Editor’s note: This mock draft was updated to reflect the draft order after Week 15’s games.
After 15 weeks, the Buffalo Bills have managed to have a winning record despite the clear fact that they need to find a top quarterback for the future.
Armed with an extra first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft, the Bills could package picks to leap higher into the first round to find their signal caller. But just how much would they have to give up?
Let’s use the framework of last year’s trade between the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans as a loose blueprint. That’s the trade that netted Houston its quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson. The Texans gave up the 25th overall pick in the draft and a 2018 first-rounder for the Browns’ 12th overall pick.
If the Bills need to move high into the top 10 for a quarterback, it will cost more. It would cost both of Buffalo’s first-round picks this year. The Bills would also need to throw in a second-round pick this year or a first in 2019. The price might seem exorbitant, but that’s the cost of a quarterback.
See where the trade came in this week’s mock draft. As always, the picks are based on the latest draft order.
1. Cleveland Browns: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
New general manager John Dorsey said in his introductory press conference that his job was to find a quarterback for the Browns. That should tell you what he thinks about DeShone Kizer, who has had a maddening rookie season. He could like Rosen, a traditional pocket passer with a good arm and a quick release.
2. New York Giants: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
The opinion on Mayfield is all over the place. On Sunday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Mayfield will get drafted higher than people think. Jay Glazer of Fox Sports followed that up by saying that "teams are all over the draft board" on Mayfield, but he could rise after team interviews. If Mayfield does rise, he could jump this far up the draft board, giving the Giants a successor to Eli Manning.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Inching up the draft order, the Colts would have a difficult decision to make picking between Barkley and an offensive lineman. Although protecting Andrew Luck is a priority, Indianapolis needs to become more dynamic in the run game. Barkley can be a player who balances the offense and gives Luck an excellent target out of the backfield. It’s not ideal to wait until the second round for a tackle or guard, but there should be good blockers after the first round.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Whether you slot him into safety or cornerback, there’s a starting spot for Fitzpatrick on Cleveland’s defense right now. That says as much about Cleveland’s defensive backs as it does Fitzpatrick’s talent.
5. Buffalo Bills (via San Francisco 49ers): Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California
This is how high the Bills may have to move to get a quarterback. It’s unlikely the Browns and Giants would trade down because they need quarterbacks. Although there is a danger in trading up for the third quarterback off the board, it’s a necessary move for the Bills. Darnold struggled at times this season, particularly early on, but he can make some impressive throws. More than any other quarterback prospect in this year’s draft, he knows how to throw to his open receivers.
6. Chicago Bears: Arden Key, OLB, LSU
The debate here would be between Key and North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb. Key is more natural at working in space, which makes him better suited for Chicago’s defense. The predraft interview process will be critical for Key’s draft stock.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
This is one of the bigger no-brainer choices in the top 10. The Buccaneers badly need a pass rusher on the edge, and Chubb is considered by many to be one of the draft’s top players.
8. Cincinnati Bengals: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
It was tempting to give Cincinnati a quarterback because chances are Marvin Lewis might finally be gone, and a new coach might not want Andy Dalton. But this pick sticks with needs, and Smith is the type of sure tackler Cincinnati needs.
9. Denver Broncos: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
You can make a strong argument that the Broncos should take a quarterback. But consider that they play against pass rushers like Joey Bosa, Justin Houston and Khalil Mack twice every season. Having a good offensive line is paramount, and Denver particularly needs an upgrade on the right side. Williams is the draft’s top offensive tackle and could start for Denver straight away.
10. New York Jets: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Imagine the charismatic and mobile Louisville star with a big arm making plays for the Jets. Jackson could help rejuvenate a franchise that has relied on 38-year-old Josh McCown this season.
11. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
As long as Bruce Arians is coaching the Cardinals, this is a pick that's hard to change. Allen needs work as a passer and needs to become more accurate, but he's a perfect system fit.
12. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
The Raiders may have used their first two picks on defensive backs last year, but they still need help in the back half. Pairing Ward with former college teammate Gareon Conley would give Oakland a solid pair for years to come.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Regarding Washington in mock drafts, for some reason I think the team will sign Kirk Cousins to a contract after the season. Anyway, with quarterback out of the way, a defensive tackle is Washington's top need. It's not really a reach to take Vea here because in the games Washington has been without Jonathan Allen the team has had trouble stopping the run. Having Allen and Vea up front would give Washington an impressive duo.
