IT. IS. DRAFT. DAY. Joe Malfa has put together a full 1st round mock draft every week over the last month. Here is his fifth and final mock of 2018:
1) Cleveland Browns — QB Sam Darnold, USC (Previous pick: No change)There’s been some noise about Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield here, but I’m not buying it. Darnold is the top QB prospect in this draft — don’t overthink this, Cleveland.
2) New York Giants — RB Saquon Barkley (Previous pick: No change)
Taking a QB would be the smart thing to do since Eli Manning is 37-years-old and has already shown a bit of a decline, but Dave Gettleman wants a “gold jacket guy.” That’s what Saquon Barkley is. He will ease the burden on Manning and have an Adrian Peterson type of impact on this franchise.
3) New York Jets — QB Josh Rosen, UCLA (Previous pick: Baker Mayfield)Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan have been very stingy with leaks through their first three drafts. Maybe this year they let their guard down and these Baker Mayfield rumors are true, but I have a hunch Rosen is the name we hear. Either way, I’ll be ecstatic.
4) Cleveland Browns — DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State (Previous pick: No change)
The Browns could trade down here or look for help in the secondary with someone like Denzel Ward, but they cannot pass on taking Chubb and putting him on the opposite side of Myles Garrett. Good luck, AFC North QBs.
5) TRADE — Arizona Cardinals — QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (Previous pick: Josh Rosen to the Broncos)Arizona was jumped by the Chiefs and Texans for Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson last year, but I think they have learned their lesson and will be the team doing the jumping this time around. Don’t be surprised if the Denver takes Mayfield themselves or another surprise team like Miami trades up, but either way, this is where I see Mayfield coming off the board. The same logic applies if the Jets take Mayfield and it’s Rosen still on the board here.
6) Indianapolis Colts — OG Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame (Previous pick: No change)
With at last three QBs virtually guaranteed to go in the top five, the Colts will be able to take whoever is left out of Barkley, Chubb and Nelson. The first two are gone, so they get Nelson and Andrew Luck gets some protection. A trade down is also possible, but Nelson is one of those “gold jacket guys” at a position of need — don’t pass on that.
7) TRADE — Buffalo Bills — QB Josh Allen, Wyoming (Previous pick: No change)
I have been mocking this trade for three weeks and I’m not going to change now. It makes sense for both Buffalo and Tampa Bay. The most consistent rumor throughout draft season has been Allen to the Bills.
8) Chicago Bears — LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech (Previous pick: No change)
Chicago has done a great job of building up the offense around Mitchell Trubisky, but the defense needs work. Edmunds doesn’t turn 20 until after the draft. He is an athletic freak who has the potential to develop into a perennial All-Pro.
9) San Francisco 49ers — LB Roquan Smith, Georgia (Previous pick: No change)
Smith may not have the ceiling of Edmunds, but he is the safer, more polished prospect. Given the state of the Reuben Foster situation, it would be wise of John Lynch to grab another linebacker. Even if Foster’s name is cleared in the domestic violence case, there’s nothing wrong with having two stud linebackers.
10) Oakland Raiders — CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State (Previous pick: No change)
Jon Gruden’s top priority should be reshaping this secondary. Ward is the top corner in this draft and has the potential to take away the opposition’s top receiver each week.
11) Miami Dolphins — DL Vita Vea, Washington (Previous pick: No change)
Ndamukong Suh left a massive void in the middle of this defense, both literally and figuratively. Vea is the 6-foot-4, 347-pound cork needed to plug that hole. Keep an eye on a trade up by Mike Tannenbaum to find a replacement for the extraordinarily mediocre Ryan Tannehill.
12) TRADE –Tampa Bay Buccaneers — S Derwin James, Florida State (Previous pick: No change)
The Bucs are in need of a major overhaul in the secondary. Now equipped with picks 12 and 22, they find a safety (and later a corner) to address that need. James is the draft’s top true safety.
13) Washington Redskins — DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (Previous pick: No change)
Fitzpatrick is a better overall prospect than James because of his versatility. The Redskins could use him as a safety, nickel corner or linebacker depending on the situation. This is a steal at 13.
14) Green Bay Packers — CB Josh Jackson, Iowa (Previous pick: Harold Landry)
Corner is Green Bay’s biggest need and Jackson is the second-best corner in this draft. He has great ball skills and will excel in press coverage because of his length and skill set.
15) TRADE — Denver Broncos — OG Will Hernandez, UTEP (Previous pick: Calvin Ridley to the Cardinals)
By trading down with Arizona, John Elway puts himself in position to improve his interior offensive line situation. Hernandez is a strong, nasty guard who will start immediately.
16) Baltimore Ravens — OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame (Previous pick: No change)
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was the Ravens’ 1st round selection in 2016 — the season after he and McGlinchey formed one of the nation’s most formidable tackle tandems at Notre Dame. Reuniting them in Baltimore would be a great move to shore up Joe Flacco’s line.
