This year’s crop of quarterbacks is not considered the greatest in draft history, but if there’s one thing we know, it’s that the passers always rise to the top of the draft eventually.
Rather than sticking them midway down the board or lower and moving them up as we get closer to the actual draft, we’re starting this mock draft season with two quarterbacks -- North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer -- in the top three, and three in the top 10.
The Browns, though, go with a stud defender up front at No. 1 overall.
Myles Garrett, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: Garrett is the best player on the board. With the Browns having so many holes and an abundance of picks with which to fill them, there’s no better direction to go than best player available.
Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: Kyle Shanahan’s team has a lot of needs, but his offense won’t work without the right kind of signal-caller under center. Trubisky doesn’t have a ton of experience but he’s accurate, he moves well in the pocket and he showed at North Carolina that he can manipulate the defense and make the right throws.
DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: The Bears badly need a psychic break from the Jay Cutler era, and there’s no better way to get it than to quickly move on with a new franchise passer. Kizer fits the profile of what that type of player looks like, but he’s not just aesthetics: He has the tape and the skill set to match.
Jonathan Allen, DL, Alabama: The Jags have spent years beefing up their defense and they’re finally on the verge of breaking through. Adding Allen to the gaggle of picks they’ve spent on defense over the past few years can push them over the top.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)
Jamal Adams, SS, LSU: The Titans had a better-than-expected 2016 season thanks mostly to Mike Mularkey’s surprisingly effective exotic smashmouth offense. Their defense, though, was a disaster -- especially on the back end. Enter Adams, an all-field play-maker in the secondary.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State: New York adds the best corner in the draft, going BPA and filling a need at the same time.
Malik Hooker, FS, Ohio State: San Diego already has defensive playmakers up front and at the second level. Adding Hooker to replace what they lost on the back end when Eric Weddle left in free agency would further solidify a better-than-you-think defense.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: A Cam Newton-Leonard Fournette backfield will be tough for defenses to deal with anywhere on the field -- and impossible for them to deal with near the goal line.
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford: For a team that has been above average on defense for so long, the Bengals have had surprising difficulty getting to the passer. Worse yet, their run defense slipped last season. In Thomas, they get a player that can help in both areas.
10. Buffalo Bills
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson: At a certain point, when there’s so much smoke, there’s probably some fire. With all the rumors swirling about Buffalo moving on from Tyrod Taylor, it makes sense they would be thinking about finding their next quarterback in this year’s draft.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Another year, another early pick to help the Saints shore up their awful defense.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)
Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: By taking Garrett at No. 1, the Browns paired an elite pass-rusher with an elite run defender (2015 first-rounder Danny Shelton). They have Jamie Collins at the second level as a full-field play-maker. Adding Tabor in the secondary gets them another step closer to having a top defense.
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: Michael Floyd is already gone. Larry Fitzgerald is back for one more year, but might retire at the end of the season. John Brown is great when he’s on the field, but he’s small and slight and the Cardinals don’t yet know how his sickle-cell trait will affect his play. J.J. Nelson is a burner but hasn’t shown much else yet. If the Cards can add the draft’s top receiver at No. 13, that’s a great get.
14. *Indianapolis Colts
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State: Indianapolis has cycled through a ton of backs next to Andrew Luck already in his young career, but never has it had one that really fit his timeline -- or with the kind of explosiveness Cook possesses. If it can add more along the offensive line as the draft progresses, that will help take some of the pressure off its franchise passer.
15. *Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan: Carson Wentz’s group of pass-catchers was one of the worst in football in 2016. Davis gives him a dual-threat player: speed (4.4 in the 40) and size (6-feet-3, 213 pounds).
16. Baltimore Ravens
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: Howard is a ridiculous physical specimen at 6-6 and 242 pounds, and he has the size and athleticism to match. He’s a matchup problem no matter where he lines up on the field, the kind of player that can stand in line, go in motion, split out wide or bump into the slot.
Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA: Add McKinley to Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy and you have the makings of a dominant pass rush. When you’re in a division with the best offensive line in football, there are worse things to base your defense around.
18. Tennessee Titans
Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida: Doubling up on play-makers in the secondary takes a Tennessee weakness and attempts to make it a strength.
John Ross, WR, Washington: Mike Evans was one of the five or 10 best receivers in the NFL in 2016, but the Bucs didn’t really have another weapon to complement him. Ross is an absolute burner with great hands. Stick him across the field from Evans and they’ll both be working with tons of space.
20. Denver Broncos
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: Russell Okung’s contract that essentially only guaranteed him a year on the team comes back to haunt him as Denver drafts his replacement. There have been few surer bets over the past half-decade or so than Wisconsin offensive linemen. Ramczyk is another stud.
21. Detroit Lions
22. Miami Dolphins
David Njoku, TE, Miami: I’m biased as a University of Miami grad, but every time I flip on Njoku’s film I can’t help but think he’s the next in a line of great Hurricanes tight ends. He has a special combination of size and athleticism and were it not for the presence of Howard, he would be the consensus top tight end in the draft. He truly has the potential to score from anywhere on the field, a real rarity for a player at that position.
23. New York Giants
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama: The Giants have been connected to a lot of pass-rushers in early mocks as some expect Jason Pierre-Paul to leave, but this team needs badly to address the offensive line. Drafting Robinson would allow New York to swing Ereck Flowers back along the line to right tackle where he belongs.
24. Oakland Raiders
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama: Oakland began a secondary makeover last offseason with the signings of Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson and the drafting of Karl Joseph. Adding Humphrey to that group would complete the two-season process of upgrading a big weakness.
25. Houston Texans
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: The Texans have a top defense already but they can use some help against the run. Davis can fly all over the field and play in a variety of positions.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky: The Seahawks need offensive line help just as badly as the Giants. Lamp has the flexibility to play multiple positions along the offensive front, and the Seahawks can figure it out from there.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: The Cowboys are a real pass rush away from being one of the Super Bowl favorites, if they’re not there already. Charlton can move around the defensive front and wreak havoc in the backfield. Let Rod Marinelli get his hooks into this kid and turn him loose.
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington: Green Bay’s secondary fell apart due to injury last season and some of the recent draft picks were exposed as they took on larger roles. Jones is more than “just a body,” but the Packers really need to add a body to that group.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: Atlanta has Vic Beasley crashing the passer from one side but he’s still weak against the run. Dwight Freeney is too old to count on long-term, if he’s even back next season. Let Harris slide in to play both the run and the pass.
Tim Williams, DE, Alabama: Nothing to see here. Just Bill Belichick getting his hands on a Nick Saban defender with the potential to be a force against both the run and the pass.
*Picks 14 and 15 to be determined by coin flip.