We have finally made it, to the most important draft for the New York Jets in the last decade. The Jets are in position, with the second part of one of the better two year drafts at Quarterback, to select their franchise QB. All of the talent the Jets have added this offseason won’t matter if they don’t pick the right QB. Other teams are angling for talent as well, so here’s my final first round mock with a couple of trades thrown in for good measure…
1. Cleveland Browns: USC QB Sam Darnold Why: There’s been ALOT of talk that the Browns have been linked to Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield, but for my money I think they still go with the quarterback from USC. I don’t think the Mayfield news is real at all. Darnold can sit behind Tyrod Taylor and learn under Todd Haley, and be ready to contribute with solid WRs already in place.2. New York Giants: Penn State RB Saquan Barkley
Why? I believe the Giants have been honest about their desire to roll back with Eli Manning for the next two years, and with that in mind they take the safest offensive-skill position prospect in the entire draft. I was tempted to take Quentin Nelson at 2, but think the Giants opt for Barkley and then add an offensive lineman later on.
3. New York Jets: UCLA QB Josh Rosen
Why? He’s been my number one QB pretty consistently, and that hasn’t changed. The Jets take the most pro-ready signal caller in the draft, and a guy who still hasn’t hit his ceiling yet in the former Bruin. Rosen fits what the Jets want to do, and he comes in with a big chip on his shoulder and a desire to be better than Tom Brady. Maccagnan takes him, as he makes the right pick after a little bit of luck falls in his lap.
4. Buffalo Bills (trade with Cleveland Browns): Wyoming QB Josh Allen
Why? The Bills go up here and draft the most polarizing prospect in the draft in Wyoming QB Josh Allen. Allen is, by all metrics, a bad QB but he’s had many excuses made for him during this entire process. He is a genuinely good kid with a big arm excellent mobility, but does not process information quick enough and is incredibly inaccurate. However, because AJ McCarron and Nathan Peterman are worse than him he will be Buffalo’s week one starter.
5. Denver Broncos: Alabama S/CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
Why? The Broncos will entertain trade offers, but at the end of the day they take the versatile DB from Alabama. Minkah, in my opinion, is a better safety than corner and with Chris Harris and Bradley Roby locked in as starting cornerbacks the Broncos give Vance Joseph a safety on the back end. The addition of Case Keenum, and Elway’s belief in Paxton Lynch, means they pass on a QB here in favor of a playmaker on defense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Notre Dame OG Quentin Nelson
Why? The Bucs will get offers for this pick with Baker Mayfield sliding a bit, but I think the stay at seven and improve their OL by taking my number one player in Nelson. The Fighting Irish have produced three monsters on the OL in Ronnie Stanley, Mike McGlinchey, and Nelson, but Nelson is the best one and is going to be a starter for the next decade. Nelson allows versatile OL Evan Smith to provide depth for the team, and goes a long way towards protecting Jamies Winston.
8. Arizona Cardinals (trade with Chicago): Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
Why? With Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon signed, the Cardinals are one of the few teams with the infrastructure in place to have their young QB sit if necessary. Coach Wilks jumps at the opportunity to get his QB, an accurate and mobile passer at that, and he goes with Baker Mayfield here. With the Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks all having QBs the Cardinals realize they need one to keep pace, and they benefit from teams passing on Mayfield early on.
9. San Francisco 49ers: FSU S Derwin James
Why: With Eric Reid gone, the 49ers are in need of a safety to pair with Jimmie Ward, and the playmaking thumper from Florida State fits the bill. With the Reuben Foster situation swirling, there might be a push for Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds, but GM John Lynch opts for the safety that reminds him a little of him. James brings a sense of nastiness to this defense that it has not had in a long time.
Why? I have Tremaine Edmunds ranked higher than him on my big board, but Jon Gruden has improved veterans all offseason and I think he goes with the older and more polished player. That’s Smith, the linebacker from Georgia that has drawn Ray Lewis comparisons. Smith will be in the defensive rookie of the year discussion after a year playing behind Khalil Mack and what should be a stout Raiders defensive line.
11. Miami Dolphins: Virginia LB Tremaine Edmunds
Why? I don’t think Miami has any desire to trade up for a QB, instead opting for another year of Ryan Tannehill with maybe some Brock Osweiler sprinkled in. They moved Jarvis Landry, so could be in the market for a WR, but they’ve talked up Devante Parker and Kenny Stills all offseason. Instead, Mike Tannenbaum takes the defensive player with arguably the highest ceiling here in the former Hokie. Edmunds is a stud, and I do not look forward to seeing him as a Dolphin next year.
12. Cleveland Browns (trade with Buffalo): Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
Why? Last year, the Browns began the rebuild of their defense with Myles Garrett and Jabril Peppers. With their second first round pick, they add another starter to that defense in Joe Malta’s top rated cornerback. I think Ward has the chance to be very good, and with the pass rush in Cleveland already in place he should have the opportunity to make a ton of plays on the ball. Picking up extra assets and still adding one of the draft’s better players, after taking their QB, is a win for the Browns as they pair Ward with newly-acquired Damarious Randall.
