2018 NFL Mock Draft: Browns snag Andrew Luck in trade, Colts own three top-5 picks
Making a pick for every single team in the 2018 NFL Draft
This is my final mock draft before the NFL combine, which means it could be the last time we get to mock before Chris Ballard and Frank Reich give us definite answers about the health of Andrew Luck. Just kidding -- we probably won't know anything about Luck's health status until the season actually begins. Even the Colts cannot be 100 percent sure about the long-term future of their franchise quarterback.
Which is why they would have to be willing to at least listen to a mammoth offer from the Browns, which is precisely what we are going to construct below. Full disclosure: The impetus for this idea came from the always excellent Chris Wesseling of NFL.com, who posited the idea on the Around the NFL podcast recently. Additional disclosure: This trade probably isn't in the sphere of realism, because the Colts have a lot invested in Luck and he is a franchise-changing player ... when he's healthy.
And that's the key here. Maybe the Colts don't know. If the Browns call they aren't hanging up the phone. They're at least listening and then, total worst case, leaking to the media that they refused to listen when the rumors of a trade inevitably pop up. There were rumors last year about Luck being unhappy, Jacoby Brissett in a throwaway trade with the Patriots, they could at least revisit the possibility if approached by Cleveland holding a pile of picks.. But in the wake of Luck's nightmare injury situation and the Colts uncovering
The Browns have even less knowledge about Luck's health, and there would need to be a bevy of physicals for this deal to happen, which is also problematic. (You can't try to trade Luck to Cleveland, only to have him fail a physical, only to have the trade reversed, only to awkwardly bring him back to Indy.)
In a vacuum, a healthy Luck would be worth more than whatever Cleveland can offer the Colts. Giving up a franchise quarterback, one who has looked like a top-five option at the position, is worth multiple years of first-round picks.
But the Browns offer a unique situation here. First of all, they have two top-five picks and three second-round picks. Cleveland could give up a big old pile of picks and still be able to come away with a decent haul in this draft.
The Colts also have a top-five pick (No. 3) but are staring at a roster that's in the middle of a rebuild. A healthy Luck will cover up some warts, but they still have the worst overall roster in the AFC South heading into the 2018 offseason. Having three selections in the top four of a draft where there are multiple top-tier quarterbacks and multiple high-end players would be a game-changer. The Colts could conceivably replace Luck with a new quarterback while also adding a pair of blue-chip defensive prospects (or another offensive player).
And I don't think simply swapping No. 1 and No. 4 for Luck would get it done. Let's give them two first-round picks and two second-round picks as well.
Browns get: Andrew Luck
Colts get: No. 1 overall, No. 4 overall, No. 33 overall, No. 35 overall
Luck has had shoulder surgery and he'll turn 29 in September. It would be unprecedented but we have seen the Colts reboot the quarterback position when they had a high pick and a veteran quarterback coming off major surgery before. Indy kicked Peyton Manning to the curb to take Luck many years ago, so it's not like the have not done this reset before.
And, besides, it's mock draft season. Let's dream the impossible dream of a game-changing offseason for the Browns that would create one of the greatest "what if" scenarios ever seen.
1. Indianapolis Colts (via mock trade from Browns)
2. New York Giants
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming: Big, strong and with an absolute cannon for an arm, Allen needs to sit for a year, at least. The Giants have a solid situation to give them the time with Eli Manning still on the roster.
3. Indianapolis Colts
Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State: Indy has its quarterback and now it adds the best player in the draft when the Giants go quarterback. The Colts badly need a blue-chip pass rusher and Chubb gives them just that.
4. Indianapolis Colts (via mock trade from Browns via Texans)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State: They could have gone with another defensive player, but all of a sudden there is some SPICE to this draft class. Yeah you just traded Andrew Luck and there are questions to be answered from fans if he plays really well for the Browns, but you also just came away from a draft with Darnold, Chubb and Barkley. This is gonna be fun.
5. Denver Broncos
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA: The Broncos don't mind the Colts loading up with picks high, because it means a quarterback is likely coming their way (I'm not going to have Indy do some absurd trade-down situation in this already absurd situation). They land their quarterback of the future at No. 5.
6. New York Jets
Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame: In this hypothetical situation, the Jets are the winners of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes (actual results TBD) and provide him with a weapon up front to help keep him protected from oncoming pass rushers while also improving the run game.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama: The easiest matchup of any team and player in the draft because it just seems very obvious GM Ryan Pace will go out of his way this offseason to try and secure some weapons for franchise quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
9. San Francisco 49ers
Derwin James, DB, Florida State: For now it just makes sense for the 49ers to keep adding the best possible players to this roster, and James ability to play all over the place would be a big benefit to this defense.
