2018 NFL Mock Draft: Bills trade up to get Baker Mayfield; 4 QBs taken in first 5 picks
There will be a run of QBs at the top of the draft as teams jockey for the next face of the franchise
The Jets may have missed out on Kirk Cousins in free agency but they're making sure they don't miss out on a franchise quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York swung a blockbuster trade with the Colts on Saturday morning to move up from No. 6 to No. 3.
The looming question, of course: Do the Jets have three quarterbacks they're in love with?
Because if not, there's a chance they miss out on their top-two picks should the Browns take a quarterback No. 1 (and they will) and the Giants either draft a quarterback or trade out of the No. 2 pick so another team can. Of course, as TheMMQB.com's Andy Benoit tweeted recently, how much can the Jets really like this quarterbacks draft class?
Meanwhile, that move came days after the Bills traded up from 21st to 12th, presumably to position themselves for a run at a quarterback they fancied. Now, in light of the Jets' maneuvering, Buffalo has a decision to make: Stand pat and hope a quarterback falls to them or continue to make moves up the draft board. We think it will be the latter.
When the dust settles on the first round, we have six quarterbacks getting drafted.
Alright, enough with the chitchat, let's get to it.
1. Cleveland Browns
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. After passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in back-to-back drafts, the Browns are staying put and getting their quarterback. Sam Darnold might be the most polished of the passers but Josh Allen is the most athletic. And with no plans (for now, anyway) to rush a rookie into the lineup, Allen can take a year to learn from the sidelines.
2. New York Giants
Sam Darnold, QB, USC. Everyone expects the Giants to trade out of this spot but the price may be too prohibitive for quarterback-needy teams (hi there, Buffalo!). And while the Giants may appear content to roll with 37-year-old Eli Manning next season, at some point they're going to have to replace him. And since there's little chance they'll have the No. 2 pick again anytime soon, they're taking Darnold here.
3. New York Jets (from Colts)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. You sure hope the Jets fell in love with three quarterbacks because otherwise, they traded up from sixth to third for a consolation prize. Of course, the real grand prize was Kirk Cousins, whom they reportedly offered $30 million a year -- and he turned down to sign with the Vikings -- but there's no way New York isn't getting a quarterback here and Rosen's the guy.
4. Cleveland Browns (from Texans)
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Last year the Browns used the No. 1 pick on Myles Garrett, who showed glimpses of just how dominant he could be. Chubb would bookend Garrett and suddenly give Cleveland one of the most formidable, disruptive defensive lines in the NFL.
5. Buffalo Bills (mock trade from DEN)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Mayfield isn't your prototypical NFL quarterback. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and with a demeanor that can sometimes rub people the wrong way, he has drawn comparisons to Johnny Manziel. Mayfield is understandably bothered by this, but the Oklahoma star can play. And in Buffalo he could be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that made the playoffs in January for the first time since the 1999 season. The Broncos have needs at quarterback too, but Case Keenum buys them time and they can use the extra draft picks to address other needs.
6. Indianapolis Colts (from Jets)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. If Andrew Luck isn't 100 percent -- and no one seems to know when he will be -- Barkley can be for Jacoby Brissett what Ezekiel Elliott was for Dak Prescott in 2016: The world's most dynamic security blanket. The Colts have myriad needs on both sides of the ball but don't forget, the Cowboys were 4-12 the season before Elliott and Prescott arrived and promptly went 13-3. Added bonus: Indy got a boatload of picks from the Jets in last weekend's trade.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. The Bucs are the beneficiaries of a run on quarterbacks ahead of them. Tampa Bay's offensive line was replacement-level in both running and passing situations and Nelson will bolster the interior, and in the process makes life easier for Jameis Winston, who is coming off a disappointing 2017 season.
8. Chicago Bears
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. Edmunds is a physical freak, even by combine standards. He's only 19 years old and the Bears have other needs, but if they land a wide receiver in free agency Edmunds makes sense here.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. The 49ers' pass defense was among the worst in the league, and San Francisco's defensive backs were the weakest link on a weak unit. Fitzpatrick's best attribute is his versatility; he excels in the slot, at safety and as a nickel linebacker and he'll immediately upgrade a unit that was hard to watch at times in 2017.
10. Oakland Raiders
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. The 49ers' pass defense may have ranked 28th last season, via Football Outsiders, but it still wasn't the worst unit in the Bay Area. The Raiders were 30th and with Ward available, Oakland pounces. He isn't the biggest cornerback in the draft but he can cover, skills that are hard to come by in the NFL.
