It seems a fait accompli that the Cleveland Browns will trade for Garoppolo, but will the New England Patriots comply? Will the Houston Texans or Denver Broncos end up with Romo? Where will Cutler land after the New York Jets signed Josh McCown? The anticipated movement of those three veterans could change the interest in quarterbacks throughout this entire draft and alter it yet again.
The one and only thing I’m sure of at this point is that a Southeastern Conference defender will hear his name called at No. 1. Which one? That’s easy.
1. Cleveland Browns
Myles Garrett, Edge, Texas A&M
There is no change at the top of this mock draft. If nothing else, Garrett’s NFL combine performance solidified his status as the cream of this draft’s crop. The Browns shouldn’t have to spend much time with this pick; it’s their pick at No. 12 that deserves plenty of attention.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Jamal Adams, S, LSU
The Niners signed both Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer, so there’s no definitive need for a quarterback this early in the draft. This could be a spot for a trade-up location for a team that has more pressing quarterback need. We’ll introduce trades into the mock at a later date, though. San Francisco will rise and fall on the 2016 Bears quarterbacks and select a rookie later in the draft. The 49ers were dreadful on defense in 2016 and have no answer at safety opposite former LSU product Eric Reid. New GM John Lynch might see a little of himself in Adams, who will infuse this defense with some life and energy and become an immediate leader on that side of the ball. Not to mention, he will aid both the league’s worst pass defense and the 14th-ranked run defense from his safety position.
3. Chicago Bears
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
I wanted desperately to stick with my previous mock selection of Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, but the signing of Mike Glennon eliminated the need for a QB like Mahomes at No. 3. The Bears utilized free agency to upgrade at safety (Quentin Demps), wide receiver (Kendall Wright, Reuben Randle and Markus Wheaton), cornerback (Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper) and quarterback (Glennon). They have yet to address the defensive front that allowed 121.9 yards per game on the ground. Allen gives the Bears flexibility with their defensive scheme on all three downs. His medical issues, though, could impact his standing, given his shoulders have been a problem. If they’re a major red flag, he may fall a bit on draft night. If Allen doesn’t hear his name here, expect the Bears to take one of the draft’s top corners, three years after choosing Kyle Fuller in the first round.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State
The Jaguars upgraded, yet again, on defense through free agency. A.J. Bouye, Barry Church and Calais Campbell will provide immediate impact on a unit that already ranked sixth best in the NFL in yards allowed. It’s time for the offense to get an upgrade, but is this too high to draft a running back? It wasn’t last year when Dallas selected Ezekiel Elliott, but Cook isn’t Elliott. That said, if the Jaguars aren’t going to make a change at quarterback and there are no star offensive tackles in this draft, Cook is the next best option, if the Jaguars stay at No. 4. This is a trade spot for a team to come up and start a run on quarterbacks.
5. Tennessee Titans (from L.A. Rams)
Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan
In 2016, the Titans got contributions at the wide receiver position from Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe. In crunch time, though, quarterback Marcus Mariota targeted his tight end Delanie Walker instead of any of his receivers. The Titans have nearly every piece on offense to become one of the most dangerous units in the AFC, but they need a transcendent, all-around pass catcher. Davis is more dynamic than Mike Williams (Clemson) and is a better overall fit in this spot. It appears that an injury will keep Davis from any testing before the draft, but it doesn’t matter. The Titans need him.
6. New York Jets
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State
GM Mike Maccagnan has a decision to make, and it’s not one GMs around the league envy. He can draft a quarterback at No. 6 (or higher, if he trades up) after selecting one in the second round last year and muddle through a rebuilding campaign. He signed Josh McCown who could help this team win in 2017, but beyond that? Unfortunately for Maccagnan, neither road is truly palatable. The Jets’ GM, who will be on the hot seat with another subpar season, won’t seemingly entrust his future to any of the remaining rookies at this spot, hence the signing of McCown. As such, at No. 6 he will select, arguably, the most pro-ready corner in this draft. Lattimore immediately aids a secondary that was miserable in 2016.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
The Chargers lost Eric Weddle through free agency in 2015 and never truly replaced him. They re-signed Jahleel Addae to play one safety spot, and Dwight Lowery is projected at the other spot. With Hooker on the board here, the Chargers add a playmaker at the position to finally replace Weddle. The addition of Hooker alongside Melvin Ingram, Denzel Perryman, Joey Bosa, a healthy Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward would make the Chargers’ defense one of the best in the AFC. The Chargers were 20th in the NFL at stopping the pass, and Hooker can play a big role changing those numbers in 2017. Like Jonathan Allen, though, his medical status will be a factor since Hooker might not be ready before training camp because of surgery in the offseason.
