a lot of draft picks as ammo… There’s a major need at CB, perhaps more than any team in the NFL. All three first round corners – Vernon Hargreaves, Eli Apple, and William Jackson – will be in play here… Miami has visited with both Clemson DEs, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd multiple times… This week, there has been buzz about Miami being highly interested in Myles Jack, along with Ezekiel Elliot. If Jack slips because of his knee, Miami could be the landing spot that breaks the fall.
- OAK – Robert Nkemdiche (DT – Ole Miss)
- NEEDS: ILB, 3-tech DT, Secondary, pass catching RB
- TARGETS: CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT Sheldon Rankins, DT Robert Nkemdiche, MLB Reggie Ragland, CB William Jackson, CB Eli Apple
- WAR ROOM: From what I understand, the Raiders are one of the few teams that have a first round grade on Robert Nkemdiche (character concerns). With a nice set of DEs, the uncertainty of Mario Edwards, and a strong NT in Dan Williams, the team has a strong need for a 3-tech DT. Accordingly, Sheldon Rankins would fit the bill here too… Oakland should also want to draft a cornerback relatively early in attempt to play him at nickel, allowing T.J. Carrie to move to safety. Drafting Vernon Hargreaves or William Jackson here would give the Raiders a quality CB trio… It’s possible that Reggie Ragland is picked much later in Round 1, or even that he falls to the second round, but I would imagine the Raiders have to be interested in Ragland sheerly based on need alone. Their weakest position is unquestionably linebacker, and because they spent free agency upgrading their pass defense, I suspect this draft will focus on their run defense. The need also makes this spot Myles Jack’s floor, in my opinion. If his health checks out and Raiders steal him at 14, watch out for this defense.
- TEN – Jack Conklin (OT – Mich St)
- NEEDS: RT, FS, CB, NT
- TARGETS: OT Ronnie Stanley, OT Jack Conklin, OT Taylor Decker
- WAR ROOM: Loaded with a plethora of picks and now having done all that research on the draft’s top prospects, it would make sense that Tennessee moves back up in the likelihood that someone they like slips. Indeed, GM Jon Robinson said this is a distinct possibility. The Titans could certainly use a right tackle to start opposite of Taylor Lewan, and I could see them moving up to acquire either Laremy Tunsil or Ronnie Stanley if they fall to pick 6-7, or sitting back and hoping Jack Conklin or Taylor Decker drops to them here at 15. Taking an offensive tackle would allow the Titans to bookend Taylor Lewan, giving them a quality pair of protectors to block for their biggest investments – Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray.
- DET – Taylor Decker (OT – Ohio St)
- NEEDS: LT, CB, DE, DT
- TARGETS: OT Jack Conklin, OT Taylor Decker, DE Shaq Lawson, C Ryan Kelly, DT Vernon Butler, DT Jarran Reed, DT A’Shawn Robinson
- WAR ROOM: The Lions have made their interests fairly; based on their draft visits, the team would like to address either offensive tackle or defensive tackle early in this draft. More than any other team, the Lions have been working out D-line prospects, and have reportedly high interest in DTs Vernon Butler, Jarran Reed, and A’Shawn Robinson… If DE Shaq Lawson falls to 16, he’s certainly in play and may be the best pick in a deep DT class… Detroit has made no secrets about their thoughts on moving LT Reilly Reiff to right tackle. In sum, they want an upgrade there. The team probably loves the local kid, Jack Conklin, and I’m thinking they would take Taylor Decker or center Ryan Kelly if available, as well.
- ATL – Darron Lee (ILB – Ohio St)
- NEEDS: ILB, DE, S, TE
- TARGETS: DE Shaq Lawson, OLB Leonard Floyd, OLB Darron Lee, MLB Reggie Ragland, S Keanu Neal
- WAR ROOM: Atlanta has shown a big interest in acquiring hybrid safety / linebackers (essentially linebackers who can cover), feeling they are a necessary matchup tool in today’s pass-happy NFL. The Falcons have reportedly been interested in almost every first-second round LB, including Reggie Ragland, Darron Lee, and Leonard Floyd. If Floyd is available at this pick, which is unlikely but possible, I expect Floyd to be the pick. The Falcons could use the pass rush help; they only managed 19 sacks last season. Considering the Falcons only have 5 picks in this draft, trading down to acquire more picks is a possibility as well… The trade down target could be S Keanu Neal. They are high on LSU’s Deion Jones and USC’s Su’a Cravens, who both fit the rangy, athletic mold they are looking to address early in this draft.
