College Football Metrics aims to remove bias from NFL Draft analysis. We want to objectively scout prospects, and we want to accurately analyze how the free market values prospects. Thus, CFM has partnered with Xavier Cromartie (Twitter @xaviercromartie / Gab @xm) to produce mock drafts and top 100 prospect boards based on his latest intel, research, and analysis. Xavier was the final grand prize winner of ESPN’s NFL Draft 1st Round Forecast contest, and he is the undefeated Play The Draft Champion Emeritus.
In 2015, we made our debut in The Huddle Report’s exclusive, experts-only NFL Draft contests. Our two-year average score in the mock draft contest is 42.5 (#12 two-year average out of 86 entries), and our two-year average score in the top 100 contest is 83.5 (#4 two-year average out of 43 entries).
Draft scenarios change as new information comes in during draft season, and so we will run updates here as often as Xavier makes adjustments to his mocks and boards.
Round 1 (team, position, player, school, change from last/last mock pick)
Top needs: 7T, QB, FS
CLE will take Garrett to pair with Ogbah. CLE has solidified most of the O-line but otherwise needs to hoard talent at nearly every position.
Top needs: CB, FS, 9T
Some people think that Lattimore is a rare CB; others think he could fall to the mid-1st. I am a Lattimore fan. He excels in every area. Although I believe that Malik Hooker is an excellent scheme fit, SF is seriously worried at CB after releasing Tramaine Brock. CBs usually don’t go here, but this year may be the exception. Typically, the very top of the draft has QBs, LTs, and edge rushers. This year lacks elite players at those positions except for Garrett. The media continue to copy each other and place Solomon Thomas here for no sensible reason other than that he serves as a placeholder to allow more convenient picks to fall to other teams later. Solomon is not a LEO. Shanahan doesn’t need a QB because Kirk Cousins is already the starting QB in his mind. SF could trade down.
Top needs: 5T, SS, WR
CHI shelled out starter money to a QB, pair of CBs, and SS despite having pick #3. Why sign Demps if Adams were the target? There is a wide open spot on the d-line starting opposite Akiem Hicks. This pick is an excellent scheme fit. Only amateur scouts are dropping Allen down the board.
Top needs: RB, LG, TE
Most pro evaluators have either Fournette or Allen as the #2 player in the draft. A good running game is the solution to a team with a bad QB. Fournette is possibly a generational talent. If he’s available, he should be the pick, unless JAX shocks with Trubisky or trades down.
Top needs: WR, ILB, CB
The media are way too low on Humphrey. Daniel Jeremiah has him #44 on his board, and others have him in the 30s. In reality, Humphrey has little chance of getting out of the top 11 picks. Humphrey could go ahead of Lattimore. This pick ends McCourty’s time in TEN.
Top needs: SS, CB, 9T
NYJ needs everything except d-line. NYJ goes for the BPA, who could be Adams after his 4.38 pro day. Safeties don’t often go in the top 10, but Adams and Hooker both might do it this year. Adams also happens to fill a big need, since both NYJ safeties are junk. NYJ could act like CLE; trade down and acquire as much talent as possible while waiting for a better QB prospect next year.
Top needs: RG, 9T, FS
This scenario is what all the mock drafters are hoping for. He’s an ideal scheme fit and replaces old-man Dwight Lowery. I can’t talk myself into putting a WR here under any scenario; it doesn’t make sense. LAC also needs to take an o-lineman at some point and could consider a QB.
Top needs: WR, RB, CB
McCaffrey is what people want Dalvin Cook to be. He’s an excellent fit for CAR because he can play both a change-up role behind Stewart and fill the need for a shifty WR. CAR seems pretty determined to get a RB, and Fournette won’t make it here.
Top needs: LT, 7T, RB
I continue to believe that LT is CIN’s greatest need. CIN may not be ready to give up on Ogbuehi at LT yet, but in the past CIN has drafted players in the 1st round with long-term development in mind. Bolles’s stock is hot and he should go in the top 12. WR doesn’t seem like a major priority. RB will be in round 2 (Mixon, of course).
