We’re finally here. It won’t be long until a cacophony of boos greet commisioner Roger Goodell onto the stage in Dallas to officially kick things off for the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.
This has been one of the more exciting run-ups to the event that I can remember, with five or even six quarterbacks rumored to come of the board on night one, each of whom have a unique profile and story. Those come without mentioning maybe the best running back to come out in the draft since Adrian Peterson, a pass rusher with star potential and a guard whose apparently already getting measured for a hall of fame jacket.
From a Ravens perspective, it’s interesting in the sense that a lot seems to be riding on it. Ozzie Newsome is on his way out, John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are on notice, and the players who are brought in could very much sway what happens in regards to their future with the organization.
It’ll all start with who they pick at 16, so without further ado, let’s get into it. This is a full first round mock with trades included, based upon what I think will ultimately happen.
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Full circle. Darnold started the process as the slam dunk pick at one for Cleveland, a common belief which eventually gave way to some rumblings about Josh Allen. This has now somehow turned into a three-way discussion between Allen, Darnold and Baker Mayfield. In the end, I feel the Browns will make the safest choice when considering the big picture and roll into the future with Darnold as their guy.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Giants are in a tough spot here; Eli Manning has been in a decline for the past few years so the conundrum is obvious. Do they bite the bullet and take his successor now, or try to bring in the generational running back to try and salvage his career? While Dave Gettleman has proven to be a wild card in the past, I decided to make the chalk pick here in Barkley.
3. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
We know the Jets made the move up to the third overall pick to acquire their quarterback of the future. The question has since been who will it come down to? The smart money has the decision coming down to Rosen and Mayfield, with a recent push for Rosen maybe suggesting a leak in Florham Park. As maybe the best pure on field product among the quarterbacks, this would be a very intriguing addition for New York.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
The Browns reportedly want to stick around at four and grab a premium player, so after taking Darnold at one, they snag Chubb to shore up the other side of the ball. Him and Myles Garrett are a scary proposition.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Broncos could very much get into the quarterback game here with Mayfield and Allen still on the board, but I think John Elway believes in Case Keenum in the short-term and would make this big-time investment. Nelson may just be the best player in the draft, so at five the value is certainly there.
6. TRADE: Miami Dolphins via IND: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Baker falls out of the top five against his own prediction, but is the end result of the first big trade of the night. Ryan Tannehill’s status was shaky before his knee injury, and the Dolphins have been linked to a few of the draft’s top passers. The Colts have stated they’re willing to move down again, so I’m predicting them to do so; as a result, Miami gets a guy who would mesh well with Adam Gase.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State
This is a tough way for the board to fall for Tampa as they miss out on the top three players in the class. James will be a nice consolation prize though, and finally bring some stability to the back end of their defense.
8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety, Alabama
The Bears also miss out on the top three players they were hoping would fall, but Fitzpatrick is a fantastic and versatile player who could help round out a young defense.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The Niners have been mocked to pick Roquan repeatedly this offseason, especially following Reuben Foster’s arrest. Smith is the better player and would be a great replacement, or partner, depending on how that all plays out.
10. TRADE: Arizona Cardinals via OAK: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen’s fall ends with another big trade: Arizona jumping up in front of Buffalo to get their guy for the future. The near future probably, as Sam Bradford will be hurt by week 3 and Mike Glennon is a backup at the very best.
11. Indianapolis Colts via MIA: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The word is out that the Colts love Smith and are considering him at sixth overall. After trading back, they pick up a similar (and arguably better) player in Edmunds to start a desperately needed rebuild.
12. Buffalo Bills via CIN: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
After losing out on Allen who they reportedly love, the Bills get a bolt of lightning in Jackson who will step in for the lame duck A.J. MacCarron in absolutely no time. Get excited, western New York.
13. Washington Redskins: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Redskins stand pat and grab one of the best players in the draft in Ward thanks to a run on quarterbacks. Having to give up Kendall Fuller for Alex Smith hurts, but Ward has higher potential as an outside lockdown corner.
14. Green Bay Packers: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Packers always seem to need defensive help and Vea would provide it in spades. Word has come out that respected people in the league love Vea, whose drawn some Haloti Ngata comparisons. This is something the Packers would absolutely sign up for.
15. Oakland Raiders via SF: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
After trading back and acquiring some picks, Oakland grabs some insurance for Derek Carr, who they need a bounce back season out of.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Here we are: the board falls in an interesting way and Baltimore still manages to grab a player they’ve been endlessly pegged to select. None of the signings at wideout should preclude them from targeting a guy they like at any point in the draft. If Ridley is your guy, go with him and don’t look back.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Chargers are trying to sell tickets in L.A. while trying to compete with the surging Rams for market share. This isn’t a move to accomplish that, but it’s a safe pick that will bolster a strong front seven.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Seahawks begin the rebuild of the Legion of Boom by nabbing a guy whose drawn some Richard Sherman comparisons. Jackson’s speed is a concern but he has a unique ability to play the ball in the air.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Apparently some teams have taken LVE off of their board due to a spinal issue. That doesn’t seem to ever be an issue for Dallas, but regardless, they’re adding a great player to their front seven with this pick.
20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
The Lions are in need of some help next to Ziggy Ansah and get it in a comparable player in Davenport. This would be a bit of a fall for the small school product.
21. Cincinnati Bengals via BUF: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
The Bengals ended up in this spot by trading back with Buffalo and acquiring Cordy Glenn in the process. Wynn would slide in next to him at guard and provide some real protection in a crucial stretch for Andy Dalton.
22. Buffalo Bills via KC: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Bills managed to grab their future quarterback without giving up any capital, and use that second pick to get him some help at wide receiver. Moore has been argued to be the best wideout in the draft and would inject some life into a murky pass catching situation.
23. New England Patriots via LAR: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
The Pats got rid of Brandin Cooks to acquire this pick and nab a nice pass catching option with it. Hurst could also prove to be the all-important replacement to Rob Gronkowski who may soon be looking to leave the sport altogether.
24. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
The Panthers have had issues protecting Cam Newton and probably want more help clearing the way for Christian McCaffrey. They would get that and a “kick some ass” attitude in Hernandez, which any team loves to have.
25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Titans were a surprise playoff team in 2017, and will look to return under a new head coach. A good way to start would be to have Landry fall to them, who if not for a tough last season could have been a top ten type pick.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons don’t have a ton of needs and could go a number of directions here. I have them strengthening their D-line with a mauler in Bryan. Dan Quinn would love to bring in a guy of his caliber.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
The Saints have been looking to replace Jimmy Graham’s presence in the middle ever since trading him, and Gesicki compares favorably to Graham in a lot of ways. Drew Brees could definitely maximize his abilities in the red zone.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
There’s been some serious buzz about Ragnow sneaking into the first round, and Pittsburgh would be a good landing spot for him to come in as either a guard or a center.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
It’s legitimately possible that the Jags only real need is behind center. After missing out on the top five passers, I doubt they talk themselves into Mason Rudolph. That leaves them getting some more help for Blake Bortles.
30. Minnesota Vikings: James Daniels, C, Iowa
The Vikings don’t have many needs at all, but you can never have enough protection for your quarterback. Especially if you just made him the richest one in the NFL and are Super Bowl or bust.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The Pats already picked up their tight end in Hurst, and now get a Nate Solder replacement in a guy who’s been compared to him. Tom Brady is a lot happier all of a sudden.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
The Eagles sit in a great spot after winning a Super Bowl for the first time, and add some great depth behind Jay Ajayi who may be gone soon. Good for them, as Guice is poised to be an even better player down the line.