“Oh, that’ll be fun.”
That was my reaction today to a random tweet from a listener, who asked me if I was planning on doing a mock draft before April 27.
As Mike Meltser would say, I was intrigued.
I’d never done a mock draft before, and while there’s little or no predictive value in any of them, for somebody in this business, it’s still a good exercise. Sizing up the roster for every NFL team, and what you would do with their first round pick if you were their GM, as if your career was on the line? You could find worse ways to spend 30 or 45 minutes.
Only, it wasn’t 30 or 45 minutes. It was more like three hours.
Because the truth is, these are really hard. (Or at least they should be. If they’re not, you either didn’t think hard enough about yours, or you need to rethink your social life). I found out the hard way today.
Think about all the time we’ve spent spinning the different ways the Texans could go at No. 25. “Deshaun Watson or Patrick Mahomes? Garrett Bolles or Cam Robinson? What if none of them are there? Christian McAffrey?! What if he’s gone too?!”
We’ve been at it for months.
Now try doing that 32 times.
The point is, as happy as I am with how this came out — I’ve got a really good feeling about some of these, and I’m telling you now: if you thought I was insufferable after the Brock Osweiler salary dump, let me get a single pick right after No. 5; you won’t hear the end of it — my big takeaway is, We should probably be a little more appreciative of NFL Draft media. Mel Kiper. Todd McShay. Mike Mayock. Dane Brugler. Mike Renner. These guys put in a ton of time breaking down prospects and creating conversations that help NFL fans get through the dog days of, well, “not NFL season.” If you’re saying you don’t care, well, you do. Because the traffic numbers this stuff gets would absolutely blow your mind.
So, in the end, big, big props to them.
Congrats to Texans fans, too.
Think you guys are gonna like their pick at No. 25.
1 – Browns – Myles Garrett – EDGE – Texas A&M
Hands down the best player on the board, and at this point, the Browns need help all over. Easy call.
2 – 49ers – Solomon Thomas – DE – Stanford
If I’m Mike Shanahan or John Lynch, I have a six year deal. I’m taking all the time they’re willing to give me.
3 – Bears – Jonathan Allen – DE – Alabama
Let’s face it: Chicago’s gonna be bad for a while. The good news is, being bad in 2017 will help them get Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen in 2018.
4 – Jaguars – Forrest Lamp G – Western Kentucky
Same deal. Blake Bortles is bad, but this offensive line is worse. If I’m Jacksonville, I take the best offensive lineman available now, and hope to get a shot at Darnold and Rosen next year.
5 – Titans – Jamal Adams – S – LSU
He’s the best player at an increasingly important position. You already have your QB, QB, Marcus Mariota. Now go get the QB of your defense.
6 – Jets – Fold The Franchise
(Just kidding. Maybe).
6 – Jets – Marshon Lattimore – CB – Ohio State
In a perfect world, this pick is “best OL available.” But in a down year for OL, it’s “best CB available.”
7 – Chargers – Malik Hooker – S – Ohio State
Phillip Rivers gets another playmaker. Between Rivers, Keenan Allen and Joey Bosa, this could be fun.
8 – Panthers – Derek Barnett – DE – Tennessee
Could’ve gone a bunch of ways here. But why not take heat off Cam Newton with some pass rush help?
9 – Bengals – Reuben Foster – ILB – Alabama
I imagine Cincy filled out the card for this pick the minute that Foster was sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine last month.
10 – Bills – Mike Williams – WR – Clemson
For some reason, people think Tyrod Taylor can’t play QB. Give him WR some help, and he’ll put that debate to bed.
11 – Saints – Christian McAffrey – RB – Stanford
To replace Brandin Cooks, why not take a Reggie Bush type talent who can actually live up to the hype? McAffrey can be that good.
12 – Browns – Mitchell Trubisky – QB – North Carolina
Really curious to see what Paul DePodesta does at QB for Cleveland. Can analytics turn a crap shoot (finding a franchise QB) to a science?
13 – Cardinals – Patrick Mahomes II – QB – Texas Tech
Mahomes tools, and Bruce Arians offense. Don’t care who your NFL team is, this would be fun.