Top needs: WR, CB, SS
Ross would be a near-certain top-10 pick if he had no medical issues. 4.2 guys go early. The more I think about it, Mike Williams doesn’t fit here. BUF would be pairing a notoriously weak-armed QB with a WR who struggles to separate. Deshaun Watson rumors make no sense at all. The reason BUF wants to move on from Tyrod—despite how well he plays—is his weak arm. BUF needs a WR who can separate like Ross to play to Tyrod’s strengths. Gareon Conley is getting hot here, but he doesn’t tackle. Sean McDermott wants CBs who can tackle.
Top needs: CB, 7T, CB
I think that NO wants an edge guy with this pick, knowing that a CB will be there at 32. Taco is a classic 7T; he won’t be around in the late-1st/early 2nd range like a lot of people are still projecting. NO will certainly need 1-2 CBs later.
Top needs: QB, FS, SS
CLE would like to come away with a QB at some point. Most analytics studies conclude that Trubisky has the best chance of success in this QB class. I don’t believe any media lies about Deshaun Watson in round 1 anymore. He fails any analytics test and teams don’t have a high grade on him.
Top needs: QB, CB, FS
Last mock draft, some people thought this pick was a major reach. Now some people wonder if Mahomes will still be available here. The downside to Mahomes is that he played in a ‘garbage’ offense, but previous QBs playing that style weren’t as talented. He also gets knocked for not winning on a team with horrible defense. His cannon arm makes him a good fit for AZ. This franchise has had tons of headaches with QBs in the past and likely wants to finally secure a future starter.
Top needs: CB, CB, RB
Conley—yet another player ranked in the 30s and 40s by some draft media sites—is a strong candidate for the best CB after Lattimore and Humphrey. He should have been this high all along… maybe higher. I have no doubt that PHI would want John Ross if he were available, but I don’t think he will be.
Top needs: CB, ILB, 9T
How does a guy go from a 7.47 3-cone at the Combine to a 7.03 at his Pro Day? Bizarre. Harris’s stock just keeps rising. He appears to be the second edge guy coming off the board. IND should go with whoever is the best available LB or DB. The defense still has a bunch of holes.
Top needs: RT, C, 9T
This pick is etched in stone unless I hear strong evidence that Howard won’t last this long. Every year, TEs go lower than projected. No one in the top half really needs a TE. Especially one who didn’t wow with his production. Vernon Davis and Kellen Winslow II were special exceptions when they went top 10. Howard won’t fall through Ozzie Newsome’s hands. Howard would also qualify as BPA if we ignored Newsome’s biases.
Top needs: QB, 1T, C
The question mark is intentional; no one seems to agree on Thomas’s position. That makes him a good fit for WAS’s defense, which is also difficult to define exactly. Thomas is vastly overrated thanks to Big Draft Media; he belongs right around this area. He’s a good athlete but he’s no Aaron Donald.
Top needs: WR, ILB, FS
The final puzzle piece for TEN after fixing the secondary is getting a productive young WR. WRs tend to get overprojected in mocks. For WRs to go in the top 10, they have to show unquestionably elite traits. I think that Williams profiles as more of the solid WR that goes in the teens or early 20s.
Top needs: RB, TE, CB
Welp, he’s back. Opinions are highly split on this guy. We’re not fans of him here. Others think he’s special. He’s not a top-10 guy like some media people say. Round 2 is certainly possible. But after what TB went through last season at RB, I think there’s an urge to get a RB here, and I think TB is high on Cook.
Top needs: LT, RB, TE
Now that Elway has little chance of getting McCaffrey, he can let an o-lineman fall into his lap. Robinson could still go top 10, but if more teams think he’s better off at G or RT, then he’ll slide to this area. Alabama players tend to get overrated early in draft season, also.
Top needs: ILB, 7T, CB
DET’s LB play was so bad last season that Austin had to adjust the defense to hide it. DET signed Worrilow to a cheap 1-year deal but he graded terribly too. One scout said that Foster “may slide because of background. He’s got all kinds of stuff.” One of which is the fact that he became a father at age 14. Another is that his father shot his mother. He got kicked out of the Combine. He wouldn’t have participated anyway because he had rotator cuff surgery—another worn down Alabama player. He struggles to understand playbook concepts. Probably a WLB instead of MLB. Also, in the past 3 years or so, teams have stopped falling for the ‘Alabama’ meme. 3 guys got way overpumped last year (Ragland, Robinson, and Reed). Landon Collins went round 2 as well. The media hype is based on hard-hitting tape and all of this other stuff gets ignored.
