Written By Jack Bourgeois
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC
6’4 220 lbs. Sophomore
Since 2015 the Cleveland Browns have drafted Johnny Manziel and pass on quality starting QB’s such as Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Deshaun Watson TWICE!!! Top that all off with the botched acquisition of AJ Mccarron at the trade deadline and well, those poor, poor Browns fans… Haven’t they suffered enough??? It’s actually been their plan all along, inside sources of the Browns say that head coach Hue Jackson and Sashi Brown decided in 2016 that they would build their team years 1–2 and draft their QB of the future once they had a team to surround him with in the third. Plans could change though, as I write this Sashi has been fired and in comes former Kansas City Chiefs General Manager (13–17) John Dorsey.
This pick could go either way, Darnold has been the favorite to go #1 overall since the beginning of the season but his performance has been inconsistent, much of which is due to lack of protection, causing his decision making to come into question. It’s rumored he could return to USC to improve his resume (or not be drafted by the Browns), but scouts should be able to differentiate the team’s performance from that of his own.
Sam’s knowledge of the game, pocket presence, and situational awareness is what has made him the talk of 2017. His arm strength isn’t on par with that of Rosen’s or Allen’s, but the touch he puts on passes and ability to throw into tight windows makes you to believe he’s an NFL ready QB.
Lamar Jackson could also be in play at one, the Browns have a known soft spot for mobile quarterbacks and his highlight reel might be the best amongst his draft class. Though Jackson would certainly need time to be molded into an NFL QB.
Position of need: QB, WR, LB, RB
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
6’4, 220 lbs. Junior
Had former head coach Ben Mcadoo not benched Eli Manning, I would most certainly have had Saquon Barkley sitting here at 2. Eli hasn’t had a run game since he last hoisted the Lombardi back in 2012, but Mcadoo had to go and ruin Eli’s consecutive start streak, nearly sealing the deal that Manning will be in another uniform come 2018.
The QB of choice will have everything to do with who the Giant’s bring in as a general manager, head coach and offensive coordinator. The safe pick would be Josh Rosen, he most resembles Eli’s playing style, big arm, and excellent mechanics, but tends to be careless with the ball when under pressure. His upside is massive and probably has the easiest transition from the college to the pros amongst the top quarterback prospects of 2018. The one downfall to Rosen might be his attitude, both coaches and teammates have been rumored to dislike him and his outspoken ways. Sounds like a perfect fit to be throwing to Odell Beckham Jr if you ask me!
Position of need: OG, OT, QB, RB, LB
3. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn ST
5’11, 223 lbs. Junior
Undoubtedly the most talented offensive player in this year’s draft, Saquon Barkley is a rare breed of running back. With elite speed, power to run between the tackles, and the ability to make anyone miss in space, there’s nothing a coach can’t ask him to do. He’s a 3 down back who blocks as well as Zeke, runs routes like Le’veon, both out of the backfield and line up out wide. Barkley’s combination of freakish athleticism, a polished all around skill set, and natural football instincts, make him this year’s game changer at the running back position. He possesses 4.33 speed, can power clean 405 lbs. and was a Heisman finalist.
What’s there not to love for offensive genius Kyle Shanahan? Running back isn’t a position of need for the 49ers, but it is Carlos Hyde’s final year of his rookie deal and it’s been the only healthy season of his career. I can’t see GM John Lynch offering him anything more than a prove it type one-year contract. Running Backs being irrelevant in the draft is a thing of the past, we’ve seen bad teams turn it around with the addition of RB’s such as Elliot, Fournette, or Gurley. A quality runner helps everyone from the quarterback, to the offensive line, and especially the defense, Barkley’s talents would simply hide a lot of team flaws.
Position of need: OG, WR, CB
4. Indianapolis Colts
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
6’8, 313 lbs. Senior
This is a no brainer, Indi needs to protect their star QB at all costs. Andrew Luck won’t have much of a career left if the Colts front office continues to treat him like a crash test dummy, instead of the face of the franchise. The team ranked dead last in DVOA pass protection according to Footballoutsiders.com. Mike McGlinchey is arguably the top offensive tackle in the draft and is their best shot at keeping Luck healthy and off IR. McGlinchey is a mauler in the run game, who can play both tackle positions, and possess a combination of aggression, as well as sound technique that is hard to find in any draft.
