The 2018 NFL Draft will be held from April 26 – 28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. And coming off a disappointing 3-13 season, the New York Giants hold the second spot.
Here’s how I see things shaking down in this draft:
1. Cleveland Browns – Josh Allen (QB): One scout told me that Allen “has the best arm of any quarterback in the draft.” A natural fit for the Browns, although they could be tempted by Vontae Mack here.
2. New York Giants – Saquon Barkley (RB): I don’t think the Giants will take a quarterback and sit him behind Eli Manning for a year. So assuming they upgrade the offensive line — which is a safe assumption — Barkley balances out the offense. A perfect fit, even though he is an admitted New York Jets fan.
3. Indianapolis Colts – Orlando Brown (OT): Offensive line is a need for the Colts and Brown will help them keep Andrew Luck upright and healthy. A multi-year starter at Oklahoma, Brown moves well for his size.
4. TRADE – Buffalo Bills – Sam Darnold (QB): In the first twist of the draft, the Bills trade up and swap picks to select the USC quarterback. The Bills now have a building block piece to go along with some intriguing pieces on both sides of the ball. The Browns move down to get the Bills two first round picks and a multiple picks this year and in 2019.
5. Denver Broncos – Baker Mayfield (QB): The Broncos will be praised for this because, well, they are the Broncos, but this might be a reach pick. With that being said, this is an environment that could be well-suited to help a quarterback who has raised an eyebrow or two off the field.
6. New York Jets – Minkah Fitzpatrick (S-CB): The first defensive player in the draft falls here to the Jets, who will have addressed their pressing needs this offseason at quarterback via free agency. The Jets get a versatile player in the Alabama defensive back. Will play cornerback for the Jets.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Bradley Chubb (DE): Much like the Jets two years ago who saw Leonard Williams fall into their laps, the Bucs get an elite pass rusher outside the top-5. This defensive end can change the dynamic of their defensive line and brings a nice motor off the edge.
8. Chicago Bears – Courtland Sutton (WR): The SMU wide receiver fits a position of need for a bad Bears passing offense. Mitch Trubisky is going to like his length down the field and his speed.
9. San Francisco 49ers – Quenton Nelson (G): The Jersey kid impressed at Notre Dame and is the prototypical interior offensive lineman in the NFL. Blessed with good length and technique, he will help keep Jimmy Garoppolo vertical. He’s a top-3 pick on talent and potential impact.
10. Oakland Raiders – Josh Jackson (CB): Perhaps the top true cornerback in the draft, Jackson is the kind of athlete the Raiders crave. He’s long and breaks well to the ball. A good value pick for a team that needs some help in the secondary.
11. Miami Dolphins – Roquan Smith (LB): All he did was make plays against Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl, cementing himself as a true impact leader. Makes tackles, hits hard and a smart player. Instantly upgrades the Miami defense.
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Mason Rudolph (QB): Not enough people are talking about the Oklahoma State quarterback, who will surely wow NFL teams in workouts. The Bengals will address offensive line issues in free agency and will utilize 2018 as a redshirt year of sorts for their new quarterback.
13. Washington Redskins – Derwin James (DB): Can play safety and in the slot, James is a truly unique defensive back prospect. He’ll help out a Redskins pass defense that allowed some big numbers in some tight games last year.
14. Green Bay Packers – Kolton Miller (OT): Green Bay needs help protecting Aaron Rodgers and Miller can do that from either tackle position. Played left tackle at UCLA last year and looked pretty good, but might get rolled out on the other side as a rookie.
15. Arizona Cardinals – Connor Williams (OT): Back-to-back picks go at the offensive tackle position. Here the Cardinals, desperate to upgrade their offensive line, get a good one. Williams is a physical tackle with long arms. A good fit here.
16. Baltimore Ravens – Hayden Hurst (TE): Have to like this tight end prospect, who is one of the more complete players to emerge from this position in recent years. Not only is he a good, long target downfield with reliable hands but he’s also a solid blocker.
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea (DT): Let’s make this clear: The Chargers don’t need a defensive lineman, but Vea is just too good to pass up. He moves well and is absurdly athletic for an interior defensive lineman.
18. Seattle Seahawks – Denzel Ward (CB): In a division that is getting more and more pass happy, the Seahawks better stockpile defensive backs. Ward isn’t the biggest cornerback but he has a great wingspan and reaction.
19. Dallas Cowboys – Maurice Hurst (DT): They would have loved Vea to fall here but the Cowboys get a thick, stout body here in Hurst. Good size, good quickness and is more than a space eater. Plays with a chip on his shoulder and was an All-Academic selection in the Big Ten.
20. Detroit Lions – Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (LB): Maybe a bit undersized but some team is going to fall in love with Okoronkwo. The Lions will like him at outside linebacker and occasionally as an edge rusher.
21. Buffalo Bills – Taven Bryan (DT): The Florida defensive tackle will show value at this week’s NFL Combine. He moves well, has good reach and downfield pursuit. Steps in as an instant starter in Buffalo.
22. Buffalo Bills – Ronald Jones II (RB): With a second pick in the first round, the Bills can be bold. They don’t need a running back what with LeSean McCoy doing what he does in upstate New York. But Jones is exciting and shifty, making Buffalo an intriguing team on offense no matter the quarterback play.
23. Los Angeles Rams – Chukwuma Okorafor (OT): Protecting Jared Goff is a priority here for a team that is ready to take the next step. He’s a four-year contributor and three-year starter at Western Michigan. Needs to add size but could be a very nice right tackle.
24. Carolina Panthers – James Washington (WR): Not quite a slot receiver, not quite a target receiver, Washington is an enigma. But when he gets his hands on the ball, he’s quick and elusive. Carolina will find a way to get him the ball…Cam Newton is going to love throwing him the deep ball.
25. Tennessee Titans – Isaiah Oliver (CB): The Titans need a cornerback to help their pass defense and Oliver certainly does that. He’s long and has good reactions but he’s a little light in run defense.
26. Atlanta Falcons – Will Hernandez (G): The UTEP guard is tough, physical, gritty and a bit under the radar. The Falcons struggled to run the ball and Hernandez is a draft and start type of pick here.
27. New Orleans Saints – Calvin Ridley (WR): More of a Day 2 pick, but with the window is closing on Drew Brees and his time in New Orleans he becomes the guy here. A target like Ridley, who is a good route runner, can help maximize these remaining couple of years that New Orleans has with their Hall of Fame quarterback.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Marcell Ateman (WR): For much the same reason as the Saints above them, the Steelers get themselves a target to max-out the time left with Ben Roethlisberger. A big target and dependable, Ateman helps change the look and balance of this offense.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Da’Ron Payne (DT): Adding a defensive lineman to bulk up the interior will help Jacksonville, who may not get too much value to help their offense here. Payne was a beast in the College Football Playoff and steps into a good spot here.
30. Minnesota Vikings – Mike McGlinchey (OT): The Notre Dame tackle is long and big, with plenty of big game experience. The Vikings need some help in the trenches and McGlinchey gives them a player who, while needing to get stronger, could be a starter for the next decade.
31. New England Patriots – Marcus Davenport (DE): The Patriots won’t be turned off by his frame – Davenport is a bit lean for a defensive end. They also will ignore the fact that he played at UTSA. Why? Because the tape is good and he’s athletic. He’ll find success off the edge in New England.
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Dorian O’Daniel (LB): With no real good value at cornerback, the Eagles find an outside linebacker with great production. Turned heads in the national championship with five tackles and some big plays behind the line of scrimmage.