Sam Darnold QB- The fan base would revolt if the Browns choose something other than their franchise quarterback here. I don’t agree with it, as all of the top-ranked QB prospects carry risks unbefitting of a number one overall pick, but this is the reality of the situation. Josh Rosen has the cleanest mechanics, accuracy and decision making of the QBs, but he has voiced his preference not to play for Cleveland. Josh Allen has all the earmarks of another Jake Locker and Sam Darnold’s turnover ratio and decision making was ludicrous last season. It would be one thing if he didn’t have a running game to support him and was forced to “gunslinger” his way to some points, but he had adequate run support and decent receiving options. Still, scouts see his inaccuracy and turnovers and continue to anoint him as having “the highest ceiling” of the quarterbacks. This isn’t a list of what the teams should do, it’s what I think they will do, and the Browns will probably make the pick they’re expected to make.
Bradley Chubb DE- When the Jets traded for the 3rd overall pick, they doubtlessly inquired with the Giants for the 2nd pick beforehand, and were told no. That means the Giants have targeted someone for this pick at a position that requires a premium pick to fill. Considering the Giants just traded Jason Pierre Paul, it would make sense for them to pick up the best pass rusher and edge-setter in the draft. He is not as sudden as you’d like but he has the length, size and strength to be their defensive cornerstone.
Josh Rosen QB -I wouldn’t be surprised if the jets went for Allen here, since drafting the next Jake Locker seems like a typical jets-type move. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and mock the cleanest quarterback of the draft to the jets. Rosen has the arm strength to cut through the cold winter winds. Scouts have found that his teammates at UCLA did not like him, but that brashness will play well in the big apple. 4. Bills via Trade With Browns
Josh Allen QB – The retirement of Joe Thomas leaves a gaping hole at LT to protect the Brown’s new QB, but this is too early for any of the tackles of this draft. This trade would make sense for the Browns, and the Bills, who now find themselves without a starting quarterback after trading Tyrod Tailor. The cold winter winds in Buffalo require a big arm and there is only one trait we know about Allen, it is that he can throw a football through a brick wall.
Saquan Barkley RB – With the signing of Case Keenum, the Broncos are out of the QB hunt. C.J. Anderson has turned in pedestrian performances at RB. Barkley is, by all reports, this year’s Zeke Elliott.
Quentin Nelson G – The colts have failed to provide protection for Andrew Luck, and it has cost them dearly. Whether or not Luck plays this year, I think the Colts finally, reluctantly, invest in their offensive line. With Nelson, they get the best offensive lineman in the draft. Analysts are loathe to invest high picks in guards, but ask the Cowboys what Zack Martin has done for their offense.
Minkah Fitzpatrick CB/S – Fitzpatrick is widely regarded as the best defensive back in the draft, and he has the flexibility to upgrade the Bucs at the corner and safety positions. His combine performance confirmed good, though not exceptional athleticism, which he pairs with good technique.
Mike McGlinchey OT – The bears need an offensive tackle to protect Mitch Trubisky. Personally, I think Connor Williams is a better overall prospect, but the scouts seem put off by his injury plagued junior campaign. McGlinchey has the length and decent athleticism needed for the position.
Denzel Ward CB – GM John Lynch is a former safety, and knows the value of a dominating defense from his days in Tampa. Denzel Ward is the best cover corner in the game, and ran a 4.32 at the combine.
Roquan Smith ILB – Smith was all over the field for the Bulldogs and his 4.51 at the combine simply confirmed his playing speed. He uses his hands well to shed blocks and plays with instinct. At 236 pounds, he is lighter than the old model of a middle linebacker, but size is no longer required for today’s NFL ILB.
Vita Vea DT – Do not confuse the 347 pound defensive tackle from Washington with a 2-down nosetackle. His 42 reps at the combine show all the strength of a NT, but his film shows the kind of penetrating quickness that gives him occasional use as a pass rusher. He had twelve sacks over his last two seasons in college in a conference known for the kind of short passing attacks that make sacks difficult to compile. Dumping Suh was a clear signal that Miami is in the DT search.
12. Browns via Trade With Bills
Connor Williams OT –The browns may not have enjoyed much the past few years, but they had Joe Thomas. His retirement left a gaping hole. In this draft, the browns pick up their QB, the top OT in the draft, and an extra pick. This is the beginning of a transformation. I know, you’ve heard it before, but this time it is real. If you look at his first two years, Williams has the power, athleticism, technique and drive to be a top end left tackle. If you look at the two games he had during his injury-plagued season, he is a total mess. My bet is that he is the former, not the latter.
Josh Jackson CB – Jackson has the length and ball skills the Redskins are sorely lacking in their defensive backfield. He finished his last season leading the nation in interceptions on his way to All-American honors. Though his 4.56 time is not blazing, it is plenty fast when combined with his 6-foot frame and physical cover style.
Calvin Ridley WR – This is simple. The Packers are at their best when Aaron Rogers is at his best. Rogers is at his best when he has a skilled rout-runner, able to gain separation, that he can gain chemistry with. They picked up Gresham in Free Agency, but Rogers likes to do his damage with WRs. Ridley is the cleanest WR, with the best pedigree in the draft. His 4.43 forty, 6.88 three-cone and 6 foot frame are all above average, but his instincts and route running separate him.