- IND – Ryan Kelly (C – Bama)
- NEEDS: OLB, ILB, Interior OL, S
- TARGETS: OT Taylor Decker, OT Jack Conklin, C Ryan Kelly, DT Andrew Billings, OLB Leonard Floyd, OLB Kamalei Correa
- WAR ROOM: The Colts are likely going to keep this pick because it’s a nice spot to address their primary need – protecting Andrew Luck. No QB has been hit more in the last three seasons. I’m sure Indianapolis would love for Taylor Decker or Jack Conklin to fall (particularly Conklin, the better pass protector of the two), but I think it’s less than 50/50 that happens. That would be OK though, because their biggest need along the O-line is arguably the interior. Accordingly, Ryan Kelly would be a safe pick… The other major weakness on this roster is the pass rush. The Colts have hinted at a few of the defensive prospects listed in the targets section, but nothing has materialized to the point where I don’t think this pick will be an offensive lineman.
- BUF – Jarran Reed (DT – Bama)
- NEEDS: DE, LB, DT, QB
- TARGETS: QB Paxton Lynch, DT Jarran Reed, DT Robert Nkemdiche, OLB Darron Lee, DE Shaq Lawson, DE Kevin Dodd, OLB Noah Spence, ILB Reggie Ragland, DT Vernon Butler
- WAR ROOM: The Bills are in the hunt for a QB in this draft, but I doubt it comes in round 1 unless Paxton Lynch lingers. Perhaps more than any team, the Bills have done their homework on this QB class. They are especially interested in Christian Hackenberg (Penn St), Cardale Jones (OSU), Connor Cook (MSU), Dak Prescott (Miss St), and Kevin Hogan (USC). Don’t be shocked if they reach for one (perhaps Cook or Hack) at some point early in the draft, hopefully not in round 1 – you would think they learned their lesson with E.J. Manuel. Buffalo does not view Tyrod Taylor, who showed a lot of promise in his first year as a starter, as a longterm solution. Taylor is entering the final year of his contract and the two are far about in negotiations for an extension… The Bills’ run defense really struggled last season, and the culprits were both at LB and on the D-line. Expect this pick to be a front-7 player, as you can see from the players I have listed as targets for this pick. Jared Reed, Robert Nkemdiche, and Darron Lee would be the most likely players of the bunch to land here. And Rex Ryan loves his Clemson players, making Kevin Dodd a possibility.
- NYJ – Corey Coleman (WR – Baylor)
- NEEDS: OLB, OT, CB, ILB, TE
- TARGETS: QB Paxton Lynch, CB William Jackson, OLB Noah Spence, OLB Leonard Floyd, ILB Reggie Ragland, ILB Darron Lee, WR Corey Coleman, WR Will Fuller
- WAR ROOM: Obviously, the Jets are going to be one of the top teams in play for QB Paxton Lynch. They inquired about moving up to the top of the draft to take Carson Wentz or Jared Goff before the trades were completed, and they still have not re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, as negotiations have stalled out. Of course, they may have to trade up if they covet Lynch. The Niners, Browns, and Bills have all shown the need for a QB… Defensively, the Jets need help at the linebacker position, particularly outside with the pass rush. Leonard Floyd and Noah Spence would be good picks here. Reggie Ragland could be the run thumping successor to David Harris at ILB… With Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall getting up there in age, and the Jets having drafted speedster Devin Smith last year, you would assume they wouldn’t be interested in similar skill sets in Corey Coleman or Will Fuller. But you never know, and the Jets have shown interest in both players. Chan Gailey loves offensive weapons… The Jets have a need at CB opposite of Darrelle Revis, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if William Jackson or Eli Apple is the pick here, should Lynch be taken.
