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NFL first round mock draft

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

For the purpose of this mock draft, I will not be including possible trades. Teams like the Bills will almost definitely trade up for a quarterback, but I will not do this in my mock.

1. Cleveland Browns

Sam Darnold, QB, USC

While Saquon Barkley is a tempting option for the first-overall pick, the Browns have passed on too many good quarterbacks in recent years to make the same mistake again. Rumors of Cleveland taking quarterback Josh Allen with the first pick have surfaced recently, but I still believe Darnold is their guy.

2. New York Giants

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

After the debacle of benching Eli Manning last season, it’s clear that the Giants are willing to move on from the two-time Super Bowl champ. Rosen is considered the most “pro ready” quarterback in the draft. The Manning era in New York is coming to an end.

3. New York Jets

Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

With the top two quarterbacks off the board, the Jets elect to go with Josh Allen. Allen has a way to go before he is ready to start in the NFL, but his ceiling may be the highest of any quarterback in the class.

4. Cleveland Browns

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

The Browns land possibly the best player in the entire draft with this pick. Barkley is the best running back prospect in years, and is considered a generational talent. Although Cleveland signed Carlos Hyde in free agency, Barkley would immediately start and upgrade their offense.

5. Denver Broncos

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Broncos miss out on the top three quarterbacks, but will gladly take Baker Mayfield, who many believe could be the best quarterback of the draft.

6. Indianapolis Colts

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The Colts desperately need help at the linebacker position, so taking the best linebacker in the draft makes sense. Edmunds, only 19-years old, has the highest ceiling of any linebacker in the class and could instantly upgrade Indianapolis’ defense.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State

The Buccaneers need help on their defensive line and they get it with the best edge rusher in the draft. Chubb has the potential to be an elite pass rusher in the NFL.

8. Chicago Bears

Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Bears went out and surrounded second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky with plenty of receiving weapons in free agency, and now they get him some protection in the form of the best offensive lineman prospect in years. Nelson could be a staple to Chicago’s line for a long time.

9. San Francisco 49ers

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The 49ers land the best corner in the draft to pair with recently-signed Richard Sherman. The duo will drastically improve San Francisco’s secondary, which was an area of weakness in 2017.

10. Oakland Raiders

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Raiders need help all over their defense, so they take possibly the most versatile defensive player in the draft. Fitzpatrick gives Oakland some much-needed help to the back end of their defense.

11. Miami Dolphins

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Dolphins miss out on the top quarterbacks, so they elect to go with one of the top linebackers. Smith’s sideline-to-sideline speed would do wonders for the middle of Miami’s defense.

12. Buffalo Bills

Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The Bills add a monster to the trenches with Vita Vea. Vea is a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle who has the ability to push the pocket and rush the passer as well.

13. Washington Redskins

Derwin James, S, Florida State

After losing Su’a Cravens, the Redskins land possibly the best safety in the class in Derwin James, who brings a menacing presence to the back end of the defense. James has the range to cover anywhere on the field, including tight ends and running backs close to the line.

14. Green Bay Packers

Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

The Packers could very well go with some cornerback help here, but they instead snag the best pure pass rusher in the class, who can learn from and eventually replace Clay Matthews.

15. Arizona Cardinals

Marcus Davenport, EDGE, Texas-San Antonio

The Cardinals have holes all over their roster, but they choose to go with defense in the form of Marcus Davenport. Davenport dominated small-school competition, so the question remains if he will translate that production to the NFL. Arizona Head Coach and former Panthers Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks is the perfect guy to help Davenport realize his potential.

16. Baltimore Ravens

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Contrary to popular opinion, the Ravens biggest need is not wide receiver. Right tackle is currently a far bigger need, and it just so happens that the best tackle in the class is available at pick 16 for Baltimore.

17. Los Angeles Chargers

Isaiah Wynn, G/T, Georgia

The Chargers give Phillip Rivers some more protection up front with this pick. Wynn played left tackle last season for Georgia, but is projected as a better fit at guard in the NFL. Versatility is a valued commodity for offensive linemen, and Wynn definitely offers it.

18. Seattle Seahawks

Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

After releasing veteran cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks are in need of a new cornerstone at the position. Jackson is a lengthy corner who can step in and start from day one for Seattle.

19. Dallas Cowboy

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

With the recent release of veteran wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys must find another weapon for quarterback Dak Prescott. Calvin Ridley is widely viewed as the top receiver in the draft, so if he falls to Dallas, it could be a no-brainer pick.

20. Detroit Lions

Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Lions fill the void left by Haloti Ngata with Da’Ron Payne from Alabama. Payne brings an interior pass rush to Detroit’s defensive front.

21. Cincinnati Bengals

Rashaan Evans, LB, Georgia

The Bengals need a new face in their linebacker corps, and Evans would be a good fit. With the constant on-and-off the field problems from linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati could very well look to move on from him soon.

22. Buffalo Bills

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Rudolph fits the mold of what the Bills need in a quarterback more than Lamar Jackson. A big-bodied strong quarterback like Rudolph could last longer in the cold weather of Buffalo.

23. New England Patriots

Connor Williams, T, Texas

After losing Nate Solder in free agency, the Patriots have a need at tackle. Connor Williams could be an easy pick for Bill Belichick here.

24. Carolina Panthers

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The Panthers fill a huge need by taking one of the draft’s top corners in Jaire Alexander. Alexander will pair with James Bradbury in a pass-happy NFC South.

25. Tennessee Titans

Taven Bryan, DL, Florida

The Titans continue their offseason trend of improving their defense. After bolstering their secondary in free agency, Tennessee turns the attention to the trenches by selecting Bryan.

26. Atlanta Falcons

Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan

After losing Dontari Poe, the Falcons take one of the best defensive linemen in the draft. Hurst almost fell out of the first round after his heart condition was revealed at the NFL Combine. Hurst has since been cleared, and his talent warrants a first-round selection.

27. New Orleans Saints

Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

The Saints give future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees another big-time weapon in the form of tight end Mike Gesicki. Gesicki would be a reliable target for Brees, and could help elevate New Orleans’ offense to another level as they push for one last Super Bowl with Brees at the helm.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

After the tragic injury to star linebacker Ryan Shazier, the Steelers have a huge void in the middle of their defense. Vander Esch could help to fill that hole.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

After losing both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency, the Jaguars look to another big-bodied receiver to replace them with Courtland Sutton.

30. Minnesota Vikings

Will Hernandez, G, Texas-El Paso

The Vikings paid big money to quarterback Kirk Cousins, and now they will look to protect him by adding Will Hernandez. Hernandez is a physical mauler in the trenches.

31. New England Patriots

Lamar Jackson, QB, Lousville

After trading away both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett in 2017, the Patriots must find a new successor to Tom Brady. Jackson is the most polarizing quarterback, and possibly player, in the 2018 draft. Under the tutelage of Brady and Belichick, Jackson could become a star in the NFL.

32. Philadelphia Eagles

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Super Bowl champs saw how well the combination of Legarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi at running back did for them in 2017, and after losing Blount in free agency, Philadelphia brings in another powerful runner in Derrius Guice, in hopes of reaching the Super Bowl again.