Mock draft season is upon us. The Senior Bowl happened last week and teams had a chance to evaluate some of the top talent that will be making its way to the NFL. Up until the 2018 NFL draft I will give you my draft picks for the first round and why it fits what the team is looking for.
1. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Browns have always needed a quarterback in every draft since the dinosaurs roamed this world. With two picks coming in the first four, they will have their opportunity to choose one twice. There’s no real clear favorite at quarterback, but there is one talent that trumps most others. Saquon Barkley could be a difference maker in the NFL and it would be crazy for the Browns to look past him. He is unlikely to drop past the third spot so the Browns strike first on Barkley.
2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Giants are more than likely going to roll with Eli Manning for a bit longer under new head coach Pat Schurmur but they need to be looking towards the future as Eli has just turned 37. Josh Rosen appears to be the quarterback that everyone expects to go first and I think his skill sets are bit more refined than Sam Darnold. Sitting behind a two-time Super Bowl champion for a bit can’t hurt the upside either.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
The Colts were 31st in the NFL in sacks during the 2017 season. New general manager Chris Ballard coming from Kansas City knows all about what a good pass rush can do. Chubb would be a guy that can have an immediate impact for the Colts.
4. Cleveland Browns – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
I am one of those guys that likes the draft philosophy of taking the best player on the board at any given time. This pick would be a big example. Fitzpatrick has the ability to play both corner and safety in the NFL and that makes him very valuable. I know the Browns are uneasy at the QB position, but I just don’t see the use in missing out on Barkley and Fitzpatrick.
5. Denver Broncos – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
With the rumored work being done on Baker Mayfield, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mayfield fall here on draft day, but for now I am going Sam Darnold. With his skillset still needing a bit more work what better place to fall that one where John Elway sits in a big office.
6. New York Jets – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Jets are still in search of a franchise quarterback. Josh McCown played well enough last season to give consideration for another return. Allen wouldn’t be pressured to play right away and could take a year to learn the game and grow behind Josh McCown.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Tampa Bay needs a left tackle, but Nelson is probably the best offensive line prospect in the entire draft. He’s not as flashy as the rest of the top ten picks, but he is the most likely not to turn into a non starter in the NFL.
8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Bears’ biggest need this offseason is getting young weapons for Mitchell Trubisky. This past season the Bears had no outside threats and it showed in their offensive numbers. Calvin Ridley is a start in the right direction for the Bears.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Joshua Jackson, DB, Iowa
The 49ers are headed in the right direction and even could contended in the NFC west. In order to do so, they need to stop Russell Wilson and Jared Goff. Jackson trended WAY up after a breakout junior season at Iowa. He will give the 49ers’ secondary immediate help.
10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The linebacker position is in major trouble for the Raiders. The addition of Navarro Bowman helped in the short term, but more help is needed right away. Smith will give the Raiders the fast and decisive presence they so desperately need on their defense.
11. Maimi Dolphins – Arden Key, DE, LSU
Cameron Wake is no spring chicken and Miami needs some pass rush help. Key is just scratching the surface of his talents and could be a monster in Miami for years to come.
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Bengals have had no luck upgrading their tackle spots in the last few years. The 2018 class is strong with a ton of great offensive lineman. Look for the Bengals to take another stab at this.
13. Washington Redskins – Derwin James, S, FSU
If Kirk Cousins doesn’t make his return to Washington, this pick could be flipped real quick. James is a great athlete that has range that can reach all over the field. He can instantly transform an entire defense by being on the field.
14. Green Bay Packers – Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Packers rushers are not getting younger. They will need some young talent to pair with Clay Matthews. Landry led the NCAA in sacks during the 2016, but fell off a bit in 2017. He still is a great talent that could help the Packers.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Carson Palmer retired following the 2017 season and the Cardinals are desperate to replace him. Many think Mayfield may fall further than here but his ability to win could force the Cardinals to choose him here.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Darrius Guice, RB, LSU
Joe Flacco needs some help right now. Darrius Guice will give the Ravens help on all three downs and could provide the same spark that Leonard Fournette gave the Jaguars.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, NT, Washington
The Chargers have a huge hole in the interior of their defensive line. Vita Vea is a monster athlete, and can do all sorts of things across the defensive line. His talent could shoot him up when draft day approaches.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Seahawks have a few issues on the offensive line. The right tackle spot really isn’t something of reassurance. Orlando Brown could fill in there for a few years and once Duane Brown moves on, he could slide over to left tackle.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The second Notre Dame lineman goes here. Jonathan Cooper was a mess for the Cowboys this year and Mike McGlinchey has the ability to play both tackle and guard.
20. Detroit Lions – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Denzel Ward has the talent to be taken in the top 10 and the Lions will get a playmaker here.
21. Buffalo Bills – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
E.J. Gaines becomes a free agent this spring. Coupled with the loss of Stephon Gilmore last year the Bills will need another cornerback. Carlton Davis will fall in their lap here.
22. Buffalo Bills – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Jordan Matthews really didn’t pan out for the Bills, which led to aquiring Kelvin Benjamin later on in the season. Courtland Sutton have been rising in mock drafts and could make his way to the top 15. If he doesn’t Bills would happily take him.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Rams have a great defensive line already but the one weak spot is Connor Barwin. Sam Hubbard is a great defensive end, but had troubles playing at full speed in college. The Rams seem to get the best out of guys so Hubbard should be no issue for them
24. Carolina Panthers – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Julius Peppers has been around awhile and the Panthers will need a successor. Marcus Davenport is the athletic edge rusher that would be perfect to replace Peppers. We could see Davenport go much higher come draft day.
25. Tennessee Titans – Taven Bryan, DL, Florida
The Titans need to add some younger playmakers on their defensive line. Baker is one that can play inside and outside. He still needs a bit of refinement but he’s a pick worth making here.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
The Falcons offense took a minor step back. The offensive line was not as great is it’s Super Bowl appearance season in 2016. Right guard is an area of concern and Isaiah Wynn who was a tackle by trade in college is expected to debut in the NFL at guard.
27. New Orleans Saints – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Saints need another playmaking linebacker to pair with A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone. Manti Te’o was serviceable enough, but he does have his limits. Rashaan Evans fit the bill perfectly here.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Rumors swirled all year long. Will Big Ben return? It is now confirmed that he will in fact return for the 2018 season, but the Steelers need to find his rightful replacement. Lamar Jackson could be that guy. Sitting behind Big Ben couldn’t hurt either.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
The Jaguars need road graders to help Leonard Fournette. Will Hernandez had a great weekend at the Senior Bowl and is the physical type to move defenders off the ball.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, WMU
If things fall the Vikings way, there may be higher rated offensive lineman here. For now Okorafor falls to the Vikings here as they need a few more upgrades to their offensive line.
31. Philadelphia Eagles – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
Jason Peters may never play again after a devastating knee injury earlier in the year. The Eagles will need to fill his void. Kolton Miller made the move to LT in the middle of the year and he has never looked back since.
32. New England Patriots – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
The Patriots like to run with two tight ends if they can. Dallas Goedert is a Travis Kelce type of TE and adding him with Rob Gronkowski could be a fun thing for the Patriots to toy with.