The 2018 NFL Draft is one month away, and teams are still scouting non-stop to find their perfect match. Here’s how I think things will shake out in Dallas:
PICK: Saquon Barkley, RB
⁃ If you have the number 1 overall pick, it’s hard to pass on someone who could be your future quarterback and face of your franchise. In this case however, you simply cannot skip over the generational talent waiting for you in Barkley.
PICK: Quenton Nelson, OG
⁃ The Giants have a ton of options at #2, but their desperate need for O-lineman has them take Nelson, easily the best OL prospect in this class.
PICK: Baker Mayfield, QB
⁃ He’s gritty and he’s got a mouth, so he’s perfect for New York. Let him learn under Luke McCown for a year, or don’t, Mayfield is ready.
#4 Browns (via Texans)
PICK: Sam Darnold, QB
⁃ Look at that Cleveland, you got both the generational talent AND your guy! Of course this is only a mock draft, so this could certainly not happen, but you gotta take the risks. In the past, the Browns have drafted “sure things” only for them to bust, what if taking a risk gives you the opposite?
PICK: Denzel Ward, CB
⁃ Signing Case Keenum was a risky move, but that’s their reality now. They have to give life back to this team before Von Miller leaves and Denver is back to being a perennial cellar-dweller.
PICK: Bradley Chubb, DE
⁃ With Denver taking Ward because of their need in the secondary, the Colts luckily still get their man in Chubb. He’s probably the best defensive prospect in this draft and will immediately give Indy a boost.
PICK: Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB
⁃ Fitzpatrick has the ability to be the defensive Saquon of this draft, in that I mean a generational talent. He’s great defending the run but he’s no slouch in the passing game either. Whoever passes on him could very much regret it in three to four years.
PICK: Mike McGlinchey, OT
⁃ McGlinchey is a sure thing at tackle. A cornerstone you can rely on for years to come. The Bears want to keep Mitch Trubisky upright, so they’ll take the best available OL here.
PICK: Derwin James, S
⁃ The Niners are dripping confidence after acquiring Jimmy G, and James is a confident guy. He’ll immediately make a name for himself in San Fran. John Lynch knows a good safety, and Derwin is the best available after Fitzpatrick.
PICK: Roquan Smith, LB
⁃ Smith is a smart line backer, he’s smaller than most would like, but he uses his athleticism to his advantage. He can run fast and hard and is a sure tackler. Oakland needs a sure thing in the middle of their defense.
PICK: Vita Vea, DT
⁃ A younger and cheaper replacement to Ndamukong Suh, he just needs time to develop his skill set. He’s athletic for a big man, but has the strength to really dislodge an OL when isolated.
#12 Bills (via Bengals)
PICK: Josh Rosen, QB
⁃ With the Jets taking Mayfield, Rosen falls into the Bills’ lap at #12. An NFL-ready QB who will compete with AJ McCarron, but will more than likely be the Week 1 starter.
PICK: Joshua Jackson, CB
⁃ Of the many holes Washington needs to fill, the secondary is most important, especially with the QB talent in the NFC East. They take Jackson here and get a good investment at corner.
PICK: Marcus Davenport, DE
⁃ He’s a versatile playmaker who can make moves inside and out. A perfect fit for a Green Bay defense who could use a shot in the arm. Pairing Davenport up with Clay Matthews is a dangerous combo for an opposing offense.
PICK: Josh Allen, QB
⁃ The Cardinals, if they don’t move from this spot, may end up getting the scraps of a dogfight for franchise quarterbacks. The choice here between Allen and Lamar Jackson is tough, but Allen’s strong arm can be useful in Arizona’s offense.
PICK: Isaiah Wynn, OG
⁃ Getting Marshall Yanda back is huge, but the OL still remains a weak spot for Baltimore. Here they could choose between Wynn or Colton Miller but Wynn just has a dominating factor to him that a lot of other lineman in this draft class don’t.
