What’s a team to do when it misses out on that premier pass rusher or lock-down cornerback in the draft? This mock is all about helping to form those backup plans.
In addition to each team’s current projected Round 1 pick in the mock draft below, you’ll find a mid-to-late-round replacement option for the player selected. In other words, if a team has its eye on, say, Solomon Thomas but he’s gone before it picks, which Day 2 or 3 prospect offers a similar—if less impressive—skill set?
The Browns are on the clock.
1. Myles Garrett
RECORD: DE, Texas A&M
Same as it ever was. A rebuilding team doesn’t necessarily have to mold its image around a quarterback—the Raiders, for example, are as much Khalil Mack’s team as Derek Carr’s (or more so). Garrett can be a foundational piece.Backup plan: Trey Hendrickson, DE, Florida Atlantic. Garrett is a singular talent in this draft, so there aren’t many good fallback options. In Hendrickson, though, a team can find a Day 3 value in a player who has athletic upside (4.65-second 40, 4.20-second short shuttle) and posted 13.5 sacks in the FBS ranks last year.
2. Mitchell Trubisky
RECORD: QB, North Carolina
Our mocks have been cycling through defensive options at No. 2—Solomon Thomas, Jonathan Allen, Malik Hooker, Jamal Adams. But it’s far from out of the question that the 49ers stay put and nab their franchise QB. Trubisky would have a bright future under Kyle Shanahan. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee. It’s the escapability that puts Dobbs in the picture here. Like Trubisky, he has work to do with his technique as a passer, but he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands.
3. Jonathan Allen
RECORD: DE, Alabama
An Allen–Eddie Goldman–Akiem Hicks front line would give the Bears a powerful, versatile grouping atop the depth chart. Allen is a more finished product than Solomon Thomas. Full scouting reportBackup plan: DeMarcus Walker, DT, Florida State. The early-season Round 1 buzz is long gone for Walker, but he offers similar size to Allen, and he too can deliver a punch from several spots along the line.
4. Solomon Thomas
RECORD: DE, Stanford
Two ways to look at the Calais Campbell signing: Either he makes it so the Jaguars do not need to take a D-linemen early, or he’s the perfect mentor for a player like Thomas. Obviously, this points toward the latter. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova. Thomas is a talented lump of clay in need of molding. Kpassagnon is an even bigger lump (6' 7", 289 pounds), who is a multi-year developmental project.
5. Marshon Lattimore
RECORD: CB, Ohio State
(Pick via Rams) It was obvious even before the Titans cut Jason McCourty that they would be looking to draft at the cornerback position. Here, they get the top prospect—a physical, aggressive lock-down defender. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson. Lost a bit in this incredibly deep DB class, Tankersley has 4.4 speed and a hard-willed mentality that matches Lattimore’s.
6. Jamal Adams
RECORD: S, LSU
There has not been a top-four safety since Eric Turner in 1991, but there have been top-10 safeties like Eric Berry and Sean Taylor. While Adams has a long way to go to reach the level of those players, he has All-Pro potential. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Delano Hill, S, Michigan. Hill won’t come with the expectations of Adams, but he does have sub-4.5 speed and can pop ballcarriers in the box.
7. Malik Hooker
RECORD: S, Ohio State
The Chargers led the league with 18 interceptions last season, but only one player (CB Casey Hayward, with seven) had more than two. They badly need a playmaker at safety. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Marcus Williams, S, Utah. A Day 2 steal waiting to happen, Williams is cut from the same free safety mold as Hooker—both players can track the ball like they have built-in radar.
8. Leonard Fournette
RECORD: RB, LSU
There has been some discussion of Fournette’s “fit” in the Carolina scheme, what with Cam Newton’s capabilities and use of the shotgun. At its heart, though, the Panthers’ rushing attack is a power system, which plays right to Fournette’s strengths. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma. His former teammate, Joe Mixon, is more of a story at the moment, but Perine is built to be an effective NFL back. He put up 30 bench reps at the combine and is a battering ram with the ball in his hands.
9. Derek Barnett
RECORD: DE, Tennessee
The Bengals could pounce on one of the receivers here. Saving that, they have a glaring need at defensive end, and Barnett is capable of tearing up the man-on-man blocking he’d see with lines focused on Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Avery Moss, DE, Youngstown State. With Barnett on that 4–3 DE/3–4 OLB line, Moss is active at the point of attack and can turn the corner. He had 10.5 sacks a year ago.
10. O.J. Howard
RECORD: TE, Alabama
I initially penciled in Cam Robinson here and walked it back because the Bills already have Cordy Glenn on the left side and Howard’s blocking ability would help Jordan Mills on the right. Add in what Howard can do as a receiver, and he’s a great fit. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Michael Roberts, TE, Toledo. Not as far along as Howard as a blocker, but he can create matchup headaches like Howard does. Roberts scored 16 times on just 45 catches last season.
11. Christian McCaffrey
RECORD: RB, Stanford
McCaffrey could be electrifying in this offense, both as a receiver and running back. If he gets past the Saints, don’t expect him to linger long. His NFL pedigree and athletic profile make him the type of player teams love in the draft. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Donnell Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State. Pumphrey is even smaller than McCaffrey, who already is facing his own questions about durability as a full-time back. Pumphrey will be a gadget player, to some degree, but he has vision and cutting ability that’s on par with just about anyone in this class.
12. Deshaun Watson
RECORD: QB, Clemson
(Pick via Eagles) Watson? Patrick Mahomes? DeShone Kizer? Wait until Round 2 (or a trade up late in Round 1)? All are on the table. One thing is relatively clear, though: The Browns need a QB ready to compete for the job immediately. That’s Watson, more so than the other remaining options. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Alek Torgersen, QB, Penn. The under-the-radar Ivy Leaguer is a rhythm thrower with the mobility to find throwing windows. He’ll be a nice project from Day 3.
