Mock drafts are fun, but you know what is even more fun? A mock draft with trades. Trades happen, and to pretend that no team will trade out of its spot is irrational. That’s why I included a handful of them in here. Whether a trade involves Malcolm Butler, Jimmy Garoppolo, Richard Sherman, a potential blockbuster trade up for a quarterback, or something we’ve never even imagined, prepare for multiple trades in a draft in which the only thing we know is the unknown.
Here’s a look at how the first round of the 2017 NFL draft could go.
1 – Cleveland Browns – EDGE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
Even the Cleveland Browns can’t screw this up, right? Theoretically, some in the organization strongly prefer Mitchell Trubisky, but you don’t pass on a once-in-a-decade pass-rushing talent like Myles Garrett for a one-year starter at quarterback. Garrett has the physical tools to be a Pro Bowl player as a rookie and a franchise player for the next decade for Cleveland.
2 – San Francisco 49ers – QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
The best way for a new coach and new GM to secure long-term job security is to get a quarterback. John Lynch will try all he can to trade down, but unless he can swindle a team into thinking Mitchell Trubisky is worth trading up for, it’s likely that Trubisky becomes the newest San Francisco quarterback. Trubisky’s lack of starting experience makes him a risky prospect, especially at No. 2 overall, but if anyone can develop him, it’s quarterback guru, Kyle Shanahan.
3 – Chicago Bears – DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford
The Chicago Bears will have their pick from a slew of talented defensive players, whether it be linemen Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen, or one of the elite defensive backs. Thomas makes the most sense for John Fox, as he’s a remarkably athletic interior lineman who can greatly improve a defense that ranked 24th in scoring a year ago. Thomas is built similarly to Aaron Donald, and given that he ran a 4.69 40 at 273 pounds, he’s going to be difficult for offensive linemen to block.
4 – Jacksonville Jaguars – RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Running backs don’t typically go fourth overall, but Leonard Fournette is a surefire prospect who has dominated every level of competition since he started playing organized football. Fournette was not just the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation after high school; he was the No. 1 player, and he followed it up with an outstanding college career. Fournette is a rare blend of power and speed with the ability to handle a full workload. The Jaguars may not even be able to get Fournette with the fourth pick; don’t rule out the possibility of a team trading up and selecting him higher.
5 – Tennessee Titans – CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
To a certain extent, a player can be taught to play cornerback, but he can’t be taught how to be a great athlete. Fortunately, Marshon Lattimore can already do both – he recorded four interceptions in his first year as a starter in 2016, then blew away the Scouting Combine by running a ridiculous 4.36 40. Lattimore would have the opportunity to compete for a starting job immediately, given that the Titans just released longtime starter Jason McCourty. If the Titans don’t pick at five, watch for a team like Cleveland to trade up for a quarterback.
6 – New York Jets – S Jamal Adams, LSU
It will be interesting to see which safety goes higher, Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker. Assuming the Jets don’t take a QB – this would be quite a reach for a signal-caller with Trubisky off the board – they have their pick of a talented safety who can make a big impact on their defense. The team hasn’t gotten great production from recent first-rounder Calvin Pryor, they whiffed on Dee Milliner, and they just released Darrelle Revis after his shocking fall from glory. Adams would inject some youth into a defense that still has to face Tom Brady twice annually.
7 – Los Angeles Chargers – S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
Malik Hooker is always around the ball, as demonstrated by his seven interceptions (three returned for touchdowns!) in his first year as a starter in 2016. The Chargers let perennial Pro Bowler Eric Weddle walk in free agency last offseason and failed to adequately replace him; Hooker would be a step in the right direction to shoring up the secondary again.
8 – Carolina Panthers – RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Christian McCaffrey is shooting up recent draft boards, and that’s a testament to his all-around versatility. He’s a weapon running the football, catching passes out of the backfield, and even returning kicks. NFL teams value running backs who can contribute on third down as a pass-catcher/slot receiver, and McCaffrey fits that mold. The Panthers struggled in 2016, falling to just 6-10 after their magical Super Bowl run the previous year. Adding McCaffrey gives Cam Newton another weapon.
9 – Cincinnati Bengals – DT Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Concerns about Jonathan Allen’s shoulder issues are valid, and could see him fall even more than the ninth overall slot. But whichever team does land him can take comfort in knowing they’re getting a player with elite upside. Allen was a productive three-year starter at Alabama, averaging 11 sacks per campaign the final two seasons. While veteran defensive tackle Domata Peko was incredibly durable during his Bengals career (he started 112 consecutive games dating back to 2010), he signed with Denver in free agency, leaving an open spot next to All-Pro lineman Geno Atkins.
