The final Sun-Times mock draft: Predicting picks for all 32 NFL teams
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Fifty-seven days after we published our first NFL mock draft, here’s the final version — with picks for all 32 teams:
1. Browns — QB Sam Darnold, USC
General manager John Dorsey figures to choose between Darnold, whose final college season was a bit of a disappointment, and Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, whose rocket arm belies his inexact accuracy.
“My gut tells me that, if you’re choosing between the two, Allen might have the higher ceiling, but you’ve swung and missed so many times in Cleveland at quarterback, can you afford another one with your first pick?” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “Your first pick has got to set the tone, and I think at the end of the day it will be Sam Darnold, and he’s got a little Brett Favre in him, which I think John likes. John likes a little swagger. He’ll make some mistakes and turn the ball over, but at the end of the day, that’s what my gut tells me.”
2. Giants — QB Josh Rosen, UCLA
The draft gets interesting at No. 2. That’s where Giants general manager Dave Gettleman must decide whether to surround aging veteran Eli Manning with the best available position player — be it Penn State running back Saquon Barkley or, perhaps, N.C. State edge rusher Bradley Chubb — or draft his eventual replacement.
The guess here is that he takes a quarterback. Mayock compares Rosen, who has the most natural throwing motion in the draft, to Sam Bradford.
“If they fall in love with the quarterback who they think is their franchise guy for the next 10 years, that has to trump everything else regardless of fans that want Barkley or whatever, and you have to take your quarterback,” Mayock said. “However, if you have any concern whatsoever, there are three great position players there, or you can trade down.”
3. Jets — QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
The Jets traded up to take a quarterback. The question is which one — or two or three — will be available.
“When I look at Baker Mayfield and the fit there, it’s not even really with (Jets offensive coordinator) Jeremy Bates, but when you look at the decision makers and you look at the quarterbacks that haven’t worked out there with the Jets, I think you can find Baker Mayfield kind of being that polar opposite,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “So to me, it goes a little bit of that, it’s almost you fire a coach, you hire the exact opposite of what you just fired. Baker Mayfield makes some sense there.”
4. Browns — RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Would the Browns dare take two quarterbacks in the top four and let them fight for the franchise quarterback moniker? Some have speculated that they could. The opinion here: it’s more likely that the Browns win a Super Bowl this year than doubling up at quarterback.
Enter Barkley, probably the best player in the draft.
“He’s got great lower body strength,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. “Powerful kid in the lower body. That’s why he breaks tackles. He can stop on a dime and make people miss. (He) catches the ball out of the backfield.”
5. Broncos — QB Josh Allen, Wyoming
Allen has the biggest arm Mayock has seen since notorious draft bust JaMarcus Russell.
“What I think differentiates this kid is his football IQ, passion, work ethic,” he said. “I could see a difference between 2016 and 2017, and I could see a difference between 2017 to the Combine and then again to the Pro Day.”
He’d benefit from a year as a backup — and the Broncos would happily oblige, given that they just gave Case Keenum a two-year deal.
“He has to get his eyes and his feet connected, and he needs about a thousand reps, and he needs to sit in a room behind Eli Manning or Drew Brees or Tom Brady,” Mayock said.
6. Colts — Edge rusher Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
The Colts traded down, and still get their man. They were second-to-last in sacks last year. If they don’t fix their pass rush here, it will be hard to later, even with the Jets’ two-second round picks they got in the swap. Chubb is the class of a thin edge rusher group.
“You’re always looking at the depth of the class when you’re trying to make your decisions, so the lack of edge rusher, elite edge rushers to me, that is going to help a guy like Bradley Chubb,” Jeremiah said. “Because I think there’s a dropoff after him, and then after that you’ve really only got a couple more guys with first-round grades.”
7. Buccaneers — S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The Bucs allowed 4,169 passing yards last year, the most in the league. The fastest way to fix that is to take a defensive back, be it Fitzpatrick, Florida State’s Derwin James or Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
“Both safeties, Fitzpatrick and James, are unbelievable,” Mayock said.
8. Bears — G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
The Bears need an edge rusher. With Chubb gone, they could consider inside linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who they could use as a pass rusher in nickel and dime sets while the 19-year-old develops a more well-rounded game. If they wanted to stick with defense, they could turn to Roquan Smith, though he might only be a two-down player if the Bears prefer to keep Danny Trevathan on the field on passing downs.
With Nelson available, though, the Bears don’t have to make that decision. They can plug him in at left guard and let him block for Mitch Trubisky for the next decade.
9. 49ers — ILB Roquan Smith, Georgia
Last year’s No. 31 overall pick, Reuben Foster, was charged with felony counts of domestic violence last week. The 49ers, then, need to plan as though he’ll never play for them again. With a sudden need for an inside linebacker, the 49ers would be fortunate to have Smith, who has the skillset to excel right away, slip to them.
