Free agency is just around the corner, and that’s going to have an impact on how mock drafts fall starting next week. But here, we still have to project which teams will fill their QB needs before late April.
For the purposes of this mock, I have the Vikings landing Kirk Cousins, the Broncos signing Case Keenum, Drew Brees back in New Orleans and no one trading for Nick Foles. Aside from those guys, even the teams that land an AJ McCarron or Sam Bradford in free agency shouldn’t hesitate to draft a potential franchise QB in the first round. In fact, I think it’s a real possibility those two go to the Cardinals and Bills, but that won’t stop both teams from also trading up to draft a signal-caller in the top 10.
For the first time, I’m rolling out a second round to this mock draft coming out of the combine. I expect to expand to three rounds in early April before laying out my seven-round trade frenzy of a mock draft the week before the draft. Buckle up.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora wrote Wednesday that , and since no one is more connected than Jason, I’m willing to go down that road too. While the Browns traded for Tyrod Taylor on Friday (as well as Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall), I still think a quarterback is the most likely move for them at No. 1 — Taylor isn’t more than a one-year option on his current deal, but he’s good enough that the Browns can draft Allen and let him sit and develop before taking over in 2019 (or late in 2018).
2. New York Giants
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Barkley was as good as advertised at the combine, and I see no reason to move off my pick of him at No. 2 as a result. The Giants could certainly go with a QB as well — a guy like Josh Allen, who would have a chance to sit and learn behind Eli Manning, makes some sense — but adding Barkley, signing Andrew Norwell and targeting a tackle in Round 2 should be a way to get this offense turned around quickly.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Another pick I’m sticking with. Chubb is a dominant pass-rusher, and one of the two or three best players in this draft regardless of position. He’ll give new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus his Demarcus Lawrence to build the front seven around.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama. The Browns will likely look to trade down after taking a QB No. 1, especially if Barkley is off the board. I’m not sure they’ll find a willing partner unless they take a little bit less than the trade value chart says. One team possible in play is the Bills, who have five top-65 picks and could leap all the way up to four to get a Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen. If the Browns stick here, Fitzpatrick seems like the favorite to be selected, and the Browns can move the versatile defensive back all around their secondary to maximize his talent.
5. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Broncos land Case Keenum as their starter in this mock, leaving them open to address another need. Nelson is a bust-proof prospect who should be playing at a high level for the next 10-plus years in the NFL.
6. New York Jets
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Jets are still looking for a franchise QB by the time the draft rolls around, which means they have to use this pick on the position, and even consider trading up to land the right guy. La Canfora wrote in his Wednesday piece that Rosen should be at worst the second QB off the board, so I’ll slot him is as my second QB as well. He was a little uneven in combine drills but is certainly worth the sixth overall pick for a QB-needy Jets team.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Buccaneers should be looking to add multiple cornerbacks this offseason, and though Ward couldn’t work out in drills after tweaking his ankle in the 40, he put up a 4.32 before calling it a day. Ohio State has produced multiple high-level corners in recent years, and Ward like Lattimore should be the top guy selected at his position this year.
8. Arizona Cardinals (CHI mock trade)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Once Darnold gets out of the top four, the Cardinals should be looking to make a deal to move up for him. He’ll be able to come in and start right away, and unless the Cardinals can beat out other interested teams for a Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum, they’ll definitely be looking for a QB of the present and future in the draft. For purposes of this mock, we’ll assume the key asset going back to Chicago to move down is Arizona’s first-rounder next year.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Derwin James, SS, Florida State. James dominated the combine, putting up a 4.47 40 at 215 pounds and great numbers across the board, including an 11-foot broad jump and 40-inch vertical. He also shined during the on-field drills. With Eric Reid hitting free agency, John Lynch has a chance to bring a blue-chip talent in at the position with this pick.
10. Buffalo Bills (OAK mock trade)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The Bills make it four quarterbacks in the top 10 by trading up to land Mayfield, who is as good a bet as any to be the first QB off the board or fourth. He’d be a great fit in Buffalo, and I can see the Bills wanting to get ahead of Miami and deny their division rivals the chance to draft him while potentially fixing their QB situation for good. For purposes of this mock, we’ll say the Bills’ 2019 first-rounder is the main asset going back to Oakland in addition to No. 21.
11. Miami Dolphins
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The combine is made for an athletic freak like Edmunds and he didn’t disappoint, running a 4.54 40 at 253 pounds. The Dolphins brought in pass rush help via trade by landing Robert Quinn, and now it’s time to address the second level of the defense. A quarterback could also be in play if the right one falls, but that doesn’t happen here.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia. The Bengals need offensive line help above all else, and while I (and most people) have been mocking them a tackle in this spot, the interior offensive linemen are just so much better in this class. So I’m pivoting to Wynn, an athletic blocker who doesn’t quite have the size to play outside but plays well enough that he should flourish at guard in the NFL.