10 – Arizona Cardinals (via trade with Buffalo) – QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
You certainly can’t argue with Patrick Mahomes’ pure production at the collegiate level. He was a three-year starter, leading the NCAA in passing yards as a senior (5,052), including a ridiculous 734-yard output in a shootout against Oklahoma. Mahomes will need a good quarterback guru to work with him, and he may benefit by sitting for a year or even two before he’s handed the reigns. That makes Arizona the perfect fit. Bruce Arians is one of the league’s most underrated coaches, and Carson Palmer turns 38 during the 2017 season. There are weapons to be found on the offense, and if Mahomes can reach his full potential, this offense will soar.
11 – New Orleans Saints – EDGE Derek Barnett, Tennessee
The Saints can’t continue to waste the best years of Drew Brees’ career with a pitiful version of a defense, one that has ranked 31st, 32nd, and 28th in scoring defense the last three seasons. Whether it’s poor free-agent signings like Jairus Byrd, poor first-round draft picks like Stephone Anthony, or ill-advised decisions to let players walk (Malcolm Jenkins), GM Mickey Loomis needs to spend this pick on a defensive player, and he needs to make it count. The Saints have two first-round picks, thanks to the Brandin Cooks trade, so they could theoretically grab an offensive player here and wait for the 32nd pick to go defense. But Derek Barnett would be a great addition to go opposite Pro Bowl pass-rusher Cameron Jordan; Barnett’s college production actually rivaled that of Myles Garrett.
12 – Cleveland Browns – TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
O.J. Howard is one of the best tight end prospects this league has seen in years, and don’t be surprised if he sneaks his way into the top 10, or even eight picks. Howard would be a dynamic offensive weapon to whoever takes snaps at quarterback for the 2017 Browns. Tight ends traditionally have the lowest bust rate of any position; they can be underwhelming given their draft position, but they’re never outright busts in the way that Trent Richardson or EJ Manuel were busts. Howard is a freak athlete with ridiculous potential. He had over 200 receiving yards in the BCS National Championship Game win over Clemson the other year, and he runs a 4.51 40 at over 250 pounds. That will make him a Jimmy Graham-like weapon.
13 – Buffalo Bills (via trade with Arizona) – WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Buffalo traded up for Sammy Watkins in 2014, an admittedly questionable move given the talent found at pick seven (Mike Evans), pick 12 (Odell Beckham, Jr.), pick 20 (Brandin Cooks), and even pick 61 (Allen Robinson). Watkins hasn’t been an on-field disappointment – when he’s healthy – but the Bills just let Robert Woods walk, and the receiving corps could use an upgrade. Management certainly isn’t committed to Tyrod Taylor for the long haul, but he’ll be around for 2017, and getting him a productive four-year college starter like Corey Davis, the NCAA’s all-time career leader in receiving yards, would go a long way to improving the pass-catchers.
14 – Philadelphia Eagles – CB Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Philadelphia Eagles made significant strides to get Carson Wentz some offseason help, adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, but expect Howie Roseman to target a running back in one of the upper rounds. If Christian McCaffrey is available here, I think he will be the team’s pick. However, with him off the board, the team needs to look at the best cornerback available. Gareon Conley would have been the pick, but not with the latest news – true or not – that emerged. Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey is an incredible athlete who graded out well by both PFF’s pass coverage and run stopping metrics, and he’s still just 20 years old. In a division with Odell Beckham, Jr., Dez Bryant, and Brandon Marshall, the Eagles’ best corners are 2016 seventh-rounder Jalen Mills, who finished last in PFF’s overall ratings; former first-round Saints bust Patrick Robinson; and career backup/special teamer Ron Brooks. Humphrey would be given every opportunity to emerge as a Week 1 starter.
15 – Indianapolis Colts – ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama
The Colts can’t continue wasting the prime years of Andrew Luck’s career with a mediocre roster in an unimpressive division. Ryan Grigson is out as the GM, and new GM Chris Ballard needs to show he can hit more on high draft picks; players like Phillip Dorsett, Bjoern Werner, and Jerry Hughes won’t put this team back into contention. Reuben Foster has seen quite the hit to his recent draft stock, but he’s a steal in the middle of the first round for a team that just needs anyone on defense to help the team out. Don’t rule out Indianapolis trading down in the first round or grabbing the top running back (Dalvin Cook?) available.