Top needs: FS, RG, CB
A lot of teams need help at G, but MIA needs at legitimate starter at both LG and RG. This year, no one who still needs an starting o-lineman can afford to wait. By any metric, Lamp is the best G. One or two Gs always sneak into the bottom of the first round. MIA will need DBs later.
Top needs: 3T, ILB, TE
In the previous mock, I noted that Reggie McKenzie is a TN guy who favors guys from the TN area. Well, the same statement is true of Jerry Reese. NYG has 3 no-name LBs with contracts up next year. It was a secret to nobody that NYG wanted Leonard Floyd last year, so LB isn’t out of consideration in round 1. It may be time.
Top needs: ILB, 3T, ILB
Vegas really needs some LBs. There really is no other position to consider. Some people in the media have pushed Reddick into the top 10 or even top 5—pure insanity. You have to project moving him from DE to LB. But as a rush LB, he’s an excellent scheme fit here.
Top needs: QB, RT, RG
HOU is taking a QB; you know it, I know it, everybody knows it. Everywhere you go, you hear 1st-round buzz on Webb now. All of the analytics I’ve seen indicate that Trubisky and Mahomes have the best chance of success, but if there’s a third QB who can make it, it’s Webb. He’s tall; he has a cannon. Kizer would be fourth… and I haven’t seen anything anywhere indicating that Deshaun Watson can play in the NFL. All I hear is the media’s hollering about how he put up good stats against Alabama. Unless someone out there actually falls for the hype, Watson is going to be another Connor Cook or Matt Barkley.
Top needs: CB, LT, SS
This spot is so comfy. Clearly he’s a SEA-style CB physically. SEA has a big need at CB. Obi is expected to go right in this area or a little later. SEA could consider improving the worst offensive line in the league, but I doubt it.
Top needs: ILB, 5T, QB
The media have woken up on Davis, and now he’s considered a 1st-round lock despite his injuries. He should go in the 20s somewhere. He could be the first ILB taken. Some people want to put a QB here; I doubt any worthwhile ones will be around. KC could trade out of round 1 again.
Top needs: CB, SS, 7T
Other mocks have long considered Adoree’ a ‘darkhorse’ 1st-round candidate, while I’ve had him in the 1st round the whole time. Now everyone is sending him to DAL. DAL let 2 starting CBs go and signed worthless Nolan Carroll, so CB is the obvious need. The problem with Adoree’ is that he’s only 5’10. He’s similar to Jason Verett; some teams are going to pass because he’s too short. But the most threatening WR in the NFC East is Odell Beckham, who isn’t tall. Jackson has unreal agility that can help him stick with Beckham.
Top needs: CB, RB, RG
GB is obviously taking a CB. GB has a known affinity for Pac-12 players. King is 6’3 with sensational agility. His entire athletic profile is ultra rare. He fits the GB mold.
Top needs: 9T, CB, WR
AWOO~ scored 35 on the Wonderlic. He should be locked in as a first-rounder with so many teams at the end of the round needing a CB. His ability to play slot should make him appealing to PIT. He also has the athletic traits that PIT has emphasized recently. I’m not sure PIT will like the edge options here. PIT could try to land one of the athletic 9Ts in the second round.
Top needs: RG, 7T, 3T
Here’s a fastball-off-the-edge-to-pair-with-Vic-Beasley™. Well, he’s actually not a fastball. He ran 4.9. He’s likely graded a little higher than here, but not everyone is sold on his ability to produce at the NFL level. He’s not a sexy pick by any means. A bit lazy, a bit overrated.
Top needs: CB, CB, RB
Before someone says that NO never drafts LSU players, note that Loomis said only a few days ago that NO does like LSU players but just hasn’t ended up with very many. Taking White would actually give NO a pair of LSU CBs (with Breaux). Maybe the pressure will get to him. NO really, really needs to take a CB here, and White looks better than the other options after Jones and Moreau suffered injuries. He’s a good cover CB.
Dropped out: WR Corey Davis (18), TE David Njoku (19), LT Ryan Ramczyk (23), SS Jabrill Peppers (25)
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