Mike Tagliere’s NFL Mock Draft 2018 – Two Rounds (3.0)
We’re one step closer to having the puzzle completed before the NFL Draft, as we saw hundreds of prospects take the field for drills throughout the NFL Combine. While it’s important to keep in mind that it’s one day of activities in shorts and a t-shirt, it’s a chance for players to shine among their peers. Like it or not, it affects their draft stock.
This mock draft is going to look a lot different the next time we pop one out, as I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we are on the brink of free agency. This will clearly shake things up, as teams will erase some of the needs they currently have, and some teams will accrue more needs with players leaving via free agency. Because of that, we’ll continue to deliver you a new mock draft every two weeks as we lead up to the draft on April 26th.
1. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn State)
After seeing the Browns give up a third-round pick for Tyrod Taylor, they’ll take their chances and see which quarterback is there at their No. 4 pick. Barkley is clearly one of the most talented players in this draft, and adding him to the cast of Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku is pretty ridiculous. While I think the Browns would be better off waiting until the second-round and taking Derrius Guice, that doesn’t seem likely. Expect the Browns to shop Duke Johnson who has one year left on his deal, because they won’t want to take Barkley off the field very often.
2. New York Giants – Quenton Nelson (OG – Notre Dame)
I’ve stuck Mike McGlinchey here at No. 2 before, but his name appears to be staying under the radar at this point. I still haven’t given up on him being a possibility here, though the Giants would likely trade back if they were to take him. Nelson is considered a surefire top-10 pick, so the Giants take what is supposed to be the safest offensive lineman in the draft. While some have mentioned Saquon Barkley to the Giants (if the Browns pass on him), remember that sticking a running back like that behind their current offensive line is like driving a Ferrari through rush hour traffic.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb (DE/OLB – NC State)
There’s a possibility that Chubb is the best player in this draft, so knowing that the Colts have holes all over their team, they need to take the best player available here. Chubb is an impact player on the edge and will make everyone on their defense look better. If for some reason the Browns and the Giants pass on Barkley, the Colts still won’t take him. I’ll eat my words if the Colts draft Barkley with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Baker Mayfield (QB – Oklahoma)
This is the third change atop the draft, as it seems the Browns are coming around to the idea to take my No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Some have questioned Mayfield’s arm strength, but he silenced those concerns at the Combine, posting the second-fastest throw speed among quarterbacks, behind only Wyoming’s Josh Allen (who can throw the ball clear over them mountains). Everyone who attended the Combine said the ball came out of his hands extremely well and he looked poised throughout the event. The other possibility here was Minkah Fitzpatrick, but the Browns can’t risk one of the top five quarterbacks falling until the top of the second-round.
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen (QB – UCLA)
Provided they don’t land one of the high-priced quarterbacks in free agency, the Broncos would be thrilled to land Rosen at No. 5. He’s likely the safest quarterback prospect in the class, though his ceiling may not be as high as others. He projects as a Matt Ryan-type quarterback who’ll be in the league for a long time, though his processing speed may be faster than Ryan. It’s exactly what the Broncos want at their starting quarterback position – stability.
6. New York Jets – Sam Darnold (QB – USC)
I’m fully expecting the Jets to land a quarterback in free agency, though it won’t be Kirk Cousins, so they’ll likely have a competition or a bridge quarterback type situation. They would have loved to get Mayfield here, but his Combine performance put him out of reach. Darnold is a bit unexperienced leaving school after just two years, but there are some who believe his talent level can be among the best in this class and worth the development. Not throwing at the Combine may not have hurt his stock, but it certainly didn’t help it.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Marcus Davenport (DE – UTSA)
Davenport is a monster at 6-foot-6 and 264 pounds, who ran a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. He’s an incredible athlete and plays with an edge that’s hard to find. The Bucs defense was plagued by injuries last year, but they are lacking difference makers. Adding Davenport to a defensive line that features Gerald McCoy would make the defense look better immediately.
8. Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith (ILB – Georgia)
There were a few things that happened over the past week that allow the Bears to make this pick. First, they placed the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller, meaning he likely stays with the team in 2018. Second, two of the top wide receivers (Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins) who were expected to get franchise tagged did not, meaning the Bears have a good shot at landing one of them with all their cap space. Smith is the clear-cut No. 1 player at inside linebacker and pairing him with Danny Trevathan would form a deadly duo in the middle of the field. Free agency will change a lot for the Bears’ draft outlook.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S – Alabama)
Most would be surprised to see Fitzpatrick fall this far, as would I. Free agency might make some quarterbacks fall a bit further, though it seems like Kirk Cousins to Minnesota is looking like a done deal. Fitzpatrick can help fill a safety role, as well as give them someone who’ll play slot cornerback if you need him to. With the 49ers courting newly-available Richard Sherman, this secondary could look a lot better in 2018.
10. Oakland Raiders – Denzel Ward (CB – Ohio State)
After a strong showing at the Combine where Ward ran the 40-yard dash in 4.32 seconds, the Raiders decide to bolster their secondary with the best cornerback on the board. Ward also measured at 5-foot-11 at the Combine, so he’s not as small as the previously reported 5-foot-10. Whatever height, he never played like someone who lacked size.
11. Miami Dolphins – Connor Williams (OT – Texas)
Most would expect Mike McGlinchey to be the first tackle off the board, but the Dolphins have a unique situation. Williams has been projected by some to shift inside and play the guard position, though I believe he can play tackle. They moved Laremy Tunsil to left tackle last year where he struggled quite a bit more than he did at left guard, so Williams would give them another movable piece to help shore up their offensive line.
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Mike McGlinchey (OT – Notre Dame)
The Bengals are quite shocked to see McGlinchey still on the board at No. 12, but they run up to the podium to make this pick. He’ll walk into the starting left tackle position on day one and be asked to help solidify the void left by Andrew Whitworth. It’s gotten to the point where the Bengals will have to take the best offensive lineman available at 12, so to see their No. 1 tackle on the board, they should be happy. There’s a lot of talk about his teammate Quenton Nelson in this draft, but somehow people are forgetting the guy who played beside him at the more important position.
13. Washington Redskins – Vita Vea (DT – Washington)
He’s someone who could go inside the top-five and I wouldn’t even bat an eye. Vea is uber-talented with a rare combination of size/speed at the defensive tackle position. At 6-foot-4 and 347 pounds, Vea ran a 5.10-second 40-yard dash. I mean, really?! The Redskins are getting the best player on the board and it just so happens that it’s a position of need. He beats double teams regularly, which is something the Redskins need when playing against the Cowboys and Eagles offensive lines twice a year.
14. Green Bay Packers – Tremaine Edmunds (LB – Virginia Tech)
Some don’t envision Edmunds falling this far, but there’s only so high you can go with “potential.” Edmunds is considered a raw prospect who’ll take some time to develop, but at 6-foot-4 and 253 pounds with his athleticism, the Packers decide it’s worth it. They could use some more youth at the linebacker position, as Clay Matthews is suddenly 32 years old at the start of the season.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson (QB – Louisville)
He’s been here through each of my three mock drafts and it’s hard to see that changing. The Cardinals don’t have a quarterback on the roster as of this moment, and unless they trade into the top-six, they likely aren’t going to land Mayfield, Rosen, or Darnold. Putting him in the backfield with David Johnson would be a headache for opposing defenses, and Larry Fitzgerald gives Jackson a nice big target over the middle of the field.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
Some have knocked Ridley out of the first-round, but that’s not happening, and rightfully so. Ridley is a polished, NFL-ready wide receiver who can run all the routes. He’ll immediately walk into the spotlight on a Ravens team that currently has Jeremy Maclin, Chris Moore, and Breshad Perriman as the starting wide receivers. Despite what some may have told you, Ridley is a very good wide receiver and one the Ravens should be extremely happy with at No. 16.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne (DT – Alabama)
Another player who has stayed at the same spot throughout all three mock drafts, as he makes just too much sense here. Truth be told, Payne should probably go earlier than this, but team needs lead teams to go another direction. The Chargers should run to make this pick before someone changes their mind, because just thinking about Payne in between Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is mesmerizing. Not only does this pick make sense, but it’s one that I’m rooting for.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Will Hernandez (OG – UTEP)
The Seahawks were likely leaning towards Orlando Brown with this pick until he bombed the NFL Combine. Because of that, the Seahawks simply have to take the best offensive lineman available. While the cuts and trades they’ve made over the last few weeks have created new holes on the team, they’ve ignored the offensive line for far too long. Hernandez is one who’ll contribute right away and should play next to left tackle Duane Brown, giving Russell Wilson‘s blindside a legit combo.
