The NFL Combine is days away and with it will come rumors and lots of good information on prospects. With it will also come overreactions galor. Here are our current mock projections based on what we would do if we (Daniel Hutchinson-Kausch and Harun Muhammed) were the GM for each team. We will release mocks based on what we think will happen after the Combine when rumors start to come in with some credibility.
1. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Saquon Barkley just might be the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s an extraordinary athlete that provides versatility, proving capable of catching the ball out of the backfield and holding up in pass protection. Barkley would be huge in alleviating pressure from whoever it is taking the snaps for Cleveland in 2018.
2. New York Giants: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Giants are in need of a quarterback, and they get the best one in the draft in 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson. With his combination of arm talent, athleticism, and playmaking ability, this becomes one of the most lethal offenses in the NFL.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The consequences of having a porous offensive line couldn’t more present than the Indianapolis Colts’ Andrew Luck situation. Quality line play is hard to come by, and Indianapolis ends up with a generational guard prospect in Nelson; a powerful and athletic road grader that can block on the move and most importantly, protect your franchise QB.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Jason McCourty have been very good acquisitions for the Browns. As McCourty gets older, the Browns should be looking for a long term answer at the cornerback position. Joshua Jackson is a big time playmaker with great length, long speed, route anticipation, and ball skills that could be a cornerstone piece on a talented defense.
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Between Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler, there are zero franchise QBs. Taking a high-ceiling, high-floor passer with great ball placement, arm talent, and poise is everything the Broncos need and don’t have at the QB position.
6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Josh McCown had a solid season for the J-E-T-S. However, he’s 38 years old and proven incapable of staying healthy for a 16-game stretch. With this pick, the Jets get their long-term signal caller capable of making magic happen out of structure, making throws with tremendous accuracy to all levels of the field, and keeps the ball out of harms way.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Jack of all trades, master of many. Minkah Fitzpatrick’s skill set fits that of any position in the secondary. He can play perimeter corner, in the slot, as a rangy deep man, rushing off the edge, and even as a nickel linebacker, at a high level. A highly athletic, instinctive, and versatile defender. Who doesn’t want that?
8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This feels like a perfect fit. The Bears snatch up a true #1 WR that can create separation and stretch the field with his speed and polished route running abilities. He possesses strong hands and is fairly reliable. Adding Ridley also helps accelerates the growth of now second year QB Mitch Trubisky.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Reuben Foster’s instability is a serious concern for the Niners, with durability and off-field issues. Tremaine Edmunds is a fantastic linebacker prospect, with plenty of range, athleticism, and sky high potential. If Foster is able to clean up his act, the Bay Area may have its second coming of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Oakland Raiders are lacking a true presence up front. With his freak size, strength, and explosiveness, Vea would anchor the defense with his abilities to stop the run.
11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James Jr., S, Florida State
With this pick, the Dolphins continue their influx of young talent on the defensive side, as in recent years they’ve drafted the likes of Charles Harris, Xavien Howard, Cordrea Tankersley, and Raekwon McMillan. Adding the stud safety James gives them a dynamic pair of safeties, paired up with established star Reshad Jones. Playing next to Jones should help the growth of James and eventually take over that role as Jones ages.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
After what went down in the 2017 offseason, everyone agreed on one thing: Andy Dalton was going to die. The Bengals struggled to find an adequate replacement. Connor Williams is a stalwart tackle prospect that gives Cincinnati stability and a long term answer keeping Dalton’s blindside clean.
13. Washington Redskins: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
In 2017, the Redskins allowed 134.1 rushing yards per game, good for the worst mark across the league. The selection of Da’Ron Payne is a huge step in the right direction to solving this problem. A blue chip run defender with terrific strength, Payne has the skills to be a big time player for the ‘Skins.
14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Packers are lacking in high-end talent on defense and are running out of time to capitalize on Aaron Rodgers’ talent. Harold Landry is a very advanced pass rusher that can string moves together and corner with extraordinary bend.
15. Arizona Cardinals: James Daniels, C, Iowa
16. Baltimore Ravens: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame
17. LA Chargers: Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma
18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
19. Dallas Cowboys: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech
20. Detroit Lions: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Here Detroits adds another very talented player to their young group of linebackers. Evans is an elite athete with plenty of versatility; he can rush off the edge, stack and shed blocks, and drop into coverage.
21. Buffalo Bills: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs): Billy Price, C, Ohio State
23. LA Rams: Arden Key, EDGE, LSU
The top edge rusher in the draft falls to LA. Arden Key on one edge and Robert Quinn on the other is a scary combo. Key’s length, speed, and flexibility should allow him to become a dynamic pass rusher with double digit sack potential.
24. Carolina Panthers: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
Christian McCaffrey had a solid rookie season, but Derrius Guice’s talent at RB is too good to pass up on. He’s a bruiser with smooth lateral quickness, excellent vision, and absolutely punished defenders on the second level. This pick gives Carolina a true presence between the tackles that can wear down a defense.
25. Tennessee Titans: Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State
26. Atlanta Falcons: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
27. New Orleans Saints: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Not too long ago, Ben Roethlisberger was contemplating retirement. Their Super Bowl window may not be closing, but it sure could be if they’re unable to find a solid replacement for Roethlisberger. Darnold ensures stability for life after Big Ben and should thrive playing with to Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and to a certain extent, Martavis Bryant.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Braden Smith, OG, Auburn
30. Minnesota Vikings: Trenton Thompson, DT, Georgia
31. New England Patriots: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas