This offseason process leading up to the 2018 NFL draft takes a quarter turn this week with Senior Bowl practices starting on Tuesday.
The biggest names are quarterbacks Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma and Josh Allen of Wyoming. But players like Texas-San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport and tight end Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State will look to create some buzz.
This week’s mock draft features a handful of players who will participate at the Senior Bowl:
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
The Browns need to take another swing at a franchise quarterback this offseason. For as bad as Cleveland has been, the Browns actually haven’t taken a quarterback inside the top 10 since 1999.
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Pat Shurmur’s tenure in New York could begin with his own franchise quarterback. Rosen would be an easy choice for the Giants.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
A player like Barkley could help the Colts more than a pass rusher like Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State. Indianapolis has a below-average run game, anchored by 34-year-old back Frank Gore.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Here’s another fun thing about the Browns’ draft history: Even though Alabama has been the most dominant defense in college football, the Browns haven’t taken a Crimson Tide defender in the draft since 1994. Fitzpatrick can end that streak and give the Browns a versatile defensive back.
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
The Broncos will get an up close and personal look at both Allen and Mayfield this week at the Senior Bowl. A setting like the Senior Bowl should make Allen look like a star. Because of that, he gets the nod for now.
6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield landing in New York would be the story of the draft, if it happens. If Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg were going to be franchise quarterbacks, they would have shown something by now. The Jets would finally have their long-term answer at quarterback in Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield’s path to the Heisman Trophy was one of a kind
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
It’s obvious that Chubb would fill a big need for the Buccaneers as a pass rusher. But he would also give them a player who could quickly emerge as the leader of the defense in a hurry.
8. Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Bears will need to make a decision about Josh Sitton this offseason, and Kyle Long has started only 17 games in the last two seasons. Those issues at guard could lead Chicago to turning to the draft for Nelson. He’s an instant starter up front.
9. Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
It’s clear the Raiders need to add talent up front on defense, whether it’s a sideline-to-sideline linebacker like Smith or an interior player like Vita Vea of Washington. Smith offers more of a well-rounded game, so he’s the choice.
10. San Francisco 49ers: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
San Francisco could go several directions here, but Ward is the type of instant starter needed on an otherwise average defensive backfield.
11. Miami Dolphins: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
This pick is made with the thought of the Dolphins moving on from Ja’Wuan James. Brown, who can be a polarizing evaluation, could slot directly into the right tackle spot. If he’s not the choice, the Dolphins could consider a running back or a linebacker like Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The priority for the Bengals this offseason should be making sure the offensive line is fixed. That could start in the first round with a player like McGlinchey. He has experience at both left and right tackle and should fit either position in the NFL.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
This pick will obviously be dependent on what Washington does with Kirk Cousins this offseason. If he’s brought back, fixing the defense is in order. That could start up front with Vea, who would pair nicely with Jonathan Allen.
14. Green Bay Packers: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds may not be the pure pass rusher the Packers need, but he’s the type of versatile player that new Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will love. Edmunds can move around the field and come up and stop the run or get into the backfield.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The Cardinals are the hardest team to predict solely because they don’t have a head coach in place. Ridley is hard to pass up this deep into the first round. Larry Fitzgerald’s future is up in the air, so finding his replacement will be important.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, Texas-San Antonio
Davenport is a player who could see his draft stock skyrocket after a week at the Senior Bowl. He’s a lengthy edge rusher who uses speed and power to get into the backfield. With Terrell Suggs’ career winding down, Davenport could be the future.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Going with Florida State safety Derwin James was tempting, but Payne could help fix one of the league’s worst run defenses.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
If trades were being made in this mock, one would happen here because the Seahawks need to recoup some capital after trading out of the second and third rounds. If they stick here, adding talent on the offensive or defensive line is possible. Williams could play on the right side of the line and eventually replace Duane Brown on the left.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Anthony Hitchens could leave Dallas in free agency, and a player like James could fill his role and give the team a boost in pass coverage.
20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
The Lions need to add more talent in the middle of their defense, and the disruptive Hurst would be a fit.
21. Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Lamar Jackson? In the first round? As a quarterback? It’s rare, I know. He may not be the best fit for the Bills, but teams desperate for quarterbacks have to take a risk. With Darnold, Rosen, Allen, and Mayfield all gone, Jackson is far and away the top quarterback available.
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
Phillips isn’t exactly a direct Marcell Dareus clone, but he can perform in the same role and help boost Buffalo’s broken run defense.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Sorry if this pick is getting dull, but Jackson is the No. 2 true cornerback in this year’s draft and fits perfectly onto Los Angeles’ defense.
24. Carolina Panthers: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Although a couple of different offensive linemen could be slotted into this pick, Carolina has to address wide receiver this offseason. The team has need for a quick receiver who can naturally create separation. That’s what the speedy Kirk can offer.
25. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State
Harold Landry of Boston College has been a popular choice for the Titans, but Hubbard would play a similar role. Hubbard can be lined up in multiple positions and eventually replace aging veterans Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
With four defensive tackles off the board, the Falcons could turn to the offensive line. After Nelson, Price is the draft’s best interior lineman. He played guard and center effectively at Ohio State and can fit any of the three inside blocking positions.
27. New Orleans Saints: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma
This could either be Andrews or Dallas Goedert of South Dakota State. The Saints are a team that’s just a few pieces away, and tight end is one of them. Andrews can be a nice target for Drew Brees with his ability to attack both the short and medium game and working up the seam.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama
Pittsburgh’s defense needs some help. Following the unfortunate injury to Ryan Shazier, Pittsburgh’s defense clearly lacked speed and a player who can cover bigger targets. Harrison is capable of doing that and coming up and stopping the run.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
What happens here will be dependent on how Jacksonville handles free agent wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson. In particular, receiver becomes a serious need if Robinson departs. If that happens, a player like Sutton is similar in style.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Rasheem Green, DL, Southern California
Green was a bit of a surprise draft entrant as an underclassman, but he’s coming off a stellar Cotton Bowl. Green is at his best when he’s lined up on the inside shooting gaps and being disruptive.
31. Philadelphia Eagles: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
Philadelphia’s offensive line has played well throughout the playoffs, but the left tackle spot is a sore one. Jason Peters will be coming off a serious knee injury next season and will be 36. Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been decent replacing Peters, but an upgrade can be made with Rankins.
32. New England Patriots: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Cornerback is arguably the biggest strength of the draft this year, and a player like Davis is right in the first-round mix, along with players like Mike Hughes of Central Florida, Donte Jackson of LSU and Isaiah Oliver of Colorado.