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WHAT DO YOU SAY WE DO AN NFL MOCK DRAFT?
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1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold (QB), USC
Here we go again. The Cleveland Browns once again have the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft because they have no idea how to run a football team. Last year at this time, I correctly predicted the Browns would take defensive end Myles Garrett out of Texas A&M and two months later, that’s who they chose. This year is different though. With a selection of potentially fantastic franchise quarterbacks in this draft, the Browns have to swing for the fences once again. In my opinion Sam Darnold is the best QB option in this draft. I don’t care what Mel Kiper says about Josh Allen or anyone else. Darnold is the treasure of this draft and he’ll be the best QB when it’s all said and done. It also wouldn’t be a bad move for the Browns to potentially go after Kirk Cousins in free agency so they could spend their top two draft picks on potential elite players at different positions.
2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen (QB), UCLA
Eli Manning is done. He should be sent out to pasture and put down soon. However, you can’t put your franchise QB down if you don’t have a potential replacement on board. With a roster that’s pretty decent overall, it’s no guarantee that the Giants are going to get another top five pick in a future draft anytime soon. This is perfect timing for New York. Go out and grab Josh Rosen and let him sit behind Eli for a year. Plus, if Eli struggles next season (and he will), you can go ahead and get Giants fans excited for when Rosen actually makes his debut. New York needs a lot of pieces on offense, but finding a replacement for Eli is the most important one.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb (DE), Georgia
New Colts GM Chris Ballard knows his team needs a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball. The one thing the Colts don’t need though is a quarterback which puts them in a healthy spot in this draft. There’s always a chance a QB-needy team will offer a team like Indy a huge haul in order to move up in the draft, which is really what the Colts need more than just one really great player. However, if Indy stays pat and makes the pick, they should pick the best defensive player on the board because this team lacks elite players on that side of the ball. Indianapolis was horrible at rushing the passer this last season and Ballard knows this.
4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley (RB), Penn State
In recent years, I’ve been pretty against using a top 5-10 pick on the running back position. I call it the “Trent Richardson Effect”. However, I’ve started to lighten up on that stance the last few seasons. Why? Because of players like Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette. These guys are getting taken in the top 5 of the draft and are completely overhauling their teams offense. How exactly? Because they are studs. Well, Saquon Barkley falls right along those same lines. From just a pure football talent perspective, Barkley is probably the best player in this draft. You don’t think a team like the Cleveland Browns would die to have a running back that could potentially turn into the most dangerous weapon in the NFL in just a short time? Hue Jackson is drooling at this pick.
5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen (QB), Wyoming
Josh Allen has been getting a lot of hype from NFL pundits. He has intangibles that definitely jump off the board at you and make you notice. If you were to build an NFL QB in a lab, he would look something like Josh Allen. The problem with Allen is his accuracy is downright horrendous. He had a less than 60% completion rating while at Wyoming, which is a huge red flag that Allen struggles with accuracy issues. Unfortunately for Allen, accuracy in a quarterback is not something that is exactly “fixable” and he will struggle with it his entire career. I was high on Allen heading into this season, but I’ve cooled on him. I still think a team will take him in the top 10 of the draft and that team will be the one that has had a really rough time evaluating quarterbacks recently.
6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield (QB), Oklahoma
Yes, we have another team in the draft who has a large hole at the quarterback position. The Jets were supposed to be one of the worst teams in the NFL this season so they could grab one of the top QB prospects, but they went out and surprised everyone and won more games than they should’ve. Unfortunately for the Jets, at this position in the draft, they will likely get stuck picking whatever quarterback is left. I personally think there are four quarterbacks worthy of being first-round picks this year and at this point in the draft, the Jets will likely be stuck with whatever is left over. Fortunately for the Jets, Baker Mayfield has an aura about him that will definitely get the fans hyped up for him. And hey….isn’t that part of the battle?
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tremaine Edmunds (EDGE), Virginia Tech
Tampa Bay has a pretty good roster overall. They need to make improvements at the head coach position, the offensive line, & with the pass-rush. Last season, the Buccaneers ranked dead last in pass-rush and they need to improve in that area tremendously. If you aren’t disrupting the other teams’ QB….it’s going to be a long night. And trust me when I say, the Bucs had a lot of long nights last season. In a perfect world, Bradley Chubb would fall to the Bucs here, but if he’s gone…pick the next best pass-rusher in Tremaine Edmunds. Don’t be tempted to take an offensive lineman here. I think you’ll end up regretting it.
8. Chicago Bears – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S), Alabama
This would be a GREAT pick for Chicago. Minkah Fitzpatrick is an elite talent in this draft who falls to the Bears here due to other QB-needy teams. Chicago took Mitchell Trubisky in last year’s NFL Draft, so they don’t need a QB. It wouldn’t hurt to go out and grab some weapons to help with Trubisky’s development, but at this point in the draft, Fitzpatrick is way too sexy of a pick to pass him up. Chicago needs some elite players and with Fitzpatrick in their secondary, they could play him at either safety or cornerback.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward (CB), Ohio State
By trading for Jimmy G this past season, the 49ers seemingly have locked up their QB position for the forseeable future. That gives SF a ton of options with the ninth overall pick. With this pick, SF could look to boost their pass-rush and/or their secondary. In my opinion. Denzel Ward would be a great pick-up for John Lynch at this spot. He’s the top rated cornerback in the draft and anytime you get a chance to add a player like Ward, you do it in a heart beat.