8. Carolina Panthers
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
General Manager David Gettleman loves his defensive linemen. Just ask Washington Redskins star cornerback Josh Norman, who had his franchise tag rescinded in 2016 as Gettleman bet on his pass rush instead of the mercurial star corner. This offseason, Gettleman traded defensive end Kony Ealy to New England with the hopes he could add a chaos-inducing star like Thomas at No. 8. Whether Thomas aligns outside on early downs or transitions inside on third down, this feels like the right value and spot for Thomas.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
Foster is a heat seeking missile at inside linebacker and would fit well next to Vontaze Burfict. The Bengals did sign Kevin Minter recently, but he’s no Reuben Foster. The former Alabama star could play any of the three linebacker positions and would solidify the second level next to Burfict. The Bengals may not be as concerned about the infamous combine incident as they will be about his health and medicals. If those check out, Foster could easily become a Bengal.
10. Buffalo Bills
Mike Williams, WR, Clemson
Initially, I surmised that Tyrod Taylor would be an ex-Bill at some point before the draft. As such, it would have made sense for GM Doug Whaley to examine all the quarterbacks on the draft board. In a mild upset, though, Taylor reconfigured his deal to remain in Buffalo, and now he needs weapons to go with Sammy Watkins. The Bills might consider tight end O.J. Howard at this spot, but Williams is a better fit for Taylor and the Bills’ offense.
11. New Orleans Saints
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama
The Saints ranked 32nd in the NFL in pass defense and need significant help at cornerback. That’s why they have kicked the proverbial tires on New England Patriots star corner Malcolm Butler. Even if Butler does end up in New Orleans, it would behoove the Saints to make even more of an investment at the position with a ready-made perimeter corner like Humphrey.
12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles)
Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson
There’s a bunch going on with this pick. After acquiring the Houston Texans’ 2018 second-round choice, the Browns have three first-rounders and five second-rounders over the next two years. In other words, they have enough ammunition to trade for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. If the Patriots won’t make a deal or the Browns decide to stand pat to select Watson, it’s a win-win situation for Cleveland. For now, we’ll let the Browns make this pick. In a week or two, perhaps, it will be Bill Belichick and Co. in New England making this selection. Watson won’t be going to New England, but he could easily be on his way to Cleveland.
13. Arizona Cardinals
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Larry Fitzgerald caught 107 passes last year, and David Johnson had 80 receptions out of the backfield. There’s no way the Cardinals want either of those two to catch that many passes again, particularly, Johnson, who had nearly 400 touches in only his second season. Enter Howard, perhaps the most dynamic tight end pass-catching weapon to enter the draft in a few years. If he can take the pressure off Fitzgerald and Johnson, this offense could be even more dangerous in 2017.
14. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota Vikings)
Adoree Jackson, CB-ATH, USC
The Eagles added wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency to give quarterback Carson Wentz some passing game options. This is a few spots higher than Jackson should ultimately be drafted, but the Eagles’ current cornerback depth chart is relatively barren. Jackson can also impact Philadelphia’s return game, if necessary.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Malik McDowell, IDL, Michigan State
New GM Chris Ballard might not know exactly what to do with McDowell, who did not receive rave reviews for his demeanor and interviews at the combine. The Spartan, though, is too talented to pass up and would give the Colts an interior game-changer, on either side of the ball, for the first time in years.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU
Fournette doesn’t even have to give up his purple as he transitions to the NFL. The Ravens find their feature RB to hammer the rock 20 times a game, aiding an offense that was 28th in the NFL in rushing yardage per game.
17. Washington Redskins
Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
It’s hard to know exactly what’s going on in Washington, but the only thing that seems clear is that the defense needs help. The defensive line needs work, even with the additions of Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain at defensive end. But there isn’t much value in that area at this point in the draft. Reddick can play any linebacker position on the field, in any scheme, playing inside on first and second down and transitioning to an outside rush position on third down. Reddick is a chess piece whom new defensive coordinator Greg Manusky would love to have against the potent and diverse NFC East offenses.
18. Tennessee Titans
David Njoku, TE, Miami
Before free agency, the Titans had two distinct team needs — wide receiver and cornerback. They lost out on former Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks but drafted Western Michigan product Corey Davis with pick No. 5. They signed former Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan to satisfy the cornerback need. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is a trade-up spot for a quarterback-starved team, but if the Titans hold on to the pick, Njoku makes sense as an athletic weapon alongside Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee
All-pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has been the stalwart on the Bucs’ defensive line, but he really hasn’t gotten a ton of help from the edge players on this defense. Noah Spence showed some potential as a rookie off the edge in 2016, and William Gholston re-signed with the Bucs after four seasons. But neither can do what Barnett can. The former Volunteer has the potential to be a three-down player next to McCoy, setting the edge against the run, then rushing the edge opposite Spence.
20. Denver Broncos
Garett Bolles, OT, Wisconsin
The Broncos’ offensive line has been a source of concern in Denver for a while, even with the Band-Aids John Elway applied the past couple of seasons. It’s not as if the Broncos haven’t addressed this unit in both the draft and free agency, but they haven’t gotten it right yet. Bolles is right for the Broncos and a much better athlete with fewer injury concerns than Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk. Bolles has the athleticism to play either tackle position and the nasty demeanor to thrive in both the run and pass games. The only question will be what quarterback will he protect in 2017?
