Disclaimer: These picks are as if I were the GM. I tried not to select the obvious pick for each selection. I think Barkley will go number two, and that the Broncos will not take a QB, but for pure chaos, I am going to make picks that differ with the “experts.”
1. Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC. I cannot remember the last time when nobody had any clue who would be going number one. Off of memory, 2006 had a similar case because there was not a consensus of whom the Texans were going to take. Darnold is the safest pick. Teams worry about his 21 fumbles, but that, along with his at times awkward release, are the only true blemishes with his game. Comparing to other QBs, such as Mayfield, Allen, and Rosen, who are the cream of the crop of the QBs in this draft, Mayfield has a few off the field risks and is not your stereotypical QB size; Allen has accuracy problems along with playing at a small school; and Rosen has had multiple concussions and teams fear his “drive and passion” for football. Darnold is the safest pick, but at the same time has many upsides, if he can get a better grip on the ball and adjust his throw motion a tad. tThe latter is not a tough change. Carson Wentz did the same past offseason, leading him to the number one MVP candidate before he got injured week 14.
2. Giants: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The guards take the best player in the draft and improve their offensive line. Nelson is a perfect plug at either guard spots and is a sure-fire stud. He is very athletic, which helps with the current mold of offensive lineman. The G-Men could also take Barkley or a QB, but with a few more Eli years left and a touted backed by Davis Webb, the Giants take a gamble by passing up on a franchise quarterback.
3. Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. New York traded up with Indy, and it is safe to say that they are taking a QB. Recent reports have linked the Jets with Mayfield, so this fits the mold. This pick is a gamble due to the QBs lack of ideal height and his arrest last summer, but New York selects Mayfield off his pinpoint accuracy along with his winning pedigree. I feel like it is safe to say that Mayfield may be the best competitor alone in the draft alluding to him starting as a walk-on freshman at Texas Tech and Oklahoma appearing in three consecutive New Year’s Six bowls. Josh Rosen could also go in this spot here.
4. Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Cleveland takes a QB with their first pick, and now they add to already a solid defensive line. With Garrett going number one last year, the Browns take arguably the best player and far and away the best defensive player in the draft. Cleveland improved their defense, which makes Garrett and Chubb the scariest young pass rushing duo in the NFL. Cleveland is finally on the up.
5. Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. I REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL. After already signing a quarterback to a $36 million contract, the Broncos ink up the rawest QB in the draft who also has the highest upside. Allen, a cold weather QB who has ginormous hands suits well in Denver, which gets very cold in the winter time. This selection is very far-fetched primarily due to them recently signing a QB who lead his team to the NFC championship game, a game in which they got run off the field by a more hungrier Philadelphia Eagles team (Sorry Vikings fans). Allen has had problems with his accuracy, which is a major red flag; however, teams have been in a spell due to his impeccable arm he has. Allen is a major risk but given time and patience he could without a doubt be the best quarterback in this draft. This pick essentially means that the Broncos would be rebuilding and looking more into the future. If so, do not be surprised if they trade proven veteran player for up and coming rookies. Just a little heads up for Bronco fans.
6. Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Pennsylvania State. The Colts desperately need to help franchise quarterback Andrew Luck out of offense. Barkley may not still be around by the sixth pick but if he does not be surprised if the Colts take him. This is a prime spot for the Colts looking to trade down, but I believe that Rosin does not fit the best in Buffalo. Frank Reich has a new toy to use out of the backfield. The only reason why I do not have Barkley going earlier is that teams should not take running backs super early. Elliot is the caveat, but there are even questions whether Dallas should have taken Ramsey before him; however, there are some exceptions for that belief and this is a perfect case due to the explosiveness Barkley presents with him. If Allen is still on the board, do not be surprised if the Bills package picks 12 and 22 along with let’s say a third or a fourth to pick him.
7. Bucs: Derwin James, S, Florida State. Before analyzing this selection, I would first want to shout out former Philadelphia Eagles players Vinny Curry and Beau Allen who recently signed with Tampa in the offseason. With that being said, Tampa is under immense pressure to win this season. With last season being a huge disappointment, Tampa needs to rebound, and this draft pick will help. To be fair, I did not watch a multitude of Buccaneer games last season, but after reading up on them, it is apparent that they need help in their secondary. James fixes that need and has the potential to sure up the faulty Bucs secondary. Josh Rosen is tempting but Tampa believes that they have their franchise price.
8. TRADE Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Even though Arizona signed a huge one-year contract to injury prone QB Sam Bradford, the Cardinals look to the future by picking Rosen, who is by far the readiest QB to play. He also throws the football effortlessly and has a beautiful release, the best in his draft class. As mentioned, there are some concerns about his drive for the game as his former college coach Jim Mora mentioned. It is rare for a coach to go out of his way to criticize a former player of Rosen’s nature. Rosen has also sustained two concussions this past season, which is scary for teams looking to draft him, but in the end, the talent is too much to pass up, and his slide ends at pick 8.
9. 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, University of Georgia. Last year the 49ers traded back up into the first round and took the troubled linebacker, Reuben Foster. A year later and multiple arrests under his name there is a factor of the unknown if he is going to return to San Fran. If not, their linebacking core is shocking weak, and help is needed immensely. Smith, the perfect modern-day linebackers have a little Jon Vilma in him, which is a huge compliment. Watching Smith at Georgia, I use to joke with myself that he could play like a strong safety due to his great speed and ball skills. The 49ers get a good one with pick 9.
10. Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Donald Penn is not getting any younger, so Oakland is going to eventually need to find a replacement. With the Raiders taking a massive step backward last season, and Jon Gruden in charge look for them to protect Derek Carr to a greater extent. I try not to make a whole lot of guarantees, but I would be stunned if the Raiders do not take McGlinchey assuming that he is still available with the tenth pick. Oakland needs to be the team they were two years ago, and this is a start. There’s a new sheriff in town. Welcome back to the NFL, Jon Gruden.
11. Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. This seems like solid fit due to need. Miami does not have much talent at the linebacker position, and this will help them. Even though Ryan Tannehill has only played 13 games the past two years, I do not think General Manager Chris Grier will have the stones to trade up and take Rosen or Mayfield. I am rooting it because on draft night pure chaos is one of the more fun things to take place.
12. Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Buffalo needs a quarterback, but they could not trade up to get one. Jackson out of Louisville is a very intriguing piece, but his game is similar to Tyrod Taylor’s, whom they recently traded to Cleveland. At the same time, Buffalo desperately needs to rebuild the once-feared defense and Ward is the perfect start. With Gilmore leaving last year during free agency, the Bills did not have elite talent with their cornerbacks. Buffalo ranked 16th in scoring, and 19th in yardage, not great when your head coach is a defensive mind. Ward brings toughness along with great cover skills to Buffalo, something they need badly.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, MT, Washington. Vea moves out of the state of Washington to the District. D.C had the worst run defense in the league last season. Vea helped anchor a very steady Huskie defense last year, which should translate over into the NFL. He is what scouts like to call a “space eater,” meaning he will suck up space, leading to stopping the run better, something the ‘skins need to do. Not a sexy pick, but a steady one that will pay dividends against good running teams.
14. Packers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Packers are looking to trade up, but Fitzpatrick falls in their laps with the 14th pick. Green Bay already had a huge burden to fill at concert heading into the offseason, but after a long time Packer Morgan Burnett left for greener pastures, their hole is at an all-time high. Fitzpatrick may not be available with the pick, but if he someone his this is a slam dunk pick for Green Bay. At the same time, do not be surprised if the Packers trade up; something they were not accustomed to under old management. A new regime is in town, so anything is possible.
15. TRADE Bears: Marcus Davenport DE, Texas-San Antonio. As I previously mentioned, Josh Allen is very raw. Double that, and you get Davenport. His upside is without a doubt very high, something Ryan Pace fancies. There is much pressure on Pace due to his lack of excellent moves as GM of the bears. Before signing Allen Robinson, many “experts” had Calvin Ridley slotted in the slot. Trubisky needs much talent around him like most young quarterbacks to thrive; however, with the addition of Robinson and tight end Trey Burton, the Bears can pass on a very talented wide receiver. This pick stems from the trade as mentioned earlier with the Cardinals, who also gave Chicago their second round pick along with a third and or fourth rounder.
16. Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Baltimore needs more weapons for Joe Flacco. They already lost Mike Wallace to Philly, and are in desperate need for a WR. Ridley fits Baltimore perfectly. The only fault is that his size is not ideal. His size is a little small, but his hands make up for that. There have been some murmurs that Baltimore would take a quarterback here, but I think they will give Flacco another year or two with a large part of that due to his large contract and his $29 million against the cap this upcoming season.
17. Chargers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. LA (who will always be San Diego to me) needs a middle linebacker who can control the line of scrimmage and help control the run game; something they lacked greatly last season. With very good size at 6 foot 4 and weighing a hearty 240 pounds, Esch is very versatile and can play 4-3 outside linebacker. The Mountain West Player of the Year collected a whopping 188 tackles in his great college career. His story is a very gritty one as he played eight-man football coming out of a small high school in Idaho and was unranked. He is playing the best football of his career currently and the only thing that can slow him down is injuries, something he has dealt with in the past.
