Mock Draft (Updated 4/20/18) with Rounds 5-7 & Projected Priority Free Agents to Follow

 

This latest projection represents what we’re hearing may happen rather than the decisions we would make if we were in charge. Information was gathered about pro day reports and official-30 visits along with reported meetings at the offseason college all star games. We did not project trades, but we did make sure to place prospects with the destinations we feel they will ultimately land. For example, we don’t project any of the top 4 perceived quarterbacks falling out of the top 10, but we concede that there’s a strong chance one of the franchises picking in the 11-16 range will move up to get one of them. In this projection, you will simply see us place the quarterback with the team we guess will make the deal. In addition, one or two trades on draft night can really mess everything up. For that reason, we mostly pride ourselves on matching players with rounds. In other words, while most people put most of their effort into the first round projection, we only place slightly more significance into it than rounds 2-7. I'll let you guys try to figure out why I chose this video clip.

1st Round

 

  1.     Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Rumors have John Dorsey locked in on Josh Allen first overall. I didn’t understand trading the 65th overall selection for one year of Tyrod Taylor at $16m. That’s an irresponsible price to pay for a bridge quarterback unless he had years remaining on his rookie deal and the team was facing a cap crunch (neither of which are the case). The small amount sense I can interpret from the deal is that it’s passable if Cleveland had already decided that it was going to take an athletic signal-caller in the first round. Allow me to hash this out a bit more. Taylor will be the starter to begin 2018, but the offense should be built around the quarterback who is selected here. So it doesn’t make sense to trade valuable draft capital for an athletic dual-threat placeholder if the team is planning on dropping a pure pocket passer into the starting role at some point in the next 12 months. If that were the plan, then it would have made more sense to have just gone hard after Sam Bradford and hang onto the first selection of the 3rd round. However, if Dorsey already decided on Allen, Mayfield, or Lamar Jackson with athleticism being a factor, then it makes more sense to make sure there’s a temporary starter who can move around already in place. While that entire explanation supports the Allen rumors, we just can’t project the Wyoming signal-caller over Sam Darnold without knowing for sure. Darnold is a superior prospect who we grade as a future franchise player. Even if Allen has a higher ceiling, his probability of reaching it is very low because of his history of inaccuracy.

 

  1.     New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Ray and I both think Dave Gettleman would be crazy to pass on a future quarterback with the second overall selection. I’ve pointed to parallels between this team and the Oakland Raiders in April of 2004. We all know what happened to Oakland in the following decade. The team landed Robert Gallery, a projected tackle that turned out to be a pro bowl guard, and could have just as easily taken Larry Fitzgerald, the future Hall of Famer-caliber skill position player. Former owner Al Davis would have likely selected Roy Williams over Fitzgerald, but my point is that those players didn’t/wouldn’t have made the Raiders competitive during the course of their careers. The only players that could have made Oakland a winning squad were the quarterbacks - Rivers and Roethlisberger. However, Davis had a team one year removed from a Super Bowl appearance and its aging QB had taken home MVP honors the same season so Al decided to reload and make another run. Hindsight shows that it was a critical mistake, but it set the blueprint for how New York should approach this choice. Now, Ray and I both agree that we would not take Allen with this choice either. If it were up to us, the pick would be Baker Mayfield, just like I projected in my February mock. However, it’s not up to us. It sounds like the Giants are gearing up to take Saquon Barkley. He is a future franchise player without question, but the team is in trouble with no clear heir-apparent to Eli Manning.

 

  1.     New York Jets (from IND): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

The Jets will likely be left with a choice between Baker Mayfield or Josh Rosen. This is a rare win-win deal for both New York and the Colts. The Jets needed to get up here to take their quarterback of the future and Indy may land the player they were targeting here with the 6th overall choice all while receiving an impressive haul that includes 3 2nd round choices. At the end of the day, Jets fans won’t care about the price as long as this finally ends up being the team’s future star quarterback. I compare Mayfield to former San Francisco pro bowler Jeff Garcia. The comparisons to Johnny Manziel are unfair. While Mayfield needs to mature a bit off the field, the same can be said of many 23-year-olds and his issues don’t involve the same troubling details that Johnny Football was dealing with around the time he went through the draft process.

  1.     Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Bradley Chubb, Edge, North Carolina State

Nobody is going to be laughing at the Cleveland Browns anymore if their first two choices play out like this. Chubb provides the defense with another elite edge rusher to bookend with Myles Garrett. The other potential choice is Saquon Barkley. Some have suggested it would be silly to select Barkley here because the overall value of the position, the depth in this class, and running backs tend to have short careers. I disagree and think Barkley would be a fine choice. He would certainly ease the transition of whichever rookie quarterback Dorsey decides on earlier. Barkley will be a true franchise player, but I give the slight edge to Chubb being the correct choice for a couple reasons. First, the Browns don’t really need a running back that desperately. Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson make for a more-than-capable duo. More importantly, as I alluded to earlier, this is a very strong running back class and there aren’t a lot of good edge players this year. My preference would be to take Chubb here and still end up with a potential franchise back on Day 2.

