Round 1 Mock Draft
Cleveland: Josh Allen
Why: After acquiring Tyrod Taylor from the Bills, taking Allen makes the most sense for Cleveland. Of all the top-tier quarterbacks, he has the biggest boom or bust potential and won’t have to be thrust into the spotlight with Taylor calling the shots for the first couple of seasons. His Favre-like arm talent and competitive edge should help him in the long run, but for now, he gets a chance to learn how to run a team under the tutelage of one of the league’s most accurate deep-ball artists.
2. New York Giants: Bradley Chubb
Why: Personally, I don’t think Chubb is worthy of a top-five pick. The NC State product is a heckuva talent and I believe he’ll have a lengthy and productive pro career, but nothing about him screams bona-fide superstar. With that being said, the Giants traded JPP early in free agency and are switching to a 3-4 defense in 2018. This has the potential to fit well for Chubb, who played in a 4-3 with the Wolfpack but has the versatility to play 3-4 end or outside linebacker. He surprised with his speed at the 2018 NFL Combine and impressed when tasked with dropping back, which he did much more often in college than I initially thought. If the Giants are willing to let 2017 draft pick Davis Webb develop and hold off on taking a quarterback here, look for Chubb to land in the Big Apple.
P.S. If the Bills trade up for this pick, count on seeing Sam Darnold taken off the board.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen
Why: Think about the charisma and energy “Broadway Joe” brought to Gotham. Now, combine that with elite accuracy, picture-perfect mechanics and an advanced understanding of how to play the quarterback position. Rosen has Brady-like tools and his straightforward, transparent personality will piss some people off -- though I find it refreshing. Given the Jets’ quarterback situation with Bridgewater and McCown, Rosen will get a chance to take his time and settle instead of having to be the savior of a franchise whose expectations have risen.
4. Cleveland: Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why: Pairing Carlos Hyde with Duke Johnson -- who led the team in receptions in 2017 -- gives the Browns an already versatile running back group -- squashing the Saquon Barkley idea. Jabrill Peppers is more suited to play strong safety and if you pair Fitzpatrick with Peppers in the defensive backfield, the duo could easily transform into one of the league’s best young safety tandems.
5. Denver: Denzel Ward
Why: Aquib Talib is now livin' it up in Los Angeles and though Chris Harris Jr. is still performing at an All-Pro level, there’s need for the Broncos to find another young playmaker to pair opposite rising star Bradley Roby. Ward is without question the best pure cover corner in the draft and will
6. Indianapolis: Saquon Barkley
Why: A slam dunk, Barkley is without question the most talented player in the draft and an easy choice for the Colts. With a healthy Andrew Luck and Barkley manning the Colts’ backfield for years to come, the rebuild could be over soon.
7. Tampa Bay: Derwin James
Why: Florida State kid goes down the road to Tampa and improves a secondary that drastically needs help and is working on building an identity. In my humble opinion, James is the best defensive player in the draft and without question, the most versatile.
8. Chicago: Quenton Nelson
Why: Nelson is a once-in-a-generation talent who plays with a mean streak, possesses lightning-quick feet and promises to be a Day One starter. This bolsters what’s already a strong running game and solidifies a huge hole for Chicago for several years to come.
9. San Francisco: Calvin Ridley
Why: Yes, Maquise Goodwin had a phenomenal 2017 and the team signed Pierre Garcon during the offseason -- he’s coming off a neck injury -- but the 49ers still need a No. 1 option. Cooper is the best route-runner I’ve seen at the college level and despite a subpar combine by his standards, the tape doesn’t lie. He suffered through Alabama’s quarterback situation and still managed to finish in the top three on a majority of the school’s receiving lists.
10. Oakland: Tremaine Edmunds
Why: He’s not even 20, and he has Brian Urlacher-like type upside. A home run for Oakland as Jon Gruden gets a phenomenal young talent whose versatility and physical style of play will set the tone for former Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther's defense.
11. Miami: Sam Darnold
Why: The only reason he’s still on the board here is because this mock draft lacks trades and it’s done based off need. Darnold is the best quarterback prospect in the draft and there’s a lot of Aaron Rodgers in his game. He’s huge, mobile, possesses elite arm talent/anticipation and a competitive fire that can't be put out. Don’t worry about the turnover problems during his final season at USC -- a lot of that is misleading as the Trojans’ receiving corps had some issues and he tried to make up for some things. It’ll be interesting to see who lands him, but this would be an A-plus for a team needing to replace oft-injured Ryan Tannehill.
12. Buffalo: Baker Mayfield
Why: Buffalo needs a quarterback and needs one bad. Look for the team to trade up, but if that's not possible, look at the Bills taking one of the better quarterback prospects on the board. Mayfield is a baller who instantly commands a team and has Drew Brees-type talent. With the right talent around him, Mayfield could flourish in Buffalo.
13. Washington: Roquan Smith
Why: Washington needs a culture change and it starts with Smith, a warrior who flies from sideline to sideline and showed to be the unquestioned leader for a stingy Georgia defense. Built in the mold of budding superstar Deion Jones, Smith is the type of player you can plug in from Day One and trust to lead your team.