18. Seahawks: Da’ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Seattle lost a great deal of talent this offseason with the departures of CB Richard Sherman, DE Michael Bennet, TE Jimmy Graham, along with uncertainties left. Their best defensive end, Cliff Avril, is dealing with a neck injury that could force him to retire early. Seattle now needs to rebuild on the defensive side of the ball. Payne starts the rebuild with his athleticism and playing at a high program at Alabama. He may only be 6 foot 2, but he does with over 300 pounds. He is excellent at eating space. He could be gone by this pick, but if he is still available, Seattle needs to waste no time and take him with the 18th pick. He has the potential to bring the Payne.
19. Dallas Cowboys: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland. Moore is rising on draft boards and may not be available with the 19th pick; with that being said, Dallas could trade up and pick him earlier. If I were Jerry Jones, I would not choose that route because trading up for wide receivers have not worked too well in the past, with the exception being Atlanta and Julio Jones. Moore has perfect size and speed, and coaches seem to like coaching him. He is a plugin at punt returner and could start day one at wide receiver. Dallas just cuts loose former star Dez Bryant, leaving their receiving one of the worst in the league.
20. Lions: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Detroit has no defensive line depth, leaving them with a glaring hole. Even though his four sacks last year do not scream great production, Bryan has been rising up multiple daft boards and is a solid fit with the Lions. Some coaches view him as a project version of what JJ Watt was coming out of Wisconsin. He is not necessary the sexy pick, but this fills a ginormous hole in the Lions’ front seven. If Bryan does not go here, expect the Lions to take Landry, but some people think he will not be available at 20. Every year, there are players who have risen too high before the draft, and he is that man in this situation. This mock draft is based on what I would do as the GM, so I have Detroit filling a more significant need and taking Bryan.
21. Bengals: Kolten Miller, T, UCLA. In college, Miller had the important job of protecting stud QB and fellow member of the 2018 draft Josh Rosen. Now his job will be protesting Andy Dalton. He did a solid job at UCLA which garnered him, 2nd team, all Pac 12 this past season. Cincy had a tough job replacing All-Pro Andrew Whitworth who left for the Rams this past season. He is not the most talented tackle in this draft, but his effort and his ability to protect the QB are the reason why he gets picked 21st by the Bengals. It will be tough for him to play LT in the NFL, so do not be surprised is he starts off on the right side.
22. Buffalo: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. As I previously mentioned, Buffalo could not trade up to pick a QB. They could take Jackson right here but again; his game is similar to their former QB, Tyrod Taylor. Evans fills a glaring hole at LB, and this pick should help. Evans was a gamer at Alabama and anchored their renowned defense. His game can suit either a 3-4 blitzing defense or he can play the 4-3 end. It will be hard for Buffalo to pass on this three-down linebacker, something they desperately need. Again, I am not the GM of the Bills, and at this point I expect them to trade up for Josh Allen, but GM Max Flammer wants them to rebuild their abysmal defense. My Bills picks are not for everybody, but Ward and Evans will add intimidation into other QBs eyes, and coach Sean Mcdermott is again a prolific defensive mind, who is looking to rebuild their weak defense.
23 Patriots: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Oh boy, the Patriots spend a first-round pick on the quarterback of the future. Many people do not know that the Pats have been looking for Brady’s replacement for a long time. They took Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round a few years ago, thinking he could take over the helm when Brady hangs it up. Brady, a complete nutrition freak, has played out of his mind due to his massive food schedule. As well documented, he despises fruits such as strawberries and has, for the most part, eliminated beef from his diet. He may be a robot, but eventually, Brady is going to call it quits. I think he could play for another two or even three more years, but New England needs a plan. That is where Jackson comes in. Like Allen, he is raw with his throwing. He has a terrific arm, but his accuracy on sort passes have stuck out like a sore thumb. Too many times this past season he would miss easy targets on easy throws, such as 10 yard outs. The good news is that accuracy is not too hard to fix, and due to his NFL caliber arm, there is a high chance that he could be the steal of the draft. Get him in the New England system for a few years, and by 2021 he could be the face of the franchise. Sitting for a few years will benefit him a lot the same way that it helped Aaron Rodgers. If he can get his accuracy fix and add some muscle, he will make a lot of GMs embarrassed because we would all question why he fell to pick 23.
24. Panthers: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Carolina has had the league’s worst WR depth for a few years now. In the playoff game against the Saints, Panther wide receivers dropped many crucial passes, which made them settle for field goals rather than touchdowns. Sutton would help Carolina immediately, and even though they traded for Torrey Smith this offseason, more depth is still needed. Sutton has great NFL size, which is an bonus for teams looking to pick a WR early in the draft. Sutton loves physical play and plays football like a Center in basketball. Carolina could also pick the TE from South Carolina here, but the Panthers take a very solid prospect at 24.
