Updated: April 18, 2018
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
It’s no secret the Browns are going with a quarterback at number one. The draft is a few weeks away so we’ll bounce around every day with a different quarterback in the number one slot. It’ll likely come down to either Sam Darnold or Josh Allen.
In this mock, I’ll go Sam Darnold. In the end, Darnold has fewer questions surrounding him as a prospect in comparison to Josh Allen. Darnold struggled a bit this past year but still has some impressive highlights. When he’s hot, he’s far and away the top quarterback in this year’s draft. His arm strength, accuracy, and mobility allow him to make some breathtaking plays. My main gripe with Darnold is his lowlights. He had some head-scratching turnovers. The type of turnovers where I struggled to understand what he was even thinking. Some wonder if the pressure got to him. Others believe it was a case of someone trying to be the hero. It’ll come down to whether the Browns believe his increase in turnovers is a fixable problem. If so, he’ll be the number one pick.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
I went back and forth with this pick. Conventional wisdom says the Giants should take a quarterback at number two. But I’m a sucker for draft smokescreens and many suggest that Darnold is New York’s preferred guy. So I’ll entertain the idea that the Giants feel the remaining four of the big five quarterbacks are not worthy of the 2nd pick.
If the Giants do pass on a quarterback at number two it’ll come down to either Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb. Both would fill huge needs for the Giants. I lean Barkley because he’s the best prospect in this year’s draft. He’s strong both on the ground and through the air. He displayed great vision, speed, and elusiveness as a runner. Barkley was a constant threat for a home run play at Penn State. Some question whether a running back is worth a pick this high. But Barkley has all-time great upside and could prove worthy of the number two pick.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets made a bold move trading up to number three. Now they guarantee themselves an opportunity to select a franchise quarterback. The Jets have been putting together a nice rebuild these past couple of years. Early rumors suggest this pick is between Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield.
I ended up going with Josh Rosen at this spot. Assuming the Jets are comfortable with his personality, he’s the safest quarterback. It’s difficult for me, a random guy on the internet, to go in-depth about whether Rosen’s personality is an issue. Because surprising as it may be, I don’t know him personally. I can talk about his play at least. When I watched him nothing in particular ‘wowed’ me like others. But I came away impressed with how well-rounded he is as a quarterback. Some positives include fantastic footwork, mechanics, and great accuracy. His arm isn’t the strongest but he’s capable of making NFL throws.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Saquon Barkley going off the board at number two makes Cleveland’s decision easier. Hue Jackson has already expressed his interest in Bradley Chubb in his own endearing way. And a duo of Myles Garrett and Chubb has the potential to be one of the best in the league. The Browns also have Emmanuel Ogbah who’d be a great option to rotate with them throughout the game.
Bradley Chubb’s combine raised some mild concerns, but watching him play puts most of those questions to rest. He pairs his dominating power with a high motor. Chubb’s bull rush has embarrassed opposing linemen throughout his career. I was also impressed with his interior pass rush as well.
5. Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Denver’s in an interesting spot. Having signed Case Keenum, Denver has the opportunity to look elsewhere at number 5. At the same time, they only signed Keenum to a 2 year deal. It’s clear they only see him as a stop-gap quarterback. No team plans on picking in the top five every year, so you wonder if Denver feels this is the best time to select a potential franchise quarterback?
Baker Mayfield is my top quarterback in this year’s draft. He leans on the safer side of prospects while also having tremendous upside. His accuracy is deadly and he displayed solid mobility as well. Mayfield also has an NFL arm. His mechanics will need cleaning up and some question his maturity. It’s worth noting that he benefited from playing against weaker Big 12 defenses. Assuming he has the mental makeup and work ethic, I have a hard time seeing him fail.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
If this past season without Andrew Luck wasn’t enough to convince the Colts they need to protect him, I don’t know what will. The Colts do have the making of a solid offensive line. Anthony Castonzo and Ryan Kelly have proven themselves to be good linemen. Continuing to add another strong piece can help make everyone’s job easier.
It’s rare to see a guard go this high. But Quenton Nelson has that type of upside. Many believe that he has the potential to step in right away and be one of the best guards in the game. Nelson embarrassed opposing linemen close to every game. He’s well-rounded and strong in both run and pass protection. Any concerns about him makes me feel like I’m nitpicking for the sake of it.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled in pass defense this past year. Buccaneer defenders struggled to cover tight ends and running backs. Tampa needs a strong defensive back to help seal up the middle of their pass defense.
