2018 NFL Mock Draft: Jets land Sam Darnold after all; 49ers pick Saquon Barkley
The Jets are ecstatic to select Darnold, and the 49ers get their backfield foundation in Barkley
As it turns out, the Jets didn't tank this season, but they do need to address the quarterback spot, even if it's with a prospect who won't see the field until 2019. Re-signing Josh McCown wouldn't be a bad idea.
As for the 49ers, another non-tanking team, they ended 2017 as the hottest team in the NFL with Jimmy Garoppolo under center. With Carlos Hyde set to hit free agency ... Saquon Barkley would make plenty of sense for Kyle Shanahan's offense.
And while those two connections seem too good to be true, with the way the draft order is set up, they're not that far-fetched.
Below is the current draft order, which will change a fair amount after pick No. 20.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. This past week a report surfaced that Browns general manager John Dorsey was going to pick Josh Allen No. 1 overall. A definitive draft-related report before January is a good bet to not ultimately happen, so I'm going with chalk here. Rosen appears to be who the NFL sees as the most pro-ready quarterback in the class.
2. New York Giants
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. New GM Dave Gettleman gave a relatively strong vote of confidence to continue the Eli Manning era, and while Saquon Barkley is tempting here, Gettleman is an old-school football guy who understands the importance of sound blocking up front.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. If Jim Irsay makes this pick, it just might be Barkley. But Chris Ballard, another GM who cut his teeth as a scout for over a decade, knows his offense can't operate at maximum efficiency if Andrew Luck isn't protected well. Nelson is the best offensive lineman in the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
5. Denver Broncos
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. John Elway is not happy with his team's quarterback situation, and after taking Paxton Lynch two years ago in Round 1, I think he goes the veteran QB route in the offseason, even if it's a bridge to the future signal-caller. With Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders entering the twilight of their careers, Sutton is the long-term answer at wideout.
6. New York Jets
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. After an overload of tanking talk, and Jets Darnold jerseys sold before the season, the young, talented USC quarterback lands with Gang Green after all. He has the most inherent ability of any recent signal-caller to wear a Jets uniform but a year behind a potentially re-signed Josh McCown would be the best for his longevity in the league.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Buccaneers begin to fix their defense with arguably the best defensive player this draft has to offer. Chubb isn't Myles Garrett, but there's plenty of Joey Bosa to his game. He's a rock against the run too.
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Dream come true for the 49ers. They get their quarterback-running back pairing with Jimmy G and Barkley. I'm still trying to land on a Barkley comparison -- he's very similar to Ezekiel Elliott -- and the best one I've seen on Twitter is Edgerrin James.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Another exquisite match. Reggie McKenzie might want to go cornerback, but he went that route last year with Gareon Conley in the first round. Smith can change a defense due to his speed to the football against the run and athleticism in coverage.
11. Miami Dolphins
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. With Xavien Howard, who really came into his own down the stretch in 2017, and Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins would boast two youthful, long cornerbacks out wide. Fitzpatrick is also a tremendous blitzer.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Will Marvin Lewis keep Andy Dalton? Maybe? Even if he doesn't, there's a chance the Bengals look ahead at the quarterback position with Mayfield. In a creative system, he can be a dynamic play-maker.
13. Washington Redskins
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. If Kirk Cousins walks, the Redskins' most glaring need is, of course, quarterback. Allen is more of a "traditional" quarterback who has the arm strength Cousins lacked. It'll just take time for Allen to fine-tune his game to have any chance of being a successful NFL signal-caller.
14. Green Bay Packers
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The Packers go best player available here, as they're surprised James is still available. He and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would formulate a tremendously versatile tandem at safety.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. It's a new era in the desert, one that needs someone to be the face of the franchise after Carson Palmer's retirement. With plenty of experience and production in college, Rudolph can be that guy for the Cardinals right away.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Terrell Suggs did things in 2017 the vast majority of 35-year-old pass-rushers who had suffered major injuries in their career don't do. However, the Ravens do need to address the edge-rusher spot for the future. Okoronkwo is smaller than most of the defenders Baltimore likes up front, but he plays bigger due to a speed-to-power skill set. When it comes to getting after the quarterback, he's as refined as they come in this class.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. The Chargers have been afforded the luxury of watching Miller in their backyard all season, and the tall left tackle protected Josh Rosen well. He also flashed a physical nature on combo blocks for the run game.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. The Seahawks might bolster the offensive line in free agency, but picking another talented offensive tackle wouldn't hurt. Okorafor is a punishing run-blocker and has the feet to thrive in pass protection.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. With Jackson, the Cowboys get their No. 1 cornerback who's ready to contribute instantly and face the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Alshon Jeffery and Josh Doctson within the division.
20. Detroit Lions
21. Tennessee Titans
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Titans love the upside of Davenport, and the fact that he's not a long-term project. With his length, explosiveness and rather large arsenal of pass-rush moves, he can be a double-digit sack guy early in his NFL career.
22. Buffalo Bills
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. Can't get away from this pairing. Hurst is the best one-gap defensive tackle in the class, and when Sean McDermott and Buffalo GM Brandon Beane were in Carolina, the defensive line was a draft priority.
23. Atlanta Falcons
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford. Another productive interior defensive lineman, Phillips is a highly touted run defender and with some added quickness, he can be an impactful pass-rusher in Dan Quinn's defense.
24. New Orleans Saints
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. The Saints need linebacker help, and Edmunds is a specimen at 6-feet-4 and 250 pounds with springy athletic talents. He can play any of the off-ball linebacker positions in New Orleans.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. With the future of Allen Robinson murky, the Jaguars could use more receiver help. Ridley is an older prospect but is fluid at the line of scrimmage and at the top of his route stem.
26. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)
Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB, Georgia. Carter is loaded with SEC experience, and at 6-6 and 245-ish pounds, he has an imposing frame on which he could add more weight. In Buffalo's defense, Carter could play the SAM spot close to the line, rush off the edge or sink into coverage, all responsibilities he has handled well during an underrated Georgia career.
27. Los Angeles Rams
28. Carolina Panthers
Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis. Another older prospect, Miller is reminiscent of Panthers legend Steve Smith. He's a smaller outside receiver who thrives in contested-catch situations and seemingly always plays with a chip on his shoulder.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Steelers defense took a step up in 2017, and in 2018, there's a good chance Pittsburgh will be interested in upgrading its secondary with Joe Haden unlikely to be around for many more seasons. Ward is a play-maker who can eventually be a No. 1 cornerback.
30. Philadelphia Eagles
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Eagles don't have many holes either, and with Jason Peters nearing the end of his career, Philadelphia might want to invest in its offensive line. GM Howie Roseman might like the sounds of Lane Johnson and McGlinchey at his two tackle spots in the future.
31. New England Patriots
Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. It'd be an all-Alabama pairing at inside linebacker for the Patriots if they picked Evans here. Dont'a Hightower will be returning from injury in 2018, yet when healthy, he's one of the most productive off-ball linebackers in the league. Bill Belichick trusts his old coaching buddy Nick Saban, and Evans is a reliable linebacker prospect.
32. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. The Vikings are set up to contend for a while, and if there's anything they could upgrade, it's the interior of their offensive line. Hernandez isn't a flashy pick ... he's just a sturdy guard who'll improve Minnesota's entire offense.
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