*This mock draft was made before the signings of Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Case Keenum (Denver Broncos), and Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears)*
CLEVELAND BROWNS – SAQUON BARKLEY, RB (Penn State)
Although Saquon Barkley doesn’t directly address one of the Browns’ significant needs at quarterback, cornerback, or right tackle, this pick is an absolute no-brainer. Barkley, a freak athlete coming out of Penn State, will make his impact felt instantly, as he is the most talented player in this class and should thrive behind the Browns’ highly upgraded offensive line. The Browns, who recently traded for ex-Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, will likely use one of their later picks (4, 33, 35) to address their need for a franchise quarterback, as Barkley is a generational talent that they simply cannot pass on.
NEW YORK GIANTS – QUENTON NELSON, OG (Notre Dame)
With Saquon Barkley off of the board after the Browns’ pick, Quenton Nelson becomes the best player available in the draft. With both Eli Manning and Davis Webb still on their roster, the Giants front office won’t feel pressured to fix their situation at quarterback with this pick, as Manning is a veteran quarterback, while Webb has high development potential. Instead, the Giants will likely choose to address their glaring need on their offensive line, which will help to both protect Eli Manning and bolster their lackluster run game. Nelson, the undisputed top offensive lineman in this year’s class, will certainly be able to alleviate this need.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – BRADLEY CHUBB, DE (NC State)
The Indianapolis Colts could not have been luckier with their draft position, as Bradley Chubb, an elite edge rusher out of NC State, will almost certainly still be available at the 3rd overall pick. The Colts desperately need an edge rusher to ease their transition to an upfield 4-3 attack, and luckily for them, the best pass-rusher in this year’s class will fall in their lap. Chubb, an absolute wrecking force in college who has drawn comparisons to Joey Bosa and Chris Long, looks to continue his family’s dominance in football (he and Nick Chubb are cousins) at the perfect landing spot in Indianapolis.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (FROM HOUSTON TEXANS) – SAM DARNOLD, QB (USC)
Even after the Browns’ recent trade with the Buffalo Bills that sent Tyrod Taylor, a dual-threat quarterback, to Cleveland, it is overwhelmingly likely that the Browns address their glaring need at quarterback with the 4th overall pick. After bolstering up their offensive line, trading for an elite receiving target in Jarvis Landry, and picking Saquon Barkley with the 1st overall pick, selecting quarterback Sam Darnold with the 4th overall pick would complete the Browns complete revamp of their offense. Darnold, albeit a turnover machine, is likely the best quarterback in this year’s class and will thrive under Hue Jackson’s offense in Cleveland.
DENVER BRONCOS – JOSH ROSEN, QB (UCLA)
After dealing with a frustrating combination of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch at the quarterback position over the past two seasons, it has become clear that the Broncos are ready to move on from all three and look to draft their replacement at the 5th overall pick. Unlike other teams towards the top of the draft, the Broncos have much more of a ‘win-now’ attitude, which makes Josh Rosen, the most pro-ready passer in this year’s class, the perfect pick. Although Rosen certainly has had his share of issues over the past year, he is still a fantastic quarterback who will be a nice fit in Denver.
NEW YORK JETS – BAKER MAYFIELD, QB (Oklahoma)
Possibly more than any other team in the draft, the New York Jets need to fill their gaping hole at the quarterback position, as their search for a franchise quarterback has spanned nearly a decade. Mayfield, an electric quarterback coming out of Oklahoma and the most recent winner of the Heisman Trophy, stands to perfectly fill this need, as he is an ultra-talented quarterback with culture-changing intensity. He continues to have his share of doubters, as he is an undersized spread quarterback (that combo has typically not fared well in the NFL), but he flourished in that command system in Oklahoma and should do so at the next level as well.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – MINKAH FITZPATRICK, CB (Alabama)
With Bradley Chubb off of the board after the Colts’ pick, no other edge rusher seems worthy of the 7th overall pick, even though that is by far the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ greatest need. Minkah Fitzpatrick, a hybrid defensive back who is quite possibly the most dynamic defensive player in the draft, is the best player available and addresses another need for improving their secondary. Fitzpatrick, a projected safety in the NFL, carries a huge value because of his versatility, which is due to his athleticism and size; he has extensive experience playing both as a traditional cornerback and slot cornerback, as well as in linebacker and safety sub-packages.