14 – Eagles – Budda Baker – S – Washington
He’s small — only 5’9 — but has talent, edge and versatility. Think, Honey Badger. Would fit in nicely next to Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
15 – Colts – Garrett Bolles – OT – Utah
You could make the argument that if new GM Chris Ballard doesn’t go OL here, it’s a fireable offense. #FreeAndrewLuck.
16 – Ravens – Corey Davis – Western Michigan
However “elite” Joe Flacco is, he’s not “elite” enough to elevate mediocre WRs. So, he gets some help here with a dynamic talent.
17 – Washington – Leonard Fournette – RB – LSU
Kirk Cousins has lost a lot of help, and is about to command a lot of money on a long-term contract. Gotta get him a run game.
18 – Titans – John Ross – WR – Washington
Have fun defending Tennessee’s power run game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry AND shot plays with Marcus Mariota and Ross. Yikes.
19 – Bucs – Jabrill Peppers – S – Michigan
Jameis Winston has all the help he needs on offense. So why not give Mike Smith another playmaker? Darkhorse NFC champion, right here.
20 – Broncos – Ryan Ramczyk – OT – Wisconsin
John Elway has the defense built for another 2015 type run. But, his QB needs to be upright. Whoever he is.21 – Lions – Taco Charlton – DE – Michigan
There are football reasons for this pick, but there’s also the potential to have these names on the same DL: Ziggy, Haloti, A’Shawn, Taco.
22 – Dolphins – Cordrea Tankersley – CB – Clemson
Whatever you think of Ryan Tannehill, Adam Gase seems to like him. So, why not start fixing the defense and support him?
23 – Giants – Cam Robinson – OT – Alabama
You could make a real argument for Deshaun Watson here. But the Giants have a real chance to win the NFC this year… if they can protect Eli.
24 – Raiders – Malik McDowell – DT – Michigan State
Derek Carr’s got an amazing ability to lead fourth quarter comebacks/game winning drives. But you’d rather he not have to.
25 – Texans – Deshaun Watson – QB – Clemson
I *really* didn’t expect Watson to make it all the way to No. 25. But if he doesn’t go to the Browns at No. 12, he just might.
26 – Seahawks – Kevin King – CB – Washington
He’s got the right body type for the Legion of Boom. He’s a local kid. Richard Sherman could be on the move. Makes a ton of sense.
27 – Chiefs – Carl Lawson – DE – Auburn
I thought long and hard about going DeShone Kizer here. But if I’m Andy Reid, I’m signing Colin Kaepernick. So, defense.
28 – Cowboys – Teez Tabor – CB – Florida
Dak Prescott nearly outdueled Aaron Rodgers in the NFC divisional round, but then lost two CBs to free agency. Get him another, and he’ll be back.
29 – Packers – Desmond King – CB – Iowa
Since the draft is the only way Ted Thompson lets himself aquire talent, this is the only way Green Bay’s defense improves.
30 – Steelers – Zach Cunningham – OLB – Vanderbilt
Another near-Kizer experience for me here. If this was real, who knows. Maybe he’s the pick, and becomes Big Ben’s heir apparent.
31 – Falcons – Charles Harris – DE – Missouri
To give you an idea of what doing a mock draft can do to your brain: my first draft (on paper) had Harris here, but as I went to tweet it out, I realized I’d left Marshon Lattimore — a top 10 talent — on the board until the second to last pick of the first round, and so, made the switch. Only, I didn’t forget about Lattimore, I actually had him going No. 6 to the Jets. So… yeah. This is hard. Mad props to NFL Draft media.
32 – Saints – TJ Watt – OLB – Wisconsin
The clock is ticking for Drew Brees, but between Christian McAffrey and TJ Watt, what a first round for New Orleans here.
Matt is the host of “Hear Me Out,” Saturdays from 1-4 pm on SportsRadio 610, and “The Matt Hammond Show,” weekdays at 11 am on Facebook Live, Twitter and Periscope. You can, and totally should, follow him on Twitter @MattHammondShow.