13. Haason Reddick
RECORD: LB, Temple
The Cardinals have earned a reputation for finding creative ways to utilize talent. Reddick looks like he’ll be able to do a little bit of everything, including bringing heat off the edge and as a blitzer through the A-gap. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Blair Brown, LB, Ohio. Brown has some size limitations, but he tested well (37-inch vertical, 4.18-second short shuttle) and flies toward the football.
14. Gareon Conley
RECORD: CB, Ohio State
(Pick via Vikings) With just one cornerback off the board, the value certainly is there for the Eagles to pounce at 14. Would they prefer Conley and his outstanding coverage skills or a different corner more proven as a physical force against the run? Full scouting reportBackup plan: Cameron Sutton, CB, Tennessee. Sutton also relies on his feet, positioning and anticipation to make plays—and he makes a lot of plays. If he grows more of a mean streak, he could become an elite prospect himself.
15. Reuben Foster
RECORD: LB, Alabama
The health of Foster’s shoulder remains a bit of a mystery, and then there was the whole combine dismissal. However, before Day 1 grows too old, his talent relative to the 2017 draft class will demand a team take him. The Colts have upgraded up front and off the edge. Time to take a major step forward at ILB. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Duke Riley, LB, LSU. Once he finally cracked the lineup in 2016, Riley displayed three-down chops. He doesn’t have the rare gifts of a Reddick or Foster, but he could be a plug-and-play option on Day 2.
16. Mike Williams
RECORD: WR, Clemson
It’s not a given that the Ravens go with a receiver in Round 1. It's hard to pass, though, when everyone at that position makes it to pick 16. Williams’s physical game would help open the field for Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Kenny Golladay, WR, Northern Illinois. A strong 6' 4" receiver, at minimum Golladay projects as a downfield threat and jump-ball target in the red zone.
17. Charles Harris
RECORD: DE/OLB, Missouri
Washington doesn’t need to draft an edge rusher just because Trent Murphy will open the season on a four-game suspension. But it might draft one because there wasn’t much depth there in the first place. Harris can get after the QB and seems comfortable in space. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Carroll Phillips, DE/OLB, Illinois. Phillips could for a steady rotational piece on Day 3. He lived behind the opponent’s line last season, and he can contribute against the run.
18. Corey Davis
RECORD: WR, Western Michigan
Davis has all the traits of a 1,500-yard receiver in the NFL, provided he’s healthy and acclimates after the pro leap. While the Titans did churn out some production through the air in 2016, they do not have anyone with Davis’s ceiling. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Chad Hansen, WR, Cal. Hansen has enough fans that he might not make it far into Day 2. He can make the tough catch, both up the sideline and over the middle, and has a little giddy-up with the ball in his hands.
19. Obi Melifonwu
RECORD: S, UConn
There could be a small safety run near this point in the draft—Melifonwu, Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker are all still available. Should the Buccaneers opt to go that route, Melifonwu’s rangy game might make the most sense paired with free-agent pickup J.J. Wilcox. The upside with Melifonwu is so intriguing.Backup plan: Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M. There may not wind up being that much of a draft gap between Melifonwu and Evans—the latter definitely can creep into an early Day 2 slot. Evans stands about four inches and 20 pounds lighter than Melifonwu, but he plays with aggression and can cover from varied alignments.
20. Forrest Lamp
RECORD: OT, Western Kentucky
The consensus has been to push Lamp inside to guard, but he deserves a shot to show what he can do at tackle. He could fill a role at either spot for the Broncos, who could lean on his athletic run blocking. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Jordan Morgan, G/T, Kutztown. Morgan is on track for the college tackle-to-pro guard transition, too. He has a lot longer trip. He’s extremely raw, but with the size and quickness for someone to take a flier.
21. Taco Charlton
RECORD: DE, Michigan
Ever since the Lions let Cliff Avril walk in free agency, they have struggled to find a complement for Ziggy Ansah off the edge. Charlton might require a little patience while he grows into his game, but he could end Detroit’s search. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Daeshon Hall, DE, Texas A&M. The other half of A&M’s dynamic pass rush, Hall shows flashes of brilliance from a 6' 5" frame. The trick will be finding that production on a consistent basis.
22. Jabrill Peppers
RECORD: S, Michigan
Miami is in solid shape at safety, with Reshad Jones and Nate Allen to be joined midseason by T.J. McDonald (eight-game suspension). That’s perfect for Peppers, who then can be used to erase matchup issues as he grows into his role—Allen and McDonald both are on one-year deals. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Johnathan Ford, S, Auburn. ”Rudy” Ford is a solid tackler with safety/nickel experience, plus he averaged 23.9 yards as a kick returner for Auburn. He generated a Peppers-esque buzz with a reported sub-4.35 40 at his pro day.
23. Cam Robinson
RECORD: OT, Alabama
For as much as the Giants could use Zach Cunningham or Jarrad Davis, the pick here is Robinson because the drop-off from Tier 1 to Tier 2 at tackle is greater than at linebacker. In other words, the Giants can find a starting LB in Round 2 or 3. They need to pounce on the tackle spot here, and Robinson can plug in as a road grader. Full scouting reportBackup plan: Roderick Johnson, OT, Florida State. Things just didn’t click for Johnson last season. Again, though, once teams get beyond Robinson/Garett Bolles/Ryan Ramczyk, there will be a scramble to find potential OT starters. Johnson won’t be that in 2017, but he could be down the line.