2018 NFL Mock Draft: Giants draft UCLA's Josh Rosen as Eli Manning's replacement
UCLA quarterback will usher in new era for Giants
Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians were such a fun quarterback-coach match, and they created some high-powered offenses together.
But with the soon-to-be 38-year-old Palmer facing another major injury, will the Cardinals start their search for his replacement? If so, look no further than draft-riser Ryan Finley, a tall, efficient pocket passer from the ACC.
He won't enter the NFL with a Heisman Trophy to his name and as the No. 1 pick like Palmer, but he sees like the type of quarterback Arians would love to have under center.
As we're nearly at the halfway point of the regular season, I've used the official draft order for this mock.
1. Cleveland Browns
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Ok, here's the scenario for this pick. The "other" top quarterback prospects continue their downturns -- at varying rates -- while Jackson cruises along in games against Wake Forest, Virginia, Syracuse, and Kentucky. After that, he aces the combine on the field and in the interview room. Then, he doesn't screw up his pro day. Boom. Roasted. Jackson heads to Cleveland to a team in need of stability at the quarterback position in the worst way imaginable.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Here I'm assuming Kirk Cousins is the 49ers quarterback in 2018, and McGlinchey is one of a few logical directions in which the 49ers could go with the No. 2 overall pick. Joe Staley is nearing the end of his underrated career, and McGlinchey is ready to be an impactful offensive lineman right away.
3. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Is Eli Manning the worst quarterback in the NFC East right now? He is ... right? New management for the Giants doesn't totally clean house but ushers in a new era with Rosen at quarterback. What's ironic about this -- the UCLA signal-caller has many similarities to Eli. The two have comparable strengths and weaknesses.
4. Indianapolis Colts
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Typically, off-ball linebackers don't go in the top 5, but the linebacker spot has plagued the Colts for many years now, and Smith is a modern-day second-level defender who not only can chase down ball-carriers on outside runs but thump between the tackles and effortlessly sink into coverage.
5. Cincinnati Bengals
Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Oklahoma. The Bengals aren't going to spend big in free agency, they reminded everyone of that by letting both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler this past offseason. Therefore, they go the draft route to fill the vacancy left by Whitworth. Brown Jr. is an enormous, battled-tested left tackle prospect.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Jordan Evans, a 2017 draftee, has a promising future at safety but James is an enforcer at the second level as a quasi-linebacker, and he isn't lost in coverage. James is similar athletically to Jalen Ramsey. He just needs more refinement as a defensive back, and Tampa Bay's secondary needs work.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Ryan Finley, QB, NC State. Right now, Finley is just an intriguing name to some. But he's gone over 300 pass attempts without an interception and is completing 69.4 percent of his throws with 11 touchdowns and no picks. Also, he's 6-foot-4 with a strong arm.
8. Baltimore Ravens
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. The Ravens could use a few receivers. Barkley's immense talent trumps that need for Baltimore. Joe Flacco can't be relied upon as the offensive focal point anymore. Barkley is the best running back to enter the league in a while. He seems like an awesome fit in the AFC North.
9. Oakland Raiders
Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. Back-to-back running backs? Sure. Why not? I wrote yesterday about the possibility of Love being a better prospect than Christian McCaffrey, last year's No. 8 overall selection. Love is the fitting addition to Oakland's offense.
10. New York Jets
Taven Bryan, DL, Florida. Muhammad Wilkerson had a fine run as one of the NFL's best and most versatile defensive linemen, but post-leg injury, he hasn't been the same. The Jets can save $11 million if Wilkerson is released in 2018. Bryan can jump right into Wilkerson's spot alongside Leonard Williams. He's a tall, built 3-4 defensive lineman with plus athleticism and refined hand use. Todd Bowles will see some Calais Campbell in him.
11. Los Angeles Chargers
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. Okorafor is one of the cleanest pass-protecting offensive tackles in the class, and he probably has the most upside. He's experienced getting to the second level for the run game too. His size, athletic talents, and development in college make him a perfect pick for the Chargers, a club in dire need of solid blocking on the edge.
12. Chicago Bears
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. The 6-foot-4 Sutton, who has smooth athletic gifts and outstanding ball skills, will allow Mitchell Trubisky to attempt more than seven passes in a game. Sutton has No. 1 wideout written all over him. He probably would have gone in one of the first two rounds a year ago.
13. Dallas Cowboys
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. Hurst is the most complete penetrating defensive tackle in the 2018 draft class. While the Cowboys have seen DeMarcus Lawrence take an enormous step on the outside, and they still have Tyrone Crawford on the interior, they could use more talent on their defensive line.
14. Denver Broncos
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Many of the Broncos issues of late stem from their lack of soundness on the offensive line. Nelson seems like a player who'd be a 10-year stud in Denver. Nelson does it all from his left guard spot. He's bound to be an All-American again.
15. Cleveland Browns from Texans
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. Lamar Jackson and Derrius Guice? Alright, Browns. I see you. The two are precisely the type of top-flight skill-position players Cleveland desperately needs. Guice wasn't healthy early in the season but erupted for 276 yards against Ole Miss. He's flying under the radar due to Barkley's ridiculous season and has NFL feature back ability.
