1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
In no way do I agree with this pick. If I were GM of the Browns, Allen would not be on my draft board at all. I am of the camp that believe accuracy is innate, and Allen is not accurate. His career completion percentage in college, against Mountain West competition primarily, hovers around 56%.
I understand how scouts and executives can fall in love with Allen’s rocket arm, demeanor, and ideal quarterback size. I don’t understand how they could overlook such poor tape as Allen put up in 2017. The fact, though, is that Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plains Dealer indicated Allen would be the pick. I trust that source, and Allen has been in the running since the Senior Bowl anyway.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
To me, this is GM Dave Gettleman’s mark on this team. Jonathan Stewart is not the answer and he knows that. He knew he was in optimal position to come away with as good a running back as one could hope to find at the college level. Barkley doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses as a prospect, and his combine numbers are absolutely insane. The Giants need help on the offensive line, but Barkley should be able to help mask those weaknesses.
3. New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets love Baker Mayfield, but I’m sure they never imagined Darnold would be available. He has less question marks to his game than Mayfield and represents the lowest risk in the draft. The Jets take the layup here, and are ecstatic about it.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
Chubb is a premium player at a premium position, easily the best available at this spot. Everyone seems to forget that Emmanuel Ogbah is a pretty solid option opposite Myles Garrett, but Chubb’s value here makes too much sense, as does bolstering a strength position which could help improve the defense as a whole.
5. TRADE Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (Broncos receive Cardinals 2018 1st, 2nd (40), 3rd (71), 2019 2nd, 5th)
PASADENA, CA – JANUARY 01: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners throws a pass during the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
The Cardinals covet Mayfield more than any QB in this draft, make no mistake, and the trade makes sense for a team that can afford to let Mayfield learn at his own pace and take over the franchise whenever he’s ready. As for the Broncos, they also like Mayfield a lot, but the value of the trade is too good to pass up, and the middle of the first round is an excellent value spot in this draft.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
While Nelson might be the most impressive and safest prospect in this class, he plays guard so I don’t see a way he makes it into the top 5 where he belongs. A dominator on the interior of the line, with the nasty demeanor, incredible play strength and technical proficiency of an NFL veteran, Nelson should line up next to Ryan Kelly and give Andrew Luck a clean pocket to step into for the first time in his career.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (29) during the NCAA college football game against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 in Atlanta. (Ric Tapia via AP)
The Buccaneers have a plethora of needs, a big reason they’re picking in the top 10, but secondary may just be their most dire, with 35-year-old Brent Grimes once again grading out as their best corner. 2016 1st rounder Vernon Hargreaves took a step back last season and there’s no guarantee he’ll improve going forward, and the Bucs safety position has been a black hole for years. Fitzpatrick will fit somewhere and brings the kind of talent they haven’t seen since Aqib Talib.
8. Chicago Bears: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
This is a fit between player and team that I’ve liked since very early in the process. Ward is the best corner in the draft, with the kind of mirroring skills that define the top corners in the NFL. He’s a perfect long-term running mate for Kyle Fuller and should help mask some of the deficiencies on a talented-yet-incomplete Bears defense.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Word is, the 49ers view Roquan Smith as a player that can replace Reuben Foster if the allegations against him prove true. Even if they’re proven false, he would be a perfect complement to Foster as an adept pass coverage specialist where Foster is an instinctive penetrator in the run game. This pick just makes sense.
10. Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds is the type of dynamic athlete that the Raiders seem to favor in their defensive rebuild, and could grow into a player that’s far and away the best player at the second level of their defense in the last decade. At worst, he’ll be pretty good, and that’s better than what they had last year.
11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Nov 25, 2017; Seattle, WA, USA; Washington Huskies defensive lineman Vita Vea (50) pressures Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) during the second quarter at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
Ndamokung Suh is gone, and the Dolphins have to be ecstatic to find such an imposing presence to replace him on a rookie salary. Vea has all the potential to become a top 5 defensive tackle in this league with his unique blend of size, speed and pass rush ability.
12. Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Nov 24, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) throws a pass under pressure from California Golden Bears guard Tony Mekari (97) in the second quarter during an NCAA football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Rosen is widely considered the most polished passer and pro ready QB in this draft. His medical causes him a tumble, as do questions about his leadership and love for the game, but I can’t think of a better landing spot
13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
A perfect running mate for last year’s pick Jonathan Allen, Payne brings an imposing force to the middle of the Redskins defensive line, as a run-stopper with attitude. He has the potential to develop as a pass rusher after an impressive showing in the college football playoffs.
14. Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson brings something the Packers secondary distinctly lacks, playmaking ability. With eight interceptions in his one season as a starter in college, and boasting ideal size for a press man corner, Jackson can be the retcon for the Packers biggest mistake of the last 5 years: letting Casey Hayward walk in free agency.
15. Denver Broncos: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
With years of impressive tape, NFL bloodlines, a polished game and ideal size, McGlinchey is the top tackle in a weak class for the position. The Broncos need a replacement for the departed Russel Okung, and (more accurately) Ryan Clady. Case Keenum should be given every opportunity to succeed on a relatively cheap contract for the next couple of years and McGlinchey is a good step in that direction.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Sep 24, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley (26) rushes on Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (73) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Michigan 49-10. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, the Ravens have Brandon Williams, and need help on the offensive line, but Pro Football Focus grades Hurst as the third best player in the draft, and while some teams have downgraded him for various reasons, his game compares favorably to Aaron Donald. The Ravens will not pass up on such staggering value at this stage.
