Barring any big news, this is going to be the penultimate mock draft, the last one being right before draft day. This is the time of year when we start to see smokescreens and subterfuge from the GMs, in an attempt to gain leverage over one another. With that being said, there's still plenty of time for trades to happen, and if one domino falls, it could change the draft for everyone.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold QB - Darnold gets to stay in this position because he hasn't done anything to drop out of it. He had a great pro day in the rain, and has said all the right things in the draft process. Barring any unfortunate meeting with the team, I strongly believe that Darnold will be the future in Cleveland.
2. Buffalo Bills (Trade #12, #22, #65, and a 2019 2nd round pick to the New York Giants for #2.) Baker Mayfield QB - The one QB that I've seen get more and more push since the combine is Mayfield. He's the top choice among those that favor analytics (Including over Darnold) and looks better and better the more film you see on him. He's a natural leader and the most under looked prospect of this QB group.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen QB - This is the first time I've had Rosen top 3 in my mock draft, and the main reason why is because this is the first time Mayfield isn't available. Rosen has all the tools to succeed at the NFL level. He's great at reading defenses, has great footwork, and can make every throw at the NFL level. The questions come in his injury history (especially concussions) and in his ability to lead a group of men.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley RB - I wouldn't be surprised if this pick is dealt, as any team in love with Josh Allen could give up everything they have for it. At the end of the day however, I don't believe that teams looking to immediately compete like to trade down in the top 10 picks of the draft, and I do believe the Browns intend to compete for at least a playoff berth in 2018/2019. Their deal for RB Carlos Hyde includes an out after 1 year, and Barkley would immediately make the Browns one of the top offenses in the AFC North, assuming they can get production out of Tyrod Taylor.
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen QB - There may be reservations from certain GMs about Allen's ability to lead a franchise, but I can't believe that John Elway is one of them. You can't teach physical tools, and while I'm not a believer in Allen right now, Denver is a great environment for him to succeed. He will be in a winning culture, won't be forced to play right away with proven(?) starter Case Keenum in front of him, and will have Elway there every step of the way to help him out. The value of this pick is incredible with Allen on the board, so if the Broncos don't like him a trade back makes sense.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb EDGE - I so badly wanted to give the Colts Quenton Nelson. I wanted Andrew Luck to finally get elite protection, but when you look at the incredibly physical Chubb next to an OG, it's hard to see how Chubb doesn't come out on top. He's not exactly Myles Garrett, but will instantly be one of the best edge rushers in the league, along with great ability in the run game to set the edge. Having a guy like Chubb on your defense changes the offenses entire game plan, and the Colts just can't pass up a talent like that.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick S - This is a match made in heaven and one of the best scenarios the Bucs could hope for on draft day. They desperately need help against the pass and Fitzpatrick is going to provide a huge boost to their DB unit. He's the epitome of a safety net on a football field, as a corner getting beat deep on his side of the field is almost as likely to lead to an interception or pass breakup as it is a completion.
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson OG - I'll be the first to say this is way too late in the draft for a player of Nelson's caliber. and it's unfortunate that his position is viewed as one of less importance than most others. It is very fortunate for the Bears however. They'll plug him into Josh Sitton's role, and enjoy All-Pro production for Mitchell Trubisky and Jordan Howard.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds LB - So, fun fact. Edmunds is 19 years old. 1. 9. A teenager. This kid is an absolute physical freak, and he's still growing, both physically and mentally. He'll only get better over his 5 year rookie contract, and fits right into the 49ers defense day one.
10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward CB - New coach Jon Gruden hasn’t been shy that the Raiders need help on defense, and I believe they’re going to go for the best defensive player available. Along with Gareon Conley, the Raiders should be set at CB for years to come.
11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith LB - Smith looks to be a great fit at OLB in the Dolphins 4-3 defense, where his coverage skills and speed outside the numbers will be put to use. He still needs to address concerns about his ability to play the run, but a good defensive coordinator will help hide that weakness.
12. New York Giants: Derwin James S - I know I said earlier that teams looking to compete this year shouldn’t trade down, but if James falls to the Giants here they aren’t missing out on much. Many analysts have a top 5 grade on James excluding quarterbacks, and it’s not hard to see why. He flies all over the field, is extremely versatile, and is a natural playmaker. The Giants get their difference maker on defense.
13. Baltimore Ravens (Trade #16 and #118 to the Washington Redskins for #13) Calvin Ridley WR - I know the Ravens don’t take receivers in the first round, but that’s because by the time they pick the best 2 or 3 guys are already gone, along with the value. This is a great opportunity to leapfrog a couple teams that might want Ridley, and get the best playmaker at the position in the draft. Playmaker is the key word here, because after Alex Collins, there aren’t any real ones on the Ravens. Ridley is an excellent route runner, and can do great things with the ball in space.
