The Annual Exercise in Futility That Will Be Wrong and Stupid for Being Wrong

I’ll make this quick because you’ll want to scroll down to your team anyway. No trades in this mock draft.

  1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold QB USC

It comes down to this; the Browns have passed on too many quarterbacks over the years and they’ve tried to get too cute with their drafting strategy. IF they think that Darnold is their guy, don’t get cute, take the quarterback. The argument for drafting Saquon Barkley is a valid one if you don’t love any of the top three quarterbacks but as an NFL GM, it is Jon Dorsey’s job to figure that out. Bottom line, get a quarterback.

  1. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley RB Penn State

The Giants opened a hole on their roster by trading Jason Pierre-Paul to the Bucs that is screaming for Bradley Chubb to fill it. After Chubb and Barkley there is a significant drop off in talent at their respective positions. Yes there is more depth at running back, but Barkley would be the sort of talent that would revitalize Eli Manning’s career and give them an immediate shot to be a dynamic offense. Manning is like all other aging quarterbacks (except Tom Brady and his voodoo aging) and needs a dynamic running game late in his career. Barkley gives them that and more.

  1. New York Jets: Josh Rosen QB UCLA

The choice is not position, but player for the Jets. This pick will come down to Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield for the Jets who will have to choose between the two ‘character’ concerns quarterbacks. They are both talented passers who have upside, but can also play early in their careers. Rosen is more ready to play and therefore better for a GM and coach that have their jobs on the line.

  1. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb DE NC State

Yes, they drafted Myles Garrett last year with the number one overall pick but pass rushers are like lions, they hunt better in a group. Von Miller had DeMarcus Ware, Dwight Freeney had Robert Mathis and so forth. Chubb has some work to do when it comes to playing the run, but he would form a fearsome duo with Garrett that would play together for a minimum of four years. The Browns would finally have an identity to their football team.

  1. Denver Broncos: Denzel Ward CB Ohio State

Quarterback will be a team need for the Broncos until further notice. Case Keenum is not the answer for the long term and may not be the answer in the short term. Despite that, the Broncos have brought in more corners during pre-draft visits than any other position. They traded away Aqib Talib and may not think that Mayfield, Allen or Jackson are worth the 5th overall pick. This pick is ripe for trading with QB desperate teams below and will likely not stay this way during the draft.

  1. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson G Notre Dame

This is another spot that is ripe for a trade down. Despite the fact that the Colts got three high second round picks for trading down three spots, they still need more draft capital. That’s how bad this roster has become. If they stay, protecting Andrew Luck is the only priority. Tackle is a bigger priority, but Nelson is better at playing guard than any other player is better at their position. Others may be better athletes, but Nelson would form a wall with former first round center Ryan Kelly on the interior of the line that would keep Luck safe and open holes for a runner to be named later.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James S Florida State

Minkah Fitzpatrick and Denzel Ward are both in consideration here but James has the pedigree, and more importantly intimidation factor for a Bucs defense that needs to play with more of an edge. James is a hitter who has the ability to cover, despite some issues with stiffness in his body last year coming back from injury.

  1. Chicago Bears: Mike McGlinchey OT Notre Dame

Mike McGlinchey is a good tackle. He may not be Taylor Lewan (who is compares favorably to), but he is very good. He’s not worth a pick this high with other prospects still on the board, but tackle is such a glaring need for the Bears that they can’t help but reach a bit for McGlinchey. It’s not a reach by much though. McGlinchey is an asset in both the run and passing games and has the feet to play on the blind side.

  1. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech

If Rueben Foster has not been arrested (multiple times and looking at 15 years in prison) San Fran would be in the market to trade down or add to other positions. But without Foster in the middle, the Niners need to address the position and Edmunds is a great choice. He’s a natural run stuffer with great running game instincts and all the physical tools you could ask for. He’s only 19 so mental maturity and slumps could be an issue, but he’s too talented to pass up.

  1. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith LB Georgia

I’m not in love with the defensive line outside of Kahlil Mack for the Raiders, but I don’t see Jon Gruden taking a player like Vita Vea with the 10th pick. Gruden has done his best job to construct a Pro Bowl roster from 2010 this offseason and he’ll want a Derek Brooks type middle linebacker to control his defense for him. Smith doesn’t have the size or power, but has the speed, coverage ability, and quick diagnostic skills that make him a perfect fit for what Gruden will likely try to run. Finding a good defensive tackle later in the draft to keep blockers off of him is a must.

  1. Miami Dolphins: Da’Ron Payne DT Alabama

With an Ndamukong-sized hole in the middle of their defense, the Dolphins are in need of help at tackle. The decision is based on preference most likely. Da’Ron Payne is more of a gap-penetrator to go along with Phillip Taylor, who plays the nose for Miami. Payne has the explosive first step and strength to play as a disruptive 3-technique. He also has more effort and drive in his tank than Suh did. This is also a sneaky QB team that could draft Mayfield if he falls this far.