 

  1.     Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

I think there’s a chance quarterbacks will be selected with each of the top 4 picks in this draft. It would be the first time that’s ever happened. John Elway has to know Case Keenum isn’t a long-term answer and neither Paxton Lynch nor Chad Kelly can be relied upon as anything more than flyers at this point. Assuming Elway agrees with my assessment, I would expect a potential situation with Cleveland that plays out like last year’s Chicago-San Francisco scenario. The Browns can hold #4 for a ransom because there won’t be a shortage of suitors, but the advantage to dealing with Denver is that John Dorsey would still get the same exact player he would have taken if he hadn’t traded the pick. Ultimately, the package offered to move down further may be too much for the Browns to say no to, but Denver will be lucky if the Giants take Barkley and one of the top 4 quarterbacks is still on the board when the team is scheduled to reach the podium.

 

  1.     Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ): Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

There’s a lot of chatter that the Colts want to move down again and that the target may be Roquan Smith. In fact, I don’t think it would be absurd if they ultimately decide to stay put and take Smith at #6. However, they may have to move down out of range for him if this pick is dealt for to a quarterback-needy team. So much has been made of Andrew Luck’s shoulder over the past year and adding an elite lineman for the foreseeable future is a tantalizing option. Not only would it take a lot of the pressure off of Luck as he eases his way back into health, but there’s an outside chance he could be the choice even if the Colts end up choosing 11th or 12th.

  1.     Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

This choice should come down to Ward and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. There’s a strong chance both will be on the board at #7 and also a decent likelihood that both will be gone by the time the Bears choose at #8 (assuming neither pick is traded). We have Nelson ranked as a better prospect than Ward, but the Ohio State corner plays a much more important position so we gave him the edge here. Quite honestly, either player would be a fine choice here.

 

  1.     Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

This is an interesting spot for Edmunds and the Bears alike. I think you could potentially match this player and team, but at a different number. For example, it wouldn’t be outrageous to see the Dolphins or Bills hop up to take Rosen while the Bears fall back and land Edmunds at #11 or #12. Edmunds is a great fit at inside linebacker. It’s much easier to see him as a clean fit there than at 4-3 MIKE. I love his potential, but I just wonder how much projection teams will be willing to make in the top 9 or 10 picks when there are ready-made immediate impact 3 down players still on the board. My thoughts keep wandering back to Amobi Okoye. He played a different position, but he had similar off-the-charts untapped potential. That didn’t work out so well. He may be worth the risk because he could end up becoming the best player in this entire class on the defensive side of the ball.

 

  1.     San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The 49ers are bringing in some prospects that appear to be outside the range of where they’re picking in both the first and second rounds. More specifically, the team brought in Iowa players Josh Jackson and James Daniels recently. We currently project those players in the area of 15-50. This could strongly indicate that John Lynch prefers to trade down. This makes sense if another team wants to jump ahead of the Raiders for Roquan Smith or Mike McGlinchey. It also adds up if someone wants to leapfrog Miami for one of the quarterbacks. Again, we aren’t projecting trades in this mock, so we have them taking Smith. Malcolm Smith is better utilized as an ace backup and Reuben Foster’s future may be in prison instead of the middle of the San Francisco defense. Smith covers a lot of ground and is the prototype of the modern NFL linebacker. Minkah Fitzpatrick also makes sense here, but we think Smith is clearly a better prospect. Fitzpatrick would likely be a starting safety for the 49ers who could move down and cover receivers and athletic tight ends in the slot.

 

  1.  Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, RT, Notre Dame

This is the point in the draft where I will start to get hate-mail, but let me explain first. I expect Roquan Smith, Denzel Ward, and Vita Vea to be in play for this selection. The problem here is that Smith and Ward have already been drafted. Jon Gruden has previously stated that it’s a priority to make sure the Raiders create more push in the middle of their defense in order to free up Khalil Mack to wreak even more havoc. That makes sense and Vea could be the choice. However, Gruden also said that everything the team does this offseason is going to be designed to help Derek Carr return to form. Some have McGlinchey pegged as a future right tackle because he was better there at Notre Dame before moving to the blind side. That may be the case, but he would, in fact, become the starting right tackle. Oakland currently has a gaping hole at the position and Donald Penn is only assured of playing one more season due to his age and the language in his contract. The Raiders could draft McGlinchey, start him at right tackle, and then spend the next year or two assessing whether or not he is the eventual replacement for Penn. In this projection, it’s a coin-flip between Vea and McGlinchey. The Raiders recently brought Mo Hurst in for a visit which could potentially indicate they’re targeting the interior defensive lineman in the 2nd round. Tremaine Edmunds only makes sense if Paul Guenther views him as a MIKE. If the team projects him as a SAM, then the 10th overall selection is too high for a player who will come off the field on 3rd down. While MIKE linebacker remains of critical concern, NaVorro Bowman could erase the problem.

 

  1.  Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Dolphins have been doing a lot of work with the first round quarterbacks in this class. It’s looking like it’s going to come down to which team in the 11-16 range offers the most to move up. The Bills have more ammo. With this not being the final version of our mock, I just couldn’t justify placing Rosen behind the Dolphins. In no way do I buy the hype that he will fall out of the top 10 picks. Someone will go up and get him if he gets past the New York teams and Denver.

