NFL Draft: Mock Draft 4.0
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
Don’t let the Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield reports fool you. Sam Darnold is the clear No. 1 quarterback in this year’s draft, and the Browns would have to be insane to not take him here. On second thought, that may just mean we are all in for another classic Brown’s moment come on Thursday. I hope not.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley (RB, PSU)
The Giants could do many different things with this pick, and part of me believes that they recognize their need for a new quarterback. However, for now I’ll choose to believe that they will give Eli Manning at least one more season to prove he has more left in the tank. Instead of drafting Josh Rosen, they instead go with the most dynamic, and newest father I might add, in the draft.
3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
Once the trade with the Colts was announced, the Jets taking a quarterback with the third overall pick became the closest thing we have to a lock in the entire draft. However, which quarterback they take is still very much in the air. Conventional wisdom would say go Rosen, but it is the Jets after all. There has been a lot of talk surrounding the Jets lust for Baker Mayfield, and his big personality makes him a perfect fit for New York. I think the Jets make the first big move of the draft and take the reigning Heisman Trophy winner in the top-five.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
The Browns could potentially land the durable franchise quarterback that has alluded them for decades and the best pass-rusher in the draft. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch but putting Chubb on the other side of last year’s first-overall pick Myles Garret would smell impending disaster for opposing quarterbacks.
5. Buffalo Bills (PROJECTED TRADE WITH BRONCOS): Josh Allen, (QB, Wyoming)
It’s no secret that the Bills are looking to trade up to select a quarterback. It’s a toss-up between Allen and Rosen here, but I think the Bills like Allen’s arm and build more than Rosen’s intellectual intangibles. This pick could very well bring the Bill’s back to the playoffs, or back into the top-five again next year.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quentin Nelson (OG, Notre Dame)
The Colts are rumored to be looking to trade down for the second-time in this draft, but if the Cardinals or any other team feel they can land their guy at the spot they are at now, then the Colts will just take the best offensive line prospect in years. That’s what we call a win-win situation.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
The Buccaneers have a lot of issues that they need to address, but drafting the top cornerback is a good way to start the rebuilding process.
8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmonds (LB, Virginia Tech)
The Bears would like to see Quentin Nelson fall to them and have him reunite with his former coach at Notre Dame, but if that doesn’t happen, they should look to continue their legacy of having fearsome linebackers in the middle of the field. They are called the Monsters of the Midway for a reason, you know?
9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
The 49ers are also very much in the market of trading down, but if the best safety in the draft falls right to you, you take him.
10. Arizona Cardinals (PROJECTED TRADE WITH THE RAIDERS): Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
Between the Bills and the Cardinals, I’m not sure who is more desperate for a quarterback. However, because the Bills have more ammunition to make a deal with, the Cardinals will have to wait their turn. If the want to get a franchise signal-caller, they will need to do it before the end of the top-10 picks. Teams like Miami, New Orleans and Cincinnati will be looking to do the exact same thing, so the Cardinals will have to beat them to the punch. Having Rosen sit a couple games behind Sam Bradford until he inevitably gets hurt is a great situation to be in for both parties.
11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James (S, Florida State)
Like I said, the Dolphins are in the market for a quarterback potentially. However, if they can’t out-deal Arizona they will have to settle for the best player available. In this case, it’s the dynamic safety from Florida State, meaning the hometown hero can stay in state.
12. Denver Broncos (PROJECTED TRADE WITH BILLS): Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
The Broncos just cut ties with CJ Anderson, meaning there will be an open battle for the starting running back position. The Broncos would love to find a way to somehow land Saquon Barkley, but with him long gone, they will instead take the power runner from LSU.
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
The Redskins had the worst run-defense in all of football last season and could end up getting a steal with the human wrecking ball known simply as Vita Vea.
14. Green Bay Packers: Courtland Sutton (WR, MSU)
The Packers missed out on the Allen Robinson sweepstakes, and parted ways with longtime receiver Jordy Nelson. For weeks, the consensus was that Calvin Ridley was the best wide receiver in the draft, but I think the Packers will value Sutton’s size over Ridley’s route running.
