You know that old NFL draft saying about how “it only takes one team” to fall in love with a player? The mantra holds especially true for quarterbacks.
Most years—not all—the first selection of a QB sets the wheels in motion for the remainder of Round 1. Teams in need of a quarterback start hunting a little more aggressively to climb the draft order; teams already set at the game’s most important position dangle their draft picks, hoping a desperate general manager will pull the trigger on a trade. When will that opening salvo be fired?
This is the first SI.com 2017 mock draft without a quarterback in the top 10. Unlikely? A bit, but it’s also not that hard to get from point A to point B. Enough talent exists at other positions to push those quarterbacks down.
So, on top of the typical pick-by-pick breakdown, this mock also—with an assist from Hamlet—asks the question: QB, or not QB? In other words, how badly does each team holding a Round 1 selection need a new face under center?
Off we go ...
1. Myles Garrett
RECORD: DE/OLB, Texas A&M
Lest there was any lingering debate about what this pick would be (and there shouldn’t have been), Garrett likely put the Browns’ minds at ease with a show-stopping effort at the combine. In a class with little clarity even from No. 2 on, Garrett is an obvious choice up top.QB or not QB: QB, just not here. The Browns have enough other shots within the top 50 picks to nab Garrett at No. 1.
2. Jamal Adams
RECORD: S, LSU
This is a strange spot for the 49ers to be, because of where the strength of this class lies. Do they take a quarterback this high, after signing a pair in free agency? What about Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas, when DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead already are on the roster? Cornerback? Wide receiver? The pick is Adams here, because a) he deserves to be a top-five option, and b) in Adams and NaVorro Bowman, the 49ers would have their defensive field generals.QB or not QB: Definitely QB. New GM John Lynch signed not one, but two, bridge quarterbacks in Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley. The question is if grabbing a quarterback this high is worthwhile when the roster needs so much of an overhaul.
3. Marshon Lattimore
RECORD: CB, Ohio State
There is one pressing concern with Lattimore, and it’s the health of his hamstrings. He has had issues in the past and pulled up after his 40-yard dash at the combine. Otherwise, he’s emerged as the No. 1 CB in this class. The Bears have numbers at the position, including newcomer Prince Amukamara, but they don’t have a lock-down option like Lattimore can be.QB or not QB: Chicago has to take a developmental quarterback somewhere along the way, because neither David Fales nor Connor Shaw fits that description. Mike Glennon’s presence lets GM Ryan Pace focus elsewhere in Round 1.
4. Solomon Thomas
RECORD: DL, Stanford
Maybe this is overkill with Calais Campbell in the fold, joining Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Dante Fowler and the rest of a deep D-line. Maybe the Leonard Fournette-to-Jacksonville buzz is accurate. I just can’t shake the thought of how many different ways the Jaguars’ defense could attack by adding Thomas’s inside-outside game to what it already has in tow.QB or not QB: Not QB, but the Jaguars are an interesting case, because they have less than a week after the draft to make a call on Blake Bortles’s fifth-year option. Behind him, they have veteran Chad Henne and sixth-round pick Brandon Allen. What’s the 2018 plan if Bortles can’t find his game?
5. Corey Davis
RECORD: WR, Western Michigan
(Pick via Rams) Mike Williams is very good. John Ross is very good. Neither carries the all-around game that Davis does, which is why the Western Michigan product won’t be there for Tennessee’s pick at 18. If the Titans want him, they have to go now.QB or not QB: Nope. Marcus Mariota will be running the show for a while.• Want more draft coverage from SI? Subscribe to the On the Clock Podcast
6. Malik Hooker
RECORD: S, Ohio State
Of all the 49ers’ options for a Round 1 trade, the Jets may be most likely to pull the trigger. If New York has its sights set on a QB, locking that prospect in at pick No. 2 is a must. Of course, in this mock every quarterback remains on the board, and yet the Jets look elsewhere. Hooker’s inconsistency against the run shows up, but he’s brilliant defending the pass.QB or not QB: They should. Will they? Add Jay Cutler to Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, and will there be room to commit further premier resources to the position?
7. Jonathan Allen
RECORD: DT, Alabama
Allen’s arthritic shoulders could drive him down just enough for a team in this range (maybe even a touch lower) to pounce. Allen could line up opposite Joey Bosa in new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s 4–3 scheme, then drop inside to pass rush.QB or not QB: Hmm ... maybe. Philip Rivers turns 36 this season. Not here, though.
8. Leonard Fournette
RECORD: RB, LSU
Beyond the No. 1 pick, when the pairings are too obvious that usually means they won’t happen. C’est la vie. If Fournette is here, and both Thomas and Allen are off the board, the choice looks pretty simple.QB or not QB: Cam Newton laughing dot gif. A late-rounder, if anything.
