If I were to create a list of my 10 strongest beliefs, said list — in no particular order — would almost certainly include the following:
- The 1991 Washington Redskins and the 2001 University of Miami Hurricanes are the greatest NFL and college football teams (respectively) of my lifetime.
- We could eliminate 50% of the most debilitating medical conditions that afflict American adults if we simply ate more fruits and vegetables.
- Dunkin’ coffee is vastly superior to Starbucks coffee.
- Air Conditioning is one of the many tools of the devil.
- Anything with “Vindaloo” in the name of the dish is not Indian food.
- Geography should be a mandatory subject in K-12 education.
- The only thing ketchup is good for, is being placed directly into the garbage. It is the Dave Matthews Band of condiments: the more you like it, the more I question everything about your character.
- Michael Jordan is, unequivocally, the greatest player in NBA history. Not LeBron James. Now now, and not ever.
- The world would be a better place without the Kardashian family.
- NFL Mock Drafts — and I really don’t care who they’re done by — that are published in February are breathtakingly, if not contemptibly, pointless.
Do you realize how absolutely idiotic it is to devote literally ANY modicum of time to a projection of what 28 NFL teams are going to do almost three months from now, considering:
- The NFL Scouting Combine — starting February 23rd — is going to drastically change the landscape of whom we define to be the top 32 prospects in this draft;
- History tells us that, with three (or maybe four?) blue chip quarterback prospects with serious first round consideration, there is sure to be at least one pick swap related to draft positioning prior to the draft itself; and
- Nobody in their right mind really knows what each team is going to do on Draft Day itself, let alone what they’re going to do a robust 80 days before the first night of the Draft.
So let’s all agree that there’s absolutely no point in wasting your time or mine with such a pointless inane exercise. For the love of God, please go do something more productive with your life, versus spending even just a couple of minutes on something as idiotic as a February Mock Draft.
Go hug your child or significant other (this should bear even more weight given the backdrop of the recent tragedies in the sports word). Spend time with your family — especially your parents and/or your pet. Drink a glass of water. Take a short walk around your dwelling. Delete the Facebook application off your phone; better yet, delete your entire Facebook profile.
Whatever you do, don’t devote any of your precious time or energy to reading any other NFL mock drafts before April.
Let me repeat: STAY AWAY FROM MOCK DRAFTS UNTIL APRIL. NOTHING GOOD COMES OUT OF THEM.
Including the one below.
Apparently, you decided to heed literally none of my above-listed advice.
Since you apparently have that much free time on your hands to waste, like Joe Burrow puffing away on his post-game victory stogie of choice, i’m just kicking back and enjoying the click-count for this post rising, thanks to yet another sucker being drawn in to reading yet another internet mock NFL Draft —which will look nothing short of absurd when we look back at it later this spring.
1. Cincinnati — Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
Barring something completely and catastrophically unforeseen happening, like Joe Burrow literally having his arms and legs all fall off spontaneously, this pick is already an iron-clad, Fort Knox-caliber lock, especially after Burrow dropped five touchdown passes — and almost 500 yards passing — on Clemson in the National Championship game. Any mock draft who pretends that Cincinnati is going to do anything else with this pick — including potentially taking the guy mentioned immediately below — is just wasting your time.
2. Washington — Chase Young, DE, Ohio State
Memo to any Redskins fan who even remotely entertains the idea of not picking Chase Young with this selection: after Washington makes this pick, in and round the DMV, there’s going to be flutes playing and trombones and flowers and garlands of fresh herbs. And we will dance till the sun rises. And then our children will form a family band. And we will tour the countryside. And you won’t be invited.
3. Detroit — Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State
Positional value will be a question here, as far as taking a cornerback at #3 overall, but the main decision-making New England expats (General Manager Bob Quinn and “odds on favorite to be the first head coach fired in 2020” Matt Patricia) are under a “win now, or else” ultimatum. Also, I can literally and vividly imagine this exchange taking place:
- Quinn: “Maybe [Detroit Lions’ Owner Marth Ford] will just forget about her ultimatum.”
