Round 1 of the NFL Draft takes place tomorrow. Here’s what will go down that night, picks 1-32. This mock contains no projected trades.
Draft day is almost upon us. To me, it’s one of the best days of the NFL season. Drama is at its peak as green room prospects start to slip. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gets the crap booed out of him every year (and just wait until he says “Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles” in Dallas). The best part? Watching analysts’ mocks be rendered useless as a couple early surprises send the draft completely out of whack.
Hopefully, this mock is different. To make each pick, I selected who I think the team will pick, not who I think they should pick. I used my big board (coming out Thursday) to rank the prospects and weighed the best player available versus team need. Without further ado, picks 1-32:
1: Cleveland Browns – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
It’s as simple as this: Cleveland needs a franchise QB. Though I don’t like Josh Allen, he does have the highest ceiling of any QB in this draft. The Browns have the luxury of letting Allen sit this year and adjust to the NFL while Tyrod Taylor starts at QB.
2: New York Giants – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
The Giants seem to be committed to a win-now mentality while Eli Manning is still at QB. New GM Dave Gettleman is enamored with Barkley and believes he can be their franchise RB for the next decade. I agree. Barkley is the most dynamic RB prospect since Adrian Peterson.
3: New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Is there anyone who reminds you of Broadway Joe Namath more so than Baker Mayfield? Mayfield’s incredible work ethic and competitiveness helped him become a Heisman Trophy winner. Hopefully, those traits carry over to the NFL and make up for his athletic shortcomings.
4: Cleveland Browns (from HOU) – Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina St.
With two top-five picks, the Browns can take a shot on a QB (Allen) while adding an elite prospect with a higher floor. Chubb is undeniably the best pass rusher in this year’s draft. Putting Chubb next to Myles Garrett would be a terrifying tandem for opposing QBs.
5: Denver Broncos – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Denver whiffed badly on Paxton Lynch a couple years ago. Case Keenum is on the roster, but they need someone to be their franchise QB. Darnold’s mental makeup and solid skill set should give him a high floor in the NFL. Hopefully, a year behind Keenum can maximize his ceiling.
6: Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Nelson is the number one overall player on my big board. He’s an athletic freak with not a single flaw in his game. While Luck is still the franchise QB, the Colts need to build their offense around him. Nelson would be a massive addition to the Colts’ O-line.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida St.
Aside from some injury concerns, James is a nearly flawless prospect. He has a rare combination of athleticism, technique, and field awareness. The Buccs have solid corners in Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves but need a reliable safety like James to tie together their secondary.
8: Chicago Bears – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia
What Roquan did in the title game against Alabama is representative of his skill set. He’s a beast in the run game with his speed and tackling, and has great play recognition in the passing game. Chicago can put Smith next to LB Danny Trevathan and watch him lead the team in tackles.
9: San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
Though the 49ers added Richard Sherman in the offseason, they still need more help at corner. Ward can start opposite Sherman immediately, and eventually take over the number one role. Ward held opposing QBs to an insanely low completion percentage of 34% at Ohio St.
10: Oakland Raiders – Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds has a lot of the same traits as Roquan Smith, but he’s just a little rawer and hasn’t done it on as big a stage yet. Regardless, he’s a stud. Edmunds can step into the Raiders starting MLB spot and give new DC Paul Guenther a tackling machine like he had in Vontaze Burfict.
11: Miami Dolphins – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Miami is clearly in a full rebuild, and Ryan Tannehill is not the QB that will lead this team to sustained playoff success. If Rosen falls to 11, the Dolphins’ war room should cheer. In my opinion, Rosen is the best QB in the class.
12: Buffalo Bills (from CIN) – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Bills fans may be wary of replacing a running QB (Tyrod Taylor) with another running QB in Jackson, but these guys are not the same player. Jackson has speed and agility not seen since Michael Vick, and his passing is severely underrated. He can be the Bills’ franchise QB.
13: Washington Redskins – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
Fitzpatrick had a poor showing at the combine, but that shouldn’t deter teams from him. His teammates have referred to him as “robotic” in his preparation. Fitzpatrick’s intangibles will make him a successful NFL player, which is huge for a Redskins team with terrible safeties.
14: Green Bay Packers – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Packers have had difficulty with the corner position last season as Sam Shields, Damarious Randall, and Quentin Rollins all dealt with injuries. Only Rollins is still on the team. Jackson can come in and immediately play man coverage starting opposite Kevin King at corner.
15: Arizona Cardinals ¬– Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The Cardinals will be looking for a QB, but with the top five gone, there’s no reason to reach on one now. McGlinchey can be a day one starter for this team on the O-line and give RB David Johnson some actual running lanes next year.
