Quarterbacks are coveted in the 2018 draft, but there’s no consensus on what order they’ll be drafted. The Giants hold the wild card with the No. 2 pick, and will influence the entire first round. And the Cowboys may be disappointed if they don’t move up to get Dez Bryant’s replacement.
Let’s get to prognosticating.
1: Cleveland Browns — Wyoming QB Josh Allen
The Browns could go Sam Darnold here, but with Tyrod Taylor on the roster they have the luxury of going after the raw upside of Allen’s massive arm. It’s rare for top picks at quarterback to not start from Day 1 in the modern NFL, but Cleveland can afford to show patience if he’s their guy and they want to ease him in. Also, leave it to the Browns to pick a quarterback with accuracy issues at No. 1 overall.
2: New York Giants — USC QB Sam Darnold
The Giants are the biggest mystery in the draft and could go Bradley Chubb or even Saquon Barkley here. But it’s a rare opportunity to get what many consider the top quarterback on a draft board, and finding Eli Manning’s heir is a high priority.
3: New York Jets (from Colts) — UCLA QB Josh Rosen
The biggest knock on Rosen is that he’s too smart? OK. Sounds like a good problem. Rosen has the arm and physical talents to go with that big brain and could finally be the quarterback answer the Jets haven’t found despite decades of trying. Rosen has looked like a pro from the day he stepped on a field with the Bruins.
4: Cleveland Browns — N.C. State DE Bradley Chubb
Saquon Barkley is going to be sooo tempting here. But Cleveland added Carlos Hyde in free agency, and there are high-level running back talents to be found in later rounds, where there won’t be any game-changing pass rushers. Pairing Chubb with Myles Garrett on the defensive edges sounds like terror for AFC North quarterbacks for the next decade.
5: Denver Broncos — Penn State RB Saquon Barkley
The Broncos need to protect new quarterback Case Keenum, making Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson an option here. But they recently released C.J. Anderson, and a generational running back talent just dropped to them at No. 5. There’s no way they pass on Barkley.
6: Indianapolis Colts (from Jets) — Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson
If Andrew Luck is ready to return to action after missing 2017 with a shoulder injury, protecting him should be the Colts’ top priority. It’s an area they’ve neglected since drafting Luck, and he’s paid the price. Nelson is the top offensive lineman in the draft and the responsible pick here.
7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick
The Bucs desperately need secondary help, which is amplified by playing in the same division with Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Denzel Ward could get a look here as a potential lock-down corner, but the upside and versatility of Fitzpatrick, who has the strength to play inside and speed to cover outside may be too much to overlook here.
8: Chicago Bears – Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds
The Bears need help in a lot of places, so with no offensive weapons for young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky standing out at this spot, finding an anchor on defense will do just fine. A versatile linebacker who can rush off the edge or drop back in coverage, Edmunds looks like a three-down monster in the NFL. And at 19 years old, he fits right in with a rebuilding team.
9: San Francisco 49ers — Georgia LB Roquan Smith
With the domestic violence legal troubles surrounding last year’s first-round pick Reuben Foster, linebacker has shifted from a position of need to potentially one of desperation for the 49ers. Smith, a rangy, athletic middle linebacker would be ready to start from Day 1 and be a welcome addition to a 49ers defense in need of an upgrade against the run.
10: Oakland Raiders — Ohio State CB Denzel Ward
The Raiders have worked to upgrade their secondary in free agency, but still don’t have a clear starting cornerback to play opposite of 2017 first-round pick Gareon Conley. Insert Ward, his former Buckeyes teammate, and Oakland has a corner with speed and a nose for the ball to be a potential shutdown player in the NFL.
11: Miami Dolphins — Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield
Miami has a capable quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, but has also suffered decades of irrelevance while watching the AFC East become the New England Patriots’ playground. Mayfield’s upside and a chance to make a bold move for the Heisman Trophy winner may prove too tempting to pass up if he drops outside of the top 10.
12: Buffalo Bills (from Bengals) — Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
The Bills will surely try to move up if they believe they can jump a team trying to grab one of the alleged top four quarterbacks in the draft. If they can’t make that move, Jackson’s the fallback here, and one with a ton of upside. His speed and athleticism are known commodities, while many believe his accuracy issues are overstated.
13: Washington Redskins — Washington DT Vita Vea
Washington’s interior line has been a welcome sight for opposing running backs for years, most notably last season when the team gave up a league-worst 134.1 yards per game on the ground. Insert Vea, an athletic, 340-pound gap filler with the ability to pressure the quarterback, and a lot of Washington’s woes are addressed.
14: Green Bay Packers — FSU S Derwin James
The Packers could address receiver, pass rush or cornerback here, but the value of a potential game-changing safety would likely be too much to pass up if James falls this far. A big hitter who can cover and blitz, James has the upside of a true difference-maker for a defense.
15: Arizona Cardinals — Alabama WR Calvin Ridley
Sam Bradford doesn’t seem durable enough to be the long-term answer in Arizona, but with the top tier of quarterbacks gone, the Cardinals are likely to give him a test-run in 2018. If so, finding a complement and eventual heir to Larry Fitzgerald would be a wise choice. Ridley has the hands and athleticism to be a playmaker in the NFL.
