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Full disclosure – I hate doing mocks. I’ll read them, I’ll shake my fist at them, but for the most part the task of making a mock draft for 32 teams is an exercise in either getting CLICKZ or flipping people out. So, since I’m semi-retired I’m going to do neither. Below is my mock, pre-free agency that is solely based on what I’ve seen from the regime in Buffalo thus far – and my approximations of the teams around them.
Enjoy – or don’t!
- Cleveland – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. You take the passing game that currently exists now in Cleveland – and add the amazing Barkley to the mix and “you got a stew going.” Barkley and Taylor’s ability to run will open up the middle of the field for Jarvis Landry, and the deep shots to Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman will be plentiful. That also pushes less of the pressure on Gregg Williams’ defense, which leads to more of a complimentary football situation in the ‘Land.
- Buffalo (via Giants) – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Bills trade – their 2 first rounders in 2018, a 2018 second (53), third (65), a 2019 second and Cordy Glenn to the G-men to make the highest jump in draft history. They keep their precious 2019 first, which should be REALLY high based on team construction and should have a veteran in place by then to make sure Rosen doesn’t start with the incomplete team they have. In 2019, with a year of learning the offense and nearly 70+ million in cap space, the Bills can frame the team however they feel best fits the former Bruin.
- Indianapolis – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. New Head coach Frank Reich gets a key piece for his defense, while the medics try to duct tape Andrew Luck’s shoulder back together.
- Cleveland (via Texans) – Sam Darnold, QB, USC. With the trade for Tyrod Taylor and the acquisition of Barkley first overall, the Browns still have their pick of three out of the top four. In this case, they go with the Trojan signal caller, who can now sit for a year or two and work with Hue Jackson and the Browns staff to eliminate costly turnovers.
- Denver – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. John Elway and Allen do the mirror game for a solid five minutes after he’s drafted. After, Allen, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler play a mean game of keep away from Chad Kelly. Fun is had by all.
- New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The Jets get “Broadway Baker” and pair him with some solid pieces on offense – and the opportunity for a bounce-back 2018 for the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.
- Tampa Bay – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Bama. Grabbing Fitzpatrick allows Tampa to place him anywhere in the defensive backfield depending on the needs post-free agency. One of Saban’s sons is smart enough for whatever they throw at him.
- Chicago – Derwin James, Defender, FSU. A Swiss-army knife that can play safety or linebacker depending on the need, Chicago grabs a defensive piece that can help get the ball back for their ascending second year QB.
- San Francisco – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame. Keeping Jimmy GQ upright with one of the best linemen in years is a solid move. Nelson can play guard, but with his size you can play him at tackle as well, so either way the face that runs the place is going to be upright.
- Oakland – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. The “mad dawg” at linebacker in the waning years of the teams’ time in Oakland? No brainer.
- Miami – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. With reports of the team shopping their current tackle Ja’wuan James and the recent release of Suh, the Dolphins are looking for a makeover and a “culture change” – which can start with the line, as the quarterbacks were all taken by the time they pick.
- Cincinnati – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Va Tech. With no tackle of note available, the sideline to sideline wonder can get placed in the Bengals defense and give them more of a dynamic threat wherever he’s put year one.
- Washington – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF. Building the defense up and getting veteran players to surround Alex Smith might be the smart play here, to ensure both the player and the team get the best of one another.
- Green Bay – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. After their trade with Cleveland, Green Bay picks up a player similar to Micah Hyde that can play in the slot, outside or potentially free safety if needed.
- Arizona – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Steve Wilks had Cam Newton as his quarterback in Carolina and will not shy away from the Cardinal signal caller. Putting Jackson with a dependable receiver like Larry Fitzgerald in the twilight of his career sets up the Cardinals to be a force in the NFC West as Seattle transitions, and both the Rams and Niners stockpile talent while their QBs are on rookie deals.
