2018 NFL Mock Draft: The odds of drafting a QB or signing Kirk Cousins for each team

The offseason might still be days away from starting, and the beginning of the league year even further, but the Redskins had no problem shaking up the outlook for free agency and the draft this week. Even though the team has gotten excellent quarterback play from Kirk Cousins since he took over as starter in Washington, Dan Snyder's franchise went and got themselves a new quarterback this week, agreeing to a trade that will ship Alex Smith to Washington for Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick.

You can read all about the implications of the trade here, but what we're going to look at right now is how it affects the first round of the draft. What I'm going to do is list my totally scientific calculations that each team in the first round will draft a quarterback or sign Cousins. Seriously, the probabilities you see are lab-tested and 100 percent accurate. There were even big, white lab coats involved.

You'll also get the player I now think each team is going to draft. Again, 100 percent accurate. Don't even bother tuning in in April.

Below is the current draft order, which features a coin flip at No. 9 and 10 and the possibility of a swap at No. 31 and 32. 

1. Cleveland Browns

Chances this pick is a QB: 80 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 5 percent

Cousins would be a great pickup, and the Browns certainly have the cap space to fit him in. But the Browns have their pick of QBs in a draft with multiple sure first-rounders, and I'd be surprised if they passed up the chance to lock in a franchise passer at a relative bargain.

The pick: Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Note that I'm not staying there's a 80 percent chance the Browns take Darnold. It's still too early in the process to tell who they'll anoint as their top option. But he's as good a bet as any.


2. New York Giants

Chances this pick is a QB: 50 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 1 percent
  

Whether the Giants pick a QB will likely come down to if their No. 1 option is available, and that depends on who the Browns take. I could see this pick going either way. What seems very unlikely is the team ponying up for Cousins while Eli Manning is still around.

The pick: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley is right up there as one of the best prospects at his position -- and possibly No. 1 -- heading to the NFL in recent years. If the Giants aren't locked into a QB -- and they shouldn't be -- he's a fine option for No. 2.


3. Indianapolis Colts

Chances this pick is a QB: 1 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

With Andrew Luck apparently on the road to recovery, there's no chance the Colts are signing Cousins. But I wouldn't completely rule out a quarterback here if Luck's recovery isn't as rosy by late April. Still, there's next to no chance this will be a QB.

The pick: Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, NC State

Chubb is easily the best pass-rusher in the class, and the Colts need to boost their pass rush after recording just 25 sacks in 2017 (31st in NFL). Chubb would have an immediate impact, and the Colts should be happy with either him or Barkley here.


4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)

Chances this pick is a QB: 5 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 5 percent
  

We went over the chances they sign Cousins above, and I don't think there's much of a chance of Cleveland taking a QB with this pick. If they've settled on a guy as No. 1 in the class and someone they want as their franchise QB, they're going to take him at No. 1. Why risk losing out?

The pick: Minkah Fitzpatrick, FS, Alabama

The Browns keep adding blue-chippers to the secondary, this time with the best safety prospect in the 2018 class. There's no harm in trying Fitzpatrick at the more valuable cornerback position to see if he sticks, but he's a 10-year starter at free safety.


5. Denver Broncos

Chances this pick is a QB: 60 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 35 percent
    

I'm making the Broncos the second favorite for Cousins, and that's mainly because they have nowhere near the cap room of the team I have first. Still, Denver needs to address the QB position in some way this offseason.

The pick: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The Broncos seem to be a decent trade-up candidate in order to pick their preferred option at QB. But unless they plan to move to No. 1, it might make sense not to trade any draft capital to move up, since there's a decent shot their QB falls to them.


6. New York Jets

Chances this pick is a QB: 50 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 40 percent
 

Here's my favorite for Cousins, and in this mock draft we're going to assume they use their massive amount of cap space to sign him. The only teams with more cap space, per Spotrac, are the Browns, Colts and 49ers.

The pick: Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

With quarterback no longer a need, the Jets nab the best cornerback in the draft and continue building an excellent secondary to compete in the AFC. If Cousins is signed, expect the Jets to be a trendy wild-card pick.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

Maybe we can't completely rule out the Bucs drafting a quarterback, but we can almost definitely rule out the Bucs drafting a quarterback. Call it close to zero percent.  

The pick: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

The Buccaneers have enough needs that this pick is probably going to be best non-QB available, though you can most likely rule out a wide receiver or tight end too. Nelson is probably the safest pick in the draft and should be a 10-year starter inside.


8. Chicago Bears

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

They just drafted their franchise QB, so they're good. Expect them to spend the draft trying to unload Mike Glennon on a team who misses out on their preferred target (Buffalo? Arizona?). 

The pick: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

This might be a touch high for Ridley, but the Bears have next to nothing in the receiver department, which is bad news when you're trying to develop the guy you just took No. 2 overall into a franchise quarterback.


