AFTER the dust has settled from the NBA combine and new players have found homes in free agency we have a much clearer picture of how this year’s NFL draft will pan out. Trade, big contracts and players being cut has altered the game plan heading into draft night so it’s only fair I update my predictions.
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Pick #1 Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
THERE’S no doubt Saquon Barkley is in play here for the Browns, even if they did sign Carlos Hyde. Tyrold Taylor is a nice starter but make no mistake, he is a short-term option.
Pick #2 New York Giants – Josh Rosen, UCLA, QB
DESPITE trading away Jason Paul-Pierre earlier today, the Giants can’t pass up on Josh Rosen. Bradley Chubb looks like a star, but the UCLA quarterback could be the perfect successor to Eli.
Pick #3 New York Jets (from Indianapolis Colts) – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
SACRIFICING a ton to move up the Jets have their sights set on a quarterback. I think the reigning Heisman is the one who they are after over the likes of Josh Allen. His personality aside the Oklahoma stud is a winner worth taking a chance on.
Pick #4 Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans) – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
CLEVELAND would be rubbing their hands together if they could still manage to take Barkley with the 4th pick. If he is as good as advertised Barkley could be a game changer for the Browns right away.
Pick #5 Denver Broncos – Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
IT will be tempting to snag a quarterback here, but I don’t see Denver passing on Nelson. He’s a future Pro Bowler and will help from day one.
Pick #6 Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets) – Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State
AFTER claiming a king’s ransom for the third pick, Indianapolis has a real chance to get the man they probably planned on taking at No. 3 anyway. Adding Bradley Chubb to their defense and adding a healthy Andrew Luck makes their outlook much more positive.
Pick #7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
THE multi-dimensional Fitzpatrick would be a great get for the Bucs. After a forgetful season a year ago he could also help Tampa Bay take their defense to another level.
Pick #8 Chicago Bears – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
FITTING a need for the Bears the first corner is taken off the board. A great showing at the combine solidified Ward’s place as the best cornerback in this class.
Pick #9 San Fransisco 49ers – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
AFTER snagging Richard Sherman in free agency, the need for a cornerback isn’t as pressing. Instead, San Fransisco adds a super-talented linebacker who makes them a team to look out for.
Pick #10 Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
WITH defense the main issue for Oakland they can’t afford to pass on Roquan Smith. The playmaking former Bulldog will be a great get for Jon Gruden.
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Pick #11 Miami Dolphins – Vita Vea, DT, Washington
NDAMUKONG Suh is gone now, leaving a gaping hole in the Dolphins front line. There’s no way they let Vea go past them.
Pick #12 Buffalo Bills (from Cincinnati Bengals) – Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
BUFFALO moved up to potentially move up again and take a quarterback. If the draft pans out this way though then they might not have to.
Pick #13 Washington Redskins – Derwin James, S, Florida State
IT’S unlikely that Derwin James drifts all the way back here to the Redskins. If he does find a way here though then Washington won’t let him go any further.
Pick #14 Green Bay Packers – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
WITH so much talent at quarterback in the NFC North adding an explosive pass rusher would be smart for the Packers.
Pick #15 Arizona Cardinals – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa State
WITH one playmaker cut from their defense in Tyrann Mathieu they add another one right away. Jackson claimed eight interceptions a season ago with the Hawkeyes, so he should be a great addition.
Pick #16 Baltimore Ravens – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
HIS historically bad combine showing won’t deter the Ravens. Ozzie Newsome gets to welcome the son of a former favourite opting to trust the tape over one bad test showing.
Pick #17 Los Angeles Chargers – Connor Williams, OT, Texas
LOS Angeles is presented with a bunch of choices at this spot and they are almost at a luxury of choosing the best player on the board. Getting a blue chip offensive lineman is where they’ll go should the draft eventuate like this.
Pick #18 Seattle Seahawks – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
ANOTHER offseason can’t go by without Seattle addressing their offensive line. With their defense reshaping itself they need a healthy, upright Russell Wilson now more than ever. Wynn can help them achieve that.
Pick #19 Dallas Cowboys – Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
IF Dallas decides to move on from Dez Bryant then they might need a wideout. Instead, I think Hughes will call himself a Cowboy once the night is done.
Pick #20 Detroit Lions – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
PAYNE displayed his versatile skill set on the big stage last year and the Lions would love a player of his calibre on their roster.
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Pick #21 Cincinnati Bengals (from Buffalo Bills) – Will Hernandez, G, Texas-El Paso
AFTER moving back nine spots the Bengals plans on draft night change slightly. Hernandez helps them make the running game much more dangerous in 2018.
Pick #22 Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City Chiefs) – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
IF they can get a quarterback at 12 I think they will look at Ridley here. Even though they have Kelvin Benjamin, adding the best receiver in the draft class gives their new starting quarterback a handful of weapons to choose from.
Pick #23 Los Angeles Rams – Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College
AFTER revamping their defense with a flurry of moves the Rams can look to add a replacement for Robert Quinn. Landry should be available at this spot too.
Pick #24 Carolina Panthers – Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State
WHILE Carolina might be tempted to go for offensive line help, Sam Hubbard looks like a true stud. With some time to learn a few tricks from Julius Peppers, Hubbard would be a great future asset in their defense.
Pick #25 Tennessee Titans – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
EVANS is a hard nut linebacker that can help add some grunt to the Titans D. The gifted Crimson Tide player is a must for Tennessee if he’s still on the board.
Pick #26 Atlanta Falcons – Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
I had Bryan going to Atlanta in my first draft and after losing Clayborn he seems like a match made in heaven. Some have gone as far as saying the former Gator has a bit of J.J. Watt about his game.
Pick #27 New Orleans Saints – Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
HAD a big showing at the combine after an injury-interrupted season. If New Orleans adds him to their already intimidating defense then the rest of the NFC South should watch out.
Pick #28 Pittsburgh Steelers – Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
THE absence of Ryan Shazier moving forward makes linebacker a position of priority for the Steelers. The dominant sideline-to-sideline defender in Vander Esch helps them plug the gap.
Pick #29 Jacksonville Jaguars – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
JACKSONVILLE have stripped their wide receiver depth and left Blake Bortles with some uninspiring pass catchers. If they can add Sutton into the mix then there is at least some hope the Jags can score in 2018.
Pick #30 Minnesota Vikings – Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
PROTECTING their biggest investment in Kirk Cousins is now the Vikings highest priority. Adding another big body on the O-line in McGlinchey does just that.
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Pick #31 New England Patriots – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
EVEN though Gilmore can be a productive corner the Patriots need to find their replacement for Malcolm Butler. Getting Jackson early checks that box.
Pick #32 Philadelphia Eagles – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
THEY still have a Pro Bowl level talent in Zach Ertz on their team, but adding the Gamecock tight end isn’t a terrible move. Philly let Brent Celek go in the offseason so Hurst provides some injury insurance as well.
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