Baker Mayfield QB – Baker Manziel, err, Johnny Mayfield…..err. I would not choose to build my team around him, but someone will. The cardinals signed Sam Bradford, but he has the body of a china-doll and they must know that. Mayfield does not have a big arm, but the Cardinals play indoors so there aren’t any winds requiring a cannon.
Tremane Edwards LB – The Ravens shored up their receiving core through free agency, but they still have massive holes in their offensive line and at ILB. Edwards is the best fit between need and draft value. At 6’3, 254, with a 4.54 time in the 40, he is a physical freak that flashes all over the film. That front office has to remember that their Superbowl was won on the back of a dominant ILB.
Will Hernandez OG – Hernandez is a mauler, pure and simple. They would like to get their quarterback of the future, but that won’t be available here.
Courtland Sutton WR – The Seahawks need receiving threats after losing Gresham in free agency. Sutton used his height to achieve impressive statistical production at SMU, and ran adequately well at the combine. The Seahawks have a habit of surprising everyone by drafting unpolished freakish athletes much higher than anticipated, so part of me thinks LB Malik Jefferson and OT Kolton Miller are possibilities.
Derwin James S – I don’t really like this pick for the cowboys. They really need a right tackle that can push La’el Collins back to his natural LG spot, and can also swing to left tackle if Smith goes down again. That left tackle position, not lack of speed at WR or missing Elliott, was what wrecked the offense. If you look at when their offense fell apart, it correlates precisely with Smith’s injury. However, the cowboys let Scandrick go and might move Byron Jones back to CB. They need a play making safety that is athletic enough to cover the slot and that is James. Some people like the cowboys to draft a DT, but they place little value in interior linemen. If they do take a defensive lineman here, I could see them taking Arden Key.
Marcus Davenport DE – The lions need a DE to match with Ansah. Davenport has freakish length and speed at 6’6, 4.54, but he also played at a lower level of competition. He proved his mettle at the Senior Bowl and many see him developing into a Jason Taylor. He will need to learn how to set the edge against the run, but the upside as a rusher will have the Lions pulling this trigger.
21. Bengals Rashaan Evans LB – He is your consummate Alabama linebacker, dishing out hits and taking proper angles. He plays inside-out the way you would expect a Nick Saban backer to play. The Bengals have a need at LB, and this fills it nicely.
Kolton Miller LT – Again, this is a guy I think is better served in the 2nd round. However, he is 6’9 and put on a dazzling show at the combine. After trading Cordy Glen, the Bills have a gaping hole in the offensive line. Miller’s measurable and combine will likely have scouts ignoring his film, which show him playing with a high pad level and often unable to overpower smaller DL.
Arden Key DE – Character concerns cause him to drop from the top of the first round, though most scouts see a natural pass rusher. At 6’5 260, he has the size you want in a DE.
Equanimeous St. Brown WR – This is another pick I don’t like, but foresee. The Panthers have a gaping hole after trading their top WR last year. They also have a history of drafting a basketball team instead of a receiving core. Enter St. Brown, whose 6’5 frame and ability to highpoint jump balls screams “Panthers”.
D.J. Chark WR – That offense, good lord that offense. They are in dire need of skill position contributors, especially in the passing game. Chark lit up the combine and probably would have flashed that speed more frequently in college had LSU’s QB situation not been an utter disaster.
Daron Payne DT – He’s 311 pounds, ran a 4.95 forty, and was the interior playmaker for Nick Saban. That’s all you need to know.
Mark Andrews TE – Can he block? No. Is he a dynamic pass catching tight end? Yes. Drew Brees’ huge extension shows a dedication to make one last good push with him. That means getting him all the weapons he can ask for. His RB and WR situation is healthy, but Colby Fleener is Colby Fleener.
Lamar Jackson QB – The Ben Rothlisboerger days are coming to a close. Jackson has an above average arm and electric athleticism. The Steelers offense doesn’t require quick defense dissection, so concerns regarding his NFL readiness are not as accentuated there. He interviewed well at the combine and performed well on play recall. You don’t get franchise QBs this late in the first round, but the Steelers may be looking to catch lightning in a bottle and hope that his Heisman Trophy and winning pedigree make him the next Deshaun Watson.
Christian Kirk WR – Their QB needs all the help he can get. Allen Hurns signed with the Cowboys and Robinson left via FA as well, creating the need for a playmaking WR. Kirk has a natural feel for slot patterns, and this could finally give the Jaguars the ability to get easy, middle of the field completions.
Mike Gesicki TE – The Vikings have a need at TE and Gesicki. Gesicki is a good rout runner, and utilized his 4.54 speed along with his 6’5 frame well in college. He is a bit undersized to be blocking DE, but they likely won’t ask him to fill a Jason Witten role. I could have seen mammoth OT Orlando Brown in this spot, had he not so thoroughly wet the bed at the combine.
Mike Hughes CB – For whatever reason, Butler is out and the Patriots showed they did not have an adequate replacement for him. Hughes is not great at anything, but was above average in all testing categories at the combine. He is a quick twitch, projection based project. However, if there is one team that can coach up anyone, it is the patriots.
Malik Jefferson LB – You know what you can do when you have a talented enough roster to win the superbowl? You can project. You can take someone who is raw, but has freakish athletic ability. He ran a 4.52 40, had 27 reps at the bench, and a 36 inch vertical. That’s freak numbers. Jefferson looks like a missile in his films, but often plays with poor instincts and sometimes struggles shedding blocks.