- WAS – A’Shawn Robinson (DT – Bama)
- NEEDS: NT, ILB, S, C, RB
- TARGETS: C Ryan Kelly, S Karl Joseph, DT Jarran Reed, DT Andrew Billings, ILB Reggie Ragland, DT A’Shawn Robinson, DT Vernon Butler, WR Laquon Treadwell, WR Michael Thomas
- WAR ROOM: More than anything, the Redskins should want to upgrade their run defense. Their GM loves size and tends to target bigger, stronger athletes in the draft. I could see any of three Alabama prospects as a great fit here – MLB Reggie Ragland, DT Jarran Reed, DT A’Shawn Robinson. DT Andrew Billings is the strongest player in this draft, and he’s in play here too. Essentially, all of the aforementioned prospects would go a long way in helping their leaky front-7… On offense, the two positions of need are clearly center (making Ryan Kelly is attractive if he’s on the board), and a bigger wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell would be a great pick to complement the smaller, quicker Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. The Redskins reportedly have Treadwell and Michael Thomas atop their WR board… Lastly, the Redskins have been linked to safeties Karl Joseph and Keanu Neal, which would appear to be somewhat of a reach in the eyes of most analysts, but Washington is also a team commonly referred to as open to trading down… Washington could feel that their biggest need is DT, and this could encourage them to trade down for a big body like Vernon Butler, or possibly a WR like Michael Thomas.
- HOU – Will Fuller (WR – Notre Dame)
- NEEDS: WR, DT, both Safety spots
- TARGETS: WR Corey Coleman, WR Will Fuller, OT Germain Ifedi
- WAR ROOM: The Texans have taken a high interest in speedy, but small WR Will Fuller, and the team has also been linked to Corey Coleman for quite some time. I’m split on which one I’m mocking for this pick. And to be honest, I’d be surprised if one of those two names weren’t called for the Texans. It’s really a coin toss for me. If Houston does happen to go elsewhere, I think they’ll try to address the offensive line or the safety position. There have been rumblings about S Karl Joseph here.
- MIN – Laquon Treadwell (WR – Ole Miss)
- NEEDS: WR, SS, CB
- TARGETS: WR Josh Doctson, WR Laquon Treadwell, DT Robert Nkemdiche, DT Jarran Reed, MLB Reggie Ragland
- WAR ROOM: The Vikings should be going wide receiver with this pick, and I believe they love Josh Doctson (and rightfully so, as he’s perhaps my favorite player in this draft), and I wouldn’t be surprised if they move up a few spots ahead the WR-needy Texans and Bengals to select him, fearing they might do the same. If not, Laquon Treadwell is an excellent consolation prize. While it wouldn’t surprise me if the Vikings chose to go with a smaller, speedy WR like Will Fuller or Corey Coleman, I believe they desire the bigger, Doctson, and Treadwell more… The team has also seemed high on a pair of Alabama prospects – MLB Reggie Ragland, DT Jarran Reed. I believe defensive-minded coach Mike Zimmer believes he can calm Robert Nkemdiche (character concerns) down and make him realize his talent. He’s a sleeper for this pick, especially if Doctson is off the board… While this may be for round 2, Minnesota has taken a liking to OG Cody Whitehair.
- CIN – Josh Doctson (WR – TCU)
- NEEDS: WR, DT, DE
- TARGETS: WR Josh Doctson, WR Laquon Treadwell, WR Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, WR Michael Thomas, DT Vernon Butler
- WAR ROOM: The Bengals should be looking wide receiver or defensive tackle with this pick, and I would imagine they are going to emphasize WR first considering the deepness of the DT class. I’m not sure how Cincinnati has these wide receivers ranked, but they are in a good spot to get one. Based on their scheme, I would guess their top target is Josh Doctson, bet they may have to move up to draft him. If not, they could be stuck with selecting whoever the Texans pass on out of Will Fuller and Corey Coleman. The team needs someone to replace the losses of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones this offseason.
