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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.