With the NFL Draft set to kickoff at 7:00 Thursday night, everyone is burning the midnight oil to get out their latest mock draft. This is version 1.0 for me and will be the only .0 anything because honestly, the draft is a crap shoot. I mean looking back there was actually debate about whether Ryan Leaf or Peyton Manning should go #1. But this mock draft will go through all 32 picks as they currently stand – no trades allowed because that’s impossible to predict and would throw off every other pick in the draft. I also will be giving Sam’s mock draft picks but for a more in depth dive on his thoughts, go to No Coast Bias and check the Spread Offense Podcast where Sam and Brian cover each and every pick and potential scenario. Without further ado, Cleveland you are now on the clock.
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Cleveland is terrible. And I mean real terrible. They have a lot of needs but actually have a pretty nice receiving corp. They brought in Tyrod Taylor this offseason who will be a nice insurance policy but they need someone who can be a franchise quarterback and Darnold can be that guy. He has a relatively high floor and good upside. He needs to learn to limit turnovers but having Taylor should buy him some time to sit and learn, at least for a few games. Josh Allen and Josh Rosen are also in play here but Darnold is a nice combination of Allen’s potential and Rosen’s NFL readiness.
Sam’s Pick: Sam Darnold
2. New York Giants – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
New Giants GM Dave Gettleman says he is a believer in Eli Manning. But the fact of the matter is Eli is old. And at times last season looked old. At 37 he isn’t getting any younger and if you want to land a future franchise QB, this may be the best draft to do it. But that belief in Eli is also why the Giants can go for the upside pick here. Allen is the biggest boom or bust in this draft. He has the size and rocket arm that makes NFL coaches salivate. But he also completed less than 60% of his passes and threw for less than 2,000 yards last season…at Wyoming. Not exactly a powerhouse conference of football. But the potential is there and if Allen can sit and learn behind Eli for a season or 2, this could be the best pick of the draft. Side note: I believe that there is a pretty good chance that New York trades this pick. Buffalo and Arizona being two teams to lookout for.
Sam’s Pick: Josh Rosen
3. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
This is where things start to get interesting. The Jets traded up to #3 presumably to take a QB. But which QB will it be? Most people would say Josh Rosen here but there has been concerns about how Rosen interacts with teammates and how interested in football he really is. Mayfield is undersized and may be a huge tool bag but he is damn good. He’s cocky, arrogant and college football’s bad boy. Sounds like a perfect fit for New York City. Plus Broadway Baker or Baker and the Jets just sounds too good to pass up right?
Sam’s Pick: Josh Allen
4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
It’s the Browns on the clock for the second time in 4 picks. They have their QB of the future so now it’s time to focus on other needs. I mentioned above that the Browns actually have a pretty dynamic receiving corp. What better way to take the pressure off of a young QB and stud receivers than by adding a workhorse running back to the mix. I think Boobie Miles’s uncle describes him best.
Sam’s Pick: Bradley Chubb
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
John Elway is a California boy. Josh Rosen is a California boy. Sounds like a perfect fit to me. The Broncos brought in Case Keenum in the offseason but let’s be honest, Keenum isn’t a franchise QB. Rosen is. The Broncos will probably be listening to offers from Buffalo, Arizona or Miami here but Rosen is the pick.
Sam’s Pick: Quenton Nelson
6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
The Colts could be looking to move down again and stockpile more picks. But if they do select at 6, they couldn’t do much better than Chubb. The guy is a monster and should bring immediate help to a defensive front that badly needs an upgrade.
Sam’s Pick: Roquan Smith
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Derwin James, S, Florida State
The Bucs have decent corners but need help not getting burned over the top on deep balls. James can line up at safety or corner and should add a playmaking ability that Tampa desperately needs. Plus I’m sure Jameis won’t mind adding another Seminole to the squad.
Sam’s Pick: Saquon Barkley
8. Chicago Bears – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Bears have their franchise QB from last draft in Mitchell Trubisky. They’ve tried to add some weapons at WR via free agency. What better way to protect your star QB than give him a potential All-Pro guard up front. Good pick by the Bears.
Sam’s Pick: Tremaine Edmunds
9. San Francisco 49ers – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The 49ers are in desperate need of linebacker help and someone who can rush the passer. Edmunds checks both of those boxes. Whether Edmunds lines up inside or outside, he should be a stud. One of the more athletic athletes in this year’s class, Edmunds should be creating havoc in the Bay Area for years to come.
Sam’s Pick: Derwin James
10. Oakland (soon to be Las Vegas) Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Raiders need linebacker help, secondary help and DT help so this pick could go a number of ways. But Smith is a sideline to sideline defender who can stuff the run as well as drop back in coverage. I think the Raiders are ecstatic if Smith falls to them at 10.
Sam’s Pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick
11. Miami Dolphins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
With Ndamukong Suh shipped off the LA, the Dolphins are suddenly in the need for defensive line help. While I could see them going QB here (or trading up to get a QB), Payne would be an excellent replacement for Suh in South Beach.
Sam’s Pick: Baker Mayfield
12. Buffalo Bills – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Buffalo currently has Nathan Peterman and AJ McCarron as their QBs. Ouch. Jackson is a Michael Vick-esque quarterback and is the taller, fast, and stronger armed version of their quarterback last year Tyrod Taylor. I think Buffalo trades up for a QB but if not, Jackson could be the pick.
Sam’s Pick: Lamar Jackson
13. Washington Redskins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vita Vea is big. He is strong. And he is a run stuffing machine. Exactly what the Redskins need. If Vea is available, this one seems like a no brainer.