16: Baltimore Ravens – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
Edge rusher may not the Ravens’ biggest need right now, but Terrell Suggs is not going to be around much longer. The Ravens need a guy like Landry to take the mantle from Suggs when he retires. Landry has the speed, bend, and creativity to flourish as a pass rusher in the NFL.
17: Los Angeles Chargers – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Some have started to worry about Hurst’s heart condition, dropping him out of the first round. To me, that’s ridiculous. Hurst is the most versatile DT in this draft. He would immediately bolster the Chargers’ run defense while taking some pressure off DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
18: Seattle Seahawks – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Seattle cleaned house this offseason and is clearly looking to build their defense from scratch. The Seahawks don’t have a number one corner on the roster currently. Alexander has the skill set and the athleticism to be the top corner opposite Shaquill Griffin if he can stay healthy.
19: Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
The Cowboys decided that $16 million was too much to pay for Dez Bryant this year, which is fair. However, their WR core is brutal right now. Sutton has the size, physicality, and hands to be the number one wide receiver in this offense. He can be what Dez was in his prime.
20: Detroit Lions – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Lions lost DT Haloti Ngata this offseason, which leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the defensive line. Vea is the only DT in this class with the size and raw skills to match the disruptive impact of a nose tackle like Ngata.
21: Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF) – Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
My favorite two targets are off the table, but Ragnow is a perfect fit for this team. Ragnow dominated at Arkansas, putting up the best season for a college center in PFF history. His athletic measurables stack up, too. This isn’t a reach either, as Ragnow is 15th overall on my big board.
Buffalo Bills (from KC) – Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
Now that the Bills have Jackson, they need to protect him. Both OT Cordy Glenn and OG Richie Incognito are no longer on the roster, so they need to add another lineman. Wynn has a high floor due to his sound fundamentals and can play both the tackle and guard positions for Buffalo.
23: New England Patriots (from LAR) – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Now that Malcolm Butler has left, the Patriots need somebody to start long-term opposite, Stephon Gilmore. Some believe Hughes has the best set of skills of all CBs in the draft. Hughes doesn’t have to start immediately, which can help him develop into a reliable press corner.
24: Carolina Panthers – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
The Panthers have very little in the way of DEs on this roster. Julius Peppers is still grinding, but he was drafted back in 2002. Davenport can be the successor to Peppers if he develops well. He has a unique combination of size and speed, which he can cultivate behind Peppers.
25: Tennessee Titans – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Titans have a very solid line overall, but they have a weakness at guard. With Marcus Mariota, Derrick Henry, and Dion Lewis, the Titans need a line that can open holes. Hernandez is a classic road grader who can start for the Titans immediately.
26: Atlanta Falcons – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Falcons’ offense struggled a bit last year, and part of that may have been a lack of receiving threats. Mohamed Sanu is a viable WR, but the passing game lacks dynamism outside of Julio Jones. Ridley adds speed and a YAC threat to the Falcons immediately.
27: New Orleans Saints – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Saints defense took a huge step forward last season, but they still lack a strong interior presence on the defensive line. Payne is the next of many Alabama DTs to make the jump to the pros, and he should be a reliable 3-technique DT for New Orleans.
28: Pittsburgh Steelers – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
It is no secret that the Steelers and Le’Veon Bell are having contract disputes. In order to maximize Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown’s skills, the Steelers need a 3 down back. Guice can be that level of back and gives Pittsburgh insurance if Bell bolts.
29: Jacksonville Jaguars – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Jacksonville defense was outstanding last season, but LB Paul Posluszny retired this offseason. They need to fill the hole he left. Evans is a rangy linebacker who has the speed and tackling ability to replace Posluszny on this defense.
30: Minnesota Vikings – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Minnesota’s offense greatly improved last year, especially with RB Dalvin Cook in the fold. However, a big issue for the Vikings before last season was the O-line. Williams is a high upside prospect who adds immediate depth with the possibility of starting down the line.
31: New England Patriots – James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Patriots’ offense should continue to be awesome with Tom Brady at the helm, but the O-line is a weakness. Though tackle is the biggest one, center could use some improvement. Daniels is a high upside guy who should be able to start for the Patriots this season.
32: Philadelphia Eagles – Justin Reid, S, Stanford
The Eagles defense was a key factor in delivering them a Super Bowl victory. While the unit looks to maintain its success, the safety position is probably their weakest position. Reid is one of the best safeties in this class and should give the Eagles another option at safety next year.