- PIT – Eli Apple (CB – Ohio St)
- NEEDS: LT, SS, NT, CB
- TARGETS: S Karl Joseph, S Keanu Neal, CB William Jackson, CB Eli Apple, NT Andrew Billings
- WAR ROOM: The Steelers have done a lot of homework on secondary prospects in this draft, both safeties and cornerbacks. Pittsburgh needs help at both positions, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they opened their draft with one of each in the first two rounds. They have been constantly linked to two CBs: William Jackson and Eli Apple. If either are available, Pittsburgh should go that route… If they are both taken, I think the Steelers will either reach for a safety like Karl Joseph, Keanu Neal, or Vonn Bell, all of whom are projected to go in round 2. I hear they like Joseph and Neal the most… The team is also high on NT Andrew Billings, and there’s a need to replace Steve McClendon there.
- SEA – Germaine Ifedi (OT – Texas AM)
- NEEDS: O-Line, CB, 3-tech DT
- TARGETS: OT Germain Ifedi, OT Le’Raven Clark, DT Vernon Butler, DT A’Shawn Robinson
- WAR ROOM: The Seahawks have put an emphasis lately on patience. In other words, they just their coaching staff to groom and develop raw prospects with nice upside. Here, they could see Germaine Ifedi or Le’Raven Clark have the tools necessary to be good players in this league down the line… The ‘Hawks also have a need at DT after losing Brandon Mebane, and they could scoop up a guy like A’Shawn Robinson or Vernon Butler… This could be smoke, but the Seahawks are one two teams in the late first that have shown a keen interest in Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. It’s assumed that Thomas Rawls is not recovering from his broken leg as quickly as they had hoped. His status is up in the air right now, and Henry could be seen as a power back to help replace Marshawn Lynch.
- GB – Vernon Butler (DT – La Tech)
- NEEDS: O-Line, ILB, D-line
- TARGETS: OT Jack Conklin, ILB Reggie Ragland, ILB Darron Lee, DT Chris Jones, DT Kenny Clark, DT Vernon Butler, DT A’Shawn Robinson, NT Andrew Billings, OT Jason Spriggs, OT Le’Raven Clark
- WAR ROOM: The Packers, like the Saints, are notoriously quiet about their draft interests. Basically, no one knows what prospects they like, and mocking them is merely just guess work based on their needs. Last year, the Packers showed a lot more weaknesses than we’ve been accustom to. Both lines struggled at different times during the season, and I’m leaning toward this pick to be a defensive linemen IF the top tier offensive tackles are off the board. DTs like Vernon Butler, A’Shawn Robinson, Chris Jones, and Kenny Clark have been linked here and fill holes… The Packers have made it very well known they want to keep Clay Matthews at OLB where he belongs. My gut tells me they’ll address ILB in rounds 2-3, but if Reggie Ragland or Darron Lee slip to them, which is definitely possible, they could be too talented to pass up… I’ve heard that OT Jason Spriggs is a sleeper for this pick, and that Jack Conklin is extremely high on the club’s board, and Le’Raven Clark could be a developmental project for them.
- KC – William Jackson (CB – Houston)
- NEEDS: CB, OG, D-Line
- TARGETS: DE Vernon Butler, CB William Jackson, CB Eli Apple, OLB Kevin Dodd, OLB Noah Spence
- WAR ROOM: The Chiefs are very high on DT Vernon Butler out of La Tech, but I believe he could be somewhat of a fall back plan in case two corners – Eli Apple and William Jackson – are off the board. The Chiefs have a huge hole to fill following Sean Smith’s departure and need a starter opposite of Marcus Peters. If those three players aren’t the picks, I’m not sure where Kansas City will go here. Safety is also a position of need, as is D-line. And in the wake of Justin Houston’s injury, which could place him on the PUP list for the first six games of the season, Kansas City could go with a pass rusher.
- ARI – Noah Spence (DE – Eastern Kent)
- NEEDS: OLB, CB, C, TE
- TARGETS: C Ryan Kelly, OLB Noah Spence, S Keanu Neal, DT Robert Nkemdiche, S T.J. Green
- WAR ROOM: The Cardinals are in the safety market, and their pick comes at a time when they’ll likely have their choice at the top safeties behind Jalen Ramsey. I’ve seen them linked to Keanu Neal and T.J. Green a few times… Center is a big need, and if Ryan Kelly magically falls here, they should pounce… Arizona has made it a habit of taking chances on talented players with character concerns, having a ton of faith in their locker room to mold these prospects. This makes Arizona a good destination as any to take the chance on high-upside, high-risk guys like Noah Spence and Robert Nkemdiche.
