Russell Street Report writers Kyle Casey & Paul Lukoskie have teamed up to provide readers with a series of installments in a “what we would do” mock draft.
The first round will be rolled out in three parts, with this article outlining their choices for the first 12 picks in this year’s draft.
Kyle & Paul will put themselves in the shoes of a general manager and make the picks they’d like to see – however, they strongly advise no NFL team to ever let them make any actual picks, unless they want all hell to break loose.
Kyle will pick the evens (2, 4, 6, etc.) and Paul the odds (1, 3, 5, etc.).
Which prospects would they select as general managers? Let’s get to it.
1. Cleveland Browns – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
I know this pick is probably going to make a lot of people lose their minds because a running back with the first overall pick is a bit nutty. In fact, the last time it happened was 22 years ago when the Bengals drafted Kijana Carter in 1995. It is a bold prediction and obviously may change, but I do believe that Fournette is easily the top offensive player in this draft. I also don’t believe there is a quarterback worth taking with the #1 overall selection, so why not get a true difference-maker that can take pressure off of whoever is under center? – Paul
2. San Francisco 49ers – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M
Thanks to Paul’s bold selection with the first pick, the draft’s best player falls into the lap of a 49ers team dying for star power. Garrett is currently receiving the Jadeveon Clowney treatment, meaning he is far and away the draft’s best player, but pundits are still finding ways to suggest otherwise simply to generate discussion. This pick is a no-brainer. – Kyle
3. Chicago Bears – Jon Allen, DT, Alabama
I feel like this is one of those picks that everyone just kind of nods their heads and agrees with. Chicago needs a quarterback, but they need defensive pieces as well. Both John Fox and Vic Fangio are on record as saying that the previous regime didn’t build the defense for much of anything. Fangio runs an attacking version of the 3-4 and I think Allen would be perfect for that as a 5-technique defensive end. He’s an excellent run defender and can really get into the backfield in a hurry. – Paul
4. Jacksonville Jaguars – Solomon Thomas, DL, Stanford
Get used to this name, because Thomas is sure to be drafted in the top 10 of this year’s draft, and potentially top five. Thomas may get knocked for his rather small frame for a defensive lineman, but he plays with the physicality of a 300+ pound defender, and is one of the most athletic big men in this draft. The Jaguars simply need talent at any position, and Thomas is a perfect fit. – Kyle
5. Tennessee Titans (from LA Rams) – Jamal Adams, S, LSU
This would be a perfect scenario for the Titans. Adams could line up at either safety spot and have an immediate impact. I think Dick LeBeau would really be able to get a lot out of a player like Adams. Though the Titans may not look like they need a safety on paper, Da’Norris Searcy is an average player and Rashad Johnson was only signed for one year. – Paul
6. New York Jets – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
Take a look at the Jets offense and it is more defunct of playmakers than the Baltimore Ravens offense during the second half of the 2015 season. Quite frankly, no skill position player stands out on the Jets, and adding Cook – the best running back in the draft in my mind – gives the offense someone to build around. – Kyle
7. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Phillip Rivers seems to be able to get the most out of whoever he is throwing the ball to. However, the Chargers moving to LA means they’re going to need star power and they’re going to want to give Rivers the tools he needs to finally get into the playoffs and make a legitimate Super Bowl run. Williams could certainly be a top choice for them. He’s a vertical threat as a receiver due to his size and ability to make contested receptions. He also has phenomenal ability after the catch. If Keenan Allen were able to stay healthy, I could see the Chargers going elsewhere, but Williams joining Allen, Ty Williams, and Travis Benjamin gives the Chargers a lot of speed and size. – Paul
8. Carolina Panthers – Jalen Tabor, CB, Florida
This selection was a tough choice. The Panthers defense is still decent overall, but any new addition at cornerback would be an improvement. Tabor is the pick here solely because of his high-end potential and athletic ability. He may struggle off the bat more than other rookie cornerbacks in 2017, but long term he is the right fit in Carolina. – Kyle
9. Cincinnati Bengals – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
I juggled the idea of going for Malik Hooker here or a defensive end, but with Dre Kirkpatrick a pending free agent and Pacman Jones facing a potential suspension, I think Lattimore makes a lot of sense. In addition, William Jackson is still relatively unknown and Darqueze Dennard has not been able to get onto the field. Lattimore was one of the better corners in college last year and a lot of pundits have suggested that he’s better than Eli Apple was when he was taken 10th overall in 2016 by the New York Giants. Lattimore had 14 passes defensed and four picks for the Buckeyes this past year. – Paul
10. Buffalo Bills – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
This pick came down to Davis and Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster. Ultimately, I went with Davis due to his complete game as a receiver, mirroring the talent of Mike Williams. The Bills offense has playmakers as is, but adding Davis to the mix will help whoever the Bills quarterback ends up being (Tyrod Taylor or a new addition) to succeed. – Kyle
11. New Orleans Saints – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
In my opinion, Foster is one of the top defensive prospects in this draft. Modern NFL defenses need linebackers that have sideline-to-sideline range, can blitz, and can cover slot receivers, running backs, and tight ends. I think Foster is very capable of all of those things. He’s a downhill player and his tape shows excellent acceleration and change of direction ability. If I had to pick a pro comparison, it would be Bobby Wagner of the Seattle Seahawks. – Paul
12. Cleveland Browns – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame
Bottm line: this quarterback class is not good. No quarterback deserves to go in the top 10, and even a quarterback with this pick can be called a “reach.” But with two first round picks, it can’t hurt the Browns to take a chance on Kizer, the draft’s most talented passer. Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes each have their unique strengths, but no quarterback possesses more high-end potential than Kizer. The Notre Dame product is the most high-variance quarterback in this draft, which is my type of quarterback. Think of the Eli Manning, Jameis Winston, Joe Flacco types. When they are on, they can’t be beat, but when they’re off, they are really off. That’s the type of player Kizer will be in the NFL, but ultimately he presents more potential than, say, Watson. – Kyle