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills (from CIN): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Bills are clearly trying to move up again to take one of the top 4 projected quarterbacks. That’s perhaps even the most likely outcome. Here, we aren’t projecting trades so the choice could come down to Jackson and Mason Rudolph. Jackson isn’t simply another dual-threat quarterback. He is a generational athlete. He squarely fits into the exception list of potential successful quarterbacks who rely on their running ability to make them special players. That exclusive club currently only includes Michael Vick and Cam Newton. Unfortunately, Jackson isn’t as good in the pocket as Vick was when he left Virginia Tech and his build isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Cam Newton. These are also reasons why we’re talking about Jackson’s range closer to the 10th selection rather than the first overall slot that both of the aforementioned prospects eventually claimed. Jackson currently only really throws inside slants with great accuracy. However, if he can keep himself from taking too many hits as a runner, his athleticism could be game-changing while he develops as a passer.

 

  1.  Washington Redskins: Derwin James, S, Florida State

Washington really needs a playmaker in the defensive secondary. This would be an ideal situation as James, Fitzpatrick, Jackson and Alexander are all still on the board in this projection. Quite honestly, you can make the case for any of them. We chose James by the slightest margin because we feel like he has the most upside.

 

  1.  Green Bay Packers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

This would be an easy decision for the Packers. The team is in the market for a playmaking safety to replace Morgan Burnett and Minkah falls right into their slot with this projection. The only other player that could be in consideration at this point would be Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch. He makes for a strong fallback plan if Fitzpatrick, James, and Tremaine Edmunds are all gone on draft night, but that isn’t the case here.

 

  1.  Arizona Cardinals: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

I could easily see Vea landing with Oakland and McGlinchey being the guy here to the Cardinals. I also believe Arizona would love for Minkah Fitzpatrick to fall one spot lower. He would be a natural replacement for Tyrann Mathieu.

 

  1.  Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Ravens have to fix their offensive skill positions if they hope to return to their winning ways. Mason Rudolph should squarely be in play and I could also see the team trying to move down a bit to take Dallas Goedert. The tight end position in their offensive is so important and it may be time to give up hope on Maxx Williams becoming the player they once hoped he’d become. Since we aren’t projecting trades, I couldn’t reasonably slot the tight end in here ahead of Ridley and the receiver position is also in terrible long-term shape. Michael Crabtree should provide some immediate help, but he’s coming off of a strange and underwhelming year that saw him standing on the sidelines during key moments of important games. Even if he returns to form, he will be 31 at the start of the year. Ridley has been knocked for having a woeful SPARQ score, but he wins with his route running ability. D.J. Moore has crept into the conversation for first pass catcher off the board, but nobody other than the Maryland product is even in the conversation.

 

  1.  Los Angeles Chargers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Vander Esch is going to be a top-20 choice. Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds are getting most of the hype as the draft’s premier linebackers right now, but Vander Esch fits the cleanest description of a 4-3 MIKE linebacker. I’m starting to think the absolute latest he can fall is to the Bengals a few spots later.

 

  1.  Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

This isn’t our final mock draft so we’re just projecting a player that we think they will like here. In reality, this choice could easily be Josh Jackson, but there’s a great chance the Seahawks trade down and Jackson ends up with a different team.

 

  1.  Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

One of the first 2 picks has to be a receiver for Dallas. Frankly, this situation has been completely mismanaged. I had no problem with moving on from Dez Bryant before or during the early stages of free agency so he could have been replaced with someone reasonable, but now the team is in a position where it has to find receivers with early draft picks or else it will put Dak Prescott in an impossible position to succeed in 2018. That said, Ridley and Moore are both passable choices. The Cowboys can’t afford to wait until the second for a guy like Courtland Sutton because it’s unwise to go into the next campaign with a top option who is a rookie that doesn’t know how to run more than 3 different routes.

 

  1.  Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport, Edge, Texas-San Antonio

I actually think Davenport will go higher than this. I could see one of the receivers falling after someone hops up with Baltimore or Dallas to snag the talented pass rusher. He has received some knocks for having a quirky personality, but it sure doesn’t seem like there are any major red flags about his character. I think Davenport is clearly the second edge option in this class for teams that play a base 4-3.

 

  1.  Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF): Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

The Bengals really made a nice move to swap picks with Buffalo. In this scenario, they rebuild the entire left side of their offensive line with that one move. I’d expect Will Hernandez, Billy Price, and James Daniels to also be in play here. I feel confident projecting this selection to be an offensive lineman though.

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills (from KC): James Daniels, C, Iowa

The Bills need offensive line help in a big way. They need to come away with a new center at some point. They could easily wait for an option, maybe even Daniels, in the 2nd round but it will almost certainly be addressed within the first couple rounds.

 

  1.  New England Patriots (from LAR): Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

The Patriots simply don’t have edge rushers. They’re defense was horrible last season, but it was mostly masked by Tom Brady being Tom Brady. I know a lot of people are projecting a quarterback to the Patriots in the first round, but this roster is actually in bad shape right now.

 

  1.  Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

We know the Panthers want to upgrade at corner because they signed Bashaud Breeland last month. He failed his physical so the position remains unattended. Alexander might be long gone by this point. Expect the Panthers to pounce if he is there.

