By Lenn Robbins
You’ve got to hand to CBSsports.com.
For the last several weeks the experts have seemingly provided an NFL mock draft every day – sometimes two. There are one-round drafts, two-round drafts, three, five, seven. Drafts with trades. Drafts with no trades. Drafts based on each team’s fan base’s voting.
By the time Roger Goodell steps to the podium, or whatever stage they’ll have constructed in the commissioner’s Bronxville home’s basement, there will be millions of quasi-GMs around the country ready to boo or cheer their team.
Here’s how the draft should go – with no trades allowed.
- Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB, LSU – In a draft riddled with questions: Who’s the best WR? Who’s the best OT? Who’s the second-best cornerback? The question of who’s the best QB prospect is not up for debate. The Andy Dalton era ends and the Burrows era begins; forget hand size.
2. Redskins – Chase Young, DE, Ohio State – The Redskins need a lot of help but unless they get a trade offer they can’t pass up, Ron Rivera sticks with his defensive roots. Washington’s offense doesn’t have enough to compete. But a defense with Young and Ryan Kerrigan might steal a game or two.
3. Lions – Jeff Okudah, CB, Ohio State – As with the Redskins, the Lions are fielding offers like bees to honey. Okudah is one of the most complete college corners we’ve seen. There’s a significant drop off at cornerback after Okudah so if the Lions are going to trade down, it’s going to take a monster offer.
4. Giants – Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson – Ever since the Cardinals made Deone Bucannon a $LB in 2014, teams have been searching for hybrid defenders. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Simmons runs a 4.39 40, the second-best time for a LB since 2003. The question? Does Dave Gettleman not take the Hog Mollie of his choice?
5. Dolphins – Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon – The Dolphins reportedly have been flipping coins between Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert, who shined in pre-draft workouts. Tagovailoa’s health – not just the serious hip injury – but the two ankle injuries (one surgery) and a quad injury – are real concerns.
6. Chargers – Tua Tagovailva, QB, Alabama – The Chargers know exactly what they have without Phillip Rivers and with Tyrod Taylor – no future at football’s most important position. Chargers fans need a reason to make the trek up I-5 to the new stadium they’ll share with the Rams. RED FLAG: Injury concerns.
7. Panthers – Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn – Tough call for Carolina. They lost Gerald McCoy and Luke Kuechly. Derrick Brown could be a 10-year plug on the DL but Simmons, if he drops, can change a game with his ridiculous skill set. Can’t see the Panthers not finding that irresistible.
8. Cardinals – Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa – The great debate after who is the best WR is who is the best OT. We favor Wirfs for his combination of athleticism and technique. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has built a tradition of producing technically sound, tough O-linemen. We love O-lineman that were wrestlers.
9. Jaguars – Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina – A penetrating interior lineman who uses his 6-foot-5, 324-pound frame to disrupt, well, everything. He gets to the QB better than Brown and he blocks kicks as well as sacking QBs. Just two years ago the Jags had one of the best young defenses. The rebuilding begins.
10. Browns – Jedrick Wills, Jr., OT, Alabama – They believe they have their QB in Baker Mayfield, who needs to stop talking and start playing at an elite level. In fairness to Mayfield, he needs better protection. Willis is a Day One starter. With a better line and his choice of weapons, Mayfield is out of excuses.
11. Jets – Meckhi Becton, OT, Louisville –Some have taken to calling Becton the Zion Williamson of OTs. Not a bad comparison for a man 6-foot-7, 364 pounds who can run a 5.2, 40 and dunk a basketball. RED FLAG: Becton could fall after having his drug test flagged at the NFL Combine.
12. Raiders – Jordan Love, QB, Utah State – The Raiders also are moving into a new stadium, no less a new state. There’s a need at CB and there are two elite QB prospects next season – Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. This has never been a patient franchise and Love can learn behind Derek Carr for a year.
13. 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma – A lot of mocks have Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy rated as the best WR and he is a terrific prospect. But Lamb has the ‘it” factor. Lamb opposite last year’s first round pick Deebo Samuel with George Kittle at TE takes this offense to the next level.
14. Bucs – Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia – This just in, the Bucs have a new quarterback with six Super Bowl trophies and a chance to win another within the next two seasons. Protect Tom Brady at all costs. Thomas is maybe a half-tick lower than Wirfs, Becton and Wills, Jr. but maybe not.
15. Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama – Courtland Sutton, a 6-4 target and ball snatcher broke out last season. Team him with Jeudy, last year’s No.1 pick, TE Noah Fant, RB Melvin Gordon, and QB Drew Lock just might take the next step, ending John Elway’s QB curse.
