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NFL Mock Draft 2018: Bills jump Jets for preferred QB; Broncos settle

  • NFL Mock Draft 2018: Bills jump Jets for preferred QB; Broncos settle

    We’re still more than a month away from the 2018 NFL Draft, but we already have seen two teams make aggressive moves up the draft board. The Bills traded left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Bengals to move from pick No. 22 to pick No. 12, and the Jets packaged the sixth overall pick and three second-rounders to the Colts in exchange for the third overall pick.

    These trades don’t give us clarity on what exactly will happen come draft day, but they do show teams are starting to feel confident about how the first few picks will go. The primary matters for the remainder of the draft process will be figuring out which teams covet which quarterbacks, and just how far they’ll go to get their guys.

  • 1 Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

    The Browns’ trade for Tyrod Taylor does not take them out of the quarterback market in the draft. Darnold is the best quarterback in the class with the fewest concerns for the long term, and most around the league feel this is a done deal. Only a handful believe Wyoming’s Josh Allen has a shot to be considered at No. 1.

  • 2 TRADE — Buffalo Bills: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

    With the Jets now at No. 3, the second pick will be one of three things: a non-quarterback the Giants value in their quest to win in 2018, a quarterback to develop behind Eli Manning or a trade to a quarterback-hungry team like the Bills. Buffalo has done its homework on both Rosen and Josh Allen, but it likely would prefer Rosen. A move to No. 2 overall probably would require both of the Bills’ first-round picks this year (Nos. 12 and 22), their second-round pick this year and a 2019 first- or second-round pick.

  • 3 New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

    The Jets’ bold move to secure a top-three pick is centered around a quarterback. New York with this trade clearly feels comfortable about which players are going No. 1 and No. 2, and it's also excited about the franchise passer it will get at No. 3. If Rosen is available, he likely will be the pick. If not, Jets fans should hope the team selects the Heisman Trophy winner who can help New York win immediately as opposed to a project like Josh Allen.

  • 4 Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

    A dream scenario for the Browns after the Jets’ trade — Cleveland could get its top quarterback and top non-quarterback. Barkley would finalize the Browns’ offense, though Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fits for their defense, too. They also could trade back if a team covets the last of the top four quarterbacks.

  • 5 Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

    The Broncos are planning to keep Paxton Lynch behind Case Keenum, so quarterback might not be their target in Round 1. Instead, they’ll look for an immediate upgrade for their still-improving offensive line. Nelson can be just that.

  • 6 Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

    The Colts would not have moved back to No. 6 overall without knowing who they might be able to select. Chubb is exactly what the Colts need from a skill-set and personality perspective.

  • 7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

    The Bucs have invested in their offensive line this offseason, and now they have the luxury of looking at either running back (if Barkley is available) or defense with their top-10 pick. Adding Ward to a secondary that already includes Vernon Hargreaves would help keep Tampa Bay competitive against the passing attacks in Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans.

  • 8 Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

    Chicago has spent big on its offense via free agency, so expect the Bears to favor defense early in the draft. That starts with Edmunds, who can add value to multiple spots on Chicago’s defense inside to complement Leonard Floyd.

  • 9 TRADE — Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

    After Darnold at No. 1 overall, there’s a good chance all quarterbacks drafted in Round 1 will be selected following a trade. The Jaguars re-signed Blake Bortles to what amounts to a Mike Glennon-Bears-like contract. They still need a quarterback for the future and not much else. Trading this year’s first-round pick and next year’s first-round pick (and maybe a little more) could do the trick.

  • 10 Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

    The Raiders added Jordy Nelson to their offense in free agency, and they likely will use the middle and later rounds of the draft to tweak that side of the ball to new coach Jon Gruden’s liking. But they need to continue adding talent across their defense. The secondary isn't Oakland’s biggest weakness, but Fitzpatrick is easy to like and could give the Raiders another playmaker.

  • 11 Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

    In signing TJ McDonald a year ago, the Dolphins addressed a need at safety but didn’t fix the problem for the long term. Maintaining a strong secondary would be wise after losing their defensive leader up front in Ndamukong Suh.

  • 12 New York Giants: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

    The Giants can’t rely on Eli Apple as much as they were hoping, and their new regime has no ties to the former first-round pick who has had locker room issues. This might be early for Jackson, but some teams are extremely high on the playmaker. He could complete what on paper looks like a talented defense.

  • 13 Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

    The Redskins have invested draft picks and free-agent dollars across their offense, and they’ll likely sit back and see whether those moves pay dividends. That means they probably will address their defense early in the draft, and their defensive front seven, especially the line, is a good place to continue building.

  • 14 Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

    Landry had a down 2017 season thanks to injuries and inconsistency, but he is an edge rusher worthy of first-round selection. The Packers can’t rely on Clay Matthews on the perimeter much longer.