13. Washington Redskins
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. With the quarterback situation sorted out, I think the Redskins most likely use this pick on a front-seven player. I gave them Edmunds previously, but he doesn’t make it to their pick here. Instead, they grab another Alabama defensive lineman in Payne, who dominated the College Football Playoff and ran an impressive 4.95 40 at 311 pounds at the combine.
14. Green Bay Packers
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. Hernandez dominated the offensive line drills at the combine after testing well, including putting up 37 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. He should be a target for any guard-needy team in the middle of the first round, and with the Packers slated to lose Jahri Evans in free agency, they certainly qualify.
15. Chicago Bears (ARI mock trade)
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. Jackson’s stock took a bit of a hit at the combine after he ran just 4.56 in his 40 and was outplayed by several other players at his position in drills. Still, the tape shows he’s more than worthy of being a first-round selection, and the Bears shouldn’t hesitate to grab him in this trade-down scenario where they pick up an extra first-round pick next year.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Ridley’s athletic testing numbers weren’t impressive, including his 9-foot-2 broad jump and 31-inch vertical, both lows for his position. Still, the Ravens desperately need help at receiver, and outgoing GM Ozzie Newsome obviously is comfortable adding players from the Crimson Tide program. I don’t see Ridley falling any farther than this.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Vea impressively ran a 5.10 40-yard dash at 347 pounds, but a tweaked hamstring in the drill ended his combine early, but not before he put up 41 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press. He’ll give the Chargers some sorely-needed run defense help, but he does have the ability to penetrate the pocket as well, meaning offensive lines will have all they can handle with this Chargers front.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Seahawks parted ways with Michael Bennett already and could be losing Cliff Avril as well. Considering their MO has been to avoid investing heavily in fixing the offensive line to date, expecting them to use this pick on the defensive side of the ball is probably wise. Davenport logged an impressive 4.58 40 and 10-foot-4 broad jump, and I’d expect the Seahawks to fall in love with his athleticism.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Smith ran well at the combine as expected, logging the second-best 40 time at his position at 4.51 seconds. The Cowboys would be thrilled for him to fall this far, as he gives them a complement to Jaylon Smith at the linebacker position for years to come.
20. Detroit Lions
Donte Jackson, CB, LSU. The Lions pick up some elite speed for the secondary in Jackson, who ran a 4.32 40 in the combine and looked solid in his other on-field workouts. Will he be able to hold up at the NFL level at his size? That’s yet to be determined, but he certainly has an elite pedigree considering the defensive backs that LSU has churned out in recent years.
21. Oakland Raiders (BUF mock trade)
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Raiders pick up an extra first-round pick next year by moving down with the Bills, and they land the guy many are projecting to go nine spots higher to Cincinnati. And that might be better for his career, as he could be a better fit on the right side in Oakland instead of trying to lock down the blind side for another team.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. The Bills traded up to land their quarterback earlier, but because they only hopped to No. 10, they were able to hold on to this pick and ultimately use it on Evans to help address their need at linebacker. The Alabama star grew as an inside linebacker last year but could ultimately fill the Bills’ WILL spot moving forward. Either way, they’ll have landed an immediate starter at a position of need.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. The Rams arranged a pair of trades already this offseason to bring in Marcus Peters and part ways with Robert Quinn. That makes adding a pass-rusher at outside linebacker their new No. 1 priority. It’s a scheme that should fit Landry well. The BC linebacker put up a solid 4.64 40 and showed well in the shuttle drills.
24. Carolina Panthers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Panthers find a replacement for Kelvin Benjamin here by bringing in the 6-foot-3 Sutton, who put up one of the best 20-yard shuttle times at this position despite his relatively mediocre 4.54 40. He should quickly develop into a security blanket for Cam Newton.
25. Tennessee Titans
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Alexander had possibly the best combine of any cornerback, running a 4.38 40 and setting the tone for the DBs as the first one through each drill on Monday. Injury concerns could ding him enough to drop him to the second round, but after his weekend in Indy, he deserves a spot on Thursday night during draft weekend.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The Falcons don’t have many needs, but one spot they could be targeting in the first round is defensive tackle, with Dontari Poe only signing a one-year deal last offseason. Bryan has earned some J.J. Watt comparisons despite the lack of stats at the collegiate level, and he put up similar numbers to Watt at the combine. Defensive tackle is one of the Falcons’ few needs, and they’ll be fortunate if Bryan makes it to them.