  1. Buffalo Bills: Baker Mayfield QB Oklahoma:

The Bills have made last year’s draft, offseason and regular season about this pick. If they can, they will trade up and get the player they covet. The Bills may not want to take Mayfield because they have cited multiple times that fitting the ‘culture’ is paramount. If you want to build a culture around a player that clearly hates losing more than anything, Mayfield is a great choice.  He also has some of the best advanced-level quarterback skills in this draft, is statistically the best under pressure, and I will stop before I keep gushing. This pick may not be Mayfield on draft day, but it will be a quarterback.

  1. Washington: Vita Vea Washington

Vea is one of the seven most talented players in the draft and has the size, movement skills and ceiling. The teams ahead of Washington though aren’t a great fit for the reasons discussed and Vea falls to Washington who is in need of a nose tackle. Hopefully they allow him to do more than stop the run because Vea is a dangerous, multi-tool player who can rag doll guards and crush the pocket with his bull rush, or get up field with quickness. This is a slam dunk pick if Vea falls this far.

  1. Green Bay Packers: Minkah Fitzpatrick SLOT Alabama

I honestly tried to find a higher spot in the draft for Fitzpatrick who is one part corner and one part safety. He’s a part of a new generation of free safeties that are essentially big nickel corners who can cover the slot or play deep. Fitzpatrick is a good tackler and can even blitz when asked to. He can solve a lot of problems for the Green Bay defense, which has been fairly poor as of late. He may be a player that is selected in the first 10 picks with teams trading up from below.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen QB Wyoming

As always, quarterback picks are all about preference. The Cardinals know that Sam Bradford cannot stay healthy, which is why they ALSO signed Mike Glennon this offseason. Neither is a long term solution and Allen will have plenty of time and a big buffer before he’s asked to play. I’m not a huge fan of his talent, but this situation at least gives him the best shot to succeed by sitting and learning (hopefully).

  1. Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson QB Louisville

Joe Flacco is still relatively young for a starting QB (33) but injuries and an albatross of a contract make him a less than desirable option as a franchise quarterback. That, along with the fact that he’s clearly not a guy that can carry a team. Getting better around Flacco is an option; the team could draft any position along the offensive line and it would be a sound move. The issue is that it puts a Band-Aid on the real problem. Jackson is not ready to play in the NFL and will need time to learn to throw to all parts of the field and with better footwork. Assuming Flacco starts this coming year, the Ravens can still be competitive while building for the future.

  1. LA Chargers: Maurice Hurst DT Michigan

Corey Liuget is suspended for the first four games of the season. Couple that with the fact that the Chargers seem less than pleased with is production at defensive tackle, and you can see why drafting his replacement makes sense. The Chargers have a multiple front that fits Hurst very well. He can play end or tackle depending on the scheme and he’s a disruptive penetrator that will see a lot of single matchups with Bosa and Ingram on the outside.  Adding beef inside would be better, (Hurst plays under 300 pounds), but he plays above his weight and is a good run defender.

  1. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson CB Iowa

The Seahawks do not have the dominant roster that they did several years ago. They also only have one pick in the first three rounds so trading back and getting more talent would be ideal for Seattle. If they can’t, Josh Jackson fits the size and style profile that the Seahawks prefer. Jaire Alexander is the better player but he doesn’t have the length to disrupt the way Jackson does. Also, getting just anyone to help out Russel Wilson would be ideal. Seriously, anyone.

  1. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch LB Boise State

The Cowboys need defensive help. Linebacker and defensive tackle are options, and there is a need along the offensive line, but Vander Esch solves a lot of problems at linebacker for the Cowboys. Both Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee have injury concerns and Vander Esch has the speed and tackling skills to play inside or out in a 4-3. He doesn’t play as big, but he can cover and tackle well. Adding him to the mix with a veteran like Lee could turn Vander Esch into a star…no pun intended.

  1. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport DE UT San Antonio

Davenport will likely see action earlier in the draft simply because of the position he plays. After Chubb, Davenport is widely regarded as the next best prospect, despite his lack of overall athletic flexibility, polish to his game, or plays made in college. At least in Detroit, he can be a pass rush specialist opposite Ziggy Ansah, while Anthony Zettle plays run downs.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels C Iowa

The Bengals need a lot of things and nothing all at once. On paper they have a solid roster but in reality, Dre Kirkpatrick and Derquez Denard have not lived up to their draft status. Vontez Bufect is suspended and one-dimensional and Andy Dalton is…good? In the end the Bengals should build on their running game and select James Daniels of Iowa. Their biggest need and one of the better centers to come out recently.

