Published On: Tue, Apr 24th, 2018

NFL Mock Draft: QBs rule top 5 in drama-filled opening round

Share This

With the 2018 NFL Draft just days away, theScore’s Dane Belbeck and Mitch Sanderson project Thursday night’s first round of selections one more time, including major trade projections in the early going.

Related – 2018 NFL Draft: Top 50 big board

1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Welcome to Cleveland, Sam. Now go fix a team that’s been an absolute disaster while going 1-31 over the past two years. The Browns will turn to Darnold as their next potential savior, hoping he’ll turn out better than the previous 10 quarterbacks the team has drafted since 1999. The former USC star has all the tools to be a major player in the AFC North, and can likely take a year to learn the position while Tyrod Taylor starts. – Belbeck

2. TRADE: Buffalo Bills (from NYG) – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Projected trade:
Bills get No. 2 (NYG)
Giants get No. 12 (BUF via CIN), No. 22 (BUF via KC), 2019 1st-rounder

Let’s have some fun, shall we? After stockpiling picks over the last year, the Bills use their extra draft capital to move up to the second overall spot to get their guy in Rosen. The Bills have been searching for a legitimate franchise passer since the days of Drew Bledsoe, and if they’re going to shoot for one Thursday, waiting to see who slides down the board is not ideal. – Sanderson

3. New York Jets (via IND) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

If there’s any player in the draft with the personality to match the bright lights of New York City, it’s the former Oklahoma star. Mayfield will enter the league as one of the best college quarterbacks of all time, and will be tasked with fixing an offense that’s struggled mightily in recent years. His in-your-face attitude will instantly make him a fan favorite and bring some energy back to Jets games. – Belbeck

4. TRADE: New York Giants (from CLE) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Projected trade:
Giants get No. 4 (CLE via HOU)
Browns get No. 12 (NYG via BUF via CIN), No. 22 (NYG via BUF via KC), 2019 2nd-rounder

After initially trading out of the top 10 to net a bounty of picks, the Giants move back into the top five to grab a player they’ve been linked to throughout the draft process. Barkley is the top prospect in the draft, and pairing him with Odell Beckham will keep the Giants on every highlight reel for a decade. – Sanderson

5. Denver Broncos – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

One of the most polarizing players in the draft ends up with John Elway in Denver, as the Hall of Fame pivot will hope Allen is the long-term successor to Peyton Manning. The former Wyoming pivot’s raw skills are undeniable, but his pedestrian numbers in college signal that he’s a project and shouldn’t be counted on to play anytime soon. Fortunately, the Broncos addressed their need for a starting quarterback in 2018 by signing Case Keenum, which will allow Elway to groom Allen gradually. – Belbeck

6. Indianapolis Colts (via NYJ) – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, N.C. State

The Colts have teased the idea of trading back, but Chubb could be the top player on their board as this class’ best pass-rusher. His talents are too good to pass up for a team that was 31st in sacks last season. – Sanderson

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Buccaneers were brutal at running the ball last year while also ranking in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed. That points to massive offensive line struggles and they’ll address those in a big way by selecting Nelson. The Notre Dame guard is a mauler in the run game and is easily the best O-line prospect in the draft. – Belbeck

8. Chicago Bears – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

While this may be a little earlier than the consensus, last spring saw very little buzz around the receiver crop, and yet three pass-catchers went in the top nine. The Bears also showed no fear in defying public opinion when selecting players in 2017, so why can’t they do it again with Ridley? The Alabama product is the most polished receiver in this draft and would be ideal to play across from the 6-foot-3 Allen Robinson in Chicago. – Sanderson

9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The 49ers’ defense needs a significant upgrade in the passing game after allowing a 93.9 passer rating last season. This makes Ward a no-brainer here, as the former Ohio State standout will be a Day 1 starter. He’s an elite athlete who can change any game with one moment of brilliance. – Belbeck

10. Oakland Raiders – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

The middle of the Raiders’ defense is hurting for talent, and a freakishly athletic player like Edmunds can cover up more than one hole. He’ll need time to further develop, but he’ll be a force behind Khalil Mack once he understands how to use his gifts. – Sanderson

11. Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington

With Ndamukong Suh gone to the West Coast, the Dolphins grab the massive Vea out of Washington to fill the void on the defensive line. Vea can’t be counted on to match Suh’s incredible production immediately, but the ceiling is very high for a player who dominated throughout his collegiate career. – Belbeck

12. TRADE – Cleveland Browns (from NYG) – Derwin James, S, Florida State

After the team appeared to whiff on one of the flashier players in last year’s draft, safety Jabrill Peppers, the new Browns regime goes with a much safer pick at the same position. – Sanderson

13. Washington Redskins – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

Washington has long sought a rangy, athletic linebacker who reads the game well, and nobody in this draft fits that description better than Smith. The Georgia standout was a menace during his final collegiate season and should step in as a Day 1 starter to drastically improve the Redskins’ defense in 2018. – Belbeck

14. Green Bay Packers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Packers should be thrilled to end up with Fitzpatrick, as defensive back is their top need and the elite Alabama product can slide in at safety or corner. – Sanderson