- Patricia: “Why would Mrs. Ford forget about an old tomato?”
4. New York Giants — Jedrick Willis, OT, Alabama
I simply cannot convey just how much I will revel in the schadenfraude of New York Giants’ fans fantasizing about the team taking Jerry Jeudy, only to watch General Manager Dave Gettleman rip out all of their hearts — yet again — by taking somebody who plays in the trenches.
5. Miami — Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama
Let’s pencil in this pick for now, since the Dolphins will be able to justify this pick by saying “Tua Tagovailoa was/is healthy enough to work out for us so who cares about his checkered history with staying healthy” and since they can ride Ryan “loves him some birthday cake” Fitzpatrick for one more season, especially after reuniting him with Chan Gailey (thus effectively giving Tagovailoa the NFL equivalent of a medical redshirt season).
6. Los Angeles Chargers — Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
The Chargers have been closer than you realize to selecting a quarterback really high up in the NFL Draft for the past several years. This year, it looks like they’re going to follow through on that. The relationship between Philip Rivers and his former team looks irreparably broken (and there are plenty of rumors he’s going to sign with Tampa Bay this offseason). Meanwhile, the Chargers might already have eyes for Herbert, who I believe teams are going to view in a similar light as Josh Allen in Buffalo: someone whom you can build around, and take advantage of his underrated athleticism while he further develops as a passer.
7. Carolina — Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
Full disclosure: while Javon Kinlaw spent his lone two days in Mobile, Alabama demoralizing anyone who stood in his way during Senior Bowl practices, i’m calling this a “placeholder pick” (recognizing it still matches one of Carolina’s top needs — defensive linemen — with arguably the best prospect at the position). But the Panthers could very easily use their 2nd or 3rd round pick to move up into the top four selections of this year’s draft, and leapfrog Miami and Los Angeles in order to get one of the prized quarterback prospects. And — at least as of right now — I would put good money on such a trade taking place.
8. Jacksonville — Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
It’s actually rather startling when you think about how the defensive line of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ went from a “Steel Curtain”-esque unit to a “Satin Drapery”-type group. Not coincidentally, their run defense was downright horrid last year, and both of their incumbent defensive tackles — Marcell Dareus and Abry Jones — could be salary cap casualties this offseason.
9. Arizona — Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
While it’s admittedly much more fun to think about the Cardinals selecting a previous Crimson-donning wide receiver with this selection, the current thinking is that Arizona could (or should) take an offensive tackle if (or when?) free agent DJ Humphries leaves town, given that he’s looking to make a bunch of bank this offseason, despite having only one good year in the NFL to his name.
10. Cleveland — Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville
Aside from the fact that he spent all of the past offseason either filming commercials or stuffing his face with Cleveland’s finest fare last offseason (instead of actually working on his on-field craft), one of the biggest reasons Baker Mayfield struggled so much in his second year — again, outside of his offseason fat mass acquisition program — was because of poor blocking from the offensive line. Accordingly, addressing the left tackle position — if not both of their tackle spots — is a top priority for Cleveland this offseason.
11. NY Jets — Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
There’s a big part of me that believes that Jerry Jeudy would (inexplicably) fall to this pick, leading the college scouting department of the New York Jets to inform the decision makers that Jeudy has “Antonio Brown 2.0” (minus the off-the-field meltdowns) potential. And then, that would be followed by the buffoonish Adam Gase publicly leaking things like “can we depend a guy whose last name sounds like a woman’s name?” and/or “his middle name isn’t listed on his Wikipedia page so I don’t know how much we can trust him” to the media, then vehemently denying it, only to later confirm it.
12. Las Vegas — A.J. Epenesa, DE, Iowa
In General Manager Mike Mayock’s first NFL Draft for the Oakland Raiders, he proved that he’s going to take guys that are sure-fire impact “football players,” as opposed to swinging for the flashy or sexy prospect. That’s the same logic for this pick. With a defense that finished in the bottom third in the league against both the pass and the run (in terms of DVOA), the Oakland Raiders will reportedly look to upgrade their defensive front seven with one of their first round picks.