  1. Buffalo Bills: Connor Williams OT/G

The Bills need receiver help but I’m not sure that the new organization values the position the same way fans do. What they do like are position versatile offensive linemen who can play tackle or guard. Luckily for the Bills, Williams fits that mold and the Bills have a need at both positions. Williams was injured early last year and didn’t come back healthy. When he is, he’s a nasty mauler who likes to finish people. Either right tackle or left guard, the Bills need to protect *INSERT QB NAME HERE*. They likely won’t have this pick, but it represents a priority.

  1. New England Patriots: Harold Landry DE/OLB Boston College

The Patriots have needed a pass rusher since they traded Chandler Jones two seasons ago. It was one of their biggest weaknesses and it exposed their secondary last year. Landry is a smart, tough football player with the versatility to rush the passer and play in space. He’s the type of chess piece that New England loves. He’s also got the most electric first step and edge bending capabilities of anyone in the draft outside of Bradley Chubb. Playing strength is an issue, but hiding him on run downs should not be a problem.

  1. Carolina Panthers: Will Hernandez OG UTEP

Big, mauling, wears a neck-roll. Sound Panthery enough for you? Opening up holes for McCaffrey and Newton is a priority.

  1. Tennessee Titans: Calvin Ridley WR Alabama

The Titans lack a variety of pass catching options for Marcus Mariota. Ridley has the speed and elusiveness that Corey Davis, last year’s 1st round pick, does not. The combo would be a solid pair to work together in whatever system Mike Vrable puts together. Mariota needs to take a step forward and even though they have issues and needs on defense, Ridley is one of the top two or three receivers on the board.

  1. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan DE/T Florida

With a lack of quality defensive ends in this draft, the tackle position has become the spot to get pass rushers and penetrators in the run game. Bryan is best suited as a 3-4 defensive end, but may be able to play 3-technique in a 4-3 and is the type of attacking defensive lineman that Dan Quinn loves. Adding him to a defense that has speed and explosiveness already is a good idea for a team that needs to protect leads.

  1. New Orleans Saints: Jaire Aleander CB Louisville

Alexander is the best player left on the board and the Saints are happy to have him. New Orleans is chronically in need of a pass rusher, but Alexander would complete their secondary and make it one of the best young groups in the NFL with Lattimore, Williams and Bell.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans LB Alabama

The Steelers sweat this one out but the ‘Bama product barely falls to them in this mock draft. It is yet another linebacker pick in the first round for Pittsburgh who have missed badly in recent years on pass rushers. Evans will likely play inside and fill the hole left by Ryan Shazier. Florida State’s Josh Sweat is an option as well but he has some of the same problems that Dub Dupree has on film. Namely that he’s a talented player who doesn’t have great instincts. Evans is cross-trained inside and out in a 3-4 and showed improved instincts last year once he was accustomed to playing off the ball. He needs to improve his pass coverage, but he’s a solid option for the Steelers who need to add key pieces to their defense to make another run.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Tyrell Crosby OT Oregon

DJ Moore makes the most sense here but the Jaguars do not value receivers the way they running the ball. Everyone has fallen in love with Kolton Miller since the Combine, but Crosby is the better run blocker and has a bigger, more powerful build. He is more Doug Marrone’s style of player who will line up at right tackle and open up holes for Leonard Fournette.

  1. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn G Georgia

The Vikings need to protect their 84 million dollar investment and open up holes for Dalvin Cook. Wynn is the sort of gamer that plays best when the lights come on. He’s not the biggest, strongest or best built lineman in this draft, but he is one of the best. This is a super solid choice for the Vikings who can build from the inside out with their line and solidify their offense.

  1. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes CB UCF

I don’t think receiver is as big of a need for the Patriots as some do after the trade of Brandin Cooks. They also traded for Phillip Dorsett last year and brought in Jordan Matthews this offseason while resigning Kenny Britt. While none of those names make you scared, when have the Patriots done things the way everyone else does? With the value in the later rounds at receiver, this pick comes down to Justin Reid of Stanford or Hughes of UCF. Reid essentially played slot corner and not safety at Stanford so the difference is an inside defender or a boundary player. Hughes has good ball skills and instincts to play corner. He also adds value as a punt returner.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Gesicki TE Penn State

What do you get the team that seemingly has everything? How about a novelty tight end? Some will say that Dallas Goedert is the best tight in this class but the does too many of the same things that Zach Ertz already does. Gesicki will not have to block as much with Ertz on the roster and he will be free to move around the formation creating matchup problems for defenses. He doesn’t play like that athlete that tested so well at the combine, but he can improve his route running and poses a challenge with his height and ball skills.