2018 NFL Mock Draft: Sam Darnold goes to Giants, Cardinals trade up for Josh Rosen
A different but plausible scenario for two of the consensus best quarterbacks in this draft class
The Baker Mayfield hype train is leaving the station. Could it's final stop be in Cleveland with the No. 1 pick? Even for a 6-foot quarterback, I think so. He put three consecutive years of historic production on film at Oklahoma and has a passion for football front office members will love.
Mayfield being picked first would create mayhem early in the Round 1, with both long-believed top quarterbacks, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, available at pick No. 2 with a real possibility one slides to No. 5.
They're two signal-callers talented enough to garner serious on-the-clock trade talk, so let's examine what it would look like if two teams come to an agreement.
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. After weeks of leaning Darnold to Cleveland, the latest speculation centers on Mayfield going to the Browns. I think he'll ace the pre-draft tests ahead of him to bolster his stock, which in this scenario leads to him going No. 1 overall.
2. New York Giants
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Giants will receive a copious amount of phone calls here with Darnold and Rosen on the board, and while general manager Dave Gettleman will listen to every offer, he'll take his quarterback of the future, the signal caller no one really has the Giants picking. It's not crazy to believe Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur ultimately see more upside with Darnold.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Colts hired an offensive-minded coach but someone who undoubtedly knows the importance of a strong, deep defensive front in Frank Reich. Chubb is the clear-cut top defensive end in this class.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
5. Arizona Cardinals (via mock trade)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. As Rosen slips through the first few selections, it's likely many teams will be more comfortable moving up for the former UCLA quarterback. After adding Kirk Cousins to a roster with a fair amount of holes, the Broncos like the idea of moving back. The Cardinals are in dire need of a franchise quarterback and make the move to land Rosen.
6. New York Jets
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. New Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was in Denver during the early stages of Jay Cutler's career. It's not hard to draw physical parallels between the two quarterbacks.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama. Fitzpatrick will give the Buccaneers what they desperately need -- length in their secondary. He can play safety on occasion or lock down off-coverage duties as an outside corner. He's even twitchy enough to stay with bigger slot receivers.
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. At this point, I think the best (and only?) possibility Barkley goes in the top five is if he's picked by Cleveland at No. 4. The next four teams aren't picking a running back. That would leave Barkley to be scooped up by the Jimmy G-led 49ers.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Jon Gruden needs to get himself a field general on the defensive side of the ball. Smith is an old-school middle linebacker with dazzling range and effectiveness in coverage.
11. Miami Dolphins
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The free-agent offensive line class is mediocre at best, and the Dolphins can't afford another season of shoddy offensive line play. Nelson is a people-mover at guard and is ready to be an impact player the moment he steps on the field in the NFL.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Connor Williams, OT, Texas. Based on his 2016 film, Williams would be a top-10 lock. In 2017, he started strong, hurt his knee and had some bumps upon returning. As one of the youngest players in this draft, he has room to grow as a player.
13. Washington Redskins
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Ward isn't Marshon Lattimore, but he plays with a similar technically sound, pass-breakup style and is a reliable tackler. The Redskins like their starting corners, as they should. However, Bashaud Breeland is set to hit free agency, and Josh Norman is 30.
14. Green Bay Packers
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Washington plays with shades of Greg Jennings, a scary deep threat who can also put his cleat in the ground and abruptly create separation on comebacks and in-breaking routes as a chain-mover.
15. Denver Broncos (via mock trade)
Will Hernandez, G, UTEP. To validate the movement and subsequent draft pick to their fans, the Broncos can film one of those videos for their website of all the staffers celebrating when this pick is in, as they smoothly moved down and technically got better value for a player they had been zeroing in on all along. Hernandez reunites with his collegiate head coach, Sean Kugler, who was recently hired as Denver's offensive line coach. This is an ideal pairing. Denver nets a second and the last of three third-round picks the Cardinals have in this draft and send a seventh-rounder -- along with No. 5 overall -- in the trade back.
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Payne two-gaps like he has been playing in a traditional 3-4 for a decade, and unleashed in the College Football Playoff, we saw the explosiveness of a quality interior pass-rusher. Look out, AFC West.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Derwin James, S, Florida State. With the uncertain future of Seattle icon Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks are fortunate to grab a comparably versatile safety in James. Yes, he would fit the "freak" label and will thrive as the "Robber" in the Seahawks cover 1 and cover 3 based defense.
19. Dallas Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. I think Vander Esch is going to have a ridiculous combine, one that, without the presence of Tremaine Edmunds, would be viewed as one of the best in a long time at the off-ball linebacker position. Rashaan Evans is considered here, but the Cowboys place a high priority on athleticism, and Vander Esch covers a lot of ground really fast at 6-4 and 240-plus pounds.
20. Detroit Lions
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. The Lions recently hired Bo Davis to coach their defensive line. Who's Bo Davis, you ask? Well beyond having a very "defensive line coach" name, he coached that spot at ... the University of Texas-San Antonio in 2017. Connecting the dots here. Would fill a huge need too.
21. Buffalo Bills
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. While I think Mason Rudolph is the favorite for pick No. 21 if the Bills stay put, let's examine how the first round would look if they decide to pass on him. Sutton is a huge, power forward-type wideout with better athleticism than his size would suggest and dominant ability on jump balls.
22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. This pick stays the same from last week. Hurst seems like a Bills type of prospect. Super experienced. Super productive. No off-field issues. You get the picture. Oh, and he's the perfect type of interior defensive lineman for Buffalo's one-gap system.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Alexander likely would've gone in the top 15 had it not been for an injury-riddled final season at Louisville. He's not a menacing cornerback physically but plays with outstanding quickness and tenacity when the ball is arriving.
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Tennessee Titans
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. The Titans roster isn't littered with holes, and Evans would bring more toughness to Tennessee's defense in the middle. He's a between-the-tackles thumper with some range to the sidelines.
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State. This is the spot where a quarterback could land, but instead of planning for the long-term future, the Saints keep the Super Bowl window open with Goedert, a frightening matchup who'll work wonders down the seam and in the red zone for New Orleans.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. While Ben Roethlisberger hasn't indicated he's ready to call it quits, that time is coming soon, possibly after the 2018 campaign. Rudolph is a similar style quarterback with a large frame who thrives from inside the pocket.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia. Wynn landing in Jacksonville would help Leonard Fournette's inside running and keep Blake Bortles from facing inside pressure. The former Georgia left tackle has All-Pro potential at the guard spot in the NFL due to his footwork and sturdy anchor.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. From a size, length and athleticism perspective, Miller might be the most impressive offensive tackle in this class. He got plenty of pass-protection reps at UCLA and improved every season. He can play either right or left tackle.
31. New England Patriots
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon. Crosby is a glider when getting to the second level and plays with a low, balanced base. He's the type of offensive linemen the Eagles would likely have higher on their board than other teams due to what they ask of their blockers.
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