Below is Volume 1 of my NFL draft predictions for each squad, a day after a few of the college prospects set the league’s scouting combine on fire.
Be sure to follow along for updates as we count down the days before the 2018 NFL draft descends upon Jerryworld (April 26-28) in Arlington, Texas.
Please raise your antennas: the quotes and comments below are mine alone, but the takes are fire and pretty damn accurate …. for March.
1) Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Player analysis: If they don’t take Barkley here, the G-men will scoop him at No. 2. Don’t get too cute, Cleveland. Take the stud running back whose tape (game and combine) was lit.
Fan reaction: Saquon is going to bring the “bark” back to the Dawg Pound. Believeland!
2) New York Giants: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Player analysis: Is Eli Manning really done or has he played like hot garbage because both of his tackles play on skates more than the New York Rangers? If it’s the latter, pick the dude who can at least solve one of those issues.
Fan reaction: Of course, we go with the most unsexy pick but if it reduces the high amount of Eli Face we see throughout the season and keeps “Baby” out of the corner, we’re down.
3) New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Player analysis: If players aren’t prepared for media attention in New York, it’ll eat them alive. Rosen has the skills, football IQ and demeanor to thrive in the Big Apple. This could’ve been a good spot for Baker Mayfield but the Jets’ brass like quarterbacks who aren’t knee-high to a gum drop (Bryce Petty is 6-foot-3 and Christian Hackenberg is 6-4).
Fan reaction: Boooooooo! Not for Rosen. That’s for Goodell! J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS! We’re coming for you, Tommy Boy!
4) Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Player analysis: Hugh Jackson needs to win right now. If he had enough pull to keep his job after winning one game in two seasons, then he has enough to sign a veteran QB who will help him win immediately while continuing to improve the roster through the draft.
Fan reaction: He’s not the tallest guy on the yard but he’s fast … but can he cover Antonio Brown? Because if he can’t hang with AB, we have no use for him.
5) Denver Broncos: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Player analysis: Vea reminds me of Haloti Ngata. A big, massive human being who was put on this earth to play the zero technique in the 3-4 defense and murder a buffet. The Broncos won a Super Bowl with Peyton Manning, failed at grooming a quarterback to date, so John Elway went “all in” on Kirk Cousins.
Fan reaction: The “Captain Kirk”/ “Beam me up, Scotty” references are going to be next level if Cousins plays in the Mile High City.
6) Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Player analysis: For now, I’m not factoring in the heart condition that cropped up at the combine this past week. (Further testing will be huge in the coming weeks.) But between the white lines, dude is a monster in the run and pass game. The Colts need all of that and then some.
Fan reaction: All of the players currently on our roster are banged up and now we’re drafting a guy who is coming in injured? Pff …
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, S, FSU
Player analysis: Big athletic safety who can play the run, cover the slot and blitz off the edge. He is Rick James roaming in the secondary… #superfreak.
Fan reaction: We were dead last in passing yards given up last season, so we’ll take two of those with a side of crab legs.
8) Chicago Bears: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State
Player analysis: Reminds me a bit of Corey Davis but not as explosive and minus the plethora of highlight-reel catches. Don’t get it twisted though. “Giddy up” is a smooth route runner with honey hands (sticky and sweet) and his run after the catch is stellar.
Fan reaction: We went to the Super Bowl with Sexy Rexy. Carson Wentz just helped lead the Eagles to the Super Bowl in Year 2! It’s our turn. Let’s go, Mitchapalooza!
9) San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Player analysis: The 49ers need help at cornerback and safety Eric Reid will be a free agent next week. Fitzpatrick has balled on the outside, in the slot and back deep for Nick Saban, providing a flexible playmaker for San Francisco.
Fan reaction: Jimmy … Jimmy… Jimmy …
10) Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Player analysis: Stout, athletic specimen who makes plays sideline to sideline. That Georgia defense was tough this past year and Smith was the lead Dawg in the middle.
Fan reaction: These fools trying to get really good and then take their talents to Vegas. Ain’t this some ish.