25. Titans: Harold Landry, LB, Boston College. Tennessee has two solid rushers, but Brian Orakpo will turn 32 this summer. The NFC South has three above-average starters, and the other came very close to going to the super bowl. The Titans need to look for the future and take a pass rusher. Landry is an excellent athlete who had 16.5 sacks the year prior. The Patriots could take him at 23, but with them taking Jackson, Landry could fall to 25.
26. Falcons: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State. The Falcons, who came very close to knocking off the Eagles in the divisional round, need to get more talent on their front seven. Hubbard would be a good fit here because he could start day one at 4-3 DE. Hubbard does not jump out of the gym, and it is not like a twitchy athlete, but his hardworking demeanor will suit well with every team in the league. His football IQ is at the top of the draft for his position and expect him to play a lot in his rookie year. Hubbard may be a reach at pick 26, but down the road, he will turn into a solid NFL player.
27. Saints: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. Hurst is in a similar situation Brandon Weeden was six years ago. In 2012 Draft, the Browns took him with the 23rd pick. The peculiar thing was that he was 28, the oldest player to ever be drafted in the first round. Both Hurst and Weeden played minor league baseball respectively before playing college football. Hurst will turn 25 this August and is roughly three years older than the majority of his draft class. The Saints have a 39-year-old quarterback, so they could be in the market to draft another one with this pick, but they will hold off and take the best pure tight end in the draft. Hurst is a beast with the ball in his hands, and adding him to the already scary offense, gives Bree’s even more toys to play with. If the Saints do not take Hurst here, expect them to try and trade up or even take Mason Rudolph on the spot.
28. Steelers: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Have the Steelers found their successor at QB? This pick is very intriguing because the Steelers, like the Saints, are in win-now mode. Rudolph is an interesting quarterback. Mike Gundy utilized him to the best of his ability at Oklahoma State, using him in the air raid system; however, quarterbacks from that system have had trouble transferring over into the NFL. Ask Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell, along with Kevin Cobb and Tim Couch. The reason it is hard to transfer is that it is completely different than what most NFL teams use. The funny thing is that the Steelers use sets where the air raid is present. Roethlisberger has found much success in his career throwing deep; something that Mason Rudolph did with a ton of success at Oklahoma State. I am in no way comparing a two-time Champion and future Hall-of-Famer to a kid who is yet to even play at the NFL level, but there are similarities in their games. The major question is if the Steelers would even pick Rudolph at the position. As previously mentioned, they are in win-now mode, meaning they might need to pick a player who fills a bigger need. Big Ben is still one of the best QBs, but his career is coming to a close within the next few years.
29. Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Goedert compares to the Eagles’ tight end, Zach Ertz. Both are pure pass catchers and can make impressive catches. Jacksonville just signed Blake Bortles to a massive contract extension, and with Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville did not resign, they need to find a better replacement. Goedert needs to improve his lower body and improve his blocking. Another knock on him is that he did not play the best competition at South Dakota State. If he can improve as a blocker, he can become a very good tight end in the NFL.
30. Vikings: Connor Williams, T, Texas. Minnesota needs to improve their offensive line drastically. This is a good start, but expect them to also address it with other picks in this draft. With a new quarterback in Kirk Cousins and a running back coming off major knee surgery (Dalvin Cook) the Vikings need to clean up the inconsistent O-line they have had for the past few years. Many “experts” expect the Vikings to contend for a Super Bowl this coming season. Without a competent offensive line, you can throw those chances goodbye. Minnesota gets a critical piece and a player to protect the blind side for Cousins.
31. Patriots: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. New England inexplicably did not play their best defender, Malcolm Butler, in the Super Bowl. The result: Nick Foles torched them, and Philly proceeded to throw a parade down Broad Street (I get chills every time I think about that game). The Patriots, who gave up 41 points to a Philly team playing with their backup QB in the Super Bowl along with losing their defensive coordinator, need to build up their defense ASAP. They take the best corner remaining in Josh Jackson. Butler left for the Titans this offseason, leaving the Pats thin at Cornerback. Jackson has ideal size, but his 4.56 speed is a turnoff for many teams. Expect Jackson to play a lot this upcoming season. If the Patriots want to go back to the Super Bowl this year, they need to immensely improve their defense.
32. Eagles: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia The Super Bowl Champions are in the draft. You heard that right. Philly had an excellent scrappy running back tandem the past year. They acquired Jay Ajayi in a trade with Miami, a piece that helped them win the Lombardi trophy. Philly’s most significant needs are an offensive tackle, but with no highly scouted offensive Tackles, the Eagles pick Michel. Philly is looking to trade down, but with all the top QBs taken, they cannot find a partner. Michel boasted a strong Georgia running attack this past season, which almost won them a National Championship. He runs like a horse, something that will translate over to the NFL level. The best case scenario for Philly is if Jackson or Rudolph is still available, but in my mock, they are not. The Super Bowl champions add to their already potent offense.