CHICAGO BEARS – DENZEL WARD, CB (Ohio State)
Even after recently signing cornerback Kyle Fuller to a transition tag, the Chicago Bears still have a massive hole in their secondary, particularly at the cornerback position across from Fuller, which remains wide open. Denzel Ward, an athletic, lock-down corner out of Ohio State, is undisputedly the best cornerback in this year’s class (excluding Fitzpatrick since he is projected to be a safety in the NFL) and should immediately satisfy this need. The Bears do have a more pressing need at wide receiver, however, they will likely address this need in the 2nd round with a selection, such as James Washington, Michael Gallup, or DaeSean Hamilton.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – ROQUAN SMITH, LB (Georgia)
With looming news regarding the legal status of linebacker Reuben Foster, the 49ers’ already present need for a stack linebacker has only been expanded. Roquan Smith, a slightly undersized yet ultra-talented linebacker prospect coming out of Georgia, serves as the perfect man to fill this role, as he is quite possibly the best shut-down run-defender in the entire draft. The standout Georgia linebacker has drawn comparisons to Bobby Wagner and Deion Jones in regards to his athleticism and elite play-making ability outside of the hashes.
OAKLAND RAIDERS – TREMAINE EDMUNDS, LB (Virginia Tech)
The Oakland Raiders have an extremely pressing need at the linebacker position, and Tremaine Edmunds, an incredibly athletic linebacker coming out of Virginia Tech, perfectly fills this need. Edmunds is easily the best player available at this point in the draft and is thought by many to be the best defensive player in this entire draft class, so the fact that he also fills a need makes him a no-brainer pick for the Raiders at #10. Edmunds’s unique combination of size and speed, as well as his versatility and playmaking ability has NFL teams salivating, especially considering he hasn’t even hit his full potential yet due to his mental mistakes.
MIAMI DOLPHINS – JOSH JACKSON, CB (Iowa)
Since cornerbacks Minkah Fitzpatrick and Denzel Ward are already off the board courtesy of the Buccaneers at #7 and the Bears at #8, it would be quite logical for the Dolphins to draft Josh Jackson to address the team’s biggest need: cornerback. Josh Jackson, an absolute ballhawk with very good size for a cornerback, is the top remaining cornerback on the board and would perfectly fill the Dolphins’ void at the cornerback position across from Xavier Rhodes. Jackson’s elite instincts and incredible ability to defend the ball make him a nice fit in the Dolphins’ secondary.
CINCINNATI BENGALS – CONNOR WILLIAMS, OT (TEXAS)
The Cincinnati Bengals are in a nearly identical draft situation to the Miami Dolphins, as the top lineman in this year’s class, Quenton Nelson, is off the board, but Connor Williams, who is not only the best player available, but also fills the Bengals’ greatest need, is still on the board. Williams, a top-tier offensive lineman out of Texas, is an incredibly intriguing option for the Bengals, as he would fill a massive void on the offensive line, either at guard or tackle because of his versatility. Williams is extremely athletic and has good size, both of which should allow him to be a productive starter from Day 1.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – DERWIN JAMES, S (Florida State)
A personal favorite of mine, Derwin James would go huge lengths to alleviate the Redskins’ need to replace Su’a Cravens, a hybrid safety who played in linebacker sub-packages as well. James, a freakishly talented athlete coming out of Florida State, is an extremely versatile and impactful player, who has the ability to single-handedly transform a defense with his presence. James has not reached his full potential and if his play catches up to his talent (which it likely will), he will absolutely terrorize opposing offenses. James, an alpha male leader, will certainly make his presence felt in the locker room as well.
GREEN BAY PACKERS – MARCUS DAVENPORT, DE (UTSA)
The Green Bay Packers, who desperately need an edge rusher that can provide pressure, have often been linked to Marcus Davenport in mock drafts, as he is an intriguing pass-rusher out of UT San Antonio that can fill this void. After a monstrous performance at the Senior Bowl, Davenport’s stock has been red-hot and has led to comparisons to Jadeveon Clowney and Danielle Hunter. Davenport is still relatively undeveloped, but his incredible upside and untapped potential have NFL teams very excited about his future outlook.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – JOSH ALLEN, QB (Wyoming)
After Carson Palmer’s retirement earlier this year, the Cardinals have been left scrambling to find a quarterback, but have not had much success finding one at the beginning of the NFL offseason. Therefore, the Cardinals are really left with no choice and are forced to turn to the draft to find Palmer’s successor. Since Darnold, Mayfield, and Rosen have already been drafted, Josh Allen is the undisputed top option available at the 15th overall pick. Allen, a gunslinger out of Wyoming, has had limited competition and success against the good teams he has faced, but he has once-in-a-generation arm strength that NFL scouts absolutely love.