27. New Orleans Saints
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The Saints saw a leap in production from their defense last year, but one place they’re still lacking is at linebacker. Vander Esch is fresh off a great combine where he ran a 4.65 40 at 256 pounds while logging a 39 1/2-inch vertical, a 10-foot-4 broad job and an outstanding 6.88-second three cone drill.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. The Steelers miss out on the top linebackers and instead draft the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Jackson is a divisive prospect but did a good job in the passing drills at the combine, even if no one would grade him the best passer in this class. He met with the Steelers at the combine, showing interest on their part, and it’s realistic he makes it to the end of the first round depending on how the QB picture shakes out in free agency.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. Moore put together a fantastic combine, running a 4.42 40 at 210 pounds while delivering a 39 1/2-inch vertical, 11-foot broad jump and excellent numbers in the shuttle drills. With the Jaguars expected to lose Allen Robinson in free agency, Moore would give them a potential go-to option at the position to fill that role.
30. Minnesota Vikings
James Daniels, G, Iowa. Daniels is another guy who improved his stock in Indy, doing an excellent job in the offensive line drills and posting the second-best three-cone time of all offensive linemen. He could be an elite NFL center, but the Vikings would likely use him at guard initially if they make this pick.
31. New England Patriots
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. There weren’t many players that had a better combine than Miller, who set a record for offensive linemen with a 10-foot-1 broad jump while also running a 4.95 40 at 310 pounds. Coupled with the expected fall of Orlando Brown after his woeful showing, Miller could earn a ticket to the first round in the draft.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Eagles take a chance on the inconsistent Williams to potentially be their long-term answer at left tackle. The former Texas tackle was outstanding in 2016 but his play fell off last year. However, he put up great athletic testing numbers at the combine, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t hear his name called on Thursday.
33. Cleveland Browns
Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State. The Browns continue the tackle run by taking Jones to upgrade the right side.
34. New York Giants
35. Cleveland Browns (from Houston)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. The Browns can pass on Barkley at No. 1 and still get a quality running back with one of their second-round picks.
36. Indianapolis Colts
37. New York Jets
Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Price injured his pec at the combine and had surgery to repair it, but he should be fine for the start of the season and his draft stock shouldn’t move much.
38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Arden Key, DE, LSU. The Bucs find an edge rusher who will need to bulk up a bit but could be the answer to getting pressure on the QB.
39. Chicago Bears
D.J. Chark, WR, LSU. Chark checks in at 6-foot-3 and he just ran a 4.34 40 at the combine. He’ll be an excellent weapon for Mitchell Trubisky.
40. Denver Broncos
41. Oakland Raiders
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. The Raiders have issues up and down the defense, and Jefferson has as high a ceiling as any defensive prospect left on the board.
42. Miami Dolphins
43. New England Patriots (from S.F.)
44. Washington Redskins
45. Green Bay Packers
46. Cincinnati Bengals
47. Arizona Cardinals
Braden Smith, G, Auburn. If the Cardinals can move up in the first round and still hold on to this pick, it should be used to upgrade the offensive line.
48. Los Angeles Chargers
49. New York Jets (from Seattle)
50. Dallas Cowboys
51. Detroit Lions
52. Baltimore Ravens
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. Gesicki absolutely dominated the combine, running a 4.54 40 and putting up ridiculous numbers across the board. He’d be a huge boost to the Baltimore offense.
53. Buffalo Bills
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford. The Bills could trade one or both of their second-round picks to move up for a QB, but if they hang on to this one, Phillips would be a great addition to the defensive line.
54. Kansas City Chiefs
Dorance Armstrong, OLB, Kansas. The Chiefs use their first pick on an upgrade for their edge rush, who should benefit from a move to 3-4 outside linebacker.
55. Carolina Panthers
Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State. Sweat blazed a 4.53 40 at 251 pounds as part of his excellent testing numbers at the combine, but he might need some work to hold up as a defensive end at the next level.
56. Buffalo Bills (from L.A. Rams)
57. Tennessee Titans
58. Atlanta Falcons
59. San Francisco 49ers (from N.O.)
60. Pittsburgh Steelers
61. Jacksonville Jaguars
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. The Jaguars don’t have many needs on defense, so doubling up with two pass-catchers in the first two rounds makes some sense.
62. Minnesota Vikings
Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech. The Vikings get a great value here in Settle, who should step into the void left by Sharrif Floyd’s injury that has yet to be adequately addressed.
63. New England Patriots
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. Harrison would be an excellent value this late, and the do-it-all safety seems like a perfect fit for Bill Belichick’s defense.