2018 NFL Mock Draft: Broncos move up to No. 1, and a trade for every first-round pick
Let's have a little fun and identify some potential trade scenarios for the 2018 NFL Draft
I don't have many changes tofor you this week, so I figured instead we could do something a little outside of the box.
We know there are going to be some trades by the time Day 1 of the draft comes to a close, but figuring out which teams could make a swap is near impossible. The hit rate of matching prospects to teams in their original slots is already pretty low; throw in the near-infinite number of trade possibilities and you can forget about any delusions of putting together a perfect mock.
That being said, if we force ourselves to consider a trade scenario for every team, it's possible a few potential deals that make all the sense in the world start to emerge. I'll leave it to you to figure out which ones those are.
One note: A coin flip will determine No. 9 and No. 10 in the official draft order.
1. Denver Broncos (from CLE)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. If the Broncos can't land Kirk Cousins in free agency, and they're not satisfied going into the season with any of the other free agents, they'll have a problem on their hands: who starts at QB? Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch have proven to not be the answer. If they get to the draft with nothing but a low-cost stopgap in place, I can definitely see John Elway pulling the trigger on a deal to move up for his No. 1 target. Is that Darnold? Impossible to say at this point, but if it is, there seems little chance he lasts to No. 5.
2. Buffalo Bills (from NYG)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Bills have the ammo to move up, and packaging their two first-round picks would be enough to get into the top 10. If they throw in left tackle Cordy Glenn and another later pick, would that be enough to get to No. 2? There's obviously a familiarity between the teams' GMs thanks to their Carolina connections. If a trade like this happens, the Bills get a pro-ready franchise quarterback and try to build on last year's playoff run, while the Giants get potentially three starters for the price of one, depending on how they use No. 21 and No. 22.
3. New York Jets (from IND)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. For this scenario to play out, Kirk Cousins would have to sign with someone other than the two favorites (including Denver). Arizona maybe? That leaves the Jets potentially looking to get ahead of the Browns for a quarterback while also worried someone else could trade up and take a fourth QB in the top five. We know the Jets are for the right guy, and they have an extra second-rounder to work with.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (from CLE)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Buccaneers finished last in Football Outsiders' Adjusted Sack Rate metric in 2017. No. 31? The Colts, who currently own the No. 6 pick after moving down earlier in this mock. If the Bucs want to add the pass-rusher they desperately need, that means hopping over the Colts to take Chubb, the clear No. 1 edge rusher in the draft and possibly the best non-QB prospect of 2018.
5. Cleveland Browns (from DEN)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. With three trades in the books by the time Cleveland picks at No.4, three quarterbacks are off the board and the Browns have the next two picks. If they want to add a quarterback with one, the options are only to trade No. 4 to a non-QB needy team, or to trade No. 5 instead after acquiring it from the Broncos. Here, they did option 1 and then used the Broncos pick on Mayfield. They still have plenty of draft ammo to move up from their second-round picks as well.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. I think Barkley is in play for the Colts at No. 3, so moving back a few spots to pick up some draft capital and still landing him would be a great turn of events for the Indianapolis front office. It's a bit bittersweet after just missing out on Chubb after the opportunity to draft him was there at No. 3, but they can attack their pass-rush issues on Day 2.
7. Cleveland Browns (from TB)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Browns move back twice, from No. 1 to 5 and from No. 4 to 7, and still end up with a franchise quarterback plus the guy I've projected them to take at No. 4 in standard mock drafts in Fitzpatrick, who should be tried at cornerback but will be an All-Pro caliber free safety if nothing else. Would you rather have Darnold and Fitzpatrick, or Mayfield and Fitzpatrick plus even more picks in your ammo box, particularly if you can get a 2019 first from Denver?
8. Washington Redskins (from CHI)
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Redskins already agreed to one go-for-it trade this offseason by adding veteran quarterback Alex Smith instead of targeting a franchise passer in the draft. If they think the championship window is open over the next few years, moving up for an immediate quality starter like Nelson makes sense, particularly when Washington already needs upgrades on the interior of the line.
9. Green Bay Packers (from SF)
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Packers aren't typically a team that goes trading up and down the draft, but the wild card is new general manager Brian Gutekunst. While he's likely to continue the same conservative traditions after rising through the ranks in Green Bay, it's impossible to know for sure whether he'll be more open to wheeling and dealing. After spending a long time as the team's director of college scouting, expecting him to take the risk for the right prospect makes some amount of sense. Jackson could be the guy that's worth it as the top true cornerback prospect in this year's draft.