 

  1.  Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans is a 1st round linebacker, but he may have pushed himself out of the opening frame by declining to run a 40-yard dash. I think he is plenty fast enough to play on the inside with a base 3-4 team. He will be a bit of a gamble for anyone who envisions him as a 4-3 MIKE.

 

  1.  Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

I’d really like to move Bryan a bit higher by the time we release our final mock draft. Ray and I really think he and Vea will be the only interior defensive linemen to come off the board in the first round. Bryan, probably wisely, declared early instead of joining a loaded 2019 class of defensive linemen. With another year of development, he could be looked at as one of the top 10 players in this class.

 

  1.  New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

The tight end used to be such a big part of Sean Payton’s offense, but Coby Fleener’s underwhelming performance made that a thing of the past. It makes some sense for the team to go after a replacement, but you also have to wonder if Drew Brees has enough left in the tank to fully utilize what Goedert should eventually become with a couple years of development.

 

  1.  Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest

The Steelers can be one of the more predictable drafting teams in the NFL. They like to have dinner with their first round pick at his Pro Day, they take Power 5 conference players and typically they take an underclassmen. Bates checks all the boxes and is arguably the Steelers biggest need. Bates is a young but fills a big need for the Steelers as they have received subpar safety play the last two years. Bates gives them a player who can cover tight end and running backs alone and is capable of making splash plays. They could wait until round 2 to try to get Bates but it appears they have serious interest in him.

 

  1.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

At this point last year, I thought Rudolph would be Sam Darnold’s biggest challenger for the top overall spot at the position. It turns out that I was a bit too high on him, but I still believe he throws with the best deep ball accuracy in the class. Rudolph has always been billed as a prospect who would impress NFL scouts and executives during interviews. I firmly believe that scenario has played out over the past few months which makes it more likely someone will take a chance on him in the first round. If you recall, I had Rudolph in my top 15 when I released my pre combine mock draft. Doubts about his ability to trust his arm and throw with anticipation may push him down as far as the 2nd round. Without question, I still believe that it’s possible Rudolph comes off the board as early as 12th overall if Buffalo is unable to move up. The Jaguars can afford to take a gamble here because they’ve already addressed the few remaining needs they had during free agency and the roster is in excellent shape. Don’t read too much into the 3-year extension for Blake Bortles because that was mostly just a cap relief move. There’s still a strong chance Bortles will be released before the 5th day of the 2019 league year unless he takes a step forward this upcoming season.

 

  1.  Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

The Vikings are in a great position. They can hang back and take the best player available. Hernandez makes plenty of sense. He is an immediate starter.

 

  1.  New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, LT, UCLA

Ray and I don’t really like Kolton Miller. We feel like he is overvalued because of his athleticism and we also contend that he is a big part of the reason people are concerned with Josh Rosen’s durability. The Patriots really need to figure out what’s going on at left tackle and if anyone can turn this guy into a player, it will be Dante Scarnecchia.

 

  1.  Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

If Philadelphia’s interest in Guice is a smokescreen then consider me fooled. The team worked him out and also scheduled an official-30 visit. Both of these events were scheduled within the past few days. The Eagles may need to move up to ensure they get him, but he certainly appears to be the team’s top target. For those of you who play fantasy football, this is one of the worst possible landing spots for Guice’s value. However, for real football fans, the champions just added another piece to their already talented young offense.

 

2nd Round

 

  1.  Cleveland Browns: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

The Browns still have a lot of holes to fill and looking at the defensive side of the ball the team needs to address the defensive backfield. Mike Hughes is a great value at the top of round 2 and he can be an instant starter in the NFL. We believe that Hughes is worthy of a first round selection and we can certainly see someone moving up to get him.

 

  1.  New York Giants: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Giants need to improve their secondary and Oliver is another great value at the top of round 2.

 

  1.  Cleveland Browns (from HOU): Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Browns need to improve their interior defensive line and Payne is a very good athlete for his size with a ton of upside.

 

  1.  Indianapolis Colts: Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

Carter would probably play the SAM role and put his hand on the ground on 3rd down. Like his former teammate, Roquan Smith, Carter is very athletic, but he is more of a pass rusher than an asset in coverage.

 

  1.  Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ): Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

The Colts need a lot of new pieces on defense. The team should have its choice between a couple of different cornerbacks with value here.

 

  1.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones, RB, USC

Ronald Jones was not that impressive at the Combine, however, all indications are that he was not 100%. He as been dominate the last two years. He ran for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2017 after running for 1,082 yards on only 177 carries in 2016. Jones is a very talented running back who will be a work horse in the NFL.

 

  1.  Chicago Bears: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU

Chark would be a great fit as Matt Nagy’s new Tyreek Hill.

 

  1.  Denver Broncos: Geron Christian, OT, Louisville

Christian is one of the most underrated tackles in this class. He has potential to play any of the 5 positions along the offensive line and we expect him to hear his name called much earlier than many currently project.