17. TRADE Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State (Chargers receive 2018 1st, 3rd (81))
In the wake of injury and a slightly less impressive 2017 season, coupled with the dwindling value on safeties at the NFL level that I’ve outlined in previous mocks, I think James is the most logical player to tumble. He is, however, a top ten talent in this draft at a position of dire need for the Cowboys after allowing Barry Church to walk in free agency last offseason and the talk of Byron Jones converting back to corner. The Chargers move down makes sense as most evaluators agree that the strength of value in this draft is on day 2.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
A big, athletic mauler, Hernandez is exactly the type of player that can help the Seahawks convert back to the power running scheme that worked so well for them between 2012 and 14.
19. TRADE New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA (Chargers receive S Vonn Bell, 2019 2nd)
To bolster one of the few weak spots on the roster, the Saints unload a promising young player at a position where they paid Kurt Coleman starter money to play alongside Marcus Williams. Vonn Bell is a fantastic addition for the Chargers and should thrive in a role that should include more man-to-man coverage opportunities in an aggressive defensive scheme. Davenport is the perfect complement to Cam Jordan as an ultra-athletic, big bodied edge player and fits the type of player the Saints covet at the position. There is a big dropoff in talent at the position after the first round, so the Saints felt the need to be aggressive here and get their man.
20. Detroit Lions: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
2017 first rounder Jarrad Davis needs a running mate, and Davenport is off the board, so Vander Esch perfectly fits a need with the best player available. In two years, the Lions turn a position of extreme weakness to one of strength.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Ragnow has been compared to Max Unger, the Bengals need that type of player desperately as their talented offensive line from the early 2010’s has been completely gutted through free agency.
22. Buffalo Bills: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
Moore is a physical intimidator that can add an edge to a receiving corps that seriously lacks intensity (not to mention talent). Pairing Rosen with Moore should bring noticeable added points per game to this Bills offense.
23. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Hughes is a complete corner, and an excellent replacement for the departed Malcom Butler. The Patriots have plenty of needs, but Hughes maintains one of their biggest strengths, boasting one of the most impressive secondaries in the NFL.
24. Carolina Panthers: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
Some evaluators suggest ignoring Landry’s injury-riddled 2017 campaign, and focus on a seriously impressive 12 sack season in 2016. I don’t believe in ignoring entire years, but I do believe in anomalies, and I think the upside for Landry causes the Panthers to jump on a potential outstanding pass rusher to pair with Mario Addison.
25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
With NFL veteran hand usage, and ideal edge setting size, Hubbard makes a ton of sense opposite Brian Orakpo for a team that believes it’s on the cusp of a deep playoff run.
26. TRADE Pittsburgh Steelers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (Falcons receive Steelers 2018 1st, 3rd (92))
Jackson is a player that needs time with NFL coaches to tap his enormous potential, and the Steelers give him an ideal opportunity. The Falcons aren’t in ideal position for their needs, so a move down the board makes sense, as does the Steelers jumping the Chargers who might have pounced on the tumbling Jackson.
27. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
NEW ORLEANS, LA – JANUARY 01: Rashaan Evans #32 of the Alabama Crimson Tide breaks up a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Clemson Tigers in the first quarter of the AllState Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
A player of Evans caliber is an excellent find at a position of dire need (where Hayes Pullard is their starter), and it’s even better with all the draft capitol and players the Chargers have picked up as they slid down the board. Evans is just scratching the surface as a player, and has the downhill motor that makes sense in the speedy, aggressive Chargers defense.
28. TRADE Denver Broncos: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (Falcons receive 2018 2nd (40), 3rd (99), 2019 6th)
The Broncos see extreme value in the fifth year option for a player that has ideal size and excellent college production to go with solid intangibles. Rudolph has more upside than Case Keenum, so it makes sense to snag him here, but I don’t love how much they had to give up to do it since they have numerous positional needs. The Falcons don’t love the players they’ve found available in the late first round and stockpile for better value. They can afford to, with a highly talented roster across the board that needs depth.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
An ideal replacement to the departed Allen Robinson, and a much-needed redzone threat for a team that will likely become too predictable trying to cram it up the middle with Leonard Fournette.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
After a pectoral injury at the combine, Price tumbles a bit, and the Vikings aren’t complaining as they go back to the Ohio State well they plumbed so effectively last year with excellent rookie Pat Elflein. Price has familiarity with the aforementioned Elflein, which should only help solidify an offensive line that was one of the few weaknesses on a hugely talented roster.
31. New England Patriots: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
After a weak-ish combine, Ridley has tumbled quite a bit, but he is widely considered the best route runner in this draft and represents outstanding value as a perfect fit for Josh McDaniels’ system.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams, T/G, Texas
Much like Landry, Williams drops because of a disappointing 2017 season, unlike Landry, Williams is being selected as the final pick in the first round and won’t be asked to start right away. This is the perfect spot for the Eagles to take a risk that could pay off brilliantly as Williams has all the potential to be the perfect bookend for Lane Johnson.