It’s time for that fruitless exercise of trying to guess how the 2018 draft will go. I’m going to provide you with my best guess and some of the needs that each team will have.
1) Cleveland Browns — Sam Darnold, USC, QB — I was ready to make Josh Allen the pick here, but every mock draft has the Browns doing the right thing and going with Darnold. With Tyrod Taylor there, Darnold can actually wait a year to make a huge impact. As I’ve said on air, I’m going RB here and DE at 4 and rolling with Tyrod at QB for years, but I’m not the Browns.
2) New York Giants — Saquon Barkley, PSU RB — The Giants offense gets a major upgrade here and they’ll hope to find their QB of the future next year or later on in this draft. Barkley checks a lot of the boxes in terms of speed, elusiveness and what he’ll do for the offense. Good luck trying to slow this team down if Eli Manning plays better. Bradley Chubb is also in the mix here.
3) New York Jets — Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma — Mayfield has the attitude to play in New York and the Jets seemingly don’t mind to continue to find their quarterback of the future. We know Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenburg aren’t the answer. This could be Sam Darnold too, but I’m pretty sure New York goes with “Broadway Baker.”
4) Cleveland Browns — Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State — This is a prime spot for a trade with someone who really wants the defensive lineman. He’d fit in nicely with Cleveland’s scheme, but if the Browns want to dangle the pick, they could get a lot more assets to help bolster both sides of the ball.
5) Denver Broncos — Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame — The Broncos want to trade down probably with quarterbacks falling a bit, but if they don’t, I think they go offensive line here and maybe take a QB in the later rounds.
6) Indianapolis Colts — Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia — The Colts defense was a mess last year and Smith fills a need at linebacker.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Derwin James, S, Florida State — The Bucs really wanted Nelson, but will settle for the kid from FSU. The defensive backfield was terrible and James is an athletic freak. Minkah Fitzpatrick could go here, but I’m leaning to James.
8) Chicago Bears — Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State — The Bears secondary is in need of some improvement and Ward fits that bill. We could see Tremaine Edmunds go here, but the DB position is more of a need here.
9) San Francisco 49ers — Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech — Stop me if you heard this before, but several of the mocks out there have this pick traded so a quarterback can be selected here. Edmunds and Roquan Smith are the top linebackers available here, but Tony Pauline says there’s some buzz around the Hokie here.
10) Oakland Raiders — Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame — Tom Cable’s influence shows here as the team bolsters a pretty good offensive line with a guy who is pretty darn good.
11) Miami Dolphins — Vita Vea, DT, Washington — With all the team’s that will probably be running the ball in this division and Suh’s departure, there’s a giant hole up front. There’s some thought they could go quarterback here, but I’m a Tannehill guy and they could always draft depth later on.
12) Buffalo Bills — Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA — Rosen’s fall stops here as Buffalo fills the hole that Tyrod Taylor left. Nathan Peterman isn’t the answer and Rosen will fit in here with Shady McCoy being the main focal point of defenses.
13) Washington Redskins — Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama — Why not pair off Payne with Jonathan Allen who was a player who fell luckily to the Skins lap. They could go with Fitzpatrick here because of his versatility and with quarterback still out there, they could also trade down.
14) Green Bay Packers — Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa — The Packers secondary needs a lot of help so they go with Jackson out of Iowa.
15) Arizona Cardinals — Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming — Standing pat in my mock draft suits Arizona as they get a solid quarterback with a big arm. He may not be ready year one to take over, but the team is still a year or two away from contending.
16) Baltimore Ravens — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville — Jackson gets to learn under Joe Flacco and will take over when he is no longer elite.
17) Los Angeles Chargers — Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State — The Chargers get an infusion of athleticism with the linebacker out of Boise State. They could also go offensive line here with Mike McGlinchey out of Notre Dame.
18) Seattle Seahawks — Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA — Davenport was a great pass rusher in college and he was a terror in C-USA. Seattle could use him to get a push up front. Harold Landry is intriguing here as well.
19) Dallas Cowboys — Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama — Ridley becomes more of a need with Dez Bryant going elsewhere. They could also look to LVE or Taven Bryan to help out at linebacker, but Jerry Jones loves flash over substance.
20) Detroit Lions — Harold Landry, DE, Boston College — The ACC was full of defensive line talent and I think Landry fits in here with the Lions. They need help up front. There’s a small chance they could go running back and Derrius Guice, but I think the defense needs more help.
21) Cincinnati Bengals — Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas — I’ll be completely honest when I say I know nothing about this guy other then the fact he has been a hot name this week and people say he’ll be a first rounder so here we go.
22) Buffalo Bills — Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia — The Bills lost a couple guys up front this offseason and will use Wynn to fill one of those holes.
23) New England Patriots — Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama — New England always manages to benefit with players falling well past where they were supposed to go. Fitzpatrick fits a need as he could be a Safety that they will play anywhere in the defensive alignment.
24) Carolina Panthers — Will Hernandez OG, UTEP — Hernandez was the lone bright spot on a bad offense. Carolina must protect Cam Newton and Hernandez will fit in nicely up front.
25) Tennessee Titans — Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State — The head coach is very familiar with what Hubbard can do up front. Tennessee needs more picks so I can see them trading out of this spot. Defensive end or linebacker could be the play here.
26) Atlanta Falcons — Taven Bryan, DT, Florida — The defensive line gets a big boost from Bryan who was a beast at Florida.
27) New Orleans Saints — Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State — This dude is a beast and would be tough to slow down in the red zone especially in the dome. Drew Brees gets another weapon and this offense gets tougher to slow down.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers — Derrius Guice, RB, LSU — The running back gets some work behind LeVeon Bell for now, but when the team can’t figure out how to sign Bell long-term, he becomes more important.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars — DJ Moore, WR, Maryland — Jacksonville needs WR help after losing Allen Hurns and who knows how Allen Robinson will be coming off of injury.
30) Minnesota Vikings — Kolton Miller, T, UCLA — Another pick up front as the Vikings try to open up holes for Dalvin Cook and protect Kirk Cousins.
31) New England Patriots — Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville — Malcolm Butler’s replacement is Alexander who has been considered one of the best corners in the draft.
32) Philadelphia Eagles — Connor Williams, T, Texas — Jason Peters is getting old and none of the running backs are good enough to be taken here. They could find some RB depth later on.