1. Cleveland Browns: QB Sam Darnold
GM John Dorsey has been doing a great job of smoke screening this pick, including his recent comments on how he values hand size and arm strength (which would indicate Allen), and then said he values winning and accuracy (which would indicate Darnold). I’ve gone back and forth on this pick, but I’ve finally settled on Darnold being this pick. He has a much higher floor than Allen while still having good potential to be the QB Cleveland has been looking for.
2. New York Giants: RB Saquon Barkley
If the Browns take Allen, then this pick would likely be Darnold. The Giants could also trade out and load up on draft picks. The issue is that they’d have to trade back pretty far and could lose out on a true blue chip prospect. There are benefits and downfalls to both methods, but for now I’m slotting Barkley in.
3. New York Jets: QB Baker Mayfield
This could be slightly surprising, but I believe the Jets like Baker the most. Baker would learn a lot from the QB room of McCown and Bridgewater, and the competition would serve him well. He could even win the starting role and handle the bright lights of New York media.
4. TRADE Denver Broncos: QB Josh Allen
Not a big jump, but one Denver has to do here with other teams calling to trade up. Denver can offer up a trade down for the Browns that keeps them in the top 5. It’s entirely possible that Elway likes Baker more, but also like Allen enough to warrant moving up to secure him. Denver holds a big key in this draft because if they pass on a QB, it opens up an opportunity for Arizona, Miami, and Buffalo to move up. Another sneaky option for Denver if they like Baker so much, they can jump to 2 and still allow the Giants to get Barkley or Nelson.
5. Cleveland Browns (After trade): DE Bradley Chubb
Great start for Cleveland. Adding Chubb would give Cleveland two of the most talented young edge rushers in the NFL, and with an improved secondary, they could finally be on to something here. No more excuses for Hue with this roster.
6. Indianapolis Colts: G Quenton Nelson
Tacky line alert: “Not a flashy pick, but a great one”. The future of the Colts’ organization lies in Andrew Luck, so they need to do all they can to help him. They have massive defensive needs, but that doesn’t matter because they’ll go nowhere without Luck. Not sure why everyone has decided to jump aboard the “Luck is a bust” boat, but adding Nelson here will help Luck get back to being great. While I have your attention, can I remind everyone that Luck lead the Colts to 11-5 and the playoffs 3 years in a row, losing to the Patriots twice and Ravens (Luck’s rookie year), all while having a horrendous team around him.
7. TRADE: Buffalo Bills: QB Josh Rosen
It would be worrying if the Bills don’t trade up and grab a quarterback. McCarron remains to be unproven, and if they rely on him holding down the job, they could find themselves back to the bottom of the NFL. Rosen is my favorite QB in this draft, and I know there are guys within the Buffalo organization that will want Rosen. Not sure how much he’d like living in Buffalo, but at least he’d have a great chance to win the starting job.
8. Chicago Bears: DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
Chicago has shown a lot of interest in Fitzpatrick and they could really use his versatility and leadership. It’s not the most pressing need, but with Nelson and Chubb off the board, Fitzpatrick isn’t a bad fall back considering the other QBs in the NFC North.
9. San Francisco 49ers: LB Roquan Smith
With the news of Reuben Foster, SF decides to replace him with an entirely different person in Smith who in all reports is a great and motivated leader. I haven’t been willing to say Roquan is the next Patrick Willis like others, but no one can argue that Roquan’s ability to fly around and make plays is rare.
10. Oakland Raiders: S Derwin James
Derwin James seems like the kind of player Jon Gruden would love to have on his team. I really like Derwin, and he’d be a great addition to this defense. Some would argue that the Raiders already have safeties they can work with, but with Gruden as the coach now I don’t expect him to like a guy like Melinfonwu.
11. TRADE Arizona Cardinals: QB Lamar Jackson
The Cardinals trade with the Dolphins and secure Jackson whom in some reports they are high on, at least ex-coach Arians is. If the Cardinals expect to go into the season with Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon and make it out alright, they’re insane. Jackson will need some time to develop, but he could have an opportunity to come in mid season if Bradford and Glennon can’t get the job done.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (After trade): CB Denzel Ward
Tampa Bay has a great night after trading back and acquiring picks while also grabbing a top non-QB prospect in Denzel Ward. This is a huge need for them and Ward is the best player available, and hopefully he can help them against a division of great QBs.
13. Washington: RB Derrius Guice
Maybe the biggest surprise pick of the draft, Washington grabs Guice who’s a player they have done extensive work on. Is it the smartest pick? Probably not, but there is a chance he’s the highest player on their board and who trusts this front office to make smart decisions anyways.
14. Green Bay Packers: WR Calvin Ridley
The Packers lost Jordy Nelson, and Rodgers was not happy. It’s already a poorly coordinated offense, so I don’t blame him. To help soften the blow, the Packers select Ridley here, who can be a reliable option for Rodgers, and he would likely be the top target. Ridley is ready to start day 1 with his good route running and reliable hands.
