Last week the New England Patriots acquired a second first-round pick by trading wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams. But rest assured, there will be more trades in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. Those trades could happen early and often in the first round.
This week’s mock draft takes a look at a few that could shake things up.
One of the keys to this draft is whether or not you think the Giants will take a quarterback. In a couple weeks, there are three scenarios for New York. The first is taking whichever quarterback they like at No. 2. The second is taking either Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb. The third is trading down. The latter is explored in the latest mock draft:
1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
The Browns may be working out the top five quarterbacks in this draft, but none has been more connected to Cleveland than Darnold. He’s the smart choice.
TRADE: 2. Denver Broncos (via New York Giants): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Most people assume the Giants will trade with Buffalo. However, if the Giants want an elite player, they can’t move all the way back to the 12th pick. Instead, they could make a move with the Broncos and stay in the top five.
If Denver really wants to get a quarterback, they should make a trade up. When the Eagles moved up to the No. 2 to take Carson Wentz, they gave up the No. 8 pick, a second- and third-round pick and a first-round pick the next year. Since Denver won’t be making quite as big of a leap, there will be less draft capital given up. Maybe they don’t throw in the future first-round pick or the second-round pick. Maybe they include both of their third-round picks.
Regardless, Denver could make the jump to get the quarterback they want. For me, that would be Rosen.
3. New York Jets (via Indianapolis Colts): Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
By all accounts, Mayfield has been winning people over in the pre-draft interview process. It’s easy to see why. He has the best stats of all the quarterbacks in this draft, and a magnetic personality. In other words, he’s a star. So what better place for a star than New York?
TRADE: 4. Buffalo Bills (via Cleveland Browns through Houston Texans): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
Moving all the way down from the fourth pick to the 12th pick is big drop for the Browns, but they could get both of Buffalo’s first-round picks this year and maybe a little more.
The Bills could be compelled to move up on Allen because the Giants with the fifth pick could take him, or a team like Miami or Arizona could trade up. If the Bills really want a quarterback in the first round, they’re going to need to trade up to get him.
TRADE: 5. New York Giants (via Denver Broncos): Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Giants really couldn’t go wrong here if they took Nelson, Chubb or Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. All fit a need in New York. But if the Giants don’t take a quarterback, they’re running with Eli Manning for at least another year. Having Nelson next to free agent signee Nate Solder would suddenly give New York one of the best left sides of the offensive line in the NFL.
6. Indianapolis Colts (via New York Jets): Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
If Nelson is gone, Chubb would be an easy pick for the Colts. Jabaal Sheard was the team leader in sacks last season with just 5.5, so it should go without saying the Colts need a player who can pressure the quarterback. Chubb can step directly into the starting lineup and make plays.
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
Find me a worse group of running backs in the NFL than Tampa Bay’s. Jacquizz Rodgers is a solid player, but he’s more of a third-down back only. Peyton Barber could get a shot, but he hasn’t stood out in two seasons in the NFL. Barkley could be a superstar in Tampa.
8. Chicago Bears: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds got the nod over Georgia’s Roquan Smith simply because of potential. In the NFL, Smith’s role may be limited to playing on the weak side in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4. Edmunds can do both of those and potentially rush off the edge. Boston College’s Harold Landry also received some consideration.
9. San Francisco 49ers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
This is a coin flip situation between Fitzpatrick and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. Both can work the slot. but Fitzpatrick has a little more range and versatility. After being a weakness last season, the 49ers would now have Fitzpatrick and Richard Sherman in the defensive backfield.
10. Oakland Raiders: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Although the Raiders could easily go with Washington’s Vita Vea, the signing of Justin Ellis eases the need at defensive tackle somewhat. At least maybe it could stop them from taking one in the first round. Instead, they could target Ward to pair with his former Ohio State teammate Gareon Conley.
11. Miami Dolphins: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
The Dolphins may have a hard time saying no to Vea after getting rid of Ndamukong Suh. Vea is a player who can do many of the same things Suh was asked to in Miami. Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith also makes a lot of sense.
TRADE: 12. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills through Cincinnati Bengals): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
The retirement of first ballot Hall of Fame offensive tackle Joe Thomas leaves a huge hole on the left side of Cleveland’s offensive line. It’s not one that third-year blocker Shon Coleman is suited to fill. Of the top offensive tackles in this draft, McGlinchey is arguably the safest. It’s an impossible job to take on in Cleveland, but McGlinchey is better equipped than Orlando Brown or Connor Williams.
13. Washington: Derwin James, S, Florida State
James has top five raw talent, but it’s hard to peg a specific position for him in the NFL. For Washington he’s a player who could line up at linebacker and safety depending on the play.
14. Green Bay Packers: Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
Landry has been one of the big risers in the draft process and there are some who believe he could be a top 10 player. So if he’s available for the Packers with the 14th pick, new General Manger Brian Gutekunst shouldn’t take long to make his pick.