- Baltimore – James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Operation “Save Joe Flacco” continues, with the speedy do-everything player from OK State. Giving Flacco a sure deep threat at this point seems to be a waste, but gotta go with who brought you to the dance.
- Los Angeles Chargers – Da’Ron Payne, DL, Bama. Payne can play either the heavy five tech or slide in to a nose/1 tech role in the Seattle like hybrid defense, giving Chargers a fun defensive piece to play with.
- Seattle – Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan. With the trade of Michael Bennett, the Seahawks get a dynamic pass rusher to replace him that can play across their 1-gap front, but will live at 3 technique on passing downs.
- Dallas – Vita Vea, DL, Washington. Wanting to make good on their franchise investment at defensive end, the Cowboys pick up the planet that moves like a linebacker to eat space and create one on ones for the rest of his teammates on the defensive lines.
- Detroit – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Pairing the dynamic back with the 5k kid at quarterback. While other needs on defense are present, keeping defenses honest and adding more of a play-action threat to the offense can only help Matthew Stafford’s longevity.
- New York Giants – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. It’s a Texas two-step for hogmollies in New York. With Davenport’s length and ability to grow, Gettleman gets a long and lean end that can be a transformative element in his new-look Giants defense.
- New York Giants – Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP. Hogmolly, the second -or third if you count Glenn’s trade – has arrived in New York. Pairing a nasty lineman like Hernandez with Glenn and you’ve given Eli Manning a solid “side” of his offense, in addition to the pieces already on the roster.
- Los Angeles Rams – Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College. Wade gets a nice piece to replace Robert Quinn and can stand him up from day one.
- Carolina – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia. The Panthers may not be able to keep their prized guard from hitting free agency, so they replace him with the mauler from Georgia to keep their run game – and Cam’s body – good to go.
- Tennessee – Arden Key, Edge, LSU. With a player like Key, new head coach Mike Vrabel can move the defender around and give the Titans pass rush a player that can hit from multiple spots.
- Atlanta – Taven Bryan, DL, Florida. The Falcons get an up the field player that can replace Dontari Poe and give them a cheaper option that can stop the run on the way to the quarterback.
- New Orleans – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. Speed, speed, speed. The Saints add a player that can fly in a dome environment and ensure Drew Brees spends his last contract surrounded by an insane amount of talent.
- Pittsburgh – Rashaan Evans, LB, Bama. The Steelers add a great, highly cerebral athletic ‘backer to their corps and gives the Steelers a tango partner for Ryan Shazier when/if he returns in 2019. At the worst, it allows the Steelers to not depend on Shazier to be the speed on the defense solely.
- Jacksonville – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. A little early for the Nittany Lion tight end, but add his ability in the middle part of the field gives Blake Bortles another weapon, and the offensive staff another play to mess around with in the RPO game.
- Minnesota – Connor Williams, OT, Texas. I’m forecasting Kirk Cousins to the Vikings here, and Minnesota picks up his bodyguard for the next 3-5 years in Connor Williams.
- New England – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. After the Super Bowl, it’s clear that the Patriots will be looking to move on from their former starter – so in steps a solid cover corner in Alexander.
- Philadelphia – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland. A cheaper, faster option for the receiving corps, Moore can force the safeties away from the line of scrimmage, opening even more of the middle of field for the champs.
Other Bills remaining picks in top 100– Joe B. does a great job with these on his mock, so I’m going to gently lift the idea:
56. Billy Price, OL, Ohio State – With Eric Woods’ retirement/not retirement/not gonna be here anymore announcement, the Bills have Groy but not much else in terms of depth. Price can slot in as a backup at center, while pushing for a starting role on the line at guard.
96. Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF – The Bills select one of the best stories of the 2017 college season – and more importantly, one of the best players available. Griffin can slot into a backup/nickel linebacker role and will be able to earn additional duties as he grows in the scheme.
Thoughts? Comments? Rage? Direct them my way – @rich_fann on twitter!