  • 15 Arizona Cardinals: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

    After signing two free-agent quarterbacks, the Cardinals are likely out on a first-round passer unless one starts to slip. Instead, they can remain in semi win-now mode and bolster their defensive line. Payne has outstanding upside.

  • 16 Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

    This is an obvious fit thanks to Ozzie Newsome’s love of Alabama players. The Ravens, despite their Michael Crabtree signing, still have a need at receiver. Ridley is the best wideout in the class.

  • 17 Los Angeles Chargers: Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

    The Chargers have done a masterful job building their defense, and one more leader inside could come close to completing what has a chance to be the NFL’s top unit in 2018. Smith deserves to go higher than this, but he might slip due to positional value.

  • 18 Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

    Seattle is retooling its roster, and its biggest need is the secondary, where more turnover after Richard Sherman’s release is likely. Still, the Seahawks’ offensive line is far from a completed unit, and Williams would give them an upside guard who potentially can play either tackle spot down the road.

  • 19 Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

    The fit makes too much sense. The Cowboys don’t want to keep Dez Bryant much longer, and they need a big-bodied outside receiver for the future. Sutton is a worthy first-round pick and can complement, then replace, Bryant.

  • 20 Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

    The Lions are clear in their desire to upgrade their rushing attack this offseason, but they haven’t finished the job. Guice, the draft’s second best running back, would give this team the difference-maker its group of rotational backs doesn’t offer.

  • 21 Cincinnati Bengals: Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

    Even after trading for Cordy Glenn, the Bengals shouldn’t shy away from drafting an offensive tackle early. With Andy Dalton set for another year as the starter, Cincinnati needs to protect him as much as possible.

  • 22 New York Giants: Ronald Jones, RB, USC

    The USC product was set to compete with Guice as the draft’s second best running back, but Jones pulled up lame during his 40-yard dash at the Combine. Once he proves he’s 100 percent at his Pro Day, he will resurface as a Melvin Gordon-like prospect. The Giants can move back from No. 2 overall and get a difference-maker at CB with their No. 12 pick, then a running back who can benefit from their offensive line additions.

  • 23 Los Angeles Rams: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

    The Rams have been aggressive this offseason, especially on defense. With their offensive line already somewhat of a strength, they would be wise to add to it, keeping Jared Goff and Todd Gurley comfortable. The Rams then can continue to find offensive playmakers and defensive depth in the later rounds.

  • 24 Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

    Carolina brought back Julius Peppers for one more year, but it’s finally time for the Panthers to draft his replacement. Davenport has some concerns both developmentally and motivationally, but his athletic comparison to Peppers is obvious.

  • 25 Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

    Tennessee was a surprise playoff team last season thanks in part to its playmaking defense, and the Titans would be wise to continue building on that side of the ball. Evans is an under-appreciated linebacker in this class; he’s a good athlete with great range who fits the linebacker profile the Titans value.

  • 26 Atlanta Falcons: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

    This is where the run on offensive linemen likely will begin. The Falcons, like may teams picking near the end of the first round, don’t have many glaring needs, but shoring up their offensive line would be wise. Hernandez is a plug-and-play starter for either guard spot.

  • 27 New Orleans Saints: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

    The Saints could look at guard prospects in Round 1, and they also could consider Lamar Jackson. But as they continue to retool their offense for the future, finding a top tight end is in the cards. Hurst is this draft’s best at the position.

  • 28 Pittsburgh Steelers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

    Alexander’s talent and upside is clear, but inconsistency among other factors makes him risky as a first-rounder. Still, the Steelers are known to value talent first, especially for playmakers on defense, and Alexander eventually can be Joe Haden’s replacement.

  • 29 San Francisco 49ers: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

    In moving back this far, the 49ers are taking themselves out of the mix for a top playmaker. But they likely can get similar offensive line value, which is probably their biggest need after missing out on Andrew Norwell in free agency. Crosby can be an immediate starter at left guard before potentially taking over for Joe Staley at tackle.

  • 30 Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

    Despite his pectoral injury at the Combine, Price should be either a late first-round pick or an early second-round pick. The Vikings could use Price at either guard spot, reuniting him on the line with his former Buckeyes teammate in center Pat Elflein.

  • 31 New England Patriots: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

    The Patriots lost Nate Solder in free agency, and it would be surprising if they didn’t draft a top offensive tackle in the draft. McGlinchey should remind them of Solder — an oversized left tackle with some movement issues but an overall strong pedigree.

  • 32 Philadelphia Eagles: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA

    With Jason Peters needing a replacement for the long term (though they do like Halapoulivaati Vaitai), the Eagles would be wise to snag a swing tackle like Miller who can offer depth. He then could start at left or right tackle, depending on Lane Johnson’s preference, if/when Peters moves on.