By Zach Malamud
Tonight, the NFL is again in the spotlight, as quarterback needy teams look to make a franchise-altering pick, that’ll slingshot their team to success in the next 15 years. Of course, this year’s mock was a fun one, and there isn’t one certain pick in this years draft. Other years there’s always that “oh he’s 100% going there. It’s a lock.” and this year, it’s all up in the air, and the Cleveland Browns will dictate how it goes as they make their first overall pick. Let’s get to it!
1.Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, University of Southern California
The 0-16 Browns now have the number one pick for the second year in a row after a winless 2017 season. With the additions of offensive signings like Carlos Hyde and Jarvis Landry, the Browns could possibly take one of four highly rated quarterbacks at number one. Yes, the browns did trade a third round pick for Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor on March 9. However, Taylor will only be in Cleveland for the one year left on his contract while drafting arguably the most accurate quarterback in the draft (Darnold) could really mean a lot of touchdowns for wide receivers, Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry.
2.New York Giants- Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
A very unpredictable pick for the Giants with as many as four names being spattered around. But ever since the blockbuster deal that sent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay, the Giants could use a defensive end to add to the 3-4 defense of new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher. Chubb, who has been described as the next Von Miller, is very likely to be a top five pick this Thursday.
3.New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Moving from 6 to 3 made a big statement that the Jets were once again looking for a franchise quarterback that could get them back to the playoffs. The injury problems of Mark Sanchez, major busts in Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg, and undeveloped Bryce Petty, the Jets have not found their guy. An accurate and mobile quarterback in Mayfield could be a great addition to a keen Jets offense who just need the right man at the wheel.
4.(Trade) Buffalo Bills- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
After trading Tyrod Taylor, the Bills are looking to trade up for a quarterback. This pick could end up being the best available QB and Josh Allen could be at the top of the list. Allen has a rocket of an arm and with the speedy wide receivers of the Buffalo Bills, they will try to make it back to the playoffs for the second consecutive years after not getting to the playoffs previously since 1999.
5.Denver Broncos- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
After releasing C.J. Anderson, the Broncos still have Devontae Booker. But think how successful Denver could be if they add arguably the top running back in college football. Barkley ended his three-year Penn State career with 51 total touchdowns. Denver finished 27th in the league in points per game last year and to add someone who was as dominant in college as Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott could help send Denver back to the playoffs.
6.(Trade) Miami Dolphins- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
When Ryan Tannehill went down to a torn ACL and Miami signed Jay Cutler who came out of retirement, there was a very slim chance that they’d make the playoffs. Cutler had an iffy season that had Miami 3rd in the AFC East. Rosen, at this point in the draft, is the best quarterback available to them and he just might give some confidence to a struggling Dolphins offense that gave away top wide receiver Jarvis Landry during the offseason.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State
Tampa Bay finished in dead last for most passing yards against per game last season. They have drafted a safety in the past two years and it hasn’t helped them at all. A quick and versatile safety like Derwin James can be the draft pick that could change this secondary. Derwin James most likely will stay in Florida unless he jumps to a higher pick.
8.Chicago Bears- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Bears are praying that this man drops to them with him potentially going to three teams picking right before them. A potential all-pro guard would be a great pick for Chicago who have a great run game in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. But Chicago finished in last in passing yards per game last season so to put Nelson as a pass blocker could finally get the Bears offense rolling for the first time in a while.
9.San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
With Richard Sherman recovering from injury, Jaquiski Tart and Jimmy Ward becoming free agents, San Francisco has a lot of spots to fill in their secondary. Denzel Ward is a perfect fit into a 49ers defense that let up the 8th most points and 9th most yards total in the league last season. The 49ers could finally be the real deal with the pairing of Sherman and Ward as the two starting cornerbacks
10.Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Oakland at this point will take the best available. This could be a great pick to add another pass rusher to an Oakland defense that let up the 7th most passing yards in the league last year. To pair Smith with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, Oakland fans or soon to be Las Vegas fans could be in for a treat.
11.(Trade)Indianapolis Colts- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
With no real certainty of who the Colts are going to pick, it most likely is going to be defense. The Colts defense let up the 3rd most total yards in the league last year and while Andrew Luck is dealing with injury problems arguably the top linebacker in the draft could fit perfectly fine as a starter in a struggling defense.
12.(Trade) Cleveland Browns- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
This might be the least surprising pick of the first round if the Browns were to trade number four with Buffalo. The 0-16 browns most likely will have the best offseason in the NFL if they get their QB at number one to pair up with Carlos Hyde, Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon. Switching over to defense with Myles Garrett, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jabrill Peppers. The Browns could finally be the real deal this season but we will have to wait and see if they get this opportunity.
13.Washington Redskins- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Washington are coming off an awful season from their defensive lineman. They finished in last in the category after letting up almost 135 rush yards per game last year. They definitely should be looking at a defensive lineman and the best defensive tackle in the draft would be the perfect option for this struggling defense.
14.Green Bay Packers- D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Green Bay could trade back but are really excited about the potential of Moore and what he could do if he is paired up with Aaron Rodgers who also has new signing Jimmy Graham as a top target in one of the best offenses in the NFL. Once Aaron Rodgers got hurt last season, Green Bay really had no chance to make it to the playoffs with backup quarterback Brett Hundley looking not ready to take that prestigious position. Jordy Nelson is in Oakland and Mike McCarthey can’t go wrong with another target for Rodgers.
