The NFL combine is long over. The free agency period is not only under way, but pretty much over and done with. Teams no longer have the same needs they did a day ago, let alone two weeks ago, when I last filed a mock draft. Things are obviously due for a shakeup once again.
In lieu of a long-winded intro, let’s just get right to it.
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. There was some Josh Allen buzz for a short while, but it’s looking more and more like Darnold, who I’ve had in this spot all along, will be the No. 1 pick. Cleveland has done some nice work building an infrastructure that will allow him to be successful in the future, and the team can let him sit behind Tyrod Taylor for as long as it wants before he’s ready to take over.
2. Buffalo Bills (via mock trade with NYG)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. The Giants send this pick to Buffalo in exchange for picks No. 12, 22, 53, and 65. On the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, those selections come within 15 points of one another (in Buffalo’s favor), while the more analytically-inclined Chase Stuart chart at Football Perspective counts a deal like this as a big win for New York, which now has six of the first 66 picks in the draft. The Bills, meanwhile, snag Allen as their QB of the future.
3. New York Jets (from IND)
4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU)
Bradley Chubb, DL, NC State. Best of luck to opposing offensive tackles, who will have to deal with Chubb and Myles Garrett rushing from opposite sides of the line every week. This would be a huge win for the Browns.
5. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame. With one of the draft’s best players falling to No. 5, the Broncos pull the trigger to upgrade the offensive line in front of Case Keenum, kicking the can down the road on finding a long-term solution at quarterback for at least another year.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. With Chubb and Nelson gone before the Colts come on the clock, they give Andrew Luck the running back partner everyone’s been convinced that he needs for years. Barkley’s versatility allows him to work not just as a runner but also an excellent component of the passing game, and brings an element to the Indianapolis offense it has not had in quite some time.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derwin James, DB, Florida State. The Buccaneers‘ pass defense left much to be desired in 2017, ranking 31st in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. They’ve already brought Brent Grimes back and they drafted Vernon Hargreaves last year, but nabbing James here gives them a key piece on the back end.
8. Chicago Bears
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Chicago attacked the wide receiver position in free agency, leaving the Bears free to add even more talent to a defense that was underratedly strong last season. Edmunds can fly off the edge, make plays in the run game, and generally wreak havoc across from Leonard Floyd on the outside.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. San Francisco’s pass defense was an outright disaster in 2017, ranking 28th in the league per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. Fitzpatrick can play all over the formation — inside, outside, up high. That’s a nice versatile piece for a defense that still lacks a ton of high-end talent.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Jon Gruden said at the combine that he wants to bring football back to 1998. Drafting a linebacker this early would be doing just that. Smith is an incredible playmaker, though, and he can help Oakland’s defense right away.
11. Miami Dolphins
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. I won’t pretend to know what it is the Dolphins have been trying to do this offseason, but this is a fit that seems to make sense, given the team’s seeming lack of total commitment to Ryan Tannehill. Mayfield is a strong thrower to all levels of the field despite his lack of height, and his ability to make plays with his legs just adds to his potential.
12. New York Giants (via mock trade with BUF (from CIN))
Marcus Davenport, DL, UTSA. New York moves down from 2 to 12, and with the first of two first-round picks nabs one of the draft’s most intriguing pass-rushers to replace the departed Jason Pierre-Paul. Davenport had 17.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles last season. There’s a lot of size, speed, and skill to work with, and he could be a long-term solution on the edge for the Giants.
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP. It would be very unlike the Packers to take a guard in the first round. But it would also be very unlike the Packers to spend big money on free agents (check) and cut ties with Jordy Nelson (check). Hernandez would solidify things up front for Aaron Rodgers, helping him take advantage of the new toys Green Bay got him in free agency (Jimmy Graham).
15. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Even with four QBs going early, the Cardinals still land one for the future. They gave Sam Bradford just a one-year deal to be their starter, and it’s clear they still need somebody for 2019 and beyond. Bradford will likely get injured at some point anyway (he always does), but Jackson and David Johnson could be a scary backfield combination for years, if the Cards develop Jackson’s skills well enough.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Baltimore signed John Brown and Michael Crabtree, but their wide receiver depth chart is still ugly — especially considering Brown’s incessant injury issues. Flooding the market at one position in hopes of hitting big once or twice worked for the Eagles last year, and it could work for the Ravens as well. Ridley didn’t test all that well at the combine, but he was incredibly successful at Alabama and could step in and produce right away for an offense that needs so much help at such an important position.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama. Can you even imagine Payne playing with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram up front? It would almost be unfair to opposing offensive linemen. A blocker-occupying force up the middle would free things up for the rushmen to get after the QB as quickly as possible.