14. Green Bay: Jaire Alexander
Why: Not only is he the best cornerback on the board, he’s the best return man in the draft and can change the complexity of a ball game with the pill in his hands. Very fluid hips, extremely fast, works hard and isn’t afraid to get his nose in and stifle a ball carrier. With Damarious Randall gone, you can plug Alexander into the nickel spot instantly and have him grow into a No.1 corner.
15. Arizona: Lamar Jackson
Why: Sam Bradford isn’t a long-term answer. Not only is Jackson the best quarterback on the board, he adds an insanely dynamic element to an offense that has the tools to be one of the more explosive in the league. The former Heisman Trophy winner will only improve as a passer and although there are questions about his slight build, he doesn’t take huge hits like RGII and left Louisville without injury.
16. Baltimore: Da’Ron Payne
Why: This is a situation in which a team is required to take the best player available. With run-stopper extraordinaire Brandon Williams getting older, this only makes sense.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Lehighton Vander Esch
Why: San Diego is in need of an inside linebacker and Vander Esch is one of the more athletic ones in the class. A true sideline-to-sideline player, Vander Esch jumps out on tape with his ability to diagnose plays quickly and drag ball carriers to the ground without trouble. He has Kiko Alonzo-type upside.
18. Seattle: Josh Jackson
Why: The Seahawks spent the 2018 offseason cleaning house defensively, letting go cornerstones to an era's stingiest defense, including surefire Hall of Famer Richard Sherman. Jackson gives them a prototypical zone corner who possesses elite ball skills -- eight interceptions in 2017 -- and the toughness to make tackles in open space.
19. Dallas: Vita Vea
Why: The Cowboys will be thanking their lucky stars -- no pun intended -- if Vea is available at No. 19. A massive defensive lineman, Vea combines elite strength with otherworldly feet, making him a prime player to play either 1-tech or 3-tech. Talent wise, he’s on par with a young Haloti Ngata and could ultimately become a perennial Pro Bowl selection.
20. Detroit: Will Hernandez
Why: Detroit GM Bob Quinn wasn’t pleased with the production from the team’s running backs in 2017 but might be willing to wait a year after signing LeGarrette Blount to a 1-year deal in free agency. Hernandez is a monster who mauls opponents in the run game and should instantly help the offense find balance.
21. Cincinnati: Billy Price
Why: As the Bengals continue to build their offensive line, they could use some help on the inside. Despite suffering a pectoral injury at the combine, Price should be good to go by training camp and instantly adds toughness to a revamped O-line.
22. Buffalo: Christian Kirk
Why: You got a quarterback early in the first round and now it’s time to surround him with weapons. A perfect complement to Kelvin Benjamin, Kirk has the speed to take the top off opposing defenses and possesses the training habits, route-running ability and hands to be productive from the onset. If healthy, don't be surprised if he records at least 50 receptions as a rookie.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Rashaan Evans
Why: After attacking free agency and building up the roster following a ton of trades, Los Angeles still has to replace defensive leader Alec Ogletree at linebacker. Evans is the man for the job.
24. Carolina: Derrius Guice
Why: The Panthers took Christian McCaffrey in the first round last year but he's not necessarily a bell cow. Guice is a violent runner who slashes through defenses and has the speed to take a handoff distance. He could be a very nice complement to McCaffrey.
25. Tennessee: Harold Landry
Why: Need a pass rusher? Landry is the guy. He led the nation in sacks in 2016 and has the bend to be a difference maker in the right system.
26. Atlanta: Taven Bryan
Why: Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn are gone. Bryan has the versatility to play multiple positions on the defensive line and brings toughness, quickness and strength to a Falcons defense loaded with young talent.
27. New Orleans: Hayden Hurst
Why: Coby Fleener didn’t work out and this gives Drew Brees another toy to develop into a Pro Bowler.
28. Pittsburgh: Lorenzo Carter
Why: Bud Dupree hasn’t panned out and Carter enjoyed one of the better combines, showcasing his speed by blazing the clocks with a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash. He’s an elite athlete who could also play inside linebacker and has yet to scratch the surface of his potential. With Ryan Shazier’s return looking iffy, this could be a prime pick for Pittsburgh.
29. Jacksonville: D.J. Moore
Why: The Jaguars let Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns walk during free agency and could be looking for a talented wideout to partner with upstarts Marquis Lee and Dede Westbrook. Moore is arguably the most skilled receiver in the class and a monster after the catch.
30. Minnesota: James Daniels
Why: As Minnesota continues upgrading its offensive line, Daniels could be a prime play at this spot. He's undoubtedly the best interior lineman left on the board. He could play both center/guard and has the foot quickness to help pave holes for Dalvin Cook.
31. New England: Mike Hughes
Why: The Patriots need help at corner and Hughes is a stud who’s a shutdown cover man and one of the draft’s better return specialists.
32. Philadelphia: Sony Michel
Why: The defending champs could be looking to find a speed back to pair opposite Jay Ajayi. Michel is a home-run hitter who has the hands to serve as a viable weapon out of the backfield. The rich continue to get richer.