With the combine over, it’s time for Mock Draft 5.0. Because you love to monitor our moves, this was our Super Early 2018 Mock Draft; we made a few changes in August. Our mid-season Mock Draft was in October. We also had an end-of-season Mock Draft in January.
1. Cleveland – Sam Darnold, QB, USC: Try as they may, the Browns are not going to find a way to smokescreen themselves into getting Saquon Barkey at No. 1 overall and Darnold at No. 4. The Browns would risk seeing another team trade up to scoop Darnold at second- or third-overall. Cleveland will have to concede Barkley to get the quarterback (I think) they’ve wanted all along despite intentionally dancing around him.
2. NY Giants – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: With Eli Manning still around but nearly out the door, the Giants can give Allen the time he will need to acclimate for a year as a backup. It’s tricky to put Allen and Manning on payroll, which is probably why general manager Dave Gettleman has said he’s open to trading the pick, but the Giants shouldn’t plan on picking second-overall again in the near future. They need to shoot their shot to secure the future of their franchise.
3. Indianapolis – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: The Colts land a running back who is considered by some scouts to be a perfect prospect. Barkley will be a great tool for Frank Reich and (hopefully) Andrew Luck.
4. Cleveland (via Houston) – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: The Browns may not get Barkley, but they still get the best defensive player. Yes, they just took defensive end Myles Garrett. But their pass rush is still deplorable. Plus, as incredible as Barkley is, not drafting him might be a blessing in disguise. The Browns can look to less expensive options at running back.
5. Denver – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: John Elway appears to be eying free agent quarterbacks much more than he’s interested in the draft. The Broncos should sign a veteran and consider one of the draft’s late-round signal-calling prospects. In the meantime, they’ll get the best offensive lineman in the draft at position of need.
6. NY Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: Rosen could do well in New York. His sometimes abrasive personality suits the city. His liberal politics suit the city. And if he excels as a football player, none of that will matter anyway. Rosen’s character questions won’t be enough to scare the Jets, who won’t be able to resist his physical skills. He might even save Todd Bowles’ job.
7. Tampa Bay – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: The Buccaneers wouldn’t need much time on the clock if Fitzpatrick is still available. He’s a no-brainer for a team which can use him at safety or cornerback. And it looks they’re losing veteran cornerback Brent Grimes in free agency this offseason.
8. Chicago – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: Let’s protect Mitchell Trubisky, shall we? The Bears replace Bobby Massie with McGlinchey at right tackle.
9. San Francisco – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The Niners land the draft’s best cornerback, who turned out to be an excellent athlete at the combine. He tied for the class’ top 40-yard dash time. Maybe the 49ers will pair him with Malcolm Butler.
10. Oakland – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: This is a popular pick in mock draft world, because it makes so much sense. So naturally, it’ll never happen, right? Smith would be a great player to line up next Khalil Mack. They’d complement each other perfectly.
11. Miami – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Roll the dice on Baker Mayfield or get a surer thing in Ridley? With Jarvis Landry potentially on the way out and Davante Parker not panning out, the Dolphins should build around Tannehill instead of bringing in his successor.
12. Cincinnati – Connor Williams, OT, Texas: The Bengals could go for a speedy linebacker like Virginia Tech’s Trumaine Johnson or even Alabama’s Rashaan Evans. But the idea of adding an elite athlete at tackle is too tempting. The Bengals have to upgrade their offensive line. They take care of Andy Dalton and Joe Mixon in one fell swoop.
13. Washington – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Sorry, Alex Smith. This is Patrick Mahomes all over again. Washington finds their quarterback of the future and their quarterback of the present in Smith, who helps them bridge the gap.
14. Green Bay – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado: Oliver has long arms and proved to be a good athlete at the combine. His 40-yard dash didn’t wow at 4.5 seconds. But with his wingspan, he’s a bigger corner who should match up with some of the league’s best, big receivers.
15. Arizona – Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College: No quarterback on the board worth taking? No problem. Landry’s combine performance affirmed his elite athleticism, which manifested itself in 16.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss in 2016.
16. Baltimore – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: Quarterbacks won’t like looking at C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Evans. They could quickly become the best group of linebackers in the NFL. Evans is going to keep flying up draft boards as teams figure out all the ways they can use him. Evans finished his final college season with 74 tackles, 13 for loss, six sacks and three pass deflections.
