Draft Day is quickly approaching. Here is my first mock of the pre-draft period. Please not that some of the below picks will likely change hands a few times, so expect this to change.
1. Falcons – CB Rollo Salsbury. The Falcons have a lot of directions they could go here – it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to snag the boring but outstanding OT Staley here as they need more muscle up front for franchise QB Callahan and HB Williams. But CB Jenkins is old and undersized and the Falcons likely won’t have a shot at such a stud Corner again. Salsbury is tall, strong, fast and smart. He’s the best corner prospect in the last couple of drafts.
2. Vikings – QB Carson Wentz. The Nick Foles era ended in Minnesota and the Vikings need a franchise back they can develop. Wentz is the best QB in the draft in recent memory and can be a strong starter soon.
3. Colts – OT Ronnie Staley. The Colts have a plethora of options here. It will be intriguing to see if they go with huge DE/DT DeForest Buckner. Buckner is one of the most amazing athletes in league history and can either play Tackle or End, depending on the scheme. Either way, he would be a beast. Another consideration might be CB William Jackson with the departure of Murphy. However, the Colts have a lot of holes on the O-Line, and Staley is arguably the best Tackle to come out of the draft. The Colts are banking on young Teddy Bridgewater, and need someone to protect him.
4. Bengals – DE Purifoy Bolden. I have Cincinnati taking Bolden here as he’s a stud DE who will likely have a solid career. But the more I look at the Bengals roster the more I wonder if they are tempted by human bowling ball HB Derrick Henry. Last year’s leading rusher Lamar Miller has been traded and former 2nd rounder Kenneth Dixon didn’t show much in his limited action.
5. Bears – MLB DeShaun Kennedy. Chicago let Phillip Bryant, a mainstay in their middle go in the offseason and the team needs a stud to step in a captain the defense. Kennedy fits that bill, though honestly so does MLB Jacob Trembley. I have Kennedy rated only slightly higher, but Trembley is much stronger and has more awareness. It’s a toss-up, but either way the Bears win.
6. Texans – WR Michael Thomas. Houston has a solid roster from top to bottom, so it’s harder to figure out where they may go. One option might be grab a MLB here, but the Texans need to give Kendall Irving another target as Randle Rueben nearly doubled the receiving yardage of the team’s second most productive WR. Thomas has good size, nice speed, but also an amazing vertical and is incredibly strong.
7. Jaguars – OT Taylor Decker. New GM William Cook has his work cut out for him as the Jags have many holes to fill. The team has only 3 WRs on its roster, with only 1 pass catcher drafted before the 6th round. The secondary features two CBs over 32 and the only 2 Offensive Tackles on the roster are on Medicare. Enter Taylor Decker. Nothing flashy about a Tackle, but Decker is a rare combination of huge and fast.
8. 49ers – HB Derrick Henry. The Niners have won 11+ games the last two years without much of a running game. Last year’s leading rusher had just over 600 yards rushing and a dismal 3.7 yard per carry average. Henry is built like a mack truck and can finally provide a reliable running game to support Geno Smith.
9. Chargers – DL DeForest Buckner. The Chargers must be salivating at the prospect of Buckner falling to them. Buckner comes in as an End and would be a terror at that position, but would also be a beast for San Diego inside. Only 7 DTs have Buckner’s speed, but none of those have his strength. And no one has his combination of agility and acceleration – by a mile. Buckner will be a steal if he falls this far.
10. Panthers – CB William Jackson. Desmond Trufant just hit 30 and William Nguyen had his lunch handed to him last season. The Panthers don’t have many holes, with the exception of depth in the secondary. Jackson is one of the smartest CBs in the draft and also have an almost perfect blend of attributes. Getting him this late will be a treat for the Carolina faithful.