Sam’s Pick: Vita Vea
14. Green Bay Packers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
Fitzpatrick is probably a top 5-8 player in this draft but could slip based on team needs. Green Bay needs help at corner and safety and Fitzpatrick can help with both. I kind of surprised myself with Fitzpatrick falling this far but Green Bay fans won’t be complaining.
Sam’s Pick: Denzel Ward
15. Arizona Cardinals – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Arizona is in desperate need of a quarterback. They signed Sam Bradford in the offseason but Granny Maybell is less fragile than he is. I think the Cardinals’ desperation leads them to reach for a QB and they end up picking Rudolph here.
Sam’s Pick: Mike McGlinchey
16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Ravens signed Michael Crabtree in the offseason but need an injection of youth into their WR corp. Ridley isn’t overly big or overly fast but he is a great route runner and has soft hands. He’s not a burner down the field but is fast enough to create separation, something Joe Flacco will certainly enjoy.
Sam’s Pick: Calvin Ridley
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Not a big name pick but a need pick here. The Chargers need o-line help and McGlinchey provides that. The will need to add some weight and strength but his footwork and technique is NFL ready.
Sam’s Pick: Maurice Hurst
18. Seattle Seahawks – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
If Ward is available at 18, he could be the steal of the draft. A top 10 player on most Big Boards, needs of other teams and a run on QBs could push him down to later in the draft. Who needs Richard Sherman when you can plug in Denzel Ward to replace him.
Sam’s Pick: Jaire Alexander
19. Dallas Cowboys – D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
With Dez leaving Big D, the Cowboys find themselves needing a go to wideout. While his college production wasn’t great, many experts think Moore might be the best WR in the draft.
Sam’s Pick: D.J. Moore
20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is big, fast, strong and athletic. Only problem? He played at the University of Texas San Antonio. While he hasn’t proven to be a consistent, dominant pass rusher, he has shown flashes and his work at the Senior Bowl only improved his stock.
Sam’s Pick: Marcus Davenport
21. Cincinnati Bengals – James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Bengals traded for Cordy Glenn which should help at LT if he can stay healthy. But the still need more help up front and Daniels is the best center in this draft. Not a sexy pick but a good pick.
Sam’s Pick: Isaiah Wynn
22. Buffalo Bills – Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
This is the pick the Bills got last season from the Chiefs when they traded up to get Patrick Maholmes. Buffalo got their QB in Lamar Jackson earlier so why not get someone to protect his blindside?
Sam’s Pick: Will Hernandez
23. New England Patriots – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Alexander spent part of the 2017 season hurt but he showed out at the NFL Combine running a 4.38 and 35 inch vertical. With Malcom Butler moving on to greener pastures, CB is a huge need for the Patriots.
Sam’s Pick: Josh Jackson
24. Carolina Panthers – Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
What kind of Auburn homer would I be if I didn’t have a Tiger getting selected in the first round? Plus Carlton Davis joining Cam Newton in Carolina? Toomer’s Corner might get rolled if this happens but the Panthers do have a need at corner and will be looking to pair someone opposite James Bradberry. Davis is big and physical at the line of scrimmage and is good in coverage. He needs to work on locating the ball in the air but I actually think this would be great pick for Carolina.
Sam’s Pick: Courtland Sutton
25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry, Edge rusher, Boston College
Landry was slowed by injuries in 2017 but his 2016 tape shows a guy who can really rush the passer. He has some developing to do but new coach Mike Vrabel will be looking to get pressure on opposing QBs. Landry can be that guy.
Sam’s Pick: Harold Landry
26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Bryan is an athletic big man but needs some work. He is very raw but with time should develop into a pass rushing threat on the inside. Just the kind of player that Dan Quinn likes.
Sam’s Pick: Da’Ron Payne
27. New Orleans Saints – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
Originally drafted out of high school as a pitcher in baseball, Hurst is the kind of big and athletic TE that Drew Brees hasn’t had since Jimmy Graham. He is big, fast and sure handed and should be another weapon to roam the seams in the Superdome.
Sam’s Pick: James Daniels
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
While everyone in the Steel City wishes Ryan Shazier a speedy recovery, there is no guarantee that he will ever play again, much less be even close to the same player. Evans fills that role and is almost an identical twin to Shazier. Maybe slightly undersized for a linebacker, Evans can really run and can rush the passer as well. The Steelers get a good one here.
Sam’s Pick: Leighton Vander Esch
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
What better way to replace Paul Posluszny than to draft another fundamentally sound white guy at linebacker? In all seriousness, in his first season Vander Esch put up big numbers and took home Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He has a very high ceiling and would be a great fit in Jacksonville.
Sam’s Pick: Connor Williams
30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Hernandez is a road grader. A mauler on the o-line. He is exactly what Minnesota wants and needs. Other linemen like Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn could go here but I think Hernandez’s power and run blocking ability make him the pick.
Sam’s Pick: Kolton Miller
31. New England Patriots – Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
It’s no secret that Tom Brady isn’t exactly the fastest guy on the block. And at 40 years young, TB12 is only getting slower. The Patriots need an upgrade on the interior offensive line to protect Brady from pressure up the middle. Wynn can provide that and is also versatile enough to play any position on the front 5 if needed. Something that Belichick covets.
Sam’s Pick: Rashaan Evans
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Finally we’ve made it to the end of Round 1 and honestly, the defending champs don’t have a ton of needs. Could they go running back here? Sure, but with Jay Ajayi in the backfield they should be set there. So why not add another weapon for Carson Wentz? Gesicki showed up to the NFL Combine 6’6″, 247 lbs, ran a 4.54 and had a 41.5 inch vertical jump. That’s some serious athleticism and one that Doug Pederson surely can find a spot on the field for.
Sam’s Pick: Orlando Brown