2018 NFL Mock Draft: Jets trade up for Sam Darnold, Christian Kirk lands with Patriots
The trade up for USC's star signal-caller makes it all quarterbacks off the board in the first three selections
Regarding its top five or six quarterbacks, this draft class has a legitimate argument to be the most hyped signal-caller class since ... the famed 1983 group that featured a trio of future Hall of Famers.
Seriously. At the very least, this class will likely feature something that has happened since 1999 -- either three quarterbacks going in the first three picks or five signal-callers going in the first round. Heck, with this group, both might happen.
Let's examine a scenario in which the desire to grab a quarterback in this draft so high that three passers are grabbed at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 overall.
Below is the current draft order, which is just a mere coin-flip away from being 100 percent set.
1. Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Yes, this would be a little outside the box for noted "old-school football guy" John Dorsey, but beyond Mayfield's lack of height, he seems like someone who would've been referred to as a "blue-collar, high-IQ, hates-to-lose" player by Jon Gruden if he were still in the Monday Night Football booth.
2. New York Giants
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. When the dust settles on the 2018 iteration of "mass quarterback speculation" during the pre-draft process, Dave Gettleman settles on the most polished quarterback in this class.
3. New York Jets (via mock trade)
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. John Dorsey's first pick as Chiefs GM in 2013 was Eric Fisher ... when Kansas City was set at left tackle with Branden Albert. Like Fisher did, Williams can man the ever-important right tackle spot to begin his career then shift to left tackle after Joe Thomas retires.
5. Denver Broncos
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The Broncos are in the midst of turnover at the cornerback spot, with Aqib Talib a prime cut or trade candidate. Fitzpatrick isn't a press man corner but will help Denver's pass-rush with his blitzing capabilities and can make plays at safety too.
6. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Home-run draft management by the Colts here, as they slide back a few spots, get a No. 1 edge-rusher in Chubb and grab the Jets' first of two second-round picks (No. 37 overall), and a seventh-rounder in the process.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. In this scenario, the Bears land Allen Robinson in free agency, despite the initial consensus being that he'll return to the Jaguars. Chicago's new running backs coach Charles London was at Penn State with Robinson in 2012 and 2013. With Edmunds, the Bears get a super-versatile, freakishly long off-ball linebacker to range from sideline-to-sideline at the second level.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Love this fit. The Jets are the wild-card team to pick Barkley if he gets past the Browns at No. 4, but with Gang Green moving up to pick Sam Darnold, Barkley "falls" to the 49ers. Suddenly, San Francisco is really fun on offense.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Jon Gruden will love Smith. He's got too, right? Not Derrick Brooks exactly. Similar traits ... particularly the speed element. Oakland's defense is in dire need of an impactful off-ball linebacker.
11. Miami Dolphins
Derwin James, S, Florida State. The future of Miami's safety spot is somewhat uncertain given the age of Reshad Jones. James has similar size to that of Dolphins other safety T.J. McDonald but is more versatile and explosive to the football.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. It's simple. The Bengals need to rebuild their offensive line. Nelson would be a huge upgrade on the inside of Cincinnati's front and provide Andy Dalton much-needed protection against interior pass rushes.
13. Washington Redskins
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The Redskins plan for the future at the cornerback spot with Josh Norman now 30 years old. Ward is a feisty man-to-man corner with the awareness and athleticism needed to get his hands on a lot of footballs.
14. Green Bay Packers
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. Believe it or not, the Packers receiver spot is in the state of flux with Jordy Nelson set to be a $12.5 million cap hit, Randall Cobb on the books for $12.7 million and the recently extended Davante Adams. Sutton's game is Nelson-like and could be a double-digit touchdown wideout with Aaron Rodgers.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Arizona will be in the veteran quarterback market -- someone like Tyrod Taylor, A.J. McCarron or one of the Vikings signal-callers would be reasonable acquisitions -- which would keep Allen from being forced into the starting lineup right away. Yes, he's super talented. But he's not ready.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. The Ravens lost right tackle Ricky Wagner in free agency a year ago and need to fortify that side of their offensive line. Brown is a prime candidate to be a power-blocking right tackle in Baltimore.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State. Russell Wilson can deal with outside pass-rushers. It's the interior pressures that leads to problems for Wilson -- and all quarterbacks, really. Seattle's guard spot was an abomination in 2017, and Price comes in as a clean prospect ready to start right away.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Cowboys are thrilled with Ridley still being available. While he's not the biggest wideout and has a skinny frame, he's a dynamic route runner and has the deep speed Dallas has to inject into its offense.
20. Detroit Lions
21. Buffalo Bills
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. The Bills will likely explore a variety of trade-up options. Ultimately, the price will be too steep to move around 20 spots in this draft to pick a quarterback. They stay put, pick Rudolph and start to build around him with their glut of early-round picks.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. If you pick Rudolph, why not pair him with his ultra-productive downfield wideout? Washington has outstanding ball skills, body control, and some of the most electric deep speed in the class.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Robert Quinn is a likely cap casualty, so the Rams pick an edge-rusher with a comparable body type in Davenport. He'll help to keep Los Angeles dangerous up front on defense.
24. Carolina Panthers
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. Greg Olsen is the guy who makes the Panthers passing game click. And at his age, it's time Carolina looks for his replacement to be mentored for a season or two. Goedert is the quintessential "matchup nightmare."
25. Tennessee Titans
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. If Avery Williams isn't retained in free agency, Tennessee will have a glaring need at off-ball linebacker, and Vander Esch is a new-age type at that spot who can range all over the field.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech. A big rise could be coming for Settle over the next few months. At 335 pounds, he moves like he's about 30 pounds lighter and has an impressive first step. He'd be another fun inside pass-rusher in Atlanta.
27. New Orleans Saints
Harold Landry, DE, Boston College. Cameron Jordan is a cornerstone defender, and 2017 pleasant surprise Alex Okafor will be returning from a season-ending injury. Landry isn't ready to be a No. 1 edge-rusher, and he won't have to be in New Orleans. He'll be perfect in pass-rushing sub-packages.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Jaguars made it clear ... they want to run the football a lot. McGlinchey is a tremendous run-blocker who's calm and effective at the second level and has enough pass-rushing proficiency to be a starter immediately.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. Minnesota did well with a mediocre-at-best offensive line in 2017. Hernandez is a power blocker with impressive skills on pulls. He'd be a huge addition for Vikings as they continue to build toward a Super Bowl.
31. New England Patriots
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M. Kirk is the type of make-you-miss, downfield threat the Patriots seem to love at the wideout spot and would fill in for Danny Amendola immediately if he leaves in free agency. Even if Amendola is re-signed, Kirk would bring youth to New England's pass-catcher group.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller is tall, long, and athletic tackle who blocked well for Rosen at UCLA. He really came into his own in 2017 and with more strength can be the heir apparent to Jason Peters.
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