Scouting Combine week is here, and some key questions about the 2018 NFL draft could start to be answered. Chief among them is how teams really view this deep and flawed quarterback class.
We could also figure out the direction teams are taking in free agency, which players could be getting the franchise tag and much more. After this week mock drafts could start to look much different. Here’s how it looks for now:
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
If the Browns strike out on a good veteran quarterback this offseason, this pick should be a more pro-ready quarterback like Josh Rosen of UCLA or Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma. But if the Browns can get a bridge quarterback – even if it’s just Josh McCown – they should bet on Darnold’s potential with the first overall pick.
2. New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Barkley may have grown up a New York Jets fan, but he seems to like the idea of playing with Odell Beckham Jr. In the past week the sentiment regarding this choice is that it may not be a quarterback. Bradley Chubb of North Carolina State would be a consideration, but they already have a lot of money tied up in the defensive line. New head coach Pat Shurmur likes to run the ball, and the Giants have little quality at running back. Barkley could be the centerpiece of Shurmur’s offense.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If Barkley is gone and the Colts don’t trade back, they’ll likely be choosing between Chubb and Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson. Chubb would give the Colts an NFL-ready pass rusher for defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus.
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston Texans): Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
Fitzpatrick could be a critical addition on defense for the Browns this offseason. It would allow them to keep second-year safety Jabrill Peppers closer to the box while Fitzpatrick controls the deep part of the field.
5. Denver Broncos: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
As always, this pick is under the assumption that the Broncos will sign a veteran quarterback and won’t need to take one in top 10 this season. If they do, Nelson is an immediate starter on an offensive line lacking talent.
6. New York Jets: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
The Jets would be elated to see Rosen drop out of the top five and into their laps. He’s the draft’s top quarterback, and would instantly be a star in New York.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
This is the bad draw for the Buccaneers with Nelson, Fitzpatrick, Chubb and Barkley all gone. If this scenario plays out, Tampa could try and drop out of the top 10. If they stay, an edge rusher is probably the priority. If Landry’s health checks out at the combine, he’s a player who could skyrocket as the draft approaches.
8. Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
The argument about the value of a top 10 wide receiver can be made, but the need for a target for Mitchell Trubisky cannot be. Ridley is unquestionably the draft’s top wide receiver, and frankly his range should start here.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Jackson is another player whose draft stock could move dramatically upward with a good week in Indianapolis. He was a star at Iowa this season and corners with his type of instincts and playmaking ability don’t last long on draft night.
10. Oakland Raiders: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Vea is the exact type of player the Raiders need to add on defense. He’s a big body who can stop the run, sure, but Vea is also capable of creating pressure with an impressive bull rush.
11. Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds is yet another player who could be moving up the draft with a good combine showing. For the Dolphins, it would be a coin flip situation with he and Georgia’s Roquan Smith on the board. That is, unless they draft a quarterback here.
12. Cincinnati Bengals: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
In Indianapolis this week, the 6’8 and 350-pound Brown will be the hardest guy to miss. He’s not going to wow with his movement drills, but if he shows just enough flexibility this is where his draft range starts.
13. Washington: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
Lets assume Washington makes the decision to spend big on Zach Brown. That would remove Roquan Smith from discussion at No. 13. That opens up things on the defensive line. Bringing in Payne to go along with Jonathan Allen up front and Brown and Mason Foster behind them would give Washington an excellent run stopping group.
14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
The preference here might be Landry, but Davenport could also test really well at the combine and cement himself as a top 15 pick. The Packers badly need another pass rusher this offseason, and Davenport is at his best when he can stand up at the line and rush on the outside.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
If Mayfield happens to slip in the draft, the Cardinals shouldn’t hesitate on picking him at No. 15. He would inject Arizona with some excitement and give them a franchise successor to Carson Palmer.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
With Ridley gone, the Ravens could turn to the offensive line with their first pick. McGlinchey would be an upgrade at right tackle, a position he played at Notre Dame before moving to the left. Brown could be in play here as well if the Bengals don’t take him at No. 12.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
This would be one of the surprise picks of the first round if it happens. Jackson would be Philip Rivers’ eventual replacement, and ensure the Chargers have a set starter at quarterback for years to come.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
The Seahawks have to somehow figure out how to get younger while also finding a couple of pro-ready players in this draft. Until we know how the defense shakes out, a player like Wynn makes the most sense at No. 18.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Although the general feeling is that Smith will be long gone by the time Dallas picks, we’ve seen linebackers who aren’t pass rushers drop in the past. If that happens, the Cowboys shouldn’t hesitate to snag Smith. He’s an athletic linebacker capable of working sideline-to-sideline and dropping into coverage.
20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Although the Lions need a defensive tackle, they don’t need one with the chief responsibility of stopping the run. That’s what they have A’Shawn Robinson to do. Instead, the Lions need a defensive lineman who is capable to being stout versus the run, but also creating pressure on the inside. That’s why Hurst makes more sense compared to some other tackles in this range.
21. Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Like many other teams in this draft, the Bills should target a quarterback early, even if they bring in a bridge signal caller. Allen is a physically gifted player, but he takes a lot of risks with the ball. If he can round his game out and sit and learn for a couple seasons he can be a viable starter.
22. Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chiefs): Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
At this point Ward is too good to pass up. He could drop a little in the first round because he’s not over 6-feet, so he won’t be a fit for everyone.
23. Los Angeles Rams: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Rams are adding Marcus Peters, but that shouldn’t exclude the team from still drafting a cornerback in the first round. However, the Rams could save a lot of money by cutting Mark Barron and finding his replacement in the draft. Evans is a nice fit, unless the Rams try and trade back to recoup some draft capital lost in the Peters deal.
24. Carolina Panthers: Derwin James, S, Florida State
Although finding Andrew Norwell’s replacement is a priority this offseason for the Panthers, they could use a younger option at safety. James had a quiet season in 2017, but at No. 24 he’s far too good to pass up.
25. Tennessee Titans: Arden Key, Edge, LSU
The combine is critically important for Key, but not on the field. He should put up incredible testing numbers. But teams will want to know why he left the LSU program and how much he loves the game. If he can answer those questions, he has first-round talent.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Atlanta could go after a player like Ohio State interior offensive lineman Billy Price with this pick or add a defensive lineman if Dontari Poe departs in free agency. Bryan, who is at his best playing three-technique, would give Atlanta another disruptive player in the middle.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
In New Orleans’ offense with Drew Brees passing him the ball, Goedert could be a star. He would give the Saints a big, athletic target in the middle of the field with stand out receiver Mike Thomas excelling on the outside.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Vander Esch isn’t the athletic marvel Ryan Shazier has been for the Steelers, but he fits nicely playing on the inside. Vander Esch moves effortlessly around the field and has good instincts to locate and chase down the ball. If he can get a little stronger he’ll really justify a first-round pick.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
The choice for the Jaguars in the first round could be between a guard and a tight end. If so, the value is greater with Price. A tight end can be found later in the draft while a blocker of Price’s quality cannot. He’s a powerhouse who will help open up run lanes for Leonard Fournette.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
Although a defensive lineman would fill a need, a player like Williams would be hard to overlook. His NFL future could be on the inside or the outside, giving the Vikings the freedom to play the best group up front.
31. New England Patriots: Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn
Whether it’s with this choice, or their pick in the 40s, the Patriots need to bring in a good cornerback this offseason. Davis is an aggressive corner who doesn’t mind fighting wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.
32. Philadelphia Eagles: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
The Eagles are another team in the back end of the first round that could do well with a cornerback. Hughes is a player whose draft stock could rise at the combine.