Ladies and gentlemen, we are officially less than one month away from the NFL Draft. With that being said, let’s get into the 7.0 version of Nick’s Picks. Note: trades are not predicted in this mock draft.
1. CLE: Sam Darnold, QB, USC: I think by now, Darnold is a lock for the first pick. Please, don’t let Mel Kiper Jr. tell you otherwise.
2. NYG: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: The Giants received a lot of flack for benching Eli Manning for Geno Smith. New York’s front office is sure to not mess this one up again, and they’ll move forward with Manning and Barkley.
3. NYJ(IND): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: The Jets have a few options at QB, but Rosen is one of the most polished QBs in the draft. He has the personality that can handle the New York media and the rowdy Jets fans.
4. CLE(HOU): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State: Sigh, I know I’m going to get heat for this. However, I see this happening. Yes, the Browns have Myles Garrett, but head coach Hue Jackson has been on record saying he’s envisioned both Chubb and Garrett playing together. So, for now, I have Chubb going to The Land.
5. DEN: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame: Personally, I believe the Broncos want to move forward with Case Keenum. Some look at the Mike Glennon example from a year ago, where Chicago gave him a seemingly big deal to make it look like he was the future, but was actually a bridge QB for Mitchell Trubisky. Keenum’s contract doesn’t imply that, and they need a guard, nonetheless.
6. IND (NYJ): Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech: I’ve struggled with this pick, but the Colts are desperate at linebacker. I’ve tinkered with some seven round mock drafts, and it will be hard for Indianapolis to select a linebacker without reaching for one. So, they should take one with their first pick.
7. TB: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama: The Bucs are a mess right now. There’s too much tomfoolery with this roster, and they need some dedicated players. Fitzpatrick is a pure baller who can play all along the secondary. When Nick Saban starts you as a freshman, then clearly something’s special about you. Fitzpatrick will be a stud.
8. CHI: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: Da Bears are on the rise, but they need more solid defenders. Smith is a thumper with loads of upside, and he can join his former Georgia teammate Leonard Floyd to dominate the NFC North.
9. SF: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State: The 49ers got Richard Sherman in free agency, but they’ll need another corner or two to fortify their secondary. GM John Lynch will see this as a succession move, where once Sherman retires or leaves San Francisco, then Ward can emerge as their lockdown corner.
10. OAK: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: This is Jon Gruden’s first pick since coming back to coaching, so it’s definitely an important one. Davenport can pair up with another small school standout in Khalil Mack to create a dominant defensive unit.
11. MIA: Derwin James, S, Florida State: I’ve had this mocked for a while, and I still like the fit. James is a thumper and a focused football player, which is something the Dolphins lack.
12. BUF(CIN): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: If you’ve ever watched Josh Allen in an interview, you’ll see that he’s a nice kid. When you see him on the field, he flicks a switch. He has major issues, but with A.J. McCarron starting, he can have some time to develop.
13. WAS: Vita Vea, DT, Washington: Yes, Washington drafted Jonathan Allen last year, but Vea is as good as they come. This defensive line could be spectacular with these two at the helm.
14. GB: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: Jordy Nelson is off to Oakland, so there’s a void at the receiver position. Yes, there’s Adams and Cobb, but are they true number ones? Ridley can come in and make this a great receiving unit.
15. AZ: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: What does Baker Mayfield need in order to succeed? A shortage of distractions. Those mocking Mayfield to either New York team or Miami fail to realize the danger those environments present to him. Arizona is a calmer scene, and the Cardinals have some good characters to keep Mayfield upright.
16. BAL: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama: This is the last draft that Ozzie Newsome will be orchestrating, so that means two things: (1) The first round pick will be an Alabama product; and (2) Newsome will be terrified to draft a bust wide receiver. With Ridley off the board, the Ravens won’t want to reach for Sutton, so they’ll take Da’Ron Payne, a solid Alabama product.
17. LAC: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: The Chargers are on the cusp of a great defensive unit, and they’ll need another good linebacker to make that a reality.
18. SEA: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU: The Seahawks are looking to build this team around Russell Wilson, and history tells us that Wilson is best with a good running back. Since Lynch’s retirement, the Seahawks haven’t been the same. Time for a new bell cow.
19. DAL: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: The Cowboys’ secondary is fragile currently, and they’ll need a solid safety for future success in the competitive NFC.
20. DET: Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: Truth be told, I suspect a trade here, but like I said before, I won’t do trades in this mock. With Eric Ebron in Indianapolis, the Lions need a new tight end. There are some nice options at tight end this year, and Gesicki is an intriguing prospect.
21. CIN(BUF): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame: The Bengals acquired Cordy Glenn from the Bills, but he has injury concerns and isn’t elite. McGlinchey can be a great tackle with decent coaching, so let’s see if Cincinnati wants to invest in Dalton and Mixon’s future.
22. BUF(KC): James Daniels, C, Iowa: Every good QB needs a good centre. If the Bills are to draft Josh Allen, they’ll want to build around him for future success.
23. LAR: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Sammy Watkins is now a Kansas City Chief, so they should get a new weapon for Jared Goff. Sutton is a ball magnet and can be a true number one receiver.
24. CAR: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma: After his brutal combine performance, some think Brown will slip to the second round. Although I agree that it was a bad performance, the tape doesn’t lie; Brown warrants a first round selection.
25. TEN: Justin Reid, S, Stanford: The Titans are kicking themselves for not selecting Jamal Adams last year, so they’ll get it right by nabbing Justin Reid. All of a sudden, the Titans could have a Legion of Boom type secondary with: Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson, Kevin Byard and Justin Reid.
26. ATL: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina: Austin Hooper is mediocre, but not great. The Falcons will look to give themselves a legitimate tight end since the Tony Gonzalez era.
27. NO: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia: With Zach Strief retiring, the Saints need to make sure that they are protecting Drew Brees in the late stages of his career. New Orleans has some solid offensive linemen, but having someone like Wynn, who’s a versatile blocker will fortify this unit.
28. PIT: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: Big Ben has been lingering at the idea of retirement, so Pittsburgh will look to find his successor. Although their playing styles are much different, Jackson will be a good fit in Pittsburgh. He can learn the nuances of the passing game from Roethlisberger, which will further his development as a QB.
29. JAX: Connor Williams, OT, Texas: Cam Robinson has been decent, but the Jaguars need a new right tackle, and maybe even some competition at the left tackle spot. Williams looks to be athletic enough to play both tackles, so this should be the pick.
30. MIN: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa: Xavier Rhodes is a shutdown corner, but Trae Waynes has been a disappointment and this secondary needs another player. Jackson slipping to this spot is a steal, and the Vikings will add another piece to make a Super Bowl run.
31. NE: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College: The Patriots are desperate for an edge rusher, and Landry is the best available. Bill Belichick likes players who can embrace the “Patriot Way”, and Landry certainly epitomizes that.
32. PHI: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU: The reigning Super Bowl champs need to replace Patrick Robinson in the draft. Jalen Mills is good, but won’t become a Pro Bowler. Jackson can ascend to be a starting corner on this dominant Eagles defensive unit.
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