11. Miami Dolphins
Vita Vea, DT, Washington. The Dolphins would consider a quarterback here should one fall to them but with four passers already off the board they address the gaping hole in the middle of their defense created when they released Ndamunkong Suh.
12. Denver Broncos (mock trade from BUF)
13. Washington Redskins
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. A confluence of events -- most of them quarterback-related -- have Smith falling to the Redskins here. And even though they re-signed Zach Brown, you don't pass on a player of Smith's talents.
14. Green Bay Packers
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Davenport followed up a big Senior Bowl week with a strong combine, and the University of Texas-San Antonio standout brings his pass-rushing skills to Green Bay. He had 21.5 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss during his four-year college career, and he would join a defense that ranked 17th in sacks a season ago with 37.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. If this feels like a stretch it's because it probably is. But unless the Cardinals are willing to move up in Round 1, Jackson will almost certainly be the only first-round talent left on the board. Yes, Arizona signed Sam Bradford, but what are the chances he stays healthy for an entire season?The team could also address the offensive line with this pick.
16. Baltimore Ravens
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The fact that the first wide receiver doesn't go off the board until 16th tells you all you need to know about this draft class. It's also why the Ravens aggressively pursued wideouts in free agency, first with John Brown and Ryan Grant (who mysteriously failed a physical), and then with Michael Crabtree.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. The Chargers have needs at inside linebacker but they also need to upgrade over tackles Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale. McGlinchey, who is better on the right side, would make life easier for both Philip Rivers and Melvin Gordon.
18. Seattle Seahawks
Derwin James, S, Florida State. With the Seahawks cleaning house on defense, restocking the roster -- and especially the secondary -- makes sense, even with glaring needs along the offensive line. James is solid against the run and the pass and adds much-needed depth should Seattle end up trading Earl Thomas.
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan. At 6-foot-2 and 283 pounds, Hurst may be undersized, but his unbelievable quickness more than makes up for it. He'll be an integral piece to new coach Matt Patricia's defense.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (from Bills)
Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama. With Vontaze Burfict facing another suspension the Bengals could finally decide to move on. Two years ago the Steelers coveted cornerback William Jackson and the Bengals took him. Cincy could burn their AFC North rivals again by drafting Evans.
22. Buffalo Bills (from Chiefs)
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Bills signed Star Lotulelei and re-upped Kyle Williams, which no longer makes defensive line a draft priority. And while needs remain at offensive line, Ridley gives new quarterback Baker Mayfield a legit downfield threat.
23. Los Angeles Rams
Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State. If there's one weakness in this defense it's at inside linebacker. The Rams shipped inconsistent Alec Ogletree to the Giants and Vander Esch, who had an impressive combine, fills the void on a unit that added Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib this offseason.
24. Carolina Panthers
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Devin Funchess was the Panthers' leading receiver last season, followed by a running back (Christian McCaffrey) and a player they traded after eight games (Kelvin Benjamin). Put another way: Cam Newton needs another downfield weapon and Washington could be it.
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. At 6-3, 310 pounds, Payne is a natural run-stuffer who needs more work as a pass rusher. The Falcons could lose four defensive linemen -- Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn have already signed elsewhere -- and if Payne is available here they're sprinting to the podium to draft him.
27. New Orleans Saints
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State: We've previously had South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert here but after Gesicki's lights-out performance at the combine, he's now our guy. The Saints missed out on Jimmy Graham when he signed with the Packers, so tight end remains a huge need.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Justin Reid, S, Stanford. With Ryan Shazier out for 2018, the Steelers have a gaping hole in the middle of the defense. But with Smith and Evans long off the board, Pittsburgh looks to bolster its secondary, even after signing 29-year-old Morgan Burnett. Reid had a fantastic combine and we can expect more conversations about how they'll address the safety position in the draft.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Could six quarterbacks go in Round 1? If it happens, the Jags could be in the market for Blake Bortles' replacement. Yes, he earned the right to be the starting quarterback in 2018, but there are no guarantees beyond that. If he regresses next season the Jags will have Rudolph waiting in the wings.
30. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP. The Vikings need help at tackle but Hernandez is too good to pass up here, and he'll bolster the interior line of a unit that was replacement-level in the running game last season.
31. New England Patriots
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU. With LeGarrette Blount now in Detroit and Darren Sproles not expected to return, Guice, who has drawn comparisons to Marshawn Lynch, would seem like a natural fit. Yes, Jay Ajayi and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement return (along with Wendell Smallwood) but as Blount proved in 2017, you can never have too many talented backs in a game where injuries can derail a season.
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