BALTIMORE RAVENS – CALVIN RIDLEY, WR (Alabama)
Given that the Ravens have one of the most pathetic receiving corps in the NFL, it would be highly surprising if they did not select a receiver with the 16th overall pick. Calvin Ridley, the class’s clear-cut top receiver, had a poor combine showing, which should allow him to fall to the Ravens at #16, but make no mistake, Ridley is an elite receiver. Ridley’s fantastic speed, which allows him to separate from cornerbacks on routes, as well as his rare route-running ability will allow him to excel at the next level. On top of the Ravens’ dire need for a receiver and Ridley’s great fit, Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome is known to love Alabama players as well.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – RASHAAN EVANS, ILB (Alabama)
Even with an elite set of pass rushers on the edge of the front 7, the San Diego Chargers desperately need help both on their defensive line and at inside linebacker position. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Chargers select Washington DT Vita Vea, however, the need at inside linebacker is more pressing, so it is more likely the Chargers select Rashaan Evans, an incredibly athletic and versatile “new-breed” linebacker out of Alabama. Evans was a crucial part of Alabama’s championship-caliber defense, and his unique size and length that allowed him to fly sideline to sideline should transfer well to the NFL.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – ARDEN KEY, DE (LSU)
Even with red flags regarding his injury history and character concerns, it would be incredibly difficult for the Seahawks to pass on Arden Key at the 18th overall pick, as he has clear-cut top 10 talent in this class and fills a need on the defensive line. After trading away Michael Bennett to the Eagles, the Seahawks have a massive hole on their defensive line that Key, a dynamic edge rusher with great length, could fill immediately. Key’s potential, if not limited by lack of discipline or injuries, is sky-high as he has the ability to wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines.
DALLAS COWBOYS – VITA VEA, DT (Washington)
With many wide receivers such as Allen Robinson, Danny Amendola, and Sammy Watkins still available in free agency, as well as a very deep receiver class this year, the Cowboys will likely not address their pressing need for a wide receiver with their 1st round pick. The Cowboys likely could pick Vita Vea, an absolutely massive defensive tackle out of Washington, to fill their next biggest need. Vea’s humongous frame, light feet, and overpowering blocking will allow him to be a force at the next level, especially considering that he has great ability, but is still a very raw talent.
DETROIT LIONS – HAROLD LANDRY, OLB (Boston College)
With many of the premier defensive lineman already off of the board, the Lions look to Harold Landry, a speedy edge rusher out of Boston College, to address their hole at the outside linebacker and pass rusher position. Landry, who has drawn comparisons to Bruce Irvin and Vic Beasley in regards to his pass-rushing style, has the speed, athleticism, and length to be extremely effective at the next level, even with his below average size and strength. Landry has the potential to be a huge steal at the 20th overall pick, as he was thought by many to be the top senior in this class before his performance slowed after injuries at the middle of the season.
BUFFALO BILLS – MASON RUDOLPH, QB (Oklahoma State)
After recently trading quarterback Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills have a glaring need at the quarterback position, as the infamous Nathan Peterman is first on the depth chart at the moment. With somewhat limited options in free agency and Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, and Allen already off of the board, the Bills are left to draft Mason Rudolph, who very well might be the best quarterback this class has to offer. Rudolph, a downfield pocket passer out of Oklahoma State, has consistently improved over his college career and has great field reading capabilities as well as the ability to make everyone around him better.
BUFFALO BILLS – MIKE McGLINCHEY, OT (Notre Dame)
Since the Bills just addressed their most glaring need with the previous pick, they can now look to draft their biggest hole, which is their offensive line. Mike McGlinchey, a humongous, athletic offensive lineman out of Notre Dame, is the perfect man to do the job, after co-leading the most dominant offensive line in the country at Notre Dame. Although McGlinchey likely needs to bulk up in regards to both his strength and weight, he already has pro-ready talent, technique, and instincts that should allow him to be a plug-in starter from Day 1.
LOS ANGELES RAMS – LORENZO CARTER, LB (Georgia)
After trading for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, the Los Angeles Rams now look to address their needs at linebacker and edge rusher. Lorenzo Carter, an aggressive, lengthy hybrid linebacker with pass rushing capabilities, is an incredibly ideal fit for the Rams. Although Carter might have not lived up to the sky-high expectations placed on him when he came out of high school, he still excelled during his time at Georgia, especially in this past year. Carter’s lengthiness, toughness, and sideline-to-sideline range will allow him to be highly effective as an edge rusher or outside linebacker in the NFL.
CAROLINA PANTHERS – COURTLAND SUTTON, WR (SMU)
Even after Devin Funchess’s breakout season, the Carolina Panthers are still extremely deprived at the wide receiver position without Kelvin Benjamin, so they will likely look to address that glaring need with the 24th overall pick. This wide receiver class is extremely deep and filled with intriguing options, but Courtland Sutton, a large possession receiver coming out of SMU, sets himself apart from the remaining options. Sutton, although a possession receiver, has the ability to separate both horizontally with his speed, as well as vertically, with his elite jump-ball ability and toughness against opposing cornerbacks.