9. San Francisco 49ers

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

Maybe if you squint you can see a scenario where Jimmy Garoppolo refuses to sign a long-term deal, and the 49ers get worried he'll leave after a couple franchise tags a la Cousins. But that scenario's close enough to zero to move on.

The pick: Derwin James, SS, Florida State

The 49ers focused on defense in last year's draft, and now that they have a franchise quarterback for the price of a second-round pick, why not keep piling on the other side of the ball? James can do a lot of things from the safety position, and versatility is big in today's game.


10. Oakland Raiders

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
   

They just blew nine figures on a quarterback, so I think they're good on the Cousins/rookie QB front.

The pick: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The Raiders have a franchise quarterback, but there are plenty of issues on the defensive side when you get past superstar pass rusher Khalil Mack. Smith fits the humongous need at linebacker, even if NaVorro Bowman is retained.


11. Miami Dolphins

Chances this pick is a QB: 30 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 2 percent
 

If the board falls right for Miami, I see no reason they can't take a QB. However, they're close to the bottom of the league in terms of cap room, so making a play for Cousins seems far-fetched.

The pick: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

If only two quarterbacks go in the top 10, why not a QB for Miami? They showed interest in Allen at the Senior Bowl, and Ryan Tannehill is coming off a major injury with a contract that could be cut for cap room at any time (though it probably wouldn't be enough to land Cousins this year). Draft Allen, give Tannehill a year to re-establish value, and re-evaluate the situation in 2019.


12. Cincinnati Bengals

Chances this pick is a QB: 10 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 2 percent
   

The Bengals have more cap room than the average team, so I don't think we can rule out a run at Cousins. And if the right QB is available here, who knows? Andy Dalton's dead cap number is only $2.4 million for 2018.

The pick: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Bengals have enough needs that making quarterback one of them doesn't make sense. The offensive line was atrocious last year, and McGlinchey hopefully won't be the first step they take to fixing it (get busy in March, Bengals!)


13. Washington Redskins

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

With Alex Smith topping $70 million guaranteed on his reported deal, he's locked in for at least three years. That makes quarterback a no-go in this draft.

The pick: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Payne is a difference-maker on the defensive line as he proved in the College Football Playoff. Reuniting him with Alabama teammate Jonathan Allen makes plenty of sense.


14. Green Bay Packers

Chances this pick is a QB: 2 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

Yes, Aaron Rodgers is still in town, but he's 34 years old. Brett Favre was 35 when Rodgers was drafted. It's not likely they draft Rodgers' heir apparent, but you can't completely rule it out.

The pick: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

The Packers could use some help in the secondary, and I think Ward is the last of the top-tier cornerbacks left on the board. He gives the team a good foundation at the position along with Kevin King.


15. Arizona Cardinals

Chances this pick is a QB: 60 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 8 percent
    

Seven percent doesn't seem like much, but it makes the Cardinals third favorites in the Cousins race according to my calculations. Cap room might be an issue, and the far more likely scenario is still drafting a QB.

The pick: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

Opinions on Mayfield seem all over the map, but he was drawing some heat during Senior Bowl week. Provided three QBs are off the board at this point, this feels like his floor, even factoring in the eventual Cousins signing.


16. Baltimore Ravens

Chances this pick is a QB: 1 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

I wouldn't completely rule out a quarterback if that's where the value is, but it doesn't make much sense to cut Joe Flacco for at least two more years due to his dead cap number. But if Ozzie Newsome loves a particular guy, don't rule it out.  

The pick: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Ravens dealt with a ton of injuries to the offensive line last season, but the loss of Ricky Wagner at right tackle also contributed to the line's down year. Brown is an excellent right tackle prospect who will give the team an immediate boost.


17. Los Angeles Chargers

Chances this pick is a QB: 15 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
   

There was buzz last year the Chargers could pick Philip Rivers' eventual replacement in the top 10, so expect that buzz to continue in this draft. We can probably rule out a Cousins signing though, unless Rivers surprisingly retires.

The pick: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The Chargers need to do something to fix their run defense, and Vea is a massive presence in the middle who can get penetration into the backfield. 


18. Seattle Seahawks

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

The Seahawks are pretty happy with their quarterback situation, thank you very much.

The pick: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA

I like this as a potential spot for an offensive lineman, but we say that every year and the Seahawks do something different. Davenport gives the team a excellent pass-rusher with size to replace Michael Bennett.


19. Dallas Cowboys

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

The Cowboys are pretty happy with their quarterback situation, thank you very much. 

The pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

This would be a great value for the Cowboys if available. Sean Lee has dealt with multiple injuries over the years, and Edmunds gives the team an answer long-term next to Jaylon Smith.


