NFL Mock Draft 6.0
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
There’s still plenty of controversy about who the Browns will take at No. 1 overall; nothing is set in stone, but at the moment Sam Darnold appears to be the favorite. Even with Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton now on the roster it would be best for Cleveland to look for their quarterback of the future. Jimmy Haslam and John Dorsey both seem to be fans of the qualities that Darnold possesses. The Browns could take a dominant player like Saquon Barkley or Bradley Chubb with this pick but taking a QB at No. 1 overall is the safest route.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
Like the Browns, New York has three options: take an offensive talent like Barkley, fill the gap that Jason Pierre-Paul left by picking Chubb, or look for a quarterback that can take the reins after Eli Manning’s career is over. Rosen is the most pro-ready of any QB in the draft, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see him go to the Giants at No. 2.
3. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
The Jets have another situation where drafting a QB is not a dire need, but it would be the smart choice. Even if Rosen is available here, it’s possible that the Jets take Baker Mayfield anyway, as both the organization and the fans have shown support for drafting the Heisman winner. He could start right away or sit on the bench behind newly acquired Teddy Bridgewater for a year.
4. Cleveland Browns: Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
The Browns would be huge winners in this draft if they can get both their preferred quarterback and Saquon Barkley in the top four picks. Barkley is earning the same hype that Leonard Fournette received last year, and Fournette went to Jacksonville at No. 4, so perhaps Barkley does the same with Cleveland.
5. Buffalo Bills (projected trade with Broncos): Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
With John Elway officially announcing the No. 5 pick to be up for sale, teams that have already made moves this offseason, like Buffalo, could jump on this proposal. AJ McCarron is the best quarterback on the Bills roster, so drafting a signal caller is the top priority for Buffalo. If Josh Allen is still on the board at No. 5, expect the Bills to grab the rocket right arm from Wyoming.
6. Indianapolis Colts: Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
If all things play out as predicted, the Colts are left with a huge decision at No. 6: Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb. Both players would address positions of need for Indianapolis, but Nelson is the smarter option. Jacoby Brissett was sacked 52 times last year, more than any other quarterback in the NFL. Andrew Luck is coming back from injury and can’t afford to be bruised up again. With Nelson on the roster, Luck won’t have to worry as much.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb (DE, NC State)
Sure, the Buccaneers already have Gerald McCoy and Jason Pierre-Paul, but how can you pass on Bradley Chubb if he’s available at No. 7? Chubb would help make the Tampa Bay pass rush truly terrifying; the secondary will just have to be addressed later in the draft.
8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
Chicago could be a team on the move; if they’re serious about someone like Quenton Nelson, they could trade up, or if they don’t see anyone they like at No. 8, they could trade down. If they decide to stay put, a tall, speedy linebacker like Tremaine Edmunds would be an excellent replacement for Jerrell Freeman.
9. Arizona Cardinals (projected trade with 49ers): Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
With Edmunds gone the 49ers may not have their sights set on anyone in particular and could ultimately trade down. The Cardinals could be looking to move up to ensure that a team like Miami doesn’t take Lamar Jackson before they can. The all-around athletic prowess of Jackson would make this a great addition for Arizona.
10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick (DB, Alabama)
Oakland was severely lacking in interceptions in 2017, so defensive back is undoubtedly a position of need. They have their pick of the lot here with big names like Denzel Ward and Derwin James available, but they would get the most out of the draft’s most versatile corner in Minkah Fitzpatrick.
11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
The Dolphins have multiple positions to address, and linebacker is one of the most glaring, especially on the edge. Fortunately, the athletic freak Roquan Smith will likely be available at No. 11, and with no remaining big-name quarterbacks to take, Smith is a completely logical pick.
12. Denver Broncos (projected trade with Bills): Mike McGlinchey (OT, Notre Dame)
Even if Denver trades out of the top five, the need for offensive linemen to protect Case Keenum still remains. Instead of taking Nelson at No. 5, the Broncos could fall to No. 12 and grab his Notre Dame teammate, Mike McGlinchey, whose draft stock has been rapidly climbing over the past few months.
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
On a defense full of holes, defensive tackle may be the biggest gap. The Redskins need a massive boost to their pitiful run defense, so if Vea is still available at No. 13, expect Washington to jump on him.
14. Green Bay Packers: Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
Green Bay may have the worst cornerback situation of any team not named the Raiders. With Damarious Randall gone, it’s clearly the biggest position of need. The Packers should look to take the best available corner at this point, and it could end up being Denzel Ward if the dominoes all fall into place.