9. Reuben Foster
RECORD: LB, Alabama
The Bengals aren’t known for aggressive trades up during the draft—their biggest swing, for the 1995 No. 1 pick, resulted in the Ki-Jana Carter debacle. I still can’t shake the possibility that they chat up Lynch about No. 2, in hopes of landing Thomas or Allen. Saving that, and with Davis off the board, the Bengals address their troublesome lack of talent at linebacker.QB or not QB: Depends what they do with A.J. McCarron. If they deal him, they’ll probably add another young signal-caller. Keep in mind they can bail on Andy Dalton’s contract at any time, with minimal cap penalty.
10. O.J. Howard
RECORD: TE, Alabama
The Bills have to find more weapons for their passing game. Who’s to say those additions have to come at wide receiver? Charles Clay has not been the playmaker Buffalo hoped, so Howard would have opportunities. His talents blocking and splitting out wide would help the offense in myriad ways.QB or not QB: Doubtful, at least in Round 1, after retaining Tyrod Taylor. How the new regime feels about Cardale Jones could dictate the later plans.
11. Derek Barnett
RECORD: DE, Tennessee
The Saints now have two Round 1 picks, thanks to their Brandin Cooks trade, and doubling down on defense is the recommended play. Barnett is the type of high-effort pass rusher they need opposite Cam Jordan.QB or not QB: This is too high for a team that has Drew Brees. That 32nd pick, though ...
12. Mitch Trubisky
RECORD: QB, North Carolina
(Pick via Eagles) Really, the dream scenario for the Browns: Garrett at 1 and all the other QBs falling to No. 12. Maybe the odds are against it, but I wouldn’t call this projected top 11 a huge stretch. From there, we’re all guessing at which quarterback Hue Jackson might want.QB or not QB: Yes. A thousand times, yes.
13. Quincy Wilson
RECORD: CB, Florida
The combine reiterated the depth at the cornerback position, but Sidney Jones’s pro day injury thinned out the upper reaches of this class. Wilson can step in as Arizona’s No. 2 CB, or develop behind the prospects they took last year.QB or not QB: QB. They have to. And if Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes are both there for the taking at 13, they might get it out of the way early.
14. John Ross
RECORD: WR, Washington
Signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were impressive coups for the Eagles, but they shouldn’t prevent them from taking a player like Ross. Even with that duo and Jordan Matthews, the Eagles don’t have a catch-and-run gamebreaker.QB or not QB: No chance.
15. Haason Reddick
RECORD: LB, Temple
QB or not QB: They could upgrade their No. 3 QB spot (currently held by Stephen Morris). That’s a Day 3 problem.
16. Mike Williams
RECORD: WR, Clemson
Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.QB or not QB: The Ravens may start their post-Joe Flacco planning soon, but it’s doubtful it happens this year.
17. Deshaun Watson
RECORD: QB, Clemson
Washington sort of made its bed here. That’s not to say that the Redskins have to take a quarterback early, but with Kirk Cousins all but certainly preparing for his final season (and even 2017 is in doubt) with the franchise, they should be looking. And here, they get the most NFL-ready option at No. 17.QB or not QB: QB. If there is a run early, though, picking up a Nathan Peterman or Brad Kaaya later on makes sense.
18. Zach Cunningham
RECORD: LB, Vanderbilt
The Titans just handed out a roster bonus to Wesley Woodyard, but he’s in the final year of his deal, and while he and Avery Williamson are fine as a tandem, there is room to upgrade. Enter Cunningham, who cemented his Round 1 status at the combine.QB or not QB: Still no.
19. Dalvin Cook
RECORD: RB, Florida State
Alvin Kamara is pushing for Round 1 and Cook fared horribly in his combine agility drills, so the ex-Seminole’s draft stock is a bit in flux. Three-cone and shuttle times aside, he’s too talented to fall far. The Bucs grab Doug Martin’s eventual replacement, reuniting him with Jameis Winston.QB or not QB: Pickings are slim behind Winston, but it’ll be years before Tampa Bay needs a new No. 1 quarterback.
20. David Njoku
RECORD: TE, Miami
The Broncos currently have four TEs on their active roster, not one of whom worries defenses all that much. Njoku could be a huge difference-maker.QB or not QB: No. They have their two young quarterbacks in Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. Will Tony Romo be joining the group (and sending Siemian out the door) soon?
21. Taco Charlton
RECORD: DE, Michigan
Foster, Reddick and Cunningham all being off the board would push the Lions to address their most glaring need—linebacker—on Day 2. Instead, they get a developing pass rusher to replace Devin Taylor.QB or not QB: Also a no. Matthew Stafford’s locked in, and the Lions are going to try Jake Rudock as his backup.
