* = Mock Trade
1) Browns: Sam Darnold /QB/ USC
Bringing in Tyrod Taylor was huge for Cleveland, allowing them to draft a passer who may not be ready yet, but won’t be thrown into the fire like the ones before him. Darnold has some footwork and turnover issues to fix, but if he does he could finally solve the Browns history of sorrow at the position. His floor is lower than I think many others believe, but his ceiling is astronomical.
2) Giants: Josh Rosen /QB/ UCLA
This pick for the Giants will tell a story that impacts much more than the 2018-19 campaign. They need to understand they are not a win-now football team and need to turn their focus to the future transition of personnel. Being trigger shy with the QB position is what has Cleveland in the mess they’re in and as a Giants supporter, Rosen is the guy I want to see replace Eli, whenever that time comes. He is the most technically sound QB I’ve scouted since Andrew Luck. The durability concerns are fair, yet any player can be injured in the NFL on any play. If the Giants select Saquon Barkley and elect to passon Rosen or the opportunity to acquire multiple first round picks, I am officially revoking my lifelong fandom.
3) Jets via Colts: Baker Mayfield /QB/ Oklahoma
The Jets continue heading in the right direction by securing their guy at the QB spot. I truly love this fit for the reigning Heisman trophy winner. Jeremy Bates system will highlight Mayfield’s strengths and he’ll bring a much-needed swagger to this locker room that lacks outspoken leaders. He’s proved doubters wrong at every level and with this move he’ll have a chance to do it again under one of the brightest spotlights in sports.
4) Browns: Bradley Chubb /DE/ NC State
You can never have too many good pass rushers. Teaming Chubb up with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah gives the Browns one of the best young pass rushing groups in the entire league. Although Saquon Barkley will be enticing here, Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson form a more than adequate backfield duo. It would be silly for the Browns to use a premium pick on a RB with all the holes on their roster. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t have Chubb as the top edge rusher on their board.
5) Broncos: Saquon Barkley /RB/ Penn State
Denver believes in Devontae Booker but Barkley on the board is too enticing for John Elway to pass up. Although the Broncos GM would certainly like to solve the QB position long-term, Barkley offers an immediate spark plug to an offense that has lacked the explosive element in recent years. Quenton Nelson is certainly in the conversation but the depth of the interior offensive lineman in this draft allow the Broncos to wait to fill that need.
6) Colts via Jets: Quenton Nelson /OG/ Notre Dame
Colts GM Chris Ballard gets a gold star for his trade with the Jets. While acquiring a bucket of picks, he finds himself choosing between my first and second overall players in the class, Quenton Nelson and Roquan Smith. If I was to guess, Nelson edges out Smith on their board by a small margin. The #1 player in the class heads to Indy to try to help Andrew Luck stay on the field. Nelson received the highest prospect grade for an offensive lineman that I have ever given.
7) *Bills via Bucs: Josh Allen /QB/ Wyoming
Desperate times call for desperate measures. With Tom Brady’s illustrious career dwindling down and the Jets grabbing Baker Mayfield, the Bills need to find their guy and they need to trade up to do so. That being said, I think this particular project would fail miserably, given the Bills WR’s inability to separate, as well as Allen’s struggles throwing into tight windows. They still should try to sure up the position, this way they’re ready to compete once Brady finally hangs them up. Allen still possesses tremendous upside thanks to having a legitimate rocket launcher for a right arm. The question for him will always be accuracy.
8) Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick /S/ Alabama
The Bears will try to move off of this pick and acquire some draft capital but will fail thanks to the early run on QB’s at the top of the draft. They “settle” for a versatile, chess-piece in Minkah Fitzpatrick. Vic Fangio will love having a guy that can play deep safety, come up in the box and make plays, plus matchup with TE’s in the slot. Adding this type of talent in the secondary would loom large in a division featuring Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins.
9) 49ers: Roquan Smith /LB/ Georgia
Value, value, value. Roquan Smith steps right in and erases the memory of what could’ve been with Reuben Foster. People were quick to name the 49ers one of last year’s draft winners, but that is not how things have panned out in hindsight. John Lynch gets the opportunity to mask his mistakes with one of the fastest sideline-to-sideline backers I’ve scouted. Smith has the chance to have a Patrick Willis level impact for the fighting Jimmy G’s.
10) Raiders: Denzel Ward /CB/ Ohio State
The Raiders have completely overhauled their CB room in the offseason, releasing both former starters Sean Smith and David Amerson, while bringing in Rashaan Melvin and Daryl Worley. With last year’s top pick Gareon Conley finally healthy, Oakland can continue to build back up their secondary by taking the guy most view as the top CB in the class. Conley and Ward would form an imposing Ohio State duo, that would turn a weakness into a strength for years to come.
11) Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds /LB/ Virginia Tech
The Dolphins have publicly stated their desire to upgrade the LB position. Insert Tremaine Edmunds, who won’t be legally served alcohol for another 370 days. A rare blend of size and speed, Edmunds still has a lot of room to grow. He won’t come up for his second contract until his age 25 season, meaning this pick could give the Dolphins a defensive leader for a decade plus, barring injury. Vita Vea and Harold Landry should be considered, but Edmunds upside is too high to pass on here.
