1. Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Cleveland needs to find a long-term answer at quarterback. Baker Mayfield is their top target according to the latest rumors.
2. New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
Saquon Barkley is a popular choice here, but I’m not sure how useful he would be without a credible passing game to prevent stacked boxes or a competent offensive line to open up running lanes. Plus, it’s easy enough to find quality running backs on Day 2 of the draft. The need for a quarterback of the future should ultimately trump the need for a running back.
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
New York traded away three second-round picks to move up to the no. 3 slot, presumably for a quarterback. The Jets have been connected to Rosen in many draft rumors.
4. Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, North Carolina State
General manager John Dorsey could be tempted by Saquon Barkley if he’s available here, but he may lean in the direction of pass rusher due to greater positional value and the opportunity to form one of the league’s most formidable pass rush duos with Bradley Chubb and Myles Garrett.
5. PROJECTED TRADE — Buffalo Bills (from Denver): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Although they signed Case Keenum in the offseason, Denver still needs to find a long-term quarterback. They could stay put and take a quarterback if they like one or trade the pick to another quarterback-needy team like the Bills (as in this scenario) or Cardinals.
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
If the Colts believe Andrew Luck will play again and eventually return to pre-injury form, they had better invest heavily in protection for him. Nelson would be a step in the right direction.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
The Buccaneers probably didn’t think this would happen, and it may not if Dave Gettleman is intent on ignoring his obvious need for a quarterback of the future to select a running back with the no. 2 pick in the draft, but if Barkley is available to the Buccaneers they would draft him in a heartbeat.
8. Chicago Bears: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Quenton Nelson is the ideal scenario for Chicago, but he may not be available for the Bears with potential suitors like the Broncos, Colts and Buccaneers picking ahead of them. If Nelson is off the board, and I suspect he might be, an impact defensive player like Roquan Smith would make a lot of sense for Chicago as an alternative.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Reuben Foster’s legal troubles make his future in San Francisco uncertain. Tremaine Edmunds could be insurance for the 49ers if Foster is released from the team, and he could upgrade one of their other linebacker positions if Foster returns.
10. Oakland Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, SAF/CB, Alabama
The Raiders need help at cornerback and could use a free safety to pair with 2016 first-round pick Karl Joseph. Fitzpatrick has the versatility to play either safety spot as well as nickel cornerback. The Raiders also have inside information on Fitzpatrick from their defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley, who worked with Fitzpatrick in his previous stop as the defensive backs coach at Alabama.
11. Miami Dolphins: Derwin James, SAF, Florida State
Best player available. Miami could look to upgrade T.J. McDonald at safety if they don’t trade up or a quarterback they like doesn’t fall to them.
12. Denver Broncos (via Buffalo Bills): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Broncos could use another starting cornerback after trading away Aqib Talib in the offseason. Denzel Ward could start right away for Denver.
13. Washington Redskins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Redskins spent a first-round pick on defensive tackle Jonathan Allen last year, but they still might want to add another player who can wreak havoc on the interior. Vea would give them another disruptive force up front.
|14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry III, EDGE, Boston College|
If the top secondary prospects are off the board by this point, Green Bay could instead address a different primary need like outside linebacker. Landry is the top option for Green Bay in this scenario as he is the best pure pass rusher in the draft.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Arizona signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon in free agency, but neither of those players should be viewed as long-term options at quarterback. Lamar Jackson gives the Cardinals a talented signal-caller to develop.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Baltimore allowed right tackle Austin Howard to walk in free agency and new projected starter James Hurst isn’t any less of a liability. If Baltimore is looking for an upgrade at right tackle in round 1, Mike McGlinchey should get strong consideration.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The Chargers ranked 31st in run defense last season and are slated to begin next season without the services of starting defensive tackle Corey Liuget, who will be serving a four-game suspension. Payne, with his run-stuffing ability, could plug a gaping hole in the middle of San Diego’s defense.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, EDGE, UTSA
After trading away Michael Bennett in the offseason, Seattle could look to restock on edge pass rushers with a player like Marcus Davenport.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Wide receiver is a huge need for Dallas after releasing Dez Bryant, but this wide receiver class is more deep than top-heavy. As a result, the Cowboys might be better served to address a different need like linebacker where a player like Leighton Vander Esch could serve as a replacement for Anthony Hitchens and/or insurance for injury risks like Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee.
20. Detroit Lions: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Detroit would probably prefer an edge rusher or a defensive tackle here, but they may not like the value for either of those positions if the board falls like this. Instead, they could opt for an outside cornerback to pair with Darius Slay.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Frank Ragnow, OC, Arkansas
Starting center Russell Bodine has performed at a below average level in each of his four NFL seasons. Adding a top-flight center prospect like Ragnow would help to solidify Cincinnati’s interior offensive line.
22. PROJECTED TRADE — Denver Broncos (from Buffalo): Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
Whoever is picking here–Denver or Buffalo–needs help on the interior offensive line. Will Hernandez is one of the premier guard prospects in this draft and he has the traits to fit in any blocking scheme.
23. New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
New England elected not to re-sign left tackle Nate Solder this offseason. Kolton Miller could be viewed as a replacement option.
24. Carolina Panthers: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
If Ridley slides to Carolina he would present an immediate upgrade over any of their current receiving options.
25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Tennessee could use an inside linebacker to replace Avery Williamson.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
After allowing Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn to walk in free agency, there’s little doubt that interior defensive line is Atlanta’s biggest need heading into the draft. Taven Bryan, while unrefined technically, has the physical tools teams are willing to bet on.
27. New Orleans Saints: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Saints have been rumored as a trade up candidate for a quarterback, but I’m not sure they have the assets to get it done. If they stay put at 27, they could add another cornerback to pair with Marshon Lattimore.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, SAF, Stanford
The Steelers are looking for a hybrid player in the secondary who can play either safety spot and man up with slot receivers. Reid is a perfect fit for that role.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: DJ Moore, WR, Maryland
The Jaguars lost Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns in free agency. DJ Moore can help to replace their production.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
Minnesota needs help on the interior of their offensive line. If Isaiah Wynn drops to 30 he would be an instant upgrade and an absolute steal for the Vikings.
31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
New England needs to find a Malcolm Butler replacement. Mike Hughes is a prime candidate to fill that void.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
LeGarrette Blount signed with the Lions and Jay Ajayi is in a contract year. If Derrius Guice is available to the Eagles he would be a significant upgrade over Ajayi and he’d provide excellent value at the bottom of the first round.