- CAR – Keanu Neal (S – Florida)
- NEEDS: OT, DE, CB, DT
- TARGETS: DE Kevin Dodd, DE Noah Spence, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, RB Derrick Henry, LB Su’a Cravens, WR Corey Coleman, S Keanu Neal
- WAR ROOM: Interestingly, the Panthers are one of two late first round teams that have shown interest in Heisman Trophy winner, RB Derrick Henry. I don’t believe Henry is in the round 1 conversation anymore, but it’s worth noting Jonathan Stewart’s injury history, and he is nearing age 30. The Panthers may want to form some sort of power running back by committee with Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, Derrick Henry, and FB Mike Tolbert. Teams would have a very difficult time bringing those guys down… Meanwhile, despite their defensive success and protection issues exposed in the Super Bowl, this pick is likely going to be addressing the defensive side of the ball. I wouldn’t assume the pick is going to be a cornerback here simply because they lost Josh Norman. While Eli Apple or William Jackson may entice them if they fell, I would think safety is more likely here. Keanu Neal is an option, as is Su’a Cravens if they want to reach and convert him to SS… Carolina could also use some pass rushing help, with Charles Johnson becoming less effective. DEs Kevin Dodd, Noah Spence, and Emmanuel Ogbah could all be targeted here.
- DEN – Paxton Lynch (QB – Memphis)
- NEEDS: QB, OG, ILB, RB
- TARGETS: QB Paxton Lynch, QB Connor Cook, C Ryan Kelly, OT Germaine Ifedi, TE Hunter Henry, OG Cody Whitehair, S Karl Joseph
- WAR ROOM: If Paxton Lynch begins to slip into the teens, don’t be surprised if the Broncos make a splash to move up and acquire him. They like Lynch a lot and obviously need a QB, so much so that Connor Cook could be a sleeper here if they can’t get Lynch. IF the team can talk to San Francisco, the Broncos may very well end up with Colin Kaepernick by Saturday. Stay tuned for that… Denver is the only team in Round 1 that I’ve heard could take TE Hunter Henry or OG Cody Whitehair… The team also views safety as a need with starters Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward’s contracts being close to expiration date. S Karl Joseph has been linked to Denver and Pittsburgh most often.
Other First Round Candidates:
DT Vernon Butler (La Tech)
OLB Kamalei Correa (Boise St)
S Karl Joseph (W. Virginia)
CB Artie Burns (Miami)
My Favorite Prospects (players I value higher than media):
WR Josh Doctson (TCU)
DT Andrew Billings (Baylor)
WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)
S Karl Joseph (W. Virginia)
DE Shaq Lawson (Clemson)
DE Noah Spence (E. Kent)
C Ryan Kelly (Bama)
CB William Jackson (Houston)
WR Sterling Shepard (OK)
DT Chris Jones (Miss St)
WR Rashard Higgins (Col St)
WR Malcom Mitchell (UGA)
RB C.J. Prosise (N.D.)
QB Brandon Allen (Ark)
MOCK DRAFT SUCCESS HISTORY:
* Although last year was relatively tame in terms of trades and surprises, my 11 hits tied CBS’s Dane Brugler and ESPN’s Todd McShay for the most picks correct among the draft analyst industry. Further, 28/32 of the players I mocked in the first round ended up as first round picks; I had at the very least listed the correct player as a strong possibility (by way of the “TARGETS:” section) for 21/32 teams. Additionally, my 92 points on #247Sports Draft Grading System ranked first in the industry for the second time in three years (2013).
Another Advanced Accuracy Grading System: Divided into 3 categories: 1) Pick-to-team = 1 point (33% weighted); 2) Pick-to-slot = 1 point (33% weighted); and 3) Cumulative variance of pick differences (33% weighted). Detailed info can be found here: Dueling Drafts Point System < Set “Importance” of each category to max of 3.
Categories: The NFL Draft