16: Baltimore Ravens — Maryland WR D.J. Moore
The Ravens need help at receiver and tight end and would be wise to start looking past overpaid, underperforming future salary-cap casualty Joe Flacco. The top quarterbacks are gone, so Moore, a fast receiver with good size and solid hands makes the most sense if the Ravens don’t end up trading down.
17: Los Angeles Chargers — Alabama DT Da’Ron Payne
The Chargers need help on the defensive interior and at right tackle and could go either way. Payne, a good value here, is an athletic run-clogger who would shore up a weak spot on the Chargers defense while Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram continue to develop into an elite pass-rushing duo.
18: Seattle Seahawks — Iowa CB Josh Jackson
Richard Sherman’s departure makes cornerback an obvious need, and Jackson is a good fit here. A 6-foot-1 ballhawk, Jackson doesn’t have elite speed, but has the size and outstanding playmaking abilities to step in as a starter from Day 1.
19: Dallas Cowboys — Southern Methodist WR Courtland Sutton
The departure of Dez Bryant has made receiver a red-alert priority in Dallas. The Cowboys can’t leave third-year quarterback Dak Prescott with his current receiving corps. At 6-3, 218 pounds, Sutton is a big, strong target with the ability to haul in contested balls. He doesn’t have great speed or separation, which limits his upside.
20: Detroit Lions — UT San Antonio DE Marcus Davenport
The Lions desperately need pass-rush help, and Davenport is a raw, strong, athletic, 260-pound wrecking ball who could fall this far because his game is not as polished as some players listed higher. If he develops, he could end up being a steal.
21: Cincinnati Bengals (from Bills) – Iowa C James Daniels
The Bengals lost Russell Bodine in free agency and find themselves looking at the best center in the draft in Daniels after trading down. Daniels should step in as an immediate starter, joining left tackle Cordy Glenn, who arrived via the trade from Buffalo, on a vastly improved offensive line.
22: Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs) — Boise St. ILB Leighton Vander Esch
The Bills desperately need help stopping the run, and Vander Esch looks like the kind of player who can step in immediately to anchor the middle of a defense. A strong athletic tackler, Vander Esch has the coveted versatility to attack the run while being able to rush the passer or drop back in coverage.
23: New England Patriots (from Rams) — UCF CB Mike Hughes
Nick Foles exposed the void left in the Patriots’ secondary by departed cornerback Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. Hughes is an upside pick without a lot of film after one year as a starter at UCF (after transferring from UNC). But his aggression for the ball and physicality with receivers makes him an intriguing prospect who could develop behind 30-year-old offseason acquisition Jason McCourty.
24: Carolina Panthers – Georgia G Isaiah Wynn
It’s criminal how much the Panthers have allowed Cam Newton to be hit. Improving protection for the franchise has been a need for years. Wynn demonstrated the finesse and skills needed to play tackle at Georgia, but has the size of an NFL guard and should be an immediate upgrade in pass protection in Charlotte.
25: Tennessee Titans — Alabama ILB Rashaan Evans
The Titans lost their second-leading tackler last year with the departure of Avery Williamson to the Jets. They would be thrilled to take Evans as his replacement here. Like so many other Nick Saban linebackers, Evans has the range and speed to play all over the field and would be a starter from Day 1 in Nashville.
26: Atlanta Falcons — Florida DT Taven Bryan
The Falcons need to replace Dontari Poe. While Bryan isn’t the 345-pound mass of a man that Poe is, he is a 290-pound athlete who can attack backfields with his quickness.
27: New Orleans Saints — South Dakota St. TE Dallas Goedert
Coby Fleener has been a disappointment, and about the only thing missing on a loaded Saints offense is a tight end target Drew Brees can depend on in close quarters. Goedert may be a bit of a reach here, but he’s the type of big (6-5, 255 pounds) athletic pass-catcher that Brees can make the most of.
28: Pittsburgh Steelers — Stanford FS Justin Reid
The Steelers would love nothing more for Vander Esch or Evans to drop here to fill the void left by injured linebacker Ryan Shazier. But that’s not the case, and Reid fills another hole left by the departure of Mike Mitchell. A burner with football smarts to match his Stanford pedigree, Reid could step in as a playmaker in the secondary from Day 1.
29: Jacksonville Jaguars – Texas A&M WR Christian Kirk
The Jaguars perplexingly seem content with quarterback Blake Bortles, the weakest spot on a championship contender, so replacing the departed Allen Robinson with another weapon seems the top priority in Jacksonville. Kirk projects as a slot receiver and would give Bortles a needed underneath target.
30: Minnesota Vikings — UTEP G Will Hernandez
The Vikings don’t have a lot of needs, but the retirement of Joe Berger has left a hole in the offensive line. A strong lineman who excels in run and pass protection, Hernandez projects as a Day 1 starter to protect Kirk Cousins and create holes for Dalvin Cook.
31: New England Patriots — UCLA OT Kolton Miller
The Patriots have not found a replacement for departed left tackle Nate Solder, and Miller looks like the best option here. Scouts appear to be mixed on whether he’ll develop into top-level NFL tackle, but he looks like the best option in this draft.
32: Philadelphia Eagles — LSU RB Derrius Guice
The Super Bowl champions have few glaring needs. They let LeGarrette Blount walk in free agency and could look to Guice as an upgrade over Corey Clement as Jay Ajayi’s backup. A powerful runner with breakout ability, Guice teaming up with Ajayi would create an intimidating duo out of the Philly backfield.
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