12) *Bucs via Bills via Bengals: Derwin James /S/ Florida State
With their trade down with Buffalo, the Bucs secure an extra first round pick and still get one of their top choices had they stayed put. Derwin James is an athletic specimen, with the talent to make an early entrance into the conversation as one of the league’s top safeties. The Bucs are in desperate need of some juice in the secondary and James brings a much-needed spark to a position of glaring need.
13) Redskins: Vita Vea /DT/ Washington
Glove fit. Vea moves like a guy half his size and plays with a high motor. He forces doubles, with the capability to get upfield in a hurry. Washington needs to continue adding talent to their front-seven at all costs. Harold Landry is far too talented to ignore, but the Redskins porous run-defense is in too bad of shape for the Skins to take anyone but Vea here.
14) Packers: Harold Landry /OLB/ Boston College
It’s no secret that the Packers desire a CB here and reportedly love Josh Jackson. I really don’t care because Harold Landry is the best player available. With Clay Matthews on his way out, Landry slides right in and adds some juice to the pass rush. Landry’s ability to bend around the edge is easily the best in the class. The Packers weak secondary still needs pieces, but a great pass rush will ease the pressure on the back-end of the GB defense.
15) Cardinals: Lamar Jackson /QB/ Louisville
The former Louisville Cardinal, heads to the Arizona Cardinals. In what will be described as the biggest risk/reward pick of the draft, Arizona lacks an identity moving forward. With needs everywhere, Arizona takes the chance on Jackson and transitions their roster to fit the former Heisman winner’s unique skill set. Jackson has all the tools to be successful, he just needs a front office willing to change their philosophy around him, instead of the way of thinking we see so often with organizations taking the “their way or the highway” approach.
16) Ravens: Calvin Ridley /WR/ Alabama
Ridley is a true draft wildcard. His tape shows a guy who’s consistently getting separation with excellent footwork and route-running ability. However, his combine performance raised some significant questions. He tested in the 7th percentile, suggesting he may not be able to effortlessly create separation against other world-class athletes at the next level. Due to these concerns, along with a thin frame, I do think this is the highest possible spot for him to hear his name called. The tape is still the main factor in player evaluation and his is the best of this weak WR class. It also doesn’t hurt he played at Ozzie Newsome’s alma mater and plays a position that Newsome needs to hit on.
17) *Patriots via Chargers: Mike McGlinchey /OT/ Notre Dame
The Patriots send over pick 23 and a 2nd rounder to sure up the biggest hole on their roster. For my money, Mike McGlinchey is the best of the bunch at OT. Value meets need in this scenario and McGlinchey slides right into one of the tackle spots to protect Tom Brady.
18) Seahawks: Josh Jackson /CB/ Iowa
Not too long ago the Seahawks were unanimously regarded as the best secondary in football. Things change very quickly in the NFL. Similar to recently-departed Seahawk Richard Sherman, Josh Jackson excels in off-zone coverage, which the Seahawks play a ton of. Jackson has the best ball skills of the CB group, seemingly always getting his hands on or near the ball. He lead the nation in interceptions last season.
19) Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch /LB/ Boise State
I don’t believe LVE is a first-round talent, but all reports say the Cowboys do. They have been said to view him as the next Brain Urlacher. I will say, Vander Esch is a tremendous athlete capable of putting together dominant stretches of football. His tape is a bit inconsistent for my liking, but teaming him up with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith is going to be tough for Dallas to pass up.
20) Lions: Marcus Davenport /DE/ UTSA
Davenport is rawer than Sashimi, but would be in good hands under Matt Patricia. He has all the potential to be a dominant 4-3 DE, but didn’t do enough against weak competition to warrant a first round grade from me. However, I’ve seen this movie too many times before to think Davenport slides too far down on draft night. Players with his size, ability and upside, tend not to wait around long.
21) Bengals via Bills: Isaiah Wynn /OG/ Georgia
Wynn is one of the top 15 players in this draft regardless of position. He can play both guard spots, as well as swing out to OT in a pinch. He dominated the Senior Bowl, solidifying his first-round status. After adding Cordy Glenn via trade, the Bengals OL has a shot to improve drastically in 2018.
22) *Bucs via Bills: Jaire Alexander /CB/ Louisville
In this mock, the Bucs walk away one of the big winners of the night. Alexander is basically a throw-in, after the Bucs moved back with Buffalo and still wound up landing Derwin James. Alexander is my top-rated CB. He’s a dog that doesn’t back down from anybody. His ball skills could use some work, but his overall blend of athleticism and willingness to fight to the whistle on every snap, set him apart. Adding Derwin James and Jaire Alexander would be an absolute home run for a team that has already made significant improvements to their defense this offseason.
