1) Cleveland Browns: Josh Allen QB Wyoming
Most people believe Sam Darnold will be the pick for Cleveland but Josh Allen is exactly the kind of quarterback GM John Dorsey likes. Although Allen had accuracy issues at Wyoming, he did play with lesser talent than Darnold. Allen also has incredible arm talent and potential and Dorsey has shown his willingness to take project quarterbacks and sit them behind a good bridge QB like he did in Kansas City.
2) New York Giants: Bradley Chubb DE NC State
Eli Manning is entering the twilight of his career which is why quarterback could very well be the pick here, but I can’t see Dave Gettleman and company drafting Manning’s successor just yet. They very well could take Darnold or Rosen or even trade down but the Giants have a lot more needs than just a future signal caller. Every team needs an elite pass rush, and Chubb is just that. Pair him with Olivier Vernon and you’ve got one of the best pass rush tandems in the NFC.
3) New York Jets: Sam Darnold QB USC
Jets fans should be jumping for joy if Darnold falls into their lap at the third pick. He might be the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft and there won’t be a ton of pressure to start him right away with Teddy Bridgewater and Josh McCown in place. The Jets probably never expected Darnold to be here, and he may not, but this is a dream scenario for the Jets.
4) Buffalo Bills (Projected Trade with CLE): Josh Rosen QB UCLA
If Chubb was on the board still Cleveland would run the pick to the podium, but instead, they move down and pick up even more picks. I also don’t believe Dorsey would ever take a running back like Barkley this high, so the Browns would be even more inclined to move down. So finally the Bills get their guy in Rosen who could very well be the most successful QB in this draft. I think Rosen would be just fine in Buffalo weather and it would be a great fit for Buffalo.
5) Denver Broncos: Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma
Mayfield got a lot of work in with Broncos coaches at the Senior Bowl and the team has been very quiet about being involved in the QB market this draft after signing Case Keenum in the offseason. John Elway has shown he likes to bring in plenty of competition at the quarterback position even with an established veteran. I think Elway loves Baker’s personality and competitiveness and sitting behind Keenum would be ideal for the Broncos and Mayfield.
6) Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson OL Notre Dame
I think the Colts have had three players in mind from day one, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson and Saquon Barkley. Chubb is off the board and GM Chris Ballard has Kansas City influences and I don’t think he would ever take a running back this high either, which leaves one player available. Nelson, possibly the best player in this draft, falls to Indy at six and Ballard doesn’t think twice. The Colts finally get a Hall of Fame caliber lineman to keep Andrew Luck upright.
7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley RB Penn State
Barkley’s fall finally ends as the Bucs land the best offensive player in the draft at seven. This is the biggest draft steal in years but the board may just end up falling like this. Tampa’s secondary is a mess and I am sure they expected the pick to be either Fitzpatrick or Derwin James, but the Bucs also do not have a running back and they end up with a generational talent that they can pair with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston.
8) Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
The Bears would love for Quenton Nelson to fall to them at eight but he isn’t there, so they go with Edmunds to bolster their pass rush and middle of their defense. Edmunds is the most intriguing defensive prospect because of his age and his ability to play either inside or outside. Chicago could go in a few different directions but Edmunds is the best player on the board and fits Chicago’s scheme and needs.
9) San Francisco 49ers: Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
The recent events with linebacker Ruben Foster could make it tempting for the 49ers to take Roquon Smith but they did a nice job of adding depth to their linebacker core by signing Korey Toomer. But San Fran paid Jimmy Garoppolo big money to be their QBOTF and now it’s time to give him some weapons. Coach Kyle Shanahan had success with another Crimson Tide receiver in Julio Jones and he could have the same with Ridley.
10) Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith LB Georgia
Oakland did a nice job of addressing a lot of their needs this offseason by adding Rashaan Melvin and Tahir Whitehead to their defense but you can never have too much talent on the defensive front seven and Jon Gruden has shown that in the past with his Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay team. Adding Smith in between Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin could do wonders for that Raiders defense.
11) Miami Dolphins: Denzel Ward CB Ohio State
Miami would’ve liked to land a quarterback early in the draft but none will be there at 11 and the price to move up will be too rich for the Dolphins. Instead, they get the best corner in the draft and at a spot they never expected Ward would fall. The need for quarterbacks for so many teams will be the cause for many of these other talented players like Ward to fall farther than anticipated.
12) Cleveland Browns (Projected trade w/ Buf): Mike McGlinchey T Notre Dame
GM John Dorsey is a big believer that the game is won in the trenches and creating depth along the offensive line is key to a team’s success. The Browns don’t feel comfortable taking a running back at four so they move down eight spots, possibly picking up three first rounders and they also find their left tackle of the future. McGlinchey will be a really solid NFL left tackle, he just doesn’t get enough love because he has been overshadowed by his comrade Quenton Nelson
13) Washington Redskins: Minkah Fitzpatrick S Alabama
The Redskins have a lot of holes to fill in the defensive backfield with the departures of Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, and Su’a Cravens this offseason. Luckily for them, the QB market allowed for the best safety to fall all the way to them and Washington upgrades their secondary just like that by drafting Fitzpatrick, easily the best player available.
14) Green Bay Packers: Derwin James S Florida St
Another top defensive back falls to another team with secondary issues in the Packers who lost Morgan Burnett and Demarious Randall in the offseason. Besides Aaron Rodgers’ injury last season, the secondary was really what kept the Packers from the postseason. Adding James next to HaHa Clinton-Dix would really solidify the back end of that defense for years to come.