15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
Maybe I’m in the minority thinking that Jackson is not only a quarterback, but a first-round quarterback too boot. There are just too many quarterback-need teams to think otherwise.
16. Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
If Ridley is on the board, this should be an easy choice for the Ravens. Baltimore has brought in free agent wide receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree, but they can be the second and third options while Ridley would be the lead wide out.
17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
The run defense for the Chargers was terrible last season, and Payne is arguably the draft’s top interior run stuffer. With Brandon Mebane and Corey Liuget getting up there, Payne would give the Chargers a young defensive lineman to build around.
18. Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA
Sure, the Seahawks added Barkevious Mingo and kept Dion Jordan, but both players are previous busts. Davenport is an impressive athlete who can play the edge in Seattle at a time when there’s still some unknown about Cliff Avril, and even Malik McDowell.
19. Dallas Cowboys: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
In past drafts we’ve seen linebackers like Smith drop. He’s a great player, but there’s an outside possibility this could happen. If so, Dallas should be happy to snap him up with the 19th pick. Although Smith has to figure out how to get off blocks better, there is no better read and react linebacker in this draft.
20. Detroit Lions: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Hurst is another player who could ultimately go higher than people anticipate. Hurst creates a lot of pressure working up the middle and splitting gaps. He is a perfect pairing next to A’Shawn Robinson.
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Buffalo Bills): Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
The Bengals sometimes tend to fall in love with athletes, and that is certainly Vander Esch. Preston Brown was signed to just a one-year deal, and Vontaze Burfict is suspended the first four games of the season, so there should be an opportunity early for Vander Esch. A player like him could also lead to the release of Burfict altogether.
TRADE: 22. Cleveland Browns (via Buffalo Bills through Kansas City Chiefs): D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The No. 22 pick is synonymous with the Browns and busts. At this pick they’ve taken quarterbacks Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn, and all three quarterbacks quickly busted out in Cleveland. Suffice to say, this trade would give Browns fans anxiety.
If they do end up here, there are lot of directions they could go. Wide receiver is one of them because Corey Coleman has been a non-factor for the Browns and Josh Gordon, although an incredible talent, is no sure thing. Moore and Darnold could be an excellent pair for the Browns.
23. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Rams): Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
This is a regular pick I’ve been making for the Patriots because it just makes sense. Another person who likes it? The godfather of the draft, Gil Brandt. Here’s what he told Peter King of Sports Illustrated about the pairing:
“(Miller is) Nate Solder, is what he is … 6’8, 310 pounds, unbelievable 10-yard speed which is what you need for a tackle. Needs development. But [offensive line coach] Dante Scarnecchia can develop a guy like that as well as anyone.”
24. Carolina Panthers: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
The Panthers wanted to sign Bashaud Breeland, but his deal was voided due to a failed medical. Fortunately this is a prime spot in the draft to land a starting cornerback. Hughes is a feisty outside cornerback with instincts. He may remind Panthers fans of Josh Norman.
25. Tennessee Titans: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
The Titans are a team with few obvious needs, but linebacker is one of them after losing Avery Williamson in free agency. Evans could be put next to Wesley Woodyard to help bolster Tennessee’s linebacker group.
26. Atlanta Falcons: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
The Falcons are a team I considered for a trade up to get Hurst, but the price may be too high for a move. Instead they could take Bryan, who isn’t quite as good but can do many of the same things at defensive tackle.
27. New Orleans Saints: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State
There is still some unknown about Goedert because he hasn’t been able to run much during the offseason process due to injury. But if you’re comfortable with his film, he is an attractive option for the Saints.
28. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest
Bates is a potential first-round surprise player, and plays a position the Steelers need to target early in the draft. He’s an excellent coverage safety who closes on the ball in a hurry. He’s good in zone and man coverage, and will come up and support against the run.
29. Jacksonville Jaguars: Connor Williams, OT, Texas
The Jaguars smartly spent big money on guard Andrew Norwell, otherwise this pick would’ve been UTEP’s Will Hernandez. Instead, it’s Williams, a player who could push for the right tackle job.
30. Minnesota Vikings: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
This continues to be a perfect fit. Hernandez fits not only the scheme, but mean and nasty head coach Mike Zimmer will love Hernandez’s mean and nasty playing style. There’s also solid value with this choice, and some think Hernandez could actually land in the top 15.
31. New England Patriots: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
The lure of getting a quarterback on the cheap for five years could be too tempting for some the teams in the back of the first round. That includes New England. Tom Brady has said he wants to keep playing, to me it’s a year-by-year proposition.
TRADE: 32. Indianapolis Colts (via Philadelphia Eagles): Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
For all the talk of the Colts taking Nelson with the sixth pick, they could easily parachute back into the first round to get a player like Wynn. With three second-round picks, the Colts shouldn’t hesitate to give up No. 36 and No. 67 to come and get a starting offensive lineman.
The Eagles, meanwhile, can still find a good cornerback at the top of the second round, like Louisville’s Jaire Alexander.