Mock Draft 2.0; Championship week – Lee Wakefield

So January 14th has come and gone, now we know which underclassmen are in the draft and which are going back to school for a least another 12 months. We are now looking forward to the Championship games and there are only four teams still in with a shout of taking home footballs’ biggest prize. We now know the draft order from 1 – 28… With that in mind, it’s time for another mock draft isn’t it?
I am still not including trades in my mocks at this stage, even though I *strongly* believe there will be trades between now and draft night,or on draft night itself.
At this point the dust is still settling and the season isn’t even over yet so I’m just giving you some players than mesh nicely (in my opinion (of course)) with each team. This is nothing like what my final mock will be. Let’s get into it, shall we?

1. Cardinals – Quinnen Williams, IDL, Alabama
I’m not off the Nick Bosa train by any means, I still think he’ll go first overall but man, Quinnen Williams is a top notch player too. So for variety’s sake let’s go Quinnen at number 1… this gives the Cards an interior rush to aid Chandler Jones on the outside.

2. 49ers – Nick Bosa, Edge, Ohio State
This would be an absolute home run for the 49ers. They played themselves out of the number one selection by winning pointless games and thus guaranteeing themselves Bosa. As above, don’t get me wrong, Quinnen Williams is incredible but the 9ers need an edge defender. Could they trade up to get Bosa on draft night? Maybe… if not they could trade back to avoid overdrafting another player.

3. Jets – Ed Oliver, IDL, Houston
Remember when Ed Oliver was a sure fire top 2 pick prior to the season? That was a fun time. His stock dropped after an injury hit year but get Oliver in the combine and he will soar up analysts boards once again. Oliver is going to annihilate the combine.

4. Raiders – Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
CB1 doing CB1 things, going in the top 5. Murphy is a little undersized but man, is he scrappy and he’s a playmaker too. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a few good wide receivers in the AFC West and they’re pretty young to boot. The Raiders need to counter this and get themselves an antidote; enter Murphy. You’re welcome Raiders fans.

5. Buccaneers – Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama
If Jameis Winston is going to have a renaissance under Bruce Arians and execute his vertical passing game he’s going to need time in the pocket and slow down his interior clock. The Bucs showed this past year that the offense has the weapons, they just need consistent quarterback play. Williams comes in here to lock down Winston’s (and/or the next QB’s) blindside for the next decade.

6. Giants – Josh Allen, Edge, Kentucky
The Giants are sticking with Eli and if you hate it over love it, that’s the state of play. I personally think drafting a QB here is the correct decision so he can sit a year, which would be sensible given there’s no “plug and play” QB in this class. Anyway, back to this pick… they Giants have Davis Webb who they love (apparently) and Kyle Lauletta who they drafted last year, so therefore they have to go edge. Josh Allen has been supremely productive over the past 12 months, he helps Olivier Vernon out in getting to the QB.

7. Jaguars – Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Jags are moving on from Blake Bortles, so they need to draft a QB. Whether they get one at 7 or whether they move up to guarantee they get their guy. If they do move up, it could trigger a QB avalanche, in that case, grab your popcorn boys and girls; draft night is going to be FUN. On to Haskins, I think he needs to sit a year, I actually think he should have stayed at Ohio State for another year but chase that bag, young man!! Haskins is talented but has his flaws and is inexperienced. He’d need to learn quickly if he’s thrust into a starting gig immediately.

8. Lions – Christian Wilkins, IDL, Clemson
Remember last year when Christian Wilkins was being mocked in the late first round last year? Well he’s now got another year under his belt and a National Championship. He’s almost been over analysed now and isn’t flavour of the month anymore but don’t mistake that for him slipping with his play… he’s still one of the best interior D linemen in this class and dare I say it… the best player on that Clemson D line.

9. Bills – Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
Here’s a new name. He’s the new kid on the block in terms of tackle prospects. Ford is a little raw but he’s super athletic and his footwork for a man of his size is very, very good. Ford will get beat in his first year a fair amount and will go through sticky patches but if the team who drafts him can polish him up, they’ll have a great player on their hands.

10. Broncos – Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Shocked? Yep, I would be as well if this went down. Although, in a way, I wouldn’t be… John Elway has said until he hits on a QB, he’s going to keep swinging and man, has he swung and missed on a couple already. I’m not a fan of Lock personally, I’m not 100% on board with any of this QB class to be honest but I feel like his big arm and he looks like a quarterback-ness will appeal to Elway.

11. Bengals – Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama
For a while it didn’t look like Mack Wilson was going to come out and he only declared with a few hours to spare before the deadline. He’s your typical modern day, sideline to sideline, good in coverage linebacker and the Bengals need just that. You’re welcome.