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport EDGE - Clay Matthews isn’t going to be around forever, and the Packers need help on defense. Davenport fits right in as a 3-4 OLB, and can ease his way into being a star on this defense for years to come.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams OT - Unfortunately it's just not the Cardinals' time this round to grab a QB. They won't be able to put together a better offer than the Bills, and it's way too early to pick Lamar Jackson. Williams can play all over the line, and the Cardinals need some serious help, which I'm sure injury-prone Sam Bradford will appreciate.
16. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea DT - The Redskins get their man and pick up #118 for free. It's no secret the Redskins need a boost against the run, and Vea can provide that as well as a solid pass rush up the middle.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey OT - The Chargers have great young talent in the middle of their line, but not so much at the tackle position. McGlinchey plays at a high level and will help keep Phillip Rivers safe into his golden years.
18. New England Patriots (Trade #23 and #95 to the Seattle Seahawks for #18) Rashaan Evans LB - Seattle is looking to trade back, and this is a great chance for the Patriots to grab an impact player. When you give up 41 points in the Super Bowl, something needs to change on defense, and Evans is one of the most pro-ready players in the draft.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Josh Jackson CB - It hurts to barely miss out on Evans, but the Cowboys still get some defensive help. Jackson projects to be a starter at the NFL level, with star upside.
20. Detroit Lions: Isaiah Oliver CB - Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Aqib Talib, Malcom Butler. Matt Patricia loves his lockdown corners, and Isaiah Oliver is next on the list. He's got freakish length, and could be the steal of the draft for the Lions.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Jaire Alexander - And as the CB dominoes fall, the Bengals are left with Alexander. He had a tough year in 2017 for several reasons, but the talent is there. He's shown flashes of great play, and has a great chance to improve and become a dependable starter at the NFL level.
22. New York Giants: Leighton Vander Esch LB - The Giants get their second defensive starter of the draft. LVE is a natural play maker in the middle of the field, and will start immediately in a position of need for New York. Most fans won't like the trade down from 2, but if the Giants get two impact defenders in LVE and Derwin James, it might be a little easier to swallow.
23. Atlanta Falcons (Trade #26 and #90 to the Seattle Seahawks for #23 and a 2019 4th round pick) Harold Landry EDGE - Seattle goes for more top 100 picks. We saw some teams in need of an edge rusher pass on Landry in this mock, but that's because I don't believe in Landry to succeed in a 3-4 at present time. I do think he'll be an absolute force in Atlanta's 4-3, and is another dark horse candidate for DROY.
24. Carolina Panthers: Da'Ron Payne DL - The WR Courtland Sutton could be a fit here, but I think Payne is a better fit for the Panthers, and will have a larger impact in the 2018 season than Sutton will.
25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard EDGE - Wow, the Titans did a really good job filling their hole so far this offseason huh? And when you don't have many glaring holes on your team, the next step is depth along the lines. Hubbard fits in great in a 3-4, and will be an absolute terror playing along with Jurrell Casey.
26. Seattle Seahawks: Billy Price OL - Price played last year at center, but could play any position on the interior of the line with great skill. Another trade down wouldn't be surprising at all here, although Seattle needs difference makers sooner or later, and this is a great opportunity for them to get one in Price when the value is right.
27. New Orleans Saints: Maurice Hurst DL - The Saints were great in almost every category last year, except run defense. Make no mistake, they were still middle of the road there, but they'll feel lucky to get such an impact player like Hurst at #27.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Derrius Guice RB - There's no guarantee that Le'veon is going to stay after this season, and Guice is more than just an insurance policy. He's a blistering runner in between the tackles, and will be a difference maker for this offense even on a limited snap count.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton WR - After letting Allen and Allen leave in free agency, the Jags are left with some talent at WR but no true number one guy. Sutton has the physical tools to be an NFL wide receiver, and will provide the large target down the field that Blake Bortles needs.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Sony Michel RB - I'm not gonna stop saying it. To compete for a Super Bowl in the modern NFL you need multiple play makers at the running back position. Dalvin Cook looked great last year before he got hurt, and I'm not a believer in Latavious Murray. Michel can be a great compliment to Cook going forward.
31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes CB - The Patriots haven't addressed the departure of Malcom Butler yet, and Hughes is a guy that Bill Belichick can mold into a contributor, and a winner.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah Wynn OL - The Eagles have been aggressive in building up their defense this offseason, so they'll end up with the best player available, and a player that will be starting for the Super Bowl champs before long.
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