2018 NFL Mock Draft: Cowboys, Falcons add WR speed with Ridley, Burnett
Calvin Ridley and Deontay Burnett would add a dynamic element to the offenses in Atlanta and Dallas
As for the Cowboys, their need for speed at wide receiver is clear.
Calvin Ridley and Deontay Burnett have big-play potential and have been fantastic underneath options in their collegiate careers, pass-catchers capable of using their quickness to separate from cornerbacks, then shake them once they've caught the ball.
There will still be a variety of movement here, but as we head through December, I'm now using the official draft order.
1. Cleveland Browns
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. This seems unlikely now ... but based on Hue Jackson's affinity for a mobile quarterback, this could become "a thing" over the next few months. Jackson would add an electric element to the Browns offense that's been missing for a while.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Who do you like more, Rosen or Darnold? It's essentially a coin flip. I think it'll be an even split of teams who prefer each L.A. quarterback. Here, the Giants go with Rosen who, to me, is a tick more ready than Darnold at this juncture.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Get used to this pairing, as Kyle Shanahan has coordinated offenses that featured Andre Johnson and Julio Jones in the past. Sutton may not be as tremendous of a prospect as either of those two, but he's close. Sutton is a productive size, speed, and athleticism specimen.
4. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Guards are important. They shouldn't be undervalued anymore. They're the linchpin of the inside run game and have to deal with just as many ultra-talented pass-rushers as offensive tackles do. Nelson is the best offensive lineman in the class. Denver needs upgrades on its interior.
5. Indianapolis Colts
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. I think Andrew Luck will really have to be damaged goods for the Colts to let him leave via a trade in the offseason. Therefore, GM Chris Ballard gets him help outside of T.Y. Hilton. Washington and Hilton will not be fun for secondaries to cover downfield on the perimeter.
6. Chicago Bears
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. The Bears would have snagged Sutton or Washington if available, so in this situation, they pick the No. 1 cornerback in the class. Fitzpatrick's length and athleticism will have a positive impact on Chicago's defensive backfield right away.
7. Cleveland Browns from Texans
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. I'm officially obsessed with the Lamar Jackson-Barkley first-round duo for the Browns. Just letting you know. Jackson, Barkley, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, David Njoku, Duke Johnson ... that would be one heck of an explosive group on offense in Cleveland.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Buccaneers need an edge-rusher in the worst way. Chubb is arguably the best overall player in this class, and would not only help Tampa Bay's pass rush but the club's run defense as well.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Andy Dalton "experiment" has run its course, no? If the Bengals do decide to let Dalton hit the free-agent market -- and his market will be fascinating -- they need to find a franchise signal-caller. Cincinnati would be ecstatic to land Darnold here.
10. Arizona Cardinals
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. In order for Bruce Arians' offense to operate at maximum efficiency, it needs offensive tackles who can pass protect. That's Williams, whose gifts are on full display when he's moving backward in his kick-slide. If his knee checks out, he'll likely be one of the first offensive tackles taken.
11. New York Jets
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. Brown is better as a run-blocker, but that's not to say he struggles in pass protection. Far from it. He's one of the biggest left tackles we've seen in the draft in some time -- 6-foot-8, 340-plus pounds -- and moves considerably better than you'd expect him to.
12. Washington Redskins
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. For this mock, let's assume Kirk Cousins hits free agency. The Redskins would need a fresh start at quarterback and like the pocket-passing skills of Rudolph enough to take him with his selection.
13. Miami Dolphins
14. Los Angeles Chargers
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Can the Chargers rely on Russell Okung for a few more seasons? Even if they believe they can, they'll want to infuse more talent into their offensive line. McGlinchey will be a boon for Melvin Gordon, as the Notre Dame offensive tackle is a road-grader for the run.
15. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Ridley hasn't been ridiculously productive at Alabama, yet that's much more of a byproduct of the run-heavy Alabama offense than his overall skill. He'll open up the underneath game for Dak Prescott while providing a legitimate downfield option.