20. Detroit Lions

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

The Lions are paying a fortune for Matthew Stafford, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. 

The pick: Billy Price, C, Ohio State

Travis Swanson is a free agent and didn't play all that well last year anyway. Price gives them the best center prospect in the draft and an anchor to solidify the offensive line.


21. Buffalo Bills

22. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs

Chances one of these picks is a QB: 50 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 3 percent
   

The Bills don't figure to be a likely destination for Cousins, but they're definitely going to be looking at adding a quarterback. Would they overpay to bring him in? I don't see it, but I'm not ruling it out.

The picks: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU and Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

I expect the Bills to pick a quarterback if a good one is available, and if they lock into a particular target, I think the most likely scenario has them moving up. Here, they stay put to draft their QB as well as a big target at receiver.


23. Los Angeles Rams

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

The Rams aren't going to move on from Jared Goff after his breakout 2017 season.

The pick: Arden Key, OLB, LSU

Will some team in the 20s be willing to gamble on Key's massive upside and take the off-field red flags that come with it? I don't see why not. He'd be a monster in Wade Phillips' defense.


24. Carolina Panthers

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

They'll stick with the recent MVP, but thanks for asking.

The pick: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP

If Andrew Norwell leaves, the Panthers need to lock in a talented guard next to overmatched left tackle Matt Kalil. Hernandez is trending up after an excellent Senior Bowl week and could be long gone by this point as a high-floor prospect.


25. Tennessee Titans

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

You figure that Mike Vrabel isn't taking this job just to turn around and get rid of Marcus Mariota, right?

The pick: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma

Both Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan will be free agents after next season, and Okoronkwo is a perfect fit for a 3-4 defense at his size. He'll be a huge addition to the pass rush as a rookie who could take over as a starter in 2019.


26. Atlanta Falcons

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

This is Matt Ryan's job for the foreseeable future. 

The pick: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

The Falcons should be looking at the defensive tackle position in the draft with Dontari Poe a free agent, and Bryan -- who has earned J.J. Watt comparisons -- is probably a best-case scenario for them.


27. New Orleans Saints

Chances this pick is a QB: 15 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 1 percent
   

Drew Brees is 39 years old. He was selected in the second round of the 2001 draft. He can't last too much longer, right? If the Saints like Mason Rudolph or a QB that slips, drafting a guy makes sense. Cousins seems like a longshot.

The pick: Malik Jefferson, OLB, Texas

The Saints took major strides on defense in 2017 but still have plenty of room for improvement, particularly at the second level. Jefferson's stock is all over the map -- it wouldn't surprise me if he went 15 picks higher or 30 picks lower.


28. Pittsburgh Steelers

Chances this pick is a QB: 15 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent

Like the Saints, the Steelers should be on the lookout for their next franchise passer. But Cousins is a non-factor, as the Steelers have the least amount of cap room in the league, per Spotrac.

The pick: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama

The Steelers are in the position to draft an inside linebacker after Ryan Shazier's brutal injury against the Bengals on Monday night. Evans proved himself by stepping into the spotlight after Reuben Foster left for the draft in 2017.


29. Jacksonville Jaguars

Chances this pick is a QB: 10 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 2 percent
  

It's crazy how low those numbers are considering the Jaguars seemed to be a virtual lock prior to the season to move on from Blake Bortles at this point. But it's likely he did enough to stick around in Jacksonville.

The pick: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

The Jaguars have a lot of options with this pick, and taking the well-rounded Andrews to give the team a better receiving threat at the tight end position is a solid possibility.


30. Minnesota Vikings

Chances this pick is a QB: 2 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 2 percent
  

The Vikings figure to keep Case Keenum around after his breakout season, but I'm not ruling out a pivot to pursuing Cousins either. 

The pick: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

The Vikings could do a number of things with this pick, but here I have them addressing the cornerback position with Terence Newman nearing the end at 39.


31. Philadelphia Eagles

Chances this pick is a QB: 0 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
  

The Eagles will be more likely to shop a quarterback this offseason, not add one.

The pick: Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

With elder statesman Jason Peters coming off a major injury, Okorafor gives the team a long-term option as a bookend with Lane Johnson. This team is set up to contend for years with Carson Wentz under center.


32. New England Patriots

Chances this pick is a QB: 5 percent
Chances Cousins is signed: 0 percent
 

If the Patriots are going to draft Tom Brady's heir apparent, it'll likely be on Day 2. And that zero percent for Cousins could have a point-1 on the end. What if Brady wins the Super Bowl and retires? Who wouldn't want to step into this organization and play for titles every year? Yeah, I don't think it happens either.

The pick: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Even though safety isn't a big need for the team, it could be time to find a long-term replacement for Patrick Chung, who's a free agent after the 2018 season.

Our Latest Stories