9. Oakland Raiders – Josh Jackson (CB), Iowa
I think we can all agree that the Raiders need help in their secondary. T.J. Carrie had a good year last season, but other than that…but what do they have? Sean Smith isn’t as good as he used to be and at 30 years old, the Raiders can cut him this off-season with no cap casualty at all. I’m betting Oakland makes that move to save themselves a good amount of salary cap cash. Cutting Smith would open up plenty of playing time for a guy like Josh Jackson who has the talent to potentially develop into an elite corner.
11. Miami Dolphins – Quenton Nelson (OG), Notre Dame
Miami could go a number of different ways with this selection. They need help at linebacker, running back, quarterback, defensive end, and on the offensive line. It wouldn’t shock me in the slightest if the Dolphins grabbed one of the four quarterbacks if they happen to slip to them here. In this scenario, Miami gets a chance to grab the guy who I feel is the best offensive lineman in the draft this year. You can’t pass that up at this spot can you?
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Orlando Brown (OT), Oklahoma
The Bengals need a lot of help on the offensive line. They’ve lost a lot of key pieces over the years and it’s time to re-build this unit back up with some elite talent. Orlando Brown is the top offensive tackle in the draft in my opinion. At 6’8 and 345 pounds, the dude is a house. He’s exactly the kind of player that the Bengals need to help protect Andy Dalton who has regressed the last few seasons.
13. Washington Redskins – Vita Vea (DT), Washington
Quarterback would likely be the pick here had the Redskins not surprised everyone and traded for Alex Smith. With the QB position locked up for the next few seasons, Washington can turn it’s attention to adding more beef to their defensive line. You want beef? You take a guy like Vita Vea. He’s arguably the best defensive tackle in the draft and he’s an absolute stud. Considering he’s a Washington Husky, it really pains me to say that. However, the Huskies have pumped out some NFL studs lately and Vea could keep that trend going.
14. Green Bay Packers – Calvin Ridley (WR), Alabama
The Packers can cut Randall Cobb this off-season and save themselves almost $13 million in salary cap cash. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that’s likely going to happen. At this spot in the draft, the Packers could go out and grab the guy who is the best wide receiver in the draft as a replacement and the rich get even richer. Aaron Rodgers to Calvin Ridley? Yowza.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Mike McGlinchey (OT), Notre Dame
This is a nightmare scenario for the Arizona Cardinals as they NEED one of the quarterbacks in this draft. Remember, that outside of the top four guys, there’s no one worth a first-round selection. The Cardinals are a team that could potentially trade up in this year’s draft to avoid this exact scenario from happening. In this case though, Arizona will go ahead and grab Mike McGlinchey to help protect…..whoever the hell is throwing the rock for them next season.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Roquan Smith (LB), Georgia
Do the Ravens need help at linebacker? Not exactly. However, this is a team that always manages to go out of their way to grab elite defensive talent and at this spot in the draft, Roquan Smith is a top-10 player who is still available. Even though the Ravens REALLY need playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, if Smith was there for the taking….the Ravens would grab him. It’s just what they do.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Rashaan Evans (LB), Alabama
The Chargers have some studs on the edges and by adding a player like Rashaan Evans, they could lock up the middle linebacker position for the next few years as well. They are another team who need a quarterback and could be a surprise team to potentially move up in a trade. Phillip Rivers is getting up their in age and it’s time to find a successor.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James (S), Florida State
Earl Thomas has one-year left on his contract and he’s already mentioned he could potentially holdout for a bigger one. He’s also hinted in the past that he really wouldn’t mind playing for his hometown team the Dallas Cowboys before he retires. Let’s make his wish come true. The Seahawks could draft a player like Derwin James who is an elite safety and trade Thomas to the Cowboys for some nice draft picks that could come in handy in the very near future. Everyone is happy.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Da’Ron Payne (DT), Alabama
Dallas could really use a tight end to replace Jason Witten who is getting close to fifty years old. However, I can’t remember the last time a tight end was worthy of a first-round pick and actually panned out. Da’Ron Payne is a top-20 player in the draft and would add some help to the Cowboys’ defensive line which desperately needs it.
20. Detroit Lions – Marcus Davenport (DE), UTSA
What will the Lions do with Ziggy Ansah? Ansah is only 28-years old, but he’s an unrestricted free agent this off-season who will likely command a pretty fat contract on the open market. Detroit could be tempted to let Ziggy walk and replace him with a younger guy through the draft. Ansah is a good player, but I personally think he’s going to get extremely over-paid in a few weeks.
