Myles Garrett of Texas A&M - Photo: Butch Dill/Getty Images
The NFL draft is here. It all starts with the first round on Thursday, April 27th.
KOA NewsRadio and Denver Sports 760 Broncos Insider Brandon Krisztal offers his first round mock draft.
1. Browns – Myles Garrett, OLB/DE – TEXAS A&M
Even the Browns can’t screw this up, we think. Despite reports that their front office loves Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Garrett is a home run and should be the top pick. He draws obvious comparison to Von Miller, but a better comparison may be a different (former) Broncos pass rusher, the recently retired, DeMarcus Ware.
2. 49ers – Solomon Thomas, DE – STANFORD
San Francisco has so many needs that every player this high in the draft should help them. Because new GM John Lynch and new head coach Kyle Shanahan each have six-year contracts, there’s no need to panic and take a QB. Thomas is the safe choice, and can serve as a building block around a defense that just a few years ago was the best in the NFC.
3. Bears – Jamal Adams, S – LSU
Most personnel people in the NFL consider Adams the safest pick in the draft. With the Bears spending big money on free agent QB Mike Glennon (3yrs, $45 Million) there isn’t a need to panic on a QB. Adams will help restore Chicago’s identity, and, likely, extend Head Coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace’s time in Chicago.
4. Jaguars - Leonard Fornette. RB – LSU
At the Scouting Combine in Indy, not surprisingly, personnel people and coaches alike were salivating at Fornette. He’s drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson and Bo Jackson. While lofty comparisons are the norm this time of year, Fornette seems like he may actually live up to, or even exceed, expectations.
5. Browns (from trade with Titans) - Mitchell Trubisky, QB – NORTH CAROLINA
The Cleveland native wants to be the “savior” for his hometown franchise. While the Browns “football people” may get what they want in Myles Garrett at the top of the draft, if Trubisky lasts to 5, don’t be surprised to see Cleveland overpay with their stash of draft picks (4 in the 1st 40 picks) and jump up to grab the talented signal-caller.
6. Jets – Deshaun Watson, QB – CLEMSON
There’s a couple of schools of thought here, the first being, The Jets need a QB, and you keep drafting a QB until you have one. The second, Trubisky may start a “mini-run” on QBs and when the Jets see Trubisky go off the board, they’ll jump on Watson, who showed in back-to-back National Championship appearances for the Tigers, that he shines on the big stage.
7. Chargers – Malik Hooker, S – OHIO STATE
There was a noticeable void in the Chargers secondary with the departure of Eric Weddle. Hooker could help fill that void and has nothing but upside. He was good enough to play college basketball coming out of high school, but had to redshirt as a freshman in Columbus. When he finally got a chance to start as a sophomore, for Urban Meyer, he took full advantage, garner All-American and All-Big Ten Honors.
8. Panthers – Christian McCaffrey, RB – STANFORD
No matter which team takes McCaffrey, if it’s not Denver, Broncos fans will be disappointed. Realistically, it just doesn’t seem like the former Heisman finalist will be around anywhere near the Broncos selection. In fact, he probably won’t be anywhere near where Denver could strike a deal to trade up and grab him. Carolina’s offense took a step back last year, despite a record performance in 2015 when they ran through the NFC before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. McCaffrey will be a great fit wherever he lands, but giving Cam Newton another weapon is a scary proposition.
9. Bengals – Jonathan Allen, DL – ALABAMA
Considered by many, the best defensive player on the best defense in College Football, Allen seems like a good fit wherever he lands. If you pair him with Geno Atkins, which would be the case here, that’s bad news for Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and anyone else on Cincy’s schedule. He can play inside and out. He’s drawn plenty of comparisons, but the one that makes the most sense, is Derek Wolfe.
10. Bills – Charles Harris, OLB – MISSOURI
Mizzou has put out some big-time pass rushers in recent years, Shane Ray and Kony Ealy, come to mind. Harris should continue that trend. While his team took a step back in 2015, he took a step forward, racking up 2 more sacks than the previous year, and being one of the few bright spots in Columbia. Harris uses his length to his advantage should step right in and help out new Buffalo Coach, Sean McDermott’s defense.
11. Saints – Marlon Humphrey – ALABAMA
Humphrey stood out amongst a star-studded group of defenders on The Crimson Tide’s outstanding defense. As the son of former Broncos running back, Bobby Humphrey, he has the pedigree that the NFL loves and he has the playmaking ability that fans love. The Saints have so many needs on the defensive side of the ball and could go a number of directions, but Humphrey is the safe pick here.
12. Titans (from trade with Browns) – Mike Williams, WR – CLEMSON
While there’s some debate about which pass catcher should be first off the board, the consensus is that Williams is the best of the bunch. He was Deshaun Watson’s favorite target and has all the measurables a Coach could want. Don’t be surprised if Williams becomes Marcus Mariotta’s favorite target very quickly.