12. Packers – Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State
The Packers cannot persist with having next to no pass rush outside and they need to give Nick Perry some help, Clay Matthews is a few years past his sell by date too. Enter Burns who can continue the process of freshening up of Green Bay’s defense.

13. Dolphins – Dalton Risner, OT, Kansas State
Ja’wuan James is on his way out of Miami so there’s a vacancy at right tackle. Risner may turn out to be a guard and a lot of analysts will tell you it’s trending that way over the next couple of months. Either way, Risner is a solid prospect who should have a long and productive career in the NFL. I personally see him as a tackle and if he went to Miami, he’d form a nice pair of bookends with Laremy Tunsil.

14. Falcons – Clellin Ferrell, Edge, Clemson
Would this be almost unfair? The Falcons’ season was blown to smithereens by injuries early in the season to top defenders and thus they pick in the top 15. Another pass rusher is never a bad thing, especially one as talented as Ferrell. There have been concerns about Ferrell’s flexibility but anyone who had watched Clemson recently knows he’s a problem for quarterbacks. He’s also a Vic Beasley insurance if he continues to prove that his one good season was a flash in the pan.

15. Redskins – Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
“What? You hate his QB class!”, I hear you all cry… yes. Yes I do, but the NFL is stupid. GM’s just cannot help themselves… they all believe that they see what others do not and they’re the smartest guy in the draft. Obviously the ‘Skins need a QB even if Alex Smith makes a recovery from his horrendous injury. To me, Jones is quite vanilla, he doesn’t really have one outstanding trait but in a QB class this shallow being “not had” is a great quality. His ceiling probably is being an Alex Smith type at the next level and I guess you can do much worse than that.

16. Panthers – Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
Another ‘Bama guy who we were saying, “will he or won’t he”, as the declaration deadline approached. Carolina need a safety to lock down the back end for a while. Thompson has range and can deliver a bit when needs be. I’ve seen and heard reports that the NFL isn’t as high on him as a lot of analysts so don’t be shocked if he slides out of the top 20.

17. Browns – Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Williams didn’t quite live up to his hype this past season but he’s still a fantastic prospect with ideal measurables for the position. His slide would be a huge boon for Cleveland who use first round picks in back to back years on corners who can more than hold their own with the best of them.

18. Vikings – David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen were last seen bickering about throwing the ball/having enough time to do so, therefore I thought I’d send them David Edwards to sure up the line and maybe solve their problems. Kirk needs time in the pocket to operate and isn’t great under pressure, so to make sure their $84m investment is a sound one they need some big bodies up front to keep the heat off. Edwards was the left tackle of the most talented line in college football last season, so should do the trick. He should also help Dalvin Cook as Wisconsin ran the ball a tonne.

19. Titans – Jeffrey Simmons, IDL, Mississippi State
Jurrell Casey can’t go on forever; enter Simmons. A 6’7 pocket mover who loves to put pressure on QB’s. Simmons sack numbers were quite low but his pressures were high, so he does need to learn to finish but that’ll come in time and with good coaching. This pick gives Tennessee in interior force to mould with Harold Landry on the outside for year to come.

20. Steelers – Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn. State
The Steelers corners are bad. The Steelers need to move on from Artie Burns. Ergo, they draft a corner… Oruwariye fits the athletic profile that the Steelers go for but he can actually play to boot. He’ll need some polish here and there but has the makings of a good corner in today’s NFL. Linebacker is also in play here but with Mack Wilson off the board, corner becomes priority.

21. Seahawks – Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The hottest name in draft land right now. I don’t know whether it’s because Adderley is a really good player or whether it’s because this safety group is trash but Adderley has become the hottest name on the lips of many a draftnik. Obviously coming from an FCS school, he faces an uphill task to convince teams to take him in the first round but we have seen it in the past. I feel like the pre draft process is super important to someone with Adderley’s background. We have also seen it in the past that Seattle aren’t afraid to think outside the box with their first rounder, so this is a marriage I can see happening, especially since Seattle will need to replace another Legion of Boom-er, Earl Thomas.

22. Ravens – Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
The Ravens kind of three together a receiving corp before this season started, signing John Brown, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead. Now I feel like they need to start giving Lamar Jackson some weapons that he can grow up with and form long term bonds with. Riley Ridley (yes, younger brother of Calvin – I know you were wondering) is a solid route runner with sure hands, who along with Mark Andrews, will give Jackson some reliable targets to hit for years to come.

