There’s no way the top 10 of this draft won’t be filled with quarterbacks, right? Not so fast, my friend. There is a scenario where it happens, but a lot has to swing in certain ways during both free agency and as the draft unfolds.
For instance, the 49ers have to feel comfortable rolling with Brian Hoyer. The Bears have to sign Mike Glennon. The Bills already brought back Tyrod Taylor. We just wiped out everyone but the Browns and the Jets, and if the Browns think they can either A) Trade back up, or B) Wait until the second round to take a quarterback, they’ll take that gamble and go with a better player at No. 12 overall (don’t rule out a trade with the Patriots either).
The Jets could also do something weird during free agency -- hello, Jay Cutler! -- which would suddenly create a massive crater for quarterback value. Do we ultimately see this happening? Probably not.
Quarterbacks get pumped up in the draft; it’s what happens. But there’s a chance we see quarterbacks fall like crazy in this draft if all the free-agency chips fall the right way.
Let’s explore that below, with the bonus of a late-round trade for a quarterback.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Garrett showed too much at the combine to let Cleveland pass on him with the top pick. There are reasons to go in a different direction, but passing on the best prospect is how you get fired. No one in Cleveland wants to get fired.
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State: Let’s welcome a new player to the No. 2 spot. But watching Hooker unable to participate in the combine got me thinking -- if there was a guy with crazy ball skills and an ability to be a difference-maker in the secondary and you could pick a team able to redshirt him, well, the 49ers would be that team.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: Even with the shoulder concerns, he’s still an animal in the trenches and a game-changer to improve a Bears defense that is closer to being good than people think. Now about that offense ...
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: The Jaguars are ready to make a mark in free agency on defense, but Lattimore fills the hole left by Prince Amukamara’s departure. How good could this Jags defense be in 2017?
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: There’s not enough chatter about this guy, but he’s going to be a player at the next level and he has a crazy amount of disruption. You can use a Sharpie for Thomas as a top-10 pick as far as I’m concerned. Top five is in play.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: It’s hard to imagine them going into the season with the quarterback depth chart they have right now, because the top guy on the list is Bryce Petty. They need a guy who can be the future and win now. Watson fits the bill.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU: The Chargers re-upped with Jahleel Addae but still need to find one more safety to fortify the back end. Adams can play either safety spot well and makes for a nice value here, as he could go as high as second.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: The biggest thing Carolina should worry about at No. 8 is getting a blue-chip pass rusher. With Solomon Thomas and Myles Garrett off the board, Barnett is the next best answer.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Missing the entire combine because he decided to go off on a “candy striper” is not a good look, but for now we’ll give Foster’s talent the benefit of the doubt when it comes to landing with a team like Cincy.
10. Buffalo Bills
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: A monstrous combine for Howard puts him squarely in top-10 range, especially for a team like Buffalo that retained Tyrod Taylor on a reworked contract and now needs to give him passing weapons.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: Going running back early in the first round feels like a luxury for a team like the Browns, but with Fournette on the board this late, it’s not that hard to pull the trigger. They have two top-five talents in Garrett and Fournette on the roster from this draft.
Haason Reddick, LB, Temple: Arizona would love to grab a quarterback for the long haul, but the temptation to take a guy like Reddick, who wowed at the combine and can do a lot of things at a lot of positions in a versatile defense, is too much of a draw at this spot. Might be the last mock where Reddick goes this low.
14. Eagles (from Minnesota)
John Ross, WR, Washington: This feels like it might be too low for Ross after he ran the fastest recorded 40 in combine history. But if the Eagles miss out on the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes and Ross is here, it would make total sense.
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State: He can move for a big dude, and although there were some rumors about bad interviews at the combine, the Colts need to get bigger and stronger on the front lines both defensively and offensively.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Nobody loves Alabama guys like Ozzie Newsome and there’s a chance to take a stud corner from the Crimson Tide here so the Ravens can bolster their secondary.
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Who the hell knows what this franchise is going to do at this point. But if the reports are true and Scot McCloughan is headed out the door, and if Bruce Allen didn’t like Josh Doctson, you can see them throwing it in his face and taking another wide receiver.
18. Tennessee Titans
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: There are a lot of ways the Titans could go here, but grabbing a talented wideout to pair with Marcus Mariota should be a no-brainer move if someone like Davis is sitting here and the medicals all check out.
Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan: What exactly is Peppers’ position? Who cares. He’s a freakish athlete and a guy that a smart defense can utilize in fun ways. He doesn’t feel like a traditional Mike Smith kind of guy, per se, but he’s going to make plays and the Bucs need safety help.
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: The Broncos badly need help on the offensive line, pending free agency, and that doubles down if they sign Tony Romo, as many expect to happen.
21. Detroit Lions
Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky: Let’s wait and see what happens, but with Larry Warford and Riley Reiff hitting free agency, Lamp joins free-agent signee Ricky Wagner to inject new talent into the offensive line.
22. Miami Dolphins
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: Long, lanky corner adds to a secondary that could utilize some help, even if it’s not the biggest area of need for the Dolphins.
23. New York Giants
Mitchell Trubiksy, QB, North Carolina: This probably isn’t going to happen, but the lights would be bright on the North Carolina product in the draft room if it did, and the Giants would get a steal, not to mention set themselves up for the long haul by getting an Eli Manning replacement.
24. Oakland Raiders
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Even if the Raiders come out of free agency with Adrian Peterson in tow, it wouldn’t prevent them from landing Cook. This is an offense built for the long haul, and the more bodies behind the line, the better.
25. Houston Texans
26. Seattle Seahawks
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford: Really can’t help but think there’s someone out there smart who is going to grab the Stanford stud and deploy him in a fun way. This is like the Seahawks getting Percy Harvin without the baggage and the trade.
Adoree’ Jackson, CB, Southern California: The chatter at the combine was about Jackson sticking around for a year to be a top-five pick. Well, he can still be a first-round pick this year.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU: You don’t have to be Ted Thompson to know the Packers need to improve their secondary. White helps them do that right away.
Tim Williams, LB, Alabama: The off-field concerns are certainly there, but there’s a ton of talent plus the ability to pressure the passer makes Williams an intriguing pick here who can do different things in this defense.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Obi Melifonwu, S, Connecticut: This feels like a dream pick for the Falcons, given how strong the massive defensive back (6-feet-4!) looked at the combine. Athleticism goes a long way in the NFL these days.
32. Cleveland Browns (via mock trade with New England)
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech: Can you imagine how Browns fans feel about this draft day haul? Three first-round picks, including Garrett, Fournette and Mahomes. That’s a haul. And they just needed to to give up a fourth-round pick to flip a couple spots with the Patriots at No. 32 to ensure a fifth-round option on their new quarterback.