Predictions are fun, which is why mock drafts are a friggin’ ball to create. But hindsight is even cooler, which is why re-mocking old drafts is an even larger pleasure.
The 2017 NFL Draft took place one year ago this month. Now, let’s pretend the whole thing never happened. Which players would be picked where if the NFL redid the entire thing? It’s time to amuse ourselves with hindsight. (The real-life pick at that selection in 2017 is in brackets.)
[A tip: Don’t get too caught up on the teams. We generally tried to give teams the players that made sense for them, but in this hypothetical, let’s assume most teams are essentially going for the best available players. Oh, and this doesn’t include draft-night trades.]
1. Cleveland Browns: QB Deshaun Watson [DE Myles Garrett] —
Already a franchise quarterback with Houston, Watson was off to one of the most unreal starts in NFL history before tearing his ACL in November. No way the Browns would pass on him now.
Where he was actually picked: No. 12
2. San Francisco 49ers: DE Myles Garrett [QB Mitchell Trubisky, after a trade with Chicago] — Garrett struggled with injuries in 2017, but still managed seven sacks in 11 games and might be the most talented player in this class.
Where he was actually picked: No. 1
3. Chicago Bears: QB Mitchell Trubisky [DE Solomon Thomas, after a trade with San Francisco] —
The jury is still out, but the North Carolina product made a lot of progress over the course of his rookie season. Trubisky was relatively raw, so the ceiling remains high.
Where he was actually picked: No. 2
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Alvin Kamara [RB Leonard Fournette] —
The offensive rookie of the year averaged a ridiculous 6.1 yards per carry. Kamara is clearly the most dangerous offensive weapon in this class.
Where he was actually picked: No. 67
5. Tennessee Titans: CB Marshon Lattimore [WR Corey Davis] — The defensive rookie of the year had five interceptions and 18 passes defensed in just 13 games.
Where he was actually picked: No. 11
6. New York Jets: RB Kareem Hunt [S Jamal Adams] —
Hunt led the NFL in rushing, while adding 455 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver. The future is very bright.
Where he was actually picked: No. 86
7. Los Angeles Chargers: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster [WR Mike Williams] —
The youngest player in football averaged 15.8 yards per reception and caught 73.4 percent of the passes thrown his way during a seven-touchdown rookie campaign.
Where he was actually picked: No. 62
8. Carolina Panthers: CB Tre’Davious White [RB Christian McCaffrey] — The LSU product picked off four passes and recorded 18 passes defensed as an immediate shutdown corner in Buffalo.
Where he was actually picked: No. 27
9. Cincinnati Bengals: RB Leonard Fournette [WR John Ross] —
The future is still bright for Fournette (who went over 1,000 yards and scored 10 times in 13 games), but he was overshadowed by third-round backs Kamara and Hunt.
Where he was actually picked: No. 4
10. Buffalo Bills: QB Patrick Mahomes [Mahomes, after a trade with Kansas City] —
Mahomes didn’t get a lot of work in as a rookie, but looked good in a small sample and continues to have a high ceiling.
Where he was actually picked: No. 10
11. New Orleans Saints: OT Ryan Ramczyk [Lattimore] — The Saints got Ramczyk later in the real draft, but there’s no way he lasts that long after a rookie year in which he immediately became an elite offensive tackle.
Where he was actually picked: No. 32
12. Cleveland Browns: LB T.J. Watt [Watson, after a trade with Houston] — Watt immediately became an impact defender in Pittsburgh, finishing with seven sacks, a pick and a forced fumble despite being slowed a bit by injuries.
Where he was actually picked: No. 30
13. Arizona Cardinals: RB Christian McCaffrey [LB Haason Reddick] — The high-profile top-10 selection averaged just 3.8 yards per carry, but picked up over 1,000 yards from scrimmage while scoring seven touchdowns.
Where he was actually picked: No. 8
14. Philadelphia Eagles: RB Dalvin Cook [DE Derek Barnett] — The second-round pick played just four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and picked up 444 scrimmage yards in that span.
Where he was actually picked: No. 41
15. Indianapolis Colts: S Malik Hooker [Hooker] — The Ohio State product’s rookie season was also cut short, but Hooker proved to be a playmaker with three picks in just seven games. No reason to doubt him.
Where he was actually picked: No. 15
16. Baltimore Ravens: WR Cooper Kupp [CB Marlon Humphrey] — The third-round pick blew away expectations with 869 yards and five touchdowns with the Rams. Look for him to turn into a consistently steady presence who can make plays in the slot and outside.