 

  1.  Oakland Raiders: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Under normal circumstances, Hurst belongs somewhere in the bottom third of the 1st round. However, even though he has reportedly been cleared, heart issues has a history of pushing prospects down the board a bit. Recent examples include Star Lotulalai and Nick Fairley. Both were projected to be top 5 overall selections in their respective draft years and both fell to the mid first. Reggie Ragland and Quentin Groves were supposed to be mid-late 1st rounders and both fell to the 2nd round because of similar concerns. That said, Hurst is going to provide someone with an outstanding value on Day 2 if history repeats itself.

 

  1.  Miami Dolphins: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

Kenyan Drake looked good at the end of the year in 2017 but it doesn’t appear that the Dolphins are set on him being the full time starter in 2018. The Dolphins have spent a lot of time with both Michel and Nick Chubb, so we wouldn’t be surprised if either of these picks are a Bulldogs running back. Michel is a versatile player, with good hands and good instincts.

 

  1.  New England Patriots (from SF): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

On one hand, the Patriots have a lot of bodies that currently occupy their receiving core. On the other hand, the number of 2017 receptions for players that they have under contract for 2019 is zero. Kirk plays the most important position in that offense. Edelman may be able to hang onto that spot for 2 more years, but if New England thinks this year could be the end of the line for him, Kirk will be a very attractive option.

 

  1.  Washington Redskins: Billy Price, C, Ohio St.

The Redskins need to improve their offensive line and they have spent some time with Price at the combine and for a private visit.

 

  1.  Green Bay Packers: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Jordy Nelson is gone and he represented a dangerous threat in the red zone. Davante Adams has developed into a star, but Sutton is a logical replacement for Nelson. The one area where he falls short is route-running.

 

  1.  Cincinnati Bengals: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State

The Bengals need additional depth on their defensive line and a potential starter at defensive tackle.

 

  1.  Arizona Cardinals: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

Larry Fitzgerald is nearing the end of a Hall of Fame career and need some help behind him. Miller has the potential to be the best receiver in this draft class. He is an elite route runner with great hands.

 

  1.  Los Angeles Chargers: Connor Williams, RT, Texas

We have Williams rated as a better fit at guard, but the value is too great to pass on him. I could see the team taking a chance on him to play right tackle. The only potential pitfall is that the Chargers don’t have room in their lineup to be able to use center or guard as a fall-back plan.

 

  1.  Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ): Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada

The Colts need a lot of help.on the offensive line. Corbett could be in play even if the team ends up with Quenton Nelson in the first round.

 

  1.  Dallas Cowboys: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

The Cowboys worked out Harrison so we expect he could be an option for them in the second round.

 

  1.  Detroit Lions: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

The Lons are clearly targeting a replacement for Eric Ebron. If Hurst is still on the board in the second round, then I’d expect him to be the pick. The team has also spent a lot of time with Jordan Akins, but this is too him for him.

 

  1.  Baltimore Ravens: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

A lot of people don’t realize that NFL decision-makers don’t just fill current holes on the roster. Instead, their eyes are always a year or two down the road. Alex Collins will be a restricted free agent after 2018 and there’s no telling whether or not he can repeat his improbable performance from last season. Even if he can, Chubb is an upgrade.

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC

I must have sent Ray a text about Uchenna Nwosu making a “wow” play every weekend during the fall. The Bills worked him out.

 

  1.  Kansas City Chiefs: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

The Chiefs met with Davis at the combine. They’ve upgraded in the slot, but their boundary positions are in rough shape right now. It’s almost a given that this selection will be a cornerback.

 

  1.  Carolina Panthers: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

The Panthers have spent a lot of time with Penny. They view him as a potential replacement for Jonathan Stewart.

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills (from LAR): Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Reid could just as easily go at the end of the first round. This represents terrific value for the Bills.

 

  1.  Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State

The Titans need an edge player so they will probably be happy to land a player some had mocked to them in the first round in the winter.

 

  1.  Atlanta Falcons: B.J. Hill, NT, North Carolina State

Hill will be an outstanding replacement for Dontari Poe.

 

  1.  San Francisco 49ers (from NO): Josh Sweat, Edge, Florida State

The 49ers need an edge rusher and Sweat’s athleticism could have him in play for teams choosing much higher than this.

 

  1.  Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

Washington is another player the Steelers have shown significant interest in over the past couple of months. With Martavis Bryant schedule for free agency in 2019, the Steelers would like to find a replacement  for him and this team loves to draft wide receivers.

 

  1.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State

The Jags love athletic linebackers and Baker certainly fits that description. He recently had dinner with the organization and he would be another impressive addition to the defense if he reaches his potential. Baker is currently a 1st round athlete and a 4th round football player.

 

  1.  Minnesota Vikings: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State

The Vikings are loaded and tight end is not an immediate need. Kyle Rudolph only has a year of guaranteed money left on his deal and 2 years total on the contract. It makes sense to groom Gesicki behind him and even if Rudolph signs an extension, the Vikings will have an offensive threat behind him like they previously envisioned with Bucky Hodges.

 

  1.  New England Patriots: Rasheem Green, DL, USC

The Patriots have shown a lot of interest in Green. He may take a year or two to develop into a true impact player, but he should do a satisfactory job of setting the edge against the run in the meantime.

 

  1.  Cleveland Browns (from PHI): Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

This would be a terrific choice for the Browns as O’Neill could be long gone before the team reaches the podium at the end of the second frame. He is a potential starter at left tackle.

 

3rd Round

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills (from CLE): Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

The Bills brought Dawson in for a visit and he would be a fine upgrade over departed corners E.J. Gaines and Shareece Wright. Dawson was one of the best corners at the Senior Bowl despite battling strep throat that week.

 

  1.  New York Giants: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

This is a perfect fit for the Giants. Ragnow would be a starter from the moment the first depth chart releases.

 

  1.  Indianapolis Colts: Harrison Phillips, DL, Stanford

The Colts have brought in a lot of potential 4th round 4-3 DTs, but we have them snagging Phillips a round earlier after he falls out of the 2nd round and right into their laps.

 

  1.  Houston Texans: Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State

Rankin is a versatile offensive lineman who could develop into an NFL starter at any position other than left tackle.

 

  1.  New York Giants (from TB): Arden Key, Edge, LSU

As much as I can’t stand the Giants passing on a quarterback in the first round, drafting Key here would essentially give the team 4 new starters only 5 picks into the 3rd round. This could be a scenario that works out for the Giants as well as Justin Houston turned out for the Chiefs if Key has his head on straight.

 

  1.  San Francisco 49ers (from CHI): Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

Pettis is a safe bet for the top 100 because of his ability as a return specialist. He’ll contribute as a receiver, but he isn’t going to be a world beater.

 

  1.  Denver Broncos: Tim Settle, DL, Virginia Tech

Although Settle didn’t test very well at the combine, his game is really centered on being a space-eater who helps shut down opposing running backs. He should find a home within the 3rd or 4th round.

 

  1.  New York Jets: Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

Johnson reminds me of Darren McFadden without quite as much ability as a downfield receiver. That’s not a knock on Johnson. McFadden caught the ball like a receiver. I just think we will see the same durability issues and also the same underrated value as a pass catcher and blocker.

 

  1.  Miami Dolphins: Tyrell Crosby, OT/G, Oregon

The Dolphins spent a lot of time with Crosby at the Senior Bowl. This past season Crosby did not allow a sack but will have trouble staying at left tackle. He can play right tackle or move inside to guard, both of which are needs for the Dolphins.

 

  1.  San Francisco 49ers: Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama

I thought Averett was in danger of falling out of the top 3 rounds after his performance at the combine. He improved his numbers at his pro day enough for me to once again feel comfortable calling him a Day 2 selection.

 

  1.  Oakland Raiders: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson was one of the highest regarded prep prospects when he left high school and he has maintained that regard all the way through to his draft year. Jefferson is a terrific athlete with a chance to land in the 2nd round. The Raiders have shown interest.

 

  1.  Green Bay Packers: Mason Cole, C/G, Michigan

Ray and I both like Mason Cole a lot. We feel he is an immediate starter at either center or guard.

 

  1.  Cincinnati Bengals: Duke Ejiofor, Edge, Wake Forest

Ejiofor would probably be a lock for the 2nd round if not for his current recovery from labrum surgery. He will be a 3rd round value pick.

 

  1.  Kansas City Chiefs (from WAS): Breeland Speaks, DL, Mississippi

I believe scouts have Speaks firmly locked into the top 100 even though he hasn’t gained a lot of media attention. He would be an ideal defensive end in Kansas City’s defense.

 

  1.  Arizona Cardinals: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech

Edmunds has the athleticism to develop into a starter, but he make some time.

 

  1.  Houston Texans (from SEA): Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

C.J. Fiedorowicz has unfortunately been forced into retirement due to his issues with concussions. The tight end position is too important in Bill O’Brien’s offense to not address with one of these mid-round choices. The team recently worked out Andrews. He profiles as a big slot receiver who isn’t much of a blocker.

  1.  Dallas Cowboys: Fred Warner, LB, BYU

Warner looked good at the Senior Bowl. There’s a muddled group of off-the-ball backers in the mid rounds so his ultimate landing spot will simply be determined by the individual boards of the teams.

 

  1.  Detroit Lions: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Freeman would be a nice upgrade over the disappointing Ameer Abdullah in Detroit’s rotation. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Abdullah involved in a trade late on Day 3.

 

  1.  Baltimore Ravens: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The fit here is perfect for many reasons. Make no mistake, Brown’s workout will justifiably hurt him. This is approaching his floor.

 

  1.  Los Angeles Chargers: Kyzir White, S, West Virginia

Kevin’s brother should come into play somewhere between picks 80 and 130. He looked good at the Senior Bowl.

 

  1.  Carolina Panthers (from BUF): Braden Smith, G, Auburn

Smith is a really strong pick this late. Andrew Norwell is gone, but there’s no reason Smith can’t step right into his starting position.

 

  1.  Kansas City Chiefs: Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF

Fans don’t always realize receivers have value for more reasons than just catching passes. Smith has a very low ceiling, but a very high floor as a 3rd or 4th receiver who can block.

 

  1.  Los Angeles Rams: P.J. Hall, DL, Sam Houston State

I loved P.J. Hall at the Shrine Game. He wasn’t invited to the combine. However, how do you keep a guy who blocked 14 kicks in college out of the top 3 rounds? That alone would be enough to warrant this draft slot. He also has plenty of ability to contribute as part of the rotation. This is a strong pick for the Rams since Suh’s stay will likely only be for one year.