16. Oakland Raiders
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Two freaks at safety would benefit the Raiders' hapless secondary. James and 2017 second-rounder Obi Melifonwu would formulate the most athletic young safety tandem in football. Oakland needs more of a presence from its secondary.
17. Detroit Lions
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. In Detroit, Haloti Ngata has been the Haloti Ngata we knew in Baltimore, but his career is coming to an end. While the Lions would probably lean toward an edge-rusher, they'd get the premier pass-rushing defensive tackle in the class here with Hurst.
18. Buffalo Bills
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Baker Mayfield would be enticing, but if this regime in Buffalo didn't exactly love Tyrod Taylor's skill set, why would they pick the Oklahoma star? In reality, the Bills are becoming more and more of a candidate to trade up for a signal-caller. Without trades in this mock, they snag the best off-ball linebacker in this class. Smith does it all.
19. Green Bay Packers
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Okoronkwo has juice off the edge and has experience beating blocks on receiver screens. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers would love his versatile skill set and specialty getting after the quarterback.
20. Atlanta Falcons
Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. Burnett would make life easier for Julio Jones, who'll be 29 in February. There's some Taylor Gabriel and Justin Hardy to his game. The USC star is a joy to watch after the catch.
21. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Buffalo clearly needs size and refined ability up front on defense. They'd get it with Vea, who's essentially immovable at defensive tackle and has deceptive pass-rush ability because of his hand use and powerful bull rush.
22. Baltimore Ravens
Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State. The Ravens have to pick a wideout early in the draft if they want to salvage the twilight of Joe Flacco's career. Ateman has some Brandon Marshall to him. He bullies cornerbacks, and it's rare to see him lose in a jump-ball situation.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Seahawks, please get Russell Wilson some blocking up front. Shouldn't be that hard, right? Miller appears to be an athletic specimen who thrives in pass protection and would be a perfect fit in Seattle's zone-blocking scheme due to his quick feet and nasty streak.
24. Carolina Panthers
Arden Key, DE, LSU. Picking Key is a gamble, but if his potential is fully tapped into, he has the natural ability to be the best defensive player from this class. Let's call him a riskier Myles Garrett.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. The Jaguars went bonkers fortifying their defensive line this past offseason and with the trade to acquire Marcell Dareus. It's time they reinforce their offensive line. Hernandez will experience a learning curve in the NFL coming from UTEP but has been the epitome of stability for the Miners.
26. Tennessee Titans
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson. The Titans get quality production off the edge and could start to plan for the future at the defensive tackle spot. Wilkins can play anywhere on the line but would be best utilized as a well-rounded tackle. He's strong and has athletic gifts but may not have reached his full potential at Clemson.
27. Los Angeles Rams
Dorian O'Daniel, OLB, Clemson. The Rams have two springy linebackers in Alec Ogletree and converted safety Mark Barron. Why not add another speedy second-level defender? O'Daniel has proven to be able to do whatever is asked of him.
28. New Orleans Saints
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Like Lamar Jackson and Saquon Barkley in Cleveland, this has become a favorite prospect-team connection of mine. Mayfield could sit for a year behind Brees then take over an offense similar to the one he ran at Oklahoma that'd ask him to be a point guard of sorts.
29. Philadelphia Eagles
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Even if Jason Peters fully heals from his season-ending injury, the Eagles need to look ahead at the tackle spot. Okorafor has a skill set that can't be coached -- he's big, balanced, and smooth athletically.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
Kameron Kelly, CB, San Diego State. The Steelers could use a long, physical outside cornerback with ball skills. Yep, I just described Kelly, who's thrived in his move from the safety spot this season for the Aztecs.
31. Minnesota Vikings
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Kyle Rudolph has a respectable run as the Vikings top tight end. Regardless of whether he's done with Minnesota in 2018 or 2019, Andrews would be a shrewd pick to help the offense continue to churn.
32. New England Patriots
T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin. Dont'a Hightower will be back from injury in 2018, but even with his presence, New England needs more linebacker help. Edwards is a heady linebacker with good athletic talent, a polished skill set to beat blocks and the play-recognition ability to flow to the football quickly.
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