Why the first ever draft pick said no to the NFL
14. Miami Dolphins: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
This obviously isn't a fun, sexy pick, but it would be a smart one. Nelson is one of the best players in the draft and could help improve a Miami offensive line that is a mess.
15. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Joseph Barksdale has been a problem at right tackle for the Chargers, and McGlinchey could start his career on that side of the line. Having him along with 2017 picks Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp on the inside will help the Chargers finally field a solid line.
16. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
The Packers need to get better at rushing the passer, and Landry can come in immediately and be a factor. He's quick off the edge and should fit well in the team's 3-4 defense.
17. Baltimore Ravens: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Is Joe Flacco a bad quarterback now, or does he just lack good wide receivers? If you think it's the latter, drafting a good receiver in the first round is a must. Sutton is a big target with good athleticism.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
It might not make sense to give up on Germain Ifedi after just two seasons, but he's been a liability for the Seahawks. Brown could get lined up at right tackle, playing opposite Duane Brown.
19. Detroit Lions: Billy Price, C, Ohio State
Price has the ability to play left guard or center, and in his first season at the latter he took home the Rimington Trophy. With the top pass rushers gone, the Lions could turn to Price to help bolster an offensive line that has some decent pieces.
20. Dallas Cowboys: Derwin James, S, Florida State
This deep into the first round, it would be hard to pass on James. The Cowboys could line James all over the field at multiple linebacker spots, in coverage and even as a blitzer.
21. Tennessee Titans: Sam Hubbard, DE/OLB, Ohio State
Hubbard can line up at several different positions for the Titans, and his versatility gives him some extra value in the draft. With Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo and Erik Walden all over 30, Tennessee needs to add some youth to its pass rush group.
22. San Francisco 49ers (via Bills, from Kansas City Chiefs): Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Marquise Goodwin is a solid player for the 49ers, but he doesn't profile as being a No. 1 receiver. Ridley, the draft's top wide receiver, can be that lead wideout for Jimmy Garoppolo. After getting two offensive skill players in the first round, San Francisco should take at least two offensive linemen in the second and third rounds, if possible.
23. San Francisco 49ers (via Buffalo Bills): Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
For the 49ers there's a great risk in dropping back this far. This team desperately needs guard help, and Price and Nelson just came off the board. That could lead them to the draft's second-best running back in Guice. The LSU back has excellent vision and knows how to pick his run lanes.
For a team in the process of rebuilding a roster, trading a top-five pick for two first-round picks and a second-round pick could help accelerate things for head coach Kyle Shanahan.
24. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson
Wilkins is a nice fit for the Falcons as a defensive tackle who is able to hold up well against the run and create pressure up the middle against the pass. His playing style is a nice fit on Dan Quinn's defense.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
Arguably the best non-FBS prospect in the 2018 draft, Goedert has the size of a tight end and the skill set of a wide receiver. With 67 receptions for 1,068 yards this season, Goedert's game should easily translate to the NFL.
26. Los Angeles Rams: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
The back half of the first round is where the value for cornerback should be, and that's helpful for Los Angeles. Considering that Both Trumaine Johnson and Nickell Robey-Coleman are free agents after the season and Kayvon Webster ruptured his Achilles on Sunday, this is looking like the biggest need for the Rams in the offseason.
27. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
At this stage Ferrell is too good of a player to pass up with the 25th pick. The Panthers need a good defensive end, especially considering Julius Peppers is in the twilight of his career.
28. New Orleans Saints: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
The Saints could go into the offseason needing another linebacker even though they've brought in several players at the position. Jefferson is a player who can work on all three rounds thanks to his athleticism and football smarts.
29. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State
On Sunday night the Steelers clearly looked like they were missing Ryan Shazier. With his NFL future in question, the Steelers could look to add another speed linebacker to their roster. Baker isn't as good as Shazier, but his game is based on speed and tackling.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
With Terence Newman's age and the somewhat disappointing career of Trae Waynes, the Vikings could be back to looking for a cornerback early in the draft. Jackson is a ball hawk who has seven interceptions and 19 pass breakups this season.
31. New England Patriots: Austin Bryant, DE, Clemson
The Patriots have been a patchwork at defensive end this season. Adding an edge defender like Bryant would give the Patriots a 4-3 end who can play the run and pass.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State
After Jason Peters was lost for the season in October, it was apparent that the Eagles need better depth at offensive tackle. Rankin could assert himself at the Senior Bowl as a first-round pick.