15. Miami Dolphins (After trade): LB Tremaine Edmunds
Edmunds falls a bit here, and Miami is happy that they added picks and still grabbed one of the top players. Edmunds is a physical specimen and if he reaches his potential, the sky is the limit. He’s super young and should have time to learn and adjust to the game before he even hits his physical peak.
16. Baltimore Ravens: T Mike McGlinchey
McGlinchey could very well go earlier, that’s how important the position is. McGlinchey doesn’t get a lot of attention, but I think front offices realize the talent that McGlinchey is and know he’s worthy of a top-15 pick. He would give the Ravens a starting tackle and improve the depth.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: NT/DT Vita Vea
Vea could go as early as 10, but I have him falling here because I think the media likes Vea more than the NFL. He moves surprisingly well for his size, but I’m not sure he’s ready to make an impact in his rookie year. He also has weight issues, so teams will have to keep him to a strict diet and work out regimen. The Chargers take the chance on him here for his potential and their desperate need for depth inside.
18. Seattle Seahawks: DE Marcus Davenport
The Seahawks are thankful that Davenport fell into their laps. Everyone knows the potential this guy has, and it’s a big need for a Seahawks team that’s in need for young, cheap talent.
19. Dallas Cowboys: LB Rashaan Evans
The Cowboys have a lot of options here. With 5 quarterbacks going ahead of them, they might benefit from a player like Calvin Ridley, Vita Vea, or even Tremaine Edmunds falling to them. With those 3 gone, they still have many different directions they could go. An argument could be made for Courtland Sutton, DJ Moore, Leighton Vander Esch, or even Connor Williams to be the pick here. Dallas needs to add at least another WR through the draft, so that could be the choice. Vander Esch is a popular pick here, but I’m going to make the argument that he’s had his medicals flagged by at least one team, and I don’t think it’s a great idea for Dallas to add another possibly injury prone linebacker despite the talent. Evans could contribute in his rookie year coming out of the great Alabama program. He’s physical, athletic, and has pass rush skills and would be a great addition to the Cowboys defense. Evans even offers versatility that can allow him to fill in different spots if needed.
20. Detroit Lions: DE Harold Landry
I’ve been back and forth on Landry. He’s a great pass rusher, but his deficiencies in the run game and injury history gives me cause for concern. The Lions need to add someone across from Ansah, so I think this is worth the risk because Landry could develop into a really good player if he avoids injury and works on his effectiveness in the run game.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: G Isaiah Wynn
After the mass exodus of lineman in free agency a year ago, Cincinnati is slowly building the line again. Wynn can play tackle if he needs to, but projects better to guard and would be a big addition for Cincinnati.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (after trade): RB Sony Michel
Surprise pick here, the Bucs go with Michel to help take some pressure off of Jameis by giving him a versatile back who can be effective and get 20-30 touches a game. Tampa doesn’t have a running back, so they absolutely need to add one.
23. New England Patriots: T/G Connor Williams
Kolton Miller has been connected to the Patriots for a while now, so that’s why I’m going in a different direction. Williams can improve the depth as he can play tackle or guard and it fills a big need for the Pats.
24. Carolina Panthers: CB Mike Hughes
Carolina has not prioritized corners and it has really hurt them. Hughes can play either zone or man and can develop into a lock-down corner.
25. Tennessee Titans: DL Maurice Hurst
No edge rusher here for them, so I made Hurst the pick despite Hubbard being linked here. Watch out for a sleeper pick here – Kemoko Turay, who I think will go earlier than people expect. It’s tough to get talent like Hurst this late in the first round, and he could have an impact for the Titans in his rookie year.
26. Atlanta Falcons: DL Taven Bryan
This pick makes so much sense that it probably won’t end up happening. The Falcons really need a defensive tackle, and also like players who train with military guys, which is exactly what Bryan is.
27. New Orleans Saints: G Will Hernandez
Many people want to put a tight end in this spot, which makes sense, but the Saints’ championship window isn’t open for much longer and tight ends don’t traditionally contribute much in their rookie year. Instead I slot Hernandez in here and he can be an impact right away, especially on that great running game.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: S Justin Reid
A surprise pick here, but Reid fits the Steelers so well that I had to make this the pick. He can provide some versatility as a free safety and has a history of being a leader. Pittsburgh has shown a lot of interest in Reid, and could fill their need and add some young talent.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: WR DJ Moore
Coming off a good year, the Jags lost some weapons and need to replenish to give Bortles as much help as they can. I really like DJ Moore and I think he has a bright future in this league.
30. Minnesota Vikings: G/C Billy Price
Price fits the nasty offensive lineman that Zimmer wants, and also fills a need at guard. Vikings will still need a tackle, but Price is better than the tackles left.
31. New England Patriots: CB Josh Jackson
The Patriots need to add corners, and Jackson is a good option because of his playmaking ability and work ethic. Jackson would learn a lot from these great coaches.
32. TRADE San Francisco 49ers: C James Daniels
I don’t know if Daniels falls this far on draft night, but I have the Niners hopping up for him as they have shown a lot of interest in him because his athleticism will fit perfectly for Shanhan’s zone running scheme. Philly will be looking for a trade out to get some mid round picks back as they don’t have another pick until 130.
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