This article is part of our NFL Draft series.
Welcome to my final mock of this draft season and let me just say this one required some Thursday morning tinkering. And by tinkering I mean overhauling a lot of the top 10 that I was comfortable with Wednesday night. In any case, this should be a memorable first round with a potentially historic quarterback class and some defensive backs that will be impact players for years to come.
1.) Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Probably setting myself up to fall for the Browns' switcheroo while they still end up taking Sam Darnold, but the noise surrounding Mayfield going first overall is too much to ignore at this juncture. In fairness, Mayfield is as deserving as anyone in this class to go No.1 overall. His statistics and accolades speak for themselves and his accuracy and decision-making skills are among the best of any quarterback prospect in recent memory. He'll be up to the challenge of being the new face of the franchise in Cleveland.
2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
As much as I don't think this should be the pick considering the quarterbacks available here and the Giants' clear need for an heir apparent to Eli Manning, Barkley to Big Blue is well within the realm of possibility. General manager David Gettleman has shown that he's not shy about taking a running back early (Christian McCaffrey at No.8 in 2017) and the Giants' offense most glaring need (outside of quarterback) is in the backfield.
The Giants could get a major haul if they shop the No.2 pick to a quarterback-needy team looking to get up ahead of the Jets, but the asking price may be too much for a deal to actually get done.
3.) New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Jets luck out and have the long-projected No.1 overall pick fall to them at three. Darnold is a good fit there that should be ready to start as a rookie, but the Jets have veteran placeholders if he's not ready by Week 1.
4.) 4. Projected trade Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (Picks traded: Nos 12 and 22 overall in 2018)
I know this is the same trade I mocked in my first version, but I can't shake the feeling that Cleveland moves off of No.4. There's so much value to be gained for Cleveland here by acquiring this particular haul from Buffalo.
For the Bills, they jump out in front of Denver – another possible quarterback landing spot – and get their quarterback of the future in Allen. It's risky to give up this much draft capital for a player with Allen's accuracy issues, but until Buffalo has a legitimate answer at quarterback, it's difficult to take it seriously as a legitimate contender in the AFC.
5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
There hasn't been much media linkage between Rosen and the Broncos, but if he's somehow there at No.5, he should be the pick. I was skeptical of the "Rosen will slide" rumors at first, but with the way the first four picks figure to shake out now, he very well could fall out of the Top 10 if Denver doesn't nab him here.
6.) Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
Indianapolis traded back earlier in draft season but still ends up with arguably the best player available in Chubb, who will immediately bring a pass rushing presence off the edge in Indianapolis.
7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Derwin James, DB, Florida State
A repeat of what I had in my Mock Draft 1.0, the Bucs get an instant impact defensive back that meets a massive need. The Buccaneers' secondary heading into the draft is in shambles, so if the board falls this way, James would be the wise pick. He can play a variety of spots in the defensive backfield and brings rare size and athleticism to go with impressive instincts to be a fixture for the Buccaneers for years to come.
8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The Bears can go in several directions here, but getting the best offensive lineman in the class is the smart move that helps protect their investment in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
9.) San Francisco 49ers: Roquan Smith LB, Georgia
Reuben Foster's future with the organization remains uncertain and adding Smith here would give the 49ers an immediate replacement. He can make stops in the run game despite being slightly undersized for a middle linebacker and he has rare coverage ability that will keep him on the field on third downs.
10.) Oakland Raiders: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds isn't the cleanest projection at any one spot. His instincts as an inside linebacker were lacking on tape and he didn't play enough on the edge to be a sure thing in that aspect of the game. That said, Edmunds is just 19 years old with uncommon physical ability that can still improve. If a team can't put a 6-5, 250-pound defender with massive arms and a 4.5 40-yard dash to use, it's their own fault. Edmunds could be special.
11.) Projected Trade Green Bay Packers (Picks traded: 14 and 76 to Miami): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Green Bay has been talked about as a likely trade-up candidate for a top defensive back this week, and I'm buying it. Secondary has been an issue of late in Green Bay and nabbing arguably the best cover corner in the draft at this spot is more than worth parting ways with a third round pick.
12.) Browns: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Cleveland slides back and still manages to get one of the best defensive prospects in the draft. Fitzpatrick, if he sticks at nickel, would have been a reach at 4. But spending a pick on him here when the Browns have the Bills' other first-round pick is a strong move and gives Greg
13.) Washington Redskins: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
Yes the Redskins invested a third-rounder in the promising Fabian Moreau a year ago, but they still have questions at corner opposite Josh Norman. Alexander is one of the fastest corners in the class and he brings excellent coverage skills as well.
14.) Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
I had the Dolphins going with Michigan's Maurice Hurst in my first mock, but his stock has seemingly cooled in recent weeks despite being cleared of the heart condition detected at the NFL Combine. Vea now becomes the first interior defensive lineman off the board and takes Ndamukong Suh's place as a key space-eater in the trenches.
15.) Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
There are interesting rumors flying around regarding the Cardinals trading up for a quarterback. Teams like Denver, Chicago, or San Francisco are all possible trade partners to consider depending on how the first four picks unfold. For this mock, we'll keep Arizona at 15 but still give it a franchise quarterback in Jackson. The Cardinals don't have anything close to a long-term solution at quarterback in Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. Even if Bradford miraculously stays healthy the whole season, the Cardinals have just a one-year pact with him. The Cardinals need a quarterback and could luck out here by getting one of the most gifted quarterbacks coming out of college in recent memory.
16.) Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
It's patchwork, but the Ravens do technically have a receiving corps with three NFL wide receivers after adding Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead in free agency. The Ravens will likely add a receiver through the draft, but not in the first round. Right tackle is still a question mark even with the James Hurst contract. McGlinchey would be the best player available here as a big, athletic tackle who dominates in the run game.
