We’re almost three weeks out from the 2018 NFL Draft in Arlington, TX so it’s time to kick off our pre-draft coverage with a first look at what we think will happen in the first round of the draft, where the Denver Broncos currently own the fifth overall pick.
Our first round has seven offensive linemen drafted, with five each of quarterbacks, linebackers, and cornerbacks.
Alabama leads the way with four draftees ahead of Georgia with three, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas, and Louisville with two, while Colorado has one
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The definitive number one draft pick. Darnold has all the prototypical traits scouts look for in a quarterback. Barring the usual Browns epic fails, they may have finally found their QB for the foreseeable future.
2. New York Giants – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
With Eli Manning nearing the end of the road the Giants continue the work they started in free agency to solidify their offensive line. With a bevy of pass catchers at his disposal and the addition of running back Jonathan Stewart, the Giants look for one last hurrah by finally giving him some decent protection with the best lineman in the draft.
3. New York Jets – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Josh Rosen is considered the most “pro-ready” quarterback from the current batch of NFL prospects. A smart, polished, pocket passer in its purest form. Having already traded up to three, the Jets should get out of quarterback purgatory with this pick.
4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Everything’s coming up Cleveland. With the QB of the future now in the building, the Browns add another new threat to their offense in a dynamic player with instant impact. A Tyrod Taylor-Saquon Barkley tandem should be a lethal running threat until Darnold is ready to start under center.
5. Denver Broncos – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
With the Broncos only in on Case Keenum for one year, they still need to find the new franchise quarterback to live up to John Elway and Peyton Manning. Fifth overall picks don’t come round often and Elway would be crazy not to take Mayfield if he’s still on the board.
6. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
The Colts have needed help at edge rusher for several seasons and Chubb brings that in spades. The Colts select the player they will probably have selected at three at six and acquire draft capital in the process.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
After retooling their offense in 2017 and becoming an offseason darling thanks to Hard Knocks the Bucs fell flat on their face. In 2018, with the coach and GM on the hot seat, it’s time to solidify a defense and front seven which is oozing with potential with a space-eating, run-stuffing monster.
8. Chicago Bears – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama
The Bears made a point to surround their young quarterback with new toys in free agency. In the draft, they share the love with defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and reunite Minkah with former Bama teammate Eddie Jackson.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The 49ers get a steal at number nine after missing out on Fitzpatrick with one of the draft’s best cover corners. Ward will play opposite Richard Sherman in what should be one of the league’s most improved secondaries.
10. Oakland Raiders – Raquan Smith, LB, Georgia
No brainer for the Raiders who’ve struggled at the position for several seasons. Smith plays sideline to sideline; adding speed and versatility to an undermanned Raiders defence.
11. Miami Dolphins – Derwin James, S, Florida State
Derwin James is staying in Florida. He could go top 10, but we have him falling out. The Dolphins need to find an identity and James is a tone-setting safety regular compared to Kam Chancellor.
12. Buffalo Bills – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Allen has the highest upside of any prospect in this year’s draft. The Bills take a lottery ticket as they aim to dethrone the long-ruling New England Patriots with the QB with the big arm that can deal with the elements in Western New York.
13. Washington Redskins – Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
Free agency hit the Redskins’ secondary hard. Hughes has all the tools to develop into a top cornerback opposite Josh Norman.
14. Green Bay Packers – Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
Many have Edwards as the top linebacker prospect in the draft and would be a top 10 in a class not stacked with quarterback talent. Clay Mathews will be 32 next month and there have previously been rumours about his future, making Edmunds the heir to the linebacker throne in Green Bay.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Going into an NFL season with Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon as your first and second quarterbacks is straight up irresponsible. Jackson is a playmaker that could give the Cardinals the revamp it needs, and a Lamar Jackson-David Johnson pairing would make the Cardinals instantly watchable again.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Death, taxes and Ozzie Newsome drafting out go Alabama. Ridley is considered the most polished receiver in the draft. The Ravens have struggled drafting receivers for nigh on a decade but would be foolish to leave Ridley on the board.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
The Chargers have one of the most complete rosters in the NFL. With the defence ready to go, the name of the game is to add protection for Philip Rivers in the later years of his career. Man mountain Brown is the guy who fills a big hole long-term in Los Angeles, and can learn from projected starters Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Will Hernandez, OG, UTSA
If it wasn’t true before it certainly is now: this is Russel Wilson’s team. The Seahawks traded for Duane Brown in 2017 to protect Wilson’s blindside and add experience to a struggling, young offensive line. Hernandez could go anywhere in the lower half of the first round, but he would make a difference in Seattle.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas
Christian Kirk is staying in Texas. The Cowboys need to surround Dak Prescott with talent if they are to win. After the additions of Hurns this may spell the end of Dez Bryant’s time with the Dallas Cowboys.
20. Detroit Lions – James Daniels, C, Iowa
Matt Stafford was left battered and bruised in 2017. The Lions have no choice but to continue to invest in the offensive line, and centre James Daniels allows them to keep Graham Glasgow at guard.
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Connor Williams, OG, Texas
If Andy Dalton were a colour he’d be beige: nothing special but with the right surrounding talent it’ll get the job done. After adding a tackle via a trade with the Bills the Bengals pick up Williams to get Dalton back on two feet.
22. Buffalo Bills – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
After trading Corey Glenn to Cincinnati to move up to 12th, the Bills need a new starting left tackle to protect their shiny new quarterback. McGlinchey was a beast for the Fighting Irish and the 6-8, 315lb giant will have the chance to learn from Super Bowl winner Marshall Newhouse.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Rams take a page from the Eagles’ playbook with one of the draft’s top pass rushers. Son of Bum gets another piece for a ludicrously-stacked defence that will bring pressure in a variety of fashions.
24. Carolina Panthers – Jarie Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Panthers may choose to go receiver here, but with a stacked DB class the best value is to bolster the defence that remains the lifeblood of this team with a speedy corner that could slot straight in at nickel, or push as a second corner.
25. Tennessee Titans – Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, Georgia
In a division with Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson and Blake Bortles you can never have enough pass rushers.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Da’ron Payne, DT, Alabama
With the previously record-setting offence still largely intact the Falcons spend draft capital bringing the defence up to level. Payne fills a gap left by the loss of Dontari Poe to free agency.
27. New Orleans Saints – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
The Saints not the Vikings would have moved onto the NFC Championship game if not for some last-minute heroics. The Saints add a quality pass rusher to their stable.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Evans has no right to fall this far, but the Steelers won’t pass up the speedy linebacker, who will take up the sizeable hole following the devastating loss of Ryan Shazier last season.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Following the departures of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns despite reaching the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, the Jaguars add a big-bodied playmaker to help Blake Bortles continue to grow.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Isaiah Winn, OG, Georgia
The Vikings need to protect their $90-million man. Wynn is projected as quality, starting guard for years to come.
31. New England Patriots – Isiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
The Patriots have lost as much talent as just about any team this offseason. Oliver has elite size and good speed, and can be molded into an elite cornerback. He fills a hole left by the departure of Malcolm Butler to Tennessee.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Following the departure of Trey Burton and Brent Celek, the Eagles add a no-nonsense playmaker, who at 6-5, 255 will cause plenty of problems for defenses when paired with 2017 Pro Bowler Zach Ertz, a player Goedert compared himself to at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Version 2.0 of the Broncos Europe mock draft will be out closer to the draft, we’ll have more on what the Broncos should do in 2018, and what they actually do with coverage from our draft party in Manchester.