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2018 NFL mock draft: 5 QBs in the top 15

Not much changed after the Senior Bowl, but quarterbacks remain popular picks.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

After last year’s Senior Bowl, linebacker Haason Reddick went from being a fringe first-round pick to a top 20 lock. Despite good showings from a few players, the Senior Bowl this year didn’t lead to many obvious changes for the 2018 NFL draft.

Quarterbacks remain popular in this week’s mock draft, with five of the first 15 picks being signal callers. That’s not necessarily a praise for the quality at the position, but rather an indictment on some teams’ quarterback situations.

Here’s this week’s mock draft:

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, Southern California

If the Browns find out that Josh Rosen of UCLA truly does not want to play in Cleveland, they could turn to Darnold. If that’s the case, though, the Browns should try to acquire a bridge quarterback like Alex Smith of the Chiefs.

2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Both general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Pat Shurmur believe that Eli Manning has time left in his career. But at 37, it’s impossible to think Manning has that many more years. Rosen can be the heir apparent and adjust to the NFL behind a pro like the two-time Super Bowl winner.

3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

It sure seems like this pick will be down to either Chubb or running back Saquon Barkley. The Colts may be hiring an offensive-minded coach in Josh McDaniels, but they need talent on defense badly.

4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

If Barkley is available for the Browns at No. 4 overall, it would be hard to pass him up. Isaiah Crowell is expected to leave in free agency, and the Browns have refused to commit more to Duke Johnson. Barkley can be the featured offensive weapon in Cleveland, taking a lot of the pressure off whoever is playing quarterback.

5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

If Kirk Cousins does indeed sign with the Broncos this offseason, it would cause a major shift in the top 10 picks. With their quarterback in the fold, the Broncos could look to start rebuilding the offensive line. Why not take the best one in the draft, regardless of position? Nelson is an immediate starter, and he looks like a longtime Pro Bowl player in the NFL.

6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

If the Jets decide to go into the draft looking for a new starting quarterback, they’ll love seeing Cousins land in Denver. If that happens and there are no trades, the Jets could land one of the draft’s top three quarterbacks. Mayfield looked good in Senior Bowl practices and showed he’s worth a top 10 pick.

Baker Mayfield’s path to the Heisman Trophy was one of a kind

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Marcus Davenport, DE, Texas-San Antonio

Davenport may not have had the Senior Bowl that was expected, but he still profiles as a high pick because of his size and athleticism and the premium position he plays. Davenport excels when he can rush standing up, but his natural athleticism should help him quickly equate to playing out of a three-point stance.

8. Chicago Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

If Fitzpatrick happens to slip a little on draft night, the Bears should pounce on him. Fitzpatrick can play safety or cornerback and would likely line up at the latter in Chicago.

9. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

This may seem high for Jackson, but he’s a player who should star in the offseason process. He gets the nod over Denzel Ward because the Ohio State cornerback isn’t as big, and those corners sometimes drop in the first round.

10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington

The Raiders need to get better on the defensive line, and Vea is arguably the draft’s top interior tackle. He’s capable of picking up two gaps, but he’s just as useful when asked to play a single gap and create pressure.

11. Miami Dolphins: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

If the Raiders pass on Smith, he should be an easy choice for the Dolphins. He’s an NFL-ready linebacker who can play sideline-to-sideline and chase down the ball carrier.

12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown may not be the most athletic offensive tackle, but he’s arguably the best blocker in this year’s draft.

13. Washington: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

If Cousins does leave Washington, that could lead the team to someone like Jackson. The Louisville quarterback got much better at playing from the pocket last season, and he could really develop under someone like Jay Gruden.

14. Green Bay Packers: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech

Edmunds may not be the pure pass rusher the Packers need, but he’s a true three-down linebacker with length and athleticism. Edmunds can get into the backfield, and he has the strength to set the edge against the run.