13. Cardinals – Corey Davis, WR – WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Cardinals need an heir apparent to QB Carson Palmer, but they also need one for the franchise’s all-time greatest player, WR Larry Fitzgerald, who is likely in his final season in the dessert. Davis checks all the boxes to succeed Fitz. He’s big, has great hands and can do everything. He was the Mid-America Conference player of the year in 2016, and MAC 1st team 3 consecutive years. The biggest question for Davis won’t be can he succeed Fitz in Arizona, but can he dethrone him as the Palmer’s go-to-guy sooner, rather than later.
14. Eagles – John Ross, WR – WASHINGTON
The fastest player in the modern combine era(since they switched to fully-automated laser timing) will certainly find a place in any team’s starting lineup. Chip Kelly ran off DeSean Jackson in 2014 and Jeremy Maclin left via free agency a year later. So despite adding big wide receivers, Philly, and now Carson Wentz haven’t had any true deep threat that can “pop-the-top” of the defense. Ross is absolutely that, and even with the addition of wideouts Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith, Ross is a different kind of weapon. Also, with Darren Sproles time likely nearing and end, Ross could certainly help in the return game for years to come as well.
15. Colts – Ryan Ramczyk, OT – WISCONSIN
Andrew Luck is the franchise in Indy, and due to the constant pounding he takes, his performance, and health have suffered. Ramczyk should help in that area. A big kid who projects as a starting tackle isn’t the sexiest pick, but despite the big name, and big talent at some of the skill positions, odds are, if you asked Luck who he’d like to see his team take, he’d tell you, tackle, guard, maybe another tackle, a tight end who can block, and he’ll figure out who to get the ball to, but maybe now he’ll have a little more time to make those decisions.
16. Ravens – Reuben Foster, LB – ALABAMA
Character issues (that may not actually exist) are the only reason Foster would last this long. If he does, make no mistake, GM Ozzie Newsome, who routinely wins the NFL Draft would chalk up another victory if he could pair this tackling machine with another former Alabama tackling machine, linebacker C.J. Moseley. The projections that Foster may drop could be exaggerated, but there’s no way he drops past Baltimore.
17. Redskins – Haason Redick, LB – TEMPLE
Some experts consider Reddick the biggest rising star in the draft, and he could go as high as 10. The middle of the 1st round makes more sense, and he could be a great fit in the D.C. He’s a bit of project in that he’ll likely be moving inside after playing outside at Temple, but as a former high school running back and safety, moving around is something he’s used to. He has a chance to be one of the steals of the draft.
18. Titans – Derek Barnett, DE/LB – TENNESSEE
The Nashville native could find a home, at home. Although position fit is the biggest question mark, Barnett has a nose for the ball. He projects as a player who can set the edge and most importantly get to the quarterback. He led the Vols in sacks the last two seasons with 12 in 2016 which earned him ALL-SEC honors as well as several ALL-AMERICAN nods. Who says you can’t go home again, not Derek Barnett.
19. Buccaneers – Dalvin Cook, RB – FLORIDA STATE
This pick may be a bit of a head-scratcher since Tampa just signed Doug Martin to a 5-year $35 Million extension, but Cook’s talent may be too much to pass up. Teaming him with former teammate and the team’s unquestioned face, QB Jameis Winston makes a lot of sense too. What it likely means is they Bucs would have a similar situation to the Titans who have two front line RBs, or, more than likely, Martin would be available via trade.
20. Broncos – O.J. Howard, TE, ALABAMA
There are plenty of scenarios where Howard won’t be available when Denver selects, but if he’s there, he makes too much sense for EVP/GM John Elway not to grab him. Elway clarified the difference between pass catching tight end and an on the line, do everything tight end. Howard certainly falls into the category of do everything. He’s good at the point of attack, but showed off his pass-catching ability and speed in the last two college football National Championship games. Despite the Broncos need at tackle, taking the best player available, whether it be Howard or another skill player makes more sense, than overvaluing the tackles in this draft class.
21. Lions – Taco Charlton, DL – MICHIGAN
Charlton’s given name is Vidauntae, so, we understand why he goes by “Taco.” He showed improvement every year in Ann Arbor and was in a lot of ways the most disruptive part of the Wolverines defense(with apologies to Jabril Peppers). Charlton would be a nice compliment up front to Ziggy Ansah who’s really come into his own as a pass rusher. He grew up in Ohio and snuck across the border to play for Michigan, and it feels like he may stay “Up North” a little longer.
22. Dolphins – Marshon Lattimore, CB – OHIO STATE
As a rookie Head Coach, Adam Gase showed there wasn’t that much of a learning curve, winning 10 games and making the playoffs. The biggest need for Miami is probably cornerback. As disruptive as they can be up front, the ‘Phins ability to cover was a big issue. Lattimore, who some folks think could go as high as No. 3, may be long gone by the time Miami picks, but it’s a safe bet the Dolphins will select a corner here.