23) Chargers via Patriots via Rams: Rashaan Evans /LB/Alabama
The Chargers have a solid roster with very clear and concise needs. They need to replace Joe Barksdale at RT, they need a disruptive DT and could use a center-fielding safety. The other major need is LB. Most of their LB’s are in contract years and haven’t played up to their potential. Insert Rashaan Evans, a violent thumper, with the ability to rush the edge if needed. They allowed New England to jump up and take McGlinchey, valuing Evans and a 2nd rounder over just adding McGlinchey.
24) Panthers: James Daniels /C/ Iowa
Daniels offers the Panthers the best of both worlds. He can start his rookie year at OG and transition to the pivot spot next season, once Ryan Kalil retires. Daniels is a high-floor prospect who displays versatility and leadership in bunches. Billy Price from Ohio State has a similar projection, but my guess is Daniels gets the call here.
25) Titans: Josh Sweat /DE/ Florida State
This was a pick I went back and forth on. I would understand if the Titans elected to go with Will Hernandez or Courtland Sutton. However, I think pass rush is still their biggest need. Sam Hubbard and Lorenzo Carter will certainly be in play, but Sweat has a chance to severely outplay his draft position. A late riser, Sweat blew up the combine and put all scouts on notice. The knock on his pass-rush production is misinformed, as Sweat was asked to read keys, not just attack the edge. There is some injury history that could push Sweat out of consideration if the Titans don’t feel his medicals are something they’re comfortable with. Also, if the Titans don’t have a clear favorite out of Hubbard, Carter and Sweat, Jon Robinson could look to field offers.
26) Falcons: Taven Bryan /DT/ Florida
Bryan has elite short-area quickness for a man of his stature. He’s raw when it comes to the technical aspects of the position, such as hand placement, but Dan Quinn values disruption and speed. Pairing Bryan with Grady Jarrett gives the Falcons a disruptive interior presence to complement their outside speed rushers. The league will probably be split on Bryan, but Dan Quinn seems like the type of coach willing to work with the talented DT to unlock his potential.
27) Saints: Dallas Goedert /TE/ SDSU
Drew Brees is a wizard when it comes to ripping the ball up the seams. Insert Dallas Goedert, an absolute freak show athlete, with reliable hands and YAC ability. After striking out on a Jimmy Graham reunion, the Saints can look to Goedert as their next great field-stretching TE. This would be his ideal landing spot, with no real competition for snaps and a HOF QB throwing him the ball.
28) Steelers: Justin Reid /S/ Stanford
The Steelers need to continue to revamp their secondary if they ever want to make another run to the promised land. A secondary group that finds themselves annually torched by Tom Brady, found themselves in the Divisional Playoffs getting lit up by Blake Bortles, to the tune of a near 50-burger. Justin Reid is the best secondary player on the board, offering solid cover skills and a willingness to stick his nose into a pile. Like Reid’s older brother Eric, his versatility should help him to hear his name called on day one.
29) *Broncos via Jaguars: Will Hernandez /OG/ UTEP
After passing on Quenton Nelson in favor of Saquon Barkley, Denver gets back into the first round to snag Will Hernandez. The Jaguars could also use Hernandez but elect to add some more draft capital instead. Hernandez is a mauler, with enough athletic ability to get downfield and clear space in the second-level. The Broncos will love his nastiness on the field, similar to last year’s first rounder, Garrett Bolles,
30) *Colts via Vikings: Derrius Guice /RB/ LSU
The Colts use a couple of their picks to do the opposite of Denver, going guard first, then RB. After missing out on Saquon Barkley, they come back up to grab a back worthy of being in the conversation as the best of the group. Guice is a violent runner, who made some of the top SEC defenders fly off his back like rag dolls. His ability as a receiver should not be questioned just because he wasn’t asked to do it at LSU. He can contribute in the passing game and with Quenton Nelson opening holes for him, this is a great landing spot for Guice to make an early impact. I wouldn’t bet on it, but if Guice wound up a better pro than Barkley, I would not be shocked.
31) *Raiders via Patriots: Kolton Miller /OT/ UCLA
The Raiders were tempted to go OT at 10, but elect to trade back into the first instead. Miller is certainly not a guy I would take in the first round, but sources say his upside and athleticism is coveted by many teams. Donald Penn is 35 and RT is a glaring need for Oakland, with no real plan in place at the position. Tom Cable loves to try to coach up athletic OT’s that just aren’t very good, so the fit makes sense. Miller does have some traits to work with, but it will be some time before that potential is reached, if it ever is.
32) *Chiefs via Eagles: Isaiah Oliver /CB/ Colorado
After trading away star CB Marcus Peters, the Chiefs are in dire need of CB help. Andy Reid calls his old pupil Doug Pedersen and gives him a couple of picks to come up and grab Isaiah Oliver. Oliver’s fatal flaw is his hesitance to make tackles. Marcus Peters thrived in KC and had the same approach to tackling, so it shouldn’t be a huge red flag. As for pure coverage guys, you won’t find many better than Oliver. His size is also a major plus.