Though we had a general sense of prospect value throughout the offseason, there was still a relatively wide range of possibilities for each specific name and it didn't make sense to fret over the difference between 15 or 25, or between 30 and 50. So my previous mock drafts were largely built with team needs at the forefront of the experiment.
The closer you get to the draft, that changes. Welcome to Draft Day.
Looking for a hot new NFL podcast that's your home for NFL Draft coverage? Look no further. The Pick 6 Podcast with Will Brinson has you covered each day of the draft with new episodes around 30 minutes each. Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play.
Consensus has built around potential windows for each prospect -- just check out our Jason La Canfora'sif you want to know more -- I think it's instructive to start from that angle and work backward, rather than make sure you hit the best or second-best need for every team. At the end of the day, you just want your team to get good players, and unless you're talking about drafting a first-round quarterback to sit behind your youngish franchise quarterback, you can find reasoning for almost every pick.
Below you'll find my final mock for the 2018 NFL Draft. I've projected seven trades, which helps keep players around the windows they're expected to go. One surprising development is that we almost get through the first round without a receiver being drafted, and only a trade up at the end of the round saves that.
Want more mock drafts? Check out what the rest of the CBS Sports crew has to say.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. As of filing, we still have no idea who the Browns will take, but it seems that as many as three quarterbacks are possibilities. That doesn't mean the Browns have three QBs graded similarly, just that there are three names being reported as in the picture. I don't think any of these QBs are sure things, so if you're the Browns, why not go for the guy who many feel has the highest upside?
2. New York Giants
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Many feel like if they miss on what the Browns do at No. 1, it'll ruin the rest of their mock drafts. Not me. I don't buy Saquon Barkley as an option -- as talented as he is, the economics just don't make sense passing on a quarterback. Darnold might be the Giants' top option, but I'd love to see what Allen could do in a Pat Shurmur offense, especially knowing he'd have a full year to get acclimated to the NFL before being thrown into the fire. If Darnold goes No. 1, put me down for Allen here.
3. New York Jets (from IND)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Jets are obviously taking a quarterback, and likely choosing between Rosen and Baker Mayfield, as they have to do here. While we've seen Mayfield more connected to the Jets with this pick, I feel like Rosen just makes more sense. Either would be a good fit in the Jets offense, but Rosen has more experience in pro-style schemes and has had to develop in several different offenses at UCLA.
4. Cleveland Browns (from HOU)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. If the Giants take a QB at No. 2, I think the Browns probably keep this pick and take Chubb. I wouldn't mind seeing them trade down to 12-15 and get a tackle instead, but it all depends on what kind of offers they get for the pick. If Chubb is gone, that means only two QBs are on the board, and the pool of potential suitors would theoretically be widened. Chubb would be a fine addition to a young, improving defense.
5. Buffalo Bills (DEN trade)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Do the Broncos want Baker Mayfield at No. 5? I'm on the fence, but considering they have Case Keenum locked in as a starter and Paxton Lynch as a young guy to develop (no matter if he's failed to live up to expectations thus far), I can see them moving down for a nice package of picks, especially if Chubb is off the board. Here they get No. 12, 53 and 65 from Buffalo for No. 5 and 113. The Bills get their franchise quarterback.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from NYJ)
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. The Colts would likely hope to trade back a few picks before taking Smith, but with four QBs and Chubb off the board, I'm not sure who's paying to move up. Would the Bears or 49ers hop a couple spots for Quenton Nelson? Possibly. Whether they can get more value before taking Smith or not, he's the perfect linebacker to build the team's new 4-3 defense around.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Buccaneers might be looking at a defensive back with this pick, but if Barkley makes it to No. 7, he'd be very difficult to pass up. I don't like a QB-needy team like the Giants taking him at the top of the draft, but once you get down to this range, he'd be a fine pick, especially for a team that's set at quarterback. The Bucs should have a great chance to boost their secondary with their next pick, based on who's expected to be available.
8. Chicago Bears
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The board falls in what may be the best-case scenario for the Bears, with Nelson plugging one of the team's biggest needs. Chicago surprisingly declined Josh Sitton's option, making guard one of their key needs that has yet to be addressed this offseason. There's some speculation he could handle tackle as well, and the Bears could use an upgrade on the right side at that position. Worst case, they'll have a locked-in interior lineman with All-Pro upside.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. I think the top defensive backs in this draft might be a better pick, but it appears Edmunds is going to go in the top 10. The 49ers obviously have a massive need to find talent at the position, and that was the case before Reuben Foster's legal issues. So this feels like a perfect match in both need and best player available.