15.Arizona Cardinals- Will Hernandez, G, University of Texas El-Paso
Last season, Arizona quarterbacks got sacked 52 times which was tied for the third most in the league. And the way to stop that is another offensive lineman. Hernandez would be the perfect choice for the cardinals to try and get back to being a top offensive team
16.Baltimore Ravens- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Baltimore will most likely pick the best available guy and Vander Esch showed teams why he should be around a mid-first round pick. He was unbelievable at the combine and Baltimore might have the next Ray Lewis to pair up with Terrell Suggs while he is still there.
17.Los Angeles Chargers- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Chargers have been known for planning for the future at the draft. Philip Rivers is now 36 and both head coach Anthony Lynn and GM Tom Telesco have praised 2016 heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson. A future duo between Lamar Jackson and Melvin Gordon could give the Chiefs and Broncos who gave up some key defensive guys during the offseason a run for their money in a couple of years.
18.Seattle Seahawks- Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
With one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Richard Sherman leaving for their rival 49ers, Seattle needs someone to help their lately struggling secondary. Josh Jackson is the top option for Seattle so this will probably be an easy decision the Seahawks. Jackson does have some speed concerns but don’t think that will change this pick.
19.Dallas Cowboys- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Everyone remembers 2 years ago when Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott when he was projected by most to be picked out of the top. Also, the shocker of the offseason with the Cowboys releasing pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant after spending 10 years in Dallas. Ridley had over 2,750 receiving yards with 224 receptions in his 3 years at Alabama under Nick Saban. Ridley would be the perfect pick for a Dallas team who definitely need a wide receiver.
20.Detroit Lions- Derrius Guice, RB, Louisiana State
Detroit came in dead last when it came to rushing yards per game last year. They don’t have a great running back in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick is more of a passing option for Matthew Stafford. The Lions could use an explosive running back that can help a key missing piece in their offense.
21.Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
The Bengals had the second least rushing yards per game last season. That really hurt rookie Joe Mixon while Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill were basically invisible almost all season long. Price was the starting center at Ohio State when Ezekiel Elliott was breaking tackles left and right. Price could help change Cincinnati’s horrific run game and get them past the wild card round for the first time since 1990.
22.(Trade) Cleveland Browns-Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame
Cleveland could be back for a potential 3rd first round if they can make that trade with Buffalo for the number 4 pick. Cleveland has never really had a great offensive line and now with star left tackle Joe Thomas retiring after 11 great NFL seasons, Cleveland could draft a tackle about a month and a half later and be ready to roll. McGlinchey would be a perfect pick to replace Joe Thomas but once again we will just have to wait and see.
23.New England Patriots- Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist University
With Ridley and Moore already off the board, New England could be looking for a wide receiver to replace Brandin Cooks with the pick they received from the Rams in the Cooks deal. Sutton finished off his 4-year career at SMU with over 3,000 receiving yards and a speedy receiver could never go wrong with the G.O.A.T.
24.Carolina Panthers- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Ever since the Panthers drafted Cam Newton in 2011, they have drafted three top wide receivers while Steve Smith Sr. left for Baltimore. Those 3 are Kelvin Benjamin who is now in Buffalo, Curtis Samuel who had an ok rookie season and Devin Funchess who has probably fit in the best of the three. The panthers didn’t stand a chance in Super Bowl 50 against the Broncos and need an impactful players to get them back to the Super Bowl after two ok years.
25.Tennessee Titans- Marcus Davenport, DE, University of Texas-San Antonio
Tennessee had a very productive season all around that got them to the divisional round in the AFC. But they still let up the 8th most passing yards in the league last year so another pass rusher wouldn’t hurt. Davenport could be projected to go earlier but based on the competition he faced in a really unknown conference, these projections can still be wrong. This would be a great pick for a titans team who really doesn’t need much this offseason.
26.Atlanta Falcons- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Atlanta will probably go for the best available and they can add to their stellar defense from last season by adding another defensive lineman. It was disappointing last year when they went home after losing 15-10 to the 1st place Eagles who were without star quarterback Carson Wentz. Both defenses had great game and the Falcons could continue this with Bryan.
27.New Orleans- Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College
The Saints will probably be looking for the best available at this point in the draft. Landry is a versatile player that can help New Orleans get back to the playoffs. New Orleans wasn’t able to shut down opponents defensively in big games. Wide receiver Cameron Meredith was signed during the offseason so the offense doesn’t need much work with Drew Brees in charge.
28.Pittsburgh Steelers- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Pittsburgh doesn’t need much but with Ryan Shazier out for probably all of this upcoming season the steelers could use another linebacker just to be safe. Evans who was great last season under Nick Saban can be a total game changer just like Shazier is for Pittsburgh.
29.Jacksonville Jaguars- Connor Williams, T, Texas
Jacksonville could still use a little more help on offense as the defense looks perfectly fine after an unbelievable season last year. Williams had a rough 2017 at Texas but it shouldn’t affect his draft status by looking at how great he played 2016.
30.Minnesota Vikings- Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Minnesota are in need of an extra offensive lineman and Ragnow didn’t allow a sack during his time at Arkansas. Such a dominant offensive lineman definitely deserves to be a first round and could be a great fit for the Vikings who are trying to get back to the playoffs.
31.New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Planning for the future after TOM BRADY already!! Yes, the patriots got rid of backups Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo last season. This could be one of the great qb draft classes for a while and why not take a shot on Mason Rudolph who could be one of the most underrated players in this draft class.
32.Philadelphia Eagles- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champion Eagles had a lot of problems in their secondary against NFC East wide receivers last season. Alexander is very strong and could stop these receivers from doing too much damage by joining one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. One of the reasons for them winning the super bowl.