2018 NFL Mock Draft: Giants move up a spot for Josh Allen, Browns decide not to take Barkley
The Giants aren't willing to wait for their next franchise quarterback
You wouldn't know it to watch the breathless coverage, but the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine isn't the end-all-be-all as we move towards the 2018 NFL Draft. There's still all the college game film, not to mention the impending pro days and personal workouts for each of the prospects. But the combine is more than a bunch of guys running around in shorts and t-shirts. There is value in 40 times, three-cone drills and vertical leaps — and the interviews are arguably even more important.
Wherever you stand on the spectacle that has become the NFL Scouting Combine, there's no denying its usefulness; in context, it's a piece of the pre-draft puzzle that helps order a team's draft board and, ultimately, informs their draft-day decision. With that in mind, there are going to be combine winners and losers, and the winners will see their draft stock rise while the losers will face more scrutiny in the coming days and weeks.
The strong-armed Allen was also impressive in his team interviews and during his media session, telling reporters that he'd be honored to play for the Browns should they draft him first overall. But if they don't, Allen made it clear that he would embrace a chance to play for the the Giants and their new coach, Pat Shurmur, going so far as to call him "a brilliant mind." In the pre-combine round of CBSSports.com mock drafts four of six experts had Allen going to New York with the No. 2 pick.
We were were one of those people, and we have Allen again going to New York — this time with the first-overall selection. Yep, the Giants are trading up one slot to get their next franchise quarterback. Is the cost prohibitive? Ask the Eagles, who in 2016 sent the Browns the No. 8 pick and a third- and fourth-rounder, a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 second-round pick for the right to move up six spots to the No. 2 pick to draft Carson Wentz.
The lesson: If you identify your guy you take him.
Allen isn't without his flaws; he completed just 56.2 percent of his passes at Wyoming last season, though it wasn't entirely his fault.
"He played with guys who are going to be bartenders or bouncers," one league scout told CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco, who added this reminder: Brett Favre had a completion percentage of 52.4 when he came out of Southern Mississippi 28 years ago. He turned out OK.
Eli Manning is 37 and ranked 23rd in total value among all quarterbacks last season, according to Football Outsiders, sandwiched between Tyrod Taylor and Josh McCown. The Giants certainly could stay put at No. 2 and hope that the Browns, a team perennially desperate for quarterback help, passes on Allen. The problem: After Cleveland said "Thanks, we're good!" on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, there's no way new general manager John Dorsey isn't taking a quarterback.
Which is why if the Giants fall in love with Allen, they may not want to wait around to get him.
1. New York Giants (via mock trade)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Allen put on a show at the combine and made it clear he'd love to play for Pat Shurmur. And with 37-year-old Eli Manning entering his 15th season, the Giants are in the market for his replacement -- and it's unlikely they'll have this draft position again anytime soon.
2. Cleveland Browns (via mock trade)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Last year the Browns used the No. 1 pick on Myles Garrett, who showed glimpses of just how dominant he could be. Chubb would bookend Garrett and suddenly give Cleveland one of the most formidable, disruptive defensive lines in the NFL.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. If Andrew Luck isn't 100 percent -- and no one seems to know when he will be -- Barkley can be for Jacoby Brissett what Ezekiel Elliott was for Dak Prescott in 2016: The world's most dynamic security blanket. The Colts have myriad needs on both sides of the ball but don't forget, the Cowboys were 4-12 the season before Elliott and Prescott arrived and promptly went 13-3.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Browns, who were reportedly trying to trade for Alex Smith before the Redskins landed him, could make a run at AJ McCarron in the coming weeks. Whatever happens, new general manager John Dorsey is still drafting a quarterback. And with Darnold widely considered the best of the bunch, he makes perfect sense here.
5. Denver Broncos
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Word on the street is that the Broncos could be in the Case Keenum business but he's not a long-term solution. Rosen has terrific mechanics and completed 63 percent of his passes last season even though he was victimized by 31 drops.
6. New York Jets
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Bucs' pass defense ranked 31st last season and Fitzpatrick's best attribute is his versatility. He excels in the slot, at safety and as a nickel linebacker and he'll immediately upgrade a hapless unit that was hard to watch at times in 2017.