16 – Baltimore Ravens – WR Mike Williams, Clemson
A 6’4″, 218-pound receiver like Mike Williams could easily go in the top 10, and if he’s available for Baltimore to pick at the 16th spot, it’s a no-brainer. The organization just saw Steve Smith, Sr. retire, and Breshad Perriman hasn’t yet developed as expected. Williams is a tremendous talent with plus size and a ridiculous catch radius. The 2016 Ravens shifted to a pass-first team; in fact, Joe Flacco threw the ball 58 more times than he’s ever done so before, and don’t forget the four-game suspension handed out to running back Kenneth Dixon to start next season. This team needs weapons in the passing game.
17 – Washington Redskins – DE Malik McDowell, Michigan State
Malik McDowell is a high-risk, high-reward player with the talent to be the next Albert Haynesworth and the questionable work ethic to be the next… Albert Haynesworth. The Redskins’ roster took a major hit already this offseason, seeing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon leave, while facing uncertainty at the future of the quarterback position. In this situation, the Redskins could benefit from a formidable front seven to make life easier for pass-rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith.
18 – Tennessee Titans – TE David Njoku, Miami (FL)
The Titans have themselves a very good tight end in Delanie Walker, who is coming off three consecutive 60-catch, 800-yard seasons in Tennessee, but he turns 33 this year. Even if Walker is able to remain productive for several more years, how about a two-tight end system with Walker and David Njoku? Njoku compares favorably to Greg Olsen, and Njoku’s former success as a national high jump champion should make him a red zone favorite for quarterback Marcus Mariota.
19 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin
In one of the worst years for offensive linemen in a long time, Ryan Ramczyk becomes the first offensive lineman off the board – at the 19th pick. It’s a far cry from the 2013 NFL draft that saw three offensive tackles go in the first four picks. Ramczyk isn’t the clear-cut favorite to go first at his position, but he has the credentials to warrant a mid-first round selection. A former Division III transfer, Ramczyk had two productive seasons at Wisconsin and has the size to be a franchise left tackle. It’s worth mentioning that he did recently have hip surgery, and this could see his stock fall on draft day.
20 – Denver Broncos – OT Garett Bolles, Utah
A once-great offensive line from the Peyton Manning days needs an injection of youth to help Trevor Siemian/Paxton Lynch in 2017. Ryan Clady is long gone, and there’s no way GM John Elway wants to go into the season with Donald Stephenson, Menelik Watson, or Ty Sambrailo protecting the blind side spot. Garett Bolles would at least get the chance to compete for a day one starting spot at left tackle. Bolles will be 25 by the time the season starts, but he’s arguably the best offensive lineman prospect in an underwhelming class.
21 – Detroit Lions – EDGE Takkarist McKinley, UCLA
The Lions got themselves a great pass rusher when they took Ezekiel Ansah fifth overall back in 2013 (although he could use a bounce back season), but more help is needed opposite him. There are a handful of quality edge rushers to pick from, whether it be UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley, Michigan’s Taco Charlton, or Missouri’s Charles Harris. McKinley had solid production at the collegiate level and his potential at the next stage warrants a top-25 selection. If the Lions pass on a defensive end, expect the organization to look for a wide receiver or a cornerback.
22 – Miami Dolphins – EDGE Taco Charlton, Michigan
35-year-old Cameron Wake is still a stud pass rusher, but he’s nearing the twilight of his NFL career, and the team needs someone opposite him. Dion Jordan was a colossal bust, and Olivier Vernon left for New York in free agency. The Dolphins would benefit from Michigan’s Taco Charlton, a well-built defensive end with good production at Michigan who would likely be a contributor from Week 1.
23 – Kansas City Chiefs (via trade with New York Giants) – QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
It’s difficult to say whether Alex Smith is holding the Chiefs back, whether Andy Reid is holding the Chiefs back, or whether it’s just really difficult to make the Super Bowl when you play in a conference that includes the Patriots. Smith is a conservative, caretaker quarterback, but he also has a phenomenal postseason track record (12 TD passes, 2 INT, 94.5 passer rating). Still, I think his ceiling has been reached. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson prevents too good of a possibility for Reid. Watson has proven college success, including a come-from-behind national championship game win against Alabama. He’s a runner and a passer, and would have the option to sit for at least a year or two behind Smith.