10. Jacksonville Jaguars (from OAK)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Like Deshaun Watson last year, Jackson is a prospect that people seem to either love or hate. But he could be in line to benefit from the emergence of run-pass options in the NFL game, which the Eagles just leaned on to win the Super Bowl. Jacksonville also used RPOs successfully against New England, and if they want to chase a guy with a higher ceiling than Blake Bortles, making a Pat Mahomes-type trade to move up to No. 10 for Jackson could be in play.
11. Baltimore Ravens (from MIA)
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. This is Ozzie Newsome's final year as general manager, and what better way to make a move up to accomplish several things at once: draft another Alabama blue-chipper, address one of the team's biggest needs and make one more first-round deal after five years of sticking to their draft slot on Day 1. While the Ravens generally seem like a better candidate to move down than up, let's not rule out a leap for the right guy, especially if the price is right.
12. Dallas Cowboys (from CIN)
Derwin James, SS, Florida State. The Cowboys should expect to improve next year with a full season of Ezekiel Elliott, and while they threw resources at the cornerback position last year, safety could still use an overhaul. James gives them a stud who can play closer to the line of scrimmage, and he has the size and physicality to match up with the division's great tight ends in coverage. While Dallas is already down a pick from their original cache, dipping into their assets to move up for a difference-maker like James would be worth it.
13. Chicago Bears (from WAS)
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Bears miss out on Ridley by trading down and picking up extra draft capital later on, but Sutton is a fine consolation price. He isn't a burner, but he has the size to go and get anything Mitchell Trubisky throws. Pair Sutton with a free-agent addition and the Bears' receiver corps will be trending up.
14. San Francisco 49ers (from GB)
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The 49ers move back a bit and still pick up an excellent addition to their front seven. Edmunds has plus size and speed and should dominate as a three-down linebacker in the NFL. Pair him with Reuben Foster for the next 10 years and go to work improving other parts of the roster.
15. Los Angeles Chargers (from ARI)
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. It's possible Payne will be there if the Chargers stay put, but if they settle on one of the top two defensive tackles (Vita Vea being the other) and decide they can't miss out, why not pay a small price to climb a couple spots and lock him in? Arizona is missing two Day 3 picks already, and in this scenario they're the likely team to have signed Cousins with the Broncos and Jets drafting QBs earlier, so they should be a good trade partner for teams to call if a desired prospect slips a bit during the first round.
16. Cincinnati Bengals (from BAL)
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Some people think you should never trade with someone in your division in the first round, but here the Bengals move back a few spots, pick up at least one extra pick later on, and still get the tackle they sorely need in a class where one particular prospect at the position has yet to emerge.
17. Arizona Cardinals (from LAC)
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. In our scenario, the Cardinals fixed their QB issue by signing Kirk Cousins -- though I don't expect them to be the favorites for his services -- and are free to attack other weak spots. The biggest area of need could be at left tackle, and though I like Orlando Brown better overall, I think Williams has a better chance to stick at the left tackle spot rather than moving to the right side.
18. Cleveland Browns (from SEA)
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. The Seahawks don't have any Day 2 picks, while the Browns have Nos. 33, 35, 64 and 65, plus whatever they picked up for moving down twice earlier in this mock. They'll definitely have the ammo to pay a team to move up and grab the right prospect. Smith is a fantastic value at this point, and he gives the team a long-term replacement for Christian Kirksey after he struggled last year.
19. Miami Dolphins (from DAL)
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. With Edmunds and Smith off the board, the Dolphins' best bet after moving down is to snap up the best second-tier guard in the draft in Hernandez. Though he didn't play at a big school, Hernandez has been consistently impressive and upped his stock at the Senior Bowl. He's a well-rounded guard prospect who should be a lock to start for a long time in the NFL.
20. New England Patriots (from DET)
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Patriots were burned by the lack of an elite pass-rusher, and it's time to find the heir apparent to Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins. Davenport is a massive pass-rusher who has immense upside, which Bill Belichick and his staff should be able to unlock. While the Patriots already traded away a couple Day 3 picks, they do have an extra-second rounder to work with if they want to trade down a bit on Day 2 and pick up some extra draft capital. It might not take much more to make this move up than a Day 3 pick and a player or two Matt Patricia wants to take with him to Detroit, right?
