2018 NFL Mock Draft: Cardinals trade up to take fourth quarterback in top 10
With Carson Palmer retiring, the Cardinals are a prime trade-up candidate as they look for a franchise QB
Last week, we examined what the first round of the NFL Draft could look like if QBs fell a little further than expected. Now it's time to flip the script.
With Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen having positive performances during Senior Bowl week (even if the former didn't have much of an impact in the actual game), it's probably unlikely to expect them to slip too far in the first round. That means if a team like the Cardinals or Bills wants to land one, the move is to trade up.
This week, we're going to look at how a Cardinals trade-up affects the draft. Arizona lost its head coach and franchise quarterback this offseason, and while the Cardinals seem likely to look for an answer to address the latter in free agency, they'll certainly be open to drafting their long-term answer if they can't land a top talent.
Who will they trade with? How about we run back the Palmer deal of 2013 and have the Raiders move down a few picks? You'd figure they could land Arizona's 2019 first-rounder by adding a little extra draft capital on their side in a deal.
Below is the current draft order, which features a coin flip at No. 9 and 10 and the possibility of a swap at No. 31 and 32.
1. Cleveland Browns
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The former general manager in Cleveland put off committing to a franchise quarterback for two years and ultimately paid for it with his job. Don't expect the new front office to make the same mistake. In a class loaded with several potential long-term starters at the most critical position in football, I fully expect the Browns to use their top pick on their quarterback of choice rather than risk missing out on their guy by targeting him at No. 4. I'm making Darnold the favorite for that honor right now.
2. New York Giants
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Gettleman showed in his time in Carolina how much emphasis he places on building a dominant rushing attack, and the Panthers have consistently been one of the teams that leans on the run the most. With no offensive linemen worthy of taking at No. 2, that makes Barkley a perfect fit should the team bypass a quarterback on Day 1. Barkley is right up there as one of the best prospects at his position -- and possibly No. 1 -- heading to the NFL in recent years
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, NC State. With Barkley off the board, the Colts pivot to taking the best pass-rusher in the class. Kansas City enjoyed a wealth of pass-rushers when Colts GM Chris Ballard was with the team, adding Dee Ford in the first round in 2014 despite already having Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The Colts need to boost their pass rush after recording just 25 sacks in 2017 (31st in NFL), and Chubb would have an immediate impact.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama. I'm listing Fitzpatrick as a free safety, but expect the team that drafts him to go the Jalen Ramsey route and try him at cornerback first. At either position, he feels like a lock for the top five based on his versatility and the importance of having elite talents in the secondary in today's game. If the Browns come out of the first round with a potential franchise QB and Fitzpatrick, they'll have "won" the draft.
5. Denver Broncos
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Broncos seem to do their due diligence on Baker Mayfield at the Senior Bowl, but if Rosen falls into their laps I think he has to be the pick, provided the quarterback situation isn't resolved by draft day. Rosen has pro-style experience at UCLA and figures to be the type of high-ceiling talent John Elway is looking for at the position after two years of juggling Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
6. New York Jets
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. I had been mocking a defensive play to the Jets in this spot in previous editions, but with Mayfield showing well during Senior Bowl week, and with the Jets reportedly meeting with the Oklahoma quarterback in Mobile, this might his floor on Draft Day. At least, if the Jets don't sign Kirk Cousins. Signs point to them being the favorites to sign the QB after the Redskins' trade for Alex Smith, but until it actually happens, quarterback remains in play for the Jets with this pick.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Buccaneers need to upgrade several spots on their offensive line, and while left tackle is arguably a bigger need, Nelson is the best offensive line prospect in this class and well worth selecting in the top 10. He's the type of prospect that isn't going to bring a lot of excitement to a franchise but about as unlikely to turn into a bust as anyone after dominating top-tier talent at the collegiate level.
8. Chicago Bears
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Bears could be in a prime spot to land a talent like Jackson, who led the nation in interceptions in 2017. Jackson has the size, length and ball skills of a cornerback worth taking in the top 10. With both Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara heading into free agency, the Bears have a need for a No. 1 corner to add to the depth chart with restricted free agent Bryce Callahan and Cre'Veon LeBlanc.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Derwin James, SS, Florida State. John Lynch showed in his first draft as 49ers GM that building a quality defense is a top priority, as the 49ers drafted Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in the first round and followed that up by taking Ahkello Witherspoon in the second round. James can be a Swiss Army knife for the 49ers' defense while giving the team yet another building block on that side of the ball.