10. Oakland Raiders
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia: One of my five favorite players in this draft, Smith is a heat-seeking missile who is unafraid of blowing up plays all over the field, playing with the sort of instincts you hope you can see from a linebacker.
11. Miami Dolphins
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma: Should Mayfield fall into this range, it would not be surprising to see someone pull a trade up with either the Bears, 49ers or Raiders, all of whom have their quarterback. But we're mock trade heavy already, so let's give Mayfield to Adam Gase, a quarterback guru who deserves to work with a guy he gets to pick from the draft. This could make Ryan Tannehill's contract situation interesting quickly.
12. Cincinnati Bengals
Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame: The Bengals have to get better on the offensive line and it's not fair to assume that Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi are guaranteed to take a leap in 2018 after a disastrous 2017 led to issues on that front.
13. Washington Redskins
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan: The Redskins can add another big man on the inside of that defense to pair with Jonathan Allen and really be able to get a push on opposing offensive lines, a critical component in a division with lines like Dallas and Philly.
14. Green Bay Packers
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College: The Packers need more bodies on defense and Landry's ability to rush from multiple spots (traditional end, outside linebacker, etc), he could be an immediate boost of pass rush help for Mike Pettine's new defense.
15. Arizona Cardinals
Orlando Brown, OL, Oklahoma: The Cardinals need a quarterback, but I'm not quite ready to project a move up or them snaring Mason Rudolph/Lamar Jackson here. Totally possible either happens, but for now they're gonna get a physical offensive lineman who can help out immediately and help out in multiple spots.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Tremaine Edwards, LB, Virginia Tech: The Ravens are one of the hardest teams to peg in mock drafts because their needs cut against the depth of talent in this draft relative to their position. So let's just have them take the best player available.
17. Los Angeles Chargers
Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia: The Chargers could go defense here but still need help on the offensive line in terms of protecting Philip Rivers. Putting Wynn here would give them a pretty nice collection of talent across the board.
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
Da'Ron Payne, DL, Alabama: The Cowboys are going to bring back Demarcus Lawrence on the franchise tag, have Taco Charlton and now need to add some talent on the interior of the defensive line to give their defense some more bite.
20. Detroit Lions
21. Buffalo Bills
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville: TBD on what the Bills do with Tyrod Taylor, but for now we're going to give them a guy who can sit behind Taylor for a year and learn the offense and be a potential franchise quarterback.
22. Buffalo Bills (via Chiefs)
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State:Tre'Davious White broke out last year but the Bills still need help at the cornerback position and could add a second stud at the position with a nice little value pick here.
23. Los Angeles Rams
24. Carolina Panthers
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA: People really are sleeping on the depth issues Carolina is about to face on the defensive line with the departure of Charles Johnson and Star Lotulelei. If Julius Peppers doesn't come back they really need another pass rusher and/or depth on the line.
25. Tennessee Titans
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU: Corey Davis flashed down the stretch and also in the playoff game, but the Titans are short on weapons for Marcus Mariota and can improve the passing game with this addition.
26. Atlanta Falcons
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida: The smart money is almost always on Dan Quinn going defense early and with Dontari Poe set to hit free agency, it wouldn't be surprising if Quinn looked to the defensive line for depth again.
27. New Orleans Saints
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State: It's never too late to start thinking about tomorrow. Rudolph might be high here, but even Drew Brees knows his time isn't going to last forever. It's fun to make this projection, but it's also easy to see them taking someone who can help them immediately and kicking the can down the road on the QB issue.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama: No one is going to replace Ryan Shazier, but the Steelers have to try and figure something out. And assuming they don't want to trade up and chase Roquan Smith, grabbing Evans here feels like a very nice option to do just that.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
Connor Williams, OL, Texas: The Jaguars invested in Blake Bortles this offseason and clearly are going to keep investing in their running game, so why not add a upside-filled offensive lineman who falls because of injury?
30. Minnesota Vikings
Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP: The Vikings could be influenced by free agency and exactly how things shake out with the pursuit of Kirk Cousins. There's no doubt they need to get better on the offensive line regardless of what happens, particularly on the interior.
31. New England Patriots
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State: No clue if Vander Esch played lacrosse, but he certainly has a name that fits in with someone who might have. The Patriots could use some more athletes and an upgrade on defense.
32. Philadelphia Eagles
Ronald Jones, RB, USC: The Eagles were able to maintain the loss of Carson Wentz in large part because of a diverse and explosive running game. LeGarrette Blount and Darren Sproles are free agents and Jones would pair nicely with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement.
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