 

  1.  Carolina Panthers: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

Gallup projects to be a solid, steady, unspectacular, and reliable receiver. I’ll take that in the later portion of the 3rd round.

 

  1.  Tennessee Titans: Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State

I know the Titans signed Dion Lewis. I just think there’s still room in that backfield for the electrifying Hines. He will create mismatches in the passing game as well.

 

  1.  Atlanta Falcons: Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana

Thomas is an athletic tight end with the potential to look like a steal in the 3rd round. Eric Saubert still has potential, but Thomas is a better version of him.

 

  1.  New Orleans Saints: Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

The Saints have shown a lot of interest in Hand. He can play a variety of roles along the Saints defensive line.

 

  1.  Pittsburgh Steelers: Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State

The Steelers will address the inside linebacker position early in the draft. Jon Bostic was a sneaky good signing and can bridge the gap until Leonard can make a full time impact.

  1.  Jacksonville Jaguars: Daesean Hamilton, WR, Penn State

Daesean Hamilton put on an all star game practice clinic this offseason. He was so good at the Shrine Game that he got invited to the Senior Bowl where he was even better. He is a big slot receiver.

  1.  Minnesota Vikings: Kemoko Turay, Edge, Rutgers

This is lower than most people have Turay. I just don’t see it with him. He is athletic. However, Day 2 seems too high for his durability issues and lack of production.

 

  1.  New England Patriots: Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond

Normally, Ray and I don’t buy the hype on the media-created Day 2 quarterbacks. And we’re usually right. How quickly everyone forgets that Josh Dobbs, Nathan Peterman, and Brad Kaaya were all going to be 2nd-3rd round picks according to many last year. However, Lauletta isn’t a media creation. His arm strength has been called into question, but he recorded the same velocity as Mason Rudolph at the scouting combine. Is Lauletta a sure thing? Of course not! But, he is worth a shot as a developmental prospect after checking the arm strength box at the combine and backing up his impressive career at Richmond with a solid week of practice and game MVP honors in Mobile.

 

  1.  Buffalo Bills (from PHI): Dorance Armstrong, Edge, Kansas

Armstrong is one of the most underrated players in the draft. I don’t think he gets out of the third round in such a weak edge class.

 

  1.  Arizona Cardinals: Deadrin Senat, DL, South Florida

There is a mid-round cluster of undersized 4-3 penetrators. Senat shouldn’t fall any further than the end of the 4th round.

 

  1.  Houston Texans: M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

Stewart was projected to be a first round choice before a disappointing year. His work this offseason, including the Senior Bowl has probably rehabilitated his stock enough to keep him in Day 2.

 

  1.  Denver Broncos: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

Jewell isn’t a flashy athlete. He’s just a good football player.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

St. Brown is being miscast as a future #1 receiver by many right now. Height-Weight-Speed doesn’t automatically make a guy a star.He isn’t that because of his limited route tree. I still believe he will help someone as a complementary piece in the receiving game.

4th Round

 

  1. Green Bay Packers (from CLE): Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee

Gaulden is a great nickel corner who may have hurt himself a bit with his poor combine performance.

 

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from NYG): Shaqueem Griffin, LB, Central Florida

Griffin is a player we (and everyone else) is rooting for. He looks like he could start at 4-3 WILL or inside in a 3-4. He’ll also be a very good special teams player. He deserves all the credit in the world for not letting his disability get in his way. I’m just a little skeptical that he is going to sneak into Day 2. However, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

 

  1. Houston Texans: Will Richardson, OT, North Carolina State

Richardson will land in the top 100 if NFL decision-makers are comfortable with him as a person. He has long arms and the potential to start at tackle with his floor being a starting guard.

 

  1. Indianapolis Colts: Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa

Fountain didn’t get invited to the combine because he didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Northern Iowa, but he proved he is worthy of top 100 consideration with his play/practice at the East-West Game and his impressive pro day workout.

 

  1. Chicago Bears: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson

Cain just reminds me of Kenny Stills. This is about the range you’d consider drafting a young Kenny Stills.

 

  1. Denver Broncos: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

Herndon is going to be in competition with Jordan Akins to be the next receiving tight end off the board after Mark Andrews. His MCL is reportedly fine and he is a lot younger than Akins.

 

  1. New York Jets: Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson

O’Daniel was really impressive during his week of practice at the Senior Bowl. He moves like a safety and is excellent in pass coverage. The Jets worked him out and he will be tempting to add to that defense to go along with last year’s safety duo of Adams and Maye.

 

  1. New York Giants (from TB): Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt

It was reported that Burks had dinner with the Giants around the time he worked out as his pro day. New York’s new regime has to spend more resources on quality linebackers than its predecessors.

 

  1. Washington Redskins (from DEN): Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College

Yiadom is a perfect value in the 4th round even though many project him to be drafted earlier.

 

  1. Oakland Raiders: Dane Cruikshank, DB, Arizona

Cruikshank is a big athletic defensive back capable of playing both safety and cornerback. He worked out with the safeties at the combine, but I think he fits best as a press corner. He put together an impressive week of practice at the Shrine Game and could sneak into the top 100.