15. Arizona Cardinals: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

This pick is a little tricky. The Cardinals need a quarterback right now, and Allen is the least NFL-ready of all the first-round quarterbacks. His upside is high, though. The Cardinals could look at a veteran for a season or two while Allen develops his technique. If that happens, they have an excellent replacement for Carson Palmer.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

If Ridley doesn’t go high to a team like the 49ers, he could slip to here. If he’s available for the Ravens, they shouldn’t hesitate. Ridley is an excellent route-runner and knows how to get himself open. He could be the No. 1 target for Joe Flacco that the Ravens just don’t have right now.

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

In Hurst the Chargers could see a new version of Corey Liuget. He’s more than capable of using his quickness to beat blockers, but he’s powerful enough to stuff the run working in three-man fronts.

18. Seattle Seahawks: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Whether it’s McGlinchey or Connor Williams of Texas, Seattle would be wise to take an offensive tackle with the 18th overall pick. This changes, however, if the Seahawks suffer several losses on defense.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Although Payne played more over the nose at Alabama, he has the size of a defensive tackle suited for a four-man front. Payne specializes in stopping the run and should only get better getting after the quarterback.

20. Detroit Lions: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida

The Lions may have picked A’Shawn Robinson in the second round in 2016, but they still need more talent on the defensive line. Bryan specializes at playing in a three-technique role that asks him to split gaps and get after the quarterback.

21. Buffalo Bills: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

With the quarterbacks all gone, the Bills may look to rebuild their defense in the first round of this year’s draft. Phillips is the type of run-stopping defensive tackle the Bills lack.

22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Derwin James, S, Florida State

It’s hard to peg a good spot for James high in the first round if a team like the Raiders pass on him. In Buffalo he would play more of a linebacker role that utilizes his athleticism and blitzing.

23. Los Angeles Rams: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Ward is arguably the best cornerback in the draft, but he could slip a little bit if he measures shorter than the 5’11 he was listed at Ohio State. If so, that’s good for the Rams. Ward has speed and can play in the slot or outside.

24. Carolina Panthers: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

A pass rusher or offensive lineman could be the choice here, but it would be hard to pass up a wide receiver for Cam Newton. Sutton can make some unreal catches and has good size at 6’4 and 215 pounds.

25. Tennessee Titans: Harold Landry, OLB/DE, Boston College

Had Landry not suffered an ankle injury last season, he would probably be considered as one of the top 15 players in the draft. He’s a speedy edge-rusher and would give new coach Mike Vrabel a player who can play standing up or with his hand in the ground.

26. Atlanta Falcons: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State

Because of the run that took place with defensive tackles, the Falcons could look at a secondary need in the first round. That could mean a guard or cornerback. In this mock, the choice is Price, who started his Ohio State career at guard.

27. New Orleans Saints: Arden Key, OLB, LSU

Fun fact: New Orleans has never picked an LSU player in the first round of the draft and hasn’t picked a Tiger since Al Woods in 2010. That could change this year if Key is on the board. He can be a pass rusher opposite Cameron Jordan and give the Saints a talented player at linebacker.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Evans isn’t exactly a middle linebacker after he played more on the outside at Alabama. But he is quick to diagnose the play and is good at chasing down the ball carrier.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

The Jaguars’ offense would do well with a tight end who can play similar to Travis Kelce of the Chiefs or Zach Ertz of the Eagles. That could be Goedert, who provides a mismatch on the outside with his combination of size and athleticism.

30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Minnesota’s offensive line needs some work, and Williams is the top lineman available at No. 30. He struggled at times last season, but in 2016 he looked like a top offensive line prospect.

31. New England Patriots: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

With Malcolm Butler’s pending free agency, cornerback could be the big offseason need for the Patriots. Of course, that’s also the strongest position in this year’s draft. Hughes would be in contention for this pick, along with Carlton Davis of Auburn and Jaire Alexander of Louisville.

32. Philadelphia Eagles: Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

Jason Peters could retire after this season, and if he does, getting a new starting left tackle is critical. If Williams falls this far, the Eagles would be smart to make a move up for him. If they stick at the end of the first round, Rankin is a player who should fit their system.

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