Where he was actually picked: No. 69
17. Washington Redskins: DE Solomon Thomas [DE Jonathan Allen] — It wasn’t a sexy season for the highly-touted Stanford product, but Thomas still had three sacks and showed signs of progress. I don’t think he can fall much further than this.
Where he was actually picked: No. 3
18. Tennessee Titans: DE Derek Barnett [CB Adoree’ Jackson] — The Tennessee product had five sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries as a key part of the pass-rushing rotation for the Super Bowl champion Eagles.
Where he was actually picked: No. 14
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: S Budda Baker [TE O.J. Howard] — Baker was exceptional as a starter for Arizona during the second half of his rookie season. He was also a standout on special-teams.
Where he was actually picked: No. 36
20. Denver Broncos: S Jamal Adams [OT Garett Bolles] — Adams had a good-not-great rookie campaign as a top-10 pick with the Jets. He made a lot of impact plays that don’t show up on paper, but he has to do more than two sacks, one forced fumble and zero picks. He still goes in the top-20 based on potential.
Where he was actually picked: No. 5
21. Detroit Lions: TE Evan Engram [LB Jarrad Davis] — He has to increase his reception percentage from 55.7, but Engram flashed quite a lot while scoring six touchdowns as a rookie. Pro Bowl appearances await. It’d be fun to see him with Matthew Stafford.
Where he was actually picked: No. 23
22. Miami Dolphins: DT Dalvin Tomlinson [DE Charles Harris] — The big man was consistently dominant against the run for the Giants. He’d make it a lot easier to forget about the departed Ndamukong Suh.
Where he was actually picked: No. 55
23. New York Giants: CB Marlon Humphrey [TE Evan Engram] — Humphrey continues to have a bright future after a strong finish to his rookie season in Baltimore, but the former Alabama star didn’t do enough during the first three quarters of the year and is now facing potential off-field problems. Has to slide.
Where he was actually picked: No. 16
24. Oakland Raiders: S John Johnson [CB Gareon Conley] — As his rookie season wore on, the third-round pick out of Boston College became a stud, especially in coverage.
Where he was actually picked: No. 91
Cam Robinson was opening up monster holes for Leonard Fournette yesterday. Just mauled the Steelers. So much physicality out of jump sets. pic.twitter.com/aIfRdgZFKs
— Ethan Young (@EthanYoungFB) October 9, 2017
25. Houston Texans: OT Cam Robinson [Jabrill Peppers, after a trade with Cleveland] — The Alabama product has a ways to go after a tough rookie season, but still held it down as an every-Sunday left tackle in Jacksonville.
Where he was actually picked: No. 34
26. Seattle Seahawks: S Eddie Jackson [DE Takkarist McKinley, after a trade with Atlanta] — The fourth-round Alabama product would immediate bring some boom back to that legion. He picked off a pair of passes and scored a pair of touchdowns (in one half!) as a solid regular starter in Chicago.
Where he was actually picked: No. 112
27. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Adoree’ Jackson [CB Tre’Davious White, after a trade with Buffalo] — The speedy, versatile USC product was solid on returns and superb in coverage as a regular starter in 2017.
Where he was actually picked: No. 18
28. Dallas Cowboys: CB Desmond King [DE Taco Charlton] — The fifth-round pick was fantastic in the slot while picking up four sacks for the Chargers.
Where he was actually picked: No. 151
29. Green Bay Packers: TE O.J. Howard [TE David Njoku, after a trade with Cleveland] — The high-profile Alabama product started slow, but had 205 yards and three touchdowns during the final five weeks of the year. He’ll be okay.
Where he was actually picked: No. 19
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: CB Chidobe Awuzie [LB T.J. Watt] — Small sample, but the Colorado product was fantastic as a starter in December.
Where he was actually picked: No. 60
31. Atlanta Falcons: CB Jourdan Lewis [LB Reuben Foster, after a trade with San Francisco] — Yes, it was a hell of a year for rookie corners. The third-round pick was also strong in coverage as an occasional starter with Dallas.
Where he was actually picked: No. 92
32. New Orleans Saints: S Marcus Williams [OT Ryan Ramczyk] — It was also a hell of a year for rookie safeties. Williams will struggle to shake what happened to cap his rookie year, but before that he put together a four-interception, 71-tackle rookie campaign.
Where he was actually picked: No. 42