17) Los Angeles Chargers — DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama (Previous pick: No change)
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are giving offensive lines issues from the outside, but they need a complement on the interior. Payne has the strength, athleticism and motor to be a three-down run stuffer and pass rusher from the inside of the line. You can never go wrong with a Karl Dunbar coached defensive lineman in the 1st round.
18) Seattle Seahawks — OG Isaiah Wynn, Georgia (Previous pick: No change)
The “Legion of Boom” is no more and there are holes along the defensive front, but the voids on the offensive line need to be filled. This team revolves around Russell Wilson — protect him. Wynn has the tools to start immediately and he can play either guard or tackle.
19) Dallas Cowboys — WR D.J. Moore, Maryland (Previous pick: No change)
Dez Bryant needs to be replaced, but a big-bodied downfield threat does not serve much of a purpose in this offense. Dak Prescott’s throws are mostly in that short to intermediate range, and that’s where Moore is able to feast because of his hands and quickness. I view him as the draft’s top receiver.
20) Detroit Lions — EDGE Marcus Davenport, UTSA (Previous pick: No change)
The Lions need someone to get after the passer opposite Ziggy Ansah. If Davenport falls this far, the Lions would pounce on him.
21) Cincinnati Bengals — C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas (Previous pick: Will Hernandez)
It took until the final installment of my mock draft, but I finally have Ragnow in the 1st round. He is the top center in this draft and it no longer seems like his injury will push him to the 2nd day.
22) TRADE — Tampa Bay Buccaneers — CB Jaire Alexander, Louisville (Previous pick: Josh Jackson)
Alexander has the skills and swagger to be the shutdown corner this defense needs. Like I said, this secondary needs a complete overhaul and landing both James and Alexander in the 1st round would be great for this franchise.
23) New England Patriots — LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama (Previous pick: No change)
Evans is the linebacker version of Marcus Maye in this draft. He will fly under the radar because of the other two linebackers at the top of the draft just like Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker overshadowed Maye, but he could more productive in year one than the two guys generating all the buzz.
24) Carolina Panthers — WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama (Previous pick: Jaire Alexander)
Ridley falling to 24 would be a pleasant surprise for the Panthers, and they would sprint the draft card up to the table. He will be either a low-end Batman or a high-end Robin in the NFL — think Jeremy Maclin.
25) Tennessee Titans — EDGE Harold Landry (Previous pick: Leighton Vander Esch)
The Titans need linebackers and pass rushers. Landry could potentially play in either spot, and Mike Vrabel will love that versatility. Landry would have been a top-10 pick if not for the ankle injury that cost him the last month of his senior season, so getting that type of talent this late in the 1st round is a steal.
26) Atlanta Falcons — DT Taven Bryan, Florida (Previous pick: No change)
The Falcons need to find a replacement for Dontari Poe. Look no further than Bryan. The interior offensive line could use some work so someone like Billy Price makes sense here as well, but I think the defensive help is more important.
27) New Orleans Saints — TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State (Previous pick: No change)
The Saints are in prime position to trade back because they drafted so well last year and have virtually no holes, but something has been missing in this offense ever since they traded away Jimmy Graham. Gesicki can step right in and give Drew Brees the dangerous tight end he has lacked ever since Graham was shipped to Seattle.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers — LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise St. (Previous pick: Justin Reid)
Vander Esch will fill up the stat sheet and be the sideline-to-sideline run stuffer this defense lost when Ryan Shazier went down. He needs some polish, but he has the potential to be the anchor for whichever defense adds him.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars — WR Courtland Sutton, SMU (Previous pick: No change)
The Jaguars lost both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns this offseason. They lack that big-bodied, number one type of receiver, and that is what Sutton can be. I view him as a boom or bust prospect, but there is a lot to like in a receiver that has drawn comparisons to Julio Jones. He is not nearly as polished as Jones was, but he has star-potential.
30) Minnesota Vikings — OG Connor Williams, Texas (Previous pick: Billy Price)
It is hard to find a hole in this Vikings roster. Interior offensive line is the only one I could find, and it is an important one to plug given the money invested in Kirk Cousins. Williams would start as a guard and his versatility gives this offense a lot of options in case either of the starting tackles goes down.
31) New England Patriots — QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville (Previous pick: Kolton Miller)
Whether it is to the Patriots — who seem interested — or another team trading back into the first round, this is where I see Jackson coming off the board.
32) Philadelphia Eagles — RB Derrius Guice, LSU (Previous pick: No change)
The Eagles do not have any major needs, but depth at corner and running back should be addressed. Pairing Guice with Jay Ajayi could be lethal considering the respect opposing defenses have to give to the passing game. Whatever they decide, the Eagles are sitting pretty. Any pick they make could be considered a luxury pick that just adds depth to an already loaded roster.
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