10. Oakland Raiders
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Raiders are seeing massive turnover at the cornerback position with David Amerson, Sean Smith and T.J. Carrie out the door. Rashaan Melvin was a nice pickup, but Shareece Wright and Daryl Worley could be nothing more than depth. Enter Ward, an elite cover corner who has everything but prototypical size. He'll be an excellent slot corner and should excel in Oakland, where Melvin and Gareon Conley can match up with bigger receivers.
11. Miami Dolphins
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. This isn't a match we've seen much over mock draft season, as the Dolphins have bigger needs at linebacker and defensive tackle. But the two LBs who would make sense here are gone, and a guy like Fitzpatrick can do so much more to help a defense than a run-stuffing defensive tackle like Vita Vea. In this case, talent should win out over need.
12. Denver Broncos (BUF trade)
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Broncos trade down and pass up the opportunity to draft Nelson or Barkley, but at No. 12 they're still going to get a great defensive player. Here it's James, who's worth taking on talent alone even if he doesn't fill a top need. The bundle of picks Denver received to trade down can help them get aggressive later in the draft, potentially trading up to land a second pick in the first-round.
13. Washington Redskins
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Redskins should be hoping Vea is available when they pick at No. 13. Ziggy Hood graded out poorly against the run last year, which is not what you want to see out of your nose tackle. Vea could replace him immediately, but he also has the skill to play defensive end in Washington's 3-4 scheme. Either way, he'd be a big addition to the team's defensive front.
14. Green Bay Packers
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Packers will likely have a couple defensive players to choose from for this pick, and I like them to take a cornerback, either Jackson or Jaire Alexander. In this mock I settle on Jackson, a ballhawk who led the FBS in interceptions last year. Marcus Davenport could be an option, but I feel like if the Packers don't get their corner here, they could miss out on a run at the position in the late-first, early-second.
15. New Orleans Saints (ARI trade)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. The Saints have a championship-caliber roster, one they've done a great job of supplementing in free agency so far. Staying put and picking up a player to immediately help their Super Bowl chances (say, a tight end like Hayden Hurst) makes sense. But I get the feeling the Saints are a massive wild card in this draft, and they could certainly make a move up to land Drew Brees' successor, though this deal would take next year's first-rounder to get it done. I'd love to see what Sean Payton can do with a talent like Jackson, especially considering how dangerous their run game is.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Ravens should be thinking about life after Terrell Suggs, and Davenport is an athletic freak who can come in and learn from Suggs for a year before filling a bigger role in the defense in 2019. This figures to be his floor, so the Ravens would be getting good value by scooping him up here.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. This should be a great marriage of best player available and need, as the Chargers must find more talent inside to match their pass-rushing duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. They could also be in play for a linebacker like Leighton Vander Esch, or a safety if Fitzpatrick or James happen to slip. Still, Payne is a worthy selection who can help improve the rush defense while still offering enough as a pass-rusher on third downs.
18. Carolina Panthers (SEA trade)
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. With Alexander falling a little further than I expected he would when I started this mock, the Panthers package No. 24 and 85 to move up and land a guy who should immediately help their secondary. Alexander looked like a natural at the combine and outplayed his competition at the position. If his medicals check out, I see no reason he falls out of the top 20.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. The Cowboys might need a receiver, but there's good depth at the position in this draft, and taking any of the top three guys here would be a reach. Who wouldn't be a reach is Vander Esch, who's going to be a high pick regardless of the speculation about his health. And if there's any team who has recently shown they'll live with health risk for a top talent, it's the Cowboys, who snapped up Jaylon Smith at the top of the second round in 2016.