23. Texans – Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
It feels like DeShaun Watson has almost had a career’s worth of injuries already through two season… from last year’s season ending torn ACL to this season’s punctured lung and everything in between. Why is this? Well because Houston have a bad offensive line… so to remedy this, let’s give them Yodny Cajuste, a raw but athletic lineman with the nasty streak that most great linemen have in them. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a silver bullet and needs some polish himself but maybe it’ll stop Watson from dying next season.

24. Raiders (Via Bears) – Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State
So here Gruden replaces Amari Cooper with a younger and cheaper version in Harmon. The N.C State wideout has recorded back to back 1000 yard seasons for the Wolfpack. Harmon is a jump ball specialist with great contested catch ability… he’s not the greatest athlete in the world but he has all the tools to succeed in the role that 5-10 years ago would have been referred to as a “number 1 wide receiver”. He won’t blow anyone away after the catch but 3rd down and red zone will be his specialities.

25. Eagles – Rashan Gary, Edge, Michigan
Let me be clear on a couple of things. Firstly, do I think Rashan Gary is a first round talent? No. Do I think he’s a first round athlete? Yeah, probably. Do I think Gary is an edge at the next level? ABSOLUTELY not. If I was a team drafting Gary I’d sit him down on day 1 and say, “bud, I know you want to be an edge so you get more money but you have to be good to make money. You’re going to play inside, as a 3-tech and destroy guards every week”. Why is this? Because Gary lacks bend and flexibility, he’s duck footed and lacks a pass rush plan. However giving him a more linear path to the QB and putting him in a place where his power is emphasised is money to me.

26. Colts – D.K Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
I know that the Colts have T.Y Hilton, I know they have turned water into wine with Eric Ebron but who else does Andrew Luck have to throw to? Chester Rodgers..? Get out! I’m giving them Metcalf because it would just be immensely fun. He’s got that size/speed convo and has a taste for the spectacular in terms of his grabs. Indy have a decent running game, a good line and the QB… they just need to give him more to aim at.

27. Raiders (Via Cowboys) – Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida
After trading one of the league’s best pass rushers and absolutely sucking at getting sacks this past year, guess what? Yep, the Raiders need a pass rusher. Enter Polite who has speed and bend to burn! Speed kills in this league and he gives the Raiders an outside threat to complement Mo Hurst in the middle.

28. Chargers – Raekwon Davis, IDL, Alabama
The other Alabama defensive tackle. Davis may have had the limelight stolen by Quinnen Williams over this past season but he’s an absolute beast himself. Standing at 6’7 and over 300lbs, he promises to be a force to be reckoned with at the next level. Davis can push the pocket and plug up running lanes; his presence next to Darius Philon (or Justin Jones) will take this Chargers D line to the next level. Opponents will find it tough to block Davis, Philon, Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

29. Patriots – J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford
So the Patriots need freshening up on offense. We could be talking about them as a Gronk-less Patriots team in a few weeks time, with the legendary tight end reportedly mulling retirement and even if he sticks around, it’s become pretty obvious that Gronk isn’t the same as he was now he’s half bionic. Whilst JJAW isn’t a tight end (New England can find one of them later since this class is littered with good tight ends) he will give the Patriots an exceptional red zone target and box out specialist. They haven’t had one of them in a while.

30. Rams – Jerry Tillery, DT, Notre Dame
Tillery comes in to replace Ndamukong Suh, who is probably going to have the wrong mixture of being old and expensive to keep around. Another massive D tackle in this class who will benefit from playing next to the best player on the planet and the best D coordinator in the league. He’s had some character issues in the past but the Rams are one team that doesn’t mind that at all.

31. Chiefs – DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia
Whatever happens this season, the Chiefs need to get some new corners because Orlando Scandrick, Steven Nelson and Kendall Fuller ain’t it. They’re all average to below average starters. Baker is one step along the path of redemption and if I was the GM in Kansas City, I’d probably think about doubling down in round 2 like Green Bay did last year…

32. Packers (Via Saints) – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S/CB, Florida
Speaking of Green Bay and speaking of defensive backs… Chauncey Gardner-Johnson continues the rebuild on the back end after Kevin King, Jaire Alexander and Joshua Jackson in the past couple of years. Gardner-Johnson has the speed to play as a deep safety and this replace Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix but he also has the versatility to drop down and play in the slot too or play some man coverage with tight ends… in other words, he is a modern day safety/corner hybrid that every team is looking for nowadays as they look to nullify mismatches that offenses create. 5 years ago, CGJ would have been a mid round “tweener”, last year his (woeful) tackling would have rendered him a system corner but now with that area improved greatly, he’s now a valuable commodity.

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