Position of need: OG, OT, CB, ILB
5. Cleveland Browns (Texans)
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
6’4, 218 lbs. Junior
Why do I have a hunch that the Browns trade away this pick to accumulate more “lottery tickets”? Oh yeah, because they do it every year! For Mock’s sake we’ll humor the idea that the Browns are done playing Russian roulette with picks and prospects. Anyone who plans to rely on Josh Gordon or Corey Coleman being available at wide receiver next year is wishful thinking, as both players have missed over 50% of their career due to either injury or suspension. Courtland Sutton’s combination of size and speed makes him a dynamic playmaker who’s drawing comparisons to Julio Jones by NFL Exec’s.
Position of need: QB, WR, LB, RB
6. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
6’5, 329 lbs. Senior
The Broncos have started 3 different quarterbacks in the 2017 season, meaning they have none! Paxton Lynch hasn’t been able to show he was worth a 1st round pick, Trevor Siemian started off hot but was quickly benched once his play came back down to earth. And let’s be honest, Brock wasn’t the answer for the Texans, or the Browns, or the Broncos TWICE!!! The offensive line is one of the worst in the league (28th in pass protection according to Football Outsiders), they already spent a 1st round pick on offensive tackle Garett Bolles in 2017, does Denver follow Dallas’s blueprint and continuously add 1st rounders to the offensive line?
Their championship caliber defense hasn’t been the same since the departure of TJ Ward, star safety prospects Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick would make an immediate impact and are expected to both go inside the top ten. Denver’s recipe will always be to establish the run game and play defense, hence solidifying the offensive line with the best lineman in the draft in Quenton Nelson. Any quarterback behind this line would be set up for failure, both the draft and free agency should be deep at the QB position, making Nelson Denver’s best option to improve the 27th ranked offense.
Position of need: QB, OG, OT, S
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
6’4, 265 lbs. Senior
Dead last in sacks in 2017, the Buc’s have been awful when it comes to pressuring the quarterback. All-Pro Gerald McCoy is double teamed on every play and, yet his fellow defensive linemen can’t beat 1-on-1 blocks to save their lives. Robert Ayers will be 33, he hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and has gradually missed more and more games each year due to injury. Defensive end Noah Spence has flashed at times but also can’t stay healthy, his career could be in jeopardy after his 4th shoulder dislocation in a year’s time.
Bradley Chubb is the best all-around defensive end of the 2018 NFL Draft and though Arden Key might be the draft’s most talented pure edge rusher, he would be restricted early on to a rotational pass rush role, making him not worthy of a top 10 pick. Tampa Bay desperately needs a 3 down defensive end with the power to play the run and the quickness off the corner to create havoc against the passing game.
8. Chicago Bears
Minhak Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
6’1, 202 lbs. Junior
Mike Glennon, Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears stood no chance this season the second they lost starting WR’s Cameron Meredith and Kevin White to injured reserve. The offense became one dimensional, wideouts weren’t able to get open and an injury plagued offensive line can only hold blocks for so long, equaling 28th in offensive efficiency according to Footballoutsiders.com. The defense is middle of the pack, and could use help on the back end. With both wideouts expected to return, I see the defensive minded HC John Fox salivating at the idea of placing Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety to upgrade the secondary.
Position of need: S, OT, TE, ILB, WR
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Connor Williams, OT, Texas
6’6, 320 lbs. Junior
Plenty of analyst have Cincinnati drafting a QB and canning the Red Rifle Andy Dalton. I don’t see it that way at all, C’mon give the man a quality offensive line before you decide to join the Browns on the QB carousel. The Bengals line has been amongst the worst in the league this season and just haven’t been the same since the loss of Guard Kevin Zeitler to division rival Cleveland last offseason.
Position of need: OG, OT, C, S
10. New York Jets
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
6’2, 200 lbs. Junior
The Jets need to find their QB once and for all, Lamar Jackson is a dual threat human highlight reel. He can slash up defenses with his scrambling, he’s improved his passing skills each year at Louisville and has massive big play ability. His downfall is his slender frame, he needs to put on at least 15–20lbs if he plans on surviving a season in the NFL as a running QB. Lamar’s mechanics will need improvement, his footwork tends to lead to inconsistent accuracy and missed throws, but Jackson’s athleticism has scouts comparing him to Michael Vick.