TENNESSEE TITANS – SAM HUBBARD, DE (Ohio State)
The Tennessee Titans have been missing a consistent yet dominating edge presence for quite some time, and will definitely look to bolster that weakness as their top priority. Sam Hubbard, a very solid pass rusher who played a key role on Ohio State’s lethal defensive line, is the easily the best player available to fit this job, as other intriguing options in Arden Key, Lorenzo Carter, and Harold Landry are already gone. While Hubbard won’t wow anyone with big-time plays or devastating power moves, he is exactly what the Titans need in a consistent edge rusher.
ATLANTA FALCONS – BILLY PRICE, OL (Ohio State)
The Atlanta Falcons have built a solid offensive line on the foundation of Alex Mack and Jake Matthews, but still lack another elite lineman, which has prevented their run game from flourishing. This has also not allowed the Matt Ryan to Julio Jones connection to be as lethal as it could be, so the Falcons will likely address this need by selecting Billy Price, an ultra strong and explosive center/guard out of Ohio State. While Price plays a little bit impatiently and crazy at times, his power, leverage, and explosiveness put him on another level and should make him a force from Day 1.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – LAMAR JACKSON, QB (Louisville)
Although Drew Brees is still producing like one of the top quarterbacks in the league, the truth is that he is 39 years old and is nearing the end of his storied career. Therefore, the New Orleans Saints will likely look to find his eventual successor with the 27th overall pick, and there is no better fit than Lamar Jackson, an elite playmaker with dual-threat capabilities out of Louisville. Jackson, who has drawn many comparisons to Michael Vick, has rare speed and athleticism that allows him to single-handedly win games. Jackson’s talents would absolutely thrive under Payton, who has been known for making the most of unique players.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS – JUSTIN REID, S (Stanford)
With many of the top-notch linebackers and quarterbacks already off of the board, the Pittsburgh Steelers will likely instead choose to address their need at safety. Justin Reid, a standout safety out of Stanford and the brother of Pro Bowl safety Eric Reid, is far and away the best option still on the board and a primary candidate to fill this hole. Reid, a highly athletic and versatile player, has great size and speed that allows him to be absolutely phenomenal in coverage. Reid has great instincts and a high football IQ as well, which both contribute to his elite ball-hawking skills.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – D.J. MOORE, WR (Maryland)
With Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee set to leave during free agency, the Jacksonville Jaguars are scrambling to find their replacements in an already weakened receiving core. At this point in the draft, there are still many intriguing receivers still on the board, as Ridley and Sutton are the only ones who have been drafted, however, DJ Moore looks like he is the prime target for the Jaguars. Moore, a quick, speedy receiver with elite after the catch skills, plays very similarly to ex-Terrapin Stefon Diggs and is even a little bigger than him. Moore may move to the slot full-time in the NFL, which would suit him quite well.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS – DA’RON PAYNE, DT (Alabama)
Given that almost all of the elite offensive lineman prospects have been drafted at this point, with the exception of the rapidly falling Orlando Brown, the Minnesota Vikings will likely instead address their need at defensive tackle with this pick. Da’Ron Payne, a key contributor to Alabama’s championship caliber defense, is likely the best player left on the board and fills a need, which makes this a no-brainer selection for the Vikings. Payne’s premier strength and athleticism for an interior lineman make him possibly the best run-stuffer in this entire draft class.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – JAIRE ALEXANDER, CB (Louisville)
After all the drama between the New England Patriots’ front office and Malcolm Butler, it appears unlikely that he will return next season so the Patriots will have to fill a gaping hole at cornerback. Jaire Alexander, an athletic, tough, and quick cornerback out of Louisville, is the perfect guy to fill this role, as he is the only elite cornerback left on the board. Alexander is an instinctive cornerback who has the speed and recognition to jump routes and make plays on the ball, which will make him a valuable cornerback at the next level.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – CHRISTIAN KIRK, WR (Texas A&M)
After trading Torrey Smith to the Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles desperately need help at wide receiver and have been tied to drafting a receiver with the 32nd overall pick in many mock drafts. Christian Kirk, a well-built, tough slot receiver out of Texas A&M, seems like the right guy to fill this role, as the Eagles already have a possession, red-zone threat in Alshon Jeffrey. Kirk isn’t known for his speed but has learned how to use his good footwork, soft hands, and after the catch skills to be an extremely productive receiver in college. Kirk also has high value as a top-notch kick returner as well.
Best remaining players:
DERRIUS GUICE, RB (LSU)
ORLANDO BROWN, OT (Oklahoma)
MAURICE HURST*, DT (Michigan)
SONY MICHEL, RB (Georgia
JAMES WASHINGTON, WR (Oklahoma State)
KOLTON MILLER, OT (UCLA)
Data courtesy of ESPN, NFL.com, and Football Reference. Cover Photo Credits: Bleacher Report.