10. Arizona Cardinals (via mock trade)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Cardinals GM Steve Keim was in attendance to watch Allen at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and the Wyoming quarterback's stock is on the rise after an excellent week in Mobile. Moving up to draft Allen will obviously be based more on what he does during the predraft process rather than the results on the field for Wyoming, but if three QBs come off the board in the top six, there's going to be someone looking to trade up for the remaining top signal-caller. Why not Arizona?
11. Miami Dolphins
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. The Dolphins defense struggled at the second level last year, and adding Smith would give them a boost both in run defense, where Lawrence Timmons struggled, and pass defense, where Kiko Alonso graded out terribly. Smith would step in immediately on the weak side, pushing Alonso back to the middle, while playing on all three downs and making plays all over the field.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Bengals have to come out of this draft with a better plan for their offensive line after the disaster of 2017, and McGlinchey is a great step in the right direction. He has proven himself against some of the country's best edge-rushers during his Notre Dame career, and he'll improve both the pass- and run-blocking for a team that desperately needs it. This would be a great spot for the Bengals to trade down as well and pick up multiple picks to address the line.
13. Washington Redskins
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. With four quarterbacks off the board in this mock, the Redskins could take a Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph to develop behind Alex Smith. Here, the sensible thing is to grab Payne, who is a difference-maker on the defensive line as he proved in the College Football Playoff. Reuniting him with Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen makes plenty of sense.
14. Green Bay Packers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Packers could go one of a few ways with this pick, but after signing Davante Adams to an extension at the end of the season, the most likely scenario has them targeting a player on the defensive side of the ball. Here they add to the cornerback depth chart with Ward, a smallish cover guy who nonetheless has held his own with bigger targets. He and Kevin King would give the Packers a nice foundation at the position for years to come.
15. Oakland Raiders (via mock trade)
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Oakland nabbed Ward in previous editions of this mock, but with him going one pick earlier, they instead grab Edmunds to give the linebacker position a massive boost. The Virginia Tech linebacker has great size and speed and can be effective both rushing the passer and covering backs and tight ends. Even if the Raiders bring back NaVorro Bowman, don't count them out on drafting Edmunds in April.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Ozzie Newsome obviously loves to grab Alabama prospects in the draft, and here's a guy that also fills a major need for the team. Ridley is so much more than his pedestrian college stats suggest, and while teams will give him a pass for his production in that offense, he'll need to show the ability to bulk up a bit if he wants to jump into the top half of the first round. By placing him here, I think he'll check that box for teams just fine.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Chargers have a pair of beasts on the edge to rush the passer, but too many times this year they were done in by the run, giving up a league-worst 4.9 yards per carry as six opponents topped 150 rushing yards against them this season. Vea, a massive presence in the middle of a defensive line, will go a long way toward fixing that deficiency, while also providing enough quickness to penetrate into the backfield on some third downs.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. We've been mocking UTSA pass-rusher Marcus Davenport to the Seahawks, but at some point they have to address the offensive line, right? Duane Brown and Justin Britt are keepers, but Germain Ifedi graded out as one of the worst right tackles in the league last year, per Pro Football Focus. Brown is a massive presence at tackle and he has the length to excel in pass protection, which should be music to Russell Wilson's ears.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. With Anthony Hitchens a free agent and with Sean Lee seemingly never able to stay healthy, it makes sense for the Cowboys to find a partner for Jaylon Smith at the position at some point. Cowboys fans should know Jefferson's upside well with the linebacker playing down the road in Austin. While he's not a finished product by any means, he'll get the chance to work into the defense as a rookie before potentially taking over a bigger role if 2018 is Lee's last year in Dallas.
20. Detroit Lions
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Lions should be looking for some way to boost their pass rush if they don't bring Ziggy Ansah back next season. While at his best Ansah is tough to handle, injuries have plagued him the last few years and made him largely ineffective. Davenport would be an excellent cheaper option to replace Ansah's production, but there's also a chance the big defensive lineman could be long gone by the time the Lions pick.