16. Falcons – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida – The only CB in this draft that can be mentioned in the same sentence as Okudah is Henderson. His 4.39 speed and 6-foot-1, 204-pound frame give him the perfect makeup to emerge as a No.1 corner. He’s been trending up with the Bucs and 49ers showing interest.
17. Cowboys – K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU – Dallas has a tough choice here between addressing the defensive backfield and edge rusher. Relying on Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory as your rusher opposite DeMarcus Lawrence is like relying on Villanelle not to kill anyone on the next season of Killing Eve.
18. Dolphins – Josh Jones, OT, Houston – Just as the Bucs are all about Brady, the Fish are all about Herbert. Jones allowed just one sack and four pressures his senior season. If you think it was because he didn’t face elite competition at Houston, he was voted the top offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl.
19. Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama – The thought of Jordan Love to Henry Riggs III conjures of memories of Daryle Lamonica to Fred Biletnikoff. Las Vegas could use a cornerback but opt for a WR for two reasons: the move to a new stadium and, well, it’s the Raiders. Imagine Ruggs vs Tyreke Hill twice a year?
20. Jaguars – Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU – Henderson has a bit more speed but Fulton is the second-best corner in terms of press coverage. He plays with an edge. RED FLAG: Fulton was suspended for 2017 for falsifying specimen for a drug test. It was for marijuana. But, hey, it’s the Raiders.
21. Eagles – Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU – In almost any other draft, Jefferson is the first WR off the board. In any other draft, the Eagles would never get a WR of this caliber at 21. Bottom line, they must get QB Carson Wentz a big-time WR. Both the player and the team win here.
22. Vikings – Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State – With Everson Griffen gone, the Vikes need someone opposite Danielle Hunter. When you face Aaron Rodgers & Matt Stafford twice each season, you must get pressure. Vikings needs a WR but Gross-Matos is the last 1st-round rush end left. Mike Zimmer chooses defense.
23. Patriots – Zach Baun, OLB/DE, Wisconsin – The focus in New England, and throughout the NFL, is Tom Brady’s change of address. But this defense lost Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton. Baun is one of our favorites for his intelligence and versatility. In other words, he’s a Belichick player.
24. Saints – Kenneth Murray, ILB, Oklahoma – The Saints need to do everything they can to give Drew Brees his best chance at one last Super Bowl before he heads to the broadcast booth. The defense was solid if unspectacular last season. Murray, who plays nasty, becomes an anchor in the middle.
25. Vikings – Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson – A lot has been made about Higgins’ comparably slow 4.54 40. But the 6-foot-4 Higgins is a beast in the red zone with a ridiculous catch radius. With Adam Thielen on one side, Higgins on the other, Kyle Rudolph over the middle and Davin Cook out of the backfield – wow!
26. Dolphins – D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia – Georgia has become Running Back U and Swift carries on that tradition. He has speed, vision, the ability to make defenders miss and will stick his nose in on pass protection. Miami loaded up the D in free agency. They’re all in on offense with a QB, OT and RB.
27. Seahawks – Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan – For all of the brilliance of Russell Wilson, and that can’t be overstated, Pete Carroll loves to run the football. Ruiz is very agile for an inside interior lineman and he plays with a real nasty streak. It may not be a sexy pick but it’s the smart one.
28. Ravens – Patrick Queen, ILB, LSU – LSU has replaced Miami as my favorite college for NFL talent. The Tigers, especially on the defensive side, play with a speed and tenacity that’s a football purist’s joy to watch. Queen fits the mold. The Ravens have tried to cover up the loss of C.J. Mosley. Hasn’t worked.
29. Titans – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama – We went with an O-Lineman in our first draft but CB is a more of position of need with Ryan Logan apparently headed elsewhere. Diggs and Clemson’s A.J. Terrell are neck and neck. Diggs’ experience as a former WR gets the edge. Great hands.
30. Packers – Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado – The Vikings believe they have a Super Bowl caliber roster. The loss of Stephon Diggs via trade needs to be addressed. With the ball in his hands Shenault Jr. is one of the most exciting players in this draft. RED FLAG: History of injuries based on physical play.
31. 49ers – Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama – All any 49ers fan needs to do to find the No.1 position of need is to cue up a replay of the Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill combined for 13 catches for 203 yards. The need is more CB than S, but McKinney can play either safety spot and is Day 1 talent.
32. Chiefs – Antoine Winfield, S/CB, Minnesota – This is my favorite defensive player in the draft because of the way he plays. Yes, he’s only 5-foot-9, 203 pounds but he hits like a man constantly in a bad mood. Injury history could turn off some teams, moving Clemson’s A.J. Terrell.