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):
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:
DE, Texas A&M
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.
Emily Kaplan: Thomas has so much upside as a pass rusher, and he’s a defensive end that I just feel I need on my team as I need to build forward. You could take Jonathan Allen here; you could maybe get a safety, even though they might be luxury picks; you could get Leonard Fournette since you don’t have a quarterback to build your offense around. But Thomas is the best value moving forward.
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.
(Pick via Rams)Eric Single: With two picks in the top 18,I went into this first pick feeling pretty good one of the top three DBs on the board would be available here. The gap between Adams and Hooker isn’t too wide, but Adams’s combination of physical play in the box and nose for the ball separates him for now.
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.
S, Ohio State
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.
Bette Marston: In the wake of Stephon Gilmore’s departure in free agency, the biggest question in Buffalo is who’s going to play corner. Buffalo had its eye on the other Alabama prospects already off the board, but Humphrey is one of the most physical corners available, and this position is the team’s most pressing need.
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.
QB, North Carolina
(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.
QB, Notre Dame
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.
Emily Kaplan: He’s a premier edge rusher, and I think the ceiling for him is Robert Mathis, so maybe that makes this cliché, but when you lose Mathis, you need someone to take his place. Indianapolis addressed the defense to some extent in free agency, but that’s not going to be adequate if the goal is the maximize the best years of Andrew Luck.
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.
RB, Florida State
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.
OT, Western Kentucky
Emily Kaplan: The one thing preventing the Broncos from taking the next step is the offensive line. I’m a little worried about Ryan Ramczyk’s injury history, and althoguh scouts I’ve talked to have touted Garett Bolles as the most athletic lineman in the draft, the value of versatility is pulling me to Lamp. Whether he’s a guard or a tackle or a center, versatility is added value.
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.
Chris Burke: It’s really hard for me to go through a first round where there are multiple QBs available for Houston and not take one. I think Patrick Mahomes may be someone in a couple years who’s the best QB in this class, but unless it’s a really bad situation is probably not going to be a starter this year. Watson can come in and push Tom Savage—and probably take the job from him right away.
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.
QB, Texas Tech
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: For a defense that just lost Micah Hyde and could use another playmaker within its linebacking corps, Peppers’s versatility might be able to fill two separate holes.
Chris Burke: Even with the Steelers’ weapons out wide and the possibility of Martavis Bryant coming back, I don’t think the Steelers would hesitate to add another pass catcher. It’s not out of the question he’s be available at 30, but it’s just as likely he doesn’t make it beyond the top 20 or even the top 10. If nothing else, he gives Pittsburgh someone who can win on slant routes, deep balls and red-zone targets.
DT, Michigan State
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.