19. Dallas Cowboys – James Washington (WR – Oklahoma State)
With Maurice Hurst‘s heart condition that was found at the NFL Combine, the Cowboys are forced to look elsewhere. They have their issues with Dez Bryant and some have suggested they may cut him. While I don’t see that happening at all, they do need to plan for life after him. Washington would be a great No. 2 to play opposite Bryant and could give Dak Prescott a much-needed weapon down the field. Knowing they’re strapped for cash, it’s unlikely they can fix their No. 2 wide receiver situation through free agency, though I’ve said John Brown would make for a good low-cost, high-potential addition.
20. Detroit Lions – Derwin James (S – Florida State)
After having an extremely impressive Combine, James is moving up draft boards. The Lions are set to lose starting safety Tavon Wilson in free agency, so it’s a need for their team. He’d walk in and play alongside Glover Quin, giving the Lions one of the best duos in the league. James is built phenomenally at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, and he knows how to land hits while climbing up into the box.
21. Buffalo Bills – Frank Ragnow (C – Arkansas)
There are plenty of rumblings about the Bills moving up in the draft to acquire one of the top quarterbacks, but we aren’t projecting trades just yet. They have a massive need at center, as veteran Eric Wood was forced into early retirement due to a health issue. Ragnow has excellent size (6-5, 319) and can handle the brunt of the defensive line. He’s also got the right mindset in the run-game, something the Bills rely heavily on.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs) – Josh Allen (QB – Wyoming)
After trading away Tyrod Taylor to the Browns last Friday, the Bills suddenly have an urgent need at the quarterback position. They do have multiple picks in each of the first two rounds, so you should expect them to try and move up from this spot. If the Bills knew they could get Allen at No. 22, would they trade up at all? While I’m not the biggest Allen fan, I understand why a quarterback-needy team would take a shot on his upside here.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Rashaan Evans (LB – Alabama)
After the bevy of moves the Rams have made, they have a clear need at inside linebacker. Coming from the Alabama defense, Evans should be able to fill the void left by Alec Ogletree immediately. After landing Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, then franchise tagging Lamarcus Joyner, the Rams are shaping up as a defense that you fear.
24. Carolina Panthers – Josh Jackson (CB – Iowa)
Some have Jackson going much higher than this, but I don’t think his Combine pushed him over the top into the conversation with someone like Denzel Ward. He led the nation in interceptions in 2017, but all too often, we see him get spun around in coverage. He’s a ballhawk, though, so he will be coveted. While playing against Julio Jones and Michael Thomas twice a year, the Panthers need to load up their secondary.
25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry (OLB/DE – Boston College)
He had a great combine, but so did a lot of those above him on this list. While the Lions remain the one likely most interested, they couldn’t pass on James. Landry fills the role currently occupied by Erik Walden, and he should be an upgrade, particularly in the pass-rush area. Landry has experience on the edge, so the Titans would be able to use him in multiple ways. They would’ve liked to land Rashaan Evans here, but the Rams recent trades make that unlikely he falls.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Jaire Alexander (CB – Louisville)
Another player who didn’t move since my last mock, as Alexander is just too perfect of a fit to a defense that plays with a lot of passion. Alexander will get under opposing wide receivers’ skin and plays with a lot of confidence. He’s a bit small, but that’s perfect for what the Falcons need, someone to fill the nickel cornerback role, as Brian Poole was abused repeatedly last year.