15. Oakland Raiders (PROJECTED TRADE WITH CARDINALS): Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
The Raiders need a few more pieces on defense and having Smith in the middle of the field would draw attention off Khalil Mack, leaving him able to terrorize the outside.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
The Baltimore Ravens have been in a desperate search for a legitimate number one receiver for years now. They finally get their guy, and he should look to produce immediately in the Charm City.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
Chargers have a lot of options here, but they need to address their linebacker situation. Rashaan Evans will bring a physical style of play to help aid in every facet of the game.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Orlando Brown (OT, Oklahoma)
The Seahawks seemingly got rid of their entire roster this offseason, but one of their biggest needs is still at offensive line. Especially with Russel Wilson having more pressure than ever to lead his team to victory, it should be priority number one that he stays up-right and healthy.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
The Cowboys have three glaring holes that they need to fill: safety, wide receiver and defensive line. In the cases of both wide receiver and safety, there are major drop-offs in value after the top-two players at their position are taken off the board. They will no doubt look to the later rounds for those positions, but in their first-round they should take their best value pick with Payne.
20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
The Lions haven’t been able to find a replacement for Suh since he left a couple seasons ago. They can finally solve that problem here, while securing a strong-force in the middle of their defensive line.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Harold Landry (OLB, Boston College)
The Bengals need a lot to say the least. They have so many needs that they would be wise to just take the best player available. Luckily for them, Landry is one of the best outside pass-rushers in the draft, which is also perhaps their biggest need. However, don’t be too surprised if the Bengals are the first team to take a tight end or, perhaps, even Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph.
22. Denver Broncos (PROJECTED TRADE WITH BILLS): Josh Jackson (CB, Iowa)
In this scenario the Broncos acquire both the Bills first-round draft picks in exchange for the fifth-overall selection. They fill their biggest offensive need with their first pick, and with their second pick in the first-round they fill their biggest defensive need.
23. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller (OT, UCLA)
In a rare move for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, they let their starting left tackle Nate Solder leave in free agency. With two picks in the first-round, the Patriots have enough collateral to move up and make a big move. However, Belichick can be described as many things, but flashy is not one of them. Expect Bill to take the best player available at his weakest position group, even if it’s not the most recognizable name.
24. Carolina Panthers: Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
The Panthers struggled to move the ball down the field last season, particularly after Greg Olsen went down with an injury. They will get second-year running back Christian McCaffery back this season, but they are in desperate need of a deep threat on the outside to help bail Cam out when his offensive line fails him.
25. Tennessee Titans: Isaiah Wynn (OG, Georgia)
The direction that the Titans are taking their franchise is crystal clear. Between Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry, the Titans are quite obviously prepared to run the football down their opponent’s throats. Selecting one of the best run-blocking guards in the draft makes too much sense to pass up.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)
The Falcons lost Dontari Poe in Free Agency and their main-focus going forward should be bolstering up their defensive line. If the Eagles proved anything last season, it is that the only thing better than an explosive offense is a ferocious pass rush.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)
The Saints need a lot, but it starts with drafting an offensive tackle to replace the retired Zach Streif.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
Steelers could shock the world and take Mason Rudolph here, but instead I believe they will draft one of the best line backers in the draft, filling the void left by Ryan Shazier’s devastating injury.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State)
The Jaguars are absolutely lethal on defense, and their offensive line helped Leonard Fournette rush for over 1,000 yards during his rookie season. The Jaguars are extremely thin at wide receiver, but instead of drafting one higher than they are valued, I suspect they would much rather have a freak athlete like Gesicki on their roster who can make Blake Bortles look like a Superstar in the red zone.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez (C/OG, UTEP)
The Vikings are in a great position to go back to the NFC Championship game and hopefully they can finally get to a Super Bowl. They don’t have a glaring need anywhere on their roster, so this pick is essentially just to add as much depth as possible.
31. New England Patriots: Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
Were you expecting another Louisville prospect here instead? For reasons why the Patriots will not be drafting Lamar Jackson, see pick No. 23 on Belichick and “big moves." Instead, they will use their second pick to fill another immediate need and Alexander is still considered by many to be the second-best cornerback only behind Denzel Ward. The Patriots get out of the first-round with potentially two immediate starters, and the future of the quarterback situation will continue to go unsolved. Well, for now at least.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Connor Williams (OT, Texas)
If Eagles fans are lucky, Jason Peters has one more season left in him. With the last pick in the first round they grab their future franchise tackle.
Jason Marcus is a junior, studying telecommunications. You can contact him, email email@example.com.