22. Jabrill Peppers
RECORD: S, Michigan
Positional concerns aside, Peppers’s fantastic combine confirmed what a special athlete he is. Miami could pair him with Reshad Jones at safety, among many other potential uses.QB or not QB: Not after the way Tannehill played under Adam Gase.
23. Cam Robinson
RECORD: OT, Alabama
My guess is, when all is said and done, at least one OT sneaks into the top 15—maybe even top 10. Will Robinson remind some of Ereck Flowers? Sure. But the worst way to deal with a past mistake, as the Flowers selection has turned out to be, is to avoid rectifying it for fear of repeating it. Robinson has franchise LT upside and a starting guard/RT baseline.QB or not QB: QB, on Day 2 or 3. Ryan Nassib and Keith Wenning hardly count as long-term answers behind 36-year-old Eli Manning.
24. Budda Baker
RECORD: S, Washington
The Raiders have minimal depth at safety, and 34-year-old Reggie Nelson is in the final year of his deal. Baker and Karl Joseph together would be a lot of fun.QB or not QB: Not unless they’re already cutting bait on Connor Cook.
25. Patrick Mahomes
RECORD: QB, Texas Tech
Forrest Lamp, Ryan Ramczyk or Garett Bolles all would be welcome additions here, with the Texans thin along the O-line. Mahomes, though, can develop into a superstar. All the better if he can do so while learning behind Tony Romo in 2017.QB or not QB: QB. Houston will keep talking up Tom Savage, and he might even be a serviceable option. He has nowhere near the upside of a prospect like Mahomes.
26. Forrest Lamp
RECORD: G/T, Western Kentucky
Don’t be surprised if Lamp is the offensive lineman who sneaks into the top half of Round 1. The Seahawks would be doubling down after drafting G Germain Ifedi last season, but Lamp’s worth it.QB or not QB: Perhaps someone to push Trevone Boykin as backup. No one is challenging Russell Wilson atop the depth chart.
27. Christian McCaffrey
RECORD: RB, Stanford
This could be the landing spot for Alvin Kamara, if the Chiefs think he can supplant Spencer Ware or Charcandrick West as the No. 1 back. But, man, McCaffrey’s versatility would be dazzling in Andy Reid’s West Coast scheme.QB or not QB: QB. The Chiefs are a dark horse Round 1 quarterback team, regardless of their public pro-Alex Smith stance. It’s a safe bet that they address the position by the end of the third round.
28. Ryan Ramczyk
RECORD: OT, Wisconsin
The Cowboys don’t need to overreact to Doug Free’s retirement—they have Chaz Green, if nothing else. They also should be ready to pounce if a plug-and-play tackle like Ramczyk or Bolles (or both, as is the case here) are available at 28.QB or not QB: No, sir.
29. Tre'Davious White
RECORD: CB, LSU
A name to keep in mind here: Pat Elflein, the Ohio State center, who could push Corey Linsley and help a suddenly thin Packers O-line anywhere. But there are a lot of cornerback and pass-rushing options to be had, too, which is good news for Green Bay. White is a strong man corner who has demonstrated consistent, marked improvement.QB or not QB: Absolutely not.
30. T.J. Watt
RECORD: DE/OLB, Wisconsin
Cornerback could be on the table here, too. If not, this is a team in need of a pass rusher with a ton of them still around: Carl Lawson, Takk McKinley, Tim Williams, Charles Harris, etc. And Watt. He lit up the combine, can drop when needed and, most importantly for the Steelers’ needs, finds his way to the quarterback.QB or not QB: Spending a late-round pick on one would be smart—Landry Jones is a fine backup but probably not much more in Pittsburgh.
31. Malik McDowell
RECORD: DT, Michigan State
An enigma wrapped in an athletic 6' 5", 295-pound frame. McDowell’s physical gifts plus the thought of what he could be as a movable piece for Dan Quinn’s defense make him worth the risk here.QB or not QB: This would be a good time to bring in a youngster behind Ryan and Matt Schaub. Again, that’s a late-round strategy.
32. Fabian Moreau
RECORD: CB, UCLA
(Pick via Patriots) Moreau carried a lot of buzz into the combine, then ran a 4.35-second 40 with a 38-inch vertical and 136-inch broad jump. He was a running back when he arrived at UCLA, so the thought of what he could be at CB with more seasoning is enticing.QB or not QB: O.K., so it may not be the wisest use of resources to deal Brandin Cooks for this pick, then use it on a backup/third-string quarterback. That said, do not rule it out entirely. If Watson or Mahomes is still on the board, the Saints at the very least should be looking to deal this pick to the 49ers, Bears, Jets or Cardinals—all clubs that might looking for a QB early on Day Two.