27. New Orleans Saints – Lorenzo Carter (OLB/DE – Georgia)
It was shocking to see Carter so low on some analyst boards prior to the Combine, as he was a difference-maker on a team who made it to the national championship. After showcasing his 34-inch arms, 4.50-second 40-yard dash, and nearly 11-foot broad jump, Carter has made his impression. The Saints are reportedly going to talk with Jimmy Graham in free agency, making it unlikely they target one here considering they don’t have a second-round pick.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Mason Rudolph (QB – Oklahoma State)
The Steelers made the mistake of waiting on a backup quarterback in last year’s draft, and we learned that Josh Dobbs won’t likely see an NFL field any time soon after his abysmal preseason outings. Rudolph isn’t ready to contribute just yet, but that’s why this pick makes sense. With Ben Roethlisberger mentioning retirement as much as Brett Favre did, the Steelers need to draft his heir-apparent. Rudolph’s 6-foot-5 and 235-pound body is eerily similar to Roethlisberger, too.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Courtland Sutton (WR – Southern Methodist)
After letting Allen Robinson hit the open market, the Jaguars suddenly aren’t as deep at wide receiver. Not just that, but they’ll have to convince Marqise Lee not to leave in free agency as well. Whatever the case, they need to extend their depth chart. Sutton comes with massive upside and has a prototypical No. 1 wide receiver body at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, which could help the oft-inaccurate Blake Bortles similar to the way Robinson did.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Wynn (OG – Georgia)
Someone who didn’t impress me much as a tackle but could benefit a ton from a move to the inside, is the athletic Wynn. He’s got strong hands (though undersized), and when he gets them on someone, it’s hard for them to break off his block. While he was undersized at tackle, he is going to be a decently-sized guard and it helps that he put on a lot of weight before the Combine, coming in at a robust 313 pounds. The Vikings continue to build that offensive line that seems destined to block for Kirk Cousins.
31. New England Patriots – Leighton Vander Esch (ILB – Boise State)
This pick would require a little shifting around on defense, but that may be a good thing after watching the Patriots struggle to get any pressure throughout the playoffs. Vander Esch has been climbing up draft boards and is a very smart player who does what’s asked of him. The Patriots linebacking corps was one of their weaknesses last year, making Vander Esch a solid pick.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Malik Jefferson (ILB – Texas)
Not surprising, but Jefferson performed extremely well at the NFL Combine. We knew he was a physical freak before seeing his results, however it’s not all roses. I’ve been on record to say that he shows glimpses of what could be a star, but also appears to take plays off and disappears. The Eagles have been able to bring out the best in their players, so drafting someone like Jefferson makes plenty of sense. Inside linebacker is also one of their biggest needs.
1. Cleveland Browns – Justin Reid (S – Stanford)
After passing on Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round, the Browns need to address the safety position. He’s a ballhawk in the secondary and one that can play both safety positions, meaning the Browns could move Jabril Peppers back to his natural strong safety position.
2. New York Giants – Dorian O’Daniel (OLB – Clemson)
After snagging Alec Ogletree in a trade with the Rams, the Giants continue to build their linebacker corps that was a mess in 2017. O’Daniel is a tad undersized, but moves with excellent anticipation, can cover running backs, and is a solid tackler. I wouldn’t cross off them taking someone like offensive tackle Kolton Miller in this spot, though.
3. Cleveland Browns (from Texans) – Mike Hughes (CB – UCF)
Adding Hughes to the combination of Justin Reid, Jason McCourty, and newly-acquired Damarious Randall would be huge for the Browns, as they allowed 28 passing touchdowns last year, the sixth-most in the league. He can use some work on his tackling, but he’s solid in coverage.
4. Indianapolis Colts – Michael Gallup (WR – Colorado State)
Rumor has it that the Colts aren’t interested in bringing back Donte Moncrief, even though Moncrief has said he’d like to return. Whatever is going on, the Colts need to replenish their wide receiver corps, and Gallup provides a great compliment to T.Y. Hilton. He’s one of my favorite wide receivers in the draft who can be used in a variety of ways, as he gets separation on every level.