13. Washington: DE/OLB Harold Landry. Why? Washington will get a lot of offers from teams trying to get up for Lamar Jackson ahead of the Chargers, but they stay put and select a top 8 player that slightly falls because of concerns that aren’t really football related. Landry is a stud who automatically improves Washington’s defense, and he slides right in opposite Ryan Kerrigan to give them a scary pass rushing duo.
14. Green Bay Packers: Iowa CB Josh Jackson Why? The Packers pass up on Vita Vea, and instead opt for one of the draft’s better cornerbacks to replace the aforementioned Randall. Josh Jackson and Kevin King are a high ceiling duo, and the Packers can’t pass on him. Jackson slots right in as a day one starter and, with the addition of former Jet Muhammad Wilkerson, the Packers defense should finally give Aaron Rodgers some much needed help.
15. Chicago Bears: Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey
Why? The Bears are able to trade back from 8 to 15, add some more picks, and STILL add the best offensive tackle in the NFL Draft. McGlinchey can play tackle (replacing the underwhelming Charles Leno) and giving the Bears a really good offensive line to help their running game and protect their franchise QB. McGlinchey, like Nelson and former fighting Irish Ronnie Stanley, is a nasty blocker with Pro Bowl potential. He slots right in as a 10 year starter for the Bears, and protects Mitch Trubisky’s blind side so he can take that next step as a QB.
16. Baltimore Ravens: LSU RB Derius Guice
There will be a big push to draft the heir apparent to QB Joe Flacco, but Ozzie Newsome forgoes that and gives Flacco a legitimate RB that can alleviate the dependency off of Flacco and the Ravens passing attack. Guice is a big boy with agility and speed, and he is my number three ranked running back in my top 5 behind Barkley and USC RB Ronald Jones. With McGlinchey going in the pick right before, the Ravens forego a reach and instead take the RB from LSU.
17. New Orleans Saints (trade with Chargers): Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
Why? The Saints had a home run draft last year, and this year they make an aggressive move up for Drew Brees’s successor and take a talented QB in Lamar Jackson. Jackson, in my opinion, is a better QB today than Michael Vick was when he entered the draft. With the Saints having a young RB/WR duo in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, and a young developing defense, the Saints can have Lamar learn from Drew while not having to play him right away.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Louisville CB Jaire Alexander
Why? Back to back Louisville Cardinals go in my mock, and the Seahawks add the draft’s best corner in Jaire Alexander. Losing Richard Sherman stings, but Alexander slots right in as an adequate replacement. Alexander has some Darrelle Revis in him, as he excels in man to man coverage and is a stout tackler. He’s the first piece in the rebuilding of the Legion of Boom, and will become a fan favorite for the 12th Man.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
Why? Losing Dez Bryant is a bigger deal than folks realize, as the Cowboys have the worst WR corps in the NFC. Calvin Ridley, while an older prospect, goes a long way towards rectifying that. Ridley will quickly become Dak Prescott’s favorite target, and a fantasy football favorite as well since someone has to get Bryant’s 150+ Targets. I’m not as high on Ridley as others are, and think he’s no more than a number two WR, but really like the fit of him in Dallas as a weapon for Dak in the passing game and as someone that can grow with him and Ezekiel Elliott.
20. Detroit Lions: Washington DT Vita Vea
Why? A’Shawn Robinson was added to the interior last year, and this year the Lions add a monster of a man in Vita Vea. With Robinson, Vea, and Ziggy Ansah the Lions will now boast one of the better defensive lines in the NFC. Some will argue that Vea is better suited to be a NT in a traditional 3-4, but he reminds me a lot of former Jets NT Damon Harrison who transitioned seamlessly to the Giants 4-3. With the talent around him, Vea can start right away and produce similar to Gerald McCoy. Very good value pick for the Jets.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Maryland WR DJ Moore
Why? I think this could be where Arden Key is selected, and lord knows the Bengals don’t care about off the field concerns, but I think they play it safe and take the former Maryland Terrapin. I think Moore isn’t falling past the Panthers at 24, but I really like this spot for him opposite AJ Green. Andy Dalton needs all the help he can get, and DJ Moore has the size, strength, and athleticism to beat number two corners pretty regularly. He could be a 1000 yard WR his rookie year, and he’d produce big numbers with the Bengals.
22. Buffalo Bills: Texas OT Connor Williams
Why? The worst WR corps in the AFC belongs to the Buffalo Bills. However, after trading up to select Josh Allen, they opt to get someone to protect him in the big man from Texas. Interestingly enough, Williams was the number one tackle on ALOT of boards entering the season, but some people now believe he’d be better at guard. Either way, he can replace Dion Dawkins (who should be better at RT) or Vlad Ducasse (who is definitely better on the bench).
23. New England Patriots: UCLA OT Kolton Miller
Why? This might seem like a reach, but with the Patriots having two first round picks they use their first one to try and shore up the offensive line. Miller is a good prospect who benefits from the Patriots having a significant need to protect Tom Brady. With Lamar Jackson gone, and no avenue to trade up to get one of the big 3, the Patriots opt for an OL with a pretty solid floor and slide Miller into their LT position.
