Oh yes, it’s mock draft season. The Super Bowl is over and free agency is approaching, but the draft is coming sooner than you think. Teams are already building out their draft boards and figuring out how their plans in late April will affect — and be affected by — what they do in free agency, so this is as good a time as any to take an early look at how things might shake out.
Below is the current draft order, which is a coin-flip away from being 100 percent set.
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. I’m not necessarily sure I think Darnold is the top passing prospect available, but I think the NFL probably does, based on the traits the league always seems to value in QBs. You have to think the Browns will take their pick of quarterbacks No. 1, and for now, the bet is that Darnold is their man.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Giants will happily snag the next passer on the board and let him learn behind Eli Manning for a year or two. There are a lot worse quarterback gurus to learn from than Pat Shurmur, who has done great work over the last few years.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. It’s tempting to spring for Saquan Barkley here, but what the Colts need more than anything else is a defense that helps ensure Andrew Luck doesn’t have to win games by himself. They can get a running back in the later rounds, as we’ve seen plenty of teams do over the last few years.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Browns take their quarterback at No. 1, and here solidify the back end of their defense with the best DB in the draft. Fitzpatrick has the ability to play inside, outside, and up high, allowing the Browns to get creative with all kinds of coverages.
5. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Broncos went offensive line in last year’s first round with Garett Bolles, and do so again here. Ronald Leary solidified one guard spot in Denver, and now Nelson can do the same across from him.
6. New York Jets
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Leave it to the Jets to not allow the Giants to have the back pages all to themselves. Their MetLife Stadium brethren grabbed a QB at No. 2, and the Jets make an even bigger splash with the Heisman Trophy winner here.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Buccaneers defense was a disaster in 2017, and nowhere was it worse than on the back end. James helps rectify that, sliding right into the secondary and making an immediate impact.
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Mitchell Trubisky has to have somebody to throw to, doesn’t he?
9. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. With Jimmy GQ locked up and Carlos Hyde likely to leave in free agency, the 49ers take the draft’s top running back and lock in the core of their offense for the next 8-10 years. Kyle Shanahan can do special things with these two.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Jon Gruden is an offensive coach, but his team’s defense is a far bigger issue. We saw throughout this college football season and especially in the playoff that Smith is a premier second-level playmaker that flies all over the field. He can help the Raiders right away.
11. Miami Dolphins
Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa. The Dolphins’ secondary was an epic disaster in 2017. Jackson wouldn’t alleviate those issues entirely, but it’s a start.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Letting Andrew Whitworth walk out the door turned out to be a mistake. Who could’ve seen that coming? The Bengals set about rectifying it here by taking one of the top tackles on the board.
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Washington had a horrific run defense in 2017 despite nabbing former Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen — who was limited to only five games — in the first round of last year’s draft. Pairing him with another member of the Tide will help the team climb out of the basement in run defense.
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Allen is likely going to need some time to come into his own as a passer, but the Cardinals have nothing going at the position right now and could take a chance on his upside. He has a lot of the tools teams are looking for, but needs someone to help him put them together the right way.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The last time the Ravens went for a tackle in the first round, they wound up with a very nice player in Ronnie Stanley. They go back to the well here to select Williams as a bookend on the opposite side of the line.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Can you even imagine Vea playing with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram up front? It would almost be unfair to opposing offensive linemen.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Seahawks so obviously need help along the offensive line … but we haven’t really seen them show much inclination to address it this early. The last time they did was with Germain Ifedi, and that did not work out so well. Instead, they give Russell Wilson another speedy target to help him beat defenses, so long as he can avoid getting hit.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. It’s a Michigan defensive lineman for the second straight year for the Cowboys. Throw Hurst into the mix with Taco Charlton, DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Maliek Collins, and you’ve got the makings of a deep group up front the likes of which the Cowboys haven’t had in a while.
20. Detroit Lions
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. As ever, the Lions are still in need of pass-rush help. The last time they took an elite athlete up front with an early pick, it worked out pretty well for them: they got Ezekiel Ansah. Here, they finally get him some help.
21. Buffalo Bills
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma. Okoronwko is the rare pass-rusher that is capable of working equally well against the run despite his smaller stature because of the way he uses leverage and his hands to get inside offensive linemen. He makes the Bills more athletic up front, just like Evans.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. We’re going with back-to-back defensive picks for the Bills here. Buffalo’s defense started off the season incredibly hot, but eventually tailed off a bit. They can use help against the run, in particular, and Evans’ athleticism should help on that front.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Ward helps the Rams where they need it most: in the secondary. They allowed 71 yards per game to No. 1 receivers last year, per Football Outsiders. Only six teams allowed more.
24. Carolina Panthers
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. The Panthers finally found an offensive rhythm down the stretch of the 2017 season, but it was painfully clear for most of the year that they are in need of a pass-catcher that can stretch the field vertically while Christian McCaffrey does horizontally and Devin Funchess works the intermediate areas. Enter Washington.
25. Tennessee Titans
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. Jefferson is an incredible athlete that makes plays literally all over the field. The Titans can use a player with his range to beef up their already solid run defense, and to help cover the intermediate zones of the field against the pass.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia. The Falcons saw their offensive line regress in 2017, and it would not be a surprise if they cut ties with Andy Levitre this offseason rather than have him count against their cap for over $8 million. They replace him here by tabbing Wynn in the first round.
27. New Orleans Saints
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds has the versatility to play on or off the line, rush the passer, and play the run. The Saints defense was much-improved in 2017, but could still use some help up front.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn. The Steelers need to address their secondary in this draft, even after taking Artie Burns a couple years ago and finding Mike Hilton in free agency. Joe Haden’s cap hit balloons to $11.9 million next year if Pittsburgh wants to keep him, and given what they’re spending elsewhere, it might be wise for the Steelers to cut bait and go with a younger, cheaper option.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Who knows who will be playing quarterback for the Jaguars next season, but it’s clear that whoever it is needs more outlets to throw to. Goedert has great size and athleticism and can work in-line or split out wide.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Billy Price, G, Ohio State. The Vikings’ offensive line was improved in 2017, but still not great. The weak link was on the interior, but slotting Price next to 2017 first-rounder Pat Elflein would help solidify things inside. Let them clear the way for Dalvin Cook and stop Case Keenum from having to run around and avoid pressure so often.
31. New England Patriots
Harold Landry, LB, Boston College. The Patriots need a pass-rusher so, so, so badly.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The Eagles might have the best roster in football. They’re going to lose some guys this offseason, though. Super Bowl champs always do. The strength of this team is its defensive line, and taking Bryan would help ensure that remains the case next year and beyond.
Original Article on CBSSports.com: https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/news/2018-nfl-mock-draft-both-new-york-teams-get-qbs-49ers-give-jimmy-g-a-running-mate/