The 28 scenarios for the top three picks that go into building a 2018 NFL Mock Draft

Are you ready for the NFL Draft? If you're anyone who has built a mock draft over the last few weeks and months, the answer is probably not. And the drama starts right at the top.

That's unusual, to say the least. Jameis Winston was clearly going to be the No. 1 pick three years ago. Two trade-ups in 2016 made it clear that Jared Goff and Carson Wentz would go 1-2, and likely in that order. Last year Myles Garrett was understood to be the No. 1 pick, with most of the drama surrounding who would trade up for Mitchell Trubisky.

This year? We know the first pick of the draft will be Sam Darnold. Unless it's Josh Allen. Or Baker Mayfield. And at No. 2, the Giants will definitely take a quarterback, or take a non-quarterback, or trade down.

Want to know what I think will happen? My final first-round mock draft is scheduled to go up Thursday, updated from last week's seven-round mock to reflect late buzz heading into draft day. You can find more great mocks from the CBS Sports crew here.

Change the way you listen to NFL news, subscribe to the Pick Six Podcast with Will Brinson and you'll be the most informed fan at your NFL Draft party. Subscribe: via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn

If you break down the rumors from the last few days and weeks and piece it all together, there are actually 28 different possibilities for the top three picks. And we're going to cover them all right now.

Some assumptions:

  1. The Jets are definitely taking a QB after trading up to No. 3.
  2. The Browns aren't considering Josh Rosen at No. 1.
  3. The Giants have Sam Darnold as the top QB on their board.
  4. The Giants aren't trading down.

The first assumption above is basically a fact -- the Jets wouldn't be moving up a couple spots if not to address the most important position in football. The second is either likely or very likely, if reports are to be believed. It seems like the Browns could go either Darnold or Allen, but some Mayfield buzz has emerged this week, as covered on the Pick Six Podcast (subscribe!).

The Giants wanting Darnold among the QBs has been widely reported, but who knows how accurate that is. And while the Giants may get an offer they can't refuse to move down, we'll assume that Dave Gettleman plays to assumption and stays put at No. 2.

One thing we won't assume is that the Giants are Darnold or bust at the quarterback position. That very well may be the case, but considering the need for a long-term franchise quarterback, it's foolish to rule out the possibility at No. 2 in a QB-rich class, even if your top option is gone.

We'll also look at what each scenario means for the Browns at No. 4, with the assumption they'd probably lean toward taking Chubb over Barkley but also be open to trading down for the right package.

Scenario: Browns take Allen


BrownsGiantsJets
MOCK-1 QB Allen QB Darnold QB Rosen
MOCK-2 QB Allen QB Darnold QB Mayfield
MOCK-3 QB Allen DE Chubb QB Rosen
MOCK-4 QB Allen DE Chubb QB Mayfield
MOCK-5 QB Allen DE Chubb QB Darnold
MOCK-6 QB Allen RB Barkley QB Rosen
MOCK-7 QB Allen RB Barkley QB Mayfield
MOCK-8 QB Allen RB Barkley QB Darnold

MOCK-1 and MOCK-2 give us three quarterbacks in the first three picks, and that allows the Browns to take Chubb at No. 4 or trade down. However, with only Rosen or Mayfield on the board, it could limit the number to teams looking to trade up to whoever is highest on the one guy left, and that could affect the haul offered to Cleveland. Chubb seems like a logical No. 4 pick in this case.

MOCK-3, MOCK-4 and MOCK-5 take Chubb off the board for No. 4, leaving the Jets an extra option at QB and one more scenario to consider if they do in fact have Darnold ahead of the other two options. The Browns would likely be eyeing Barkley at No. 4 if they don't trade, but if he isn't rated as highly in the building, it could make a trade down more palatable. Plus, there will be at least two QBs on the board at No. 4, potentially widening the pool of teams looking to trade up. Consider a trade likely in these three scenarios.

MOCK-6, MOCK-7 and MOCK-8 is where things get trickier. The Giants wind up taking Barkley here, and after the Jets settle on their QB, the Browns are left to either take Chubb or trade the pick. It's possible they're blown away by a team shocked Darnold made it out of the top three (MOCK-6, MOCK-7) or that Mayfield is still there (MOCK-6, MOCK-8). Take an overpay in picks to move down, or take Chubb? Tough call, and I'd love to see this situation play out on Thursday just to see which choice the Browns would make.

