- There’s one factor many mock drafts can't account for: the unpredictable decision-making of other people. We split up the 32 picks of Round 1 among five NFL writers and watched what happened.
We’ve published several mock drafts this spring, featuring seemingly every possible permutation of picks, but there’s one factor we can’t typically account for in our forecasting: the unpredictable decision-making of other people. So for this week’s mock, I brought in backup, recruiting four other writers and editors for SI and The MMQB to help split the GM duties among the 32 picks of the first round for a live mock draft on the latest On the Clock Podcast.
The cast of characters, along with the teams they represented in this mock (I picked for the Browns, Jets, Ravens, Lions, Texans and Steelers):
• MMQB senior editor Gary Gramling (Bears, Panthers, Cardinals, Redskins, Giants and Cowboys)
• NFL producer and On the Clock Podcast producer Eric Single (Titans, Bengals, Eagles, Raiders, Packers and Falcons)
• NFL producer Bette Marston (Jaguars, Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Chiefs)
Who did your team take under the direction of its new GM? You can see the full results below, along with an abridged version of our justifications for each pick, and listen to the full mock draft in podcast form here:
Chris Burke: The only other option there is a quarterback, and I don’t think relative to Garrett’s talent that anyone justifies that No. 1 pick. And I say that as someone who likes Deshaun Watson quite a bit and could see at least three other guys getting into Round 1.
Gary Gramling: I wanted Thomas here. I’m not a big Jonathan Allen guy—I like the high floor, not crazy about the ceiling. Not crazy about taking a corner this high, especially with a draft this deep at the position, but the Bears did miss out on A.J. Bouye in free agency, and there’s too many questions there, so I’m going to take Lattimore and I’m planning to trade back into the end of the first round and get my next quarterback.
Bette Marston: Putting Allen in that D-line alongside Dante Fowler Jr. and in front of second-year guys Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey gives that defense an exciting young core. They did lose Julius Thomas, but it’s obviously a little high to take a tight end this early. Allen is such an incredible athlete that Jacksonville can’t pass him up here.
Chris Burke: Frankly, this has been sort of a disastrous start for the Jets with five defensive players already off the board. I like the idea of building through the run game, with Forte getting up there in age for a running back and Bilal Powell not necessarily being a reliable grind-it-out guy. I don’t feel like taking a quarterback here yet given what else is on the roster.
Emily Kaplan: I really want a quarterback in this draft (and will be targeting Davis Webb with the 38th pick if all goes well), but Hooker is perfect for the Cover-3 scheme that new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley runs—he can pretty much be the Earl Thomas that Bradley’s defenses had in Seattle—and an invaluable playmaker for a secondary short on them.
Gary Gramling: I'm going to channel my Dave Gettleman here and do something way off-base that’s probably going to anger a lot of Panthers fans. Gettleman always looks a year ahead with these draft picks, and you only may have one or two more years of Greg Olsen. The addition of Howard gives Carolina a dangerous two-TE approach in the short-term and an heir apparent to Olsen down the road.
Eric Single: Foster and Kevin Minter could upgrade that linebacking corps anchored by Vontaze Burfict now that Rey Maualuga is out the door. In my eyes, Foster is the best linebacker in the draft by a decent margin.
Emily Kaplan: The offensive players still available are really tempting, but the Saints exercise some discipline here and take Barnett, who broke Reggie White’s sack record at Tennessee.
(Pick via Eagles) Chris Burke: Barring a projected top-five pick on the defensive side falling here, they’ve got to go quarterback instead of doubling up on defense. While he’s not my favorite QB prospect, Trubisky would be a nice fit with Hue Jackson, and I think he makes a lot of sense for what the Browns would like to do in their scheme.
Gary Gramling: Bruce Arians made the comment that there is one quarterback in this draft class who is capable of starting right away. I am going to guess that that’s Kizer. He fits best in the Cardinals’ power run game/chuck-it-deep offensive philosophy. Kizer at his best is the best quarterback in this class; it’s just a question of whether he can become a consistently accurate passer.
(Pick via Vikings) Eric Single: At 6' 1" and 211 pounds, Wilson brings a physical presence that few other corners in the draft can—the Eagles should be able to plug him in outside. They can afford to be patient at running back with this year’s wealth of intriguing Day 2 talents.
Chris Burke: If the Ravens get a chance to grab a No. 1 wide receiver in the first round, they would love to do that. The ankle injury has overshadowed his talent in the run-up to the draft, but he’s the most complete wide receiver available and definitely gives them something different from what they already have in Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman.
Gary Gramling: Washington needs to do something about the defense, which was a huge problem last year. It seems like you have to go back to the London Fletcher days to find someone who can play inside linebacker on this defense and play sideline-to-sideline. With plenty of range, Cunningham fits well in the modern NFL.
Eric Single: Like the Ravens, the Titans have to be pretty pleased with how this draft has gone so far with the talent at receiver still available at this point. I’m more than slightly worried about Ross’s injury history—he wouldn’t be the first young Titans WR thrown off track by health issues—but his speed is obviously a special trait.
Bette Marston: The Bucs could use another offensive playmaker, even after signing DeSean Jackson to pair with Mike Evans. They need a big-play threat in the run game who can also be trusted to be a little more consistent than the backfield rotation they ran out last year.
Chris Burke: I am pretty intrigued here by Mike Williams—though I’m not sure the Lions could bring themselves to draft another receiver named Mike Williams. But they need defensive help at all three levels. They’ve made some moves to try to upgrade at linebacker, but not nearly enough to be versatile enough to compete. Reddick can be a three-down guy who can help the pass rush because of how well he can blitz. He's the type of piece they’re missing.
Bette Marston: Miami needs to consider a linebacker, too, but they need to protect Ryan Tannehill more. Bolles could be an immediate upgrade on a Dolphins line with some other young starters, including last year’s first-rounder Laremy Tunsil.
Gary Gramling: This Larry Donnell/Will Tye stuff has got to stop—the Giants have to get an impact tight end. He’s a little bit of a project, but Njoku
Eric Single: For as productive as the Raiders’ offense was last year, it still could use another dimension or two, and McCaffrey can be quite the Swiss Army knife if deployed correctly.
Emily Kaplan: Anyone who watched any Seahawks games knows that that offensive line can’t continue in its current state. With some tough decisions ahead about the future of the Legion of Boom, I considered a corner like Tre’Davious White or Kevin King here, as well.
Bette Marston: Alex Smith’s contract comes up at the end of 2018, so this is a perfect time for the Chiefs to start thinking about the future under center, especially if they can all but assure Mahomes will have at least a full season to learn Andy Reid’s offense before seeing the field.
Gary Gramling: If Charlton were gone by this point—and I have a feeling he will be gone—Tim Williams is a guy I considered here, too. Either way, it’s time for the Cowboys to spring for a pass rusher.
Eric Single: Another guy who fell so far it’s hard not to pick him. I really like McDowell’s growth potential—when he is on and really focused, there’s a lot to like. There’s no better place for a guy like him to fall than into a Dan Quinn defense where he shouldn’t be under too much early pressure to produce.
Emily Kaplan: It would be a win for the Saints if they could walk away from Round 1 with two defensive playmakers. White could be the top corner New Orleans covets so badly, whether or not the Malcolm Butler trade ever comes to fruition.