21. Buffalo Bills – Mo Hurst (DT), Michigan
The Bills traded Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars and have never found his replacement. With back-to-back picks in the first-round thanks to a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs last year, the Bills need to find his replacement now. Buffalo is another team that could potentially sneak up and grab a QB. It’s pretty clear that they aren’t happy with their QB situation and with two first-round draft picks this year, they are definitely someone to watch out for in the trade market.
22. Buffalo Bills – Billy Price (C), Ohio State
Not the most exciting pick for Buffalo, but with Eric Wood retiring, the center position is a position of need now. Bills fans may hate these picks, but the Philadelphia Eagles are showing everyone once again that you can be a Super Bowl contender when you have some of the best offensive and defensive lines in the game.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Isaiah Oliver (CB), Colorado
The Rams were one of the surprise teams from the NFL last season. Very few people saw the Rams doing what they did this past season. A large part of that was the hiring of Sean McVay and how he was able to turn Jared Goff into a capable NFL QB. With Goff looking like a franchise QB, the Rams need to start plugging in other pieces in order to become a serious contender. The one thing they truly lack on their roster is a #1 shutdown corner. They need to go out and find that guy.
24. Carolina Panthers – Connor Williams (OT), Texas
The Panthers have been a mess at the offensive tackle position the last few seasons. They need to shore it up and they need to do a better job of protecting Cam Newton who can’t do everything himself. It also wouldn’t surprise me to see Carolina look at a wide receiver or even elsewhere on the offensive line if certain pieces decide to bolt in free agency.
25. Tennessee Titans – Harold Landry (EDGE), Boston College
Tennessee is undergoing a coaching change this season. Out is Mike Mularkey and in comes former NFL linebacker Mike Vrabel. Vrabel is inheriting a roster that is actually pretty stout from top-to-bottom. The Titans are lacking some talent on the edge though and as a defensive player himself, Vrabel knows this and he will go out and hand-pick someone he believes can fill that void for years to come.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan (DT), Florida
Will Dontari Poe be back in Atlanta this season? He’s an unrestricted free agent who will likely get paid on the open market this off-season. I’ve already mentioned numerous times in this article that sometimes it’s smart to let certain players go and replace them on the cheap through the NFL Draft. It’s what the really well-ran NFL organizations are able to do. That’s exactly what should happen here. There are a lot of quality defensive tackles in this draft and Atlanta will have plenty of choices.
27. New Orleans Saints – Mason Rudolph (QB), Oklahoma State
There’s going to be a surprise QB pick in the NFL Draft this year. Most years, we almost always have one. Whether it’s a QB going extremely too high, going to a team that no one saw coming, or maybe it’s even a QB dropping in the draft a little (Aaron Rodgers anyone?). Something odd will happen and it will likely happen in the end of the first-round when teams start panicking that other teams will reach for players that they are high on. The Saints need to find a replacement for Drew Brees. Brees’ time is coming to an end and Sean Payton needs to get his replacement ready. I think the Saints will reach for a QB here, but who will it be? Rudolph has a lot of things that NFL teams love and it wouldn’t shock me at all to see him slide in the later half of the first-round. Lamar Jackson and Luke Falk are other potential QB surprises in the first-round as well.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Ronnie Harrison (S), Alabama
Pittsburgh is another team that could potentially surprise some people and look at a QB. Part of me really wants them to take Lamar Jackson in the first-round so THE USB’s own Steve Cook’s heart explodes, but there’s little chance of that happening. The Steelers are a smart team when it comes to draft picks and they know where they need help. Pittsburgh has been a mess at the safety position for some time now. Troy Polamalu isn’t walking through the doors guys. The Steelers top safety this last season was Mike Mitchell and Pro Football Focus had him ranked as the 62nd best safety in all of the NFL. You really want to keep that trend going?
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Christian Kirk (WR), Texas A&M
If the Jaguars are going to keep Blake Bortles around (and yes, he improved his game last season….but I’m not sure he’s still a quality NFL starter) than they need to surround him with as many weapons as possible to ensure his success. There’s a good chance Marqise Lee walks in free agency and no one knows what the future holds for Allen Robinson. Go out and get Bortles a new weapon to make sure the guy doesn’t regress and set your franchise back again.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Brian O’Neill (OT), Pittsburgh
We all know how good the Minnesota defense is. There’s not a whole lot of work to do on that side of the ball. On the offensive side though? Upgrades are needed, namely on the offensive line.
31. Philadelphia Eagles – Kolton Miller (OT), UCLA
With Jason Peters getting up there in age, it’s time for the Eagles to find his replacement. We all love Peters, but the guy isn’t going to play forever. At 6’8, 310 pounds, the Eagles would be getting a guy in Kolton Miller who would help protect Carson Wentz for years to come.
32. New England Patriots – Arden Key (EDGE), LSU
The rich get richer.
And there we have it folks! My very first NFL Mock Draft of the year! I hope everyone enjoys the Super Bowl today and I will be back with another mock draft in no time at all.
Just please don’t hold your breath.