23. Giants – David Njoku, TE – MIAMI
Njoku may not be O.J. Howard, but, there’s some who think he’ll be close, and maybe even a few who think he could be better. The Tight End lineage at “The U” is well known, and Njoku should continue the trend from guys like Jeremy Shockey and Kellen Winslow Jr., to Greg Olsen who is getting better with age. In an offense that just added WR Brandon Marshall and has Odell Beckham Jr., Njoku could end up becoming Eli Manning’s biggest Red Zone threat.
24. Raiders – Cam Robinson, OT – ALABAMA
Robinson certainly checks all the boxes physically, and projects as a 10-year starter on his measurables alone. The biggest issue in talking to some OLine Coaches at the Combine were concerns about his ability to process information. While some people think he should start at guard, and then move out to tackle, one Coach said that things happen to fast inside for him. Another OLine Coach said he was on the ground a little too much for a guy who is built the way Robinson is, and played around the players he did in Tuscaloosa. Nonetheless, the Raiders have a need up front. And, with Menelik Watson now in Denver, Robinson could be a good fit in Oakland(and eventually Vegas).
25. Texans – Patrick Mahomes, QB – TEXAS TECH
There are plenty of signs that point to the Texans taking a QB. Trading away Brock Osweiler cleared room for Tony Romo, and it got Houston out from underneath Osweiler’s contract, but with Romo going to the TV booth and Osweiler gone, Head Coach Bill O’Brien needs more than just Tom Savage or Brandon Weeden under center. So, Mahomes makes perfect sense here for Houston. He’s a Texas kid, with a big arm, and his Dad (Pat) was a big league pitcher, so he won’t be bothered by the microscope that playing that position brings.
26. Seahawks – Garett Bolles, OT – UTAH
There are plenty of question marks with Bolles, as there are with all of the OLineman that have “first round” grades on them. Bolles Wonderlic test score was leaked, and while plenty of NFL types will tell you it’s no big deal, when you score less than 10 (he got a 9), it does raise a red flag. He’s also a 25-year old rookie who’s had a crazy life (way too much to detail here). However, the one thing Bolles is, is big…and that’s something you can’t teach. Couple with the fact that the Seahawks o-line play was a bit of a disaster, and any player with marginal talent would likely be an upgrade over an undrafted guy and a former basketball player, which is who Head Coach Pete Carroll had playing tackle for him last year.
27. Chiefs – Takkarist McKinley, DE – UCLA
Kansas City could go a number of ways, and if the right Quarterback is there, a lot of people believe they could grab one, and maybe DeShone Kizer from Notre Dame is the only QB left at this point, and they look to find Alex Smith’s successor, but the Chiefs have had one of the best defenses in football for the last few years, and McKinley would help solidify that. The already have Justin Houston and Dee Ford, really came into his own last year, but if you added another pass rusher to that defense, that would be bad news for the rest of the AFC West.
28. Cowboys – Adoree Jackson, CB – USC
Jackson has swag for days, and would be a great fit in Big D. The Cowboys lost their entire secondary which was the strongest part of a very average defense on one of the league’s best teams. Jackson would immediately come in and start, and would also help in the return game. If the Cowboys don’t take Jackson, they certainly should take a corner in the first round.
29. Packers – T.J. Watt, LB – WISCONSIN
The younger brother of arguably the game’s best defensive player isn’t as good as his big bro, J.J., but T.J. Watt carved out a name for himself just down the road from Green Bay in Madison. It makes sense if he’s there that Watt could come in right away and help bolster a linebacking corps that has taken a step back in recent years. We all love feel good stories, and with 2 brothers in the NFL already (Derek is a fullback for the Chargers), the Watt family would love to have one of their own stay at home.
30. Steelers – Jabril Peppers, S - MICHIGAN
Some concerns may have been raised when Peppers reportedly had a diluted drug test at the Combine, but the one thing anyone who watched college football last season knows, is Peppers was the most exciting player in the country. He moved from Safety to Linebacker because Jim Harbaugh asked him to. He may seem like a tweener, but he was dynamic in the return game, and like Christian McCaffrey, will be a great fit on whichever team lands him, and he makes too much sense to help out Mike Tomlin and co. in Pittsburgh.
31. Falcons – Gareon Conley, CB – OHIO STATE
Thanks to a report of alleged sexual assault, Conley is in jeopardy of not being a day one selection at all. His talent, however, may be too much for GM Thomas Demitroff and Coach Dan Quinn to pass up. The Falcons had the best offense in football last season, and even though Kyle Shanahan won’t be coordinating it anymore, they still have plenty of talent. If they don’t grab Conley here, Kevin King from Washington St. could be a fit as well.
32. Saints – Chidobe Awuzie, CB- COLORADO
The former Buff All Pac-12 selection may not be on everyone’s first round draft board, but sources close to the Saints say that New Orleans love Awuzie’s ball skill. If they don’t go corner at 11, or even if they do, another corner never hurts. A lot of signes pointed to the Saints trading for Patriots Super Bowl 49 hero Malcolm Butler, but they didn’t, thus, another cover man here makes a lot of sense.