2018 NFL Mock Draft: Broncos land Saquon Barkley, Bears select Calvin Ridley
John Elway gets the marquee runner in this class, and the Bears provide Trubisky with a No. 1 receiver
Yes, the Broncos need a quarterback. No, they're not locked into taking one with the No. 5 overall pick. General manager John Elway will likely be very active with what could be the best free-agent quarterback group in a while, and I don't doubt his recruiting skills.
That would create the possibility of Saquon Barkley being a legitimate option for Denver.
Below is the current draft order, which is nearly set.
1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. Indianapolis Colts
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Colts are the wild card of the early selections in this draft, and they go secondary to fortify their defense. With Fitzpatick and Malik Hooker, Indianapolis will have two young and dynamic defensive backs to counter Deshaun Watson and Marcus Mariota.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Barkley is considered here. GM John Dorsey ultimately goes the route he went during his first draft calling the shots with the Chiefs when he picked Eric Fisher No. 1 overall in the 2013 draft.
5. Denver Broncos
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Surprise pick of the top 10. In this scenario, John Elway finds a veteran quarterback in free agency or via trade, as he doesn't want to roll the dice on another rookie quarterback two years after he seemingly whiffed on Paxton Lynch. Barkley can be a versatile workhorse right away.
6. New York Jets
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. The New York Post is thrilled with this selection, as it'll provide years of fantastic cover art material. Mayfield is a somewhat unconventional quarterback who might just help the NFL move into the future -- or, what we've seen in college for years -- on offense.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. In Kansas City, Matt Nagy had two players who could consistently get separation in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. That's Ridley's specialty, and he's what Mitchell Trubisky needs. Time to start building around the young quarterback.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The 49ers could go in many directions but after three straight years grabbing defensive linemen in the first round, San Francisco, under new leadership, picks, arguably, the best available player here in Nelson, a road-grading interior lineman.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Like Chubb to Tampa, Smith to Oakland is perfect. The Raiders desperately need impact play from their linebacker spot and the Georgia star is productive at the line of scrimmage and in coverage due to immense athletic traits and high-caliber football smarts.
11. Miami Dolphins
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Dolphins could be looking for a multifaceted safety to eventually replace the underrated Reshad Jones in a few seasons. That can be James, a tall, long, springy safety who can play anywhere on the back end.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Bengals were hurt by Andrew Whitworth's departure in 2017, and though McGlinchey shouldn't be expected to be Whitworth-like immediately, he's NFL-ready, particularly as a run-blocker.
13. Washington Redskins
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Another team that will be the subject of plenty of quarterback talk this offseason, in this scenario the Redskins either re-sign Kirk Cousins or add a veteran in free agency. Washington was at its best when it had one of the best pass-catching groups in football, and the duo of Sutton and Josh Doctson on the outside would be a nightmare for opposing secondaries.
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. We don't know who'll be coaching the Cardinals in 2018, but we do know they need a quarterback. The selection of Allen will draw criticism from the fan base, but Arizona jumps here because of his tremendous raw talent.
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The one problem with the relatively "upstart" Chargers is their offensive line, and Williams is one of the better pass-protectors to enter the NFL at the left tackle spot over the past few seasons.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Legion of Boom needs an influx of top-flight talent at the cornerback spot. Denzel Ward is considered here, but the Seahawks lean toward taller, longer cornerbacks on the perimeter.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Cowboys will look offense early in the draft, but that doesn't mean they have to go wide receiver in the first round. Hurst is an immediate upgrade on the interior and will provide production on all three downs.
20. Detroit Lions
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Vea is drawing comparisons to Haloti Ngata, which could help the Lions ease their grooming process of the young defensive tackle. The Washington star has size, strength and surprising pass-rush ability.
21. Buffalo Bills
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Can't move away from this pick. While I do believe the Bills will consider all move-up options, they decide to stay put and land Rudolph without spending any extra selections. He's an experienced pocket passer who possesses all the nuances needed to succeed at the quarterback position.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Buffalo's defense overachieved in 2017, and Sean McDermott will likely look to bolster spots up front. Davenport is a freaky outside rusher who, despite playing at a small school, is ready to be a 10-sack player, and he's strong enough to set a strong edge against the run.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Los Angeles could have some moving parts in its secondary this offseason, so Ward is a sensible pick here. He's the classic "if he were a few inches taller, he'd be a top-10 pick."
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Tennessee Titans
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The super-young, ultra-athletic Edmunds is primed to be a huge riser over the next few months, simply due to his untapped football skill and ridiculous physical ability. Mike Vrabel will see some Willie McGinest in him.
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. The Saints are in need of a play-maker at the second level of their defense. Jefferson, like Edmunds, is a gifted athlete who might acclimate to the NFL quicker now than he would of if he entered the league 5-10 years ago. With the pro game becoming more spread-happy, Jefferson can simply use his quickness to get to the football. He won't shed many blocks, and while that's part of his game that needs to improve, it shouldn't hamper him in a major way instantly.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. The Steelers love the contribution they got from T.J. Watt, but the rest of the edge-rusher group needs work. Okoronkwo is the most impressive Swiss Army knife at outside linebacker in this class.
29. Jackonsville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller could stand to add some strength in his lower half, which is something he'll do in an NFL strength and conditioning program. Beyond that, this is an underrated pass-protector with plus athletic traits and a mean streak blocking for the run.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. The Eagles clearly don't have many roster holes, yet they could add some youth to their safety spot. Harrison is a Malcolm Jenkins-type safety who can be a hybrid linebacker or move into the slot on occasion.
32. New England Patriots
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. Evans doesn't have Dont'a Hightower's size and strength, but he reads blocks well and is fast to the football. He's the type of smart, immediate starter the Patriots need on defense.
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