Derwin James is a perfect safety for today’s NFL. His versatility will come in huge for teams. He’s capable of moving all around the field playing both safety and a hybrid linebacker role. His athleticism and energy on the field will be a huge plus for teams. He’ll need to quicken his reaction time but this will come with experience.
8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Playing in the NFC North means you must have a strong secondary. Especially with the recent addition of Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. Chicago’s cornerbacks are okay but lack depth. With Chubb and Nelson off the board, I see Chicago bolstering their secondary.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is another prime example of a modern-day defensive back. His versatility is huge with the ability to play corner, safety, or a hybrid linebacker. At Alabama he displayed a diverse skill-set as a strong pass defender and he was helpful in run support. Alabama also loved using him on corner blitzes as well.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
San Francisco struggled in pass defense this past season. Ahkello Witherspoon was one of the few bright spots at corner. And the addition of Richard Sherman should help lock down the other outside corner position. But, the 49ers are still left with a hole at nickelback.
Denzel Ward plays tight coverage and is fantastic at reading a quarterback’s eyes. A great athlete, he also has fantastic anticipation. He’s not the strongest player so he would struggle as an outside corner. Putting him at nickelback would allow him to reach his full potential.
10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Oakland Raiders defense struggled this past season and I expect them to address it early and often in the draft this year. Khalil Mack is the best player on the Raiders defense and a target for double teams. Oakland may look towards bolstering their interior line to help make Mack’s job easier.
Vita Vea is a massive defensive tackle. He’s the type of player that doesn’t rack up huge stats, but makes players around him better. His size can limit his pass rushing ability, but he makes up for it by collapsing the pocket. Because of this, he demands double teams and helps free up his outside rushers.
11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Upgrading their linebacking corps has to be priority number one for the Dolphins. Lawrence Timmons has nothing left in the tank and Kiko Alonso has struggled in pass coverage. With needs at both sides, the Dolphins can afford to go best linebacker available at number 11.
I’m mixed on Tremaine Edmunds. There’s no denying his size, athleticism, and upside. If he reaches his full potential he can be a top linebacker in the league. But his mental game has a lot of catching up to do. He’s been a victim of play-fakes and misdirections his entire college career. He has the physical ability to start right away but requires patience. He’ll be prone to mental lapses his rookie year. Good coaching can correct this. And luckily he’s only 19, in case you haven’t heard that for the billionth time this draft season.
12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Bills made some noise trading up to number 12. Rumors point to them trying to move up further but it’s difficult to say whether they will be successful in doing so. But one things clear, with AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman as their only two quarterbacks, Buffalo is certain to take a quarterback early.
I know Bills fans will hate this pick, like most teams who get mocked Josh Allen. The Josh Allen hate is a tad overblown. He’s a risky prospect but the tools are there. His size, mobility, and arm strength are off the charts. But his entire career will rely on whether he can improve his accuracy. The primary reason he’s not a surefire bust to me is his awful mechanics (As weird as that sounds.) Allen has a habit of not setting his feet when he throws. He’s also guilty of throwing off his back foot a lot. With the right work ethic, fixing his mechanics is possible. It wouldn’t be surprising to see his accuracy improve through better footwork. If he can improve his accuracy he has the highest upside of any quarterback in this year’s draft.
13. Washington Redskins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Zach Brown has been a great linebacker for the Washington Redskins. But they could use an upgrade at the other inside linebacker spot. Brown is a speedy linebacker who’s weaker at pass coverage. So Washington may look towards someone who can help him in that regard.
Roquan Smith would be a perfect compliment to Brown. Smith is also a fast linebacker and strong in pass coverage. Watching him at Georgia, you see the type of impact he has on their defense right away. He’s comfortable moving around the field and had a strong impact in run defense. He is a well-rounded prospect and should be a week one starter at linebacker.
14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Green Bay Packers edge rush could use a boost. While Clay Matthews and Nick Perry have talent both have struggled with injuries. Add on that Matthews is also on the wrong side of 30, the Packers would be wise to look at a pass rusher early.
With a couple of solid pass rushers already on the roster, Green Bay can afford to make an upside pick. Harold Landry has fantastic athleticism and is very nimble. It’s impressive to see how low he can get against opposing linemen. He struggled with injuries in 2017 but his play did take a step back from his junior year. Where Landry goes will all depend on which team believes they can channel his junior year form.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Arizona Cardinals will draft a franchise quarterback sooner or later. As depressing as it is, I can’t imagine they have much faith in Sam Bradford to play a full season. At least a quarterback group of Bradford and Mike Glennon allows them to slowly bring along a young quarterback.