21. Detroit Lions
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
The Lions need help on the edge opposite Ziggy Ansah. The former first-rounder had a rough season, finishing with just two sacks. Luckily, unheralded Kerry Hyder finished with eight, but he’s not an every-down answer at defensive end. Charlton can be exactly that and then some.
22. Miami Dolphins
Forrest Lamp, G, Western Kentucky
The Dolphins traded Branden Albert to the Jaguars, which allows Laremy Tunsil to move to his natural left tackle position. That opens the door for Miami to add Lamp, the most technique-sound and safest offensive linemen in this draft.
23. New York Giants
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford
The Giants waived Rashad Jennings, leaving a depth chart of Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa. New York could potentially look for a heavier, two-down LeGarrette Blount-type back in later rounds, but McCaffrey is too explosive and dynamic to be ignored. Imagine what he could do for this offense with the weaponry around him that defenses must defend.
24. Oakland Raiders
Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt
The Raiders are close. Well, when quarterback Derek Carr is fully healthy, they’re very close. A few years ago, the team’s holes were severe and plentiful. Heading into 2017, those holes are few and far between, but one that stood out watching them up close twice in 2016 is the one at inside linebacker. Add Cunningham to Khalil Mack up front and 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph in the back and this defense is nearly complete.
25. Houston Texans
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
As an employee of the Houston Texans, I’ve offered this selection up to my friends at The Post, per usual. They came back with a caveat, though. If Tony Romo does indeed find his way to Houston, it’ll be Ramczyk. If the Texans don’t end up with Romo, then this should be either Patrick Mahomes or Mitch Trubisky. My sense: Texans fans would love Mahomes and would be fine with Trubisky. They’d love a Romo-Ramczyk acquisition duo. The only concern is whether Ramczyk’s hip injury is a chronic situation or one that won’t hamper him in his rookie campaign. That and whether Romo wants to come to Houston after he’s (likely) eventually released.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
With the top three offensive linemen off the board, the best value at this point, that satisfies a need, is Moreau. The Seahawks did re-sign cornerback DeShawn Shead, but he’s not a long-term answer. Moreau is the prototypical Seahawks cornerback with 6-foot, 206-pound size and 4.38 speed. He noses out Tre’Davious White and a few others for this spot. Speaking of White . . .
27. Kansas City Chiefs
Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU
The Chiefs don’t have a consistent answer at cornerback opposite Marcus Peters, so White makes a ton of sense in this spot. He’s long, fast and competitive in the mold of Peters. Kansas City will look to add some depth at linebacker, defensive line and running back in later rounds.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Jabrill Peppers, S-LB-Returner, Michigan
Free agency signings decimated the Cowboys’ secondary as Morris Claiborne, J.J. Wilcox and Barry Church all went to greener pastures (stressing the color green). Byron Jones should take over one safety position, while Jeff Heath is slated to fill the other spot. Peppers would be a better fit long term next to Jones. Eventually, Peppers can turn into Dallas’s version of Tyrann Mathieu, but in 2017, he can focus on just playing safety. The Cowboys desperately need pass rushers, but Peppers is better value at this spot than the pass rushers.
29. Green Bay Packers
Kevin King, CB, Washington
King’s name hasn’t been thrown around all that much for first-round consideration, but he’s 6-3, can fly and was highly productive at Washington opposite Sidney Jones, who would have been off the board if not for an Achilles’ injury he suffered on his pro day. The Packers’ cornerback situation is far from optimum, and the athletically gifted King fills a need here for certain.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
John Ross, WR, Washington
There’s seemingly no way Ross ends up falling all the way to Pittsburgh, but teams eschewed pass catchers for other needs in front of the Steelers. If he does end up next to Antonio Brown, look out. But, this could also be a trade-up spot for teams looking for quarterbacks in this draft a la Minnesota in 2014 with Teddy Bridgewater. That said, if the Steelers are no longer interested in Bud Dupree and are worried about how long James Harrison can play, T.J. Watt, Carl Lawson and Charles Harris will be in play with this pick as well.
31. Atlanta Falcons
Tim Williams, Edge, Alabama
The modus operandi in Atlanta is speed. Look at this defense. Grady Jarrett at defensive tackle. Vic Beasley on the edge. Inside linebacker Deion Jones. The youngsters in the secondary. They all can fly. Williams is faster and, potentially, more disruptive than any of them. With Beasley and Williams on the edge on third down, the Falcons won’t allow NFC South quarterbacks Cam Newton, Drew Brees or Jameis Winston much time to process and throw down the field.
32. New Orleans Saints (from New England)
Evan Engram, TE-WR, Ole Miss
Current Saints tight end Coby Fleener isn’t the solution in New Orleans. In addition, the loss of Brandin Cooks creates a need for an athletic pass catcher. Engram can play any number of spots on the perimeter, but his ability to get open while at tight end will give quarterback Drew Brees something he hasn’t had since Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle.
John Harris contributes to The Washington Post’s NFL draft coverage. He is the sideline reporter and football analyst for the Houston Texans and owner of footballtakeover.com.