13. Indianapolis — CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Indianapolis Colts currently have T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell penciled in as their top three receivers for 2020. That should be your big tip-off as to why it’s very likely the Colts could make a significant investment — in the form of using their first round draft pick — to bolster this position, especially considering there’s zero reason to believe two of those three incumbent wide receivers can be trusted to remain healthy for an extended period of time.
14. Tampa Bay — Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
I’ll be the first one to admit it: Isaiah Simmons falling to the 14th pick in the draft would be idiocy of the highest levels. But never doubt the ability of NFL Front Office’s to out-stupid themselves into not taking a guaranteed difference maker (Exhibit A: 14 teams passing on Derwin James in the 2018 NFL Draft). Given Tampa’s potential needs at both outside linebacker and at safety, Simmons — who could project as something of a “big nickel”/”moneybacker”-type player — could be a fascinating fit at either (or both? of those spots.
15. Denver — CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Between Chris Harris Jr. already having one foot out of the Denver Broncos’ door, and watching Bryce Callahan miss the entire season last year with a foot injury, cornerback has become a top position of need for the Broncos. Henderson has already made the steady climb up Mock Drafts and Big Boards, given his physical toolkit.
16. Atlanta — Yetur Gross-Matos, OLB, Penn State
Atlanta has finished in the bottom third in the NFL in quarterback sacks generated in each of the last two seasons (including being tied for 29th in the league last year), and two of their top three pass rushers — in terms of sacks generated (Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn) — are free agents who won’t necessarily be retained. The Falcons missed out on grabbing a pass rusher in the first round of last year’s draft, so it’s fair to assume they’ll try not to miss out again.
17. Dallas — Grant Delpit, Safety, LSU
As an aside: alongside Jerry Jeudy, Grant Delpit is one of the two players in this Draft that who are inexplicably falling down in Mock Drafts because people are over-thinking themselves into going cross eyed, and totally missing the obvious facts in front of them: he is a stud, plain and simple. So him being selected by Dallas is a ‘throw-your-remote-through-the-TV’-type pick, if you hate the Cowboys (like me!), especially if he helps their offseason goal of revamping their secondary.
18. Miami (from Pittsburgh) — K’Lavon Chaisson, OLB, LSU
The leading sack-getter on the Miami Dolphins last year was an early-season reclamation project off the waiver wire; Taco Charlton — the failed first-round selection by the Dallas Cowboys eponymously named after the greatest dish known to mankind — had all of five sacks last year. Understandably, Miami would like to use one of their first round picks with a dynamic, game-altering player on their defensive front seven who can rush the passer.
19. Las Vegas (from Chicago) — Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama
I can literally imagine Mike Mayock sending film cut-ups of Henry Ruggs III to Jon Gruden, and Gruden just watching those cut-ups and saying “I tell you what, man…” (without ever elaborating on what is that “what”), even when there’s nobody else in the room. For a guy who never believed there’s a bad time to add a wide receiver to his roster, it’s hard to see Gruden passing on Ruggs’ world-class speed, considering Oakland can’t really boast that from their current receivers (outside, perhaps, of little-used Rico Gafford).
20. Jacksonville (from LA Rams) — Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
I know this is Jacksonville’s pick, but as yet another aside: I’ve always been a fan of huge fan of Jaley Ramsey’s game (I ranked him as the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft), but I still don’t fully understand why the Los Angeles Rams thought it’d be a good idea to throw a boatload of picks at Jacksonville in order to steal away Ramsey, when there are significant questions regarding what the Rams will look like in the long-term. Anyway, in terms of the Jaguars: after trading away Ramsey, cornerback quickly became a major position of need on Jacksonville’s defense.