8. Chicago Bears
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds is a physical freak, even by combine standards. He's only 19 years old and the Bears have other needs, but if they land a wide receiver in free agency Edmunds makes sense here.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The 49ers' pass defense was among the worst in the league, and San Francisco's defensive backs were the weakest link on a weak unit. Ward isn't the biggest cornerback in the draft but he can cover, skills that are hard to come by in the NFL.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. One of the NFL's most disappointing defenses adds one of the draft's best inside linebacker.
11. Miami Dolphins
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Mayfield isn't your prototypical NFL quarterback. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and with a demeanor that can sometimes rub people the wrong way, he has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel. Mayfield is understandably bothered by this, but the Oklahoma star can play. In Miami, he'll provide the Dolphins much-needed insurance against Ryan Tannehill, who has battled inconsistency and injuries.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Cincinnati's offensive line wasn't even replacement level last season, and McGlinchey would provide a much-needed upgrade, not only making life easier for Andy Dalton but for Joe Mixon too.
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Davenport follows up a big Senior Bowl week with a strong combine and the University of Texas-San Antonio standout brings his pass-rushing skills to Green Bay. He had 21.5 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss during his four-year college career, and he would join a defense that ranked 17th in sacks a season ago with 37.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. If this feels like a stretch it's because it probably is. But unless the Cardinals are willing to move up in Round 1 Jackson may be the only first-round talent left on the board. The team could also address the need in free agency, or choose to bolster other needs with this pick, like the offensive line.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Just like the Browns are perpetually looking for a quarterback, the Ravens are annually in search of a game-changing wide receiver. Ridley lasts to the middle of the first round after a run on defensive players at the top of the board.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. Yes, the Chargers drafted two defensive backs a year ago; they were late-rounders and not nearly the talent that James is. Plus, in today's NFL you can never have too many competent defensive backs. James is solid against both the run and the pass and will make an already good defense better.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP. The Seahawks could have gone in any number of directions with this pick -- cornerback and defensive line among them -- but making an honest effort to protect Russell Wilson seems like the prudent move given that he spent much of the 2017 season running for his life.
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. At 6-foot-2 and 283 pounds, Hurst may be undersized, but his unbelievable quickness more than makes up for it. He'll be an integral piece to new coach Matt Patricia's defense.
21. Buffalo Bills
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)
23. Los Angeles Rams
24. Carolina Panthers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Devin Funchess was the Panthers' leading receiver last season, followed by a running back (Christian McCaffrey) and a player they traded after eight games (Kelvin Benjamin). Put another way: Cam Newton needs another downfield weapon and Sutton could be it.
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: We've previously had South Dakota St. tight end Dallas Goedert here but after Gesicki's lights-out performance at the combine, he's now our guy. Yes, the Saints could bring back Jimmy Graham but the only thing better than one playmaking tight end is two of them for Drew Brees to enjoy.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Justin Reid, S, Stanford. With Ryan Shazier out for 2018, the Steelers have a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. But with Smith and Evans long off the board, Pittsburgh looks to bolster its secondary. Reid had a fantastic combine and if the Steelers find middle linebacker help in free agency, expect more conversations about how they'll address the safety position in the draft.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. The Jaguars didn't use the franchise tag on Allen Robinson, and the dearth of playmakers makes Washington an intriguing option here. Blake Bortles played well in 2017 without a legitimate deep threat and with the defense among the NFL's best, fielding a replacement-level offense could get this team to the Super Bowl.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Orlando Bown, OT, Oklahoma. Brown definitely hurt his stock with his poor combine, but his game film remains impressive. The Vikings need help at tackle and Brown fits the bill, upgrading a unit that was replacement level in the running game last season.
31. New England Patriots
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. The Super Bowl proved that the Patriots desperately need pass rushers and cover cornerbacks. With Malcolm Butler having played his last game in New England, restocking the secondary begins with Alexander, who was impressive at the combine.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. With LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles headed for free agency, Guice, who has drawn comparisons to Marshawn Lynch, would seem like a natural fit. Yes, Jay Ajayi and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement return (along with Wendell Smallwood) but as Blount proved in 2017, you can never have too many talented backs in a game where injuries can derail a season.
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