15. San Francisco 49ers (projected trade with Cardinals): Derwin James (S, Florida State)
Derwin James may not fall this far, but if he does, the 49ers would be fortunate to snatch him up after possibly trading down. With Jimmie Ward moving to cornerback to complement Richard Sherman, there’s an opening at the safety position, and James would fit right in.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
Unless the Ravens are somehow able to grab Dez Bryant, they’ll be needing another offensive weapon to complement offseason pickup Michael Crabtree. Ozzie Newsome has picked many a player from Alabama during his run as Ravens’ GM, so why not do it one more time?
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
The interior of the defensive line needs work in Los Angeles, as Corey Liuget has yet to be the answer. If he can finally break out, a line featuring Liuget, Da’Ron Payne, Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa would certainly be a nightmare for quarterbacks in the AFC West.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
The offensive line has been plaguing the Seahawks for years, and with last year’s playoff miss, it’s starting to catch up to them. Giving Russell Wilson the protection he needs is mandatory, and Will Hernandez would be the best available offensive lineman at this point.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
With Dez Bryant gone, Dallas is officially in the hunt for a wide receiver. Luckily for the Cowboys, the best available option at this point played college ball just 20 miles away. Sutton would feel right at home in Dallas.
20. Detroit Lions: Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
The Lions could very well take Derrius Guice with this pick to establish a franchise running back, but with more options available later, it’s more likely that they’ll focus on their defensive line woes. Marcus Davenport would be an excellent choice.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: James Daniels (C, Iowa)
The Bengals are in need of a center, and two viable options are available here: James Daniels and Billy Price. Price may be the more versatile player, but his combine injury may cause teams to shy away from him, including Cincinnati. For that reason, Daniels gets picked here.
22. Denver Broncos (projected trade with Bills): Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
The offensive line is a bigger problem than the defensive backfield in Denver, but by earning another first-round pick in this proposed trade, the Broncos can address both positions early. A ballhawk like Joshua Jackson would certainly fill the void left by Aqib Talib.
23. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
Malcolm Butler has moved on to the Titans, and the Patriots will need to adapt quickly by drafting a cornerback early. Mike Hughes is the exact same height and weight as Butler, and he’ll likely be available at No. 23. It would be a wise decision for the Patriots to spend one of their two first-round selections on a corner like Hughes.
24. Carolina Panthers: Jaire Alexander (CB, Lousiville)
As badly as the Panthers need another receiver, they may need a cornerback even more after Bashaud Breeland failed his physical. Cornerbacks are likely to be going quickly in this draft, and Carolina would be fortunate to get their hands on speedy corner like Jaire Alexander.
25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)
In a division that has gunslinger quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson and Blake Bortles, the Titans will need to adjust their pass rush in order to be a contender. A sack monster like Harold Landry could certainly provide the missing piece.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
With both Adrian Clayborn and Dontari Poe out of Atlanta, the defensive line becomes the biggest area of need for the Falcons. Taven Bryan could still be available here, and the Falcons have shown interest in him. It’s a match made in heaven for Atlanta.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mike Gesicki (TE, Penn State)
Drew Brees already has offensive weapons like Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram; why not add one more? After all, the tight end position is especially lacking for New Orleans. Hayden Hurst, Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews are all viable options as well, but Gesicki’s killer combine is what separates him from the pack.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
It’s possible that Ryan Shazier never plays another snap, so Pittsburgh will be looking for a linebacker once again. Vander Esch could be the best pure inside linebacker of the draft, so expect the Steelers to pounce on him if he’s available at No. 28.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)
The Jaguars will need to address the offensive line eventually in this draft, but the offseason pick-up of Andrew Norwell means they can look elsewhere first. Jacksonville is reportedly quite fond of D.J. Moore, and with both Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson elsewhere, Moore would become the Jaguars’ go-to receiver right out of the gate.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
Guard is the biggest problem area on this sagging offensive line. There are numerous ways that Minnesota can go here, but a dependable run blocker like Wynn might be the best option. The Vikings could also take Billy Price here if they’re comfortable moving him from center to guard.
31. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller (OT, UCLA)
With Nate Solder headed to New York, the offensive tackle position opens up for New England. Solder was a very talented left tackle, and the Patriots will need someone just as talented to protect Brady’s blind side. Kolton Miller could provide the necessary protection.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
The defending champions already have a killer pass rush but the addition of Rashaan Evans could make it even more so. The linebacker corps is likely the weakest part of this defense anyway, so selecting Evans with Thursday night’s final pick would be a solid move.
DJ Bauer is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.