Lamar Jackson is the most dynamic quarterback in the draft. He’d be perfect for an offense heavy in RPOs. Some positive traits of his include an NFL arm and elusiveness. He’d benefit from a year on the bench to help clean up his mechanics. He’s been a victim of drops, but there are still some concerns about his accuracy.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Baltimore is going to need a complete overhaul on offense. Their offensive line is no exception. It was evident how much they missed Ricky Wagner this past season. A reliable right tackle is at the top of the list for the Ravens.
Mike McGlinchey is the top offensive tackle in this year’s draft. A strong blocker in both the run and pass game. McGlinchey displays some impressive athleticism as well. He’s capable of playing either tackle spot but is more suited for a right tackle position.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Los Angeles Chargers were torn to shreds through the ground last year. They ranked 31st in total yards giving up an astonishing 2098 yards with a 4.9 YPC average. A boost to their interior line would go a long way in improving their run defense.
Da’Ron Payne is a massive defensive tackle with a complete game. He’s a strong hand-fighter and has a nice set of interior and outside pass rush moves. The strongest run defender in the draft, Payne is a strong tackle. He reacts well to run plays and was consistent in making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
You don’t have to watch much Seahawks football to understand how terrible their offensive line is. Russell Wilson has been on the run most of his career. One of the most memorable moments I have of Seattle’s offensive line was in week 9 against the Redskins this past year. The last play of the game, Seattle set up for a hail mary. The Redskins sent one rusher and still managed to pressure Wilson. It’d be shocking if they didn’t address the line this year.
Isaiah Wynn’s versatility will be intriguing to teams. A talented linemen who’s capable of playing all three positions. He’s best suited at guard and displayed his aggression through strong run blocking. He also has impressive athleticism and is reliable in pass blocking as well.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Even before cutting Dez Bryant, you had to imagine Dallas was taking a close look at this year’s receivers. Now with Bryant out of the picture, it seems Dallas is confident they can draft his replacement early. There’s mixed reactions about this 2018 receiving class, but I’m a fan.
Calvin Ridley is smooth. He has success getting off of tight coverage and runs beautiful routes. He’s quick off the ball and positions himself well on his routes. Ridley has great athleticism and moves with the quarterback on busted plays. He does cause concern with his strength. He rarely breaks tackles and may struggle against more physical corners.
20. Detroit Lions: Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
The Detroit Lions have very little depth at the defensive tackle position. They also ranked 20th in the NFL in sacks and could use some interior pass rush. Look for them to draft someone to pair with A’Shawn Robinson.
Taven Bryan is one of the best blitzing defensive tackles in the draft. His speed and athleticism make him a difficult block when he hits his gaps. Bryan is capable of playing either defensive tackle or defensive end in the NFL. He’s a one year starter so he’s a bit raw as a prospect especially with his instincts. But the upside is there and he can be a special player.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, C, Iowa
Cincinnati’s offensive line was terrible last year and in complete need of an overhaul. Trading for Cordy Glenn was a nice start but there’s still holes to fill. Russell Bodine was beat all season at center and luckily is no longer with Cincinnati.
James Daniels would be a perfect pick for the Bengals. Daniels is an experienced center with a long list of positives from his phenomenal technique to his athleticism. He was strong in both pass and run protection. Daniels also has good size and is capable of being a week one starter.
22. Buffalo Bills: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Buffalo’s linebacking corps is one of the weaker aspects of their defense. If they stay at 22, it gives them the opportunity to add one of the many well-rounded linebackers in this year’s class. They’ll especially look for one capable both in run and pass defense.
Leighton Vander Esch has a great combo of size and speed. He’s only a one year starter so there’s a strong chance he has the potential to get even better. Already he displays great awareness, closing speed, and power. Finally, he’s such an intelligent player and is fantastic at diagnosing plays.
23. New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Following their Super Bowl loss, New England will look towards bolstering their defense. Dont’a Hightower has been the cornerstone of the defense and could use a reliable linebacker to play next to him.
Rashaan Evans is a very well-rounded linebacker with great athleticism. His play oozes confidence. Evans has strong instincts and very rarely gets lost when following a play. He’s strong in the run game and is capable of picking up running backs on passing routes as well.
24. Carolina Panthers: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Carolina’s secondary was a major weakness last year. They’ll need to address both safety and corner in the draft. With Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick already off the board I’m inclined to believe they’ll wait on safety. They could find someone to play alongside James Bradberry though.