5. New York Jets – James Daniels (C – Iowa)
After seeing Billy Price tear his pectoral muscle at the Combine, the Jets go with their alternate pick in Daniels. He may not be as versatile as Price, who can also play guard, but Daniels isn’t too shabby himself. He added some weight for the Combine, which was one of my biggest concerns about him, though that didn’t stop him from pushing men around while at his lower weight (was 295, weighed in at 306).
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Kolton Miller (OT – UCLA)
After adding Barkley in the first, the Bucs decide to try and protect their investments in the backfield. Miller is a massive man at 6-foot-9, but just 309 pounds, meaning he’ll likely be asked to gain some weight. In a weak draft class for offensive lineman, Miller is one of them who does project to start in the NFL. It’d be hard to be a downgrade from Donovan Smith, who was among the worst pass-blockers last year.
7. Chicago Bears – D.J. Moore (WR – Maryland)
After likely landing one of the big-name free agents at wide receiver, the Bears still have a void in the slot, as Kendall Wright played last year on a one-year deal. Moore showed up at the Combine and measured at 6-foot-0, which is bigger than he was thought to be (listed at 5-foot-11), then ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and flashed a 39.5-inch vertical jump. He can be moved all over the field but knowing how willing he is to play over the middle, the slot is where we’d like to see him. He also gives the Bears an insurance policy on the perimeter if Cameron Meredith can’t return to form after his nasty knee injury.
8. Denver Broncos – Tyrell Crosby (OT – Oregon)
The Broncos have to admit their mistake in signing Menelik Watson last offseason. Should they decide to cut him, it’s just a $2.6 million cap hit. Crosby may not be in the top-tier of tackles in this draft, but he’s close. Crosby is very strong, so if he can hone-in and improve on his technique, he’s a long-time starter. The Broncos have mentioned re-building their offensive line that was extremely disappointing last year.
9. Oakland Raiders – Derrius Guice (RB – LSU)
Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire. The Raiders and Jon Gruden recently met with Doug Martin and reportedly came away impressed. Him and Marshawn Lynch in the same backfield makes zero sense, but the fact that they met with Martin at all says a lot. With Lynch having maybe one year left and the Raiders brass clearly having no confidence in DeAndre Washington or Jalen Richard to take the next step, Guice would be the perfect replacement for the bruiser Lynch.
10. Miami Dolphins – Dallas Goedert (TE – South Dakota)
Most are expecting Goedert to go in the first-round, though it’s hard to find a landing spot up there, though the Jaguars would make sense. Whatever the case, the Dolphins have a clear need at the position after releasing Julius Thomas this offseason. Goedert would help fill the void over the middle of the field, should the Dolphins trade away Jarvis Landry. He’s ready to come in and be a pass-catcher immediately, though his blocking could use some work.
11. New England Patriots (from 49ers) – Maurice Hurst (DT – Michigan)
The fall ends for Hurst, who was projected to go inside the top-20 prior to his heart condition that was flagged at the Combine. Keep in mind that he could move right back up if things get cleared up, because there’s been reports since the Combine that say he’s fine. The Patriots want to continue to build their front-seven on defense and should Hurst fall to them, he’d fix a lot of problems. If healthy, there’s a case to be made for him to go inside the top-10. Stay tuned to his health status. (Update: The Patriots trading for Danny Shelton will most definitely change this pick)
12. Washington Redskins – Isaiah Oliver (CB – Colorado)
After trading away Kendall Fuller and seemingly prepared to lose Bashaud Breeland in free agency, the Redskins have some holes to fill at cornerback. Oliver has excellent size at 6-foot-0 and 201 pounds, and he’d be asked to play opposite Josh Norman, so he wouldn’t be the “alpha dog” of the secondary. That’s perfect because he seems to lack the aggression/instincts you’d want out of your top cornerback.
13. Green Bay Packers – Billy Price (C/OG – Ohio State)
Price was expected to go in the first-round, but after tearing his pectoral muscle at the Combine, he falls down the board a bit. He’ll reportedly be ready by training camp, so he doesn’t fall too far. The fact that he’s able to play guard and center is huge for the Packers, as they seemingly have trouble staying healthy on their offensive line. Price would likely walk in and start right away, provided he is healthy. This would be a great value pick for the Packers whose number one goal should be protecting Aaron Rodgers, the greatest quarterback on the planet.