Position of need: QB, OT, WR,
11. Washington Redskins
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
6’5, 225 lbs. Junior
Let’s assume that Kirk Cousins is no longer with Washington for the sake of the mock. Gruden is no stranger to grooming QB’s and quarterback Josh Allen has as many question marks as anyone in the draft, but possibly the biggest upside amongst anyone at his position. His 6’5 frame, cannon for an arm and ability to run the ball has some scouts comparing him to the former NFL MVP Cam Newton.
His 56% completion percentage, lack of surrounding talent, and level of competition, make for a huge boom or bust risk. Allen’s highlight reel speaks for itself, he’s hard to take down, he can extend the play and has a rare ability to sling the rock down field. He just needs the right fit and the right coach, with Jay Gruden being known as a QB guru and risk taker, it has all the ingredients to be a perfect marriage in Washington.
12. Miami Dolphins
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St
5’10, 190 lbs. Junior
Miami has a lot of holes to fill, both the offensive line and secondary being their biggest causes for concern. Denzel Ward could end up being the best corner in the draft but it’s a tight race in what’s considered to be a weaker cornerback class than years past. Ward’s a smaller corner whose strengths best suit press man, but also has the closing speed to make plays in zone coverage. Denzel’s weakness lies in his size and frame, allowing him to be bullied by bigger, stronger wideouts. Luckily you draft to beat your divisional opponents and the AFC South is primarily littered with speedy, more slender WR’s such as Edleman, Hogan, Cooks, Kearse, Kerley, and Anderson, with Buffalo’s recently acquired Kelvin Benjamin being the only outlier. With a star-studded D-line already in place, if the Dolphins could sure up the secondary, they could make a return to the playoffs in 2018.
Position of need: CB, OG, RB
13. Oakland Raiders
Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU
6’6, 255 lbs. Junior
The Oakland Raiders roster will not include Reggie Nelson, Sean Smith or David Amerson next season, all three have been paid good money to be liabilities on the field in 2017. The secondary will need a total revamp, Oakland will need a running mate opposite their 2016 first round pick Gareon Conley, preferably a veteran corner from free agency like a Trumaine Johnson, Darius Butler or Malcolm Butler. If the Raiders are able to sure up the secondary before the draft, they could bring in this year’s best edge rusher in LSU’s Arden Key.
Bruce Irvin has played well over the final stretch of the season but isn’t getting any younger and Oakland’s cap space will be water tight after Kalil Mack’s record setting contract is signed in 2018. Oakland needs to find a way to create pressure off of the constant 1-on-1 blocks anyone not named Mack see’s every Sunday. Key would force teams to respect more than just one Raider off the edge, which would then inherently help their new secondary.
Position of need: CB, ILB, DT, RT
14. Arizona Cardinals
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
6’1*, 220 lbs. Senior
Bruce Arians’ love for Carson Palmer is widely known, but after years of injury history it is finally time for the Cardinals to pull the trigger on a first-round quarterback. Baker Mayfield is the AP Offensive Player of the Year, the Heisman Trophy winner and has put up godly stats this season in tune of 4340 yards passing, a 71% completion rate, a 41–5 TD-INT ratio, and a CFB leading 91.3 QBR. Though he does come with some baggage, including an asterisk next to his height, as he’s believed to only be 6-foot-tall, he has some questionable on/off field antics and could tighten up his throwing motion. All that said, the Cardinals are in a division with 3 franchise quarterbacks in potential league MVP Russell Wilson, as well as young guns Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo.
Position of need: QB, OT, C,
15. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
6’1, 188 lbs. Junior
Dallas has been in need of elite speed at the wideout position for a long time, Dez Bryant has never been able to run by someone and he’s only getting older. A player like Calvin Ridley would do wonders for the Cowboy’s offense, forcing teams to respect the deep ball and not allow opponents to stack the box in order to stop Zeke. Dallas certainly needs help in the secondary, but another elite weapon for Dak such as Calvin Ridley would be hard to pass up.
Position of need: WR, CB, LB,
16. Los Angeles Chargers
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
6’8, 330 lbs. Junior
The Chargers need to build the offensive line, whether it’s to protect the aging Philip Rivers or their future quarterback. The team’s surprisingly next to last in run blocking, but top 5 against the pass rush according to Footballoutsiders.com, though this has a lot to do with the Chargers constantly chipping, or leaving extra’s to block. At a whopping 6’8 330 lbs. Orlando Brown is a mountain of a man who can actually move quite well for his size and would be an immediate upgrade at the tackle position opposite of Russell Okung.
Position of need: OT, C, ILB