21. Philadelphia — Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado
Philadelphia can’t expect to be a serious team on offense with their current personnel at WR. The city’s residents have already started using “Nelson Agholor” as a term synonymous with dropping something, and outside of Agholor and the always-injured Alshon Jeffrey, the rest of the Eagles’ wide receivers could compete on a gameshow called “Amazon Prime Delivery Drivers or Forgettable NFL Journeymen?”
22. Buffalo — Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
Buffalo’s offense played remarkably well last year, keeping the ship steady with the running game balancing Josh Allen making more ridiculous plays (in a good way) than ridiculous plays (in a bad way). Still, Buffalo would do well to add a legit pass catcher with a Vitruvian-caliber catching radius, to pair with John Brown as the vertical threat and Cole Beasley doing the underneath stuff.
23. New England — Xavier McKinney, Safety, Alabama
Even with a bunch of free agents on their defensive front seven, New England’s modus operandi has often been about “strengthening a strength.” The Patriots’ secondary was excellent last year, and even if they let Devin McCourty walk in free agency, they’ll probably feel comfortable letting Duron Harmon get more snaps as a starter, while grooming another versatile chess piece for the future.
24. New Orleans — Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
New Orleans enters the offseason with the 5th-least salary cap space of any NFL team, but that will change after they (definitely) dump cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and (probably) Patrick Robinson, and potentially let Eli Apple walk in free agency as well. Needless to say, that’s going to open up a need for depth at the corerback spot.
25. Minnesota — Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
How is it that, for the umpteeth year in a row, we’re still projecting offensive tackles and/or cornerbacks with Minnesota’s top pick? Regardless, if they were able to land someone like Tristan Wirfs this far down in the draft, that would be an absolute coup d’etat for them.
26. Miami (from Houston) — Josh Jones, OT, Houston
After walking away as one of the brightest stars at the Senior Bowl, assuming he doesn’t completely bomb at the NFL Combine, Josh Jones could’ve very well locked up first round status. He would be a welcome addition to the certified tire fire that was Miami’s offensive tackle situation last year.
27. Seattle — Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Seattle finished with an uncharacteristic 26th ranking in rushing defense DVOA, thanks in part to the struggles of (impending free agent) Jarran Reed. The rest of their DT group is razor-thin, making this an even bigger need if Reed leaves.
28. Baltimore — Patrick Queen, LB, LSU
It feels rather strange to think about the top pick in the NFL Draft for the Baltimore Ravens, look over their offense, and think to yourself: “nah, they’re good there.” If we’re playing a game of “best possible draft value” matching a position of need (headlined by inside linebacker and edge pass rusher), then I think this pick makes the most sense.
29. Tennessee — Terrell Lewis, OLB, Alabama
The resurrection of Kamalei Correa was one of the underrated storylines in Tennessee’s playoff run. He was one of only three guys on Tennessee, however, to register more than five sacks last year. But Correa enters the offseason as a free agent, and could cash in at a price the Titans aren’t willing to match. That would leave an already short-staffed Titans’ pass rusher even thinner.
30. Green Bay — Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU
The Packers can’t squander the remainder of Aaron Rodgers’ remaining few years of playing at a high level by surrounding him with the PuPu Platter of receivers they have behind Davante Adams. Upgrading that situation will likely be their top priority this offseason.
31. San Francisco — Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Another team that’s thrown a bunch of assets at a position with little return on investment, San Francisco can’t move forward expecting Deebo Samuel to be the lone receiving threat for Jimmy Garoppolo, considering Emmanuel Sanders is a free agent and they will very likely cut Marquise Goodwin.
32. Kansas City — Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
What’s next for the newly-crowned champs, as they try to defend their spot on the mountain top? How about the fact that three of Kansas City’s five cornerbacks will enter the offseason as free agents, and given that they’re in the bottom quarter of the NFL in available salary cap space themselves, it’s hard to see them breaking the bank to bring any of those guys back. Plus, even if (or when?) they do free up $21 million or so by releasing Sammy Watkins, expect all of that money — and then some — to be used in a contract extension for Patrick Mahomes. ■