PICK: Connor Williams, OT
⁃ Taking a QB to be the heir to Philip Rivers isn’t a bad idea here, but the OL talent is too good this year to pass. Williams is an excellent choice at this point in the round.
PICK: Calvin Ridley, WR
⁃ After a mass exodus in free agency, Seattle could take just about any position here (except QB) and it would be helpful. Cornerback is an option, but with the best receiver still on the board, it’s be hard to pass on him. Wilson tossing to Ridley could be a special combo.
PICK: Maurice Hurst, DT
⁃ The Michigan to Dallas connection lives on, this time in Mo Hurst. Hurst can contribute from day one and make life hell for centers and guards, but he can play all over the line as well.
PICK: Da’Ron Payne, DL
⁃ The Lions DL hasn’t been very effective since Suh left, and drafting Payne here can really give it life once again. Their run defense will immediately improve and Payne has the potential to be a great pass rusher too. He can develop into an elite defender quickly.
#21 Bengals (via Bills)
PICK: Rashaan Evans, LB
⁃ The Bengals lack talent in the linebacking core when Vontaze Burfict isn’t there for doing something awful, so taking Evans here is a great help to shore up the defense. Rashaan is an incredibly hard worker who hunts down the ballcarrier.
#22 Bills (via Chiefs)
PICK: Will Hernandez, OG
⁃ Hernandez is huge and scary, and that’s what the Bills could use to protect new QB Josh Rosen. Overall this is going to be a very good draft for Buffalo. They’re going to be scary if the rookies can produce.
PICK: Harold Landry, DE
⁃ An immediate replacement for Robert Quinn, Landry may even turn out better. Imagine Landry and Aaron Donald together on the same defense as Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. That’s insane.
PICK: Jaire Alexander, CB
⁃ When the Panthers lost Josh Norman, their secondary took a huge step backwards. They need to fix it to compete in a gunslinging NFC South. Alexander is a steal at #24. He’s quick, and can be used well in nickel packages.
PICK: Leighton Vander Each, LB
⁃ With the loss of Avery Williamson to New York, the Titans could use Vander Esch to quickly fill that hole in the defense. He may have only started one season at Boise State, but he is already NFL caliber and should make the transition smoothly as long as he keeps getting stronger.
PICK: Taven Bryan, DT
⁃ He’s something Atlanta will need to work on, he’s still pretty raw. He’s got great athleticism, just needs a better feel for the game. If the Falcons can be patient with him, they may just see him turn into a pro bowler.
PICK: Sam Hubbard
⁃ Fixing the defensive line is vital for New Orleans. Hubbard is a force and can really be a hidden gem in a class full of defensive talent. They could go receiver here, but the offense isn’t the main concern this offseason.
PICK: Tremaine Edmunds, LB
⁃ To get Edmunds at this point in the draft might present a red flag, he’s too good to be found at #28, but sometimes NFL scouts just would rather one man over another and guys end up dropping. Pittsburgh gets a steal late in the round. Edmunds should be a household name in no time paired with TJ Watt.
PICK: Orlando Brown, OT
⁃ Brown’s disappointing Combine Numbers will scare a lot of teams, which brings him down to #29. The Jaguars need help on the OL, and he’s the best choice available, and combine numbers aren’t everything.
PICK: Jamarco Jones, OT
⁃ Minnesota has slim pickings at just about every position of need at #30. Except maybe tight end, but OL is of way more importance to the Vikings. Knowing this, they take a risk in Jones.
PICK: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT
⁃ Similar to Minnesota, the Patriots are left with few choices as far as first round talent goes. Luckily, Belicheck always seems to pick up players with low ceilings and morph them into elite talents. Okorafor is pretty average on paper, the perfect specimen for Belicheck to take under his wing.
PICK: Dallas Goedert, TE
⁃ The Eagles’ need for a tight end and wide receiver can be fixed with one pick. Honestly this could be Mark Andrews or Mike Gesicki, and it would be just as good. Goedert can supply help at all phases of the game, so he gets the nod.