11) Miami Dolphins: Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma
Player analysis: He plants flags at the 50-yard line, grabs his he-cookie and has none to give to his haters. Yeah, he reminds me of Johnny Manziel with one caveat: dude’s arm flair is amazing. Mayfield has a strong arm, he’s accurate and he ignites his entire team with his passion for the game. As long as can keep “Bieber” Mayfield from crashing the party, this kid can be as special as he boasts.
Fan reaction: We really can’t suit up Dan Marino and make one last run at it?
12) Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Player analysis: Balled out in 2016 but rode the struggle bus in 2017. Has the feet and size to be a good player in the league but needs to revert back to 2016 form.
Fan reaction: But can Connor Williams block Andy Dalton from giving us the Ginger Fist?
13) Washington Redskins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Player analysis: This kid is loaded with explosive athleticism and he plays behind the line of scrimmage on the regular. Edmunds is young (19 years old) but the dude has juice.
Fan reaction: Can he catch, too? We could sure use a few of those guys after D-Jax and Pierre kicked rocks, plus Jordan Reed spent most of the season on the shelf.
14) Buffalo Bills (from Green Bay Packers): Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Player analysis: Listen, Jackson isn’t going to beat teams with accuracy. He’s going to win by inflicting tremendous stress. The threat of run, either through designed rushes or run/pass options, will place maximum pressure on defenders, which will lead to wide open lanes in the run and pass games. He doesn’t need to be Sam Bradford behind center, he just needs to be himself, the most electric player we’ve seen behind center since Mike Vick.
Fan reaction: Bruh, can you imagine Action Jackson and Shady in the same backfield?
15) Arizona Cardinals: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Player analysis: He was the sexiest QB on the draft board in the 2016 season after the Rose Bowl but he messed up his money with inconsistent play in 2017. Yet, he possibly fell into a better situation in Arizona.
Fan reaction: So … Carson Palmer is still our quarterback … yeah, pretty much.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Player analysis: He’s a mauler who shows great agility and power for his size. Offenses are focusing, more than ever, on preventing pressure up the middle to keep pockets clean for the quarterback. This dude will get ‘er done.
Fan reaction: First Ray Lewis retires and now we have to prepare for life without T-Sizzle?
17) Los Angeles Chargers: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
Player analysis: The scouting combine can’t totally make or break a player but Brown’s performance in Indy was what Charles Barkley would call “turrible”. Good thing his game tape was the exact opposite.
Fan reaction: As long as he helps us play better on offense so I can sell my game tix for more than last year, I’m all for it. San Diego … wait … Los Angeles… Super Chargers!
18) Seattle Seahawks: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
Player analysis: He’s built like a slightly watered down version of Myles Garrett. Chubb doesn’t have the freakish physique nor the uber explosive attributes but he’s a really good player with solid skills and uses his hands well at the point of attack.
Fan reaction: But can he run the rock, too? Asking for a friend.
19) Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Player analysis: Ridley is so smooth that he doesn’t look that fast on tape. He’s a polished receiver who makes every route look the same. I can hear Jerry Jones now: “You see who we drafted, huh? Got my triplets again. How ’bout dem Cowboys?!”
Fan reaction: The aftermath of Super Bowl LII proved that Eagles fans don’t deserve to win it all. Whenever you have fans punching horses and French kissing horse poop, they don’t deserve anything nice in the world.
20) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
Player analysis: Landry brings fire off the edge with rare athleticism. His 2016 tape was great while his 2017 work was hit and miss but the talent isn’t questionable. The Lions need someone to bring that heat off the edge if they can’t sign Ziggy Ansah to a long-term deal.
Fan reaction: Please tell me Matt Patricia stole Belichick’s secret playbook and hid it in his beard upon exiting Gillette Stadium for the last time.
21) Green Bay Packers (from Buffalo Bills): Arden Key, OLB, LSU
Player analysis: He’s a physical freak who has shown the ability to be a monster against NFL-caliber talent, but his off-field issues are messing up his money.