21. New York Giants (from BUF)
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. The Giants are finally on the board. After moving down with the Bills at the top of this draft, they pick up a left tackle in Cordy Glenn, and here they draft a bookend for the right side. Brown should be an above average right tackle from Day 1, but the team could use him on the left side initially depending on Glenn's recovery. Either way, they get the offensive line help they desperately need.
22. New York Giants (from BUF)
Billy Price, C, Ohio State. Adding offensive linemen isn't sexy, but considering how bad the Giants' line has been, doesn't it make sense to throw every resource imaginable at fixing it? If Weston Richburg leaves in free agency, adding Price makes sense, and even if restricted free agent Brett Jones is retained, he can serve as depth or start at guard. The emphasis should be on adding talent in bunches and figuring out how the starting unit shakes out later.
23. Atlanta Falcons (via LAR)
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Falcons don't have many holes to address, but one key one is at defensive tackle, where Dontari Poe is entering free agency after playing on a one-year deal. Vea is a solid value at this point, and he should be able to approximate Poe's performance for the defense, so making a small trade to move up a few spots and ensure they land him could make sense.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers (from CAR)
Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. Inside linebacker became an even bigger need for the Steelers after Ryan Shazier suffered a career-threatening spinal injury during a Monday night game against the Bengals. The team shouldn't hesitate to pay a small price to move up and grab Evans ahead of a team like the Titans who could also be a fit. Evans should be a great fit for the team's 3-4 defense while addressing Pittsburgh's biggest need.
25. New Orleans Saints (from TEN)
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. With Evans off the board, there's one guy left at the linebacker position who could be worth using a first-round pick on. The Saints have extra picks in the fifth and sixth rounds, so they should be willing to trade up and pay a small price in order to get the right guy to address what could be their biggest area of need.
26. Los Angeles Rams (from ATL)
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The cornerback position has largely been ignored so far in this mock, and it's possible some guys could see their stock rise with a great combine. Until that happens, the Rams end up cashing in on the lack of interest in the position, addressing their top need with a great cover corner who has everything you want except the size many teams are looking for in cornerbacks nowadays.
27. Tennessee Titans (from NO)
Arden Key, OLB, LSU. The Titans have their two pass-rushers set to hit free agency following the 2018 season, so doing something to address the position now would be smart. Key brings off-field baggage but has been one of the best pass-rushers in the nation at the college level at his best, even if his 2017 tape doesn't bear that out. He's the one guy left who could vastly overplay his draft slot if he reaches his ceiling.
28. Carolina Panthers (from PIT)
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. That Matt Kalil contract predictably hasn't worked out for the Panthers, and while his 2018 salary likely assures he'll be back starting next year, Carolina should start making preparations for the future of the position. Okorafor has excellent size and plenty of room left for growth, and a year in a limited role should be beneficial before potentially taking over in 2019.
29. Oakland Raiders (from JAC)
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The Raiders made a big move down earlier in this mock, presumably picking up a future first-rounder in a deal similar to the one the Chiefs made to move up for Patrick Mahomes last year. The Raiders should load up on fixing the defense this offseason, and Bryan is the best defensive prospect left on the board. He should grow into a force on the inside for the Raiders.
30. Indianapolis Colts (from MIN)
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. It's unclear what base defense the new regime has in store for the Colts, but Landry could fit as an outside rusher in a 4-3 despite being undersized. Or he could play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Or he could fill a Vic Beasley-type role for the Colts. The big thing for the franchise right now is just bringing talent into the fold than can help boost the pass rush. Landry's worth moving up from the early second to grab, while Minnesota picks up an extra pick later to help recoup not having a fourth-rounder.
31. Detroit Lions (from NE)
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Lions have a lot of needs on the defensive side of the ball and just brought in a defensive mind as their new coach, so odds are they're going to be focused on buttressing the defense this offseason. Hurst is smaller than a typical defensive tackle, but he'll provide instant pass-rush help getting into the backfield.
32. Cleveland Browns (from PHI)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. A fourth first-rounder for Cleveland? Here's why it could happen -- in the Seattle trade, they'd likely have to give up No. 33 and No. 64 plus their mid-fourth to get to the middle of the first round. That still leaves them No. 35, No. 65 and five Day 3 picks, plus whatever they picked up in the trades at the top that moved them to No. 5 and 7. Moving up a couple spots might only take a fifth-rounder, so even though the RB position is de-emphasized in today's game, the Browns have so many draft picks that sacrificing one to grab whoever they have as the second-best back in the class isn't a big deal.
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