24. Carolina Panthers: SMU WR Courtland Sutton
Why? Sutton is WR1 to me, and the Panthers get him at 24. Adding Sutton to a WR room with Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith gives Cam Newton a chance at a bounce back season, and with the belief that the Panthers will actually know how to use Curtis Samuel this year the Panthers offense could be very good this year. They really should add a cornerback at some point, but I didn’t think they’d reach for a cornerback at 24 so they opt for offensive help for their QB.
25. Tennessee Titans: Alabama ILB Rashaan Evans
Why? The Titans need a replacement for new Jet Avery Williamson, and Evans fits the bill. With Evans slotted in at ILB, the Titans can play Jayon Brown at OLB over the ineffective Derrick Morgan and play their four best linebackers. Evans is Reuben Foster without the baggage, and Mike Vrabel adds the leader of his defense.
26. Atlanta Falcons: UTEP OG Will Hernandez
Why? The Falcons have one hole on the offensive line, and Will Hernandez fills that seamlessly. Hernandez is a mauler who excels at both pass blocking and run blocking, and he joins a unit that will now rival the Dallas Cowboys as the best OL in the NFL. Had Vita Vea fallen, he’d be the pick here, but since he didn’t I think the Falcons fortify their OL.
27. Los Angeles Chargers: Stanford S Justin Reid
Why? The Chargers have needed to replace Eric Weddle, and here they get his replacement in a trade back. They add more picks, and pick up a playmaking safety on the back end. Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett have the potential to be the best CB duo in the NFL, but they need some help from the safety position and that’s where Reid steps in. Reid is a sure tackler with ball hawking skills. Reid is also clean as a prospect, which the Chargers have placed a premium on over the last couple of years.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
Why? With Justin Reid taken a pick before, the Steelers add another weapon to the offense in Penn State TE Mike Gesicki. Gesicki adds a big bodied middle of the field mismatch for Ben Roethlisberger, and is an upgrade from Jesse James. He’s probably the best athlete out of all the offensive skill positions, and lining him up outside with Antonio Brown in the slot is a nightmare for defensive coordinators. James is a better blocker than Gesicki, so the Steelers can play them both together. With the predicted trade of Martavis Bryant, Gesicki is another weapon in the passing game.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
Why? Malik Jackson, Marcell Dareus, and Maurice Hurst? Absolutely. The Jaguars have stuck to taking the best player on their board under GM Dave Caldwell, and this pick is no different. Hurst’s medical was clear and he wowed at Michigan’s Pro Day. For a team that was one half away from a Super Bowl, the Jaguars don’t have many holes and while they’d love to add competition for Blake Bortles they pass on a QB here and improve the depth of their defense.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Boise State OLB Leighton Vander Esch
Why? The Vikings have one hole on their top defense, and it’s currently manned by Ben Gedeon. LVE is a huge upgrade for this defense, as he brings a pass rushing prowess that they don’t get from Gedeon. He can improve in coverage, but he is developing as a run stuffer and would provide insurance in case the Vikings can’t keep Anthony Barr as well. The good teams prepare for losses, not react to them, and LVE slides right in as a day one starter.
31. New York Giants (via trade with Patriots): Georgia OT/OG Isaiah Wynn
Why? The Giants have a terrible offensive line, and they try to take another step to rectifying that with a trade back into the first round. They nab Isaiah Wynn, who can replace Ereck Flowers at RT, or slide right into one of the guard positions. At 6’3” and 313 pounds, Wynn is a day one starter on the offensive line and would go a long way towards clearing the way for Saquan Barkley. He’d also keep Eli Manning upright, which seems to be Dave Gettleman’s mission this offseason. Adding Wynn, with the free agent acquisition of Nate Solder, does exactly that.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: USC RB Ronald Jones II
Why? The Eagles lost Legarette Blount in free agency, so they take the RB from USC to fill the void/eventually take over for Jay Ajayi. There will be temptation for UCF CB Mike Hughes, but with Sidney Jones and Ronald Darby expected back the Eagles can pass on the UCF standout. Instead, they add a legitimate three down back who can contribute in the pass game and the running game. Jones gets the pleasure of running behind one of the better OL in the NFL, and not having to deal with eight men in the box due to franchise QB Carson Wentz.
New York Jets full mock draft
Round One, Pick 3: UCLA QB Josh Rosen
Trade with Carolina: Jets acquire Carolina’s 3, 5, 6, and 7 for the the 8th pick in R3
Round Three, Pick 24: SDSU RB Rashaad Penny
Round Four, Pick 7: Alabama DL Da’Shawn Hand
Round Five, Pick 20: North Carolina A&T OT Brandon Parker
Round Five, Pick 24: Kansas State EDGE Dorance Armstrong, Jr.
Round Six, Pick 5: Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagali
Round Six, Pick 23: UVA Safety Quin Blanding
Round Seven, Pick 16: Alabama CB Levi Wallace
Round Seven Pick 17: FSU WR Auden Tate
Photo Credit: NFL.com