20. Cleveland Browns (DET trade)
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Lions have some solid options here, but that should also be the case if they trade out of the first round and into the early second, where I have them selecting Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn after getting No. 33 and 64 from the Browns for this pick. Cleveland absolutely needs to improve at left tackle, whether by trading back from No. 4 or trading up from the second round. McGlinchey could go anywhere from 10 to 21, so this is on the low side of where I'm expecting him to be drafted.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from BUF)
Frank Ragnow, G/C, Arkansas. With McGlinchey off the board, the Bengals decide to take the best center in the draft in Ragnow, a late riser in draft season. What the Bengals line needs most of all is not just talent, but leadership, and Ragnow brings that to the table in spades. The Bengals shouldn't be done addressing the line either; expect at least one Day 2 pick to be used on a lineman too.
22. Indianapolis Colts (BUF trade)
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. The Colts missed out on Bradley Chubb earlier and instead added Roquan Smith to their defense. If they want to pick up a pass-rusher as well, this would be the perfect spot to target in a trade-up, as I think Landry could be a target for the Patriots at No. 23. The Colts send No. 36 and 67 to the Bills for this pick, helping to recoup a little of the capital they lost by trading up for a quarterback earlier.
23. New England Patriots (from LAR)
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. This might be a minor reach for the Patriots, but I'm not sure there's a clear talent that sticks out among what's left. So it makes sense to take Miller here and not risk someone beating them to the punch in the next seven picks. He's drawn Nate Solder comparisons, and we can expect him to step in and be the team's new franchise left tackle as soon as possible.
24. Denver Broncos (SEA/CAR trades)
James Daniels, G/C, Iowa. The Panthers moved up to No. 18 and sent this pick to the Seahawks, who trade back again to land No. 40 and 71 from Denver. The Broncos come up and get a guy who can start at left guard immediately while having the potential to kick over to center if needed. The Titans could definitely use a top talent on the interior line, so this is the right spot to trade up to for Denver to snag him.
25. Tennessee Titans
Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. The Titans have talent across the board, leaving them free to take the best available player here. I also think they could be a candidate to trade up for a guy that might fall a little further than expected. If they stay put, Evans is a fine option to fill the role vacated by Avery Williamson, though it's possible the Titans slot the underrated Jayon Brown into the lineup and go elsewhere.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. The Falcons could think about going receiver here -- how tough would a Julio Jones-Calvin Ridley tandem be to cover? -- but there's been so much smoke around them selecting Bryan that if he's available, it's hard to go anywhere else. Bryan showed incredible athleticism at the combine, and he should be a weapon to collapse the pocket from the interior.
27. Arizona Cardinals (NO trade)
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. The Cardinals look like they're heading into a rebuild, and it would make sense to trade back from No. 15 for multiple assets. In this mock, they get this pick and the Saints' 2019 first-rounder (which will likely be no higher than 25) and still end up with a quarterback to build the franchise around. If this is the pick, it would make sense to get his feet wet in the second half of 2018 and see what they have.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Justin Reid, S, Stanford. The Steelers miss out on the top four linebackers and instead bring in a smart free safety who can pair with Morgan Burnett to set the back end of the defense up for success. I could certainly see the Steelers trading out of the first round as well, particularly if someone is looking to move up for a receiver or one of the few first-round caliber players left at other positions.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina. I don't know that I'd personally take Hurst in the first round, but it sounds like that's where he's going to go, and the fit with the Jaguars makes sense, even after they signed Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Hurst can do everything you need at the tight end position, and he's a good get for a team with Super Bowl aspirations, as his advanced age could help him contribute immediately.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. This might be a best-case scenario for the Vikings, as they land a value at No. 30 while bringing in a guy to address their offensive line issues who can start from Day 1. Hernandez could be a top-20 pick, but if teams pass him over to address other needs, I think this is the lowest he'd fall.
31. New England Patriots
Sam Hubbard, DE/LB, Ohio State. The Patriots brought in Adrian Clayborn, but they should keep doing what they can to address the front seven of the defense, especially on the edges. Hubbard can come in and be Bill Belichick's new Rob Ninkovich. I could also see the Patriots grabbing one of the talented cornerbacks remaining, like a Mike Hughes or Isaiah Oliver.
32. Buffalo Bills (PHI trade)
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The Bills traded down from No. 22 and picked up No. 36 and 67, and here they'll package No. 36 and 121 to hop into the back of the first round and finally take a receiver off the board. The Eagles have no Day 2 picks, so I could definitely seem them trading down again from No. 36 with a team flush with picks on Day 2. Moore is a fantastic slot weapon to immediately step in and grow with the Bills' new franchise QB.