17. LA Chargers – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: He’s the kind of player you watch and often wonder, “How did he do that?” He’s so big, so fast and so strong. At 253-pounds, he ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash. In the middle of Virginia Tech’s defense in 2017, he had 108 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The Chargers would be lucky to grab him.
18. Seattle – Maurice Hurst, Michigan, DL: Here’s hoping the heart condition which led him to leave the combine is nothing. I’ll project him with that hope. He’s not Michael Bennett. Who is? But Hurst softens the blow as the Seahawks begin to clean out their defense by trading Bennett and likely cutting Sherman.
19. Dallas – Derwin James, S, FSU: Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea would fill a major need on the defensive line for Jerry Jones’ Cowboys. But the owner has said he doesn’t value one-technique defensive tackles like Vea. So that pretty much rules him out. Instead, the Cowboys take the best player on the board in James, who will be a scary complement to Byron Jones.
20. Detroit – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA: He’s been tied to the Patriots for most of the predraft process in mock drafts. So naturally, former Patriots executive and current Lions general manager Bob Quinn will scoop up Davenport for former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Lions coach Matt Patricia.
21. Buffalo – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: What’s the best way to beat Tom Brady? Ask Brandon Graham: an interior pass rush. Payne provides just that. He doesn’t have gaudy stats, but he’s the kind of player Pro Football Focus will probably tout endlessly with advanced stats.
22. Buffalo (via Kansas City) – Leighton Vander Esch – LB, Boise State: During the combine broadcast, he drew comparisons to Brian Urlacher. Who wouldn’t want the next Urlacher? The Bills’ rushing defense were fourth-worst in yards allowed per game (124.6) and seventh-worst in yards per attempt (4.3). They badly need the next Urlacher, if Vander Esch can somehow actuate that comparison.
23. Los Angeles Rams – James Daniels, C, Iowa: The Rams get a solid, though slightly undersized center. At the combine, he displayed great athleticism, and will immediately anchor the Rams offensive line in the same mold as Jason Kelce and Maurkice Pouncey.
24. Carolina – Will Hernandez – OG, UTEP: The Panthers make Cam Newton a priority, and improve their interior offensive line with a guy who was sensational at the Senior Bowl. He’s Richie Incognito without the drama.
25. Tennessee – Vita Vea, DT, Washington: If the Cowboys won’t take him, the Titans will. Mike Vrabel will love working with this space-eating defensive tackle, who checks in at 6-foot-5, 340 pounds. He finished his final college season with 30 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3.5 sacks and four pass deflections.
26. Atlanta – Taven Bryan – DT, Florida: This combine standout was considered an early second-rounder, but has found his way into the mix in the first round. He’s a versatile defensive tackle, who can play a few positions. With Dontari Poe, Courtney Upshaw and Adrian Clayborn set to enter free agency, Bryan could potentially fill any one of their roles.
27. New Orleans – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: While a team might be interested in trading up to snag Jackson before the Saints or Patriots can do so, there are no trades in this mock. So Jackson falls nicely into the Saints’ lap. Behind Drew Brees, Jackson can take some time to learn the system and work on accuracy and footwork. When he supplants Brees, Sean Payton will have an innovative playbook ready for Jackson. Just you wait.
28. Pittsburgh – Justin Reid, S, Stanford: Reid is probably the smartest player in the draft. And while the Steelers badly need linebacking help, they’re not going to get it. The good ones are jumping up the board after the combine. So they’ll find another way to booster their defense with Reid, who can cover as well as he can defend the run.
29. Jacksonville – Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma: The Jaguars need to give Blake Bortles all the help he can get. So Jacksonville grabs the best tight end in the draft in Andrews, who had 958 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. He could become the consistent safety net which Bortles needs after signing an extension with the team.
30. Minnesota – Josh Jackson – CB, Iowa: The Vikings need a corner and get a corner. Jackson is not blazing fast, and doesn’t have a lot of experience (as he has started just 14 games), but he showed he’s a ballhawk in his limited action. He’d be a nice fit for the Vikings.
31. New England – Arden Key, EDGE, LSU: Strangely, the EDGE position may not get overfished in this year’s draft, in part due to the underwhelming stock. But the Patriots need a consistent player across from Trey Flowers. Key, whose body type parallels current Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise and former Patriots linebacker Barkevious Mingo, has questions about his character. Can Bill Belichick fix that?
32. Philadelphia – Kolton Miller. OT, UCLA: He’s probably a player the Patriots consider if they can’t re-sign Nate Solder, but the Eagles lock up Miller to be their left tackle across from outstanding right tackle Lane Johnson.