Isaiah Oliver size and long arms will intrigue teams. His play will convince them that he’s a top corner in the draft. Oliver displays great awareness and anticipation. He also has exceptional strength and is aggressive when it comes to making tackles. He’ll come in as a number two corner for Carolina, but he has number one corner potential.
25. Tennessee Titans: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
The Tennessee Titans will look to strengthen their defense in this year’s draft. Their primary EDGE rushers include Brian Orakpo (age 31) and Derrick Morgan (age 29). Both are solid players but the Titans could use an injection of youth in their pass rush.
Tennessee seems like a perfect situation for Marcus Davenport. Davenport is a raw prospect and a tweener at this point. His size suggests that he’s a 4-3 defensive end but he does have a lot of experience playing standing up. Being able to come in and learn from Morgan and Orakpo could let him grow into his position. He’ll need to refine his game but already he’s displayed an impressive speed rush and a high motor.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
With Dontari Poe leaving through free agency the Falcons are once again lacking depth at defensive tackle. It’s a solid class of interior linemen so they should be able to find their guy to compliment Grady Jarrett.
Maurice Hurst had an initial health scare, but reports have cleared Hurst. Some teams could still be gun-shy with him, especially in the first. But it only takes one team to pull the trigger and if they do, they’ll be getting a talented defensive tackle. A tad undersized, Hurst demonstrated a strong initial burst. He was a constant threat as a pass rusher and demanded double teams. He also responded well to running plays and was a strong tackle.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
As the Saints make their final push with Drew Brees I expect them to give him as many weapons as possible. New Orleans struggled on third downs thanks in large part to a lack of a reliable tight end. Despite adding Benjamin Watson, tight end is still their most glaring weakness.
Mike Gesicki is a huge threat through the passing game. One of the best route running tight ends, it seemed like every time I watched him he was open. He’s a dreadful blocker but with how strong of a receiver he is, teams may be willing to overlook this weakness.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Pittsburgh’s cornerback group was all over the place last year. Artie Burns had an up and down year and Joe Haden suffered a leg injury this past season. But even Haden was prone to mental lapses last year and may be slowing down. Pittsburgh may look towards adding to their secondary in hopes of gaining some consistency.
Josh Jackson exploded on the scene and was a ballhawk for Iowa. He’s only a one year starter and his inexperience was evident in his play-style. He’s a risk taker and relies too heavily on his athleticism at times. But the fact that he was so dominant throughout his first season shows what kind of upside he has once he becomes more comfortable in the position.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Jacksonville Jaguars leaned on their run game a lot this past season. The key to a strong run game is a strong offensive line (Cutting edge analysis, huh?) Jacksonville could use someone at left guard to pair with Cam Robinson who had a good rookie season.
Will Hernandez lacks ideal length but he makes up for it in pure power. Hernandez is one of the most consistent and strongest run blockers in the draft. His strength allows him to bulldoze opposing linemen. He would be an immediate starter for Jacksonville.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OL, Texas
Upgrading their offensive line has to be one of Minnesota’s top priorities. Right tackle and right guard in particular will need addressing in the draft. There should be some good versatile options available at pick 30.
Connor Williams seems like an ideal pick for the Vikings. In college, Williams played tackle and was strong in run and pass blocking. His play suggests he has the potential to play right tackle in the NFL. However, Williams does have short arms for a tackle. Luckily, he does have the size and power to move inside to guard if necessary. With needs at tackle and guard, Williams’s versatility could be intriguing to the Vikings.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
With Nate Solder leaving via free agency, the Patriots now have a huge hole at left tackle. The Patriots may be in a tough spot. There’s several tackles who receive a first round grade but many are raw prospects. Some question whether they’d be ready to make a move to left tackle. But with the linemen they have on the roster, New England may not have much of a choice.
Kolton Millers’s measurables will impress you. He’s exceptionally long and had a strong combine where he displayed his athleticism. He has good power and is a hard worker. He made the move to left tackle last season and grew into the position. He’s a bit raw but the upside is there.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Fresh off their first Super Bowl win, the Philadelphia Eagles are in a nice spot. Their most pressing need is a left tackle they can develop behind Jason Peters. Unfortunately in this mock, I don’t see any tackles worthy of pick 32. With that in mind, I see Philadelphia going BPA with the final pick in the first round.
Derrius Guice is an absolute beast of a runner. It seemed like every time I watch him he’s getting positive yards. He’s one of the toughest tackles in the draft and is big in getting yards after contact. Guice has number one running back potential and would pair well with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.