We are well into the month of March which means that mock draft season is in full swing -- and boy do we know that with all the mocks y'all have been sending us from the Mock Draft Machine. But I couldn't let you guys have all the fun using my favorite mock simulator, so I decided to fire it up and do a couple myself.
The purpose for this exercise was to get an idea of some of the possibilities each team could have at their drafting positions. One thing that we take pride in with our Mock Draft Machine is the variance that comes with it. The draft is so crazy fluid every year that there are almost an unlimited amount of possibilities that can happen. We as draft analysis have a tendency to say that some guys are "locks" to go in a certain range, and though we'll certainly be the first to go back and brag when we're right like we knew all along (*raises hand*), the fact of the matter is that truly anything can happen on draft night, and even the best sources can sometimes be foiled by sudden impulses from certain clubs.
So, what I decided to do this week is run five simulations from our Mock Draft Machine and write down a few first round fits that I really liked. I tried to stay away from ones that are common -- I could talk about how Nick Bosa would be great for the 49ers all day long, but we already know that.
These are the five somewhat uncommon mock draft fits I actually really liked.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 5: EDGE Brian Burns
There isn't as much of a consensus here at No. 5 for Tampa Bay as I feel like their normally could be with such a high pick. The Bucs have needs in both trenches, at the linebacker level, at defensive back and running back, too. LSU linebacker Devin White seems to be the most popular pick here for the Buccaneers, and that comes from both potential need as well as what we're hearing. But guys like Quinnen Williams and Jawaan Taylor should be on the table, too.
Where an edge rusher like Josh Allen would likely be a player Tampa Bay deems worthy of a No. 5 overall selection, I think Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns deserves to be right there in consideration. Jason Pierre-Paul broke a long-standing streak for the Buccaneers when he recorded 12.5 sacks last season, being the first double-digit sack player for the franchise since Simeon Rice. Their edge rushers right now are JPP, Carl Nassib and newly acquired Shaq Barrett. The team is switching to a 3-4, and though I think Barrett fits that well, do JPP and Nassib?
All I'm saying is that if edge rusher is in consideration for the Buccaneers at five, Allen shouldn't be the only one they'd take.
Buffalo Bills No. 9: iDL Christian Wilkins
The Bills made a ton of moves in free agency, and I believe the motive behind that is, well, their team wasn't very good last year. But beyond that, I think that the long-term strategy there was to allow themselves to not be forced into taking a singular position at No. 9 and instead allow themselves to truly select the best player available.
I really think that could be Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
I recently took a deep dive into the background and film of Wilkins and what I learned from both was that this guy will be a Top 15 prospect for me. Do you see any pass rushers from the interior spot for the Bills right now? Because I don't. Wilkins' style of gap shooting with his great first step and love of the swim move remind me of Gerald McCoy when he was coming out of Oklahoma -- and what he's been able to do well in the NFL. I really like Wilkins potentially landing in Buffalo.
Cincinnati Bengals No. 11: LB Devin Bush
This one doesn't have variance to it in terms of position, as linebacker has been pegged as a need for the Bengals for quite some time. But, as the linebacker need has grown for Cincy, it has long been either Devin White or nothing at No. 11. Once White started moving up mock drafts, we saw the Bengals' drat focus shift in other mocks, as to not force them reaching for a need.
Let me tell you this: Devin Bush at No. 11 would not be a reach.
Bush is good -- really good. Though the Bengals did bring in Preston Brown in free agency, I still think they could use Bush right away and have him be a cornerstone pick for the future, as Vontaze Burfict will likely be gone after next season due to salary cap implications.
Tennessee Titans No. 19: WR Hakeem Butler
The most popular pick for the Titans in round one is edge rusher, and though I certain think they could stand to get another edge rusher on the team, even after picking up veteran Cameron Wake, I think that when they signed Wake and wide receiver Adam Humphries they gave themselves the freedom to look elsewhere in the first round.
Though Humphries is a great slot addition for the team, they could still use an outside wide receiver opposite Corey Davis. That's where Hakeem Butler could come in.
Butler has some great tape, and his athletic testing at the Combine proved what we saw on tape, which was that this is no ordinary 6-foot-5 wide receiver. He can play both outside near the sideline and in the slot in space. He can sink his hips and run precise routes, and of course he can dominate in the air. He'd be the perfect X receiver for the Titans, and a player that could enhance their offense in many ways.
Kansas City Chiefs No. 29: CB Justin Layne
Here's a fun one!
After releasing Justin Houston and trading Dee Ford (FOR ONLY A SECOND ROUND PICK, I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS LEAGUE), the Chiefs will surely be looking to upgrade their pass rush, and as they pick so late in the first round, that could very well happen at No. 29. But the team also just released safety Eric Berry and lost cornerback Steven Nelson. They replace Berry with safety Tyrann Mathieu, but if defensive back is still on their radar at No. 29, Layne could be a sneaky great pick for them.
Layne, a former wide receiver, has adapted to the cornerback position well. He's almost 6-foot-2 and has an 80-inch wingspan, and unlike other tall cornerbacks, he uses that well in press and with ball skills. He has the potential to play the aggressive style of outside corner scheme the Chiefs like to run. I really like the idea of this fit.