10. Raiders — CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State
If new coach Jon Gruden insists on an offensive player, he could turn to Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who could be the best tackle available. If not, Ward makes sense — as does Edmunds or James.
“If you wanted to look corner, it would be Denzel Ward,” Mayock said. “So I think the only offensive guy that would fit the profile would be McGlinchey, but I think they’re going to have the choice of one of those defensive players, and they’re all special.”
11. Dolphins — Edge rusher Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Will Adam Gase be tempted to draft a quarterback? If not, he’ll pick between James and Edmunds, the two best defenders left.
“The only down side to Edmunds — he’s 19 years old,” Mayock said. “He doesn’t even turn 20 until the week after the draft. I think his upside is higher than those other kids, but I think his floor is lower. I’m not sure what you’re getting with him at the end of the day.”
12. Bills — QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville
With both the No. 12 and No. 22 pick, the Bills are primed, if not likely, to move up to take their next quarterback. For our purposes, we’ll give them the best one available. The Bills have only two quarterbacks on their roster, and neither of them are starters on a good team: A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman.
13. Redskins — DL Vita Vea, Washington
At 6-4, 347 pounds, Vea is the best defensive lineman in the draft.
“With Vita Vea, as much as I love him, I’d like him to lose 15 pounds and stay there, and you’re going to have to manage that for the next five years,” Mayock said. “And really the key to his value is how many snaps are you getting from him in a subpackage?”
14. Packers — CB Josh Jackson, Iowa
The Packers could use an edge rusher, so Texas-San Antonio’s Marcus Davenport makes sense here — as does Edmunds, if they can get creative. But they’re desperate for pass-coverage help after trying, and failing, to lure Kyle Fuller away from the Bears.
15. Cardinals — S Derwin James, Florida State
They need a quarterback, too, but Tyrann Mathieu’s departure puts them in the market for a safety. James, if he’s still available, is a perfect fit for the team’s physical defense.
16. Ravens — WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama
For all the Ravens’ needs, their best two receivers are Michael Crabtree and John Brown. Both could only last one year. Ridley isn’t perfect — and the recent history of receiver prospects is spotty, at best — but he’s worth the risk at No. 16.
17. Chargers — OT Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame
The Bolts only have so many years left with Philip Rivers at the helm. A protector might extend his career. Mayock called him “clearly the No. 1 tackle in the draft.”
18. Seahawks — OT Connor Williams, Texas
The Seahawks haven’t used their original first-round draft pick in seven years. If they do here, they move to fix an offensive line that has struggled mightily in recent years.
19. Cowboys — WR D.J. Moore, Maryland
With Dez Bryant gone, the Cowboys get a receiver to try to take his place.
20. Lions — Edge rusher Harold Landry, Boston College
The Lions give new coach Matt Patricia some defensive help, reuniting Landry with defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, his old college coach.
21. Bengals — C James Daniels, Iowa
He could be the best center prospect of the last five years.
22. Bills — OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Provided that they don’t trade the pick, the Bills will be looking for a tackle to tackle Cordy Glenn’s place. Or a guard to take over for the retired — we think — Richie Incognito.
23. Patriots — Edge rusher Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
With two picks in the first round, Bill Belichick will probably look to make a bigger splash than we’re used to seeing from the Patriots. (Trade up for a quarterback, maybe?) Davenport’s not a bad consolation prize, though, for a defensive unit that needs edge help.
24. Panthers — WR Courtland Sutton, Southern Methodist
Cam Newton needs someone to throw to.
25. Titans — G Will Hernandez, UTEP
They’re trying to build a stellar offensive line to put in front of Marcus Mariota.
26. Falcons — DL Taven Bryan, Florida
We’ve tied Bryan to the Falcons since the start of our mock draft series. They need defensive linemen, and Bryan makes sense in the first round’s last eight or 10 picks.
27. Saints — TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina
Like the Chargers and Patriots, the Saints have a quarterback who can’t stick around forever. They have a better chance of reaching the Super Bowl this year than the other two, though, so they’ll take someone they hope can get Drew Brees there.
28. Steelers — ILB Rashaan Evans, Alabama
Jeremiah thinks he fits the Steelers’ ethos — and the team typically always lands guys that do. With Ryan Shazier injured, they need someone like Evans — or Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch.
“Rashaan Evans, the linebacker who can play inside and outside, I think would be a nice player to plug into that defense,” Jeremiah said.
29. Jaguars — Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT
The Jags have other needs — tight end is probably tops on the list — but this is a case of a standout player falling into their laps.
30. Vikings — G Isaiah Wynn, Georgia
Time to protect the richest investment any team has ever made in a quarterback.
31. Patriots — QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
By taking a quarterback in the first round, the Patriots will get the option to exercise Rudolph’s fifth-year option. Will Tom Brady still be around then?
32. Eagles — Edge rusher Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
This is probably too low for Vander Esch, whose stock has risen the past few months.