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. The last time Jason Garrett took a personal trip to a team’s pro day was two years ago, when he visited Ohio State to get a closer look at Joey Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys took Zeke in that year’s draft. This year, Garrett is headed to Alabama’s pro day. With Fizpatrick, Ridley, and Payne off the board, the Cowboys spring for Evans here, who can be a long-term piece at linebacker.
20. Detroit Lions
Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan. As ever, the Lions are in need of pass-rush help. Hurst is arguably the best interior rushman in the draft, and with his heart issue all cleared up, he should reclaim his status in the first round.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF)
Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame. Cincinnati acquired this pick in the Cordy Glenn trade, but they still need some help along the offensive line. McGlinchey doesn’t have as much hype as his line-mate Quenton Nelson, but he should be a strong option in the mid-to-late first.
22. New York Giants (via mock trade with BUF (from KC))
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. With their second pick from the Bills, the Giants get their running back. Barkley at No. 2, or Davenport and Guice plus two more picks? Give me the latter every time.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College. After trading for both Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, it’s safe to say the Rams‘ secondary is no longer a big concern. After signing Ndamukong Suh, neither is help up the middle. But after sending Robert Quinn to Miami, the Rams do need help on the edge. Enter Landry, a flexy pass-rush type who should benefit from all the attention that needs to be paid to Suh and Aaron Donald.
24. Carolina Panthers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Panthers finally found an offensive rhythm down the stretch of the 2017 season, but it was painfully clear for most of the year that they are in need of a pass catcher that can stretch the field vertically while Christian McCaffrey does so horizontally and Devin Funchess works the intermediate areas. (They were the worst team in the NFL on deep passes to wide receivers in 2017, per NFL.com’s Matt Harmon.) Torrey Smith has shown the last several years that he doesn’t really cut it if he’s the only option you have as that type of player, so enter Sutton, a big-bodied receiver that also has some scoot to him.
25. Tennessee Titans
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. Tennessee upgraded its secondary by signing Malcolm Butler this offseason, but could still use some second-level help. Something tells me new coach Mike Vrabel could probably figure out the best ways to use Vander Esch, who tested out as the most athletic linebacker in the draft.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DL, Florida. The Falcons are likely going to lose Dontari Poe in free agency, and they’ll need help on the interior of the defense. Bryan is an incredibly athletic player on the inside, and the Falcons love taking athletes and molding them into contributors.
27. New Orleans Saints
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. The Saints‘ offense is already scary. Adding a big, strong weapon the stretch the field on the inside would make it even scarier. Imagine all the problems defenses will have dealing with him when they have to devote so much attention to Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram already.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa. The Steelers need to address their secondary in this draft, even after taking Artie Burns a couple of years ago and finding Mike Hilton in free agency. Joe Haden’s cap hit balloons to $11.9 million next year if Pittsburgh wants to keep him, and given what they’re spending elsewhere, it might be wise for the Steelers to cut bait and go with a younger, cheaper option.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. Blake Bortles is now locked in as the Jaguars‘ quarterback for 2018 and likely 2019, and he needs some help in order to take steps forward. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are gone. The Jags need somebody to eat up those targets and replace that production. Moore is an incredible athlete and would make for a nice fit across from Marqise Lee.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Kolton Miller, OL, UCLA. The Vikes just gave Kirk Cousins a boatload of money. The next step for them is ensuring he stays healthy and well protected so that he can have as much success as possible. Miller dominated athletic testing at the combine and played really well at UCLA, and could be a great find for Minnesota up front.
31. New England Patriots
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Isaiah Oliver, DB, Colorado. The Eagles built on the strength of their front seven by trading for Michael Bennett, but they lost corner Patrick Robinson to New Orleans. Oliver slides in and replaces his role in the defense.