17.) Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
This might seem like a bit of a reach until you realize how quickly this class runs out of safeties. The Chargers don't have a ton of needs, especially on defense, but safety is a spot that could use a player of Reid's caliber.
18.) Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Seattle is shifting gears into a rebuild with holes in several spots across the roster. Taking Oliver goes a long way towards addressing one of those issues with Richard Sherman now in San Francisco. Oliver is rangy at 6-foot-¼ with arms that rank in the 98th percentile among corners per Mockdraftable.com. That sort of unique build and profile coupled with strong coverage skills means that Oliver should be in play at 18 even if it's perceived as a reach by some.
19.) Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
This made sense even before the Cowboys parted ways with Dez Bryant, but now it feels almost certain that they'll go receiver in round one. Ridley is the best route runner in the class and will be a chain-moving staple in a Dallas offense that needs that from one of its wideouts. He's not as flashy as some of the other receiving prospects, but his combination of crisp route running, hands, and underrated speed make Ridley a smart pick for Dallas at 19.
20.) Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow, OL, Arkansas
The Lions could go in several directions here with a new coaching regime in place and needs in a few key spots. Ragnow, a lineman who could play any spot along the interior, is one of the biggest risers of the last month and has leapfrogged other O-line prospects. He's almost too perfect of a Travis Swanson replacement, but unlike Swanson, Ragnow won't have to wait until Day 2 to hear his name called.
21.) Bengals: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia
Cincinnati bolstered one of its tackle spots this offseason in dealing for Cordy Glenn, but the Bengals' offensive line isn't a finished product...yet. Wynn helps round out that line a versatile prospect that projects to move inside but could also provide tackle depth if Cincinnati runs into any injuries there.
22.) Projected trade: Tennessee (From Cleveland for pick 25 and 125 (4th round)): Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
The Patriots are a threat to take an edge rusher, so the Titans make the move to get ahead of them and get their guy in Landry. The ex-BC Eagle isn't the cleanest fit in Mike Vrabel's 3-4 defense, but a mind like Vrabel will find a use for a talent like Landry. He can dip around the edge as well as any pass-rusher in this class and isn't a project like UTSA's Marcus Davenport.
23.) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
The Patriots lost Nate Solder this offseason and desperately need to address the tackle spot in the first round. Miller is an interesting study in metrics versus tape as he checks in at nearly 6-foot-9 with great athletic measurables, but there were some concerning red flags on tape. Fortunately for New England, it has one of the best offensive line coaches in the business in Dante Scarnecchia to convert Miller from project to contributor in short order.
24.) Carolina Panthers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
The Panthers are hurting in the secondary and could go either corner or safety here if they opt to address the defense instead of the receiving corps. Jackson would be the best corner available here and could be a steal at 24. He had a disappointing combine – particularly in the 40-yard dash where he ran a 4.56 – but on film Jackson has tremendous instincts and ball skills. He'd be a welcome addition to the Carolina secondary.
25.) Cleveland Browns (From Tennessee): Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The Browns will have officially won the night if things play out this way, getting a franchise quarterback, a versatile defensive back, and a disruptive force on the interior. As mentioned earlier, Hurst's stock has fluctuated throughout draft season and seems to be trending downward, but I can't get behind the idea of him being a worse prospect than a Taven Bryan provided his medicals are fully in order.
26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Payne is a dominant interior defender when he's on and he might not last to this part of the first round. Dontari Poe is gone, which leaves a defensive tackle spot open next to Grady Jarrett. By adding Payne up front, the Falcons will sport one of the scariest front fours in the NFL in 2018 and beyond.
27.) New Orleans Saints: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
It took a while, but yes Alabama will be turning out four first-rounders for the second year in a row. Linebacker is one of the few weak spots on the Saints roster and Evans can step in and bolster that group right away.
28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The Steelers are set on offense but need some help in the linebacking corps. Tyler Matakevich is fine for depth purposes, but Vander Esch represents a clear improvement there. Vander Esch is an excellent athlete at the position that solidified himself as a first-rounder with an eye-popping combine. He puts the athleticism to good use as a sure tackler that should make a smooth transition into the Steeler defense.
29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Jaguars totally luck out here and get arguably the best receiver in the draft in Moore. Jacksonville lost both Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns this offseason, which leaves receiver as one of the few obvious weak spots depending on your views of Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole. Moore was dominant from a production standpoint at Maryland and was one of the top performing receivers at the combine, making him one of the best values at this stage of the first round.
30.) Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
For whatever reason, this pairing has seemed inevitable since Hernandez's strong week at the Senior Bowl. Hernandez is a classic "mauler" or "road grader" or whatever other cliche you want to use for a guard. Whatever you call him, he's a great fit for a Minnesota team that lost right guard Joe Berger to retirement.
31.) New England Patriots: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
Call me crazy but I don't think the Patriots will head into the year with Rex Burkhead as their starting running back. Michel can do everything that's asked of a modern NFL running back – he's a slasher with good vision as a runner, he's a smooth pass-catcher, and he's uniquely polished in pass protection as well. The Patriots have other needs and might even go receiver here, but Michel would make plenty of sense as well.
32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
Philadelphia could easily let someone trade back into the first round for Mason Rudolph, but if they stick here, they can afford to be aggressive and get "their guy." If there's one noticeable weak link on the Eagles' roster, it's cornerback. There are some promising young options there, but corner depth is increasingly valuable in today's NFL. Getting Jackson means adding blazing speed and a physical presence in the defensive backfield.