 

  1. Los Angeles Rams (from MIA): Alex Cappa, G, Humboldt State

I think Cappa has to be a guard. His arms are too small and he can’t move. With that said, it wouldn’t shock me if he snuck into the 3rd round if a team views him as a starter along the interior. Either way, he won’t be a tackle.

 

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: Quenton Meeks, DB, Stanford

Meeks is another intriguing hybrid defensive back. He is a safe bet to get the call before the end of the 4th round.

 

  1. Denver Broncos (from WAS): John Kelly, RB, Tennessee

Everyone loves John Kelly. He reminds me of last year’s version of Mike Davis for Seattle. Make whatever you want of that comparison!

 

  1. Cleveland Browns (from GB): Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

I like Jones a lot. He has the look of a Day 2 pick. Unfortunately, tackles that run 5.5 at the combine don’t get picked until Day 3. Go find an example. We’re only making an exception for Orlando Brown because we viewed him as a 1st rounder before the combine. Even still, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Brown falls to the top of the 4th round. I like Jones a lot on Day 3.

 

  1. Chicago Bears (from ARZ): Marcus Allen, S, Penn State

Allen is going to be a really solid run defender and 4th round pick.

 

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Edge, Oklahoma

Okoronkwo is a bit undersized, but that’s a bigger issue for teams that play more 4-3 than Dallas.

 

  1. Detroit Lions: Tyquan Lewis, DL, Ohio State

We probably have to find a higher spot for Lewis before our final mock. We can’t see him falling any lower than this and he may go more than a full round higher.

 

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Genard Avery, Edge, Memphis

Some teams view Avery as an edge player. Either way, he will be a very good special teams player and the Ravens have rumored interest.

 

  1. Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Jones, DL, North Carolina State

Jones is a solid mid-round defensive lineman after a strong week in Mobile. The Chargers are rumored to be interested.

 

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama

Brown is very athletic so it’s no surprise that the team most closely associated with valuing SPARQ is interested.

 

  1. Buffalo Bills: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State

Ballage could easily find his way into the third round because of his floor. More specifically, he has good size, can block, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and can contribute a few carries each game. He looked like Arizona star David Johnson this offseason, but we still project him as more of a complementary back.

 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Whitehead is really athletic and he can even cover receivers in the slot. Just as I previously expressed doubts about Turay going in the 3rd round, I have a hard time seeing what would keep Whitehead out of the top 100. I think the character stuff for him is overblown.

 

  1. Miami Dolphins (from CLE): Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

The Dolphins have expressed a lot of interest in Luke Falk. They have met with him multiple times and if they miss out on one in the first round this is a highly likely selection.

 

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (from LAR): Jordan Akins, TE, Central Florida

Akins raised some eyebrows with his route running at the Senior Bowl. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the Lions snag him much earlier than this because they’ve shown a lot of interest in him. In this projection, they took Hayden Hurst in the 2nd round.

 

  1. Tennessee Titans: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame

I refuse to believe that I’m higher on Smythe than everyone else. This guy is a really solid backup inline tight end. He blocks and he even showed that he could catch in Mobile once he was able to get away from the Notre Dame quarterbacks.

 

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin

Cichy likely would have been in the second round range had he stayed healthy. Durability concerns could push him to round 4 or 5, but the Falcons are interested.

 

  1. New Orleans Saints: Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Miss

Moore wasn’t invited to the combine, but he had an explosive pro day and New Orleans had a front row view as the team ran his position drills.

 

  1. San Francisco 49ers (from PIT): Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford

Schultz is similar to Durham Smythe. Both are solid all-around inline players that don’t do anything exceptional, but they should both player for a long time.

 

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trenton Thompson, DL, Georgia

Thompson is a nice player who was getting a tad overrated earlier in the process because of all of the talent he played with on that defense. The 4th round is the right spot for him.

 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (from MIN): Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

The Eagles met with Okorafor at the combine and also ran the position drills at his pro day. The team may have to package its two 4ths to go up and get him, but I think he will be in strong consideration if he falls a bit.

 

  1. Miami Dolphins (from PHI): Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana

Cobbs is an intriguing big target. Unfortunately, the question will be whether or not he can separate from pro cornerbacks and he sure didn’t test like he could.

 

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Michael Dickson, P, Texas

Donnie Jones has been released and Dickson would represent a sizeable upgrade.

 

  1. Green Bay Packers: J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri

This is a good spot for Moore. The Packers have expressed interest and he is probably in the mid-late 4th round range.

 

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State

The Cardinals spent time with Gossett at his pro day. He projects as a future starter.

 

  1. Los Angeles Rams (from NYG): Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh

I love Maddox. He can’t play the boundary, but plug him into the sub-packages and he’ll be a good player. He was one of the standouts of Shrine week.

 

  1. Los Angeles Rams (from NE): Tony Adams, G, North Carolina St.

Adams has some nice versatility. That’s critical on Day 3 when teams are looking for guys that can justifiably be active on gameday if they aren’t starters.

 

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Andrew Brown, DL, Virginia

Brown is this year’s Eddie Vanderdoes. He looks the part and practices like a future pro bowler. That potential is there. Then you look at his collegiate career and wonder why it hasn’t translated to success during games.