21. Buffalo Bills
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The Bills are basically Carolina North when it comes to the people heading their coaching staff (Sean McDermott) and personnel departments (Brandon Beane). So why not project them to take the 6-foot-4 Sutton, a huge target at 6-foot-4 who's lacking in speed but should shine in the red zone, where he caught 32 touchdowns in three seasons at SMU. Sutton also gives the team Kelvin Benjamin insurance in case the ex-Panther isn't extended this season.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. The Bills have made it clear they don't see Tyrod Taylor as the long-term starter, and since they've been mostly unable to land elite talents in free agency, that should mean turning to the draft to find their franchise quarterback. It's possible they package their two picks together to leap into the top 10. If they stay put, Jackson figures to be a best-case scenario. Like Deshaun Watson, opinions of Jackson are all over the map, but Brian Daboll should be able to put him in a position to succeed.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Arden Key, OLB, LSU. Key is coming off a down 2017, but he was considered a potential top-five pick heading into the season, which shows you how high his upside could be. He brings with him potential off-field red flags, but he could be an outstanding addition to Wade Phillips's defense if he can prove to the Rams at the combine that he's committed to reaching his ceiling.
24. Carolina Panthers
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. The Panthers could lose excellent left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency this offseason, and if that happens, bringing in a top talent at the position to play next to mediocre left tackle Matt Kalil should be a top priority. Hernandez is a rock-solid interior lineman with plus run-blocking ability who should be a long-term starter in the NFL, even if he comes from a less-heralded college program.
25. Tennessee Titans
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are scheduled to become free agents after next season, so Tennessee needs to figure out what they're going to do at the position long-term. The early-second round pick they used on Kevin Dodd hasn't panned out, but they should be in a position late in the first round to go back to the well to find a pass-rusher. Okoronkwo is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense at his size, and he'll be a huge addition to the pass rush as a rookie who could take over as a starter in 2019.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The Falcons don't have many needs, but one spot they could be targeting in the first round is defensive tackle, with Dontari Poe only signing a one-year deal last offseason. Bryan has earned some J.J. Watt comparisons despite the lack of stats at the collegiate level, so he could be a fast riser if he blows away the competition at the combine.
27. New Orleans Saints
Billy Price, C, Ohio State. The Saints showed in 2017 that they can build the offense around a dominant running game, and it wouldn't be too surprising to them keep building on that strength with a pick like Price, who can serve as depth inside and eventually take over for Max Unger at center. The right defender would make perfect sense, of course, but I'm not counting out a versatile interior lineman like Price either.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. The inside linebacker position tragically became one of need when Ryan Shazier suffered a catastrophic injury against the Bengals during a Monday night game. While Shazier focuses on his health, the team must find an answer inside. That could come in the form of Evans, a versatile linebacker who can cover in the passing game but take on blockers while attacking the running back as well.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. The Jaguars have an outstanding defense in place, and if they can make sure to retain impending free agent Allen Robinson, this pick could go one of a few ways. It makes sense to pick up Marcedes Lewis's option, but even if that happens, there's room on the depth chart to add Andrews -- after all, Ben Koyack played more than 400 snaps on offense this season. Andrews was named the nation's top tight end in 2017 after catching 62 passes for 958 yards with eight touchdowns.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn. Assuming the Vikings figure out what to do with their free-agent quarterbacks heading into the draft, they could be looking to add talent at one of a few different positions. They'll be looking to replace the snaps of free-agent Terence Newman, who was drafted No. 5 overall by the Cowboys all the way back in 2003, if the 39-year-old isn't brought back for one more ride. Davis is in the mix to be the drafted in the first round as a physical corner who should excel in man coverage.
31. Philadelphia Eagles
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Okorafor should see his stock rise once he gets in a setting like the combine where his athleticism can be judged side-by-side with other top tackle prospects. It's easy to imagine a team falling in love with his projection and taking him higher than this, but if he's available, he'd be a great option to pair with Lane Johnson long-term at the tackle spot for the Eagles.
32. New England Patriots
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. The Patriots figure to go best player available in this spot, and that could very well be Harrison. Even though safety isn't a big need for the team, it could be time to find a long-term replacement for Patrick Chung, who's a free agent after the 2018 season. Harrison is an excellent run defender who also has the athleticism to be a factor in coverage, even if he's a better fit in the box.
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