24 – Dallas Cowboys (via trade with Oakland) – WR John Ross, Washington
Can you imagine how good that Dallas offense would be with the record-breaking speedster John Ross to go with Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and that all-world offensive line? I think the Cowboys would have to trade up a handful of spots to acquire Ross, and in this scenario, the Giants are a willing trade partner. Dallas has hit on nearly every first-round pick it’s made in recent years, and if they hit on Ross, this offense has scary potential.
25 – Houston Texans – QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame
The Texans wisely admitted their gigantic Brock Osweiler mistake, but come on, they don’t think Tom Savage is the answer, do they? He’s still never thrown an NFL TD pass in 92 career attempts. After Savage on the depth chart is Brandon Weeden. Enough said. Bill O’Brien is a great head coach, but it’s going to be difficult for him to win anything unless he finally gets his quarterback. DeShone Kizer is admittedly a reach; then again, that’s what happens when KC jumps the spot over Houston to take Deshaun Watson. Kizer has great size, he’s a dangerous runner, and he’s sure not lacking in self-confidence.
26 – Seattle Seahawks – CB Quincy Wilson, Florida
The Seahawks probably aren’t going to trade All-Pro corner Richard Sherman, but even if they keep him, Quincy Wilson makes a lot of sense for this organization. Sherman is a big corner at 6’3″, and Quincy Wilson has excellent size himself. The Seahawks have shuffled through a multitude of cornerbacks opposite Sherman, whether it be Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane, Cary Williams, or DeShawn Snead. Wilson would give them a long-term starter to keep the Legion of Boom one of the game’s most talented secondaries.
27 – New York Giants (via trade with Kansas City) – RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State
In their trade down with the Chiefs, the Giants still find themselves in good position to pick an immediate impact player at running back. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook has received mixed grades from draftniks, but he’s a proven playmaker at the collegiate level, having rushed for over 1,600 yards in each of his last two NCAA seasons. Cook isn’t without his share of concerns; he has quite the injury history, along with off-the-field issues and even ball security problems. But in the situation, the Giants should feel more comfortable drafting him having traded down in the first round to do so.
28 – Oakland Raiders (via trade with Dallas) – CB Kevin King, Washington
David Amerson was a pleasant find for the Oakland Raiders, but the team could still use another cornerback to help improve a defense that rated dead-last in the league in net yards allowed per passing attempt in 2016. King is a huge corner at 6’3″, and he even has experience having played safety.
29 – Green Bay Packers – G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
In the last two offseasons, the Packers have let both their Pro Bowl guards leave. Josh Sitton was curiously released, while T.J. Lang left via free agency. Ironically enough, both players stayed within the division. Packers general manager Ted Thompson likes to build through the draft as opposed to free agency, and he can replace one of Sitton/Lang with the acquisition of Forrest Lamp, one of the most talented offensive line prospects coming out. Lamp was a four-year starter at left tackle in college, although he most likely projects inside to guard in the NFL. If Green Bay takes him, he’s a likely Week 1 starter.
30 – Pittsburgh Steelers, EDGE T.J. Watt, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt’s little brother is a promising athlete himself, having earned a Second-Team AP All-American selection in his first year as a starter at outside linebacker. And the Steelers certainly need pass-rushing help – James Harrison is defying age but also creeping close to 40 years old, and Jarvis Jones never fulfilled his status as a first-round pick. Pairing Watt with 2015 first-rounder Bud Dupree would help solidify this defense. Don’t rule out the Steelers strongly considering a quarterback, but it’s more likely they would take a developmental prospect in the second or third round.
31 – Atlanta Falcons, EDGE Charles Harris, Missouri
The 2016 Atlanta Falcons made it all the way to the Super Bowl despite just one legitimate pass rusher (Vic Beasley). Beasley did have 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles, but after him, the pass rush was left to former Buccaneers first-round castoff Adrian Clayborn (5.0 sacks), 36-year-old one-year rental Dwight Freeney (3.0 sacks), and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett (3.0 sacks). The Falcons desperately need more help opposite Beasley, and they should have their pick from a handful of players at this spot. What Charles Harris would offer is a likely immediate impact player from the edge, one who can assist in getting after Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston.
32 – New Orleans (via Brandin Cooks trade) – CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
There’s a chance the Saints may give this first-round pick back to the Patriots in a deal involving Malcolm Butler, but if the Butler trade doesn’t happen, the Saints select the best cornerback on the board. Colorado’s Chidobe Awuzie is a four-year starter at the collegiate level, and given the current state of the Saints’ defensive backfield, a hopeful Day 1 starter at cornerback for a perennially awful secondary.