16. Detroit Lions
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. Landing Fitzpatrick at No. 16 overall is a huge win for the Lions. He has the ability to be a No. 1 cornerback as a pro due to his size, length, and technique but won't have to be with Darius Slay locking down the opposition's top wideout. Detroit needs cornerback depth.
17. Atlanta Falcons
Arden Key, DE, LSU. The Falcons have Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Takk McKinley, and Brooks Reed at the defensive end spot. Key is a pick with the long-term in mind. He's super talented at 6-foot-6 and somewhere around 250 or 260 pounds yet hasn't had the 2017 we expected after a monster 2016.
18. Washington Redskins
Levi Wallace, CB, Alabama. On a loaded Alabama defense Wallace has emerged as a shutdown cornerback. As of last week, he'd allowed a passer rating of 0.7 on throws in his target area, per Pro Football FOcus. 0.7. Nick Saban can't be mad about that, can he? Josh Norman's a stud, and Bashaud Breeland has his flashes, but Washington needs help behind them at cornerback.
19. Tennessee Titans
Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsbrugh. Whitehead is a fly-around safety who seemingly always finds the ball-carrier and delivers a big pop. He's fluid in coverage and can make plays on the football. If there's one area in which the Titans have a clear-cut need, it's at the safety position, especially looking at 2018 and beyond.
20. Carolina Panthers
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Chubb stays in state and fills in for Julius Peppers at the ever-important defensive end position for the Panthers. Even if Peppers is retained for one more season in Carolina, Charles Johnson likely won't. Chubb looks the part of a Panthers defensive lineman. Big, powerful, and relentless.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. I've made this pick in the past for the Jaguars ... it's a sensible one. While Marcedes Lewis is having a career revitalization so far in 2017, the reality is that he'll be 34 next May. Andrews will help Blake Bortles a great deal with his receiving ability and yards-after-the-catch talent.
22. Green Bay Packers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Some of the Packers recent early picks at defensive back haven't panned out, and Ted Thompson takes another swing with Ward, the Buckeyes' feisty standout cornerback. Green Bay will see some Casey Hayward in him. Ward has nine pass breakups in six games this season.
23. Seattle Seahawks
Dante Pettis, WR, Washington. Another wideout from the University of Washington for the Seahawks. Pettis is an explosive field-stretcher with ridiculous return skills. Secondaries will have plenty of speed to game plan for when facing Seattle's Pettis, Baldwin, and Richardson trio.
24. Buffalo Bills
Martinas Rankin, OL, Mississippi State. Rankin has improved his footwork this season, and although he doesn't have prototypical NFL left tackle size and length, he routinely plays with a balanced base, is under control at the point of attack in pass protection and when blocking for the run. The Bills will be enamored with his versatility -- he could play guard and possibly center.
25. Miami Dolphins
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Dolphins picked Laremy Tunsil in the top 15 just two years ago, but they're in a position to address the offensive line early once again. Williams is presently dealing with a knee injury yet should be ready for the 2018 season. His 2016 film was impeccable, especially in when blocking on pass plays.
26. New Orleans Saints
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama. The Saints may be looking to move on from safety Kenny Vaccaro in the offseason, so they'll need to find a replacement for him. Harrison is more linebacker than free safety, and that's fine. New Orleans has up-and-comer Marcus Williams to roam in center field for years to come.
27. Los Angeles Rams
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. If there's one defensive coordinator who'd know how to plug in and get the most out of the somewhat undersized but talented Okoronkwo, it's Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. In Los Angeles' one-gap 3-4 base, the Sooners star could flourish off the edge, particularly with so much talent on the inside.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The Steelers have one ultra-athletic linebacker. Why not add another? Edmunds is more of an old-school thumper than Ryan Shazier but certainly isn't limited very much from a physical perspective. Pittsburgh is quietly building a strong defense.
29. Minnesota Vikings
Billy Price, G, Ohio State. It's seemed like years now that Minnesota has had a need on the offensive line. GM Rick Spielman did some work in free agency to alleviate blocking issues, but Price is a good idea here. And I'll presume Spielman would be able to get the inside scoop on a prospect from his brother's alma mater.
30. New England Patriots
Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson. Kyle Van Noy isn't the answer at linebacker for the Patriots, and after a promising rookie season, Elandon Roberts has been just average to begin 2017. Joseph is too logical of a fit for New England to change him out of his pick at this point.
31. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. Burnett isn't the power forward wideout the Bills seemingly like, but that's not a problem. What Buffalo needs is a downfield weapon who'd also excel after the catch in its West Coast offense and could make tough catches. Burnett thrives in all those areas.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama. LeGarrette Blount has been superb for the Eagles thus far in 2017. However he's not the long-term answer in Philadelphia. Harris can be that answer. He's bowling ball of a back who rarely goes down on first contact, has deceptive speed, and desired lateral agility.
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