Fan reaction: Guess Danica Patrick is supposed to hop in her ride and block for Aaron, too.
22) Buffalo Bills: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Player analysis: Just another sideline-to-sideline linebacker from Alabama who can instantly become a defensive difference maker.
Fan reaction: If he’s anything like the other linebackers who have come out of Bama, we got ourselves a baller, Bills Mafia (as Tommy leaps off the top of the RV like Superfly Jimmy Snuka).
23) Los Angeles Rams: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Player analysis: He’s not a refined route runner but he’s a big, rangy receiver who plays above the rim. Not as fast as Sammy Watkins (before the foot injury) but he’s a hell of a lot cheaper and could end up being more productive, especially in the red zone.
Fan reaction: I still don’t know why the ball boy has the headset on and calls plays, but whatever works.
24) Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio
Player analysis: He’s raw and athletic but he made his bread, up to this point, against inferior competition. He didn’t show well at the Senior Bowl but his athleticism and Carolina’s need at the position makes this a great fit.
Fan reaction: Well maybe if Puffy buys the team, he can be “all about the Benjamins” and finally get Cam a No. 1 WR. You balled for us, Funchess, but, ya know …
25) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Player analysis: His footwork at the combine wasn’t impressive, but his game tape was fire. Jackson plays with too much sauce (that’s a good thing as he’s, ummm … very confident) and has tremendous hands like a wideout.
Fan reaction: We’re getting closer. Not 1 yard away from a Super Bowl victory, but closer. Titan up, Titan up!
26) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Player analysis: This cat made splash plays all over the field in the national championship game. Unfortunately, all of his tape doesn’t look like the “ship” but he has the talent and a long line of productive tackles before him that will provide comfort to NFL execs.
Fan reaction: What number did he wear at Alabama? Did it have a 2, 8 or 3 (28-3) in it? OK, we’re good!
27) New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State
Player analysis: I saw a graphic on social media where this dude ran faster than Antonio Brown, jumped higher than Odell Beckham Jr. and had more reps on the bench than Donald Penn at the combine. His game highlights show Gesicki making one-handed catches, Mossing defenders on the regular and running away from opponents downfield. Drew Brees finally has Jimmy Graham part deux!
Fan reaction: Yeah, we’d like to win another Super Bowl before Drew retires, but as long as we’re better than the Falcons, we’re good.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
Player analysis: Hughes played at North Carolina in 2015 and at a community college in 2016 before joining the “national champions” in 2017. He’s a dawg between the white lines. His return skills are on point, he can catch a BB in the dark and he partied in the end zone more than some receivers last year.
Fan reaction: Bruh, we really let the Jags come up here and molly wop us in our stadium twice last season?!
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Player analysis: Dude has an arm like Uncle Rico (can throw a ball clear over those mountains) but his accuracy issues need to be resolved. The Jags recently extended Blake Bortles to a new, team-friendly deal so they have time to groom his replacement.
Fan reaction: Tom Brady has 10 times as many playoff losses (10) as Bortles (1). #blakebortlesfacts
30) Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Player analysis: Powerful, athletic specimen who can play either tackle or guard. Has been a consistently solid player throughout his career and can help in the run game. He definitely won’t hurt.
Fan reaction: Who cares? We’ll just make it to the Super Bowl this season only to get our hearts ripped out and eaten like a Juicy Lucy.
31) New England Patriots: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
Player analysis: He breaks on the ball with cat-like quickness and plays with a swag commonly seen by DBs from LSU. The Pats have just the spot for him.
Fan reaction: Really? Your team didn’t even make the playoffs and you’re still trying to clown me because the Eagles beat us in the Super Bowl? Kiss the rings.
32) Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State
Player analysis: Penny is a big back with power, speed and return skills. Doug Pederson seems to like a bevy of backs at his disposal so why not add another to the mix?
Fan reaction: We’re really not going to live that horse thing down, are we? Oh, well … can I get some sprinkles on this?
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