15) Arizona Cardinals: Marcus Davenport DE UTSA
Quarterback is obviously a pressing need for Arizona even with the addition of Sam Bradford, but they are too far down to move up and too high to reach on someone like Mason Rudolph. New head coach Steve Wilks had success in Carolina because of their ability to get to the quarterback and have depth along the defensive front. Adding Davenport to an already athletic front seven would be the best pick to kick off the Cardinals’ rebuild.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson QB Louisville
Maybe the biggest surprise of the first round could be the Ravens taking Lamar Jackson. Baltimore has been linked to Jackson lately and their recent addition of RGIII shows their intent of adding quarterbacks with different skillsets than Joe Flacco, who has been struggling the last few years. Jackson is completely underrated and I think his talent and college tape will make teams jump for him earlier than people expect.
17) LA Chargers: Vita Vea NT Washington
Vea is the best player on the board and the Chargers need some more talent at defensive tackle, especially since Corey Liuget is suspended for the first four games of the season. Vea should go much higher than 17 but as we’ve seen in the past, great players will fall because of other teams reaching for quarterbacks and need.
18) Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson CB Iowa
Losing Richard Sherman is an enormous blow for the Seattle defense, formerly known as the “Legion of Boom,” but there is a prospect in this draft who very closely mirrors Sherman and that’s Josh Jackson. He is a big corner with fantastic hands and he has a ton of upside. This would be a great start for the rebuild of the “LOB.”
19) Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton WR SMU
After releasing Dez Bryant, the Cowboys lack a big red zone threat. They have speedsters in Allen Hurns, Terrence Williams, and Deonte Thompson but they need a reliable big-bodied red zone target and who better than Courtland Sutton? Jerry Jones also loves receivers from the state of Texas so there’s that.
20) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry DE Boston College
Head coach Matt Patricia loves long and lean athletes on the edge of his defenses and Landry would be a perfect fit opposite Ziggy Ansah. Lions’ defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni also coached Landry at Boston College so there is some familiarity there.
21) Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez OL UTEP
The Bengals offensive line has been a disaster ever since losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, but they added Cordy Glenn and if they could add a talent like Hernandez to the interior offensive line, it could make a huge difference for Joe Mixon and Andy Dalton.
22) Cleveland Browns (Projected trade w/ Buf): Maurice Hurst DL Michigan
Hurst’s heart condition probably scared off a lot of teams in the first round, but when you are a team like Cleveland and you have the possibility of having three first-round draft picks, plus the enormous amount of picks they already had, you can afford to take risks on possible high reward players like Hurst. The Browns need more athleticism along the defensive front seven to pair with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah and Hurst could be an explosive addition.
23) New England Patriots: Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State
I really think New England could trade up for a quarterback this year but I think they are too far down the line and they know they have a lot of holes to fill. The linebacker position has been a revolving door for the Patriots largely because of injuries to Donta’ Hightower, but adding a player like Vander Esch would be perfect for New England as he fits exactly what Belichick likes to do on defense.
24) Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander CB Lousiville
Alexander is an outstanding prospect and I think could and should go a lot higher than pick 24, but for the Panthers, this would be a huge steal. Their deal with Bashaud Breeland fell through and they’ve needed a ball-hawking corner ever since they traded Josh Norman.
25) Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
This one might be too obvious to come true, but reuniting Hubbard with coach Mike Vrabel would be a great storyline and fit. The Titans need more pass rushers to help their young secondary and they haven’t been able to develop Kevin Dodd into the player they thought he could be and Derrick Morgan could be on his final contract.
26) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama
Another steal in this draft as the Falcons land one of the best interior defensive linemen in the draft. The Falcons desperately need front seven depth and Payne is easily the best player on the board for his position.
27) New Orleans Saints: Taven Bryan DT Florida
New Orleans made some strides last season with improving their pass rush, but their lack of depth came back to bite them when injuries occurred throughout the season. Bryan is one of my favorite players in this draft because of his demeanor and tenacity. He has a nose for the football and has really nice bull rush moves. He is a really strong and physical presence that would fit in well in New Orleans.
28) Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
Rashaan Evans to the Steelers might be the most no-brainer fit in this entire draft. The Steelers obviously have a need because of the horrible injury to Ryan Shazier and we do not know the severity of the injury. Evans physicality will fit in perfectly with the Steelers defense.
29) Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Chark WR LSU
I was really surprised that Jacksonville let Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns leave town, leaving the Jags with only Marqise Lee as the only “proven” wideout and even that is a stretch. If the Jags want Blake Bortles to be successful then they need to surround him with weapons. Chark could be the best receiver in this draft when it is all said and done. His similarities to Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry (besides being an LSU alum) could make Jags fans forget about Robinson and Hurns.
30) Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn OL Georgia
The offensive line is the one glaring need for the surging Vikings and they need to protect their new star quarterback Kirk Cousins. I love Isaiah Wynn because of his versatility on the offensive line. He can play literally every position on the line, wherever you need him. He is the swiss army knife the Vikings need on that offensive line.
31) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller OT UCLA
The Patriots could take a tackle at 23 but at 29 they will be in a position to take a couple different options along the offensive line. In this case, they get very lucky to get a tackle in Miller. Obviously losing Nate Solder was the Pats biggest loss this offseason but drafting Miller could very well fill that major hole on Brady’s blind side.
32) Indianapolis Colts (Projected trade w/ Philly) Mike Hughes CB UCF
The Colts have three second-round picks, plenty of ammo to trade up and be aggressive to get the player they want. They could give up picks #36 and #49 to move back into the first round. Indianapolis is depleted at corner and the top corners could be gone by the time their second round picks come around. Mike Hughes is a good corner with good ball skills and he can fit right into that Indy defensive backfield. Adding players like Quenton Nelson and Mike Hughes could really go a long way in turning things around for the Colts.