14. Cincinnati Bengals – Braden Smith (OG – Auburn)
After landing McGlinchey in the first, the Bengals are excited to see Smith still on the board. He’s another player who is expected to make the switch from tackle to guard, and it should be a solid transition so that the Bengals can use him right away. He’s projected to play on the right side of the line, and at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, he should be a mauler.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Brian O’Neill (OT – Pittsburgh)
As everyone knows, the Cardinals need major help on the offensive line, so they must take the best available one here. O’Neill is someone who hasn’t quite reached his peak at the position. He’s a former tight end who has just one year of experience at left tackle, so to see him improve the way he did through the 2017 season, there’s upside with his athleticism that had him run a 4.82-second 40-yard dash at 6-foot-7 and 297 pounds.
16. Los Angeles Chargers – Micah Kiser (ILB – Virginia)
The Chargers have had their eyes on Leighton Vander Esch for some time, but after seeing him climb up draft boards, they have to take the next linebacker on their board. Kiser is a high-effort player who is always moving. He’s not the strongest or fastest player on the field but is a solid tackler and can help stuff the run.
17. New York Jets (from Seahawks) – Austin Corbett (OG – Nevada)
He was one of the players who saw his name move up charts after the Combine, so the Jets continue to rebuild their offensive line to protect their first-round pick Sam Darnold. Corbett played left tackle for Nevada, but he projects as a guard on the next level, and a good one at that. He’s strong and doesn’t allow many defenders come off his blocks, though he needs to get more aggressive in his run-blocking.
18. Dallas Cowboys – Taven Bryan (DT – Florida)
After passing on a tackle in the first round, the Cowboys snatch-up Bryan who is one of the more athletic tackles in the draft class. He isn’t someone who’ll plug the middle of the field as he’s not big enough to do so at 291 pounds, but he does generate a solid pass-rush. The Cowboys can also look for Jason Witten‘s replacement here, though their defense can use some help right now.
19. Detroit Lions – Tim Settle (DT – Virginia Tech)
It seems that the Lions will have to find a replacement for Haloti Ngata who is about to hit free agency, and Settle is an excellent solution to that void. He’s 6-foot-3 and 329 pounds and is going to plug-up the middle of the field. While his athletic skills weren’t off-the-charts or impressive, Settle shows burst and strength on the field. He’s extremely young, too, as he won’t turn 21 until July.
20. Baltimore Ravens – Hayden Hurst (TE – South Carolina)
Even after taking Calvin Ridley in the first round, the Ravens want more options in the passing game. Hurst is a straight-up athlete who can be used in a variety of different ways, as South Carolina even used him on some handoffs. He is extremely fast for a tight end and can line up as a wide receiver but is also competent as an in-line blocker. While at the Combine, he looked so much more comfortable than any other tight end tracking the ball. The only downside is that he’ll be 25 years old when the season starts.
21. Buffalo Bills – Christian Kirk (WR – Texas A&M)
Many thought Kirk’s Combine performance would move him up more than this, but being limited to the slot limits his draft stock potential. The Bills have tried to address the wide receiver position in a multitude of different ways – trading for Jordan Matthews and Kelvin Benjamin, drafting Zay Jones, signing Andre Holmes. They need a sure-handed wide receiver and Kirk is just that. They could use an outside linebacker, but they don’t love anyone else at this spot in the draft and feel Kirk could go over the next few picks before they’re up again.
22. Kansas City Chiefs – Sam Hubbard (OLB – Ohio State)
At this point, the elite linebackers are gone, but Hubbard is a versatile weapon for the Chiefs, as he can play the edge or at outside linebacker. He’s got a high-motor and won’t stop moving until the play is over. His instincts aren’t on the level of some other prospects and will sometimes take the easiest route, rather than fighting through a block. Still, the Chiefs need to address the position.
23. Carolina Panthers – Orlando Brown (OT – Oklahoma)
I’m not even sure if this is far enough of a fall for Brown, who was considered by most to be the top tackle in this class before the Combine. Not me. Seriously, I had him as my No. 6 tackle prior to the debacle that was his Combine “performance.” Still, there are some who overlook all measurables and believe in his film. Let me be clear – if you love his film, his measurables are just a slight knock. I just don’t like either of them. The Panthers need help on the offensive line and he offers the most potential they’ll find at this point.
24. Buffalo Bills (from Rams) – Kemoko Turay (OLB – Rutgers)
Likely the best outside linebacker still on the board, Turay has a solid frame with decent speed for a guy who is 6-5 and 253 pounds. He could get more aggressive in his approach but does display solid patience in his zone work. He doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, though he doesn’t have any elite traits, either.
25. Tennessee Titans – Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
This pick can definitely change with free agency on the horizon, but Michel would give the Titans a legitimate 1-2 punch with Michel and Derrick Henry. Michel is not only one of the better pass-catchers in this draft class, but he might just be the best pass-protector. The only reason DeMarco Murray was playing last year is because he was able to pass-block, something Henry has struggled with. Stay tuned to see if they add a running back in free agency.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Darius Leonard (LB – SC State)
Leonard can play both inside and outside linebacker, but at 6-2 and 213 pounds, he’s likely best suited for the outside. He’s very long and has solid reactions to the plays taking place. I’ve said before that he’s a patient tackler, but one who doesn’t get overanxious and overshoot the play.
27. San Francisco 49ers (from Saints) – Ronald Jones (RB – USC)
After snagging a top-tier player for his secondary in the first-round, Kyle Shanahan gets his running back. Jones is likely best-suited for somewhat of a timeshare at 205 pounds, though he should get a majority of the work. Matt Breida proved to be a capable timeshare running back last year and they’ll have last year’s fourth-round draft pick Joe Williams healthy. If Jones does land with the 49ers, it should perk up fantasy footballers’ ears.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Armani Watts (Texas A&M)
After watching Derwin James shoot up the draft board, the Steelers were forced to wait on drafting a safety. Watts is the type of safety who isn’t afraid to level an opponent, though he can sometimes be too aggressive in his pursuit. He’s also got some tackling techniques to improve on, as he often relies on his hits to simply knock the ball-carrier down rather than wrapping him up. Still, Watts has some redeeming qualities at a position of need for the Steelers.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Desmond Harrison (OT – West Georgia)
I said this last mock draft, but nobody wanted to believe it. After an extremely impressive Combine, we might finally get some recognition for Harrison. He is a very controversial player for some off-the-field stuff, but his play at West Georgia was… ruthless. He’s got the attitude you want for your offensive lineman, unwilling to let a player stay on his feet. Another bonus was his weight at the Combine, which was 292 pounds after he weighed in at just 279 pounds at the Senior Bowl. If his frame can hold over 300 pounds, Harrison is going to turn some heads.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Harrison Phillips (DT – Stanford)
He played at just 285 pounds in college but was able to hold his ground really well for someone that small. He showed up to the Combine at 307 pounds, which is more of what he should weigh. He put up 42 reps on the bench press, showing why he made it work at 285 pounds. The added weight should benefit him greatly and move him up draft boards. With Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen slated to hit free agency, the Vikings have needs on the interior of the defensive line.
31. New England Patriots – Josh Sweat (DE – Florida State)
A win-now pick for the Patriots. Sweat would likely be a first-rounder if it wasn’t for serious question marks surrounding his knee that was dislocated during high school. Some have said he’s a one-contract player, similar to what some said about Jay Ajayi during the draft process. He’s extremely explosive and plays with a certain level of aggression, as we saw at the Combine. The Patriots know their window is closing and Sweat gives them something right now.
32. Cleveland Browns (from Eagles) – Uchenna Nwosu (OLB – USC)
The Browns have so many picks, it’s tough to determine where they’re at with this pick. Assuming everything goes as laid out here, they still need an outside linebacker. Nwosu’s got great size, drops back into coverage and can cover tight ends, but really struggles against the run. He can rush the passer and has solid burst, but can get taken out of a play too easily for a player of his size. Who knows, by the time you read this, the Browns may have made three more trades.