Here it is, my attempt to make a mock draft that doesn’t infuriate me (or you), based on what I’m expecting to happen on draft day, not what I would personally do. Some common sense and a few hours analyzing depth charts and team needs (added to all the tape I’ve been watching during this process), and I hope this is similar to what’s going to happen on April 26th in Dallas.
1: Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC, QB
I’m confident the Browns are taking Darnold with their first pick. To me, all the Allen talk is just a smokescreen so a team trades up with the Giants to take a QB and they can land the draft’s best player at 4.
2: New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA, QB
The Giants don’t pass on the best passer to come out in nearly a decade and secure Eli Manning’s successor in Josh Rosen. This is the hardest pick to predict here, they could easily go Mayfield or Allen at QB or go for Saquon Barkley or even Quenton Nelson. I’m leaning towards Rosen for them.
3: New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, QB
The New York Jets traded up for a QB, that much is obvious. The best passer on the board is easily Mayfield and there were reports the Jets loved him during the entire process. Josh Allen would be a terrible fit in their west coast offense and would bring a deja vu to the fan base of another big-armed QB with accuracy issues.
4: Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, NC State, DE
Imagine a defensive front led by Garrett and Chubb. They would be no longer laughed at but feared. Saquon Barkley is amazing but he doesn’t bring that kind of value and there are plenty of very good running backs in round 2.
5: Buffalo Bills (trade w/Broncos): Josh Allen, Wyoming, QB
Neither AJ McCarron or Nathan Peterman bring the answer at QB for the Bills. So while Mccarron holds the fort, Josh Allen could develop into the franchise quarterback this team deserves which is worth trading up for.
6: Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame, OG
The Colts try to build an offensive line where Luck would last more than a game after coming back from his shoulder injury or at least not kill yet another QB. Quenton Nelson is the best offensive lineman prospect I have ever seen with my own eyes and the surest pick in the draft by quite a lot.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, Penn St, RB
The slide for Barkley ends here, joining an underachieving offensive unit that should bounce back and have a lot of success with a reliable back like him. Some call him a once in a generation back (a term we hear every year), I wouldn’t go THAT far, but he is an all-around back that will create havoc for years to come.
8: Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech, LB
This athletic freak is only 19 years old and is a difference maker on defense. This is a team that needs to go young and build around Trubisky. This Hokie is how.
9: San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, Ohio St, CB
The 49ers add the best cornerback in this year’s draft in Ward. He is fast and instinctive and will learn a lot under Richard Sherman who is one of the great corners of this generation.
10: Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia, LB
The raiders not only fill their biggest need but also grab the best player left on the board on Roquan Smith who was a one-man wrecking crew for Georgia.
11: Miami Dolphins: Da’ron Payne, Alabama, DT
The Dolphins need to fill the huge hole Ndamukong Suh left. Payne plays the same role at the DT position and offers huge upside.
12: Denver Broncos (trade w/Bills): Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama, DB
After trading back with the Bills the Broncos still land one of the draft’s top players in Minkah Fitzpatrick. A player who could have been an option at 5.
13: Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, Washington, DT
Vea comes in to fix this run stopping unit while also offering help in the pass rush.
14: Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, Florida St, S
The Packers land one of the draft’s most athletic players who was once considered a top 5 player prospect. James will help this defensive back group which has been the weak spot of this defense.
15: Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, Louisville, QB
The Cardinals land their next franchise quarterback in Jackson. For many reasons (that I don’t agree), he is widely left out the big 4 QBs in this draft. Teams will regret passing on him like they did with Watson last year. Ideally, he redshirts year 1, but that would rely on Bradford avoiding the IR this year.
16: Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama, WR
This is the year where you give Flacco weapons so there can’t be more excuses for his poor play. Ridley is the best WR in this draft and the most NFL ready, Flacco needs the help NOW.
17: Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, Texas, OT
The Chargers need offensive line help and Williams can play guard or tackle where he is the top prospect this year.
18: Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernández, UTEP, OG
Repeat after me: Russell Wilson needs some help. Seattle needs to address the offensive line once and for all, Will Hernández is as solid as they come.
19: Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan, DT
This is a match made in draft heaven. This needs to happen, Hurst has an amazing first step.
20: Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, LSU, RB
Matthew Stafford never had a solid running game in his career, this needs to stop. Derrius Guice is a complete back who will change that for the Lions.
21: Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels, Iowa, C
The Bengals offensive line was a BIG issue for them last year, and with the addition of Cordy Glenn at LT, they still need help inside. Enter James Daniels a technical yet very athletic center that can also play guard. Versatility is a huge plus for him and he also benefitted from Billy Price’s injury.
22: Denver Broncos (via trade w/bills): Harold Landry, Boston College, LB
Shane Ray has been a disappointment so far and by trading down the Broncos are in position to draft an impact player to rush the passer opposite of Von Miller. Landry played hurt this year which made his stock drop, fear not he is a beast when healthy.
23: New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, Alabama, LB
The Patriots need a LB with the versatility of Evans and the Alabama connection with Saban makes this a very likely pick for Belichick and Co.
24: Carolina Panthers: Cameron Sutton, SMU, WR
The Panthers LOVE big-bodied receivers, and they will try to fill the void Kelvin Benjamin left as a bug bodied WR1. Sutton has the potential to be just that for the Carolina squad.
25: Tennessee Titans: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St, LB
Tennessee gets Vander Esch who is just a force to be reckoned with and flies sideline to sideline. He is going to be the identity of this young defense.
26: Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, Florida, DT
When Taven Bryan is at his highest, there isn’t a better DT in this draft, but he is inconsistent and doesn’t pop on tape as often as you would love. Either way, I think he is going to be a big problem for offensive coordinators for years to come.
27: New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, Penn St, TE
Gesicki might not be a former basketball player, but he reminds me of a faster Jimmy Graham, who had his best years in NOLA. Much like Graham, Gesicki is a great pass catcher and will be a key weapon for Brees to use.
28: Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama, S
There isn’t a linebacker here worth taking, so the Steelers go towards the other top need they have on their roster, strong safety. Ronnie Harrison has the pedigree and toughness you want in your safety and the aggressiveness necessary to succeed. Granted he has played in a stacked defense full of NFL talent along with fellow first-rounders Minkah Fitzpatrick and Rashaan Evans that have made work easier for him.
29: Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Moore, Maryland, WR
Jacksonville let two of their top 3 receivers walk in free agency, in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. They need someone to play opposite of Marqise Lee and DJ Moore fits the mold of players they have drafted in the past. It doesn’t hurt that he is the top-ranked WR for some analysts.
30: Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia, OG
Isaiah Wynn DOMINATED at LT, yet his size suggests that he will have to switch to guard in the NFL. Minnesota needs help with their offensive line and Wynn is exactly what the doctor ordered.
31: New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander, Louisville, CB
Corner is a big need with Butler gone, and we saw in the Superbowl that they NEED depth beyond Gilmore. This cornerback class is so even at the top that some consider Alexander the best in the class. Even if he isn’t, it’s damn close.
32: Philadelphia Eagles: Dallas Goedert, South Dakota St, TE
There aren’t many holes in the defending champs’ roster yet with Burton gone the Eagles can choose a TE that makes incredible catches on a game basis and can see the field day 1.