15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has said numerous times that he thinks the team should draft Jackson, and his succesor, Steve Wilks, will follow that plan. Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon will likely battle for the starting quarterback job, but the prolific Jackson is too dangerous to keep off the field this season. With vast experience in a pro-style offense and an incredible skill set to match, Jackson could end up being the steal of the draft at this spot. – Belbeck

16. Baltimore Ravens – Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA

At 35 years old, Terrell Suggs cannot be the only Ravens pass-rusher who strikes fear into opponents any longer. Davenport is a bit of a project, but has the skills to be great and would have T-Sizzle to show him the ropes. – Sanderson

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Philip Rivers has never been confused for an elusive quarterback, and as the 36-year-old reaches his 15th season, adding offensive line depth to keep him clean is crucial. Many feel McGlinchey is a top-10 talent, making him a must-pick if he slips to No. 17. The Notre Dame tackle will instantly improve the Chargers’ line in both run and pass protection. – Belbeck

18. Seattle Seahawks – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

Seattle needs to reload its secondary following the departure of Richard Sherman, and Jackson plays the aggressive, zone-friendly style that would work well opposite Shaquill Griffin in the new-look “Legion of Boom.” – Sanderson

19. Dallas Cowboys – Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist

After saying goodbye to Dez Bryant, the Cowboys find a suitable replacement in a player who’s very familiar with Dallas. Sutton starred for the local program, SMU, and is arguably the most talented receiver on the board. His mix of size and speed makes him a very difficult cover and will give Dak Prescott another weapon in the passing attack. – Belbeck

20. Detroit Lions – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College

There’s no guarantee Ezekiel Ansah will be in Detroit past the 2018 season and the Lions really don’t have any depth behind him. Landry fits the bill in terms of need and is good value at No. 20. – Sanderson

21. Cincinnati Bengals (via BUF) – Connor Williams, OT, Texas

The Bengals already improved their offensive line with the addition of Cordy Glenn this offseason, and will next add depth to the position by grabbing Williams. The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder battled injuries in his final collegiate season, but if he can regain his 2016 form, he’ll be a solid starter in Cincinnati. – Belbeck

22. TRADE – Cleveland Browns (from NYG) – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

After trading Danny Shelton to the Patriots, the Browns are thin along the interior of their defensive line. Payne moves with insane fluidity for a man of his size and can fill the role of every-down defensive tackle. – Sanderson

23. New England Patriots (via LAR) – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia

With the ability to play multiple positions on the offensive line, Wynn is exactly the type of player Bill Belichick covets. One of the more consistent performers on tape in this draft, Wynn will also bring depth to a position group that lost Nate Solder to the Giants this offseason. – Belbeck

24. Carolina Panthers – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

Receiver may be a bigger need for the Panthers, but you can’t always match need with draft order and there aren’t any receivers at the top of the board here. Alexander gives Carolina an upgrade over the departed Daryl Worley and forms a young starting duo with James Bradberry. – Sanderson

25. Tennessee Titans – Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Ohio State

Mike Vrabel’s first pick as head coach of the Titans will be one of familiarity, as the former Ohio State star stays true to his alma mater and grabs Hubbard. The Titans need to inject some youth at the edge-rusher spot, and Hubbard fits the mold as one of the most consistent performers on the board. – Belbeck

26. Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

The Falcons are one of the few teams without a glaring need. They did, however, lose Dontari Poe in free agency and have yet to replace him. Bryan isn’t the nose tackle Poe is, but the Falcons will likely be happy lining him up next to Grady Jarrett on passing downs. – Sanderson

27. New Orleans Saints – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

The Saints’ offense is virtually unstoppable when Drew Brees has a playmaking tight end, and Goedert fits that role perfectly. After handing Brees a new contract in the offseason, the Saints give him arguably the best red-zone threat in the draft. – Belbeck

28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

Ryan Shazier’s ongoing recovery from his spinal injury is inspiring, but the Steelers need to be realistic about their future at middle linebacker. Vander Esch is ideally suited to play inside linebacker in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 scheme and contribute on every down. – Sanderson

29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

The league’s best defense gets even better. Following Paul Posluszny’s retirement this offseason, Evans immediately steps in alongside Telvin Smith and Myles Jack to give the Jaguars the best young linebacker core in the league.- Belbeck

30. Minnesota Vikings – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

With their franchise quarterback and stud running back locked up for the next three years, the Vikings would be wise to shore up their offensive line with Hernandez, who’s one of the toughest blockers in the draft. – Sanderson

31. New England Patriots – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

After taking Wynn to shore up the offensive line, the Patriots address the secondary by taking Hughes. With Malcolm Butler now in Tennessee, Hughes can immediately see action as a quality depth piece while also offering an intriguing option on special teams. – Belbeck

32. Philadelphia Eagles – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Similar to the Falcons, the Eagles don’t have an obvious need to fill, and could very well trade back to add more picks, but Guice, likely the best talent available on their board, has the potential be a major difference-maker in the backfield. – Sanderson

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

Source link

About the Author

Like us on Facebook