Scenario: Browns take Darnold


BrownsGiantsJets
MOCK-9 QB Darnold DE Chubb QB Rosen
MOCK-10 QB Darnold DE Chubb QB Mayfield
MOCK-11 QB Darnold DE Chubb QB Allen
MOCK-12 QB Darnold RB Barkley QB Rosen
MOCK-13 QB Darnold RB Barkley QB Mayfield
MOCK-14 QB Darnold RB Barkley QB Allen

These scenarios assume the Giants are Darnold or bust at QB. Allen is included as an option for the Jets, who are rumored to be deciding between Rosen or Mayfield but certainly should still be a considered a possibility for the Wyoming quarterback if he's available.

MOCK-9, MOCK-10 and MOCK-11 take Chubb off the board for the Browns at No. 4, and that could mean a trade-up for someone targeting one of the two QBs remaining. MOCK-12, MOCK-13 and MOCK-14 again have Chubb available at No. 4, so that means deciding between taking him or a presumably tempting package of picks. In particular, MOCK-9 could be a golden opportunity for them in terms of seeing a large number of suitors looking to move up for Allen or Mayfield.


BrownsGiantsJets
MOCK-15 QB Darnold QB Allen QB Rosen
MOCK-16 QB Darnold QB Allen QB Mayfield
MOCK-17 QB Darnold QB Mayfield QB Rosen
MOCK-18 QB Darnold QB Mayfield QB Allen
MOCK-19 QB Darnold QB Rosen QB Mayfield
MOCK-20 QB Darnold QB Rosen QB Allen

Here's what happens if the Giants are in fact open to a QB even if Darnold isn't available. If that QB is Allen (MOCK-15 and MOCK-16), the Jets are left where many expect them to be now: deciding between Rosen and Mayfield. Otherwise, that choice is made for them if they in fact have Allen ranked fourth, which isn't a given (MOCK-18 and MOCK-20).

In all six of these scenarios, Chubb and one QB are left on the board at No. 4. It's a similar situation for the Browns to what we saw in MOCK-1 and MOCK-2 above, and it seems more likely the Browns would take Chubb. That of course depends on who wants to trade up and whether Cleveland can engineer a bidding war for the pick, which could be harder to do depending on the varying interest among suitors in the QB who's left.

Scenario: Browns take Mayfield


BrownsGiantsJets
MOCK-21 QB Mayfield QB Darnold QB Rosen
MOCK-22 QB Mayfield QB Darnold QB Allen
MOCK-23 QB Mayfield DE Chubb QB Rosen
MOCK-24 QB Mayfield DE Chubb QB Darnold
MOCK-25 QB Mayfield DE Chubb QB Allen
MOCK-26 QB Mayfield RB Barkley QB Rosen
MOCK-27 QB Mayfield RB Barkley QB Darnold
MOCK-28 QB Mayfield RB Barkley QB Allen

Here's the wild card: What if the Browns ultimately go with Mayfield? If the Giants have Darnold as their top option, they can get him (MOCK-21 and MOCK-22). If they actually are passing on a QB no matter what, that means two QBs are making it to No. 4. In two scenarios (MOCK-23 and MOCK-26), those two QBs are Darnold and Allen, which would be a fascinating twist after it's been presumed one or both would be off the board in the first two picks.

MOCK-26 in particular would be the wildest scenario of the night: the Browns have to decide between staying put at No. 4 and taking Chubb or trading down, but the offers would be from teams chasing the QBs they probably have No. 1 overall on their boards: Darnold and Allen. How crazy could those offers get? Will the Browns' war room have enough people in it to field all the calls? What's the magic line where they decide the picks are worth more than Chubb?

Of our 28 mock possibilities, Chubb is available to take at No. 4 in 19. If a quarterback that slips out of the top three is one the Broncos would love to have, you can easily see the two teams getting together for a minor trade that blocks someone else from moving ahead of Denver while also allowing the Browns to take Chubb at No. 5.

In the nine mocks where Chubb isn't available at No. 4, that means two quarterbacks are left after the top three picks are made. Could we see two different teams trade up to No. 4 and No. 5 in that scenario? It probably depends on which quarterbacks are still there and the Broncos' interest in them.


So there you have it: the 28 scenarios that could play out at the top of the draft. We don't know which one it will be, but it will definitely be one of the options above.

Unless the Giants take Quenton Nelson (add nine more scenarios) or get an offer they just can't refuse (18 more scenarios per potential trade partner). In fact, if you can come up with at least four potential trade partners for No. 2 (say, the Broncos, Dolphins, Bills and Cardinals), you're faced with more than 100 possible ways the first three picks could play out, considering there's no way to know which QB would be the target at No. 2 without knowing exactly who will be the pick at No. 1.

What a time to be alive.

Our Latest Stories